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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Battle of Nevis pictures

When I did playtesting of the Battle of Nevis from the English perspective, I took several pictures. The background is what Privateers Bounty provides: rock-like islands. If I had moved the action further to the west, there would have been fortifications and a town.

English fighting for the weather gauge

This shows the English squadron maneuvering for the weather gauge. Yes, Privateers Bounty provides a good enough environment for such things.

English trying to get far enough away from the French to be able to wear

This shows the English squadron pulling away so that there is room to wear. Ideally, the English squadron would tack, but I have had enough problems getting caught in stays for extended periods of time that I have generally gone back to wearing.

I am playtesting a Battle of Nevis scenario for Privateers Bounty

Since the Battle of Nevis information "fell into my lap", I thought that I needed to put together the Privateers Bounty scenario for it. I am currently playtesting.
I just finished playtesting with me commanding the English. I was able to annihilate the Allied force. They are small, weakly armed, and have mediocre crews (only the French). I am about to try the scenario with me commanding the Allies.
My opinion is that despite the Allied handicaps, a commander can do well enough to win. Therefore, unless there are factual issues uncovered the scenario is good as is, and I will make it available for download at

The French ships at the Battle of Nevis

I believe that this is the list of French ships at the Battle of Nevis. They were divided into two squadrons: First Squadron:
  • du Florissant flagship of Admiral François 28/30 guns (Royal West Indies Company)
  • des Armes d'Angleterre (English prize, ex-Coventry) 24 guns (Royal West Indies Company)
  • de l'Harmonie 26/32 guns (Royal West Indies Company) 300 tons
  • de la Notre-Dame 10 guns, 12 cannon perriers (Royal West Indies Company) 400 tons
  • du Marsouïn 12/18 guns (Royal West Indies Company)
  • de Saint Christophe 26 guns (Royal West Indies Company)
  • Cher amy, a fireship 8/10 guns (Royal West Indies Company)

Second Squadron:

  • du Levrier (Dutch Windhond)
  • François le Saint Jean 8/30 guns (Royal West Indies Company) 300 tons
  • l'Hercule 26 guns (Royal West Indies Company)
  • le Mercier 16/24 guns (Royal West Indies Company) 400 tons
  • l'Hirondel 14 guns (Royal West Indies Company)
  • le Soucy converted to a fireship in April 1667 (Royal West Indies Company)

I was able to find the ship data in Cdr. Alain Demerliac's book Nomenclature des vaisseaux du Roi-Soleil de 1661 à 1715 (1995).

Frank Fox's Mariner's Mirror first article gives the English OOB for the Battle of Nevis (10 May 1667)

I got a copy, today, from the De Golyer Library at SMU, of the first part of Frank Fox's article about English hired ships "Hired Men-of-War, 1664-67". One nugget from that is the English OOB for the Battle of Nevis. I have the list of Dutch ships at the Battle, and need to figure out what French ships were there. It was an English victory, due to the horrible performance by some of the French.
The English ships were:
  • Coronation
  • John & Thomas
  • Constant Katherine
  • William
  • Pearl
  • Campanion
  • St. Peter
  • Norwich (a 5th Rate)
  • William, fireship

The Campanion blew up, but the English won the battle, anyway.

The Dutch squadron was commanded by Abraham Crijnssen. They left Zeeland on 30 December 1666 (New Style). The ships initially with him were:

  • Zeelandia, 34 guns crew 140 Abraham Crijnssen
  • West-Cappel, 28 guns Simon Lonck
  • Zeeridder, 34 guns crew 167 Piter de Mauregnault
  • Prins te Paard, jacht 14 guns crew 75 Salomon le Sage
  • Wester-Souburg, hoeker 6 guns crew 13 Rochus Bastaert
  • Aardenburg, fluit Abraham Trouwers
  • an unnamed snauw Hayman Adriaensen

They were joined by the Visschers Herder, 26 guns Boudewijn Keuvelaer (perhaps in February)

The advijs jacht Windhond brought letters from the Netherlands, seemingly arriving in March.

The Zeelandia, Zeeridder, and Visschers Herder definitely took part in the Battle of Nevis.

After the abortive battle, the Dutch left the Caribbean and headed for Virginia.

