So with the first half of the fleet being ready, I decided to try a first test of the ruleset I plan to use, "He Hemetera Talassa - Mare nostrum" by David Manley. Instead of doing a plain head to head clash I decided to try an historical battle, and since I still have just a few ships I went with the first battle of Naupactus. This is when the great Athenian admiral Phormio, with an elite squadron of 20 fast trireme, smashed the big kyklos of some unfortunate 47 Peloponnesian ships trying to exit the Corinthus canal to invade Acarnania in 429 b.c. To be fair, the poor Peloponnesians were fit for cargo, not for battle.
I was able to field 2 ships for each 3 vessels in the real battle. The Athenians got a 7-bases squadron with Elite crews, with an Exceptional admiral. The Corinthians got a 6-bases and two 5-bases squadrons, all Poor crews and Mediocre Admirals (sorry Corinthians!). To simulate the fact that the Peloponnesians were full of cargo and troops and stuff, so they were very slow, I did not allow them the 3 "fast moves" of 3 addtional MU a game.
Here you can see the beggining, with the Corinthians and their allies moving westward and then aiming to turn north and exit from the opposite angle of the "table" to reach Acarnania. However Phormio's smaller force is shadowing them..
And here I immediately run into something not foreseen in the rules! I want the Corinthians to execute a simultaneous turn towards north. The rules explain how to do an about face, a pivot if in line abreast, a turn in succession in line astern... but no simultaneous turn. This manouver was actually performed precisely at Naupactus, in the second battle, by Brasidas. Of course it was a complex manouver and it was probably not something that a fleet could improvise, which is why I think it was not considered in the rules.
However I think it should be allowed, but only if the fleet admiral plans for it beforehand, while drafting the battle plan, and provides all trierarchs with a specific signal. Im this case I had already planned it, so all the Peloponnesian squadrons tested for a change of formation, turned simultanously and moveed forward (the Admiral's squadron actually barely made it...). The Athenians did the same, and accelerated using a "fast move": their plan was to catch the enemy as far away from the exit as possible.
With a 5cm base, the movement is 40cm for each formation, each turn - pretty fast, you'll need a lot of water! As it should be, really.. now I properly understand why admirals with fast fleets wanted to avoid fighting in cramped spaces and aimed for open waters... my Athenians would have enjoyed some room for a periplous, but today there is no room. So they try with a diekplous and smash into the Peloponnesian line.
They almost succeede, but the Peloponnesian line holds, losing one base. While the two main Corinthian squadrons are engaged, in confusion and out of formation, the third allied squadron forms column and attempt to periplous the Athenians!
And while the main line miracolously hold it, even if it continues to steadily lose ships, the periplous is completed.
But it is too late: the Athenian diekplous finally succeed. Phormio's ships break trought the enemy line and immediately attack it from behind, smashing it in pieces. The battle is over and the surviving Peloponnesian ships run for the closest beach!
Overall, I am very pleased by how the ruleset works. I think it captures the key crucial issues of ancient naval warfare and focuses only on those. Of course, I already am thinking about a couple of house rules.. but first I am going to try it a little more. Then maybe provide a review with reflections on house rules.