Dawn of Iron - Capture the Flag Battlereport
Over the weekend I ran a demo game for Dawn of Iron to test things out ahead of sending the book to the publishers next week. I threw together all the ships that I had, some terrain, and headed to my semi-local club. I wasn't sure how many players there would be and I only had one sea mat to use as well, so I hit on an idea to run a Capture the Flag style game. It was fun and I highly recommend it if you want to run your own demo as it forces the players to get moving and take risks in order to win.
I used a large 6x4 table and placed an island in opposite corners. The islands were surrounded by at least 12"/30cm all around. I placed a small dock pointing directly to the corner of the table as a marker.
Set a Tonnage Points limit for players. In our game we went with 75-80 points per player, but you might want to limit this to 20 or 30, and graduate players up using the optional rules below instead.
Trace a line between the corners that do not have home base islands. Roll a die for each side. The side with the lowest result choses a ship from their side to deploy behind and no closer than 4"/10cm from that line on their half of the table, followed by one from the opposing side, and so on until all ships have been placed.
The side that had the highest result after the dice roll for placing ships has the first turn.
Capturing the Flag
If your ship passes the enemy's dock marker and rounds their island, you could steal the flag as a free action (you do not need to dock or anything, just sail past the dock). You then need to return to your own island and perform the same maneuver to score a point. The flag is then returned to the enemy island and play continues. If your ship is sunk carrying the flag, it is returned to the enemy's island.
Set a time with your players. When that time runs out, the side with the highest score wins.
If a player is eliminated, they can return their ship to their dock and reenter play in the following turn.
Each player starts with a low tonnage points value, say about 20-30 points. During the game, if your team sinks an enemy ship, all of that team's captains gain +5 points to their Tonnage Limit, which they can use for Refitting (see below).
Every time you are forcibly relocated or voluntarily sail to your home dock, you have the option to spend your Activation to upgrade your ship. You can trade in their vessel for another of equal or lesser value than their current one, and purchase upgrade cards. Once refitted, you can rejoin the fight.
I deployed some batteries but opted not to use them. Feel free to protect your flags with some simple shore batteries, rated as Light Guns with an effective range of 24"/60cm. The Battery can shoot only in its Fore Arc with a rate of fire of 4.
For our battle we didn't use the Bounty and Refitting rules, but instead opted to take larger fleets of two or more ships each. On the Confederate side, Captain Mike G took the CSS Arkansas and Gaines. Andrew M backed those heavy hitters with a ram fleet of CSS General Beauregard, Colonel Lovell, General Van Dorn, and General Sumter. On the Federal Side, Damian C took the USS Hartford and Essex into battle, while I took the USS Chickasaw and US Ram Switzerland (represented here by a model of the US Ram Queen of the West). The Union won the dice off and both sides kept their ironclads back to cover the home islands, ceding the center of the board to the timber and cotton clads. With that, the battle was on!
Above: First turn, with the USS Hartford and US Ram Switzerland charging into the center of the field
Above: The Confederates respond, with an all-out charge of their ram fleet
Above: USS Hartford sails past a small island
Above: US Ram Switzerland is supported by USS Essex as they steam across open water
Above: CSS General Van Dorn navigates away from some exposed rocks and into a flanking position
Above: The USS Chickasaw holds back to cover the Union home base. While scary, her 11" Dahlgrens are unable to find target at extreme ranges
Above: The battlefield after the initial moves
Above: USS Hartford takes some fire from the rebel rams, but presses on
Above: CSS General Beauregard comes under intense fire, but manages to avoid any damage
Above: The CSS Colonel Lovell charge forward to join General Beauregard, closing the gap to their Union targets
Above: Again the rebel rams avoid damage, despite withering fire and broadsides from USS Hartford
Above: The Chickasaw moves to counter the rebel rams sneaking in from the flank
Above: The Chickasaw neutralizes the CSS General Sumter with her 11" Dahlgrens
Above: Meanwhile on the other flank, the CSS Arkansas moves to intercept US Ram Switzerland. Like her rebel opposites, the Federal ram manages to avoid damage, even at close range. The ram ends up colliding with the Arkansas, but fails to deal her victim any damage
Above: The battlefield at the mid-point of the fight
Above: The Rebel rams severely damage the Hartford as they attempt to slip by to capture the Federal flag
Above: The Switzerland and Arkansas are entangled, which causes the CSS Gaines to collide with the ram. The damage to the federal boat is severe and she begins to sink
Above: The Arkansas frees herself from the sinking wreck of the Switzerland, however the Gaines is trapped and takes fire from the USS Essex passing at her stern
Above: Combined fire from the Hartford and the Chickasaw finally sinks the General Beauregard
Above: Badly damaged, the Hartford avoids some rocky shoals
Above: The Union has pressed deep into rebel waters
Above: The Chickasaw continues to prowl the waters keeping the rebel rams in check
Above: With the rebel ships tied up on the flanks, the USS Essex steams around the Confederate home base
Above: The Essex snags the rebel flag as she steams past the dock.
Above: Essex takes fire from the Gaines and Arkansas as she rounds the corner of the island on her way home
Above: With the rebel ram fleet destroyed, the Chickasaw maneuvers around the home island, picking up speed to intercept and escort the Essex home
Above: The Essex delivers a fatal broadside into the Gaines as she sails past
Above: After some maneuvering and evasive action, the Arkansas finally succumbs to the intense firepower of the Chickasaw, ending confederate resistance and allowing the Essex to return home with the rebel rag! A Union victory.
The battle was fought over the course of a few hours at our local club. Many thanks goes out to the players who jumped into the captain's chair and to TCOW for hosting us.