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"Complete novice advice needed" Topic

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3,397 hits since 5 Jan 2012
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StokieSteve05 Jan 2012 2:47 a.m. PST

I'm considering starting naval wargaming and know absolutely nothing about the topic at all! I'm interested in the WWI era and would like to play small scale actions to start off with (using small scale ships etc)
Could anyone suggest:
A. A scale
B. A supplier (UK preferably) of models.
C. A novice rule set


SteelonSand Inactive Member05 Jan 2012 4:43 a.m. PST

Hi there, practical scales for naval wargaming can range from the tiny 1/6000th ships through 1/3000th up to around 1/1200th and quite a few stops in between – the larger the model, the more table space you are going to need – gamers using the largest size ships need to play on the floor to make engagement ranges seem realistic, and often employ what are 'model' ships rather than strictly wargame pieces, for instance plastic kits up to say 1/700 or 1/600th in scale.

Models wise, if you are looking for smaller scales and something relatively cost effective to dip your toe in, then IMHO 1/3000th would be the way to go, and there is no better UK supplier of these than Navwar:

they have a huge range of all the major surface combatants for WWI.

Magister Militum stock the 1/6000th and 1/2400th:


Rules wise, that is where things get complicated, in that the tables, charts and 'rivet counting' of most naval rules can often make for some very complex difficult-to-play editions, and it is usually a trade off between what level of detail that you require, (for instance in terms of gunnery) and the actual playability….

I'm sure that others will come along with some excellent suggestions for good sets that manage to maintain the balance – I'll be honest, though, and say that I've yet to find a problem-free set that I could really recommend. :-)

Dark Knights And Bloody Dawns05 Jan 2012 5:17 a.m. PST

For rules I like Naval Thunder "Clash of Dreadnoughts".

Rules are laid out well and easy to read. Downloadable so no worries about the postman. The excel ship stats make game preparation a doddle.

Major Mike05 Jan 2012 6:24 a.m. PST

You can get some nice, plastic ships from Panzerschiffs that are 1/2400. Last time I looked they had ACW, WW1 and WW2.

HesseCassel Inactive Member05 Jan 2012 8:35 a.m. PST

I'll second NavWar and Panzerschiffe. Both are great and very economical.

As for rules, you can't do better than free:
These are two sets, one fastplay the second more detailed. They are for 1895-1905 mainly, the pre-dreadnought era. However, it's a great period with plenty of action and what-if battles that almost happened.

If you really must have WWI, then you can't get any cheaper than AValanche Press:
The "Great War at Sea" series can be bought on sale from them or on eBay and elsewhere for discounts up to 50%. Each game comes with a campaign map and a tactical map, and ship counters that are ready to use. The naval game itself is easy to understand but not unrealistically simplified. If you enjoy the game and period, then you can replace your counters with miniatures at your leisure, but meanwhile you are able to play. You can get Jutland for $40 USD-50 if you shop around a little. That throws you right into the most famous WWI naval battles, including the North Sea and Baltic. You could easily play that game and the tactical game for a year without repeating anything.

Also, if you get tired of the tactical rules, you can still play the strategic game with a more detailed set of rules like ODGW "Fleet Action Imminant", or those by Naval Thunder.

Our experience is that the most important aspect of naval gaming is the strategic situation, b/c nearly all naval battles are fought as a part of a strategic plan at the national level. Having a game that does that while also providing solid tactical rules, 2-dimensional miniatures, is about as good as it gets.

Also, since naval games are sometimes harder to sell to one's friend(s) and group, this is an easy way to get started without a lot of monday and time spent.

Personal logo Texas Jack Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 11:10 a.m. PST

For ships I would also recommend Navwar. They have a huge selection for just about any era, and if you are in the UK then their archaic ordering system isnīt so problematic. The quality varies from the excellent to the hideous, but for the money they canīt be beat. And their fleet packs (start packs) are a great way to get going quickly.

As for rules, I think you just canīt beat General Quarters 2. Easy to append/mix/mutilate into house rules if you disagree with something (like torpedoes), and giving a good result. Best of all, they are a quick learn.

@HesseCassel, I totally agree with you on the WTJ site, but I think Dave doesnīt do WWI anymore. There used to be a Battlefleet 1916, but alas it is no longer listed.

Dave Crowell05 Jan 2012 4:02 p.m. PST

For rules I am fond of "Grand Fleets" and "Grand Admiral" from MJ12 Games. the latter a a streamlined set that. Work as both a board game and a miniatures game. The Great War has many interesting scenarios, and also might have beens.

For. Inspiration read Castles of Steel. It is a thick book, but easy and inspiring going.

I game on a small table in 1:6000, but. Would really recommend you go up to 1:2400 or 1:3000 depending on what is cheapest and easiest for you to get. 1:6000 ships are.microscopic. HMS Indefatigable is 28mm in length and a mere 3.5mm in beam. The Figurehead base brings it. To 38 x 7mm. I base mine on 2cm plastic strip with a label giving the ship's name running lengthwise and the national naval ensign at the end. It helps, but the ships are still almost to small to see. Fantastic detail under magnification though.

hindsTMP05 Jan 2012 4:07 p.m. PST

Two other things to consider are,

1) Are you a ship-modeler-type guy with an artist's eye, concerned about proportion and detail, or a gamer who just wants to paint everything grey and start playing?
2) What size playing area do you have?

