Friday, April 5, 2013

19th Century Imaginations - Rules for Naval Battles

Here are some simple rules for playing 19th Century (Transition era) naval actions. This is the age of the 1850s-1870s when ships still were mast rigged, but had steam power as well. Ironclads are covered as well.
Furstenberg vs. Rumpwhistle in the 23 Weeks War

  1. Ships come in two sizes, big and medium. Which, to show off our saltiness, we can call Battleship (or Ship of the Line) for Big, and Cruiser (or Frigate) for medium.

  2. All ships may move under Steam or under Sail.

  3. All ships have two types of hit points - Hull and Mast. These are divided up into three divisions each.

  4. Battleships have three mast divisions, each taking 5 points of damage. They have three hull divisions, each taking 12 points of damage.

  5. Cruisers have three mast divisions, each taking 4 points of damage. They have three hull divisions, each taking 8 points of damage.

  6. Sail movement - The ship may roll 1d6 for each (whole or partial) mast division they have left.

    1. The ship may choose to roll few dice, but must move all that they roll.

    2. The ship moves forward (without turning) the distance of one dice at a time, Captain's choice.

    3. After moving ahead, the ship may make a turn - Battleship, up to 45 degrees; Cruiser up to 90 degrees.

    4. Vagueness of sail movement is preserved, without worrying about wind gauge, sail setting, etc - boring things that landlubbers THINK we salty captains care about.

  7. Steam movement - The ship moves a standard amount, and may make a turn every 4". The number of inches varies based on how many hull divisions the ship has left.

    1. If the ship has three hull divisions left (whole or partial) then it may move a total of 16".

    2. If the ship has two hull divisions left, then it may move a total of 8".

    3. If the ship has only one hull division left, it may not move via Steam.

    4. Turns (every 4") are as per sail movement - Battleships 45 degrees; Cruisers 90 degrees.

  8. Steam engine clouds - Regardless of how far a steam fired ship moves, it leaves a thick cloud over the second half of its movement distance. This remains for two turns.

  9. Shooting - Ships may shoot at anyone within range. Battleships have 24" range; Cruisers have 18" range. A target is declared, dice are rolled, hits are recorded.

    1. Battleships roll 5 dice per hull division they have left (whole or damaged); Cruisers roll 3 dice per hull division that they have left.

    2. A target vessel is nominated before rolling, also announce if firing is Regular, High, or Low. Each division of a firing ship may choose a different target.

    3. Regular fire - Roll dice, every 6 scores a Mast hit; every 1 scores a Hull hit.

    4. High fire - Roll dice, every 6+ scores a Mast hit. Half of the 1s rolled score Hull Hits (round up), then reroll the other 1s, this time adding +1 to each die.

    5. Low Fire - Roll dice, every 1- scores a Hull hit. Half of the 6s rolled score Mast hits (round up), then reroll the other 6s, this time subtracting -1 to each die.

  10. Damage - All damage (either hulls or masts) goes against one division completely, until that division is gone, and so forth. No splitting it up.

    1. Ships that have lost all three Hull divisions have sunk.

    2. Ships that have not sunk are towed home by the victor of the battle.

    3. Damaged ships may completely repair one division (hull or mast) per week in a port.

  11. Visibility - Ships moving under Steam (i.e. - those with Coal Smoke) lose 1d6 off the total they can roll to shoot with, per division.

    1. Cruisers cannot trace a line of fire through a Battleship.

    2. All other combinations are possible (battleship firing past anything, or cruiser firing past cruiser).

    3. No ship can see past smoke to fire.

  12. Ramming - If a ship model can move into another ship model, then the chance for a ram occurs.

    1. Roll 1d6 - on a 1,2,3 the ram actually occurs.

    2. If the ram does not occur, move the moving ship past the other ship.

    3. If a ram occurs, roll all the firing dice that the ship doing the ramming has available to it - i.e. an undamaged Battleship would have 15 dice; a Cruiser missing one hull division would have 6 dice; etc.

    4. All 1s rolled do one point of hull damage to the Ramming ship, all 5s and 6s rolled do one point of damage to the ship being rammed.