Monday, August 30, 2004

I broke down and am calculating the correct burdens for French ships

I looked at alternatives, and decided that I would do best to use a spreadsheet to calculate the English-style burden for French ships. My first application is for the Solebay scenario. I am calculating the burdens and recording relevant data for the French ships that were actually at Solebay, not just those that are in the Privateers Bounty scenario.
For example, the data for the French flagship, the Saint-Phillipe (78 guns) is:
146ft LOA 121ft LK x 36.5ft x 18.5ft, giving a French tonnage of 1408 tons and an English burden of 1,037 tons. The armament I'm using is 24-36pdr, 26-18pdr, 24-8pdr, and 4-6pdr.

It turns out that Corbett's booklet gives captains and order for Solebay

I have a copy of a rare item by Julian S. Corbett entitled "A Note on the Drawings in the Possession of the Earl of Dartmouth illustrating The Battle of Solebay May 28, 1672 and the Battle of the Texel August 11, 1673" published by The Navy Records Society in 1908. It turns out that this booklet gives the names of the French and English captains as well as the sailing order for each division. The only thing that it lacks are the fireships and smallcraft.

Allied fireships at Solebay

I need to find out, if possible, what fireships accompanied the Allied fleet at the Battle of Solebay. I have the information for the Dutch, from Brandt, but I lack if for the combined Franco-English fleet. I have sketched out the scenario that I will use for the Privateers Bounty scenario, but I lack fireship data for the allies. I also have to add in fireships to the Dutch fleet, although I at least have sufficient data to proceed.

I am developing a Privateers Bounty scenario for the Battle of Solebay (28 May 1672)

With my success in scaling the Battle of Lowestoft into Privateers Bounty, I decided that the Battle of Solebay would be what I would do next. I am using R. C. Anderson's OOB from Journals and Narratives of the Third Dutch War as the basis for proceeding. I will use French ship data from Cdt. Alain Demerliac's book Nomenclature des vaisseaux de Roi-Soleil de 1661 à 1715. I will use Frank Fox's book Great Ships: the battlefleet of King Charles II for English ship data.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

I don't recommend "breaking the line" in Privateers Bounty

I just proved to myself (as if I needed it) that breaking the line does more damage to your fleet than it does to the enemy. I did another simulation run with the Battle of Lowestoft scenario, and I commanded the English with the difficulty set to "Hard". I shut it down part way through, as the English had lost one third while the Dutch were still at something like 94%.

I will upload the Battle of Lowestoft scenario momentarily

I just ran the Battle of Lowestoft scenario for Privateers Bounty, and the only thing I want to do is to set the camera position. I just ran the Dutch, and found them to be competitive. My belief is that in the real battle, attitudes were generally bad, due to political instability that eventually brought down the Republic. The fleet was also badly led by Jacob Wassenaer. They weren't helped by the fact that the government had refused to build the fleet that Tromp had wanted in 1653, but that was in the process of being fixed by 1665. The huge building program started in 1664 produced a fleet of ships that were sufficient to fight the English. I have previously outlined that building program at
I don't see the organization and tactics to be the real problem. Many captains were incompetent and needed to be replaced. Fortunately for the Dutch, the next generation was maturing and would be equal to the task, saving the country in 1672-1674.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

I'm very close to being able to enter Lowestoft as a Privateers Bounty scenario

I have scaled the fleets and picked ships for the English, arranged in the three squadrons. I have scaled the Dutch and just have to list the specific ships and captains. I would expect that in a day or two it would be ready to playtest.
I will be interested to see how the simulation works, if the English would tend to win, as in real life, or not.

A Lowestoft scenario--let's analyze the numbers

To do a Privateers Bounty scenario for the Battle of Lowestoft (3 June 1665), we will need to scale the fleets to fit. To do that, we need to know actual numbers. For now, we will omit smallcraft, although I like to have them. English fleet: (104 ships) White Squadron: (33 ships)
  • Van: 1-2nd Rate, 2-3rd Rates, 4-4th Rates, 1-5th Rate, and 4-hired merchantmen (11 ships)
  • Center: 1-1st Rate, 1-2nd Rate, 2-3rd Rates, 4-4th Rates, 1-5th Rate, 2-fireships, and 2-hired merchantmen (13 ships)
  • Rear: 1-2nd Rate, 2-3rd Rates, 3-4th Rates, 1-5th Rate, and 2-hired merchantmen (9 ships)

Red Squadron: (39 ships)

