Mechanics for an operational scale Napoleonic blockade game


I’ve been mulling over some ideas for the mechanics of an operational scale Napoleonic blockade game. A few ideas have been sparked by a conversation over on TMP, so I thought I would post some of the result here to get some more input.

The game itself will revolve around the blockade of a French port and will be played out using 1:2400 scale ships. The game is on the operational scale and will deal with supply, weather and maintaining or breaking the blockade.  One idea that came out of the conversation is supply point’s and the managing of them by both sides. This could provide an interesting driver for this type of game especially when you consider how they get used up and replenished. I think that would make you think about how active you can be as the blockading fleets Admiral, how closely can you press the blockade, when do you take the main fleet off station in a storm to preserve supply points. If the French fleet is in the roads ready for sea and a storm blows up you are going to risk those supply points to keep your fleet on station and the fleet bottled up.

I was thinking of two ways of running the game. The first is as a campaign of linked games using a map to plot the campaign turns. I think this method could run quite smoothly and do what I’m after.

The other idea I had is a bit more experimental and would involve playing the whole blockade campaign on one table, possible in 1:2400 with a big table with a bit of abstraction, a bit like the 3mm and 6mm high level games you see. To stop the game being as dull as a average day on a real blockade I’m thinking of using a game mechanism adapted from the modern naval rules shipwrecked. In the shipwrecked rules you have two time scales in the game, movement turns run until a missile if fired then you go in to a loop of combat turns until this faster paced action is resolved. So using this principle you would have turns of blockade which represents longer periods of time, say a day or quarters of a day where you set stations for ships and move supplies ect, this would go on until a set of combat turns begin. The set of combat turns would kick in when you have a ship to ship action or a raid.

I think this idea would have to be teamed up with a very fast play set of rules for the actual ship to ship actions but could be fun. It could bring in all the interesting factors involved in fighting at sea like tide, whether and supplies. That when combined determine how or if an action plays out. I don’t think this idea would handle a full feet action but it could do the build up to one giving a back ground with a bit of depth. Well this is the initial thought, as it comes together I shall post some progress updates.


About benjaminwalton

I'm a 27 year old wargamer originally from Pendock Worcestershire. I now live in Kingston and work as an architect in Teddington lock. I've been in to wargaming since I was about 9, starting with airfix and revell plastic figures then moving on to games workshop. I'm now manly in to historical naval gaming but I'll play whatever looks like good fun.

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