Battle Rules v.3 for Wooden Ships & Iron Men

Niek van Diepen, August 1998

These Rules are to be used at Casus Belli's 10th Anniversary Trafalgar meeting, in addition to the Basic and Advanced rules and the following optional rules: VII Towing, VIII Loss of Rigging, IX Blocked Wind, X Exploding Ships, XIV Fore and Aft Rigging, XV A. Copper Bottom. Also some form of II Timed moves, and some form of limited communication via signalling will be in force.

The status of these rules is the same as the status of the Optional Rules in the game: use them at your discretion. Most of these rules are recommended for large ship actions. They are intended to fix known problems with the standard Wooden Ships rules, like the melee and rake rules. Rules IV-VIII are inspired by Close Action from Clash of Arms.

I. SOL's and frigates

SOL's are not allowed to fire at frigates or smaller craft 8 (EIGHT) or more hexes distant, unless the frigate has shot at, or has been involved in grappling or boarding with, a SOL (of either side and not necessarily the same as the one that wants to fire) during the last three turns.

[Historical note: SOL's did not engage frigates, unless the frigate mingled in the battle, e.g., by towing off friendly ships or boarding disabled enemy ships. Frigates in turn remained onlookers, passed on signals, or fought their own battle with the enemy frigates.]

II. Seasoned Crews

A new Crew Quality, Seasoned (Se), is added between Average and Crack. Its effects are:
  1. A +1 die roll modifier when firing with 4 guns or more in the Basic Game and 7 guns or more in the Advanced Game.
  2. A melee multiplier of 3.5 (round fractions up after computation).

III. Sailing in Line Rule

An extra movement order is available for ships following an adjacent friendly ship (i.e. with a friendly ship with its stern in a hex next to the bow hex but not the stern hex): Follow in the Wake (notation: W, or W with the number of the ship being followed if there is more than one candidate). The ship then follows as closely as possible the wake of the ship indicated up to the maximum allowed for movement, adding B's (backing sail) when needed to avoid collision with the ship it follows (only). A whole line of ships may follow each other in this way, each indicating it follows the next ahead.

IV. The Crab move

[This move simulates movement under an angle of 30 degrees, thus making ships a little more flexible. It should be used in conjunction with the Momentum rule below. - After an idea by Marcel Nijenhof.]
  1. A ship has to move 1 forward after a turn, even if the turn is made in the previous game turn.
    Exception 1: a ship may turn immediately if the ship only turned and/or drifted, or did not move at all in the previous game turn.
    Exception 2: a ship may turn if it may decelerate to 0. If so it must plot this turn only for the current game turn.
  2. An extra movement order is available. for ships which turned in the current game turn: "T" for "Turn back". A "T" is short for "1R" if the last turn was an "L", and short for "1L" if the last turn was an "R". A "T" must follow either an "R" or an "L" plot in the same game turn, though plots of "1", "2", etc., and "B" may be interspersed.
    A "T" plot counts as a turn for rule A above, but it does not count against the turning allowance of the ship involved. A "T" plot counts as a 1 forward plot for rule A above.
    A "T" plot costs 1 movement point (MP), not 2. It counts towards the number of movement points in the forward direction.
    When executing a "T" plot, first execute the 1-forward part of the plot with all other movement of the current movement point, then execute the turn.
    Examples: ("R" turns can be read for "L" turns instead.)
    1. A Class 1 ship (1 turn per movement phase) can now take part in the familiar crab-in-line: "LT" is allowed, where "L1R" was not allowed. Note that one should plot "1LT" next turn if one wants to repeat the crab manoever. Also, "L1L" is still not allowed for Class 1 ships. "LT" costs only 2 movement points, so with 3 movement points faster crabs ("LT1" or "L1T") are possible.
    2. A line in attitude C can now crab if it sets full sails, since "LT" or "RT" cost only 2 movement points.
    3. Extreme case: a ship with 7 MP and a turning allowance of 3 could plot "LT1LT1L".

