Friday, October 28, 2016

Renaissance Carnage In The Med - 1/300 Galleys Clash!

Bloody action in the Mediterranean Sea with 1/300 galleys from Skull & Crown

At the end of August Byron introduced a new, naval themed project he embraced to wash out the recent experience of a Warhammer 40k tournament - some 1/300 scale renaissance warships from Skull & Crown.  While I'm not wholly certain of the "Greg twisted my arm" characterization, I will concede to some incitement on my part...I have been broadly intrigued about this period for some time, and reading through a pair of books - Pirates of The Levant by Arturo Perez-Reverte and Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay - over the summer finally prompted me to place an order with Skull & Crown.  Since then Byron has prepared some lovely Papal ships, while I have completed a small force of Ottoman vessels.


Recommended reading - although be warned, you will probably order some galleys when you are finished...
All this to say we tried our first game of "Galleys, Guns & Glory" last night at Dallas' place, and here in this post are a few pictures of our first battle in this setting!

Initial dispositions - Ottoman forces on the left, Papal forces on the right
Ottoman ships - galiot on the bottom left, with a galley just above...the red one in the middle with two masts is the sultana, the command ship
Papal galiot and the much larger lanterna - the little discs on the decks represent soldiers on board - a lot of troops on that lanterna
This was a small battle. We wanted to try and get to know the rules a bit. For a scenario, we imagined it was some time in the early 17th century.  An Italian noble, moved for reasons unspecified (piety, shame, boldness, ambition - or all of those together, who knows?) has financed a raid by a small force of Papal ships into Ottoman waters.  They are seeking to recover what are believed to be precious Christian relics, supposedly found on a small island in the Eastern Mediterranean. As they approach their goal, they are caught by a force of Ottoman ships - battle is on, and no quarter will be given!

Papal galley and galiot (in background) move towards the enemy - backs into those oars now!
Both forces (too small to call a "fleet", really) were of equal size and composition.  The Papal ships included a Lanterna as commander, three galleys and four smaller galiots.  The Ottomans brought a Sultana (big command ship - same as Lanterna), three galleys and four smaller galiots of their own.  The Ottoman command ship included some elite Janissary crew.  The Papal ships benefitted from some short-range firepower bonuses (a taste for handguns), while the Turkish ships enjoyed some small-arms-fire bonuses, reflecting their ability to fill the skies between the vessels with arrows.

Ottoman vessels close with the papal fleet - note the little ship with the die; this is a "fusta", and used to keep track of hits on the larger ships - a very cool little feature of the game
Byron placed his excellent cloth-water mat, we put a few hills on to represent islands, and it was on! Byron and Indo took command of the Papal side, while Dallas and I commanded the Ottoman forces. 

Heavy papal force moving between the islands...the little markers on the bows of the three ships indicate their cannons have been fired and need to be reloaded; these markers are laser cut and come with the models - Skull & Crown really have thought of everything...
I deliberately made things a bit tricky by having the islands as a barrier to the engagement - again, more to get a sense of the rules and see how the maneuvering etc. would go, than any certain knowledge on my part. In an actual encounter, I'm not sure the captains of galleys would go to battle in such a way...but I thought, with religious motivation in the background, perhaps both sides would put aside such judgement just rush to get at the enemy!

The ominous sultana, with its Jannissary crew...
The Ottoman flag ship has a lot of cannons on the bow and troops on board - it would hold its fire until the last possible moment
It took a couple of turns, but soon galleys were ramming, firing huge cannons at point-blank range, blazing away with small arms and charging across in ferocious boarding actions!

Contact! The Papal galiot was boarded and the crew defeated - in the process the Papal ship caught fire, so the Ottomans will leave it for the sea rather than take it as a prize...
A Papal galley looks to join the action, but the flaming galiot is in the way...
Dallas and I were able to concentrate our force on Indo's side of the Papal line, and thanks to good fortune with the dice, before long the Ottomans had burned one Papal galiot, and captured two galleys and another galiot!

