Battle of Lissa(1866)
"Ram Anything Painted Gray"

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By Prior Aelred Glidden

Historical Background: The Austro-Prussian War (1866) was fought between the Austrian Empire on one side, and Prussia and the Kingdom of Italy on the other side.  Prussia sought to gain greater control over Germany, while Italy wanted to take Venetia from the Austrians..  The largest naval engagement occurred near the island of Lissa in the Adriatic Sea.  There an Austrian fleet of ironclads and steam powered wooden ships fought a larger Italian fleet.  The Austrians caught the Italians unprepared and succeeded in "crossing the T" of the Italian fleet.  The heavy side belt armor of the ironclads was invulnerable to gunnery, and the most effect offensive tactic was ramming.  The Austrian fleet emerged victorious.  In the war, however, Austria was defeated and ceded territory to both Prussian and Italy.

Battle 1: The Austrian fleet intercepted the Italian wooden steam ships, with the Austrian ironclads screening their more vulnerable wooden ships.  The Italian  wooden ships enthusiastically engaged the Austrians.  However their ironclads were very slow to react and turn to join the battle.  Some of the ironclads continued to steam in the wrong direction, apparently oblivious to the deadly fight going on behind them.  The Garibaldi  was the first to suffer the attention of the Austrian ships.  The Kaiser Max sent her to the bottom with effective gunnery.  The Duca di Genova retaliated by raking and sinking the ironclad Don Juan d'Austria.  This energized the Italians.  When the Austrian ironclads turned broadside to fire on the Italian ships at close range the Italian commander gave the order to ram the enemy ships.  The Carlo Alberto slammed into the side of the Prinz Eugen, and the Duca di Genova rammed fleet flagship Erzherzog Ferdinand Max, but she didn't go down.  The Austrian second division came up to support the ironclads, and the Kaiser was badly mauled by gunfire.  The Kaiser Max decided to break the Italian battle line of wooden ships, trusting her armor to protect her.  The tactic worked, splitting the Italian wooden ships.  But then the Italian ironclads finally arrived to help, and the Re di Portogallo rammed and sank the Kaiser Max, a heavy blow to the Austrians.  The the Affondatore followed up by single-handedly attacking the Austrian second division.  She succeeded in ramming the Schwarzenburg and sinking her.  But the massive Affondatore was swarmed by the Austrian wooden ships, raked from the front and back, and finally the coup de grace was delivered by the Habsburg, which rammed and sank the Italian fleet flagship.  A tragic loss for the Italians.  But the battle had swung in their favor, and they won the battle.  Only the Habsburg, Erzherzog Ferdinand Max, Donau, and Radetsky survived on the Austrian side. 

The Miniatures: Here are some paper ships you can print and use.

Austrian Fleet
First Division (ironclads)
Erzherzog Ferdinand Max (fleet flagship)
Kaiser Max
Don Juan d'Austria
Prinz Eugen
Second Division (wooden ships)
Kaiser (squadron flagship)
Erzherzog Friedrich
Italian Fleet
Affondatore (fleet flagship)
Re d'Italia (squadron flagship)
Re di Portogallo
Regina Maria Pia
San Martino
Principe di Carignano
Wooden Ships
Maria Adelaide
Duca di Genova
Principe Umberto
Carlo Alberto
Vittorio Emanuele
San Giovanni

The Board: The game is played on a 5 by 9 foot table covered with blue cloth. The Island of Lissa is off the southern (narrow) edge of the map.  The battle was playtested on a smaller, 5 by 7.5 foot table.  When playing on a smaller table you should remove the last 2 ships from each Austrian division, and the last 3 ships from each Italian division.  Otherwise the battlefield will be too crowded.

Deployment:  The  Italian fleet deploys in line heading NE with a gap between the first and second divisions. The Austrians enter from the North. Historically the Austrians deployed both of their divisions in a wedge, with the First Division leading the way.

Ship Cards:  There is a card for each ship in the battle.  The ship card is used to keep track of damage to the ships, and also has other useful information.  Print the cards on card stock and laminate them.

shipcards1.gif Austrian ironclads
shipcards2.gif Austrian wooden ships
shipcards3.gif Italian ironclads
shipcards4.gif Italian wooden ships & ironclads
shipcards5.gif Italian wooden ships

A Note About Names:  The Italian and Austrian names are difficult for students to read and pronounce, which leads to confusion about which ship is firing, ramming, taking hits, etc.  It's a good idea to mark the ship cards and models with a simpler naming system.  For example, the Austrian ships can be marked A1, A1, A3, etc. to make identification easier.


Sequence of Play:
1. Austrians Move
2. Austrians Fire
3. Italians Move
4. Italians Fire

Movement: A ship can move up to 10".  The maximum move for a crippled ship is 5". A ship may increase or reduce speed at up to half its current maximum speed. A ship that has stopped may reverse at half its maximum speed. A ship moving independently or leading a formation in line ahead may move half its move, pivot up to 90 degrees and move the rest of its move. Ships in a formation following it will move as far as necessary and turn at the same point.

Ramming: For a ship to ram successfully, the last 3" of its movement must be straight ahead. If a ship rams an enemy ship at 45 degrees up to parallel, it slides up parallel to the target and scrapes alongside to the full extent of its move, causing no damage. If a ship rams an enemy ship at greater than 45 degrees up to perpendicular, it ceases movement and the number of hit boxes remaining on the ramming ship is noted. This is the damage inflicted on the rammed ship, however the damage is not immediately applied.  The ship that has been rammed cannot move until the ramming ship reverses. During its next move, the ramming ship may reverse up to half its movement. The damage is then applied to the rammed ship (which will sink immediately if it has no points remaining).

Fire: Each ship may fire its left and right broadside guns.  The diagram shows the arc of fire of each broadside.  The ship card indicates the number of dice that are rolled .  Subtract one from the die roll if the ship that is firing is crippled.  Measure the range to the target ship and consult the Fire Table to see if you scored a hit.  For each hit on a ship cross off one hit box.  Exception:  ironclads take no damage from fire that hits it on the broadside, but take full damage from raking hits.

Point Blank
up to 12"
>12" - 24"
> 24" - 36"
Long Range
>36" - 60"
To Hit 3 - 6 4 - 6 5 - 6 6

Ironclads:  Hits on the flanks of ironclads have no effect, but raking fire on ironclads (i.e., fire from perpendicular to the bow or stern up to within 45 degrees) causes full damage (the armor belt did not cover the bow or stern).

Initial Broadside:  Roll double dice when a ship fires it's initial broadside.  This bonus is because all the ships guns on that side are loaded and ready to fire.

Turret Ship:  The Affondatore was a turret ship so it can fire in any direction, not just broadside.  This ship does not roll double dice for it's initial broadside.  The gunners on the Affondatore were erratic.  The first time she fires the gun will be loaded and ready.  Each turn after the first fire the ship must roll one die to see if it's gun is loaded and ready to fire.  If the roll is a 5 -6 the gun may fire, otherwise it cannot. 

Crippled Ships:  When a ship has lost 50% of its hit boxes it is crippled.  A crippled ship only move 5" per turn.  When a crippled ship fires there is a -1 penalty to the die roll.  When a ship loses its last hit box it sinks immediately and is removed from play.

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