Later this month, Tabletop Gaming Center (Connecticut) will be playing host to a massive Black Seas battle that will be live-streamed on Twitch. The store’s General Manager, Ron Melchionne, tells us all:

Wargames Live Streams

The Tabletop Gaming Center exists to serve the needs of both new and veteran players alike, and we even want to include people outside of drivable distance. To this end, we have been putting on large-scale events that we live-stream on the internet. In December of last year, we played a game of Black Powder in which we refought the Battle of Quatre Bras (1815). The battle was played at ‘full scale’, meaning that every battalion on the field on the day was represented on the tabletop. The game was played on a massive 20’x6’ table, with a group of seven players. A core group of our veterans helped fill out about half of the numbers of battalions needed, and we spent several months painting and basing all the remaining figures. I personally painted 300 French Line infantry in about 3 months. It was an undertaking to be sure. We have the video posted on our YouTube page. It’s about six hours long if anyone is brave enough to watch the whole thing!

We’re already planning our next live-streamed event for December. I can’t talk much about it yet, but it’s going to be a game of Bolt Action, and it should make for a good watch. These big live-streamed events are huge drivers of community engagement, and the number of times random passersby or hobbyists of other games in the store would stop and chat with us while Quatre Bras was going on was impressive. This is exactly what we had intended; big events give something new players and hobbyists can aspire to and they bring veterans back to the table (figuratively and literally!).

Battle of Cape Finisterre

For our upcoming Black Seas battle in July, we are going to be streaming a refight of the battle of Cape Finisterre from the early part of the Trafalgar Campaign in 1805.

Finisterre makes for an interesting fleet action; with the long hours of manoeuvring disrupting any line of battle, and the very heavy fog obscuring long-ranged engagement, it presents us a unique opportunity for a fun game with a hefty dose of chaos. To represent the challenges the fleets were facing, we have come up with our own scenario for the battle, and the heavy fog that affected the whole of the battle will be represented in a few different ways. We’re presenting it here in case you feel like giving it a try yourself.

Scenario Special Rules

The battle will be played on a 8’x6’ table with a ‘secret’ deployment system. Players will take turns placing markers with the identity of a ship written on the underside. No more than one third of the markers may be placed on the opponent’s side of the table. This represents the confused melee the battle had devolved into by the time the two lines of battle had come into contact as ships tried to identify one another in the fog. Once all the markers have been placed, they are flipped over, and the corresponding ship is placed on that spot with a heading chosen by the deploying player. To show the variable winds and disorientation caused by the heavy fog, a die will be rolled and the ship will be turned to a new heading based on its turn arc as per the ‘Rudder Hit’ on the critical hit table. If several ships are deployed too close together, this will likely cause quite a few tangled spars!

Next, there is the fog itself. As it was an ever-present issue on the day in 1805, we have chosen a more intense version of the fog rules presented in the Black Seas Rulebook. Firstly, we are instituting a modified form of the ‘Rough Seas’ weather condition from the core book. The -1 to hit modifier of all gun positions does a fine job of getting across the poor visibility, and the skill tests and reductions in speed portray the light and variable airs that resulted in the heavy fog banks in the first place. We are dispensing with the cumulative damage of the rough seas though, as by all accounts the seas weren’t running particularly high on the day.

We have also constructed a series of 3’’x12’’ ‘fog banks’ of batting material glued to an MDF base. These fog banks have all the same rules as the Fog/Rain Squall in the core book. However, these fog banks will drift across the table every turn in the direction and speed determined by the prevailing winds. If they drift off the table, they are recycled back to the opposite edge.

As there are a lot of ships to manage, much less to build and paint, (forty-four is a large game!) turns will take quite a while, so the game is planned to last only ten turns. Victory conditions are the same as the points system presented in Scenario 12 of the core book. Each fleet is composed of the same number and type of ships that were present at the battle on the day in 1805. The royal navy fleet under Vice-Admiral Robert Calder has eighteen ships (four 2nd Rates, eleven 3rd Rates, and two Frigates) while the combined Franco-Spanish fleet of Admirals Villeneuve and Gravina has twenty-seven ships (a whopping twenty 3rd Rates and seven Frigates). For simplicity’s sake, we have ignored the fact that many of the 3rd Rates on both sides would have been considered ‘small,’ and counted them all as 74 gunners.

How To Watch

We will be live-streaming the whole game on our store’s Twitch channel, and Haldan, Greg, and I will be mic’d and answering audience questions throughout the whole battle. We hope to start at about 11 AM EST Sunday, July 24th (the closest day we could schedule to the actual anniversary of the battle on July 22nd), and with any luck, we should be finished by early evening. Warlord Games has collaborated with us on a great raffle prize too! Anyone who watches the live stream or drops by the store during the battle can fill out an entry form to win a Master & Commander Starter Set, a Royal Navy Fleet box, the Hold Fast supplement, and enough sculpted bases for all the ships. We’ll even pay the postage to ship it (within reason) if you don’t live in our local area but still want to participate.

We hope to see or hear from you, and remember: “lose not a moment!”

Tabletop Gaming Center

Our store first opened in 2010, and moved to our present location in 2015. Tabletop Gaming Center’s 9000 square feet (836 m2) makes us the largest single-location game store in Connecticut. Our current owner, Haldan, took over in 2017 and we refocused on creating a broader community of gamers. Since then we have worked to create a thriving community of wargamers through ‘demo days’, monthly matched tournaments and league play that are welcoming to veterans of the hobby and newcomers alike.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You May Also Like