Thursday, 3 December 2009
There seem to be distinct phases in the process
1) Exchange of missiles at distance. At this point the harpax gets its surprise in because it can start the next phases early.
2)Close manoeuvre to come near to the target.
3)Grappling if this is desired. Hooks are thrown onto the enemy ship. The harpax would now be winding the target closer on windlasses.
4) Once the ships are close enough a close 'firefight' occurs and the side which dominates can either clear grapples or make an attempt to get troops onto the other ship. Use of a 'Raven' is not dependant on the fighting at this point, if a chance is there the thing can just be dumped onto the enemy deck.
5) Sometimes boarding may be attempted haphazardly with men jumping or stepping over to the other ship. Otherwise boarding bridges are set in place and the attackers cross. Defenders may come forward to fight so there is fighting on the bridges.
6) Attackers gain the upper hand, kill or capture all the enemy deck-soldiers. OR the defenders tip the bridges off and sever all grapples.
7)The target gets free OR the cleared ship crew surrender. The sailors and oarsmen are largely at the mercy of the winners and kept to move the prize. Some instances show ship crew fighting - but badly - some show them being massacred, but on the whole they seem to have been somwhat apart from the combat. They were defenceless trapped in their seats and not trained to fight marines/legionaries. If a ship started to sink the lowermost oarsmen would be lucky to escape alive.
This gives me a model for a game process which is iterative and can be broken-out of by either side if they get a sufficient advantage.
IF close enough THEN SHOOT-OUT
FAILS - carry on no change
SUCCEEDS - THEN GRAPPLE
IF GRAPPLING then BOARDING ATTEMPT
FAILS - bridges lost, grapples cut - both free to manoeuvre
..........OR Target can board Attacker ....
SUCCEEDS - THEN Deck Fight on target
IF DECK FIGHTING
FAILS - THEN RETIRE TO BOARDING ATTEMPT
SUCEEDS - THEN WIN or continue next round.
'Close enough' should be the point at which a ship is in a positíon to set grapples and get men across, NOT when it is at maximum grappling distance. This avoids any ideas on contesting grappling - a tug-of-war contest is difficult to make rules for. The harpax may need a rule like this but best to leave that as a special case.
Monday, 30 November 2009
Sunday, 29 November 2009
Saturday, 28 November 2009
On other parts of the column light manubalistae are clearly depicted and these weapons are different and, I suggest much larger. In the circumstances of Trajan's Dacian campaign these machines could give support to troops on shore from the Danube.
1)uncuttable fastening between grapnel and rope
2)catapult projection into the enemy ship
3)a mechanical traction to draw the ships together
The attachment of several ropes to the same grapnel may have been novel or not.
The business end was quite heavy, an iron grapnel, a main stem bound with iron and having rings at each end for fastening and the several ropes behind it. Appian says, however, that it was light enough to be projected a considerable distance into the enemy ship.
A 13Kg stone took a machine weighing up to 3 tonnes to throw it.
The Syracusia, Hieron of Syracuse's colossal 55m ship was equipped with exceptional bolt throwers which took projectiles of 18feet length.
The harpax projectile was 5 cubits long, (x45cm = 225cm or nearly 7feet. The common Scorpio or manhandleable oxybeles threw a bolt of 27"/67cm. The harpax projectile was bound in iron, fitted with iron rings and had a grapnel linked onto the front, in addition it trailed several strong ropes: whatever Appian says, it was not light.
This shows us that the engine part of the harpax system was of considerable size.
At Naulochus Appian describes both sides ships as being of similar size and appearance with towers on the deck. The smallest ships with towers I can find reference to are 4's.
Casson reckons a 4 could ship a handful of light bolt shooters and a pair of 3kg ball-throwers. 3kg is not enough to throw a harpax projectile. This limits the use of harpax to ships of 5 or larger, I would suggest, which could safely mount a large thrower and the winching gear on a superstructure strong enough to take the stresses of its use.
The siezer, like the other Roman innovation for sea combat, the raven, did not retain its tactical surprise advantage for long. Appian implies that by his time it was normal for ships to be equipped with scythes on long poles so that even the siezer's long projectile could be cut free of the trailing ropes. A simple solution to neutralise such a complex weapon system: but a weapon which functioned long enough to give Octavian an edge in sea fighting and help him gain supremacy.
says Tai Bai Yin Jing";
"...construct a chassis out of large timbers and place 6 wheels underneath. On top set a couple of Ya "Teeth" and Gua "Clamps". The ladders are 3.6m long with 4 Zhuo "Rungs" placed 90cm apart, and in shape they are slightly curved so that they pass over one another and clamp into each other. The ladder flies into the clouds and can be used to peer into the city. At the top are a couple of Lu Lu "Pulley Wheels" which rest on the walls as the ladder is extended."
