The Age of Sail is intriguing and, for me, particularly the late 18th Century / early 19th Century small fleet and large fleet actions. This interest stems from the Aubrey-Maturin series of novels by Patrick O’Brian. I painted up a small (in numbers and scale!) 1:1200 Spanish fleet years ago, but I haven’t put them on the gaming table yet. I dabbled with the Wooden Ships & Iron Men (WS&IM) rules and really enjoyed the sight of miniature ships tussling with each other on the open sea.

When Stiu offered to host a game of the popular Too Fat Lardies Kiss Me Hardy (KMH) ruleset, I jumped at the chance. Much like the WS&IM rules, KMH is a game, rather than a statistical simulation. This is what I’m after, a game that does simplify certain aspects, but tries to retain the essence of naval battles and present the player with appropriate decisions. KMH is more involved than WS&IM, certainly the simplified hex-based version I played, but it’s not too involved. Manoeuvring is relatively simple – ships have a base speed (which can be impacted by damage) and a random speed element based on their angle to the wind. Turning circle templates are used to, well, turn. The ship’s speed isn’t adjusted ‘in turn’, so if they start with the wind to their bow, they benefit for it, even if they turn into the wind. This kind of simplification keeps the game (and the little ships) moving.

Similarly, they shooting is handled in a straightforward way. Ships have a damage capacity related to their number of guns. As they take damage their ability to fire with all of those guns is compromised. There are several modifiers for shooting, including some national characteristics and more significantly, the orientation shooter and target, and the range to the target. For example, a short range bow rake is a whole lot more effective (rolling more dice!) than a long range partial broadside.

The Game

In our game, the French (me and Stiu) were trying to get through a British blockade (James and Andrew). The French ships took two different approaches: I sailed along the British line, hitting them with broadsides, while Stiu punched through their line and hit them with raking shots. My ship ended up being unscathed by the encounter, but Stiu’s ship took a hammering, to the point where he struck his colours. To be fair, his endeavours mauled James’ ship so badly that he couldn’t affect an effective pursuit. My ships sailed clear of the blockade, off to realise some daring mission I’m sure!

We’re planning to play through as short, say three game, campaign. Should be a bit of craic!

Until next time,