Sunday 20 September 2015

Galleys & Galleons AAR - Ambush in the Lombok Channel

I've recently been contacted by an old wargaming chum, Mark, from Southern Battle Gamers, the club I was a member of back in Sydney. He is currently a solo gamer based in Thailand. He has graciously allowed me to post an after action report from his first game of Galleys & Galleons - notable , as he makes clear, for very little gunfire being exchanged and a lot of boarding action.

The ships are all from Eureka - 6mm scale - from the Grumpy and Irregular ranges. The fleets represent a semi-historical take on the East Indies in the 16th century, when the original inhabitants could still dish it out to the European interlopers.


Every year one Great Ship makes the slow tedious trip between the Portuguese bases at Macao and Goa. For years now the old carrack Santa Isabella Das Indias has been doing this job, vital to the trade that sustains the Empire. Often it is accompanied by one or more smaller merchantmen in convoy. Usually the voyages are uneventful, as they are timed for calm weather and fair winds. Enemies are few and weak, and can be evaded, brushed aside, or bribed.

But now, the Prince of Songkhla is making trouble. He rules a formerly-prosperous mercantile city that has been badly affected by the activities of the Portuguese. A recent enthusiastic convert to Islam, he now has an extra incentive to strike a blow against the Christian interlopers. A squadron of galleys has been prepared and is ready to strike. What could be more tempting than to capture the lumbering undergunned infidel carrack as it plods through the Lombok channel, laden with a fortune in Ming porcelain. The Prince can serve God and get rich at the same time.
The Portuguese have gotten wind of this, and taken precautions. With no suitable naval escort of their own available, they have hired the infamous wako chieftain Bok Choy to see the carrack through the archipelago and safely into the open sea.

The ships on either side are:

(total 151 points)
The carrack Santa Isabella (the court popinjay Don Marco da Pattaya commanding)
Q4 C5 (35 points)
high castles, merchantman, reinforced hull, sluggish, square rigged 

The dhow Zanzibar
Q2 C2 (16 points)
lateen rigged, merchantman, shallow draft

The pirate junks Bamboo Shoot and Bitter Melon
Q2 C2 (50 points each)
derring-do, intimidating, lateen rigged, reinforced hull, yare  

Songkhla (total 144 points)
The galleys Songkhla, Srivijaya and Borobudur
Q3 C3 (48 points)
drilled soldiers, galley, swashbucklers, yare

Victory conditionsPortuguese: Santa Isabella escapes off table in a condition to sail before the wind. Anything else is a defeat. Songkhla: capture and hold the Santa Isabella (major win), otherwise prevent a P win (minor win). I thought of giving the wako a contingent option to try for the Portuguese treasure if it was obvious the Songkhla squadron would otherwise win, but in the end opted for wholly loyal mercenaries! Maybe in a refight later ...

Right on schedule the convoy stands into the Lombok channel with a following wind. It is usual to run the channel in daylight to avoid risking the treacherous Surprize Rocks. Off each side of the table are shoal waters which will surely wreck any vessel that tries them. See the "albatross cam" photo below, showing the position a little after dawn as the two sides catch sight of each other.

The Battle
The two squadrons sighted each other at dawn, the wind fair and from the ENE, the convoy running before it. The Portuguese plan devised by Don Marco was to entangle the galleys with the highly expendable pirate junks while the carrack and dhow slipped past while no-one was paying attention. The galley commander, thought to be Prayuth Chan-O-Cha, planned to use his vessels' superior manoeuvrability to launch an attack around the Surprize Rocks as the Santa Isabella lumbered past.

The wako junks were able to engage two of the galleys in boarding actions, but with the help of a completely one-sided slew of dice rolls the galleys quickly gained the upper hand. The photo below shows the melee in progress in the foreground, with the merchantmen keeping their distance, and their fingers crossed, in the background. To simplify I split it into two one-on-one boarding actions.

After the galleys Songkhla and Borobudur had both reduced their opponents to 'critical' condition, they cut grapples with the intention of pivoting and getting back into the chase for the Portuguese carrack. But before that could happen one junk, Bitter Melon, forced a collision with the galley Songkhka and was promptly sunk by the damage that caused. So much for having a reinforced hull. The other junk, Bamboo Shoot, surrendered! And that was the end of the dreaded Chinese pirates.

By this time the Santa Isabella had altered course to pass through the Surprize Rocks, and in doing so ran down and badly damaged the other galley, Srivijaya, although suffering some damage from the galley's bow gun on approach. This was the first of only two shots fired during the whole game. Srivijaya then attempted to board the Santa Isabella but was decisively defeated twice in succession and captured. A prize crew was put on board.

The photo above shows the galley Srivijaya opening fire on the Santa Isabella, just before the later turns to port and picks up speed (changes from "running" to "broad reaching") to pass through the Surprize Rocks (and ram the galley). The dhow is desperately tacking to get out of the way.

Meanwhile the two galleys formerly engaged with the junks had made good use of their ability to ignore the wind and move twice per turn, and attacked the other side of the carrack. As they came in the Santa Isabella, having captured the Srivijaya, was able to fire a broadside at the Borobudur (the second of the two shots fired in the game) causing oar damage but not preventing contact.

With two galleys grappled alongside the carrack was then worn down to a crippled state over a few moves. Don Marco was hit by a sniper, let's say from one of the galleys, while posturing on the quarterdeck in his finest outfit, and taken below. The Santa Isabella avoided capture by sinking with hull damage.

The dhow Zanzibar was able to slip away unmolested. The captured galley would presumably have been recaptured, and the prize crew added to the survivors of other vessels to decorate the rowing benches of the Prince of Songkhla's squadron. He will surely be promoted to Sultan after news of this daring exploit against the infidel reaches the ears of the Caliph! Some compensation for not actually getting his hands on the porcelain, which is now beyond anyone's reach.


  1. Excellent AAR. I'm finding G&G an excellent set of rules.

  2. Quick question, you say you used a mix of Grumpy and Irregular vessels from Eureka.. which ones are which? I recognise the Grumpy Junks, but not the others, and there are no pictures of the galleys on the Eureka website.

    1. I will contact Mark with your question and see what he says.

    2. Incidentally, ERM and Eureka both sell the Grumpy 6mm ships and have different images online (neither don't show the galleys however...)

    3. And Mark's response:

      "Yes the Eureka website is woefully deficient in photographs. There is only one DHOW so that can easily be equated between my photos and the website, Ditto the JUNKS as already noted. The three GALLEYS are all the listed Moslem galley. The CARRACK is the Human Galleon, from Grumpy IIRC. "