22nd October 1794 – the British and French had been at war for over a year and a half, and that war had spread around the world. Being colonising powers, they had ‘interests’ (I dislike that word as it sounds much too benign for the destruction and misery wrought by colonisers) spread over vast distances. Some of those colonies were economically or strategically important. Île de France, modern day Mauritius, was just such a colony for France. The British were attempting to blockade this important port. On the 22nd October 1794, the French sailed out to challenge them, leading to a battle near the Île Ronde (Round Island) just to the north-north-east of Île de France.

I decided to play out this historic encounter using the adapted Wooden Ships and Iron Men rules I’ve used before. Having played Kiss Me Hardy quite a bit recently, these hex-based rules seem a little simplistic. They’re designed to be simple and they still offer some interesting decisions, but KMH definitely offered a better feel for age of sail combat at the ship level as it factors in discrete damage, e.g. on fire, damaged rudder, specific masts being damaged.

The ships formed up in lines of battle and passed each other a number of times. A French frigate, Prudente, was the first to be taken out (again mechanics are simple and it ‘sank’), but the French were relentless. They kept reforming their line and coming back at the British, resulting in the sinking of British 4th Rate Centurion. With just one ship, a 5th Rate called Diomede, left, and it having taken significant, the British had little choice but to retire. The French were well mauled, but at least they have the nearby ports on Île de France to refit. As with the historic result, the British had to leave the blockade to seek repairs.

Until next time,