C.S.S. Manassas and Little Rebel (in the centre) engaging a pair of Union gunboats
I must confess to being hugely inspired by the work undertaken by the many aficionados of the Portable Wargame in respect of the ‘3 x 3’ variant, or, more correctly, variants. I am very keen to try a number of these out but given that Bob Cordery’s Portable Wargame Compendium will be featuring a veritable smorgasbord of ideas in this direction it would make sense for me to wait until it is published which means that I can instead concentrate on my own contribution - a naval version!
The 3 x 3 format lends itself rather nicely to naval actions that are fought ‘up close and personal’. In my opinion this potentially translates into pretty much any type of naval combat prior to the advent of the Dreadnought type. For now though, I am focussing on the ironclad era, or, more specifically, the American Civil War.
The 3 x 3 idea is designed to be very fast play which means that certain compromises are needed to be made in respect of the complexity of the rules in use. Once again my go to choice of rules to inspire me are both Bob Cordery’s Gridded Naval Wargames and David Manley’s Dahlgren and Colombiad. The challenge will be what to leave in in order to ensure that the end result retains the all important flavour of the period.
As an aside I remember reading that it is very easy to design a complicated set of rules but it is far more difficult designing a simpler set!
Whilst I am pondering the final shape of the rules the following are some of the ideas I have been flirting with.
- Ships can move 1, 2 or 3 squares - diagonal movement (and firing) is permitted
- Ships can move or turn 1 point per movement allowance
- Ships will occupy a single square
- Hit points are based on the size of the ship
- Armour values are based on the type of ship e.g a medium sized casemate ironclad might have 6 hit points and an armour value of 3
- No critical hits until the critical point is reached
- D6s are rolled for combat with 4 and 5 being one hit and 6 being two. A 6 also allows a further dice roll.
- Firing ship must score more hits than the target armour value e.g. armour value of 2 needs 3 hits or more to score damage.
- The number of gun dice is determined by the weight of the artillery carried