Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Modified Trafalgar Rules

·         Move Inertia 2cm straight Forward (unless in irons)
·         Must move full allowance determined by sail setting (or altered by luffing or tacking)
·         May not move into the wind unless tacking or "luffing"
·         Luffing reduces movement as desired.
·         Turns as allowed on roster sheet and turn templates
·         Reaching add 1/3 move distance
·         Beating lose 1/3 move distance

·         Must be beating close hauled at start of turn
·         move inertia
·         turn into wind by pivoting around centre point
next turn
·         Place on opposite tack or original tack
·         end movement
Command check required only if under fire or masts have been damaged. If you fail a command check to tack, ship is left luffing or in irons at discretion of opponent.
Not permitted to tack on successive turns

Command Check: 2D6+Command>10 to pass
Pointing directly into the wind
Command Check Required unless tacking
Nominate tack to come to and turn ship on the spot to that tack
If Command Check Failed, luff or in irons at opponents discretion
Luffing is pointing anywhere into the wind except being in irons
·         moving ship may choose to collide, must pass a command check
·         target ship may choose to avoid by passing a command check, but only if sail worthy, move logically to avoid collision.
·         Collision is hull against base edge
·         Collision needed for boarding to take place
·         Collision with own ship if unavoidable

FIRING (4+ to HIT)
·         You may fire one broadside to both sides each player turn
·         Firing arc is straight out, perpendicular to ship's side
·          width = ships gun deck
·         "Fire as she bears" You may elect to fire the broadside at any time in your turn
·         There is no penalty for "Firing as She Bears"
·         6 is a critical hit, roll on Critical table
·         Randomise high hits to relevant masts

·         +1 < 10cm short range
·         -1 > 20cm long range, no criticals
·         -1 firing high
SAVES (4+)
·         -1 bow raked
·         -2 stern raked, +1 critical roll
·         carronades -1, +1 critical roll
·         +1 4th Rate and higher Vs Light
·         note modifiers on data cards
·         Carronade 10cm
·         Heavy and Light 30cm

Roll d6
LOW Criticals
HIGH Criticals
Normal damage
Normal damage and -1 crew
Normal damage, -1 crew
D3 relevant mast damage and -1 crew
Rudder hit, no turns until repaired on 4+
D3 damage to relevant mast  -1 crew
D3 damage, -1 crew
D3 damage to relevant mast, -1 crew
D3 damage, -D3 crew, below waterline save
D3 damage to relevant mast, -D3 crew
D6 damage, -D3 crew, below waterline hit
D6 damage to relevant mast, -D3 crew

BOARDING (need a collision)
·         Boarder rolls 2d6 + 1 (for the boarding crew and crew get crossed off)
·         Ship being boarded rolls 2d6 + half crew remaining (as the repellers)
·         loser crosses off 1 crew as killed

·         Boarding continues next turn, boarder can elect to keep sending men (1) across if able until defender strikes.
·         If the vessel being boarded wins, they are able to counter board next turn (or not)
·         Cannon fire from both ships is halved during boardings

Design Notes:

We liked lots about GW Trafalgar. Those roster sheets with convenient firepower stats, damage tables, the simplistic mechanic of hit and save, lots of dice being rolled, raking effects and so on. But there was a lot not to like. We wanted more than some comic simulation, we wanted a bit more reality. This is what we came up with. 

Time and Distance Scale

We figure that Trafalgar is based on a turn time of about 90-120 seconds. This is the reload time for the cannon, which can fire every turn. It also corresponds to the movement distance, 14cm to scale for a first rate being 183 yards in real life, which, in 90 seconds, represents a speed of 3.66 knots at 1:1200 scale. Not too bad an approximation. The IgoUGo  turn sequence complicates this a bit and makes ships pack more firepower than they really had, since the turns are presumed to overlap.

Sailing Template

The sailing template is modified so that ships cannot now outperform 12m yachts. Or, in fact, any sailing craft ever designed. A significant bone of contention. Even sailing 60 degrees into the wind is very optimistic.

0 to 60 degrees either side of the wind is “luffing” or “in irons”, ships can only point into this zone if they wish to luff, change tack or involuntarily be caught “in irons”. Luffing is executed to reduce speed, and means walking the line between beating and being too close to the wind. It is a voluntary maneouvre.

60 to 90 degrees either side of the wind is beating. You must be beating to windward in order to initiate a tack.

90 to 150 degrees either side of the wind is reaching.

150 to 180 degrees is running.

You might like to modify these arcs slightly for different rates of ships, making it worse for higher rated ships (80 degrees is the closest a first rate could sail to the wind, if that, from my research).

We used old CD protector blanks to make templates, from the days when CDs and DVDs could be bought in packs and had one on the top of the stack.


Tacking was a well practised and common maneouvre. It didn't result in damage to masts and rigging 10/36 of the time (a command check for a 6th rate or higher captain, worse odds if you were in a more nimble ship). You only take a command check if under fire or with damaged rigging.

The Trafalgar tacking maneouvre was woeful. You move “normally” into the wind after taking a command check and executing a sharp turn. It could, therefore, execute its full remaining distance allocation almost directly into the wind and simply tack out of this position the next turn. Huge advantage to be able to move upwind in this fashion. Add to that the beating angle was around 15 degrees, wth ? The whole essence of this game is to treasure the weather gauge. Not to turn 74s into speedboats.

So, replace that with the simple maneouvre shown in the above rules, essentially this represents losing all way off the ship, turning through the wind in a whole turn and end up facing on the opposite tack with way on. This takes two turns, which, according to the time scale, is 3-4 minutes, which is somewhat under that reckoned for a frigate (5 minutes) but at least in the ball park.


