Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Age of Sail Project, p.1

'Signal "Close Action" Lieutenant - but not too close!"
Image result for america's cup boats
Sailing competitions - they're just not what they used to be.

I grew up sailing with my family, and spending most of the summer at the beach. We sailed into my college years and then I raced yachts for people as a young adult. Eventually, that got too crazy and I was busy with other aspects of life and stopped sailing. BUT I do love it! I read Hornblower and some Kent growing up, and the modeling challenges of beautiful Age of Sail [AoS] sailing ships is quite appealing.

However, gaming it has always been something else again. In high school, I played - and still own - Wooden Ships & Iron Men, both at home and with the local club who played with miniatures. When I got into sailing myself, I didn't like the artificiality of most game rules, and others were crazy complicated. Ultimately, I want:

  1. Rules that feel like I commanding a sailing ship or squadron,
  2. but are still playable, and 
  3. where you win by out-sailing not "out-gaming" your opponent, and
  4. ideally, can be played in both small and fleet actions.
Several years ago, I was interested in individual ship battles, so I got several of the lovely 1:600 Skytrex models, including a British, French and two US frigates, a Brit 64 and an East Indiaman, thinking to do small sea fights. I also got the rules reputed to have the best sailing mechanics  "Heart of Oak". And HOak _does_ have great sailing rules, but other mechanics are a bit clunky and old-school, and I couldn't seem to get the energy up to work with the intimidating Skytrex models, so the project languished. 

Eventually, I decided Age of Sail wasn't going to work out for me. I took pics of my copy of WS&IM to sell it on eBay with other board games, and took the skytrex ships and such to sell at Cold Wars. Then I didn't have time to put up the auction, and no one bought the Skytrex stuff at the 'con, so it all somehow survived by being 'out of sight, out of mind'.

Recently, I've been working on the "Portable Naval Wargame" for pre-dreads, I noticed that there were some ACW steam frigates in there. It also occurred to me that the shooting rules would work quite well for Age of Sail. This made fleet actions possible with some wind and command / control rules. A very tempting thought, since the sailing limitations of AoS are what make it interesting to game in the first place, along with the spectacle, of course.

However, I don't have time to build a big fleet of beautiful 1:1200 ships [nor the money for 1:600 ships!]. I need nice-looking but small ships that paint up quick. I checked around here and there, and eventually ran into the Forged in Battle 1:3000 ships, which looked perfect in the few pics I could get of the raw metal on line. 

Another clincher was checking into board games and finding a cheap copy of "1805: Sea of Glory by GMT". I also found a free copy of a small-ship action campaign system, "Narrow Seas", which looks promising. These fit into my new ethos that all naval actions are part of a strategic picture that affects the victory conditions of each action.

So in the end, I'm looking for:
  • the above listed qualities in a set of rules,
  • strategic impact and campaigns,
  • easy to teach newbies, quick play at home on a small space,
  • smaller ships that are easy to paint up but still look great on table.
  • a flexible project that can be played quick and casual or in depth over time.
Product Choices
Forged in Battle 1/3000 Napoleonic era ships CLICK

War Artisan Paper Ships CLICK: many scales & periods that can be scaled up and down depending on how you print them up. PLUS free pennants / ensigns, also easily scaled.

"1805: Sea of Glory" boardgame by GMT [CLICK]
[check out the "in-depth reviews" at bottom of the Board Game Geek page]

"Narrow Seas" free campaign download by Curs'd Captain [CLICK]

Rules by priority of interest, but all purchased:

"Portable Naval Wargame Rules" CLICK

"Wooden Ships & Iron Men" CLICK

"Admirals" CLICK

"Fire as She Bears!" CLICK

"Signal Close Action" CLICK

So, another old project manages to survive! This means that another one must be sacrificed in its stead, and I think a couple of the Role-playing game projects must go...

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