It came to our attention that Graves were sailing in the vicinity of the Bay but it was necessary to deliver the troops and take the risk of encountering the fleet. Unfortunately we could no slip to the bay without the British noticing and we had to prepare for battle. Hope of having one ship superiority was turned down by sight of London (98), a large three decker. Duc de Bourgogne, now carrying complement of 80 guns is no match to London, and regardless of my attempts I have not been able to gain windward side in the coming engagement. British fleet, sailing in parallel, opposing course may choose quite freely the avenue of their attack, and I have only few options available.
British fleet under Graves
Royal Oak (74)
French fleet under de Ternay
We have some disorder among the line, and I have to make signal to everyone form a line stern Neptune and observe the British fleet maneuvers evolving. Waiting aggressive attack from the windward side, British are content to fire from long range, and not many of our vessels have received substantial damage. They have now parallel to our line, and I cannot see British attempting nothing but wearing together, or in succession to concentrate fire in the rear.
I have now for some time contemplated – because of the British caution not to close in the usual aggressive way, to maneuver against the British by tacking in succession, now that none of the enemy ships appear to have inclination to attack more closely. By tacking, I had opportunity to gain both superior force against now apparently weak British rear. After all, America (64) appears to have suffered significantly under the fire of our van.
I sent out the signal to tack in succession and Neptune acted promptly. However, Jason was not apparently aware of the development, and collided with tacking Neptune, throwing the whole line in disarray. Provence had to take measures to avoid collision, and everybody else scrambled to reduce sail when realizing what has happened in the van. These unfortunate events provided golden opportunity for the British, and they waited not exploiting the opportunity. Entire British fleet now bore down on our line, and Eveille(64) was especially hard beaten by much larger London (98).
Luckily enough, my good officer manning Eveille (64) fought until to reasonable end, and then slipped behind Due de Bourgogne, and Ardent (64) & Conquerant (74) took her place in the line. Undoubtedly this saved Eveille from the immediate danger and gave her much needed respite. I can only ardor the dedication of her crew for putting up a stiff resistance against such monstrous broadside London (98) could deliver.
Meanwhile, Neptune (74) followed by Jason (64) and Provence (64) had finished their tack and were now sailing aggressively against America (64), Royal Oak (74) and London (98). In the rear, good officers of Ardent (64) and Conquerant (74) concentrated on Prudent which had ill chances to survive concentrated fire for much longer. However, British finally finisher their wear, and line was, from the most part parallel to ours. Now London (98) and Royal Oak (74) found their marks and what I could tell from the smoke engulfing Jason (74) and Provence (64), they were both in grave danger.
Now, having the lee side, and not being able to perform the tack, I had difficult decision to make. I could only call for retreat, since fleet was now effectively split in half. By luck we lost no ship to the enemy, nor did none of English surrender.
Eveille (64), Neptune (74) and Jason (64) all suffered gravely. What I can tell, only America (64), and Prudent (64) suffered comparably. It is evident that due to the untimely collision of our leading ships, the intended maneuver could not be executed in timely manner, causing us to lose critical initiative.
This time Signal Close Action was played with optional signaling rules, and it did make complex maneuvering very dangerous. Inherently difficult maneuver, such like tacking in battle is insane to start with, but with signaling rules in play, it becomes suicidal. If something goes wrong – and it will, there is nothing one can do to change it. Ships in absence of annul, or other signal will have to follow the one they had. Any correction or annul takes at least, if lucky, one turn to reach the ships. By then, order such as wear in succession has already been executed at least by one or two leading ships. Recalling them to perform tack again, or wear is, well…
It was evident that once word was out to the fleet, there were no practicable way to annul the signal and change mind. Delay, albeit only one turn, has dramatic effect on the overall fleet control. Everything relies on the signals, their timely execution and decision when to send them out. Yet again, excellent, fast and very realistic game, given the simplified system that SCA:FP is. I fully acknowledge that the full system would, especially in this particular tactical scenario give very, very good game indeed.