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Wow, what a week. I would like to thank everyone who came out, and for the patience displayed by the participants as we got everything sorted out. We had a very large crowd, and I hope that the participants had a good time. Because of sim logistics, and trying to balance fight and lag, I opted to go with a 3 on 3 lineup. It worked out rather well, and I hope that everyone enjoyed themselves.

Round one had Scoundrel Fleet wave 1 versus Steeltopia. Steeltopia won, but I must give kudos to the lone Armadan in the Mosquito who kept it alive until the end.

Round two was Scoundrel Fleet wave 2 versus New Babbage Navy. It was a brutal fight, but we managed to pull out the win for the home team.

Round three was a pickup free-for-all with Mosquitos. I was told that Sandi Levee won by acclimation and survival.

Emperor Calamari and I are working out the details for the Steeltopia/Babbage squareoff...I had hoped to do it last night, but Ball night and crew coordination took front seat.

I hope we can do it again sometime, and I can say I have several ideas to make the event a bit smoother should we set one up.

Thanks to:
Remington Thursday and The Scoundrel Fleet for bringing a good crowd and being good sports
Emperor SteelCobra Calamari of Steeltopia
All the individual sailors who came out
Clockwinder Tenk, for giving me the 'Voice of God' for one night
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Tonight was a return to classic Iron Melee: hammering iron and clouds of coal smoke. We were told it was a War of Northern Aggression theme (sorry H, had to :P), so we were limited to 'period' ships. Initially we were two on two, with the South having the Nashville and my new Arkansas, and the North with Hotspur's baby the Elliot ram and a Pook turtle. The South managed to pull off a credible win, and we had some "SL related technical issues" before the next round started...

The fight of the night was the last one...a free for all with your intrepid reporter in her Arkansas casemate ram being chased by 3 monitor style ironclads (technically, one was a Monitor proper, with a Passaic and another one I'm not sure of). While it was ugly, and intense at times, and brutal, and busy...I managed to prevail (and by the skin of my teeth).

Thanks to everyone who came out, and to our hosts for continuing the tradition.

The Rock

Jul. 28th, 2009 01:51 am
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Back around the 15th of November, 2008 I participated in the first ironclad battle of my career. As a green Lieutenant Commander in the Fleet of Wrath Exiles, I helped the fleet win a hard fought engagement with the Royal Antiquity Navy. I wrote this dialog back then, and never posted it because I felt it was a little presumptive and arrogant for the junior officer to throw a narrative against the commanders. In light of the times, and all that has happened of late, I felt it was time to finish the story

Commodore O'Toole's report


Read more )
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The petty officers sat in a huddle in the back of the bar, and I managed to slide into an end chair before of them noticed me, and then noticed who it was. Luckily for all of us I managed to keep them from saluting....

I clustered up, and told them my plan. They had only been leaving a single automaton on the pier after 10 PM, and the alert crews only left one or two men back on board the active watch ships. Each petty officer would lead a section to storm the alert boats simultaneously originating from a different direction. 4 ships, 6 teams. The "Charger", one of the Kotetsus I bought right before the occupation was moored in back, next to the "Stonewall" a Lavanco we traded a rum smuggler a load of machine parts for. The "Tarheel", my Cuthbert ram was next, and a Vanguard that was being used as a harbor boat was at the end of the slip. If we were lucky, the Vanguard would be ready to sail which would allow us to sail her out of the way and hopefully get the rest of the ships moving. If we were really lucky, more than one of them would be under power, and that would let us tow the rest out. Or they could all be cold, or gone. We agreed on the recognition signal (blue rocket followed by a blue light) and that I wanted the guns double-shotted with canister (since I wanted to discourage followers from on-shore). They all looked at each other, comparing notes, asking about hatch combings, doodling on the counter working out figures for gun crews...

