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Saturday, April 23, 2011

18th C. Naval Wargaming

After a long time off I thought I would add a couple of updates to my recent (?) projects ... The first being Naval Wargaming.

I have played a bit of WWI naval wargaming using the "Age of Dreadnoughts" rules which I have found to be quite a mixed bag. They are simple and, at times, enjoyable, but due to the mass of dice you roll and the frequent gaps in the rules are overall disappointing. I have also found the lack of a real points system puts just about every other navy at a huge disadvantage against the British. I know this might be historical but not too much fun when you're after a pleasant evening of gaming.

My Russians relied on their torpedo boats to take down a ship then the had to minimise their losses for the rest of the game ... playing for time against MUCH superior ships until home time = not too much fun. Having said that my opponent did choose all his ships from the pride of the British fleet and my Russian ships were not the latest models ... to put it politely I could safely say I had a general disadvantage but the moral higher ground.

And now it comes to earlier ships ... where my heart lies with canvass, oak, jolly sailors, floggings and cannonades.

I looked and looked for good model ships. I found some fantastic looking vessels (eg: Langton) at equally fantastic prices. Maybe not too bad if you know someone who wants to play and you both go into it together ... BUT for me and the half-dozen games of this that I will ever play ... just not an option.

I saw, after much searching, some easy to assemble card ships for the "Pirates of the Spanish Main" game. I saw a couple of posts by some wargaming clubs which used the ships and the photo's showed to me the right levels of visual attractiveness and cost that I was looking for. I should also add I wasn't looking for a huge commitment to a new gaming system and type of miniatures.

In fact, I am still on the looking for a quick and easy set of rules for naval combat in the 18th C that does not involve a huge amount of record keeping or massive amount of dice rolling (a simple movement system would also be nice!)

So I found a collectable card group on ebay and purchased around 12 English ships and 12 French ships (and three merchant ships for scenario games.) I tried to keep to vessels which had three large masts, as this seemed to give the best appearance for the ships of the period I was looking at. I also ordered one of the larger ships to act as a command ships. I struggled to find many different ships so I ended up ordering multiples of several ships. Due to the fact these were "Common" cards the whole exercise cost me about $25 AU including postage. Now thats what I call good value for wargame miniatures.

Yes, they don't have the stunning appearance of some miniature ships but they do represent the ships well and it "looks" correct for the period. Having a game that "looks" like warfare of the period we are trying to replicate is more than half the battle won in wargaming terms ... I suppose I am struggling to say the miniatures and table top meet my preconceptions of what an 18th C naval battle would look like.

To actually assembling and basing the figures nothing could be easier.

First, ... I assembles the card models. This takes but a few minutes. The card appears quite strong and not gluing is required. (see above image)

Secondly, ... I cut out card bases and glued the ships into position.

Next, ... I added some plaster/filla/glue mixture to the bases to add the appearance of a rough ocean.

After that, ... I painted the bases then drybrushed white to add some foaming caps of waves.

Next, ... I painted the edges of the card ships brown and painted over the names (remember I bought several ships in duplicate.)

Finally, ... I added name tags, including number of guns, to each ship.

The names of the ships were taken from the scenarios on the ...
... website. These scenarios deal with the naval combat off the coast of India in the later stages of the 18th C. Numbers of ships were small and I can represent these actions with the number of ships I had ordered.

Lastly I am still searching for a rule set - and consequently have not yet played a game (but most of that is because I started an ACW project after finishing my ships.)

Thats all for now. I will post again when I have a battle.

Major Cecil Savage

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