Sunday, April 3, 2016

Medieval Naval Warfare in the Channel - first game

I have recently embarked on playing with some miniatures that I have for over 20 years.  I had some 15mm Ral Partha SF minis that I am using to play SF skirmish.  I had a small amount of 35 year old Modern (as it was in 1980!) British forces that I have recently played a few games with.  I also have some 1/3000 medieval cogs that I bought, painted and them played a few games with back in 1980.  This post is digging out those cogs for a game, using them for the first time in 35 years.

There are not many medieval naval rules out there.  The ones I used in 1980 were the Lance Railton Medieval Warfare in the Channel rules published in the June and July issue of Military Modelling. They are designed to use with Bill Lamming's 1/3000 cogs.

The other rules I looked at were Lord of the Sea.  Lord of the Sea seems like a good set but are a little more abstract than Railton’s Medieval Warfare in the Channel as they cover a lot more different ship types.  From reading them only they do seem like they would give a fine game and would really like to try them out.  They also cover a wider period and more ships types than Medieval Warfare in the Channel (just cogs).  I went with Medieval Warfare in the Channel as it is what I know.  The rules are very 70’s and I *needed* to streamline the rules I could not help myself and the rules still keep all the elements from the original rules that I liked, but easier mechanisms.  The sailing rules are mostly the same, the ship sizes are slightly different (revised and based on the same source as Lance used) but the combat rules are greatly simplified.  The original rules had individual casualty tracking, combat casualties inflicted based on soldiers multiplied by a die roll and divided by 20, written orders two moves in advance and hull damage tracked per 10 tonnes.  My rules simplify the amount of tracking and use rolling for initiative rather than written orders.  Hull points are about 1 per 40 tonnes (instead of 1:10), and soldiers are represented at about a 1:10 ratio (instead on 1:1).  The original rules were in inches, with many ¼” ½” and ¾” measurements.  I changed to 1cm for ¼”.

My draft rules that I used can be downloaded here: Cog Combat in the Channel

For this I selected only a few cogs on each side, with one side with less but a big cogs and less archers, and the other with more ships and more archers.

Alice, 120tons, Hull:3, Troops: 2 men-at-arms, 1 Archer, Officers:2 + fleet commander
Bethany: 120tons, Hull:3, Troops: 2 men-at-arms, 1 Archer, Officers:2
Charity: 100tons, Hull:2, Troops: 1 men-at-arms, 1 Archer, Officers:2

Forkum, 200tons, Hull 5, Troops: 4 men-at-arms, 1 Archer, Officers: 3 + fleet commander
Gelderland, 100tons, Hull:3, Troops: 3 men-at-arms, Officers:2

I set them up with enough distance between them for a bit of manoeuvring and neither disadvantaged by the wind direction.  The mat is a 1 foot vinyl tile I picked up a few years ago to make a river but never got around to it.

Apologies for using black for the ship labels in the pictures.  I will use while next time.  I normally use white, no idea why I used black this time.

Setup.  Winds is coming from the far edge to near edge.
The first few turns were moving towards each other.

7 turns later.  maybe set them up close next time!
With low number of archers on board (1) the ships, they only have a small chance to hit.

Alice fires on Forkum - no result.(there is a 1/6 chance of a stun).

We are at turn 8.
Alice fires at Forkum - nothing again
Bethany fires at Forkum and gets a stun.  Forkum will be -1 for next turn's close combat.
Charity fires at Gelderland - nothing

Close enough for firing.

next turn sees some grappling.
Alice versus Forkum
Alice and Forkum grapple
Alice rolls 1d6 of 6  +2 troops (the 1 archer does noot add anything) + 1 fleet commander = 9.  The natural 6 is a special casualty that results in helmsman hit and Forkum will drift for 2 moves if it is ungrappled.
Forkum rolls 1d6 of 5 +4 troops  +1 fleet commander -1 stun = 9.
Difference of zero see both lose one troop (both archers)

Charity Versus Gelderland
Charity and Gelderland grapple.
Charity rolls 1d6 4 +1 troop =5.
Gelderland rolls 3 +3 troops = 6.
Gelderland wins with +1 difference that results in charity losing one (Gelderland would have lost 1 troop is charity's roll had been an odd number).

Charity has lost 50% of it troops and rolls a 4 for morale so it OK.

Next turn...

Fire phase:
Bethany fires at Forkum - nothing

Even more grappling.
Bethany tries to grapple Forkum but Forkum decides not to. An opposed roll sees Bethany winning and so grapples Forkum.

Alice and Bethany versus Forkum
Alice + Bethany rolls 1 d6 6 + 2 Alice troops + 2 Bethany troops +1 fleet commander = 11.
Forkum rolls 1d6 of 4 +3 troops  +1 fleet commander = 8.
Alice/Bethany win and Forkum loses 1 troop.

Charity versus Gelderland
Charity - d6 of 6 +1 = 7
Gelderland - d6 of  2 + 2 troop = 4
Charity inflicts one 1 hit on Gelderland

Gelderland has lost over 50% troops, fails morale test and surrenders.

Alice and Bethany versus Forkum
Alice + Bethany rolls 1 d6 6 (again!) + 2 Alice troops + 2 Bethany troops +1 fleet commander = 11.
Forkum rolls 1d6 of 3 +2 troops  +1 fleet commander = 7.
Alice/Bethany win and Forkum loses 1 troop.

Forkum has lost over 50% troops, fails morale test and surrenders.

This was actually play 2.  The first time, I wrote some rules but forgot half of them and while the play was fun, it was not really what I expected.,,because I wasn't playing my rules as I had written them! So I rewrote them,  changing the combat rolls to opposed rolls.

Well, that was quick!  And fun.  An unbelievable number of 6's rolled for the English   Ships with archers should not grapple and wait for the right time to enter into melee. Thery were lucky with the 6's The rules, the second time around, worked fine.   After the game I looked through some of the rules I had found in a bit more detail.  One stood out from 1976: A Medieval Naval Wargame by Rod Hunt (the link is to boardgamegeek where the two page images are the rules).  The combat rules in this are simpler than mine and certainly much faster. The sailing rules are very similar. I think A Medieval Naval Wargame would work better for me as the rules are less complex.  maybe one day I will use these rules. I have other games to play but want to get back to these or my rules with more ships.  Fun and fast!


  1. That's a cool departure from the usual! Sounds like a fun game :)

  2. A nice change of pace as Pruf says!

    I'll have to look at those rules, as I am finally working on some naval stuff myself, not Medieval but one never knows ;)


  3. Thanks Aaron and Greg. I got these in 1980 when I guess I was still a proper wargamer and was easily distracted into other periods and genres! But it was fun to play them again - something different!