  • Van: 2-2nd Rates, 1-3rd Rate, 4-4th Rates, 1-5th Rate, 1-6th Rate, and 2-hired merchantmen (11 ships)
  • Center: 1-1st Rate, 2-2nd Rates, 2-3rd Rates, 5-4th Rates, 2-5th Rates, 1-6th Rate, 2-fireships, and 2-hired merchantmen (17 ships)
  • Rear: 1-2nd Rate, 1-3rd Rate, 5-4th Rates, and 4-hired merchantmen (11 ships)

Blue Squadron: (32 ships)

  • Van: 1-2nd Rate, 2-3rd Rates, 3-4th Rates, 1-5th Rate, and 3-hired merchantmen (10 ships)
  • Center: 1-1st Rate, 2-3rd Rates, 4-4th Rates, 2-5th Rates, 1-fireship, and 2-hired merchantmen (12 ships)
  • Rear: 2-2nd Rates, 1-3rd Rate, 4-4th Rates, 1-5th Rate, and 2-hired merchantmen (10 ships)

Dutch fleet: (122 ships)

  • First Squadron: 1-78 (VOC), 1-73, 1-68, 2-58, 1-56, 4-48, 2-46, 1-38, 1-36, 1-18, and 2-fireships (17 ships)
  • Second Squadron: 1-76 (VOC), 1-58, 1-57, 1-53, 1-50, 2-46, 3-36, 2-34, 1-29, 1-25, 1-8, 1-6, and 2-fireships (18 ships)
  • Third Squadron: 1-70 (VOC), 2-68, 1-58, 1-50, 4-48, 1-46, 1-41 (VOC), 2-38, 1-36, and 1 fireship (15 ships)
  • Fourth Squadron: 1-70 (VOC), 1-68, 1-58, 1-54, 2-52, 1-50 (VOC), 1-44, 4-40, 1-38, 1-36, 1-18, and 1-fireship (16 ships)
  • Fifth Squadron: 1-70, 1-58, 2-56, 1-50 (VOC), 6-48, 1-40, 2-38, 1-36, 1-30, 1-14, and 1-fireship (18 ships)
  • Sixth Squadron: 1-50, 1-48, 4-46, 1-40, 1-36, 1-34, 2-30, 1-26, 1-24, 1-21, 1-20, 1-16, 1-4, 1-3, and 2-fireships (20 ships)
  • Seventh Squadron: 1-60, 2-56, 1-54 (VOC), 3-52 (VOC), 2-50, 1-46, 2-44, 1-36, 1-32 (VOC), 2-30, and 2-fireships (18 ships)

The English are 104 ships while the Dutch are 122 ships. If the total in the game is 84, then the English would have 39 ships and the Dutch would have 45 ships. The squadrons would need to be scaled accordingly.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Possible Battle of Lowestoft scenario (3 June 1665 Old Style)

I find it distasteful to have to reduce numbers to be able to fit the large battles in to Privateers Bounty, but that is just what is needed. I think that we might as well have the 2nd Anglo-Dutch War battles available to fight, as the OOB's are well defined by Frank Fox. I have to shoehorn them into Privateers Bounty, but at least we would be able to get a flavor for what it was like.
The basic problem is the need to limit total ships to some number around 84. I will scale the fleets accordingly, to fit within this limitation. The main work to be done will be do develop the scaled OOB and then finish the Dutch ship calculations, so that I have what would be needed to create the ships in the Privateers Bounty scenario editor.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

The Battle at Bergen on 2 August 1665 (Old Style)

I finished playtesting and tweaking the Privateers Bounty scenario for the English attack on the Dutch East India fleet in the harbor at Bergen. I had to reduce the effectiveness of Dutch ships, as the battle is so one-sided. Since I don't have information about armaments for the Dutch ships, I felt that I may have originally made them too strong. As it is, the scenario plays "true to form": the English are easily repulsed. The harbor size seems very realistic, although it faces the wrong direction by 90 degrees, as the dutch ships fill up the entrance the way that is shown in the drawings. I don't understand Privateers Bounty, as I set all the Dutch ships to "Hard Anchor", in the scenario setup, but when running the Dutch via AI, some of the ships get underway. When I ran the Dutch, I furled the sails to settle the issue. I did NO manuevering of the Dutch and let the AI run the English. The English have a very hard time, as in the actual battle. From a purely simulation perspective, I though it worthwhile to build and run this scenario. As a game, it is less interesting, but it has its moments, even if you are commanding the English, as you do have two capable fireships (Bryar and Hound).