V. Momentum

[Wooden Sailing ships had considerable bulk, and they were not so easy to get moving, or to stop.]
  1. Ships of the Line may accelerate 1 MP per turn, class 5 ships and below may accelerate 3 MP per turn (2 after the 1st rigging section has been lost), all others may accelerate 2 MP per turn (1 after the first rigging section has been lost).
  2. Ships of 80 guns or more may decelerate 1 MP per turn, class 5 ships and below may decelerate 3 MP per turn, all others may decelerate 2 MP per turn. A ship may decelerate more if it has turned into the wind or reduced sail so that its movement allowance is too low. It has to move the maximum allowed then, and plots of "B" (backing sail) are not allowed.
    Accelaration/Deceleration table
    classmax. accel.max. decel.
    1 1 1
    80 gun1 1
    2 1 2
    3, 4 2 *2
    5+ 3 *3
    *: deduct 1 after loss of 1st rigging section
  3. A ship which collided last turn or only turned has a movement allowance of 0 last turn for calculating maximum acceleration. Turns are counted if the ship moved forward. "B" (backing sail) and "D" (drift) plots are not counted.
  4. A ship which has not complied with the minimum movement allowance needed has to add movement plots of "1" (forward) until the ship has reached its deceleration limit. If this means plotting more MP than allowed due to the use of "B" (backing sail) plots, the last "B" plot(s) are illegal and must be stricken, after which the ship's movement must be adjusted for possible new collisions.
  5. If a ship plots a turn which results in a movement of its stern in a hex where a collision would occur, and its next plotted movement factor (this can be a "D" (drift) movement plot) would resolve this collision, the turn is allowed, and no collision occurs.
    If such a turn ends the movement for the ship this turn the first movement factor of the next turn may be plotted instead. In that case the ship remains in itd old position, and turn and move are executed next turn as a combined move of 1 MP. The ship must calculate its allowed MP as if the turn has already been made.

VI. Battle Melee Rule

[In large ship scenarios the standard melee rules do not yield good results. Often tremendous numbers of men are fed into one ship to fight gigantic melees. The following rules are more complex than the standard melee rules, but on the other hand they tend to discourage the use of melee, so on the whole they will speed up play.]
  1. During the boarding preparation phase one crew section only may be selected as a new Defensive Boarding Party (DBP). If no crew section has been selected as boarding party already, this may be either crew section 1 or crew section 2, otherwise it has to be the lowest numbered crew section available. (Hint: if crew section 1 alone can win a defensive melee, no crew section need to be selected, otherwise it is often best to select crew section 2 - see rule B below.) Crew sections cannot be selected as Offensive Boarding Party (OBP) or Transfer Boarding Party (TBP), they have to be formed as DBP first (so it takes 2 turns to form an OBP!). Boarders may be formed by ships not grappled or fouled.
    Mark the ship with Boarders Ready the moment a boarding party is formed.
    One Crew Section readied as DBP on a previous turn may be changed in an OBP or TBP. OBP crew sections may be freely changed into TBP crew sections and vice versa. Crew Section number 3 may never be changed into OBP or TBP, but they may defend as DBP. OBP and TBP crew sections may always be changed into DBP.
  2. Crew section number 1 (only) will automatically change into a DBP if an enemy ship which is grappled or fouled with their own ship has formed an OBP. This change takes place just before the melee phase, so this crew section can fire in the same turn too.
  3. Apply the following die roll modifiers on the melee rolls. All modifiers are cumulative. a modified roll below 1 counts as a 1, a modified roll above a 6 counts as a 6.
    Melee modifiers
    +1OBP vs DBP
    -2DBP vs OBP
    -1Class 1 ship vs Class 2 ship or below
    -1Class 2 ship vs Class 3 ship or below
    +1Class 2 ship vs Class 1 ship
    +1Class 3 ship or below vs Class 2 ship
    +2Class 3 ship or below vs Class 1 ship
  4. If both ships have DBP's, TBP's or no boarding parties at all, no melee takes place. If both ships have OBP's, those parties fight first. If after any melee round either side's OBP has a 2:1 disadvantage it is changed into a DBP and the odds are recalculated with any extra DBP's on board the defending ship added.
    If after any melee round an OBP has a 3:1 advantage over a DBP, the enemy ship is captured. If after any melee round a DBP has a 2:1 advantage over an OBP, the OBP is changed into a DBP and the melee ends.
    If after three melee rounds the melee still has not been decided, it continues in the next turn, where other crew sections may be added to the melee. [Note: this rule is from the 1st edition.]