"Boys, this is going to be dangerous, and not without some degree of personal risk to you should we fail." I looked at each of them in the eyes as I went around the table, and while I didn't know all of them by name, I knew their faces, and the looks they returned to me made me feel a bit more confident. I picked up a glass, and raised it. "Gentlemen, to you. Fortune favors the bold." I put the glass to my lips, and before I could drink, Tommy Malone, the gun-captain of my #1 guncrew reached over and touched my arm. Tommy was a ruddy faced little Irishman who was possibly the best shot in the fleet. He was another one of those sailors who managed to keep showing up on my roster, commission after commission.
"Lads, to the Rock!" He lifted the glass towards me, and the assembled knot of men responded in kind. I wanted to tell him to stop it, or tell him that was a long time ago, when I was a green Lieutenant Commander with something to prove. I drank my drink, nodded to the boys and headed to my place at the docks.

The park benches at Navy Pier were comfortable, and offered a clear view of the port. I sat down and took a long hard look at the docks, and was slightly surprised at what I found there. The Vanguard was gone, and the other three were preparing to get underway. The only thing that would save us would be if the alert crew had not arrived and only the engineer and stokers were aboard. A group of men in Obolensky's naval uniform walked across to the "Tarheel", and boarded. I could only hope now that the second division would be lucky enough to get to cover or scatter before the cannons opened up. She pulled away, sliding into the darkness when I saw the star and the light. One away, 2 to go. The division slated to take the "Stonewall" crossed the pier from the Arcade, and I could see something being tossed onto the pier as she lept forward into motion. Two away, one to go. A line of men ran out from near Loner Lane, and even in the dimness of the street, I could see the braid on the cuff of the leader. Palmer's division. My men. They should have been on the "Tarheel", and I figured at that moment that I would be curious to inquire once we were underway and not while we were still in town. They swept onto the ship, and for one long moment, all I could hear was the sounds of the town. Then two things became very obvious--that the Smashington at the opposite end of the pier was finally curious as to what was afoot, and the last two divisions would be needing a ride. I kicked out of my skirt to expose my boots and breeches, pulled the holster belt out of my handbag and headed to the pier at a run. I had to stop the "Charger" or I would not be able to carry the remaining men on the gunboat I had hidden in the canals. I crossed the last stack of crates onto the pier proper as the last two groups of sailors emerged from their hiding places and swarmed around me. Once again, luck smiled on our venture, as out of the shadows came the missing Vanguard. I quickly gestured for the men to hide where they were. This would again be another gamble, but I felt as if it would work...

The coxswain of the Vanguard shouted from out of the turret hatch "Ahoy the pier! What's afoot? Where is the fleet?"
He continued on his arc from the Vernian, drawing closer to the end of the pier....I could only hope he wouldn't recognize me in the light of the streetlamp.
"The port's under attack! We need help!"
At this every hatch flew open and most of the crew bounded out onto the deck, agitated but quite unarmed. The Vanguard touched the bumpers of the dock, and there was only one thing left to do. I drew my Colt, screamed "Boarders away!" and leapt onto the deck. The sailors followed, and within a few minutes were able to secure the little ironclad. I sent part of the remaining men to the "Charger" and sent both of them on their way. I crossed back over to Abney Parkway, and made my dash for the canals and the security of the patrol boat. I swept out onto the Vernian at speed, and saw the lights and heard the sirens. We were away, and at least now we could fight on our feet.

I signaled Officer's Call at dawn to assess what we should do next. Since Obolensky had taken the town government, we were technically outlaws by the strict letter of the law. Exiles, with no home. I laughed, so long and so hard that some of the boys got worried. There was only one place for the New Babbage Exiles Fleet to go.

East.

(this should have been done a while ago, but I was stuck with a dose of real life. More follows, so read 'em in sequence)
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Last night, the Iron Melee featured an infantry landing scenario as a modification of the scenario we ran last week. You might remember this from my previous post, where the Blue team was massacred to a fare-thee-well by the shore batteries. This week, the Blue team put together a landing party equipped with the MMCS sensors, and hit the ground to take the guns from the Red Team. The Blues had two ships in the water to take on the guns for the Reds, and the Reds had a guard force to protect the dockyard.

