Possible house rules

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    Andy Watkins

    I realise most people don’t use house rules but for those that sometimes do please keep reading.
    My interest is primarilly fleet actions with 3rd rates and bigger.
    I have noticed that most damage can be caused by critical hits and you have as much chance of causing critical hits if you need 1-2 to hit or 1-8 to hit. This seems a little strange.
    Also a light 6pdr gun on a brig is quite capable of getting a critical hit on the Victory causing a mast hit and knocking out 25% of it’s hit points.

    I had 2 proposals we intend to try out regarding these.

    1) Only if you hit your target and inflict damage in the usual way do you then roll again, on a 2nd roll of 1 a critical hit is inflicted, otherwise nothing. So basically 10% of hits are criticals not 10% of shots fired

    2) light guns can only inflict criticals on medium sized ships and smaller. Heavy guns and carronades can cause criticals against all ships.

    The next one is just possible alternative weapons fit outs for brigs. I believe a Brig would carry something in the region of 16 X 9 or 12pdrs max or carronades. The current stats for a brig are 2 heavy guns, the same as the main gun deck of a 1st rate!!
    We are thinking of giving a brig 1 light gun and 1 carronade, this seems more appropriate.
    I don’t know how the points system works, do you think a carronade and a light gun would be slightly cheaper than 2 heavy guns, same amount of damage but closer range, I was thinking maybe 10 points less for my version of a brig?

    With the exception of Carronades I believe heavy frigates were armed with 18pdr long guns and light frigates with 12pdr long guns. The americans armed their super heavy frigates with 24pdrs but this was very unusual anywhere else until after the 1812 war (I believe)
    Would it be more appropriate for frigates to have light guns and carronades than heavy guns?

    The lightest guns on say a 1st rate should be heavier than anything a brig would ever carry, and probably heavier than most frigates would carry, yet the big 1st and 2nd rates have a lot of light guns? Does anyone know why they would be rated this way

    Anyway if you love the rules exactly they are and hate house rules please don’t flame me to death, just move on to a post you are happier reading 🙂

    I hope everyone enjoys their games, i love the models.


    Steve Burt

    I agree with rolling for crits per hit – make heavier guns more dangerous, but not sure I’d forbid light guns causing critical hits on big ships – they were not armoured and a cannon hit on the wheel house or quarterdeck is going to be bad no matter the calibre of the ball.
    Most Brigs seemed to have been armed with Carronades, so I’d give them 2C, and maybe drop them to 70 pts. They were generally only 18 pdr Carronades, though, compared to the 32 Pdr (or even 68 pdr) carronades fitted to ships of the line; for more realism, I’d give such light carronades only 2 damage dice rather than 3.
    Historical ships varied a lot, so it’s best to allocate armament based on the actual ships. Not sure what the formula is for turning actual number of cannon into cannon factors.

    Andy Watkins

    Those are very good points, thanks for the reply

    invisible officer

    Well, the lighest gun on Victory had been 6 pdr (6 each side), the other cannon are 12, 24 and 32 pdr. So the small ones are like light frigates and even Brigs.

    The Santisima had 8, 12, 24 and 36 pdr cannon.

    Compare that to the 1804 French Minerve of Armise class, 18 pdr and 12 pdr + 36pdr carronades

    Total shot weight of 1st class like Victory was often slightly smaller (!) than strong 3rd rates like HMS Foudroyant.

    Andy Watkins

    I had a quick look on that paragon of accuracy – Wikipedia

    2 ships at trafalgar
    30 X 32pdr guns
    28 X 24pdr guns
    12 + 30 12pdr guns
    4 carronades, 2 biggies 2 smaller

    If you fired all guns on both broadsides and chasers that is around 2,300 lbs of shot

    HMS Orion and similar 74’s
    28 32pdr
    28 18pdr
    14 9pdr
    4 9pdr
    no mention of carronades but there may have been some?
    Approximates to 1560 lbs of shot, quite significantly less than the victory?

