Un Trio de Batailles Navales (3)

With a second glorious victory for the Royal Navy, we prepared to set sail one more time – the mighty HMS Vanguard set forth again under my command opposed by the French Téméraire Class 74 Audacieux (actually the Sails of Glory model Généreux again) commanded by Joel. Having successfully defeated Généreux and sent her off across the channel with a prize crew HMS Vanguard resumed her close blockade of part of the Brittany coast, and it was not long before a French vessel (le Audacieux) was spotted making a run for the nearby port…

Audacieux vs. HMS Vanguard Wargaming.info

An aggressive start as Audacieux and HMS Vanguard close rapidly and exchange broadsides!

Action commenced with Audacieux and HMS Vanguard closing aggressively – the former determined to close with the arrogant english vessel and teach it a lesson, the latter determined to prevent the french man o’ war from reaching it’s destination. Closing rapidly both vessels were soon exchanging initial starboard broadsides! Audacieux getting herself better positioned, and delivering a greater weight of shot than she received (10 vs. 8). However damage was fairly even – HMS Vanguard suffering only 12 Hull, 1 Mast, and 1 Rudder damage, while inflicting on Audacieux 10 Hull, 2 Crew, 1 Sail, and 1 Rudder damage – highlighting some inferior shooting by the French (5 out of 10 chits were 0 damage)! As Audacieux turned away HMS Vanguard was in perfect position for a stern rake, but alas her broadside was not yet reloaded! So HMS Vanguard turned to pursue…

Audacieux vs. HMS Vanguard Wargaming.info

HMS Vanguard can’t quite get reloaded in time for a stern rake as Audacieux draws off in the distance…

In her haste to pursue Vanguard set full sail to chase down the frenchman, and narrowly avoided being bow-raked when the wiley Audacieux turned about and caught HMS Vanguard unprepared… The game was afoot and the two vessels and masters evenly matched – and so the dance continued… Meanwhile damage control parties on both vessels worked feverishly to repair as much damage as possible.

Audacieux vs. HMS Vanguard Wargaming.info

More manoeuvring – this time Audacieux isn’t quite able to pull off a bow rake of HMS Vanguard!

HMS Vanguard’s extremely aggressive pursuit eventually led her into trouble – receiving a full unanswered larboard initial broadside from Audacieux, and narrowly missing being raked (again!) – but the damage at close range was significant (19 Hull, 2 Crew, 1 Rudder) – the french gunnery was improving!

Audacieux vs. HMS Vanguard Wargaming.info

Audacieux ultimately gains the advantage and gives HMS Vanguard her other initial broadside at close range!

Despite being heavily damaged HMS Vanguard gained the tactical advantage as the frenchman again turned away and although just unable to get in a stern-rake on Audacieux did give her her initial port broadside – delivering significant damage at close range despite the reduced weight (11 Hull, 2 Crew, 1 Sail, and a FIRE)! More manoeuvring ensued as both vessels came about to try and gain the weather gauge and the tactical advantage over each other while Audacieux frantically fought the fire onboard…

Audacieux vs. HMS Vanguard Wargaming.info

HMS Vanguard replies with her weakened initial larboard broadside at close range, Audacieux just avoiding a stern rake !

The tenacious frenchman succeeded and HMS Vanguard became, for the moment, the pursued! Audacieux tried desperately to run her down, but Vanguard managed to just stay ahead of the french…

Audacieux vs. HMS Vanguard Wargaming.info

HMS Vanguard becomes the prey, with Audacieux chasing her downwind (into the rocky bay)…

…before catching them unawares and turning across Audacieux’s bow to close and open fire with a broadside at close range – but this time Vanguard’s gunnery let her down (1 Crew & 3 “0” damages) – but Audacieux had now suffered heavy cumulative crew casualties – and was down to 50% of her complement. Audacieux had now gained control of her fire, but both vessels – despite extensive repair crew work – were reduced to only 3 remaining undamaged hull boxes (out of their original 9 – both having repaired 1 full box).

Audacieux vs. HMS Vanguard Wargaming.info

An aggressive pursuit by Audacieux allows HMS Vanguard to get in an early broadside – but it’s a dismal display!

As HMS Vanguard sailed forth Audacieux turned across her stern and delivered a far more effective broadside in return… Vanguard takes a pounding again at close range (9 Hull & 1 Crew) and is now down to only 2 undamage hull boxes (but still has 70% of her crew) and is frantically repairing one hull box. She has however inadvertently sailed into a small narrow bay, which is a dead-end, and flanked by coast one side and reefs and an island on the other!

