Monday, November 12, 2018

Battle of Cape Ortegal; a Post Captain Scenario

While I'm busy casting little bricks out of plaster and handling some family business; here is a scenario I've been working on with the assistance of invaluable BW..

Battle of Cape Ortegal

The battle of Cape Ortegal was the last act of the Trafalgar campaign in 1805; in which 4 French ships of the line that managed to escape that battle are pounced on 4 British ships of the line and 4 frigates while they were trying to sail back to a French port.  the French stopped trying to run away and decided to fight and it went very poorly for them: it was a complete British victory with all four French ships damaged and taken and the British only took light damages.  You can go and read more about the actual battle yourself if you like...

However, this is a great historical scenario for Post Captain for the low number of ships involved and the potential for a great convention game.  While discussing it with BW he loaned me some info from his book "The Trafalgar companion" which is now on my Christmas list, and together we came up with the scenario.  There are minor differences between his and mine (down to personal style and tastes) but overall they are basically the same.  I'm posting it because 1) just to share and 2) so the blog acts as my on-line storage.  I'm hoping to run this sometime next year and get some play tests in before then.  

Overall Picture of the scenario

Most of the scenarios information can be gleaned from the set up pic.  It shows 4 French SOLs in line ahead being attacked by 4 British SOLs in a staggered line abreast.  I removed the British frigates that were there historically in order to simplify the scenario.  Also historically, some of the French ships were damaged by a storm and I've restored them to full health.

This might seem like a straight up fight and it kinda is; but actually the French are at a distinct disadvantage; as they were historically.  At this time the British navy is just better than the French Navy and this is reflected well in the PC rules.  SO, in order to give the French a chance of 'winning' the scenario the victory conditions have to cunningly crafted:

British Victory: All 4 French ships strike with no British ships struck.
French Victory: 2 British ships strike. It also doesn't matter how many French ships strike; if 2 British ships strike then the French win as they have achieved considerably more than their historical counter parts.
Any other result can be considered a draw.
NOTE: for the above, it's not withdraw (a possible result of failing a moral check), but strike.  If a French ship withdraws it's basically making a run for home which is what they wanted to do anyway.  If a British ship withdraws it's utterly shameful but not enough to lose the scenario, but will make it harder for the British to win due to dwindling resources.  Also note that a British ship would have to be very damaged or extremely unlucky to strike in the first place. 

For anyone familiar with PC, here are some notes about the set up for the ships (again mainly for me to refer to at some later time).

All French ships have Crack captains and Regular crew
The HMS Caesar and the HMS Hero have Crack Captains and Crack crew
the HMS Courageoux and the HMS Namur have Elite captains and Elite crew.

  • HMS Namur uses the Thunderer ship card
  • HMS Courageoux uses the Defense Ship card
  • Duguay Trouin uses the Ulm ship card
  • To represent the British closing in on the French: for the first turn all British ships have a Gust and all French have an Eddy.
These cards were selected more for 'balance' than for rigid historical accuracy.  For example, British elite crews shoot so extremely well that giving them really well armed ships is stacking the deck too much in their favor, so the British elite crews are placed in ships with average amounts of cannons. 

Scenario Play Through

Lot's of people are familiar with Norm's blog and he always has the great kindness that when he presents a scenario he also does a play through, which I think is an excellent way to do things.

However, I find myself really short on time and ships and did I mention that BW helped me with the scenario?  So I'm going to cheat and direct you to BW's blog where he has not one, but TWO write ups of the Battle of Cape Ortegal.  Please find NUMBER ONE and NUMBER TWO.  

and if for some reason you didn't know about those blogs, you were missing out...

Hopefully I'll be able to do my own play through soon enough...

Till next time! 


  1. A nice sized scenario for anyone who might fancy a dabble in the tall ships.

    1. I agree, Norm! Just the right size for a small action.

    2. Thanks guys, that’s the idea. A nice manageable scenario. the PC rules tend to work best at that level. Plus, it can’t be Trafalgar all the time. πŸ˜€

  2. I await your replay and thanks for a link to Brian's blog. I guess I was missing out!

    1. πŸ˜€. I’ll need to find the time and paint up two ships first. Sometime next year I’m afraid; which is why I wanted to post it so I couldn’t lose it.

  3. Interesting scenario and sensible victory conditions,there really was a gulf in ability between the Royal Navy and the French.
    Best Iain

    1. There really was and it really puts a crimp in scenario design, so it can be challenging to make the French side fun to play. I’m glad that you thought well of the victory conditions.

  4. Nice looking small scenario Stew.
    The club did do Trafalgar on Trafalgar day. I was unable to make the game so haven't blogged about it but some photos are here if you are interested.

    1. Thanks Tony. I think I saw those pics on the lead adventure forum. Trafalgar is one of those battles that I’d love to do one day. πŸ˜€

  5. Sounds fun mate. Lots of research and thought obviously put into this too. Get painting.

    1. I’m trying! πŸ˜€
      Hope you are getting settled in.

    2. Only 5 small boxes left to empty. :)

      We need to arrange a game soon.