The Papal lanterna has fired its big guns....
Byron was able to bring the big Lanterna into action against one of my small galiots (the crew had been overconfident), and his soldiers swarmed aboard in a fierce assault - but miraculously my galiot captain held out! This only delayed the inevitable, and Byron did capture the small ship, but this was phyrrhic triumph, as the sequence of events had bought enough time for the big sultana to show up.  Showing no mercy for their Papal adversaries, the Turkish commanders simply rammed and opened fire on the hapless captured Ottoman ship, catching the Papal boarding parties while they were still aboard! The blizzard of artillery and small arms fire, to say nothing of the ram, obliterated the little galiot - and took Byron's lanterna troops to the bottom of the sea with them...Byron's lanterna was still afloat, but was down to its last marker - the captain marker.  It didn't look good for the Papal forces...

The little Ottoman galiot on the right is a bit too close for comfort, and was not able to get away...

Contact! The boarding spur of the lanterna hits the Ottoman galiot - which has already lost a crew token to the blizzard of artillery and small arms fire coming from the lanterna

The captain marker is always the last to go, and in this case, has heroically held out in the face of a huge assault from the lanterna's troop complement...
In the final turns the surviving Papal ships tried to change the momentum somewhat by reinforcing their lanterna with troops from their last surviving galley, but by this point the Ottomans had overwhelming numbers on their side.  The Papal troops fought ferociously - the Jannissaries and warriors on the Turkish sultana were wiped out, the sultana's own captain killed, and the sultana itself only saved thanks to the arrival of reinforcements from other Ottoman galleys.  Nonetheless the end was grim for the Papal fleet. Only a single Papal galiot escaped! 

Dallas' troops swarm aboard one of Endo's galleys...the odds do not favour the Papal forces...

Another Papal galley falls to the Ottomans...ramming and point blank fire have knocked out all the troop markers...it will make a fine prize in Istanbul
Two Ottoman galiots take a Papal galiot out...
No doubt these survivors will return to Italy with a grim tale of sacrifice, while celebrations will be had in Istanbul as that sultana receives a new commanding officer...certainly a blood battle!

The laterna's boarding party ultimately captured the small galiot - only to have the big sultana come and wipe them out in return!
The little galiot is replaced with a pile of flaming wreckage...meanwhile Byron and Indo have tried to reinforce their lanterna with spare troops from another galley
The battle gets confused, as more and more ships pile in - look at the different counters fighting aboard the Ottoman sultana - that Papal force went down fighting
"Galleys, Guns & Glory" is an extremely fun and fast-playing set of rules for this sort of battle, and the 1/300 laser-cut wood models are a real treat.  While the assembly is pretty straightforward and not complex as far as ship models go, I have to say a big "thank you" to Byron who helped me figure out how to use special thread (I think it was thread?) to put some rigging on to the ships.  I won't win any modelling awards for this, but it still really adds to the look of the ships.

The final carnage...the Papal ships are spent, with only a small galiot (on the left in the middle of the photo) able to escape...
With the Skull & Crown models, you get ships, crew markers, turn dials etc all for a pretty reasonable price.  The crew markers are a very nice and simple way for players to keep track of the back-and-forth of the battle.  At one point I thought I would perhaps use some 6mm troops to make little bases of boarding parties, but I actually like the markers a little better...YMMV. Whatever your preference, if you are looking for a fun game of Renaissance period galleys, I highly recommend Skull & Crown!

6 comments:

Michael Mills said...

Some wonderful eye candy there lads! I must admit to being very tempted by this stuff.

Curt C said...

Awesome! Well done guys!

Michael Awdry said...

That just looks superb fun!

Kevin Holland said...

Looks like that was an awesome game guys! Hope you run another one at some point, and I'm not tied down at Work! I'd be keen to give it a try sometime.

Dallas said...

Outstanding game. Thanks Byron and Greg for running and to Greg for the great report! Tremendous fun!!

Phil said...

What a wonderful looking battle, beautiful ships!