    I believe 1st rates and 3rd’s in the english navy would have a main battery of 32pdrs, almost the same number
    1st’s would pretty much always have 24pdrs on their 2nd gun deck though whilst i think 74’s almost always had 18pdrs
    Upper decks obviously had the lightest guns and would have been a mix of lighter guns up to 12pdrs or carronades

    I am unsure how a 3 decker would have less weight of shot than a 2 decker as the 3 decker is a little larger and of course has 3 gun decks not 2

    I believe some frigates armed entirely with carronades would have a much heavier weight of shot than a ship with regular long guns of a similar rating?

    I don’t think anyone built entirely carronade armed 3rd rates or bigger? I believe the americans in particular armed some of their super frigates with a lot of carronades??

    I am not an expert at all though, just read a few books recently that is all.

    Fascinated to hear if you have any additional evidence to support.

    Also I agree I had not realised the victory had so many 12pdrs on board which would certainly count as light guns in black seas.

    Looking in the rule book they give the victory a total of 11 heavy guns, 8 light guns and 6 carronades. that does not seem massively out, maybe a couple less carronades and a couple more light guns would be more accurate, but really not too bad.

    Still doubtful about brigs with 2 heavy guns on each broadside!!

    Capt John Sparrow


    I had 2 proposals we intend to try out regarding these.
    1) Only if you hit your target and inflict damage in the usual way do you then roll again, on a 2nd roll of 1 a critical hit is inflicted, otherwise nothing. So basically 10% of hits are criticals not 10% of shots fired
    2) light guns can only inflict criticals on medium sized ships and smaller. Heavy guns and carronades can cause criticals against all ships.

    I like both ideas. Would also be open to the 2C brig. Makes more sense.

    Shiver me timbers

    Bob D

    How about maybe saying that light gun hits cause criticals on a subsequent roll of 1 (or 10) as above, but heavy guns and carronades do so on 1 or 2 (or 9 or 10)?

    invisible officer

    Hmm, the Wikipedia article states the 6 pdr on Quarterdeck in the text but not in the list. Wikistupedia. 😉
    I use paper, old fashioned me.

    3rd rate Foudroyant mentioned was no 74 but a 80.
    Total broadside 4 Pounds bigger than Victory.

    98 gun like St. George had no 24 but 18pdr. A 3 deck SOL that had less broadside weight than the biggest French 74 of Jaques-Noél Sané design.

    Andy Watkins

    Thanks Invisible, that is a heck of a lot of guns on the Foudroyant 🙂



    The website 3 Decks is an excellent source for age of sail, ship data.


    Consistently agrees with my Winfield books (British Warships in the age of Sail 1714-1792, British Warships in the age of Sail 1793-1817, French Warships in the age of Sail 1626-1786, French Warships in the age of Sail 1786-1861).

    So if you need data, and don’t have the paper or the paper isn’t where you are, try this site.


    Bob D

    Wow, excellent site! Thanks for sharing



    Enjoy, I’ve used this website at work for many years. It’s not extremely helpful on smaller ships. Data varies when you get below Brigs.


    invisible officer

    And in some cases they mix ships of same name that got captured and retaken.

    Steve Burt

    Has anyone worked out what the formula for converting actual guns to Black Seas Heavy, Light and Carronade factors is?
    And where is the cutoff between heavy and light?
    From looking at a few ships it seems you divide by 5 to convert number of cannons to factors, and 24pdr and above is heavy, 12pdr and below is light. But where does 18pdr fall?

    Andy Watkins

    I am not sure about 18pdr either

    Interestingly as carronades do 3 damage they appear to be modelled on the 68pdr crushers from the victory but I believe most carronades used on frigates etc were more like 18pdr or 24pdr guns

    I think very broadly a carronades was approximately a quarter the weight of the equivalent long gun and had less recoil

    But carronades were made in all the usual sizes not just the massive 68pdr

    It would probably be more accurate to have carronades do 2 damage the same as heavy guns.

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