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  1. #1
    Ancient Lurker Will J's Avatar
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    The Age of Fighting Sail

    Hey all,

    I wondered if we have any fellow resident naval historians. Or anyone who knows a thing or two about 18th century sailing warships. I have been interested in this area of military history for some time and have read much into the subject, and i'm currently adapting the rules of BFG to fit that style of warfare (hence why this is in General Hobby Discussion.) I specifically would like to know the types of gun carried on ships of the line, as there will obviously be different effects for each gun in game terms. The armaments I am familiar with are Culvarins, Corranadesand Long guns. Any I missed?
    Any other generally interesting stuff will be cool too. I have some more books on order, but I just wondered if anyone here knows much about this era. Thanks in advance.

    Last edited by Will J; April 24th, 2006 at 11:38.
    Quote Originally Posted by Karmoon View Post
    WILL J!~
    You have a beard. You are in dire need of nothing. You are complete. Amen.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Maugatar's Avatar
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    Have you ever heared of a ye olde GW game called man of war if not check it out you will be pleasantly surprised.

    It is exactly what you are trying to make.

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    Ancient Lurker Will J's Avatar
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    I'm fairly familiar with man o' war. A good game no doubt, but the rules are not all too well suited to the depth of play that a historical wargame deserves IMO. Plus I want this game to be almost instantly understandable to BFG players. The BFG system is wonderfully dynamic and balanced, and the rules cater for a much deeper game experience. I want the tactics that Nelson used at Trafalger to be useable in the game to similar effect. BFG allows for a similar strategic style.

    Thanks anyway Maugatar.
    Quote Originally Posted by Karmoon View Post
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  5. #4
    Senior Member Blue Meanie's Avatar
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    Go to your local library and check out the Patrick O'Brian books about Jack Aubry and Stephen Maturin. They made a movie based on these books a little while ago, but the books are much, much better. Start with "Master and Commander" and "Post Captian." Wonderful books; they aren't so much "men's adventure" (a category into which such dismal naval books such as the Alexander Kent series falls) as historical fiction. One review I read said that they were what you might see if Jane Austin had been born a man and wrote about the sea.

    Anyway, to get back to your main question, the armorment on 18th century naval vessels was limited compaired to what you might expect. Obviously, we're talking about black powder cannon exclusively, but the primary categories of cannon are:

    "long" -- generally (but not necessarily) lighter weight (weight being the weight of the ball) cannon with long barrels, used as "chasers" to hit at extreme long range. Not that many of these, and mostly in the bow or the stern.

    Main guns: the main armorment of a man of war, located on the gun decks. These cannon shot heavy balls a medium to long distance.

    Carronaides: Short-range, extremely heavy weight guns for close-in slug fests, often filled with "chain" (either actual chains or various materials used to rake the enemy decks or cut rigging). Think shotguns as opposed to rifles.

    Having said that, it wasn't the armorment per se that made the difference, but the vessels themselves. The main "line of battle ships" (where we get the modern "battleship") were huge, slow, ungainly monsters that put enormous amounts of fire. The prime example of this is the HMS Victory, still in existance in England.

    The Victory is a "first rate" ship of the line, meaning it was as big as it got: three main gun decks as well as some carrionaides on the top deck. It was Nelson's flagship at Trafalger.

    There were smaller ships of the line, of course, with various numbers of gun decks, but the next "class" of vessels were frigates, with one gun deck. While ships of the line were built to deal out and take punishment, frigates were built for speed as well as firepower. The prime existing example is the USS Constitution, still afloat in Boston, much as the Victory is kept in England. Great sea battles were fought by ships of the line, and duels were fought by frigates.

    There were also huge numbers of other craft, brigs, barks, schooners and so on, but for wargaming purposes, you'll probably need to look mainly at ships of the line and frigates. Using the BFG rules is probably not going to work well, simply because the ranges at which naval engagements were fought were so close by modern standards. Also, since all vessels relied on the wind for propulsion, you'll have to translate that somehow. There are rulesets out there that have already figured all of this out, so I'd think you'd do better with one of those systems rather than trying to shoehorn sailing combat into the BFG rules.

    This is all off the top of my head, so I may have some stuff wrong. You'd best check out the websites of the Victory and the Constitution: they're both online and IIRC, have pretty cool photos/virtual tours.