This is a problem for any IGOUGO play sequence. It is ludicrous to imagine two ships, on parallel courses, travelling at the same speed, where ships alternately overtake each other and fire with a penalty as they pass.

To resolve this we adopted the fire as you bear rule without penalty.You may fire at any point in the movement phase without penalty as she bears. Essentially, you do not wait until the end of the turn to initiate firing unless you want to. This method permits ships alongside each other, firing at the start of a players turn as one ship moves away and then at the end of the next players turn where they move alongside each other again. 

The firing arc is changed as well. With the fire as you bear rule modification, it is simpler to use a straight out arc of fire. You will get shots off without having to position your ship at the end of the turn. Thank Sam Mustafa for that simplification, taken from Lasalle.

If you are really keen, you might like to adopt a superiority gunfire rate. Brit ships fire every turn they are able, everyone else fires two out of three turns.  Or worse.

 Hits Table

Modified as above. Removing the comic effect ship on fire or explosion results.

The roster cards have been rewritten to account for progressive damage. As each shaded box is crossed off, remove one of the specified crew, guns or rigging.

Weather Rolls

The Trafalgar rules writers have obviously never been to sea or contemplated that the weather does not change significantly in the space of a minute or two. Sure the rules only give a 1/6 chance of this happening, but that could result in significant sailing condition changes. Considering a game turn is about 90 seconds long, these odds mean the wind changes, possibly significantly, on average every 9 minutes. More if you are good at rolling ones. You could, also, on a roll of 1-6-1/2 and a subsequent roll of 1-6-5/6 go from becalmed to a gale. Unlikely odds wise, improbable in real life. Trafalgar Authors, go home, you are drunk.

We simply don't use wind or weather changes for our short games. If you must, I suggest a mechanism for a possible change after 6 turns, varying the wind strength and direction by a Beaufort scale or a point. Up to you. 

Tacking in light winds is also a problem, anything less than 10knots and tacking is probably not possible for the square rigged ships we are dealing with.


We gave the option to a ship to avoid a collision by sailing away. This might not be possible, so apply some logic. If you allow half movement for the ship to avoid a collision it represents the half turn overlap. The ship might then have half movement available next turn. A ship upwind would find it difficult to collide with a ship with the same sailing characteristics which is downwind that has time to react.


After a collision. We tried to simulate a boarding ship sending crew across, a total of 1 crew box while the ship being boarded puts half of her crew up to defend. Example, boarding ship rolls 2d6 +1, defending ship rolls 2d6 +4 (for a fully crewed first rate). The loser crosses off the crew box. The ship being boarded continues to fight if she loses, possibly fighting with worse odds next turn as the boarder sends across more crew. If the attacker loses, they have the option of boarding again or might have to fend off a counter attack. Boarding is not easy.

 The Future

We came to the conclusion that most Age of Sail games run into most difficulty with the IgoUGo sequence. A possible workaround is to use the mechanic from Wings of War or X-Wing: have maneouvre templates for each ship depending on their orientation to the wind. Chose one, which represents 30 seconds of movement, and play it simultaneously with all other players. Repeat a total of three times (90 seconds) and allow firing once in a sequence of three movements. Lots of cards, lots of ships. Lots of counters or smoke markers to see who is eligible to fire. I think this would capture the essence of swinging the large ships around. 

The other deficiency I see in the modified rules are the speed changes. You are obliged to move full movement allowance. In reality ships could spill wind and slow down. This would be a progressive thing, so optional to allow players to move any distance up to their movement rate, with possible speed indicators to allow +/- 3cm from the previous speed.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Chain of Command - Trial Game

Well we girded up our lions, watched the Lardies instructional YouTube clip on Playing Chain of Command (CoC), scanned the rules and QRS (6 pages!) and had a run through game using the Probe Scenario!

There's not a lot to say on the rules yet but after our next go I think we'll have a good idea of our thoughts on CoC.

For this trial set in 1940 the Poms were on the attack with an infantry platoon beefed up with and extra section, a Mk VI tank and two UCs. The Germans had an infantry platoon and selected an ATR and PAK 36 ATG to boost their defences.

We played one full turn which was terminated by a triple 6.

We ran through the Patrol Phase and because the British rolled well as part of the scenario rules it put the Germans in a tight spot from the beginning basically starting on their edge of their side.

Basic infantry movement and firing and close combat all worked okay (no one tried chucking a grenade though).

Regarding Command Dice the 3's and especially the 4's were interesting as we tried to get our Leaders to use as many of their actions as possible.

No one combined dice at any point because we didn't think of it!

Oh and we never used any of our CoC points even though the British gained 8 as we were so tied up learning the basics.

There was a lot of rules and table referencing but I suspect that will diminish as the rules get used more. I think these hold promise and are an improvement on TW&T (ableit leaders in TW&T maybe are reflected better no sure yet at this stage). We are going to try another game next Fortnight and we will try the Patrol scenario.

A few pictures taken after our session...

The field of battle, from this angle the British were attacking from the left across the fields.

My late war Brits posing as BEF guys sheltering in shell holes...

A German PAK 36 and crew, they spent their time taking pot shots at infantry as the British never deployed their armour (learning the infantry rules were enough to keep us busy!)

The British extra infantry section arrived late and started to flank the Jerry position!

Alan's excellent JOP's which we used for the game...

My el cheapo JOP's...

Our Patrol Phase markers are just painted poker chips with relevant flags, eminently suitable and look the part...they are only used briefly anyway...

We are using poker chips to determine units status, these are the 'key' ones so we know whats what...

....they fit under the figures stands nicely as seen below the section deployed along the hedge have two 'levels' of shock...