wooden ships & iron men   

Updated Dec. 22, 2013

2013 WBC Report     

 2014 Status: pending December 2013 Membership Trial Vote

Ron Glass, FL

2013 Champion

Event History
1991    Jim Truit      23
1992    John Boisvert      29
1993    John Boisvert      36
1994    William Rohrbeck      28
1995    Larry York      21
1996    David Cross      16
1997    David Metzger      20
1998    Michael Brannaman      20
1999    Paul Risner       8
2000    David Cross     16
2001    Curtis Dietrich     26
2002    William Rohrbeck     23
2003    William Rohrbeck     27
2004     Arthur Davis     22
2005     William Rohrbeck     19
2006    William Rohrbeck     21
2007     William Rohrbeck     14
2008     Evan Hitchings     16
2009    Derek Whipple     19
2010    Tim Hitchings     25
2011    George Deutsch     20
2012    Dale Long     22
2013    Ron Glass     27


Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  William Rohrbeck   NH    07    116
  2.  Tim Hitchings      DE    13    105
  3.  Evan Hitchings     DE    12     60
  4.  Keith Hunsinger    OH    07     50
  5.  Dale Long          NJ    13     44
  6.  Arthur Davis       MI    04     41
  7.  Ron Glass          FL    13     32
  8.  George Deutsch     MD    11     31
  9.  Derek Whipple      WA    10     28
 10.  Paul Owen          VA    13     26
 11.  Larry York         CA    02     20
 12.  Curtis Dietrich    FL    01     20
 13.  David Cross        NJ    06     18
 14.  Jeff Miller        PA    13     12
 15.  Wade Fowble        MD    03     12
 16.  Joseph Belyeu      AL    11     10
 17.  Rob Doane          MA    08     10
 18.  Paul Risner        FL    99     10
 19.  Benoit Groulx      qc    04      9
 20.  Mark McCandless    LA    03      9
 21.  Stephen Field      IL    02      9
 22.  Bill Thomson       TX    10      8
 23.  Malcolm Smith      VA    13      6
 24.  Bill Place         PA    12      6
 25.  Isaac Clizbe       VA    10      6
 26.  Joe Pabis          VA    05      6
 27.  Kevin Boles        AL    04      6
 28.  Ed Majeski         IL    02      6
 29.  Mark Sciera        NY    09      4
 30.  Kathy Hitchings    DE    08      4
 31.  Verity Hitchings   DE    05      4
 32.  Michael Bergt      FL    03      3
 33.  Joseph Abrams      CT    00      3
 34.  Stuart Smart       NY    99      3
 35.  Robert McKinney    VA    11      2
 36.  Brian Wool         DE    09      2
 37.  Keira Herzfeld     DE    08      2
 38.  Stephen Shedden    TN    07      2
 39.  Joe Doughan        NJ    05      2
 40.  Jim Jordan         MD    04      2
 41.  Francis Czawlytko  MD    01      2

2013 Laurelists                                       Repeating Laurelists:

Jeff Miller, PA

Dale Long, NJ

Paul Owen, VA

Tim Hitchings, DE

Malcolm Smith, VA

Past Winners

William Rohrbeck, NH
1994, 2002-03, 2005-07

Larry York, CA

David Cross, VA
1996, 2000

David Metzger, NY

Michael Brannaman. SC

Paul Risner, FL

Curtis Dietrich, FL

Arthur Davis, MI

Evan Hitchings, DE

Derek Whipple, WA

Tim Hitchings, DE

George Deutsch, MD

Dale Long, NJ

Ron Glass, FL

Tim Hitchings vs Ron Glass

Ron Glass vs Brian Wool

 GM Hitchings oversees his fleet action.

 the all important wing gauge

Master & Commander ...

In Nelson's Shadow ...

Wooden Ships & Iron Men continues to draw new players, those who played in the past but haven't played in many years, and players who haven't missed the tournament for years. Many of them hadn't been born when Avalon Hill published the game. On the other hand, some of them are retirees. None, however, are old enough to have sailed with Nelson.

