At the start of turn 4, the Reb fort fired at the ailing Switzerland – 6 hits took her down to 1 hit point and a critical hit destroyed the boiler so she couldn’t move anymore either. Also, as she was below one third of her starting hit points, the ship counted as “battered” so was less effective at firing, could only move 1 hex (if the ship still had a boiler!) and needed to take a morale test when activated which, if failed would force her to strike her colours and surrender.
With the edge of the board fast approaching CSS Arkansas needed to start turning, so with her starboard gun destroyed only her rear battery was able to fire – USS Sassacus took 3 hits from her but crucially was set on fire by the shots. USS Passaic attempted to negotiate a sandbar and succeeded (not really that risky as she had a shallow draught) and because Arkansas would be out of the battle for a while, shot at CSS Hampton before she could sink USS Switzerland – 5 hits and a critical resulted in another fire. CSS Hampton now had to tackle the fire on board before activating and luckily succeeded in putting the fire out before further damage was caused – her rear medium gun then sank the Switzerland while the front gun missed the Sassacus.
USS Nahant moved and triggered opportunity fire from the fort – 5 hits out of 6 dice and only 2 saves gave 3 hits. A roll on the critical table resulted in a pilot house hit but at least she didn’t get stuck on the sandbar. Her guns opened fire on the buildings objective again and destroyed another building for 4VP – this seemed too easy.
CSS Palmetto State turned towards the Nahant but didn’t have a fire order so couldn’t open up until next turn. USS Sassacus then activated, failed to put out the fire on board and lost another 2 hit points. As she moved into opportunity fire range of fort the resulting salvo cost her another 4 hit points and the critical roll gave “fire” again, so luckily no further effect – in return Sassacus scored 2 hits on CSS Hampton. The Rebs only had Governor Moore left to activate and she tore towards the action at her full speed of 3 hexes while USS Keokuk moved forward. Though the fort was her only possible target, it was worth the shot – 2 unsaved hits dismounted a medium gun (forts don’t take critical hits, only lose at gun when they would make a critical roll). In the end phase of the turn, CSS Hampton drifted with the current as she didn’t move – right into a hex adjacent to USS Sassacus – oh-oh! Both sides failed to influence the passage to turn 5 and the Rebs failed the roll and re-roll to bring on their last ship. Points totals stood at Confederate 16VP – Union 8VP (5VP for destroying building).
On to turn 5. The fort caused 5 hits on USS Sassacus but the critical roll was yet another fire, so no effect. The Union won the roll to go first and USS Sassacus activated, managed to extinguish the fire on board then sunk Hampton in the adjacent hex she had drifted into at the end of the last turn – her sinking was worth 6VP to the Union. CSS Palmetto State attempted to stop the Nahant bombarding the shore buildings by moving forward and firing on her which caused 2 hits and a good roll on the critical table gave a turret out of action result (monitors don’t lose guns like other vessels, and a turret hit can be repaired where a gun lost cannot). As Nahant was on a full speed order and failed to repair her turret she sailed straight for the Palmetto State, ending up in the same hex but taking no hits from opportunity fire as the shells bounced off her armour.
CSS Gov Moore turned towards the Nahant and fired, 2 hits getting through armour and lining up for ram next turn. USS Passaic had a fire order and only had CSS Arkansas in range in the rear arc, but luckily 5 hits got through her armour. The critical roll was a double 6 and the Arkansas exploded and sank (presumably a shot found her magazine) – the game was now completely turned on its head. USS Keokuk was the last ship to activate and moved slowly forward – the fort flank battery failed to damage her and she put 2 hits on an objective building.
The Union were now leading – Confederate 16VP against Union 28VP (an extra 20 points for sinking 2 ships!). When they won the roll to advance to turn 7 and skip turn 6, they naturally took it. River drift had no effect on USS Passaic or USS Sassacus and the last Reb ship off-table, CSS Selma, failed to arrive again.
At the start of Turn 7 the fort failed miserably to get any shots off (stunned by the explosion of the Arkansas?). Critically, the Rebs won the initiative and CSS Gov Moore was able to attempt to ram USS Nahant before she could move out of the way. There was no opportunity fire as the turret was still jammed and as Gov Moore had fire orders she fired before closing, but the shots just bounced off Nahant’s plate. The ram was a dice-fest – starting with 14D6 + 4D6 for a full speed order (and no negatives because Gov Moore was designed as a ram ship), that gave 18D6 hitting on 5 or 6 which resulted in a slightly above average 7 hits scored. More than 6 hits allow a 1/3 chance of a holing and a sinking as a result of the holing, so needing 5 or 6 to sink the Nahant the Rebs rolled a 6! USS Nahant sunk to the bottom of the river with all hands and the Rebs got themselves another 15VP.
In a weak Union response Keokuk fired again at the shore buildings but only inflicted 1 point of damage so failed to destroy one building in 2 turns of shooting. CSS Palmetto State moved towards USS Keokuk and fired – 1 hit was enough to get a critical roll resulting of a funnel destroyed (which can’t be repaired) resulting in the Keokuk being limited to 1 hex movement for the rest of the game. USS Sassacus and the fort then traded blows, as did USS Passaic and the fort, with the fort losing 4HP by the end of the exchange for no damage to the Union ships.
The Confederate VP stood at 31 with the Union on 28VP. Disappointingly, CSS Selma again failed to arrive, so when the Rebs won the roll to advance the game turn it was a no-brainer to miss turn 8, end the game and take the winning draw. Damaged ships with less than half their hit points left were then tested to see if they could stay afloat in order to escape – only the Sassacus was in this state but rolled well enough to escape, denying the Confederacy the victory points and a last-gasp victory.
That was certainly a fun game. The Confederates were quite lucky with the scenario generation rolls (getting the fort on the island with a wide arc of fire for example) and with ship arrival rolls, and if it hadn’t been for the Arkansas blowing up, they would have stormed to victory. The rules are definitely not for those who dislike chaos in their games, but I like Field of Battle-type rules so don’t have a problem with the chaos. The hex grid certainly simplifies movement and fire arcs and speeds up the game as a result – I did find the board very cramped with little room for manoeuvre but it does represent a river and not the open sea after all. I didn’t play with assets – mines, torpedoes, submarines and shore batteries can all be diced for and deployed during scenario generation – maybe next time. Recommended.