Master & Commander II ...
A well prepared demo is the best way
to recruit new sailors. The event hosted its largest field ever.
One of Rob McKinney's 12 matches paired
him against young Nick Chepaitis.
Jeff Miller and Brian Stuck trade
broadsides in the semifinals with Jeff advancing.
GM Tim Hitchings oversees his finalists
in his biggest tournament field to date.
In Nelson's Shadow ...
Our first ever newsletter helped recruit 37 sailors, making
the 2014 Wooden Ships & Iron Men tournament the largest
in the 24-year history of WBC and Avaloncon. Also, more players
were in serious contention for the semifinalist berths than ever
before, with the last pairings not being decided until Saturday
afternoon in the Fleet Action.
Players could sail in single ship actions, two-on-two ship actions,
and with three-ship squadrons, for variable tournament points.
Players may play as many games as they can manager, but only
their three top scoring games count toward tournament standings.
Bonus points are awarded based on the performance of defeated
Some highlights and lowlights:
~ Rob McKinney edged Ron Glass in one of the closest single-ship
matches by a score of 59 to 54 damage points. (In the qualification
stage of the tournament, no one played more games than Rob McKinney's
~ Of course, the closest match of all was Paul Owen and Tim Hitchings
squaring off (or is it hexing-off?) in a single-ship match. Both
players' ships struck their colors simultaneously, for a draw.
They might as well have shook hands at the start and called it
~ Colin Laird, defeated his dad, Bob, in a single-ship action.
(One wonders about the conversation on the ride home.)
~ Malcolm Smith defeated Rod Coffey in a two-ship match, but
not without losing one of his ships to Rod's gunnery.
~ Defending champ Ron Glass and 16-year-old Nicholas Chepaitis
slugged it out with two ships of the line per side, ending in
a draw, with both players losing a ship.
~ Nick was an easy pick for rookie of the year. Despite having
never played before, he won five games, including three larger
scenarios - enough to put him into the laurels.
~ Brian Stuck endured a series of bloody engagements on his way
to the semifinals. Brian and Steve Munchak stumbled through a
single frigate duel of green captains. The players managed to
collide their ships several times. Both ships suffered heavy
damage and casualties from fire and musketry. Although Steve
put up a good fight, Brian carried the day. Chivalry played no
role in Brian's match against Bertha Torres-Harris, detonating
her magazine to end the match. On Wednesday, Bill Thomson defeated
Brian in a duel of four frigates, in which Brian declared that
he was "out-gunned, out-damaged, out-everything". The
luck was with Nick Chepaitis in a second two S.O.L. match against
Brian, as his marine musket fire killed Brian's captain on one
turn and grapeshot took out the first mate on the next! (Nick
killed yet another captain in a later match.) One might
wonder how Brian managed to get into the semifinals at all, what
with his repeated misfortune. He actually won three ship matches
against Nick and Dale "Dan" Long, and a two ship match
against Malcolm Smith. It's just that his wins were more prosaic
than his losses.
Saturday saw 11 players gather for the annual Fleet Action, with
two additional players entering as reinforcements.
The scenario was a blended version of the two engagements from
1795, in which the French fleet pursued a British squadron until
the British Channel Fleet came to the rescue.
Ron Glass and Dan Long were awarded "best captain"
honors for their respective fleets, each receiving a book on
naval warfare in the age of sail from the GM's collection. Here
is Dan's romanticized memoir of his performance:
"On the command deck of the French ship of the line, Droits
de L'Homme, stood Captain Jean 'Mad Dog' Bertrand. Bertrand was
a firebrand and a bit of a pariah among other French officers
of his rank (though a Loyalist, he was rumored to have revolutionary
sympathies) but he was loved by his crew. Always favoring boarding
actions (harnessing the revolutionary zeal of his crew), Bertrand
had taken prizes before and was quite generous with shares for
the crew. When Bertrand saw the British squadron initially retreat
on that fateful day, against orders, he put up full sails and
charged full speed ahead. His spotters noticed two 74 gun ships
of the line moving sluggishly towards the right of the British
line and immediately set course for them. After a brief exchange
of gunnery, Bertrand gave the order to ram one of the British
ships, subjecting his ship to a half broadside rake from the
Brits. The ramming went well, fouling the rigging, and the follow
up grapple was successful. As always, Bertrand was at the head
of his men, sword in hand leading the way across to the enemy
ship. The melee was brutal, but Bertrand was confident his men
would prevail. Bertrand killed a British sailor and was exhorting
his men forward when a British Marine noticed him, took aim,
and fired. The shot was true; Bertrand was struck in the forehead
and killed instantly. The effect on the French crew was immediate
and disastrous....Mad Dog was dead, what now? French officers,
throats parched from the acrid smoke were hoarsely barking orders
to push forward but the damage was done, the French retreated
to their ship, and the British cut the grapples. Later in the
engagement, the British ship struck colors (no small part due
to fire from Bertrand's ship) but the crew was never the same
without their beloved captain."
Ron's performance in the Fleet Action was enough to put him
over the top and into the semifinals, where he was able to outmaneuver
Rob McKinney to advance. (In addition to the larger scenario
that secured his semifinal berth, Ron also proved to be the winningest
single ship captain with five wins, two losses and a draw.)
Jeff Miller defeated Brian Stuck in the semifinals to set up
a rematch against the defending champ.
Once again, it was Ron for the win, making him the first repeat
champion since Bill Rohrbeck's hat trick of 2005, 2006, and 2007.
Will Ron equal Bill's accomplishment in 2015 or will Jeff finally
do him in? Maybe an also-ran from this year will come out of
nowhere to steal the prize.
All semifinalists were awarded two miniature ships in recognition
of their performance.
Seeking adventure? Contact Tim Hitchings to get on the list
for the next newsletter and request a copy of the tournament
The fleet action awards bonus
points in tournament scoring.