A second try at Canal Wars

A while back I wrote about our get together with 28mm gunboats and our shoot-out on the Martian canals. Today we were at it again.

In the six week or so since our last play-test, I’ve been busy with a cruise, school beginning and attention to lots of Aztec miniatures. But one of my tasks between our July meeting and today’s get together at the annual Fix Bayonets game da in Steilacoom, was to re-write a set of miniature rules for gunboat combat that fit with our period.

Re-write rules? Are you kidding me?  I immediately took a look at the rules set that began my interest in Frank Chadwick’s Space 1889 universe in the first place, Sky Galleons of Mars. Most of what I put together is based on Sky Galleons.with some adaptation to the canal milieu from the air.

I found the most important point was to determine hull size for each vessel.  Once that was decided it was easy to begin thinking about hit points, armament, and crew.  I decided that steam vessels had an automatic speed of 16″ and sailing vessels were 8″. The one rowing galley had a movement of 8″ with a ramming speed of 12.” Guns had a pretty long range, with the British guns having a clear advantage in range and damage points. The Martians were dangerous up close and looked to board.


British gunboats pass through the Martian line of attackers.

I didn’t really have a scenario planned, and was just interested to see who would arrive with what for our play test.  Needless to say, there were plenty of boats and we cobbled together a British convoy that had to traverse the table. The game only lasted about an hour and a half.  Most things seemed to work pretty well. The gunfire and hit location were great.  I allowed too much damage value to most guns, and I’ll lower those a bit. The critical hit charts seemed to work fine. We tried a couple of boarding actions, and they went well, but I’m not sure I’m happy with them.


The Safieh is boarded by a Martian Xebec.

Just for the record, the British sank one of the Martian vessels and damaged others. They also suffered a fair amount of damage and lost one of their gunboats and a transport to capture. But the game reached a decisive ending fairly quickly.

It was fun.  Now to build a real scenario and try it again.

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