Capitaine de frégate Josepe Aurèle Géroux had been pursuing the English frigate for several days now, but finally he had outthought his foe and was almost upon them. His command, the Dryade (a 36-gun Frigate of the Republic) was in fighting trim and spoiling for a fight, and he was himself known in the French Navy for his uncanny aim and the quality of his crew’s gunnery. It was also vital that the English vessel be caught, as it contained valuable intelligence on board and a person of great interest to The Directoire, it must not reach the safety of English waters! However as dawn approaches the Dryade has been shrouded in a thick sea fog, and the enemy vessel is lost from sight – but with the rising sun the fog burns off and the enemy is spotted…
HMS Sybille (for this is Capitaine Géroux’s prey) is to the stern of Dryade, and just as she had thought she might slip away in the fog is actually about to be taken aback caught by the rising wind as the fog clears. A sister ship to Dryade (originally of La Royale – The French Royal Navy) HMS Sybille is a 34-gun Frigate and her captain, Commander Crofton Merrick Seward-Beckham, is now forced to rapidly clear for action as the Dryade materialises out of the fog slightly astern to larboard! As both vessels frantically clear for action, the fog clears and the two captains issue their orders – Capitaine Géroux orders Dryade to come about hard to larboard in an aggressive turn that will sacrifice trying to gain the weather gauge but hopefully bring her rapidly into close action with HMS Sybille. Onboard the latter Commander Seward-Beckham is instead contending with the wind as his charge is rapidly taken aback, the wind that has cleared the fog and exposed her has also caught her on a bad heading, she is twice cursed!
This all works to the favour of Seward-Beckham and HMS Sybille however, who are immediately able to open fire with a larboard bow broadside into the Dryade, and she is unable to respond in kind as HMS Sybille is just far enough astern to escape the fire of her own larboard guns!
Undeterred Géroux’s continues Dryade’s tight turn, coming around to a NW heading in anticipation of opening fire on HMS Sybille, who continues to be taken aback and flung round by the wind to the ENE! Capitaine Géroux is dismayed to find that although in a good position to potentially rake Sybille she is just beyond the range of his larboard bow broadside! Sacrebleu! On the Sybille meanwhile the larboard guns are rapidly reloaded and run back out.
Now Géroux takes a big gamble – Seward-Beckham & Sybille have the weather gauge – but he determines to continue his hard to larboard manoeuvre to endeavour to get around Sybille and force her to give up her now advantageous position! Dryade unfortunately, is outmanoeuvred, and Sybille comes to larboard as she gets back underway, countering Géroux’s gambit! Caught out Dryade receives a bow rake from Sybille’s starboard bow broadside at close range and is again unable to respond – as once again HMS Sybille is in a blind spot!
Dryade is already receiving the worst of this exchange – with notable hull damage and about 20% Crew Casualties! HMS Sybille now firmly has the wind, and the weather gauge, and Géroux responds by veering to starboard and coming around hard to try and cut across the bows of Sybille. But Seward-Beckham is too smart, and he performs a near identical manoeuvre – out-foxing Géroux again! With superior boat speed he cuts across Dryade’s path and the latter collides with Sybille’s larboard forequarter – perfectly positioned to receive yet another broadside rake from HMS Sybille and some deadly musketry to boot – to which she can only reply lamely with her own ineffectual musketry!
Dryade is taking a pounding – she’s had nearly 30% Hull Damage and her crew have near 45% hors de combat! As the two vessels manoeuvre around each other from the collision Sybille maintains her dominant position as Capitaine Géroux tries vainly to pull Dryade clear of her adversary and hopefully temporarily out of arc of her deadly guns! This fails miserably and exposes Dryade to a potential stern rake – but luckily Seward-Beckham’s larboard broadside is still reloading and can’t make use of the opportunity!
Both vessels come about hard, their captains determined to try and best the other – but once again Dryade just comes off badly! She does however finally get to let loose a broadside on HMS Sybille – but her gunnery is outdone by Sybille’s – and she takes still more of a pounding! With over 55% hull damage and near 50% crew losses versus some minor hull damage (about 15%) to HMS Sybille this engagement is all but over unless Capitaine Géroux can sortir un lapin d’un chapeau (pull a rabbit out of a hat)! Even Géroux’s famous uncanny gunnery does not help!
Like Alley Cats fighting the two frigates manoeuvre tightly around each other – again Géroux tries to get into a blind spot, or at least get Sybille onto his larboard beam so he can deliver a second successive broadside. Again Seward-Beckham is one step ahead of him and HMS Sybille, aided by the wind, turns tighter and faster, keeping to Dryade’s discharged starboard broadside but bringing her own loaded and ready starboard broadside to bear! Dryade can only reply with some limited but fairly effective musketry, but she gets as good as she gives from HMS Sybille in that quarter.
Now with almost 75% Hull Damage and near 60% Crew Casualties Capitaine Géroux is not to proud to know when son oie est cuite (his goose is cooked) – and rapidly elects to unashamedly flee the scene as quickly as possible! Luckily Commander Seward-Beckham on the HMS Sybille is conscious of how critical his mission is and so does not pursue, turning instead back on course for his port and the eventual safety of English waters! Onboard the beaten and battered Dryade, Capitaine de frégate Géroux fills in his captain’s log, and ponders how he will explain this engagement to his commandant de l’escadron, Contre-amiral Victore!
This was my first ever game of Sails of Glory – it was played solo with the basic (introductory) version of the rules and was easy and great fun, it augurs well for playing more age of sail gaming in the future! I was Capitaine Géroux commanding the Dryade, and HMS Sybille was run using the campaign’s AI (Artificial Intelligence) system. The scenario was the first game (January Scenario) of the 2015 Solo Campaign being played by members of the Sails of Glory Anchorage Forum. This is a great community for like minded people who enjoy Sails of Glory (commonly abbreviated SoG or SGN for Sails of Glory: Napoleonic). With new ships starting to arrive, there should be enough here for all but the most hardcore age of sail gamer!
Back to the campaign, and Capitaine Géroux returns to port having not gained any status points for his career or abilities, while Commander Seward-Beckham is the toast of his squadron! What will the next engagement (February) bring? You can follow my games in the Anchorage SGN Solo section of Wargaming.info. Oh, and on a final note, for those interested my French Squadron consists of the following captains:
- Contre-amiral Thierry Frédéric Victore (InC)
- Capitaine de vaisseau Côme Rainier Fabian
- Capitaine de frégate Josepe Aurèle Géroux (AC)
- Capitaine de frégate Lothaire Rémi Babineaux
- Capitaine de frégate Gearóid Teodosio Bissette
- Capitaine de corvette Cyrille Léopold Villeneuve
- Capitaine de corvette Baptiste Stanislas Gage
- Lieutenant de vaisseau Sacha Lucrèce Paget
* InC denotes a Captain with Intuition, and AC one with Aiming (Gunnery) skills.
The Campaign Continues
Read on to the next action “Our Ships Were French Oak And Hearts of Oak Our Men“.