Monday, December 2, 2013

Cog Wars: A short naval battle off the Flemish coast

Opening action.  The Burgundian Caravel is fast and maneuverable, but the
French Cog carries more men.  I need to keep my distance and pick them off one by one.

        Its the day after Thanksgiving and my son had finally finished painting his cog that he won at Historicon this past summer.  My caravel has been finished for a while, with the exception of the sails and rigging.  We kept it simple with square sails and a spanker for my caravel.  The sails are just linen scraps from a hunting shirt project (18th c AWI) that I whipped together on the machine and made fast to the booms and yards with some hemp cord.  Easy day.

      The engagement opened with the two vessels on opposite ends of the estuary amid some islands and rocks.  This would give us something interesting to maneuver around and, perhaps, run aground upon (1d4 roll if within 2 in. of shoals).   The rules we used were some house rules I whipped up in consultation with my resident 11 year old French knight. 
The Caravel  comes about to rake the fo'csle of the French Cog.
      The initial turn was all maneuvering around a central island, although lucky French arrow dispatched my lone musician.   This is important, since musicians impact a unit's coordination and help in ungraqppling during fighting.  The caravel's two swivels (large shot gun) were not accurate beyond 10 in, but as my agile caravel came about, it was able to pepper the French fo'csle twice in the space of two turns.  My decision to take hand gunners rather than archers was not good for a ship that relies upon long distance firepower and led to the demise of many men aboard my ship.  The handgunners, while lethal at close range, required me to allow the French cog to maneuver to closely.  This restricted my ability to maneuver to bring my swivels to bear and brought on the boarding below.  While, my maneuvering allowed me to dispatch all of the heavily armored Genoese crossbowmen on the French Cog, I was taking a beating from the French archers and did not have the men to spare on such a small ship, especially if I ran out of searoom and the Cog forced a boarding action, before I could thin his ranks.

The French grapple onto the caravel.
        Pinned against the "edge of the world", my mainsail became fouled (1d4 roll) and then the French grappled on to add insult to injury.   My hangunners and a well-timed close range blast from the port swivel gun (1d6+2 roll for all figures within the teardrop template, hits scored for a roll of 4-6, kills for all armor saves not resulting in 9,10 on 1d10) made quick work of the initial assault.

The gunners wipe out the first wave of French boarders.

 Only a knight and halberdier stood left of the original eight in the boarding party.  Unfortunately these were reinforced and crossed onto my aft deck, which was quickly a shambles with the remains of a knight, sergeant, and several halberdiers. 

Repel boarders!
        Despite the swivels and handgunners, the Burgundians were outnumbered and no match for heavily armored French men-at-arms.  After the second French boarding only four handgunners, sailors, and a man-at-arms remained.  After a valiant counter attack by the man-at-arms and the handgunners in the ship's waist, the French were pushed back onto the cog and the caravel wisely ungrappeled and sailed away.

Disengagement is the better part of valor.

       Within one turn I was well on my way out of range of the French archers.  Due to the wind direction and the ponderous handling of the cog, the French were unable to come about to give chase to the Burgundians.

The French watch as the faster and more maneuverable caravel
flees with the wind.
          While my caravel escaped, the French were clearly the victors.  They had killed a two knights and taken an infantry standard, though their losses were heavy, they could still fight their ship.  The Burgundians, on the other hand, would be sailing back to their den and licking their wounds.  It was a fun game, although we realized several changes needed to be made in the house rules.  Knights are too strong, virtually unkillable, unless by another knight.  We needed some additional rules for ship damage, the effects of grounding, and cannon-fire on hulls and rigging.  I also didn't bring my petardiers in the fighting tops into play...updated rules to follow accordingly!  I will also remember to leave the halberdiers at home for this ship and embark archers with which to pelt my son's ship at longer ranges.


  1. Well done. Looks like quite a fun time.

    1. Thanks, nothing is better than having your sons ask you to play a game that does not involve a Wii or X-Box! There is hope!

  2. Fantastic! Great looking ships and terrain, as well as figures. Your son playing with you is the icing on the cake.

    1. Thank you. It is nice to be able to spend a rainy day with him that does not involve X-Box or Wii. The trick is to start them young: Axis and Allies, Risk and Stratego-the same way my brother and I started!