Saturday, 30 July 2022

Jersey Boys Part 1

Putting my money where my mouth is, I shall describe the setup for my latest campaign, tentatively titled ‘The Jersey Boys’. I have tried this before, with the attempted invasion of Royalist-held Jersey by the New Model Army in 1651. As the Parliamentarians failed to get ashore, the campaign was a bit short.

Anyway, hoping that will not happen again, I am doing a bit more setup. My normal campaign is of a narrative format, where you start with an idea, a map, and some opposing forces. The original St Ouen’s Bay game was of that format and it was a bit of a failure as a campaign because the Royalists could concentrate against the invasion, and the Jersey militia did not run away, as they had done historically. Under the inspiration of Henry Hyde’s Wargaming Campaigns, I decided another go was on the cards.

I am currently deep into planning and dice rolling. The first objective was to obtain a map. This was easy enough using Google Images; I wanted one that looked a bit old. I then found the technicality in downloading images: you need to copy them rather than download them to get get the full size.

Map safely saved, I wanted to make a start using hexes. I have drawn maps using them before (a Samurai invasion of Korea game many years ago) but this time I wanted to impose a hex grid on an existing map image. Step forward Hexographer, which permits (even in its free incarnation) an image to be loaded and then hexes to be superimposed, blank hexes at that. Having fiddled with the size and number of hexes a bit, I got a map I was reasonably happy with and borrowed my wife’s printed to print it in A3 format.

The next problem to be tackled was that I could only just read the placenames on the map. The roads too were a bit obscure and I was not sure that all of them were shown. A bit of pondering revealed the need for a modern map of the island which was duly procured and installed under the campaign map on my corkboard. Important place names were inked in on the latter.

Next, I trawled the internet and my book collection of information about the campaign. As hinted above there was not much to it in real life, except the siege of Elizabeth Castle, which was pretty well impregnable. However, each parish in Jersey (there are twelve) had a company of militia, and Sir George Carew had 150 horse, 150 dragoons, and 120 fusiliers. Elizabeth Castle had a garrison of 450 men, Mount Orgueil had 60 when it surrendered and St Aubin’s Tower had ‘a few’. These were easily enough placed on the map, with green pins for the militia, yellow for mounted troops, red for garrisons, and purple for the fusiliers.

The next question was about the commanders. I drew up characters for Sir George Carteret and his brother (and deputy) Sir Philip. Then I had to ponder the other characteristics of the defenders. For example, the St Lawrence militia initially refused to muster against the invasion arguing that their role was to defend their parish. Hence, they were late to St Ouen’s. After a bit of thought I named and created characters for the militia company commanders. It might be wasted work, but six dice rolls of 3D6 per commander is not much effort really.

As an aside, I do wonder why Hyde and others use a d100 roll for character creation (or a d6, or whatever). It can create some fairly extreme characteristics. I think the d100 sort of creation is a holdover from D & D, but as I have never played it, I cannot comment further. The games I have played use 3D6 for characteristics, which seems a little more realistic. After all, most people are of average intelligence, that being what average means. You get fewer extremes, at least, or maybe, you could argue, it is just a bit more boring. Perhaps people in public life are more extreme personalities. Anyway, I have gone with the characteristics (Intelligence, Initiative, Charisma etc) Hyde suggests, but rolled on 3D6.

On the Parliamentary side, the commander was Admiral Robert Blake, and the land forces were commanded by Colonel James Hearne. Having already traduced Blake’s reputation I decided to change the names, especially as neither commander rolled well for intelligence in my character creation. That meant, of course, that the Carteret brothers had to have their names changed as well, so they became the Carters. Blake became Block and Hearne became Harme. The record sheets were amended – thank goodness for word processors.

The invaders had Hearne’s regiment of foot, presumably at fairly full strength, of 12 companies, and another six companies from Sir Hardress Waller’s, thus making around 1800 in total. There were two troops of horse (75 each) and ultimately two companies of Guernsey militia reinforced the landers.

I then had to work out the naval forces. Blake had around 80 sail, but many of the ships were small, it would seem. I do not have that many, and I also wanted the Royalists to have some naval units. I have a mix of larger and smaller merchantmen, so I decided that a large one would carry two companies, while the smaller would take one, and a troop of horse would also fit only a smaller vessel. Block, the admiral, was also given six warships, a fourth rate, two fifth rates, and three sixth rates.

I have also spent time creating captains for the ships and allocating the infantry to their vessels. Now I have to create characters for the naval and land force commanders and then return to the Royalist navy. Royalist forces were not evident during the campaign but Jersey was a privateer base and so they would have had some, perhaps smaller, vessels. A more determined defence could have seen either defending forces moved around the coast or naval intervention in the landings. We shall see.

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