Cochrane, Nelson, and Jones (CNJ) is a set of rules for naval warfare in the Age of Sail, roughly 1700-1820. It works equally well with single ship actions and large fleet battles. The need for record-keeping is reduced from that traditionally required for such games by using tokens and by using a card-based movement sequence. On a ship’s roster only damage, current speed, and boarding parties need to be noted.
The American frigates Fox and Hancock are running away from the small British 4th rate Rainbow. They are all hauling to the west northwest when another sail, the Flora, displaying Continental colors, appears fine off the port bow. The game begins with Flora 300 yards from Hancock, Fox 150 yards off Hancock’s starboard beam and Rainbow 200 yards astern of Hancock. Scenario specific rules are (1) that all ships must maintain course until Flora fires or approached within 40 yards of either American ship and (2) Flora must tack and close on the Americans at her best speed. For the move sequence, Fox draws a 9, Hancock a 5, Flora a 6, and Rainbow a King.
Turn 1 Phase 1 Flora tacks in the first phase, turning into the wind. The other three continue straight as per the scenario.
Turn 1 Phase 2 sees Flora complete her tack but with some sternboard, so she has lost a bit of seaway. She is now approaching Hancock on the opposite tack.
Turn 1 Phases 3 and 4 see all four ships maintaining speed and course, men poised at battle stations. Flora is now nearly crossing bowsprits with Hancock.
Turn 2 Phase 1 Card 1 is King of spades, Rainbow moves forward 55. Card 2 is 9 of diamonds, Fox moves forward 55. Card 3 is a 6 of clubs. Flora hauls down Continental colors, raises English colors, moves forward 60 and pours a raking broadside into the Hancock. Range is 20, odds are 12:11 (1:1) and the rolls are blue 5 and red 8 resulting in 4 hull and 2 rigging hits on Hancock. She also passes with 15mm of Hancock (nearest point) and rolls an 8 on the fouling table (not fouled). Fox and Hancock decide to hold their fire. Card 4 is 5 of spades. Hancock now moves to rake Flora. Unfortunately, she rolls a zero on the fouling table and her bowsprit becomes entangled in the mizzen of Flora. She lets go with her heavier, 12-pounder, broadside, at a range of only 30. Odds are 16:9 (3:2) blue 7 red 9 (+1) which results in 6 hull and 2 rigging.
Turn 2 Phase 2 Card 1 is 5 of clubs. Hancock makes the decision to board Flora and attempts to grapple, succeeding with a roll of 8. Card 2 is King of clubs and Rainbow closes on the unengaged side of Hancock, moving forward 55. Card 3 is 6 of hearts. Flora attempts to ungrapple and unfoul but fails with both rolls. With a heart Flora’s battery is reloaded at the end of the phase. Last card is 9 of clubs. Fox wears 60 and fires at Flora but only rolls blue 8 and red 1. At a range of 30 that is only one hull. Flora returns fire and gets a much better blue 0 red 9 which results in 4 hull and a rigging. Flora and Hancock drift 10 downwind.
Turn 2 Phase 3 Card 1 is 9 of hearts. Fox slows to just 30. Card 2 is 6 of diamonds. Flora manages to ungrapple (rolling a 9) but stays fouled (rolling a 4). She does let loose on Hancock, now at 10:11 (2:3), rolling blue 4 and red 4 which is one hull. She also sets a defensive boarding part of all sailors and marines. Card 3 is King of hearts. Rainbow moves forward 55 with a maximum deviation to try to close with Hancock. Card 4 is 5 of diamonds. Hancock throws another grapple and succeeds (8). She sets an offensive boarding party of all sailors and marines and three sections of gunners.
Turn 2 Phase 4 Card 1 is the King of diamonds. Rainbow is finally up on Hancock, moving forward 40. Range is only 40 but the gunnery gods are not with the British. The heavy 18-pounder battery has odds of 18:11 (3:2) but roll blue 5 and red 0 for only one hull. The lighter 12-pounder battery does even worse, rolling blue 0 and red 0 for a miss. Hancock returns fire from its previously unengaged port battery, odds 11:13 (due to 3 gunners no longer at their guns) rolling blue 2 and red 3 for a single hull. Card 2 is 9 of spades. Fox inches forward 10, waiting for her guns to reload. Card 3 is 5 of hearts. Hancock fails to attach a second grapple (5). The final card is 6 of spades and Flora again ungrapples (9) but fails to unfoul (5). At the end of the turn the boarders are away! Hancock has 16 points against 8 for Flora. Roll is a 4. The attacker seizes a section of deck with losses of 2 crew sections for the attacker (Hancock) and 3 for the defender (Flora).