Play began on Monday with the typical, "I'd better just play with one ship until I get used to it," approach. Matched players had a choice of sailing British ships of the line (SOLs) or French frigates. Such was the level of play through Wednesday, when the press gangs shanghaied the lion's share of new players. More adventuresome play began in earnest on Thursday by competitive players setting out with two- and three-ship squadrons. The two-ship squadrons could be British frigates or SOLs, or a face-off between Russians and Turks. Three-ship squadrons could be French, British, or Spanish SOLs or American Frigates.
The annual Fleet Action was featured on Saturday morning and afternoon. Six gamers started the day. One had to leave for another event but was seamlessly replaced by a new arrival.

Here's the commentary by enthusiast Paul Owen, one of the Dutch captains:
"This year, the scenario was a meeting engagement at Dogger Bank between a British fleet of six SOLs and six frigates escorting nine merchant vessels against a similarly outfitted Dutch fleet. The goal of each fleet was to escort its merchants safely off the opposite side of the board. I served as the rear commodore of the Dutch fleet, with the SOL Holland and a frigate under my command, as well as three of the merchants.

"Our objective was to exit the Dutch merchants off the north edge of the board. Unfortunately, we started beating upwind against a northerly breeze. Admiral Ron Glass had us start in a tightly packed formation on a starboard tack beating northwest, as we'd sighted the British sails to the northeast and wanted to keep the merchants as far from those British guns as possible."

"The British had formed up their merchant fleet in an orderly square formation of three files of three ships and sent them on a southeast starboard broad reach. Their three SOLs formed a line abreast ahead of them, and their three frigates continued that line to the south. Under full sail, the British warships raced ahead of the British merchants and threatened to cut off our Dutch fleet, with the British SOL turning northwest to parallel our course while the British frigates maintained a southwest reach to cut off our rear and set up a crossfire."

"Since I was in the rear position of our escort fleet, I was in the most immediate position to thwart the British advance, so I brought Holland and my frigate about. The six British warships were nearly upon me, and I barely had time to take down my full sails, rig for battle, and line up on a southern run with the wind at my back to confront the enemy. Admiral Ron by now had reversed course and begun to bring his van back along the edge of the Dutch merchant formation as the enemy opened fire."

"I started to take heavy damage but was grateful for the arrival of Admiral Ron's reinforcements. I tried to fall into line behind him, but the British had turned the corner on my rear and put Holland under a succession of rakes. The British focused on Holland's rigging and a series of heavy broadsides knocked down one mast after another until she was completely immobilized. Once a British SOL raked her bow, the captain of the Holland struck the Dutch colors rather than sacrifice the lives of any more brave sailors."

"We had successfully engaged the British warships, however, and Commodore Hitchings came down from the northwest nearly unmolested by the British escorts and intercepted the British merchant fleet single-handedly. Just then, the Little Mermaid of the Wind smiled on us natives of the Netherlands, as the wind backed to a southwestern breeze, perfect for our merchants to turn down to a port broad reach and make haste for the north. Admiral Ron meanwhile grappled, boarded, and captured a British frigate that had come alongside his SOL. Our frigates turned east and gave chase to the British merchants that had turned south and then southeast in attempt to disengage from us."

"In the end, Tim awarded the victory to the Dutch for having captured a British frigate, immobilizing a British SOL, and successfully escorting the merchants to safety at the cost of only one struck SOL. Although I took more damage than I dished out, in the final analysis, my participation in the fleet action in combination with my actions the previous day placed me sixth overall in the tournament. Tim, as the Game Master, disqualified himself from the semifinals, and Malcolm Smith, the British fleet commander, elected not to advance. So I squeaked into the semifinal round as an alternate."

