The Author's Views
The Author's Views
Last April (2016) at Triples I managed to for fill a dream of mine, I bought a rubberised game mat. It was a sea scape with 40 x 70 30mm hexes. It was rather expensive but I could not resist. I already have a large collection of Hallmark 1:6000 scale ships, covering Russo-Japanese to Modern. What has this to do with Terra Fere I hear you ask? (well I imagine you asking any way). Well it appeared Andy had some 1200 scalee ACW ships he was willing to donate to the cause, as he was a 1:600 scale man now. With Terra Fere expanding to the Americas and the Great River flowing through Hoysee there was quite some scope to expand into naval or at least riverine warfare.
We of course needed some rules and that was no easy decision. We had tried a number in the past proportioning to be 'Quick Play' but actually when playing took forever. Part of the problem is in fact the period. But 1805 and Trafalgar naval sailing technology was fairly mature, but the invention of the steam engine and shell equipped artillery changed the whole dynamic of naval warfare. It was not until the 1890s that naval technology could be described as mature again, with each successive ship having advantage over its predecessor. Even in the American Civil War vessels claiming to be sisters often had radically different characteristics.
The up shot of this was we wanted a set of rules which were reasonable easy to play (who am I kidding, easy to play) but which differentiated the armour, speeds, varying arcs of fire and weapon types. We finally decided to play test a set of science fiction rules called Starmada. I use these with my space ships and the game system, produced by Majestic12, has a naval set of rules in the stable. The naval rules are quite good and I use then for my 1:6000 scale stuff but using a hex measuring 1000 yards they are too broad for our 19th Century riverine warfare.The original Starmada however had a fan produced supplement called Ironclad. The supplement available on the majestic12 forum contains a host of ships for most nations, not just US and CSA, a scenario book, the list of which Starmada rules apply and some special rules for sailing vessels.
This last Tuesday Andy and I play tested the rules. Our first attempt was a Viginia vs Monitor. the two ships wallowed around the map pounding away with little effect, until Andy got a lucky hit and smashed my engine and left the Monitor dead in the water. The next game was the defence of the river transports as Keller's invasion force crossed the Great River at the start of the Hoysee-Keller War. One issue we had to deal with was how to represent terrain. I had hit on a high tech solution which allowed a highly variable representation of almost any terrain required. CHALK. From the local Poundland (other stores are available) I bought a box of kids chalks. Depending on your artistic ability and imagination the final result can range from sufficient to highly detailed. With a quick wipe of a damp cloth afterwards removing any trace from the rubberised material.
The second game based loosely on the battle of Memphis, well I copied the map. Pitted a single Hoysee Ironclad against a group of lightly armed Cotton (sorry linen) clad Kellerite escorts. The transport fleet were assumed to off table down river. We played the game three times. The first Andy as Keller manoeuvred his ships to take advantage of his shallower draft to sail behind an island, while I sailed unopposed past in the main river! The second saw the two gunboats attempt to block the main river channel but loose out to the more heavily armed ironclad. The final game pitted four gun boats against the Hoysee ironclad. This time the final result saw two gunboats sunk one drifting down stream along with the ironclad with the remaining gunboat badly damaged.
Findings: Starmada is a tool kit of rules and once we had sorted out which did and did not apply and which needed adjustment, counter-measures becoming low silhouette for example. The game ran well. We managed to find that elusive and highly subject balance between detail and play ability. The plan now is to consolidate the required rules together and edit sci-fi terms such as shields to Armour and starship to ship. As for the result of the game? Read about the battle of Keller's Crossing in the history section.