Turn 3 Phase 1 Card 1 is a 5 of diamonds. Hancock now has a 14:6 advantage in melee but rolls a 3 and gets a stalemate, losing 1 more crew section but Flora loses 2. Card 2 is a king of diamonds. Rainbow, at barely 30 range fires into Hancock inflicting 3 hull and a rigging from her 18s and another hull from the 12s. Hancock replies with a ragged broadside and also gets one hull. Card 3 is a 9 of diamonds and Fox wears 15, moves forward 40 and pours her broadside in a bow rake of Rainbow, rolling a blue 8 and red 2. The light 9-pounders only score two hull. The last card is 6 of hearts. Flora desperately orders all gunners to form into a reinforcing boarding party (this will take two phases). Her existing party fights a bloody stalemate, rolling 5(-2) resulting in 3 crew lost for the attacker but 2 more sections lost for Flora.
Turn 3 Phase 2 Card 1 is 5 of spades. Hancock, despite an 11:2 advantage rolls a 0 and gets another stalemate, losing two more sections. But Flora loses one, leaving her with a single section in melee. Card 2 is a 6 of diamonds. Flora rolls a 4 (+4) which ends the melee (Hancock takes the last two sections of deck AND the last crew section of Flora is casualties. Hancock loses one more crew section, for a total loss of 8 crew sections (2 gunners, 5 marines, and a sailor). Card 3 is a King of hearts. Rainbow tacks, bringing her port broadside full on to Fox at a range of only 40. Between both batteries she inflicts another 4 hull on Fox. Because the card was a heart, she reloads. Card 4 is a 9 of clubs. Fox moves forward 60. She also recovers her maneuver chip.
Turn 3 Phase 3 Card 1 is King of spades. Rainbow attempts to complete her tack but rolls a 0 and is in irons! Special damage to the Rigging is a 62 – main topmast falls to starboard and obscures the battery. She is pushed backward 45 (55 minus 10 for dragging a mast) which puts her in range to fire at Fox again at a range of 40, causing a total of 4 more hull and a rigging. Card 2 is 5 of hearts. Hancock forms a prize crew of 2 sailor sections and a marine section on Flora. She attempts to unfoul and fails (7). Card 3 is a 9 of hearts. Fox moves forward 60 and reloads with chain shot. Flora gets no action for her card as the prize crew is organizing.
Turn 3 Phase 4 Card 1 is 6 of spades. Again, Flora takes no action. Her prize crew will be organized at the end of this phase. Card 2 is 9 of spades. Fox wears 70 and takes Rainbow in a stern rake at only 70 range with dismantling shot. Her battered 9-pounders though are only 6:13 and she gets a red 0, only one rigging. Card 3 is a 5 of clubs and Hancock lets loose at Rainbow at range 130. However, her blue 8 is an outright miss. She again fails to unfoul (7). Card 4 is a King of clubs. Rainbow tries again to complete the tack and fails again with a roll of 1. This time she rolls a 95 and the entire mizzen mast falls, obscuring the port battery. She does cut away the starboard debris.
Turn 4 Phase 1 Card 1 is a 5 of clubs. Hancock finally unfouls (2) but fails to ungrapple (0). She fires again at Rainbow, now with more gunners and rolls better, blue 3 and red 5 firing high and causing two rigging boxes. Card 2 is a 6 of hearts and Flora ungrapples (8) and gets under way, moving forward 25. Card 3 is 9 of hearts. Fox moves forward 60 and fires chain again at Rainbow, range 70, stern rake, but 1:3 odds (6:13), blue 7 and red 6 is one more rigging. Card 4 is King of hearts. Rainbow falls off and fires at Hancock, range 130. She rolls two 0’s and inflicts no damage; she does manage to cut away the fallen mizzen.
Turn 4 Phase 2 Card 1 is King of diamonds. Rainbow, having reloaded with a heart at the end of the previous phase, now wears 40 (full speed) and fires at Fox, range 110, a stern rake. The dice gods, so pointedly absent last phase, return. With a blue 5 and red 9 her heavy battery scores 10 hull and 3 rigging and the upper battery gets another 3 hull and one rigging. Fox needs to roll twice on the Special Hull Damage table. First is 07 which is a mast. Rolling then on the Special Damage to Masts and Rigging is a 27 bringing down the foretopgallant which falls clear off the starboard side. The second Special Hull Damage roll is a 28, rudder damaged. The last three cards each of the ships simply moves forward. This ends the game. (Picture is of the fateful rake).
Epilogue. Flora had the misfortune of being fouled by the larger Hancock. This was compounded by hoping to detach and regain maneuver over being fully committed to the boarding action. Because Hancock committed so many crew to boarding, on the other hand, she was left to hope Fox could divert the much larger Rainbow. Fox did an admirable job dancing about, but her light guns could do little against the small 2-decker. Rainbow, in the end, was done in by poor seamanship, losing two masts in her abortive tack. Rainbow’s gunnery was erratic but averaged, in the end, to devastating damage on Fox and significant damage to Hancock.
Diatribes are simply often humorous recountings of the games played by the Long Island Irregulars. We play with toy soldiers and are unabashedly happy to have never lost this part of our childhoods..