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I'm building a new Privateers Bounty scenario: the attack on Bergen on 2 August 1665

I am using some very appropriate land models for the harbor at Bergen. There is an ample supply of fortifications, and a good harbor that looks something like the van de Velde drawing. The Dutch fighting fleet consisted of the following ships:
  • Walcheren (Zeeland) Pieter de Bitter, Admiral
  • Phoenix (Amsterdam) merchant Jacob Burckhorst, Vice-Admiral (400 lasts)
  • Slot Hooningen (Rotterdam) schipper Herman de Ruyter, Rear-Admiral
  • Notemuskaatboom (Amsterdam) (300 lasts)
  • Rijzende Zon (Amsterdam) (300 lasts)
  • Brederode (Amsterdam) Skipper Pieter Veltmuys
  • Wapen van Hoorn (Amsterdam) flute
  • Amstelland (Amsterdam) Skipper Theunis Gysbertszoon (340 lasts) flute
  • Diemermeer (Zeeland) (220 lasts) flute
  • Ooievaar (Zeeland) Skipper Frederick Janszoon (340 lasts) flute
  • Jonge Prins (Hoorn) Skipper Jacob Jochemszoon
  • Kogge (Amsterdam) Skipper Luyt Pieterszoon (180 lasts) yacht
  • Nieuwenhoven (Amsterdam) Skipper Pieter Kooker (170 lasts) yacht
  • Catharina (a Lisbon trader) Skipper Ruth Maximiliaan (40 guns)
Frank Fox says that the six largest ships were anchored across the entrance, with the Brederode on the west side, Phoenix, Wapen van Hoorn, Jonge Prins, and Walcheren in the center. The Sloot Hooningen was on the east side. The Catherine was in between the Walcheren and Sloot Hooningen. The Rijzende Zon and three others (Amstelland, Diermermeer, and Ooievaar) were behind them. The two yachts may have been near the Catharina. The following English ships took part in the attack:
  • Revenge (3rd Rate) (58 guns) Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Teddiman
  • Happy Return (4th Rate) (50 guns) James Lambert
  • Breda (4th Rate) (46 guns) Thomas Seale
  • Foresight (4th Rate) (46 guns) Packington Brooks
  • Golden Lion (4th Rate, prize) (46 guns) William Dale
  • Sapphire (4th Rate) (38 guns) Thomas Elliot
  • Guinea (4th Rate) (36 guns) Thomas Room Coyle
  • Bendish (M) (42 guns) Robert Taylor
  • Society (M) (36 guns) Ralph Lascelles
  • Prudent Mary (M) (36 guns) Thomas Haward
  • Coast Frigate (M) (34 guns) William Lawson
  • Guernsey (5th Rate) (28 guns) John Utber
  • Pembroke (5th Rate) (28 guns) Richard Cotton
  • Norwich (5th Rate) (24 guns) John Wetwang
  • Martin Galley (6th Rate) (14 guns) William Kampthorne
  • Bryar (fireship) (12 guns) Vincent Pierse
  • Hound (fireship) (8 guns) James Coleman
  • Frank Fox, A Distant Storm: The Four Days Battle of 1666 (1996)
  • J.C.M. Warnsinck, De Retourvloot van Pieter de Bitter (1929)

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

I'm off to a good start on calculations for Dutch ships from the 2nd and 3rd Anglo-Dutch Wars

The main impediment to building scenarios for the Second and Third Anglo-Dutch Wars is that we need to calculate burden and navigational drafts for Dutch ships. We have reasonably good data for the English, partly due to Frank Fox, and partly from Pepys' tables. There is also the table for 1689, reprinted by E. H. H. Archibald. He includes that as essentially all of Derrick's classic book (of which I have a very beat up copy, formerly belonging to the National Maritime Museum, but which they sold).

