Year of the Butterfly. 2: Tripoli 1801

Many years ago, while taking part in a week-long historical reenactment on the Island of Jersey I discovered in a newsagent’s shop (on my day off) a collectible game called “Pirates of the Spanish Main”. I bought a few packs for interest.

The packs contain model ships pressed from plasticised card and clipped together using the “slot and tab” method. There was also a set of fairly simple rules for combat between pirates and the navies of Spain, Britain, France and the USA.

The rules involved removing and replacing ships’ masts, which had a tendency to snap. I soon broke most of the ships and stuck the remainder in the toy cupboard.

A few years ago, at the Donald Featherstone Tribute weekend at the Wargames Holiday Centre, in the after-dinner charity auction I picked up a job lot of ships and unopened packs for the game. I brought them home and added them to the set already stored away.

Now, with my Wargaming Butterfly plan, with an idea to play something from the Triplolitan-American War in 1801, I dug them out again and sorted through the available ships. I have several that could be pressed into service for the game, but in particular three pirate galleys and three small American ships. I made up the models and for strength glued them to re-purposed MDF bases previously intended for a Napoleonic ruleset that I never used. Each base has a 7mm die holder, more of which later.

I reviewed the rules provided with the intention of modifying them for play on a hexagon tessellation cloth. It was possible, but felt clumsy. Instead I wrote my own simple rules which would use a single die for each ship to indicate damage. Each ship’s statistics from the game were calculated into an initial strength value including number and size of guns, hull size, speed etc. The ships have an initial value of between 3 and 6.

Next I made up a card for each ship, showing how many dice were to be rolled for a broadside as the ship’s strength decreased, and the same for speed in hexagons with the wind from various directions. (The original game made no allowance for wind!)

I made a wind indicator to place on the board. Speed and direction of wind will be diced for at the start of the game, and possibly during – I have yet to decide.

There are only 9 playing rules. 3 relate to the wind, 1 to movement, 2 to boarding, 1 to shooting and 2 to game administration.

For interest I have also dug out a half-painted 1:1200 scale resin model of an 8-gun field battery and placed it on a cardboard island as a shore battery for the Americans to avoid.

Here is the game equipment, waiting for the table to be laid.

Shore battery, wind indicator, ships and cards.

Game report to follow.

Published by

General Whiskers

Wargaming butterfly (mainly solo), unpainted model figure amasser, and Historical Re-enactor of the black powder era.

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