Close Action - First Game

The HMS Bellona 74 sailed NNE in the light morning breeze hugging the Barbary Coast, as close as she dared, in the early morning fog. Orders for Captain Davis were to protect British interests along this section of Aftrican coastline.

Local talk had it that a large ship had been attacking merchantmen along this stretch of coast; stealing valuables, setting fire to the ships and selling crew and passengers alike to African slavers. Rumor had it that it wasn't just a 20 gun frigate, but was instead a much larger vessel... but surely the locals exaggerated, yes?

As the last bits of fog cleared, "sail ahoy" was called from the topsails. The HMS Bellona altered course slightly to intercept. Through the mist it was clear that this was a large ship... perhaps a French-built 80? Each was headed directly at the other.

Captain Davis blinked first. The Bellona hoisted her colors, tacked to port and fired her broadside. The mysterious 80 followed suit soon after. Neither exchange did much damage, and what followed was a game of cat-and-mouse as each ship parried, thrust and criss-crossed, trying to seek an advantage. The French 80 was getting the better of the exchanges. The Bellona risked a broadside as she tried to gain the weather gauge. The damage was extensive but she had the 80 where she wanted her. Now the French ship began to shudder under the pounding of the gunnery from the British vessel.

Unexpectedly, the captain of the 80 tacked into the wind to stop the abuse. Sails luffing, it pounded the Bellona with a broadside, doing damage. The Bellona overshot the 80, but, in a shift of fate, the French 80 could not complete her tack. She stood still, in irons, vulnerable.

Captain Davis turned and maneuvered his craft into his enemy's blind spot. The Bellona poured a murderous fire into the French ship. For three minutes the 80 was battered as her crew desperately tried to regain the wind and extricate themselves from the deadly broadsides.

Then it happened; the right lines were repaired and sail set, and the French ship jumped to life. It pivoted behind the Bellona and raked her stern with a devastating broadside. Crew fell as the mainmast was splintered apart and it tumbled to the deck, obscuring the starboard guns and pulling sails and snapped rigging down with it. As the Bellona tried to turn to port to reply, the ship would not respond: the rudder had been shot away with the same volley.

Lacking the ability to steer and with her rigging, shrouds and sails in shambles, the Bellona was forced to strike her colors. The battle was over. Captain Davis stared at the deck in fury and shame. How could this have happened? His crew had died to what end? Would he be sold into slavery, or ransomed back to his countrymen? He heard the boats bump against his ship as the enemy began to come aboard...

We had a great time playing Close Action. The 1:4800 Tumbling Dice ships made the counters a lot more visually appealing (although it now has me looking at the Langton ships...). I sent Will and Michael four pre-game emails to acquaint them with the basics of the rules and it made the game go very well! I can't recommend these rules highly enough! Don't be frightened off by their complexity. You feel as if you are in command of a warship in the Age of Sail! 

The game played exactly how it should have between equal opponents: the 74 was smaller, but it had a better crew so it could out-sail the 80... and that's what happened! They exchanged shots and the 80 was dominant. The 74 then took the weather gauge and began to pick the 80 apart. The 80 tried a tricky move that was brought short by a poor crew. The 74 almost had her when the 80's crew woke up and won the day. We are looking forward to our next battle!


  1. Thanks Michael!

    It was a good time. Thanks for taking the time out to learn the rules and for being so patient with my umpiring. I know that I robbed you of some good hits early in the game when I was misreading the damage charts. Sorry about that!

    - Jeff


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