Monday, August 23, 2004

I'm gearing up to do 2nd Anglo-Dutch War battle scenarios for Privateers Bounty

To do 2nd Anglo-Dutch War scenarios, I need to do the calculations for Dutch ships so that I know the correct burden in English measure as well as a reasonable draft estimate. I am reformatting my Excel spreadsheet to be ordered by ship name and date, rather than captain's name.
I have reasonable data for English ships. The main task there is to estimate armaments, crews, and mast values. I will rely upon Pepys' list for navigational drafts. I will also use those crew figures for later in the century. For the 2nd ADW, I will continue to rely upon Frank Fox and Dr. Weber's book.
A nasty feature of Privateers Bounty is that it will not allow enough ships per scenario, so I will need to "scale" the scenarios to fit what is possible.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

The Blockade of the Royalists at Kinsale Privateers Bounty scenario is available for download

I finished my preliminary playtesting of the Privateers Bounty scenario for the Blockade of the Royalists at Kinsale, and you can now download it at
I would welcome further input on this scenario, if someone has better information than I have used. I noticed that the English Civil War website says that only seven Royalists ships escaped from Kinsale, not 12.

I learned some new things about the blockade at Kinsale from Robert Blake's letters

I found some answers about the Royalists ships at Kinsale in June-September 1649. This is the list that is given on page 73, dated June 9, 1649 (obviously Old Style):
  • Constant Reformation (52 guns)
  • Swallow (36 guns)
  • Convertine (42 guns)
  • Washford frigate (14 guns)
  • Ark (20 guns)
  • Scots frigate (24 guns)
  • James (29 guns)
  • George
  • Culpepper (18 guns)
  • Roebuck (12 guns)
  • Blackmoor Lady
  • Ambrose
  • Charles
I will need to revise my scenario, as I will replace some of my estimates with the real guns.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

I am playtesting the "Blockade of the Royalists at Kinsale" scenario

I expect that I will make the scenario for the Parliamentarian blockade of the Royalists at Kinsale in 1649 available for download, sometime tomorrow. I expect that I will need to do some tweaking before I will be ready, as that has been the pattern.
It occurred to me that this would be a good scenario to try, as the numbers of ships are small. I may also try the Royalists at Lisbon blockaded by Robert Blake circa 1650.

An idea for a scenario: The Royalists at Kinsale in October 1649

I think that it might be interesting to have a Privateers Bounty scenario for the Parliamentarian blockade of Kinsale. It is more interesting, if we go with the reduced Parliamentarian forces in plce after 26 September 1649. The guns are my estimates, as I don't have as much data as I would like. The scenario starts with the Royalists in the harbor at Kinsale. The weather is bad, and their goal must be to escape the harbor without being intercepted by the Parliamentarians.
  • Lion (52 guns), flagship of Robert Blake
  • Garland (44 guns)
  • Elizabeth (36 guns)
  • Nonsuch (36 guns)
  • Guinea frigate (32 guns)
The Royalists were:
  • Constant Reformation (52 guns)
  • Swallow (40 guns)
  • Convertine (46 guns)
  • Ark (28 guns)
  • James (29 guns) 300 tons
  • George (26 guns)
  • Culpepper (28 guns)
  • Roebuck (14 guns) 90 tons
  • Blackmoor Lady (18 guns) 180 tons
  • Ambrose (24 guns)
  • Charles (40 guns)
  • "Washford" frigate (26 guns)
  • "Scots" frigate (24 guns)

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Probably the most important feature of a 17th Century naval warfare simulation is the user interface

With 150 or more ships in each navy, the ship databases must be easy to access, and ship control must be easy and intuitive. It is critical that we can control multiple ships as a group, maintain a formation, and treat the physics of sailing in a realistic manner.
All my gaming experience for sailing naval warfare has been with Privateers Bounty. The criticism of that simulation is that square-rigged ships can sail too close to the wind. I know that is true, as I do it all the time. I sail my ships, using the helm, as close as 10 degrees to the wind. I am also more comfortable with tacking, instead of wearing, and have found that the danger of getting "caught in chains" is not that great, although it can happen.
I have found the discussion of tacking and wearing in John Harland's book, Seamanship in the Age of Sail, to be very useful and informative.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

More about a 2D 17th Century naval warfare simulation

If we are going to "computerize" 17th Century naval warfare, a major goal needs to be to include individual ships. The problem with gaming this period with miniatures is that it is not feasible to game with "actual numbers" of ships. Miniatures rules require too much work and record keeping for it to be possible.
If we are going to the trouble of "computerizing", then we need to solve that problem. That doesn't mean that we will be moving individual ships on the map (although we could do that with a few). We still will group by fleets and squadrons.
I foresee wanting to have layers of map detail that we can access, as we bring ships into contact. If we actually show ships in contact on the map, in a battle (and this seems like a worthwhile goal), they would be shown in plan view. I suspect that we will only show that level of detail by zooming in on a squadron. Fleets will only show their constituant squadrons and divisions.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

