Monsoon Seas scenario “A Golden Chance” is one of the harder situations for British to start with. Idea is that unhistorically, d’Orves decides to support Hyder Ali, and force Hughes relieve Coote trapped in Pondicherry, India. Point of the scenario then is simple. British squadron needs to break local French naval superiority. Both fleets sail towards each other by the wind, and there are several viable options to take but neither (especially bad for numerically inferior British) fleet does not have clear wind cage which restricts the possibilities to direct the attack (Hexes bear no meaning in the game – they help a bit on the alignments, but real reason is that I still don’t have other suitable sea game mat).
It is also very interesting scenario to play, because maneuvering and proper execution is essential for success. Learned in several games of Close Action and SCA that if British concentrate fire against only the leading French ships and bear off, you are doing well. Engage Orient, and your days are numbered. Worse still, let the whole French squadron engage. Against that, I was quite surprised that my opponent willingly gave wind cage and engaged from the leeward side.
Reasoning for the French wearing together at the beginning were of course sound. By engaging from the lee side, and bringing the ships from the rear to proper formation, French could use the superior firepower and superior numbers much more efficiently.
Leading French ship Bizarre (64) took heavy beating at the start and eventually drifted far off the line but regardless of being shot to pieces, did not surrender. Rigging intact, it was only matter of time for Bizarre to return.
Not a long after, British Eagle (64) was hit on rudder, and being unable to sail but downwind caused poor ship to sail in the midst of French squadron. Worst still, very heavily armed Orient (74L) was in the neighborhood and did not miss the opportunity. Eagle put up a long resistance, but could not hope to win. Eventually Eagle struck her colors and burned to waterline due to severe cannon misfire and uncontrollable fire that followed.
Confusion that followed among French, British decided that Battle was lost, and having the wind cage, and rigging in good shape, decided to escape hauling close to the wind, where only two French ships within reasonable distance could follow. During general chase that followed, a lucky shot or careless management of powder caused magazine of Brilliant to explode, ending the French chase.
British left Pondicherry and Coote in desperate situation…
All in all, British losses (HDC= Hull DC, RDC= Rigging DC) were as follows: Burford (70): 3, HDC, Eagle (64): Total loss (burned), Suberb(74): 1HDC.
French losses in comparison were as follows: Bizarre(64): 3HDC, Severe(64): 1HDC, Flamand(56) 5HDC 1RDC, Orient(74L) 3HDC, Ajax(64): 1RDC, Brilliant(64): Total loss (Maganize exploded).
However, while French did suffer more heavily, British fled because the fight could only practically end in one way. Even after loss of Brilliant, French squadron was very dangerous, and disparity of forces was quite heavy. Situation given by full DC losses alone does not take into account the accumulated damage that was just about to become DC loss.
In any case, I congratulate the French for putting up a stiff fight against the British. Probably the tactical situation was a draw, since French failed to destroy the British squadron but in strategic respect, it was British that failed in their task to relieve Coote.