  13. The Torpedo - Cruisers carry one torpedo, Battleships carry two. They are quite unreliable.

    1. A torpedo has 12" range.

    2. A stationary ship (one that has not moved this turn), or a ship under Steam power may fire a torpedo.

    3. Nominate a target, if a Battleship fires both of her torpedoes on the same turn, they must be at different targets.

    4. Roll 1d6, on a 1 it strikes the target, on a 2-6, it is lost forever.

    5. Roll 10d6 on a successful hit, all dice scoring 5,6 will do one hull point of damage.

  14. Troops - Battleships may carry two units of troops. Cruisers may carry only one unit of troops.

    1. For these purposes an artillery unit counts as half of a unit. Cavalry units count as two units.

    2. A ship may send units ashore, or collect them again, via boats, if they are within 6" of the shoreline.

    3. A unit disembarking or embarking troops via boats may not move during the entire turn of the operation.

    4. The troops must begin their move at the shore's edge if embarking; they finish their move at the shore's edge if they have been disembarked.

  15. Shore guns - Shore batteries may fire at Ships, and be fired at.

    1. Shore guns have 24" range, and roll 4d6 per battery. They may only fire normal.

    2. Guns in batteries may be targeted by ships. Each battery takes 2 points of damage to be destroyed. Once the ship fires, each dice does a point of damage to a shore gun on a 6.

    3. If the shore battery is in stoneworks (harbor fort, etc), then reroll each 6, and only the second set of 6s will score hits.

    4. For these rules shore batteries typically are either Small (2 batteries), Medium (3 batteries), or Large (4 batteries).

  16. Ironclad vessels - The ships described so far are transition ships - still mast rigged, with with steam power included. There are also Ironclad vessels.

    1. Ironclads are neither Battleships nor Cruisers, but a different class of vessel.

    2. Ironclads do not have Mast divisions. They do have three Hull divisions, of 8 points each.

    3. Ironclads may only move via steam power. They may move 12" if they have all three hull divisions left, and only 6" if they have two divisions left. Once they are down to one division, they may not move.

    4. Ironclads have two turrets, each rolling 6d6 to fire. Each turret may target a different target. They may not fire High or Low, only regular.

    5. Once an Ironclad has only two hull divisions left, it may only fire one turret. Once it is down to one hull division, it may not fire.

    6. Mast hits scored against an Ironclad miss. Hull hits scored against an Ironclad must reroll. Reroll all hull hits scored, and only on 5s and 6s do they actually do damage.

    7. Ironclads that are ramming wooden ships do not take damage. Ironclads rammed by wooden ships, or by other Ironclads do take damage.

    8. Ironclads have one torpedo.

    9. Torpedos fired against the Ironclad actually hit on a 1 or 2 (because of the poor handling of the target, not because of magnetic homing).

  17. Fighting Battles - Set up the playing surface. Shorelines, shore batteries, and shoals should be clearly marked.

    1. Battleships may not move over shoals. If they do, they take 1d6 worth of hull points.

    2. At the start of each turn, each Admiral rolls 1d6. A legendary admiral adds +1, the side with more ships trailing smoke (i.e. moving under steam) subtracts -1. The high score has initiative.

    3. The Admiral with initiative decides to move first or second. When a player moves, they move all their units.

    4. Once both sides have moved, Shooting is simultaneous. The side with initiative resolves their shooting first (i.e. declare targets, roll for damage, etc - but all damage takes effect simultaneously).

    5. If a ship is of Poor quality (as per scenario or campaign) then the first time it takes damage, immediately roll 1d6. On a 1 or 2 it strikes its colors, and does not take a further role in the battle. Otherwise it is okay.

    6. Once one side or the other has lost Half of their vessels (a vessel is considered "lost" if it is down to only one Hull division, regardless of its fighting ability), that side must begin rolling Morale at the end of each turn.

    7. Roll 1d6 for morale. On a 1 or 2, the side surrenders, and the other side is the victor. If the side rolling for morale has a Legendary Admiral, subtract one from the roll. If the other side has a Legendary Admiral, then add one to the roll.

    8. To handle smoke,  use two different colored pom pom balls, Gray and Black.  After all the ships on your side move, remove all Gray pom pom balls that belong to you (i.e. were placed by your ships).  Then replace all Black pom pom balls with Gray ones.  Then place new Black pom pom balls behind the second half of movement of your Steam powered vessels.

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