Saturday, 11 March 2017

The Battle of Balnibarbi

When Swift edited and published Lemuel Gulliver's account of his various travels in 1726, the British government read them with interest. Here were a whole range of new nations with who trade links could be opened up. Of special interest to them was the island of Balnibarbi, which offered a combination of innovative thinkers, exportable agriculture and a tyrant king who could be overthrown and replaced with a British-friendly ruler.

So in 1727 a naval expedition was dispatched to Balnibarbi, consisting of a man o'war, a frigate and a troop transport.


Since Gulliver's visit, the people of Balnibarbi had upped their game when it came to resisting their king. Famous for their scientific thinkers, the 'projectors', they decided to put their mighty brains to work looking at ways of fighting back. Vessels were built, powered by innovation and Science!, and each equipped with an ivory tower. The projecters were left to inovate and create whatever weaponry they could devise. What could go wrong?

When the British naval expedition arrived, they were met by a flotilla of Balnibarbian vessels. The Balnibarbians had even mastered flight, ad had an ornithopter accompanying their force.


Their king was not happy with this new alliance, and moved to attack the Balnibarbians with Laputa, his flying island. The Laputans had not been idle since Gulliver's visit; the island was accompanied by a war-balloon and an armoured galleon.


Others were unhappy at British interference in the area. The Coast Brotherhood, the world's most dangerous coalition of Pyrates, dispatched two of their members, Sheba the She-Wol and Firebeard, to sort the issue out. They quickly allied with the Laputans, and also found favour with the magician of Glubbdubdrib, who summoned a crew of spectral pirates to accompany them.


And so battle was joined for another Thursday evening game of Galleys & Galleons. On one side, Dave and I played the British/Balnibarbian Alliance. The British force were conventional sailing vessels, whereas the Balnibarbians had a mix of exotic weaponry and ships powered by unorthodox means. Against the were Casar, running the Laputans and their massive flying island, and Daniel, who took the Pyrates (with a 'y').

The battle opened with the Balnibarbians moving to engage the Pyrates. However the exotic propulsion caused them some issues actually getting their ships into position. And, in this case, bringing a mighty bronze ramming spike into play on Sheba's ship.


The ornithopter had more success, with its little gun damaging Sheba's rigging. One of the other Balnibarbians vessels used its scientifically-aimed guns to shoot at Sheba's ship, damaging it and putting a rip in her leopard-print catsuit. Sulking she retired below decks and refused to command any further.


Meanwhile the Laputans were moving up on the British, who were stuck upwind of their Balnibarbian allies and, indeed, the rest of the action. The Balnibarbian ornithoper took a minor hit, but its pilot was a craven coward, and ditched his aircraft in the sea in response.


The massive island began firing on the naval vessels, who struggled to get into a good position to fight back. A lucky hit from the man o'war did damage the island's propulsion, however, locking it into its current speed. However Caesar rolled like a demon, causing a mass of critical hits on the Navy, killing all of their captains, damaging rigging and smashing rudders.


The Navy's frigate collided with Sheba's ship. Sheba survived unscathed. The frigate sank.


Chaos! To the left the Balnibarbians were still having trouble bringing their vessels into action. Laputa was flying slowly off the board, unable to change course fast enough to stop it. The Pyrates were spread out, with Sheba firing long-range shots from one side, and Firebeard moving along the bottom of the picture. The spectral pyrates took little part in the action. The British were now utterly battered by the island of Laputa, and were being finished off by the war-balloon's bombs and the armoured galleon. In the centre one of the Banibarbian vessels was burning. It burned to the waterline, and sank.


Firebeard madly led his crew into a boarding action against the Navy's man o'war and, in a brisk fight, captured it. Aaaaarrrr!


In a nice bookend, the Balnibarbian ram once again failed to get close enough to Sheba to ram her. At that point we called an end to the game, with the Laputan/Pyyrate Alliance having secured a decisive victory. The Royal Navy lost a three ships, struck, boarded or sunk. The Balnibarbians lost their ornithopter and one of their ships. The Laputans and Pyrates, whilst damaged, lost nothing.


This was great fun to research, devise and set up, with tons of weird and wonderful traits and rules in play and a mix of different tactical options for the ships. Laputa is a very powerful piece, but is unwieldy and can be vulnerable to criticals.

I guess that what you really want to see are the stats for the ships. Each force was roughly 175pts

Laputa

Laputa
Q5 C6 - 72pts - Pilot, Airship, Steam Engine, Flagship, Bombs, Heavy Bow Chasers, Heavy Stern Chasers, Reinforced Hull, High Castles, Sluggish

Bomb Balloon
Q3 C2 - 34pts - Airship, Square Rigged, Unarmed, Bombs, Bombardier

Armoured Galleon
Q3 C4 - 68pts - Square Rig, Ironclad, Master Gunner

Balnibarbi

Small Experimental Vessel 1
Q3 C3 - 50pts - Unorthodox, Shallow Draft, Ramming, High Castles, Unarmed

Small Experimental Vessel 2
Q3 C3 - 50pts - Unorthodox, Shallow Draft, Fiery Blast, High Castles, Unarmed

Large Experimental Vessel
Q3 C4 - 58pts - Unorthodox, Shallow Draft, High Castles, Unarmed, Heavy Bow Chasers, Master Gunner

Ornithopter
Q4 C0 - 17pts - Ornithopter, Bow Chasers, Yare, Aerobatics

Royal Navy

Man O’War
Q4 C4 - 78pts - Galleon Rig, Drilled Soldiers, Master Gunner, Trained Gun Crews, High Castles, Veteran NCOs, Fiddler, Chasers

Frigate
Q3 C3 - 74pts - Galleon Rig, Razee, Drilled Soldiers, Trained Gun Crews, Veteran NCOs, Chasers

Armed Transport
Q4 C3 - 20pts - Square Rig, Merchantman, Drilled Soldiers

Pyrates
Sheba The She-Wolf
Q3 C4 - 70pts - Galleon Rig, Charismatic, Swashbucklers

Firebeard
Q3 C2 - 50pts - Galleon Rig, Razee, Swashbucklers, Derring Do
Glubbdubdribbian Spectral Pirates
Q3 C3 - 54pts - Square Rig, Spectral, Intimidating
Thanks to Dave, Caesar and Daniel for a hugely entertaining game.

2 comments:

  1. Great report! Thanks for posting :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A pleasure. It's a great source of pleasure to me how versatile these rules are for naval games from a range of eras, fictional and historical.

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