To our surprise when the British fleet appeared on the table, one of their squadrons was missing! This was an interesting tactic which had never been employed in any of our previous naval games. To bring three fresh ships into the battle once the other squadrons were already engaged could prove to be a decisive blow, especially because the three missing ships were all large ships of the line.
Chris and I had decided to try and sail our most powerful Spanish squadron between two of the British squadrons that had turned-up! This would enable us to use both starboard and port broadsides, while our other two squadrons would hopefully blast their British opponents from the outside of the resulting naval melee. However, things didn’t quite work as we had planned as the British squadrons achieved better command scores and artfully dodged our trap. We could still bring a lot of Spanish guns to bear on the lighter British vessels and Chris produced the best rolls of the game with his gunnery dice. It was with great dismay that Tony and Dave looked into a rolling tray which was full of six’s pointing to the ceiling – lots of ‘critical’ hits!
The following couple of game turns saw the British ships give as much as they got, but the initial Spanish advantage was maintained and a British frigate and then a 3rd rate ship of the line was sent to the bottom. This was not without cost as critical hits from the British gunnery had managed to set five of the Spanish ships on fire. Try as we might, we failed to put out the fires and had to watch them slowly burn like candles.
The last British squadron finally made an appearance, its progress slowed by a less than favourable wind direction. However, the sheer speed and ferocity of the gunnery battle over that of previous games meant that they had arrived too late! By the time their intervention had helped to sink two of the Spanish vessels including the a 1st rate ship, six British vessels were already sunk!
At the conclusion of the game we could claim a Spanish victory of 6 to 2 in terms of ships sunk, but in truth this wasn’t a fair reflection of the state of play. Four of the Spanish ships were still ablaze and although still afloat, most of the others were in a pretty battered state with many guns out of action and reduced speed. Had the game continued into overtime there would have been plenty of opportunity for the three ‘fresh’ British vessels to inflict considerable damage on their Spanish opponents.