There was a game of the ‘Little fleet encounter’ other day, and as it seems the disparity of forces gave quite interesting challenge (at least for the British). Since the starting positions call French not to have wind cage, and starting at the cruising stations, more compact British line – albeit weaker, could theoretically wreck havoc at the front of the French line before the heavy hitters, such as Duc de Bourgogne came alongside. British were counting on the potential disorder that would be result of French trying to maneuver ships into fighting formation. Battle was no more than skirmish, and no vessels surrendered in either side.
British plan was simple. Hit hard on the two leading French ships Jason (64) and Conquérant (74). Frigates were to keep harassing Conquérant as much as possible and prevent it’s return to the fight while Jason is beaten.
Game started with slight distortion of both lines and initial maneuvering was needed for British to set their course straight. after that, both sides converged towards each other – except French Eveillé (64) (Class C) who failed to execute the turn, and sagged badly off the line – also forming long gap between itself and last ship of French line. Neither side started long range gunnery, and both fleets kept All Plain Sails at the start.
Opening salvoes landed on board Conquérant (74) from close range, but being sturdy 74, little effective damage was done. Remembered again that 64’s are no match for those much bigger ships, however good the crew and Burford (70) went on to duel her.
Little later lively duel started between Jason (64) and Europe (64), both exchanging fire from ever closer distance. Jason took certainly worse from the encounter due to receiving several broadsides before she got her guns to bear. When Europe went on to lick her wounds, Prudent (64) and Eagle (50) stood her place and beat Jason (64) into submission.
Frigate harassment of Conquérant (74) did work, but not without Bellona (40) taking heavy beating from Conquérant (74). As might have been expected from encounter between Frigate and a Ship of the Line, single broadside took away over 25% of frigate’s DC from the engaged side. At this point, French had significant distance between the leading ships and Jason was close to haul down her colors. Conquérant (74) was isolated from the rest of the French fleet and were soon receiving fire from every quarter – ineffectual at start, but given time, even the frigate fire would tell, not to mention unimpeded fire from Burford (70).
Overall, British got away with minor damage. Only Bellona (40) required shipyard to service the hull. French losses were much worse, and both Jason (64) and Conquérant (74) would spend some good shore time.
With three players (or more), scenario could provide interesting command and messaging challenge.