I can say with pride that the Blue Team won the scenario. I can also say that I died in a heap storming the gun positions 2 times out of 3. This was the first really effective 'combined ops' scenario we have run at Port Merrimac, and from initial indications it was not only fun but a success from an operations/tactical standpoint.

There were a few minor issues, from trying to shoot from 'no-rez' parcels (Don't hide behind the lucky chairs) to guns not working (apparently once you 'die' you need to sling and redraw the rifle to get it working again) to target identification (had a few cases of fratricide). The other point was that infantry begats infantry, iron begats iron. Ships can engage the guns, grunts can shoot grunts, but grunts can't shoot ships with rifles. Until we have a true universal system that works with vehicles and personnel, this is the lot we have to deal with. (we had a Tom Hanks versus the Tiger tank incident, apparently)

The basic MMCS system comes with a sword, and a Martini-Henry rifle, and is only 10L. There is a developers kit out, and I hope that more weapons will be available in the future.

The other bit of information I gleaned from this on a personal level was that had there been something like this in another scenario run recently, the outcome may have been the same, but the contention would have been eliminated.
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Last night's Iron Melee at Port Merrimac featured ship to shore action. While this was one of the most fun evenings we have had in a while (from my perspective, anyways) it was also one of the more challenging and frustrating ones as well. I had been asked to come up with a scenario for use with a shore battery, and the one we used was simple...Red had 2 mortars, and one ship, tasked with defending the port. Blue had the task of knocking out 1 gun and the ironclad.

The boxscore was simple, as Blue took a beating each time. I first fielded a Kotetsu, which gave me just enough elevation to hit the docks, but I found that one of my old favorite axioms from Murphy's Laws of Combat came into play..."if the enemy is in range, so are you". I scored a few hits on the guns, but even with my shoot and scoot strategy, I found myself bracketed by mortar fire tout suite. Our comrade from the Steubings found that their large impressive looking ships make large impressive targets. Commodore O'Toole and I tried several different strategic approaches, but the end result was close to the same. I found that I could get away from the harbor boat, and range the mortar pits, but managing a hit while under fire was daunting at best. I think the best we managed was 30% damage on any one of the guns. At any one point, Blue had 4 ships in the water, and I feel that maybe (and a qualified maybe at that) if we would have had 2 more ships we may have been able to land a few more hits. At one point I was able to get around to a position where the gunners were not focused on me, but the number of hits on the gundeck didn't slow them down enough to keep my bacon out of the fire for very long.

This would have been a perfect scenario for a St. Nazaire raid approach, with either a suicide bomb boat or some sort of landing force. The problem is going to be having enough ships to keep the gunners busy so someone can get a bead on them.

With all of that said, we had a good time, and much was learned for the next scenario. My thanks go out to the hosts, Commodore O'Toole, Lady Bellambi, and to the new faces who decided to crew the artillery.

This is Commodore O'Toole's take on the festivities
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Last night, while I was out sailing a curious thing happened.

After a quick trip 'around the horn' of Doctor O's island, I was heading back to Port Babbage when I suddenly noticed a side-wheel ironclad bearing down on me. I really did not think much of it until it fired on me. I would not stand for being attacked in an unprovoked manner in open seas, so I went to flank speed and turned to face this aggressor. It was a rough fight, full of maneuvers, and jockeying for shots. He had two single gun turrets, I have a casemate with 7 guns. it was a fierce fight, but in the end I prevailed.

(thanks to Mr Wemyss for putting up a good fight, and to the audience we managed to attract. I hope it was as fun to watch as it was to sail. But, in retrospect...it was much tougher to maneuver for broadside shots. Perhaps a dual turret monitor is in my future....)
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Last night, after having had the opportunity to come into possession of a new steamship, discovered several things.

1) The new bridge into Wheatstone has less vertical clearance than the bridges in the Canals.
2) The canal that runs past the other side of the Gelato shop is much narrower than the one beside it
3) Reverse is slow.
4) Ships on the whole are not articulated.

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