This Cloud Ladder is depicted from a medieval scroll.
An analogous solution to the boarding/escalading problem: an extendable stable platform with a stable access gangway/ladder which is locked onto the target.
from "Chinese Siege Warfare: Mechanical Artillery & Siege Weapons of Antiquity"First Edition (Limited Print)Vol/Issue no.: 160pISBN 981-05-5380-3
See also John Needhams books on ancient asian technology but they cost a bomb.
37 The planks having been thrown upon the walls at some places, the struggle became very hazardous, for the forces of Lucius fighting on the bridges were exposed to missiles and javelins on every side. They forced their way, nevertheless, and a few leaped over the wall.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Next step...check on accounts of sieges for how men crossed from towers to the walls.....
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Thursday, 19 November 2009
An Athenian squadron is beached in a bay thinking they are safe. A Syracusan squadron comes up hoping to surprise them.
As the Syracusans approached the Athenians were dicing for when they could see them and get away off the shore. This was not so good to begin with but a trireme got off on the 2nd move.
More Athenians pushed-off as the Syracusans sent their hemiolia off to the right to flank the enemy. The leading Athenian 3 now took a gamble. Speeding-up he tried to turn away from the oncoming heavies. The gamble failed and the Syracusan 5 slammed into his starboard beam even as he accelerated to escape. The 3 was immediately holed badly and the 5 pulled off as it was not necessary to board the stricken Athenian. The Syracusans had more luck when the hemiolia which dashed out to the flank managed to ram an Athenian 2 which was beached and still making ready for sea.
But that was it for the Syracusans now more Athenians were at sea. The 2s darted in and out at the larger ships and meanwhile the remaining Athenian 3 manouvered to ram. The holed 3 continued to sink, moving sluggishly.
The Syracusan 4 was hit twice abeam by Athenian 2s and started to take on water. Not knowing which way to turn for the best it ended-up doing nothing after having rammed and holed the wallowing Athenian 3. The 5 had asome luck in outmanouvering one of the 2s. In one amusing episode a 2 swooped in to rake the oars off the 5's starboard side but the 2's crew failed to ship oars in time while the Syracusans did and the helmsman was forced to simply make a close pass of the 5. There were so many Syracusan marines and archers lining the rails of the 5 that by the time the 2 was passed its supposed prey the entire deck crew was dead. With half its oars shipped to avoid the raking attempt the Syracusan 5 was rammed amidships by the Athenian trireme at full speed. Even allowing for its greater size the 5 was severely damaged and settled in the water. The Athenian pulled-off and was at a safe distance before the massed troops on the Syracusan could do much damage.
Over near the beach the erstwhile flank attacker was rounded on by 2 Athenians and badly holed. The last Syracusan hemiolia drifte towards the rocks.....
The end result was one Syracusan hemiolia safe on the horizon (but the captain probably due for execution) while his 3 comrades sank watched by relatively unscathed Athenian squadron, their main casualty being a trireme. A holed 2 made it to shore where it beached and the crew started work on repairs.
Everything worked well. The Antikytheran Battle Computer worked and the FATE cards added colour and had some effect. I saw some need to simplify the deck crew rules for when larger numbers are present so that is something to work on.
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Sunday, 15 November 2009
The development of torsion artillery is a Greek invention and was accelerated greatly by Demetrius 'City-Taker'. He had palintonoi which could shoot 80kilo balls 200m. To send bolts or stone balls flying from such engines into a wooden warship with only rawhide screen for protection must have caused chaos. If the oars are manned by single men each hit will disable several oars withthe knock -on effect of the loose oar on those around it. If the oars are manned by several rowers the chaos could perhaps be less but still considerable.
Once palintonoi are mounted on ships they would be able to outshoot any ship without them. Bolts could be sent 400 yards maximum and certainly 200 with an accuracy and speed which would out-perform archers. Quick-firers - the polybolos -with a magazine were soon developed.
Imagine you are on the deck crew of a trireme. There is not much cover because you are not meant to be in close contact with the enemy for long and marines were to prevent enemy coming aboard from the ship you just rammed. As your ship turns to ram a target which is 300 metres away the target trains a quick firing oxybeles on you. It takes a trireme 5-10 seconds to cover 30m. For up to two minutes bolts start flying the length of your deck every few seconds. You cannot reply. If you are an oarsman towards the prow you will be gritting your teeth as you start a ramming run because you expect a bolt or stone ball to crash into you any second. This kind of scenario changes the picture considerably from one where triremes circle and then dash in to sink their prey.
