Sunday, 23 July 2017


'War at Sea' is the title of a new set of 'quick play' rules from David Manley. They are designed for 1/1200 models and a small table but can be used with 1/600. They can be got for almost no money at Wargame Vault so there is no real excuse for not investigating them, at least. - They cost less than a single large galley model !!! The emphasis is on a workable game which, while not a simulation, gives a feel for ancient galley warfare.
Beyond the ship scale there are no scales given. The whole effect is a little abstract, especially when one looks at the ship characteristics. But if this is done to make a playable game it can be worth it.

The presentation is an A4 PDF with some colour illustrations, figures, tables and Quick Play sheets.
The rules are concise and readable. Some comments are given to explain or support interpretations given in the rules.
N.B. If you make a set of PDF rules it is a bad idea to use a solid colour background anywhere in the design. Home printers get drained easily.

There are fleet lists with national characteristics but no points system or suggested fleet compositions for a fight. Squadrons of no larger than 10 ships must mean they are intended for largish actions on the table

The ship types table includes types from the Bronze age through to early  medieval times so you can try Sea Peoples against Vikings if you so desire.

The game turn is a chance sequence of 6 activity segments, 3 for each side, in which you can move ALL your ships each time!!! But when they occurr is determined by a card deck, so you can be massacred by poor card shuffling - or see your dream manoeuvres crumble...

Movement is easy with all types having the same manoeuverability, just differing speeds. Sailing is simplified so that one cannot raise or lower sail during the battle (? as far as I can see?) nor can galleys -  or round ships -  tack, apparently. 

All combat mechanisms are simple and use a single D6. Results are not nuanced, as one says these days.  But this is what one wants for many ships and short playing time ( and reduced brain fatigue). To further help reduce brain ache there is almost no book-keeping, only 5 types of marker being required or a ship status chart. I can forsee a horrible day for the Carthaginian player when he looks helplessly on as  the Roman draws all 3 action cards in succession and wipes out all ships within range.

Morale is elementary with a 50%  rule but some variation is added by the possibility of giving squadron commanders different characteristics such as 'artillry expert' or 'Bloodthirsty' - which affect their scope for action in the game.

I will make some test games in the next few days and report back.

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