Coffee Break #25

Take it ! Twenty Five coffee breaks.

If each break takes about half a hour to enjoy then we are looking at 12 hours, roughly, of good talks. Thank you for that.

Anyway, let’s move on and start the chatter !


October is, not surprisingly, a very intense month in military history and consequentially for the wargamer that relies, partially or fully, in historical events to recreate conflict on the table one can easily point out, from an european centric point of view, two battles that are quintessential, Trafalgar and Lepanto. Both are BIG battles and often best played in a team versus team event.


On a sidenote if there’s one crucial naval battle that is often not remembered, albeit having taken place not in October but in July, 1717, is the battle of Cape Matapan, and as with the battle of Lepanto, between the Ottoman Empire and Venice and allies, including the Order of Malta and Portugal and featured a mix of designs that makes it a most interesting cornerstone linking the old and the new – galleys, caravels and the new “of the line of battle” ships.

Batalha de Matapão – Wikipédia, a enciclopédia livre
Portuguese and Ottoman ships at the Battle of Matapan, oil painting 1956 copy of the 1812 original

There’s a plethora of miniatures wargames rules for naval conflicts and decidedly there’s more for a Trafalgar simulation than for Lepanto galleys and galleasses but a quick search will point you to the right direction.

There’s a few novel systems that promise quick and accurate age of sail play, talking mainly for Trafalgar here, with a strong brand marketing behind but Warlord’s Black Seas felt to do neither quick nor accurate simulation of the age of sail. The quick play is just motor boats mechanisms and the accurate doesn’t exist; is just that generic and nothing says age of sail. I written it before, when exposed to age of sail games newbies, that my daughter and friends are, they disliked it and favoured way more the mentioned Fighting Sail and Oak & Iron. As they considerately put after a few games of all the titles – “feels like the sailing ships movies and not like spaceships.” ( when comparing O&I / FS to BS ).

The miniatures though are very good and is undeniable that anyone even remotely interested in “sailing ships firing cannons” is interested in having even just a couple to play “master and commander” or a “pirate”. You will find a lot of examples ( and superb rigging help in JJ Wargames blog ) http://jjwargames.blogspot.com/ and if these images do not win your soul right away to try an age of sail wargame then you have no heart. The only thing I would point out is – the cardboard sails option is #$%& despite the JJ showcase images… ( Give us hard plastic or metal fill rig builds but not that #$%& )

All at Sea - Another Project - JJ's Wargames
photography of http://jjwargames.blogspot.com/

For example, a fairly robust system that will introduce any lubber to the magnificence of commanding squadrons and fleets is Ryan Miller’s Fighting Sail… published by Osprey in their ‘blue book’ collection ( link ).

While it is fine to talk about the available rules and as they are actually cool beans the possibility of watching some quality content about said rules and from zero to fleet collection building is a bonus. The Joy of Wargaming channel did just that – A lubber earns the legs – and shows how collecting in small chunks at a time is beneficial to some hobby’ist that can’t simply acquire everything that shines – for not everything that shines is the el dorado.

For Lepanto I will be honest that is not my main focus on naval. One ruleset I have been eye’ing, and maybe consider purchase some models, thanks to a content maker – Minis, My Way – is Galleys and Galleons by Nic Wright and published by Ganesha Games ( link )

As with every wargame with miniatures the ability to recreate any engagement or battles is the biggest strength along with the eye candy and cinematic WOW! effect and nothing, absolutely no other historical period does that as good as age of sail.

But what about the non miniature painter/crafter hobbyist history wargamer ?

I have only three things to say to you.


GMT’s Flying Colors will give you and your gaming group “infinite” hours of fun and all year round of naval fleet to fleet action ( or squadron to squadron ). Is not a detailed ship to ship simulation but is a superb exercise in fleet command.

Acies Edizioni’s A Sea Turned Red by Blood, Lepanto is a detailed simulation of the battle. It is best played in teams and is a fairly large game designed specifically to put the players in the command and control of the forces in battle.

Ares Games’ Sails of Glory is exactly what you will look for to simulate, with the cinematic eye candy miniatures ( already mounted and painted ), the feats of ship versus ship and recreate famous era encounters and even fiction ones.


Article cover image is a still of the film Michiel de Ruyter (imdb)

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