Autumn, 1739. Fierce economic competition between Britain and Spain has broken into open war: the War of Jenkin’s Ear.
As His Britannic Majesty’s naval commander-in-chief in the Caribbean, your duties have suddenly multiplied. Their Lordships at the Admiralty demand action. Parliament expects the speedy conquest of Spain’s New World possessions – ALL of them – but is unwilling to supply men and ships. That would require the adoption of methods suitable only under a ‘French Despotism’. Meanwhile, the powerful Planters’ Lobby is insisting you make defending their islands your top priority, while the equally powerful Traders‘ Lobby is demanding convoy protection and simultaneously accusing you of ‘pressing’ merchant seamen into service aboard your ships.
Or, can you honourably serve the great House of Bourbon, whose scions rule France and Spain? The English heretics have unjustly fabricated a war. They are jealous of Spain’s greatness and desire her colonies for their own. For years they have paid lip service to the international laws of commerce while breaking those same laws at every opportunity. Of late, His Most Catholic Majesty had graciously agreed to accept arbitration for so-called ‘wrongs’ done to British traders, waiving compensation for similar wrongs done to Spain. But when she offered payment, the English dogs slapped Spain‘s hand aside, saying it was not enough! This insult will not go unavenged. The King has ordered you to secure our trade routes and has issued letters of marque for the harrying of British merchantmen – let their own methods be used against them! In the fulness of time, our brother France has promised his support.
Control the seas and you control the fate of the New World. Whichever side you choose, glory and honour – and prizes galore – are yours for the taking. Provided you avoid court martial and disgrace.
Yellow Jack is a naval war game for two players, set during the years 1739-1743. It explores the roles of the navies of Britain, Spain, and France in the Caribbean. Scale is “operational” – that is, the playing pieces represent squadrons of as many as four ships, rather than individual men-o-war. Other counters represent leaders (good and bad), “light” forces such as frigates and galleys, and “formations” that allow you to concentrate your forces.
Tactical themes are eschewed in favour of operational issues: keeping your forces in fighting trim, being at the right place at the right time, & dealing with a mounting list of instructions, orders, and unfilfillable mandates from your Government. Combat, though abstracted, takes into account leadership, the class and condition of your ships, and of course the Weather Gauge. In an Age of Sail, wind and water conditions are critical, even at the “operational” level. Movement uses a point-to-point system where costs change with the wind and you will often be unable to go where you desire. Special features of Yellow Jack include the Hurricane Season, amphibious assaults and land campaigns, and the Yellow Jack itself – Yellow Fever.
Time Required: 3 hours for a Minor Scenario; 1 weekend for the Campaign Game. As a bonus, there are also scenarios for 1744-1748, when the Caribbean struggle became submerged in the greater War of the Austrian Succession; these allow an Extended Campaign covering 1739-1748.