Thursday, July 12, 2018

Review: Forged in Battle 1:3000 Age of Sail Ships

After quite a bit of searching around, I decided to pull the lanyard on these 1:3000 ships by Forged in Battle [CLICK] where five sets are presently offered: 
  1. both sides Battle of the Nile, 
  2. Copenhagen British, 
  3. Copenhagen Danish, 
  4. Trafalgar British, 
  5. Trafalgar Allies. 
There is interesting variety in the ships, the sail settings, the type of vessels, etc. However, the ships do not appear to be available in singles or smaller batches than the above listed sets. At about $1.45 a ship that's not much hardship to bear, altho it doesn't cater to the whim of gamers who like to purchase ONLY and EXACTLY what they want. Think of it as buying 6 or 10mm figs - you don't buy them in singles, but in batches. Enough said!

After some thinking, I decided to go for the Trafalgar British.

ORDERING & ARRIVAL. The package was easily ordered Forged in Battle's on-line site which was reasonably efficient and - worked. The packaged arrived in about 6 days or something amazing like that - I usually don't get domestic wargame merchendice that quickly [except from a few people like Neal Catapano at the War Store]...fantastic!

PACKING. the packing was about 50 feet [it seemed] of bubble wrap and could've brought fine china from the UK safely - the package was one blister with some foam [the usual] with all the ships in it. Sound a bit dicey? Well, these ships are as durable as the real thing!

CONTENTS. My package was:

7 x NAP12, 1st / 2nd Rate
17 x NAP13, 3rd Rate
3 x NAP14, small 3rd Rate
4 x NAP15, Large Frigate
31 Total ships
Unfortunately, I somehow missed separating out the 3 "Small 3rd Rate" shpis, and they are with in the middle group below [quite hard to tell apart, really].

Let's face it - this is a lot of ship for the money! In essence, it is 1/2 of Trafalgar - and most rules have options for small ship actions of a couple per side, or per player, so one could be finished with all Age of Sail purchases in one go here, and have everything from single-ship combat to good-sized squadrons of 15-16 ships!

THE GOODS. And below is what you've been awaiting, the closeup:

To left, NAP12 1/2 Rate. To right, NAP15 Large Frigate. In the center is a 3rd Rate of some sort. The metal between the fore and main masts is an identification streamer / flag, that between the main and mizzen is a bit of flash.  The pegs are for the included bases.

Note that even with a casual pic, you can see lots of little details, from the gunports to the ratlines, to the stern decorations, and these ships are...ONE INCH LONG! AMAZING!!!

comparison shots with vessel drawings from "Warfare in the Age of Sail" by B Ireland.

I think the proportions on the sculpts compare quite well - to these drawings, anyway.

Close comparison of 1st / 2nd Rate and diagram

Close pic of 3rd Rate 2-decker

Finally, the "large frigate" compared to diagram.

Overall, I think these ships capture the feel quite well, with good lines. My photography and the lighting isn't ideal, but I hope you can see how they look - remember, they're only one inch long, so of course they are more intended for squadrons together on the table.

Same three ships, stern view.

Same three ships, bow view - nice lines, you can see the bowsprit coming at you.

For comparison, below are my Wooden Ships and Iron Men counters, from the classic [and elderly, mine is a 1982 second edition] Avalon Hill board game. The counters are an inch by a 1/2 inch. Note that the bases are nearly the identical size. The holes are for the pegs, but one can certainly not use the bases at all. This is very convenient - I will most likely not use the bases as I'm thinking of using plexiglass instead so the ships always match the cloth.

Note how the ratlines provide additional stability to the masts without weighing down the sculpt visually. They are in fact solid, but I hope to hide that somewhat with the painting,  putting that "into shadow" or something. Pic shows off the "full sail" of these British ships, which are clearly working to close in on the Allied Fleet during the chase preceding the battle. Interestingly, the Allied ships have a different sail setting.

And below, a 1.5" hex map from Chessex. Nice fit, the ships look quite natural if a bit close together - they should really be a hex or two apart - a ship length or two.

Same, lower view. Note that the AH counters match the miniatures.

And here they are in Line Ahead, coming straight at you! Obviously, this upset the photographer and he failed to focus properly.

And below is the same on the WS&IM hex map. These ships just fit into the game "as-is" which just can't be a coincidence. Surely the sculptor has this game...? Below them are the same size counters from Avalanche Press' "1898" to show you what pre-dreadnoughts look like next to these lovelies - they look quite flat!

Overall, I give Forged in Battle:

- Customer service, packaging and shipping, A+
- Sculpting, sturdiness, proportions, A
- completeness of line, price, A++
- handiness and usefulness in games from convention to small table, A+

"Don't be stupid be a schmarty - Come and join the Forged in Battle Party!"

If you're looking for a great deal on sturdy ships with lots of visual appeal, excellent proportions at a great price, look no further. 37 years of gaming, these are some of the best thought out and executed sculpts I've ever seen. The "battle packaging" is great and will save newbies time and trouble with gathering models. And of course, the price...!!!

Future thoughts. well, obviously I'm going to get more. Certainly I want some variety in sail setting, ship, type, etc, so I'm seriously checking out the British fleet at Copenhagen, as well as the Danish. But, frankly, my future intent is to own ALL of these blisters!


  1. this is a great review and you got me thinking i need a new game....

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Johnny A.

    Yeah, these little guys are perfect for fleet size games where a player commands a squadron of several ships each. I'm working out my own adaptation of Portable Naval Wargame, but may also try War Artisan's "Captains Bold" with his "Admirals" rules, both sets are very interesting in design.

    Other thoughts are classic WS & IM, and considering adapting one of David Manley's fast-play games to it, e.g. Dahlgren and Columbiad. I like the fast-play system in Splendid Little War and think it would work just fine for an Age of Sail game.

  3. SUPERB REVIEW Thank you. i have some rather rough 1/3000 ships from long ago - i think FIF will make excellent replacements :)