Thursday, August 25, 2016

Initial Play-Through of "Poseidon's Warriors"

"Naval battles in antiquity were totally sweet because they were little more than aquatic demolition derbies...Essentially it worked like this:  a fleet of insane wooden deathtraps masquerading as warships would load up with enough sword-swinging warriors to choke a Rancor...and then sail around at top speed with the single-minded goal of crashing head-on into an enemy ship..."
(Badass Ultimate Deathmatch, by Ben Thompson, pg 18, The Battle of Salamis).

Fortunately, Dean and I didn't have to board any wooden deathtraps to play our demo of Poseidon's Warriors.  Instead, we broke out Dean's miniatures, my terrain, and gently pushed the figures around with the single-minded goal of touching bases to represent said head-on crashes in the aquatic demolition derby known as:

The Battle of the Straits of Juno de Fulvio

Two Roman fazions (factions in Italian), led by emperor wannabees Balbus Blu and Rufus Rosso, seek to supply their loyal, as in bought-and-paid-for, legions by sea.  To do so, grain ships must pass through the narrow Straits of Juno de Fulvio. 

Balbus dispatches Diocletian (Dean) with a small flotta (fleet) consisting of the following:

1 x hexareme flagship
2 x squadrons of cataphract triremes (5 ships each)
2 x squadrons of cataphract quadriremes  (3 ships each)

In a case of delusions-of-grandeur minds thinking alike, Rufus dispatches Titus (Ted) with an identical force.

Diocletian and Titus put to sea with their new-formed Blu (Blue) and Rosso (Red) Flottas, respectively, and attempt to secure the straits for their paymasters.

Rosso Flotta enters the straits from the east, and Blu Flotta, already in the midst of the straits, approaches from the west.
Rosso Flotta enters the straits' Centrale Canale (Central Channel).

Meanwhile, Blu Flotta is sailing along the Nord Costa (North Coast).
Enemy sighted!  Diocletian orders Blu Flotta to turn into the Centrale Canale.
As Rosso Flotta passes between Canale Isola Tre and Quattro (Channel Islands Three and Four), Titus orders his ships to deploy from column-of-squadrons to line-a-breast.
The two flottas near the center of the straits.
As Rosso Flotta begins changing formation between Isola Tre and Quattro, Blu Flotta is approaching Canale Isola Due (Channel Island Two, in the center).
Rosso Flotta's line-of-battle is almost complete.
Blu Flotta's Nord Costa Squadrone (squadron, near the top of the picture), starts to slip between Isole Uno and Due.
However, the signal flag couldn't be seen properly as the Blu Nave Ammiraglia (the Blue Flagship) is masked by Isola Due.  As a result, the Nord Costa Commandte misinterpreted the signal and ordered his squadrone to turn back to the west.
A view from the Sud Costa (South Coast):  Both flottas are just outside striking distance.  Blu Flotta has been keeping station, while Diocletian frantically orders new signal flags hoisted aloft to countermand Nord Costa Squadrone's retreat.
The same point in time, but viewed from the Nord Costa.
Blu Flotta's Nord Costa Squadrone finally comes about.
The flottas close with each other.  Two Blu triremes brave the Meridionale Banchi (Southern Shoals).
The battle is joined!
Diocletian's "Blu Nave" rams a Rosso trireme, while four Blu triremes ram three Rosso triremes head-on.
A closer view of the Blu Nave's attack.
The Rosso sailors come out worse for wear, as four of their triremes are sunk, compared to only two Blu ships.  However, the Blu Nave suffered some hull damage as a result of the head-on ram.
A close-up of the carnage viewed from the edge of the Meridionale Banchi.
Titus orders his flagship, "Rosso Nave," and nearby smaller ships to converge on his counterpart, the Blu Nave.
Diocletian orders the Blu Nave to press on and strike first, attacking another Rosso trireme...
...and sending it to the bottom.
But Blu Nave, already the slowest ship in the flotta, has been taking on water, slowing it even further.  Diocletian orders the rowers to increase speed, but to no avail.  His flagship is cornered and rammed by a Rosso trireme and quadreme.
The Blu Nave quickly sinks beneath the waves, as Titus' "Rosso Nave," approaches the scene. 
Is Diocletian among the handful of survivors clinging to the floating wreckage?
The Rosso Flotta's Nord Costa Squadrone takes up a blocking position between the Isola Uno and Due.
With their flagship--and possibly admiral--gone, Blu Flotta backs away, turns and retreats back to the west.  Meanwhile, Titus orders the remaining ships of Rosso Flotta to consolidate around Isole Uno and Due, in order to search for Diocletian--to capture him and hold him for ransom.
This has been an embellished account of how our game unfolded. 

In my next blog post, I'll discuss how things happened, some game mechanics, what Dean and I liked about Poseidon's Warriors, and what could be tweaked with some house-rules.

While I'm writing the upcoming rules analysis, check out Dean's pictures and battle report on his popular WAB Corner blog.


DeanM said...

Lovely images, Ted. That mat really pops and looks fantastic not only in-person, but in this webcomic format too. Fabulous narrative - highly embellished or not! :) Thanks for the great post.

Ted Henkle said...

You're welcome Dean, and thank you for the compliments about the mat, narrative, and pictures.
It was great seeing you today. Thanks for the figures!

DeanM said...

My pleasure and honor, Ted. I hope to see future posts with the figures, including the Napoleonics. ;)

William Stewart said...

Great AAR! Looking forward to the follow up with the rules analysis.


Thanks for the review and initial game reports. It looks like PW is an interesting set of rules that might just serve my requirements. I've contacted Phil over at Osprey in the hope of blagging a free copy (having done some 'gratis' work for them in the past).

Your model ships are excellent, though I prefer the heft of Xyston 1:600 the smaller scale has a lot going for it.

Do you think PW would cater for the Actium scenario I wish to run? Link

I was hoping to use the rules from War Galley (my table is now hexed) but I think they are too complex to capture the fast moving cut and thrust of a galley clash.

Best REgards,

James Roach