Agrippa, Nelson and the Supergun

Wargaming with ancient naviesWith WSS 66 firmly put to bed, I’ve had a few days off (if there is ever such a thing for an editor!) and attended an alternative music festival in Sheffield. On the way back, I took the opportunity to pop in and see my friend (and regular contributor) Mark Backhouse. In the next issue, we publish Mark’s conversion of Hail Caesar to naval warfare, titled Hail Agrippa.

We had a chance to try out a game of Hail Agrippa and good fun it was too! Mark explained his logic behind the rules and how the ships behaved (light ships behaving like skirmishers, quinqueremes like heavy infantry etc). We played two of the scenarios from the article, a mini campaign based on the siege of Massilia. The first scenario saw my Massilians in quadriremes trying to break the Caesarian blockade (with quinqueremes). My commander tried to soften up the Caesarian line and then led his ships personally forward in a desperate charge which almost broke them, but at a cost, the flagship was sunk! Losing command at the critical moment, I sadly ended up with half my fleet ‘sunk’ and the brave Massilians retreating. To add salt to the wounds, some of our quadrireme vessels were refloated by the Caesarians for the next battle! Oh the shame!!!

The second battle saw Pompeian allies join the fight vs the ‘evil’ Caesarians (well it’s a matter of perspective!). The Pompeians were reluctant to join battle so it became a game of cat and mouse where my light vessels skirmished with the larger enemy quinqueremes, paying heavily for the impudence. The rest of my fleet meanwhile joined forces and finally spurred the Pompeians into action. They managed to engage the captured vessels while my (new) commander once again personally led the ram on the Caesarians. This time it paid off, with two units of Caesarians broken, the battle was ours! The Caesarian commander escaped to lick his wounds. 

A really big cannon!Later on, after a tasty jacket potato for lunch, Mark invited me to look around Nelson Fort; a local museum near Portsmouth built into a Palmeston Folly and dedicated to artillery. There we marvelled over the many exhibits including parts for the Iraqi ‘supergun’ and literally dozens of artillery pieces. I played a game of ‘guess the artillery piece’ which only showed up my lack of knowledge when it came to non-WW2 pieces. I had no issue with the 25lber or ’88 but struggled as Mark correctly identified a British Sudan era 9lber – although I reckon owning the Perry model probably helped! The fort itself was impressive with interlocking fields of fire and a set of tunnels leading to outer bastions. The weather was especially kind that day, as we had the first clear sunny day for what must have been a few months, allowing Mark to talk me through the English Civil War siege of Portsmouth, which avid readers may recall from WSS 55.

So now I’m back at home and to planning. There’s the rules to our Salute game to polish and the deadlines on the next issues ticking away… time for me to do some work!

Well that’s it for now…

Jā mata ne!
(See you later!)

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