Audacieux vs. HMS Vanguard Wargaming.info

Audacieux shows them how it’s done and Stern Rakes HMS Vanguard at close range…

As Vanguard endeavours to reduce her speed and navigate through the reef to escape the bay, she manages a parting long-range broadside at the frenchman now heading back out to deeper water… While miniscule in weight, Audacieux does suffer some notable damage (4 Hull & 1 Leak), and is also now reduced to 4 undamaged hull boxes (having managed to previously repair one) and needing to pump furiously to stay afloat and avoid filling those remaining boxes with water!

Audacieux vs. HMS Vanguard Wargaming.info

The heavily damaged HMS Vanguard gets off a long range broadside causing some lucky damage to Audacieux.

Meanwhile Vanguard completely bungles her turn, misses the gap in the reef, and smashes her way across the rocks – managing to survive her encounter with land with manageable damage (3 Hull) and with Neptune’s favour avoids running aground!

Audacieux vs. HMS Vanguard Wargaming.info

HMS Vanguard smashes her way across the reef following some incompetent seamanship!

But once clear she is again the pursuer, as Audacieux slinks off to the open sea to repair her leaks and other damage – the chase is back on! Like two punch drunk pugilists in the 10th round they prepare for a fresh exchange of blows…

Audacieux vs. HMS Vanguard Wargaming.info

Now the badly damaged HMS Vanguard sets off upwind in pursuit of her French prey…

And it’s HMS Vanguard who gets in the first shot – a long range broadside causes more damage to Audacieux (3 Hull) and starts another FIREAudacieux is down to 2 undamaged hull boxes.

Audacieux vs. HMS Vanguard Wargaming.info

HMS Vanguard again gets off a long range broadside causing some more fortuitous damage to Audacieux.

But HMS Vanguard gets retaliation – as Audacieux gets off a more effective bow-rake broadside in reply (5 Hull & 1 Rudder damage) – reducing HMS Vanguard to two remaining hull boxes (lucky that she had completed her repairs to a hull box earlier or she’d have been down to 1)! However the fire has done this to Audacieux and she is down to 1 undamaged hull boxes too!

Audacieux vs. HMS Vanguard Wargaming.info

Audacieux finally gets in an effective (bow-rake) reply to HMS Vanguard while also fighting her fires & leaks…

The end is near and both vessels close point blank on each other – Audacieux manages to get off a desultory starboard broadside, and a bow-rake at that – but sometime earlier she chose to load it with grapeshot, not roundshot – not what she wants, and it’s even worse as the damage to HMS Vanguard is inconsequential (No Damage). However the vessels collide and have become entangled!

Audacieux vs. HMS Vanguard Wargaming.info

A collision sees the vessels entangled and Audacieux fires off an ineffective grapeshot broadside!

Entangled HMS Vanguard let’s loose with what she can bear of her starboard broadside – causing major damage to Audacieux (5 Hull & 1 Mast damage), the french vessel can only reply with feeble musketry (2 “0” damage) – with both vessel’s then initiating boarding actions (HMS Vanguard’s crew were too busy to use musketry). Audacieux now has no undamaged hull boxes left* (infact she is just 2 hull points from completely sinking) while HMS Vanguard still has 2 full undamaged hull boxes (10 hull points), and she has only 5 crew vs. HMS Vanguard’s 7.

Audacieux vs. HMS Vanguard Wargaming.info

Entangled HMS Vanguard fires a broadside before boarding actions ensue and Audacieux strikes her colours!

Both vessel’s grapple each other and a whirlwind mêlée ensues and an inconclusive fight delivers similar casualties to each side – however at this juncture Audacieux’s remaining 3 crew surrender, striking their colours – and HMS Vanguard has secured yet another french 3rd rate prize! Although no longer entangled, HMS Vanguard’s prize crew set to work removing the grapples and securing prisoners to prepare Audacieux for her journey back across the channel to Portsmouth!

* Technically Audacieux struck as soon as HMS Vanguard’s broadside eliminated her 1 remaining undamaged hull box – but as it was such a see-saw exciting encounter we quickly fought out the boarding action anyway…

More Sails of Glory

It had been a fine day for the Royal Navy, with 3 victories over their French opponent (Joel McNelly) – but this last engagement especially had been a close run thing! This game was played using essentially all the advanced and optional rules in Sails of Glory. If you haven’t seen them already check out my series of Sails of Glory Solo Campaign Games too.

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