VII. Signalling

  1. Signalling takes place just after the wind change phase.
  2. Optional: only to be used when repeaters (Frigates and below) are used in the scenario.
    A signal arrives if there is a clear line of sight from the stern hex of the signalling ship to either hex of the ship to receive the signal, no longer than 15 hexes in length. The own bow hex does not block this line of sight. A class 3 ship or below that is not engaged in combat may send a signal through once on the same turn, so a signal can travel a maximum of 30 hexes per turn. In the next turn the signal may be resent by another class 3 (or below) ship that is not engaged in combat in either turn and which was able to receive the signal in the first turn.
  3. Signals are received in the NEXT turn, again just after the wind change phase, unless the signalling path was 3 hexes or less, in which case the signal is received the same turn.
    1. [Close Action Signalling] An admiral may send 5 words (7 for the British after 1803), a captain may send 3 words per turn.
    2. [Casus Belli Signalling] An admiral may send 3 signals (4 for the British after 1803), a captain may send 2 signals per turn.
  4. A player may send only one message per turn, even if he has more than one ship.

VIII. Wind change

Wind change is rolled for every turn. Roll 2 dice. If the wind change number is 6, the wind changes on a roll of 2 or 12. If the wind change number is 5, the wind changes on a roll of 2, 11 or 12. If the wind change number is 4, the wind changes on a roll of 2, 3, 11 or 12.

Wind change takes effect the NEXT turn, so players have one turn advance warning.

IX. Special Rake Rule

Ships qualify for raking only when they occupy a hex which is completely within the area defined by the 60 degree arc of the spines of the hex towards which the bow or stern is pointing. [Note: idea of this rule is due to Erik Springelkamp]
    __    __    __    __    __    __    __    __    __    __    __
   /  \__/  \__/  \__/S \__/  \__/O \__/  \__/S \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/
   \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/S \__/  \__/  \__/S \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \
   /  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/O \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/
   \__/B \__/  \__/  \__/S \__/  \__/  \__/S \__/  \__/  \__/B \__/  \
   /  \__/B \__/  \__/  \__/S \__/O \__/S \__/  \__/  \__/B \__/  \__/
   \__/  \__/B \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/B \__/  \__/  \
   /  \__/  \__/B \__/  \__/S \__/O \__/S \__/  \__/B \__/  \__/  \__/
   \__/  \__/  \__/B \__/  \__/S \__/S \__/  \__/B \__/  \__/  \__/  \
   /  \__/  \__/  \__/B \__/  \__/O \__/  \__/B \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/
   \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/B \__/S \__/S \__/B \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \
   /  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/B \__/SO\__/B \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/
   \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/B \__/B \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \
   /  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/SO\__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/
   RAKE ZONE BORDERS       \__/  \B_/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \
   B: Basic Rule (firing  _/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/
      ship fully inside)   \__/  \Ta/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \
   O: Optional Rule       _/  \__/rg\__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/
   S: Special Rule         \__/  \et/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \

X. Fire combat Dice Rolls

  1. Two dice are rolled per fire combat: a normal and a red one. The result of the normal die is used to find the damage on the Fire Table. However, a Critical Hit only occurs when the red die matches the normal die (i.e. when a double is thrown), not when a 6 is rolled on the normal die. Critical Hits do occur when the normal die records a no result.
  2. Unless the player firing indicates otherwise before rolling the dice he is aiming at the Hull when firing from 5 hexes or less. Above that distance fire is always at the Rigging.

XI. Timed moves

The following Phases during the turn sequence will be timed: The referee can give a grace period of 30 seconds for the first violation of this rule by a player.

XII. Critical Hit Changes: Leader Casualties and Fallen Rigging

  1. Recommended for Multi-Commander games only. The following Critical Hit is added to Critical Hit Table 3R, 3H, 9R, 9H, 15R and 15H (the only double No Effect items in the list):
    Possible Leader Casualty. Roll two dice for each captain or admiral on board. Add 1 if the range is 5 or 6, 2 if the range is 3 or 4, 3 if the range is 2, and 5 if the range is 1. If the total is 12 or more the leader becomes a casualty.
    1. If the leader is currently played by one of the players, he has to transfer command to another leader. This must be the next player in seniority for fleet or division command, if there is another player currently available. The original player keeps command of his ships, but he has to select another leader to impersonate. This leader has to send a Leader Loss signal to his successor for the change in command to be effective. Use the same procedure if a leader is captured.
    2. If the leader is not the admiral or captain currently played by one of the players just note the loss. This leader cannot succeed to the command anymore, unless all regular admirals or captains in the squadron or fleet are casualties, when his replacement can take over.
  2. Change to 4R and 6R: instead of automatically reducing one broadside or another, roll one die. If odd, reduce the left broadside. If even, reduce the right broadside.
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