I have been experimenting with tacking instead of wearing

In Privateers Bounty, while running the Battle of the Smyrna Convoy scenario, I have started to tack, rather than wear. I am finding that while ships are stuck into the wind for a time, they will turn past.
I was reading in John Harland's book, Seamanship in the Age of Sail, and looking at the pros and cons of wearing and tacking. The main reason to tack, is that you do not lose distance downwind the way you do if you wear. In tacking, you are always "gaining to windward", if you have enough headway. If not, you can get in trouble, and "get caught in stays".

The updated Smyrna Convoy Word document and Privateers Bounty scenario can be downloaded

I've made the updated Word document scenario and the Privateers Bounty scenario available for download from The earlier versions were replaced by this latest version. A feature is that my estimates for the Dutch merchantmen have been increased to be more in keeping with ships in service in the 1670's.
I have spent the evening playtesting and tweaking the Privateers Bounty scenario. It is a difficult situation, in that I would like to see some balance in outcomes. In real life, however, the Dutch were able to repel the attack, and left many disabled English ships.

Another simulation run of the Battle of the Smyrna Convoy

In my playtesting of my revised Battle of the Smyrna Convoy scenario, I commanded the Dutch and had the difficulty set to "Hard". I maneuvered the Dutch as a unit, until later in the evening of the first day. We got to the point where the only surviving English ship was the St. Michael (90 guns).
Before that, the Dutch fought in formation (an informal line) , and defeated the English main body, leaving the St. Michael dismasted, but still able to fight. While there was still light, the English reinforcements arrived from the far corner of the map. The Dutch turned to fight them. In a few hours of game time, the reinforcements were defeated.
There was still the St. Michael to deal with. The Dutch could have sailed off (those that were mobile), but instead, I decided to finish off the St. Michael. At this point, I maneuvered individual ships (of those that were still mobile). I gathered the ships still able to sail, and had them close the St. Michael. One of the more lightly-armed merchantman was already in a position to rake the St. Michael, but at a distance. As the night got later, the merchantman drifted out off range. I brought in the Vlissingen and Delft, and furled their sails. By this time, it was pitch dark. Ships fired to no effect.
I went off and did other things. By the time I came back, it was dawn, and the St. Michael had surrendered to the raking ships. As soon as it was light, the ships could fire accurately, and that was enough to finish the battle.
The Dutch were left in possession of the battlefield (so to speak). In the real world, they would have towed all the surviving ships into port, including surrendered English ships.

For the first time in ages, I am using "destination points"

For a long time, I have been strictly steering groups of ships, using the helm. I am finding, though, that when I have multiple groups of ships, geographically separated, the only reasonable way to have control is to use destination points. I am using one point, that I keep shifting, for the main English body (at the Battle of the Smyrna Convoy) and another for the reinforcements.
After chasing the Dutch convoy, almost to the edge of the map, the main body caught them, and started to "write off" the Dutch ships. All of a sudden, though, the Resolution surrendered. They did succeed in causing the largest Dutch merchantman (40 guns) to surrender, as well.
Now, the St. Michael and Cambridge surrendered, as well. The Cambridge sank almost immediately. The Utrecht is really savaging the surviving English ships. The time is 8:35pm, and it is very dark.
At 9:25pm, the Dutch are savaging the reinforcements. The Gloucester is the only English ship left. The battle is over, as the Gloucester surrendered (after 10pm). The Dutch, under AI control really slammed the English attackers. I think that much of the problem is that the English crews were so bad. They are not so bad as I had them ("bad"), but they are bad enough ("poor"). I need to decide if I should improve the English crews, or leave them as they are.