  6. #5
    Ancient Lurker Will J's Avatar
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    Thankyou BlueMeanie. Thats pretty much what I knew, apart from the chasers and main gun classifications and some of the authors you mentioned, who I will take a look at.
    I'm not so much trying to "shoehorn" sailing into the BFG rules, you're totally right, the rules simply wouldn't fit. I am merely using the BFG system as a good system of naval combat on which to base my rules, which will be a complete overhaul and adaptation of the BFG rules. They will be far from identical. I have already figured out a simple but accuarate way to represent movement with sail, and the shooting rules have very little in common with the BFG ones, as the weaponry is so far removed. Range is fairly similar, in that at a scale of 1/1200, 60cm is close enough to the "effective" range of a 32lb main gun for example. Obviously, smaller calibers and carronades will have much shorter ranges.

    I will of course be concentrating on ships of the line, being 1st to 3rd rates. But I will also enable smaller classes to be used in smaller missions. Hopefully, the rules will be versatile in this respect.
    Rest assured, this will not be a hamfisted adaptation of an existing rules system. I intend to reproduce fighting conditions as closely as I can to history. The rules will have loose ties with BFG, so that they can be picked up quickly for people used to GW game systems. I know that many other systems exist, such as "signal close action," but I would like to see if I can accurately reproduce the combat in a GW style rules system.

    I have posted much about this in the Pirates Haven clan too, take a look there for some of the rules development we have been discussing.

    Thanks for your input
    Quote Originally Posted by Karmoon View Post
    WILL J!~
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  7. #6
    Consumate professional Sir Theobold the Lame's Avatar
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    good luck with your endeavour-if you need some ideas (where the BFG rules just dont fit) here are a few sets of rules you could check out to see if anything is worth adapting to your rule set:
    http://www.btinternet.com/~david.man...lesonline.html

    as to your actual question it seems like youve covered the main types- obviously the guns themselves (weight of shot used etc) would differ slightly from navy to navy but you dont want to overcomplicate the rules!
    PLAN CLAN MAN!!

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    Senior Member general jigger's Avatar
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    Don't forget about small arms fire. I'm pretty sure the royal navy employed marines armed with muskets on deck to fire at enemy vessels at very close range.

    I'm not sure but I think howitzers may also have been used. These would be relatively short barreld cannon that fired in a high arc. The ammunition would be a ball filled with gunpowder so it would explode.

    I don't know if you've considered this but another VERY IMPORTANT aspect of naval combat is the sailing qualities of the ships involved. Some ships sail faster than others in certain conditions, this is due mainly to differences in the size, shape and rigging of the ship. For example a small sloop rig would go upwind much faster then a massive square rigged ship of the line.

    Hope this helps.
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    "It was a magnificent display of trained and disciplined valour, and its assault failed of success because dead men can advance no further"
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    Senior Member Phoenix Guard 1988's Avatar
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    Howitzers were only used as ship-to-shore bombardment, otherwise they were too heavy and the math was to complicated to adjust on the fly for the target changing direction and other things.

    Yes, the various navies did use marines in the top portions of the rigging were they fired muskets and swivel-guns, miniature cannons that could fire either solid shot or grapeshot-canister shot, they fill the barrel with random nasties like musket balls, nails, really anything that could hurt somebody that was on hand.
    1500 years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the Universe
    500 years ago everybody knew the world was flat
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    Ancient Lurker Will J's Avatar
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    Sharpshooters in the tops will be a part of the boarding rules, but it's not a major shooting action, so it may only be a leadership modifying thing. That said they were armed with muskets and 1lb swivelers. Some even say they had a swivelling carronade on some tops. But that would have been difficult with even the smallest weighing a hefty 6 cwt.

    Well, here's my rough idea for movement, tell me if its good to represent sailing moves.

    Bear in mind that wind strength and windward table edge are determined randomly at the beginning of the game, and wind strength ranges between 4 and 8 (battles would not be fought out of this range I would expect,) roughly equivalent to the Beaufort scale.

    A ship has two movement values: for running before the wind (i.e 90 degrees to the wind to 270 degrees) and for close hauled (for square rigged ships between 70-90 degrees to the wind and 270-310 degrees, for other rigs 30-90 to 270-330.) This value is multiplied by the wind strength to give the maximum distance the ship may move in its current heading. So for s 74 gunner, lets say the speed is value is "5/4". With a wind strength of 6, this means a max of 30cm (run) and 24cm (close haul.) This would mean that turning would have to come first, as you may shift into a new wind facing, which would mean complicated sums....

    The only other thing that could complicate it too much is reefing of sails, or the addition of studding sail, and royals. I'll have to think about that.
    Rough, but thats the jist of it. Does it make sense to you guys?

    EDIT: Erm.....this may turn into a rules development thread. Mods, move if you see fit
    Last edited by Will J; April 25th, 2006 at 22:00.
    Quote Originally Posted by Karmoon View Post
    WILL J!~
    You have a beard. You are in dire need of nothing. You are complete. Amen.

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