Sunday, September 21, 2014

Smoke on the Water at Advance the Color 2014

After a seven year hiatus, I returned to American Civil War naval gaming at Advance the Colors 2014. On the first evening of the show, I provided a small game pittiing Union and Confederate ships against each other on the Red River. We had a good turn out with three Union players and two Confederate players. The Union Squadron consisted of the following

USS Chillicothe
USS Lafayette
USS  Choctaw
USS Marmora
USS  Argosy

The Union squadron had been the mission of raiding the Upper Red River and destroying at least one Confederate vessel or battery.  Facing them were the Confederates consisting of the remains of the River Defense fleet.

CSS Missouri
CSS Arkansas
CSS Indianola (captured earlier in the war)
CSS Sumter

Battery Savory...two guns - a medium rifle and a super heavy coastal Columbiad

Assisting their efforts were are minefield of torpedoes and some rocky obstructions about midway across the area of play.

The Confederates were tasked with defending the Upper Red River. All they had to do was not lose all their ships.

Designer's note: Okay, I looked at this and thought, "yeah, this is doable. Both sides have easy missions."

Union players - Darryl, Lawson and Craig, not pictured Shawn

The battle opens with a long range duel between the rifles of the Choctaw and Lafayette and Battery Savory. The Union immediately suffered a setback when one of the rifles on the Choctaw exploded. Parrott guns were known for their weakness and this guns proved no exception. 

The Union chose to advance in line. USS Marmora displayed a little too much enthusiasm and charged forward ahead of the fleet.

Marmora leads the way!
Battery Savory first engaged  the USS Choctaw, but then switched fire to the Marmora once it passed through the mines. In additon, the guns of the Indianola and Arkansas fired as well.

Marmora suffers multiple hits and catches fire.

The pummelling fire forced a morale check for the crew of Marmora. Lawson threw the dice and FAILURE! The crew has had enough and abandons ship. Worst, this allows the fire to grow unchecked.

Undeterred the Union continues to advance. Layfayette and Choctaw on the right, with Chillicothe and the Argosy on the left. The abandoned Marmosa slows to a halt...and the fire burns itself out. This leaves the uncrewed Marmora floating in the middle of the battle.

CSS Missouri approaches slowly screened by Sumter. Chillicothe and Argosy in upper right corner. Missouri and Chillicothe by Thoroughbred Miniatures. Sumter, Argosy and Marmora by Bay Area Yards.

Lafayette and Choctaw maneuver through the minefield untouched. Choctaw by Thoroughbred Miniatures. Lafayette by Peter Pig.

Battery Savory scored a lucky hit on Choctaw's magaine resulting in a spectacular explosion that rained damage on Lafayette.

Next came the 'ramming portion' of the show. Chillicothe collides with Indianola. Arkansas rams the Argosy. Missouri plows into the side of Arkansas. It's a wreck. Ships start to blaze away at point blank range. Argosy suffers heavy damage (from ramming and 11" shells) and fails it's morale check...the crew abandons ship.

Inidianola rams the Chillicothe. Models by Thoroughbred Figures.

The train wreck of ramming....CSS Arkansas model in center and tinclads by Bay Area Yards. Others by Thoroughbred Figures.

USS Argosy (Bay Area Yards model) busrts into flame following heavy fire from Indianola, Arkansas and Missouri.

On the Union left, Chillicothe collides with Inidanola and attempts to board...and fails. Both models from Thoroughbred Figures.

With Chillicothe's wheels shot away, her captain orders the ship scuttled and the crew over the side. His plan - to blow the magazine and take Inidianola out in the blast. This would fulfill the mission steep cost.

The Chillicothe bursts into a roaring fire. The countdown begins...can Inidianola get free in time.

(Ray: This is where I start quoting Khan from Star Trek II. "No, you won't get away this time....From hell's heart I stab at thee....")

Backing away from the blazing wrecks. Confederate victory is near...
I feel compelled to add that the Sumter, in turning around managed to sideswipe the riverbank and ground the stern of the ship. By the end of the game, the ship was still aground under the guns of battery Savory. Sumter fired a total of two shots the entire game.

In the end, the the Lafayette survives...barely. She's been shot to pieces and more drifts downriver than steams away. The Union have lost two ironclads and two tinclads and the Confederates have not lost a single ship. The result of the game - a resounding Confederate victory. There will be hard questions asked in Washington as to what transpired in the murky depths of Louisiana and why the navy ascended the river in the first place.


  1. Good times! I was really hoping to either successfully board or scuttle while that cursed reb ship was fouled.

  2. It had the benefit of having never been tried before. If you had stayed fouled for two more turns, you would have gotten her.