I'm updating the Smyrna Convoy scenario: Privateers Bounty and Word document

Thanks to Steven Webber, I have sufficient information to design a better scenario for the Battle of the Smyrna Convoy. We know that the wind was from the southwest, the Dutch were sailing east along the Isle of Wight, and the Robert Holme's ships approached from the windward. The English were in line with the Resolution leading.
I am assembling the revised Privateers Bounty scenario, right now, and will make it available for download, after some playtesting. After that, I will make available the revised Word document. One thing I did was to increase the size of the Dutch merchantmen. My assessment is that I used First Anglo-Dutch War-sized ships, which were too small for the 1670's. They were also too lightly armed, at least with respect to gun calibers.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I have updated the Battle of the Smyrna Convoy Word document

A reader, Steven Webber, pointed out that Richard Ollard's book about Robert Holmes, Man of War gives the names of three more of Holmes' captains in the Battle of the Smyrna Convoy. I have updated the Word document to include those names plus some comments on the battle by Frank Fox.
Frank says that English gunnery in the battle may have been poor. They English also did not do well at close fighting in the second and third wars. The bottom line is that the English should have done better, but did not. Partly, the explanation may have been that the Dutch fought well (as simple as that). I have included more of what Frank had to say in the updated document.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I have added another new scenario for Privateers Bounty

I just made another new Privateers Bounty scenario available for downloading at The new scenario is for the action that in real life culminated in the capture of an English 4th Rate, the St. Patrick (48 guns) by two small Dutch frigates. They were both Zeeland ships, the Delft (34 guns) and the Schakerlo (28 guns). Both were built shortly before the Second Anglo-Dutch War.
Together, they caused the Malaga Merchant to flee and the captured the St. Patrick, by boarding. I based the scenario on the description in The Royal Navy: A history from the earliest times to the present, by William Laird Clowes (until Frank Fox pronounced the last name, I would never have guessed it rhymed with "clues" instead of "close").

The action between the St. Patrick and Delft and Schakerloo would be a good Privateers Bounty scenario

One incident that would be interesting to run as a Privateers Bounty scenario would be the capture of the St. Patrick (48 guns) by the Delft (34 guns) and Schakerloo (28 guns) on 5 February 1667 (Old style). The Malaga Merchant had been in company with the St. Patrick, but the captain fled the scene, leaving the St. Patrick to fend for herself. This is another case where the raw numbers would indicate that the St. Patrick should have been able to defeat the two Dutch frigates. Instead, the St. Patrick was beaten. Perhaps the St. Patrick's crew was poor. Supposedly, the St. Patrick put up a stiff fight, but that does not explain how she should have lost. Part of the explanation may be that boarders who fight fiercely can overcome a larger ship and crew. Lord Nelson proved that against the Spaniards, over a 100 years later. The French privateers consistently proved it true in the wars of the English and Spanish succession.

Monday, August 09, 2004

The Privateers Bounty scenario for the Battle of the Smyrna Convoy is available for download

I finished playtesting and tweaking the Battle of the Smyrna Convoy (13-14 March 1672). This is a very strange situation, in that there are a large number of weakly-armed Dutch vessels, and a few strong English ships. If you run the English, there is a great danger that you can end up with all of your ships dismasted and some possibly surrendered. Still, you can wreck havoc on the Dutch, as well.
The objective for the Dutch must necessarily be to run, and head for the far corner of the map. I may have estimated the Dutch merchant ships to be too small and to carry guns that are lighter than they should be. Still, I could cite examples for what I have estimated, so I went with those estimates, for now. The scenario and new usrships.ini file can be downloaded at

Sunday, August 08, 2004

I have posted my Battle of the Smyrna Convoy scenario

Sadly, this is not the Privateers Bounty scenario (not yet), but this is a Word document that gives ship data and the OOB's needed to game the Battle of the Smyrna Convoy (13-14 March 1672). This was the opening shot of the Third Anglo-Dutch War. The English had hoped to take a rich convoy, but the Dutch were forewarned and repulsed the attack, although they lost the Klein Hollandia (54 guns) and 3 merchantmen. You can download this from

Saturday, August 07, 2004

A computer naval wargame needs a good scenario and campaign editor

Since we want gamers to be able to define their own campaigns and scenarios, a good editor is critical. My only experience, to date, has been using the scenario editor for Privateers Bounty.

The scenario editing process demands that you have your ships defined before you ever start the process. For the 17th Century, you will need to do all the calculations before ever sitting down at Privateers Bounty. I use an Excel spreadsheet because it saves so much time and effort. Needless to say, you need to have a good ship list before you start. If you lack data, I always say: "make it up". If you want to game, you need to fill any details that are lacking. Fortunately, over the last two years, I have been able to fill in massive gaps in the Dutch information. The remaining gaps are large enough, but there is much less left to the imagination. Now, the bigger unknown is the English navy, not the Dutch.