I am in the process of compiling figures for the power of the palintonoi and the strength of ship timbers.
It seems apparent that engines could have changed the nature of sea battles dramatically or at least that advances in ship design which allowed their use did.
Now its time for some land.
Another land feature could be a headland or promontory sticking out into the battle area. The same considerations apply and the main thing is to have it of a significant size say, 50cm minimum.
One type of terrain feature which is easier to deal with is 'rocks'. A group of rocks standing proud of the surface and marking a patch of shallow water is a nice tactical problem and should be available. Headlands represent areas resistant to erosion and rocks often stand close off headlands. Don't put rocks on the middle of a bay or randomly in the middle of the battle area.
Shallows or sandbanks are not common in the Mediterranean except on the African coast where they are a major hazard to ancient ships and for this reason navigation routes ran well offshore. They are found in relation to bays where sandbanks sit offshore or where longshore drift builds some spits or bars. Sandbanks could be around off the mouth of a larger river or beside a harbour which has a mole or quay to promote sediment build up. But again - these features often occur where ships would not go and certainly would not fight.
Saturday, 14 November 2009
A nice aspect is the idea that a ram atack is uncertain in its success from the start and an aspect often missed is the observation of an attack by the victim before they can react.
I am less enamoured of using 'factors' for crew and many things are calculated using formulae - even though these are fine and seem realistic in themselves. These rules are wel worth a try, free, concise and cover most things one would want. There is little 'colour' in them, however.
Ramming Speed are short and sweet with less complexity than OS. They are for 15mm ships and could be said to be 'skirmish' level rules.
Most things are dealt with ina straight-forward manner but because of the 15mm scale deck fighting and shooting would require some changes for 1/300 to emphasise groups instead of individuals perhaps. The rules allow sailing in connection with a battle.
Complex moves would be a problem in 1/300 I think because each inch of 1-24 inches possible is ordered and moved individually.
Probably a fun set for 15mm or Zveda's 1/72 models.
Andy Watkins Trireme rules are great. Deceptively short and sweet. He does prefer a hex grid which gets him out of some movement problems neatly but this is a nice rule set.
The game turn sequence is dealt with very nicely - almost the same solution I have devised - but is unclear on resolving problems with ships moving at the same speed. Shooting and fighting is simple so the next turn can be reached before long. These would be my preferrred rules with my old navwar 1/1200 and Andy has nice pics of his own Langton models on his webpages. There is little complexity but most things are dealt with and fleet action could be done with some excitement generated. However, they are not, without some modification, what I would use with 1/300ships.
1/1200 or 1/650 scale ships are small but the appreciable size of Hotz ships in 1/300 brings them to life. Once the individual oars and planks are visible I find it a shame if one does not seek to add some detail and realism to any rules used. At 1/300 the deck crew can be represented, sails set or struck and the ships look much more colourful these are ships, not just counters. DEATH ON THE SEAS by Tom Hinshelwood are billed as 'skirmish' rules but I think they are ideal for Hotz ships. They have crew characteristics and plenty of detail without getting petty. Ancient naval rules drown in detail. It was not a ponderous activity like Napoleonic naval warfare when floating castles drifted past each other blasting away. Galley warfare was positional, highly tactical and included explosive bursts of activity even if there was no gunpowder available.
All credit to JUNIOR GENERAL !
Using a king-sized double sheet and match-pots makes for a cheap large sea.
The sheet should be fine weave cotton, not synthetic or it wont absorb the paint.
Mix half a litre of acryclic based paint of a Mediterranean blue colour and the same of water in a bucket. The sheet should be light blue or white. Yellow may work ok as long as the shade is not to dark.
Dampen the sheet without making it soaking then either scrunch it up or use clamps or clothes pegs to hold parts if it in rough pleats - not all in the same direction. Stuff the sheet into the bucket and ram it down. Immediately lift it up and let the paint drain back into the bucket.
Do this again several times. The sheet will probably soak up all the paint.
Then squash the sheet up and down in the bucket to squish the paint well into the fabric.
Let the sheet drain as a mass roughly held up over somewhere it doesnt matter that blue drips spatter all over.
Next day the sheet looks a bit congealed and partially drying out.
Use a watering can or shower head to spray on it a little, turn a few times , spray a few times - not too hard or to long. This takes some paint off and gives shading. Hang the mess up again until it look like it is nearly dry.
Take off the pegs or clamps and spread the sheet to dry. You should have a sort of tie-dyed sea.
Repeat with thicker paint if the shade is not what you want. The sheet will feel starched but not rigid.
Iron the sheet and use elastic sheet straps to keep it taught over the board. Store it on a stick, rolled around or scrunch it up but neat folding makes a lousy-looking grid of creases on it.