Here's the British perspective, by Admiral Malcolm Smith:
"The Dutch fleet escorting merchant ships was leaving home when it chanced upon a fleet of the Royal Navy (RN) escorting merchant ships coming home from Scandinavia. Both fleets had three ships of the lines (SOLs) and three frigates. Both fleets had a similar problem - both needed to protect their own merchant ships while capturing the other fleet and merchant ships. The wind favored the RN at the onset.

"The RN pushed their warships to the fore to chase the Dutch while having the merchantmen follow closely to be guarded by their fleet. The Dutch ships split while half guarded their merchantmen, the other half - two SOLs and one frigate moved to confront the British. The early action favored the RN as one Dutch ship was forced to strike as all masts went down. This early success was balanced by the Dutch capturing one RN frigate and sinking another."

"When major success seemed imminent for the RN, the wind changed to strongly favor the Dutch. The captured frigate was able to escape back to Holland and the Dutch Navy was able to let the merchantmen have a clear escape while chasing down the British merchant ships. The RN was able to provide enough of a screen to allow the merchants to avoid serious damage while the remaining time for the exercise expired."

"Lessons Learned--The ability to accurately predict changes in wind was lost by modern landlubbers. Both sides erred in allowing their fleet to separate allowing the enemy to attack isolated ships. A cohesive RN would have destroyed half the Dutch fleet before the other half could close to within gunshot range. The merchantmen would have remained safe with a complete RN more than able to deal with half a Dutch fleet. This action showed the problems and opportunities of ships in the age of sail."

The Semifinals, as reported by Paul Owen
"As the bottom seed in the semifinal round, I faced Jeff Miller, the top seed. Tim gave us each an option of three orders of battle, and I selected three British 38-gun frigates, one with an elite crew and two with crack. Jeff had chosen two American 44-gun elite-crewed frigates, and so I found myself in a very similar situation to that of last year's semifinal against Evan Hitchings, having an extra frigate against American superior crew quality and gunfire.

Unlike last year, however, I was less successful in maintaining the integrity of my line. Jeff was masterful in his maneuver, and we danced around each other for 12 turns before I finally started shooting. He employed my favorite tactic of shooting for the rigging to gain a maneuver advantage first, and he did it better than I could have done myself. I lost a rigging section on all three frigates and trailed one of my ships just far enough downwind of the action that she never fired a shot after the 15th turn.

"From that point on, it was essentially a two-on-two battle, and the American superiority in crew and gunfire took its toll (despite Jeff's atrocious dice luck). After the tournament regulation time and three overtime moves, neither of us had achieved a clean victory, so it came down to points based on damage. Jeff won by the score of 60 to 52 and so eliminated me from the tournament.

"I learned later that in the Final, Jeff would face Ron [Glass], who had commanded the Dutch in the fleet action and who beat last year's champion Dale "Dan" Long in his semifinal match. (We knew it wasn't going well for Dan in the semifinal when he turned from his table briefly and asked us, 'Either of you guys know how to handle a ship on fire?') Ron would go on to beat Jeff in the Final and win the Wooden Ships tournament as the new champion."

Here's Jeff Miller's report on the Final:
"The Final gave a choice of four British crack SOL, five Russian average SOL, four French Average SOL, four Average Spanish SOL - including a 130 and a 112 gun. "I was tempted to go with the Spanish for those guns, but ended up taking the British which my opponent did as well.

"Good game but I spent most of it unsuccessfully trying to catch up point-wise. I managed to get into position to 'cross the T' across the stern of Ron's line of battle. Then the wind shifted, which only would result from rolling a 9, and locked my fleet in irons (i.e: the wind changed to hit me head on). Almost made up for that but just couldn't gain enough ground fast enough

"Had a great time with this tournament though, and the GM gives out two painted miniatures to those who make it to the [semifinals]. So no wood, but two new ships to play!"

Congratulations to Ron Glass, both for his leadership in the Fleet Action and for his championship play.

 GM      Tim Hitchings  [12th Year]   330 Kemper Dr, Newark, DE 19702 
    hitchings@juno.com    NA

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