Friday, August 06, 2004

The Battle of the Smyrna Convoy: a good Privateers Bounty scenario

I realized that the Battle of the Smyrna Convoy would make a good Privateers Bounty scenario. The most accessible source to me is R.C. Anderson's book, Journals and Narratives of the Third Dutch War (1946). In the introduction to the book, Anderson describes the battle and gives the OOB. One of the issues that I have with his book is that he tended to omit necessary detail (necessary for wargamers and picky historians, at least).

Anderson gives the date of the battle as March 13, 1672, but I am guessing that is the Old Style (Julian Calendar) date, as that is what the English used. The Dutch dates were always New Style (Gregorian Calendar).

The Dutch were divided into three squadrons, with armed merchantships being included. The first squadron, commanded by Eland du Bois, had his flagship, the Dordrecht (44 guns) and the Delft (38 guns), along with 7 merchantmen armed with between 10 and 36 guns. The second squadron was commanded by Adriaan de Haaze (Zeeland), the convoy commander, with his flag in the Vlissingen (50 guns). There was also the Klein Hollandia (44 guns) and 8 merchantmen armed with between 14 and 28 guns. The third squadron was commanded by Cornelis Evertsen de Jongste (Zeeland), whose flagship was the Utrecht (48 guns). The third squadron had the largest merchantman, armed with 40 guns and 8 with between 10 and 26 guns.

On the first day, Robert Holmes, who led the attack, had the St. Michael (90 guns), the Resolution (70 guns), the Cambridge (70 guns), the York (60 guns), and the Fairfax (60 guns). In the night, three more ships joined his force. They were the Gloucester (62 guns), the Diamond (48 guns), and the 5th Rate Success (32 guns). At the end of the second day, the Dutch were able to proceed without further interferance. They had lost one warship, the Klein Hollandia. The Dutch officer casualties were heavy. They included Jan Jacobszoon van Nes (Rotterdam), who was the Klein Hollandia's captain, and Adriaan de Haaze, the convoy commander. Eland du Bois lost his left hand, but survived.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

17th Century wargame fleets

Clearly, computer wargame fleets need to be divided into squadrons as were real fleets. We should be able to define formations for the squadrons. We should also be able to give overall guidance for fleet formations, but the squadron is the real unit that matters. Squadrons need to be divided into divisions. Divisions can be given their orders, as well. Some Dutch divisions in the First Anglo-Dutch War could be tasked with rescuing crews from sinking ships, for example. Squadrons should be however large they were. Divisions are another question. Often, we do have any records as to how squadrons were divided into divisions. Michiel De Ruyter's squadron at the Battle of Scheveningen is one of the exceptions. In The First Dutch War, Vol. V, there is a listing of all of his captains. We know the ships for most of them. In that case, divisions could be three or four ships. That is not a bad size for a division, in any case. A 104 ship Dutch fleet would consist of 26 four ship divisions, for example. That just happens to have been the size of the Dutch fleet at the Battle of the Gabbard. One question is what to do when ships in a division take damage and are slowed or dismasted? One possible answer to that is that the divisional ships should take the damaged ships in tow, as that is what happened in the real world, unless they were really being pressed.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Even for miniatures, computer-aided wargaming would help solve the record-keeping burden

The biggest problem with miniatures gaming 17th Century sailing warfare is the record keeping. An obvious way to help with this is to do computer-aided wargaming. Let the computer do the record keeping, as well as resolving combat. There does need to be a simple way to check the status of ships, however. It is also rather burdensome to have a computer around, but it seems preferable to gaming with a few ships and lots of paper and rules.

Monday, August 02, 2004

What would a 2D 17th Century naval wargame look like?

I continue to focus on the topic of what a 2D game would look like, so that we could fight Anglo-Dutch Wars battles. The maps need to be hierarchical. We need a high level map that we can click to select a region. We need a regional map that we can click to select a detail. On the detail, we would have our fleets, divided into squadrons and divisions. We could look at the composition of divisions, but would not seem them on the detailed map. We would have something that was similar to Iain Stanford's General-at-Sea miniatures game, except we would be able to see the details of what ships are in each division, and what their status is. We would not have to settle for combat systems that were so generic, but could use computer power to perform the gunfire and assess the damage. We would still have to make some compromises, in that divisions might stay with damaged ships. Otherwise, you start dropping off damaged ships. That is a possibility. It would be what we would really want, but would add to the complexity of the display.

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