Year of the Butterfly. 3: Tripoli Battle Report

1801. The coast of Tripoli.

U.S. Navy blockade. Tripolitan galleys emerge from the harbour past the shore battery.

Three US ships are on patrol of Tripoli when three galleys emerge from harbour to engage them.

Turn 1. As the galleys manoeuvred around the islands at the mouth of the harbour the Americans turned to meet them. First the Peacock, followed by USS Shark and finally the Boston.

The Americans turn in to engage.

Turn 2. Shark, the slowest of the US ships, continued SE on course. The galley Jackal’s teeth swung NW and aimed to pass close to Peacock. Boston continued towards Meshud, turned to port to cross the bows of Boston. Peacock followed crossed the bows of Jackal’s teeth. Finally Dervish moved slowly towards Shark.

Shooting. Jackal’s Teeth opened the firing with a 5 dice broadside against Peacock at close range, causing one point of damage. Meshud fired next at Boston with 4 dice to no effect. Peacock replied to Jackal’s Teeth with 2 dice scoring a lousy 1,1. Boston fired at Jackal’s teeth, doing no damage.

The firing begins.

Turn 3. Jackal’s teeth turned away from Peacock and made for the Shark instead. Peacock turned to starboard to circle back into the fray. Meshud, with the wind on the bow, moved to follow Jackal’s teeth against Shark. Boston began to circle to starboard towards the smaller Dervish. Shark continued ahead, crossing the bow of Jackal’s Teeth. Finally Dervish turned to starboard to be able to broadside Boston.

Shooting. Peacock fired at the bow of Jackal’s Teeth at medium range, but did no damage. Boston’s broadside had no effect against Dervish. Dervish’s reply also did no damage. The other ships had no targets.

Disengaging. Two large galleys aim for the slowest American ship.

Game note. At this point I realised that, in an effort to not make causing damage too easy, I had in fact made it too hard. The existing rule is that a six causes a hit at 1 hex, 2 sixes for a hit at 2 hexes and 3 sixes at 3 hexes. So far, only one hit was scored at close range in 9 broadsides.

New rule, slightly more complex. A roll of 5 is one hit, 6 is two hits. At close range, 1 hit is 1 damage point, at medium range, 2 hits is 1 damage point, at long range, 3 hits is 1 damage point.

Turn 4. Shark moved ahead, away from the guns of Jackal’s Teeth, then turned to port. Meshud turned to Port and sailed past Shark at close range. Peacock continued to circle to starboard. Jacka’s Teeth turned to port and closed with Shark, boarding her. Boston, with the wind on the bow, could only complete the turn to starboard. Dervish went after Peacock.

Shooting. Shark was fighting off boarders. Meshud’s broadside was blocked by Jackal’s Teeth. Dervish fired at Peacock at medium range, scoring one hit but negligible damage. Peacock replied, also scoring just one hit.

Boarding. Jackal’s teeth, strength 5 and die roll 3, beat Shark’s strength 3 and die roll 3. Shark was captured by the Tripolitans and must now sail to Tripoli under a prize crew. Both ships lost 1 strength point.

Jackal’s Teeth grapples Shark and boards her.

Turn 5. With Shark now captured, turned to port to head back towards the remaining American ships. Shark, under a prize crew, began to head for the coast. Dervish turned to close and board Peacock. Boston turned to investigate Shark, and positioned herself to fire against the captured ship. Jackal’s teeth, now facing into the wind, used her oars to manoeuvre around the other ships.

Shooting. Shark fired first, scoring a hit on Boston and inflicting damage. If Boston was unsure of Shark’s allegiance, there was now no doubt and she fired back, scoring one hit.

Boarding. Dervish beat the Peacock easily with die rolls of 6:1. Two ships captured in as many moves. This was clearly a good day for the African galleys.

Peacock is boarded by the crew of the Dervish.

Turn 6. Meshud turned to port to follow Jackal’s teeth. Dervish turned away from the Peacock, which turned to sail for the port in enemy hands. Boston turned to port behind Jackal’s Teeth, which sailed SE towards land. Shark accompanied her, moving slowly.

Shooting. Only Boston had a target: Jackal’s Teeth at long range. Two hits were scored, insufficient to do any damage.

The Tripolitan ships and their prizes turn for home.

Turn 7. Boston moved ahead and turned into the wind. Dervish turned to port and headed for home. Shark made her slow way towards the harbour, in the company of Jackal’s teeth. Meshud too turned to port to head for home, passing Boston at medium range as she did so. Finally the captured Peacock turned into the wind, aiming to get to harbour but avoiding the shore battery in case of mistaken identity.

Shooting. Peacock was within long range of the shore battery. I rolled two dice against each other for successful recognition of the Peacock’s new flag. Unfortunately the Peacock lost and, identified as an American ship, was fired upon at long range. She took two hits but little extra damage. Boston fired at medium range at Meshud. Two hits were scored for one damage point. Meshud replied with three hits and one damage point inflicted.

A final exchange of fire.

Turn 8. Boston turned to pursue the enemy. Dervish, Shark, Jackal’s Teeth, Peacock and Meshud all headed for harbour. Peacock and Jackal’s Teeth had to manoeuvre around the small islands.

A fruitless pursuit.

Turn 9. Boston continued her pursuit. All the other ships moved towards the channel leading for the harbour

All over bar the repairs.

Boston gave up the pursuit and retired to her patrols station. A successful raid by the Tripolitans with two American ships taken.

A fun little game with a simple set of home-made rules that gave a conclusive result. Randomising the moving and firing sequence influences the outcome. I will use these again for age of sail battles.

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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