Last Saturday was supposed to have been one of Bob's big games (Halloween-themed, appropriately), but last minutes problems came up and the event was unfortunately cancelled. Not having anything else to do, (other) Bob suggested we play Sails of Glory.
The scenario was a simple "line up and fight" game, with my ship-of-the-line Genereux and frigate Unite against Bob's ship-of-the-line Terpsichore and frigate Defence.
The first few turns saw us maneuvering closer together. I was lucky in that I had the wind in my favor, although I made the mistake of assuming that Sails of Glory measures movement from front to front like most other wargames. This turned out not to be the case, and so for the first couple turns I was moving slower than I should have been! This was quickly corrected.
Maneuvering continued. Bob's ships were forced to sail into the wind, slowing their progress. My ships, however, had the wind angled right into their sails, and they plowed through the waves.
When the ships finally closed, their cannons boomed, with wood and men both flying apart, cut into tiny pieces. The Defence, caught between the Genereux and the Unite (which had started the game loaded with double-shot) was quickly shattered and sunk below the waves.
The Terpsichore came to a full stop and began to reverse, as the Genereux and Unite turned. Crews on both sides scrambled to reload their cannons.
Thanks to some poor planning on my part, the Genereux found itself out of the fight, and would spend the rest of the game trying to turn with poor sails and even poorer wind.
Meanwhile, I had sent the Unite after the Terpsichore. I fully expected this to be a suicide run, as even with the damage that had been done to the British ship from the Genereux, I didn't think the Unite's small armament could do much damage. What the frigate could do, however, is do enough damage that the Genereux could come in and finish the fight.
Events turned out a bit different, however. The British ship-of-the-line and the French frigate came close enough that muskets and swords were readied, and the resulting musketry and boarding action left both ships weakened.
As I had expected the Unite to go down after getting into close range, I had ordered for grapeshot to be loaded into the cannons. Now that the two ships were no longer touching, I fired a broadside into the Terpsichore's decks, along with musket fire from what crew remained on the Unite. This last volley was enough to disable enough of the British ship's crew that it could no longer fight. Victory to the French!
As Bob and I discussed afterwards, Sails of Glory does have its share of problems. Most of that comes from how complicated the game is in some areas (like orders) and how simple it is in other (like movement). It's definitely a game that becomes challenging to run if each player has more than a couple ships under their control. I prefer it the way it was played in my first experience with the game - a large event game with each player controlling their ship.
But that doesn't mean it can't make for a fun game, and I'm glad Bob decided to bring it out as a replacement.
As an aside, we also discussed a set of rules Bob is working on to make use of his Dreadfleet models. They sound interesting, using playing cards for movement, activation, and attacking. Hopefully we'll get a chance to play in the future.