A good choice for smaller playing areas is 1/6000 "Figurehead" brand ships. Here are 3 Jutland-inspired setups showing Beatty engaging Hipper, using these models. (I removed the Figurehead DDs from their cast-on bases; hence question #1 above).:

Distant view of 7-foot by 4-foot table showing 1/6000 British BCs followed by the 5th BS:


Closer view of above scene, focusing on the BCs (Lion, Princess Royal, Queen Mary, Tiger):


Close-up of the 1/6000 Lion model used in the above scene:


Another small scale to consider (but currently WWII only) is 1/4800. CinC makes British and Germans, and Roe Tengco is selling French and Italians in his Shapeways store. A link to his blog is here, link , and the Shapeways links are below his 3D renderings.

Roe Tengco's Shapeways 1/4800 "printout" of French DD Mogador:


Roe Tengco's Shapeways 1/4800 "printouts" of French BCs Strasbourg and Dunkerque, painted by him:



hindsTMP05 Jan 2012 4:59 p.m. PST

TMP bug.

hindsTMP05 Jan 2012 5:15 p.m. PST

BYW, there are Yahoo interest groups for 1/6000, 1/4800 and 1/3000 scales. One needs to join, in order to see the images in their "Photos" links.



StokieSteve06 Jan 2012 6:31 a.m. PST

Thanks hinds. I really like the 'sea' surface you use. What is it made of?

hindsTMP06 Jan 2012 9:22 a.m. PST

Latex-painted plywood table top, basically. I chose a fairly light color blue because previous attempts using darker blue looked too dark under typical indoor lighting. The excuse is that one is viewing the ocean at an angle, so one is seeing reflected sky. Kind of like this.


The wakes are made of chalk. The are redone each turn by (1) moving the ship, (2) drawing a wake between the stern of the ship and the previous wake, and (3) swiping a damp sponge across the previous wake to erase it. The "wake" starts in back of the ship model, in order to preserve the ship model's paint, but it still looks OK from a distance.


hindsTMP06 Jan 2012 9:39 a.m. PST

BTW, 1/6000 Figurehead ships are available in the UK from Magister Militum.


The images on their web site show the Figurehead models mounted on their optional bases (I don't use bases, but many people do). DDs and smaller are usually cast on their bases, which requires a time-consuming process of removal, as described about 2/3 of the way down this thread by "hindsTMP": TMP link . When I'm doing this, I usually do one base removal a night.


StokieSteve06 Jan 2012 11:12 a.m. PST

Thanks MH. They look interesting. As a complete newbie to the naval scene I'll have to have a think about just what I need to buy to get started… and then there's a simple rule set to find!
Thanks for the info.

thomas naval Inactive Member06 Jan 2012 11:24 a.m. PST

For the absolute, least expensive introduction to this style of gaming I recommend:

Rules: 1)Do a web search for 'naval miniatures rules free download' or similar. There are many options. 2) 'Clear For Action' is a set of WWI/II rules available for free download. You'll get an outdated edition. 3) Find a copy of the Avalon Hill board game 'Jutland'.(My preference)4) Try a web search for 'Jane's Naval War Game'. With a little creative digging you can find a free copy. A little fiddling with any of these rules will get you started. Try them out and you will quickly know what to look for before spending $$$.

Ships: There are web sites devoted to almost every navy. Wikipedia has entry pages for almost every class of warship ever built. Download a photo to a word processor program. Print. Fold to make an L-shape. Glue to a flat stick or coin. You can put a couple dozen ships, 1.5 inches (40mm)long, on one page. As above, try them out in different sizes. The size of your ships, your playing area and rules are interdependent.

Contact me at if you want an off-line discussion.
Good Luck

hindsTMP06 Jan 2012 6:26 p.m. PST

I still use the old General Quarters rules, which are both *simple* and *elegant*.

They also lend themselves to home-made ship SDS groupings for a specific campaign. (This is in contrast to the latest General Quarters III rules, which involve too much paper). GQ Part 1 and GQ Part 2 are both available from Navwar in the UK, for less than 5 pounds each. You would need both the Part 1 and Part 2 rulebooks, as the latter extends the former into WWI.

FYI, here's an example of crude home-made SDS grouping for GQ rules, per comment above (done on an Amiga PC 20 years ago). This was for a Norway 1940 campaign, but similar groupings could be done for WWI, such as for Coronel. Note that each box is called an "SDS", and represents the pre-calculated characteristics of each ship. You typically put this in a plastic sheet protector, and mark off the boxes for damage, using an erasable colored marker. Thus, all you need for a game (once you know the rules) is this 8.5"x11" sheet, and the game's 8.5"x11" combat table quick reference chart.


BTW, naval rules are usually independent of table scale, so I am disagreeing with the previous poster a bit here. Following up on his suggestions, here are some free rules, but I have no idea of their quality.


hindsTMP06 Jan 2012 7:03 p.m. PST

CORRECTION: After examining my copies of GQ, you only need to buy the "General Quarters Part 2" rules to do WWI – yes that is "Part 2" for World War One, counterintuitive though it seems. (WWII uses both Part 1 and Part 2). So, your total expenditure to try these rules for WWI is only 5 pounds. How can you lose? :)

FYI, if you decide to try GQ, you will need to invest in 1 decimal and 2 6-sided dice. MH

HesseCassel Inactive Member06 Jan 2012 7:06 p.m. PST

I like the idea of printing out ship pictures, but I think it'll be a challenge to scale them and get the right angle on multiple ships. By the time you've done all that, you'll probably feel like a board game is the way to go, anyway.

AH's Jutland is a popular choice, and I believe that it can be played without a map on table like most.

I wouldn't be surprised if you couldn't find someone who has free downloads of ship counters (probably without game numbers, names, info) that are the same as miniatures.

Personally, I don't like spending time figuring out sets of rules. I've always had good luck with recommendations here at TMP. I will say that without a certain minimum of detail, naval gaming is just a gunnery exercise. You really need weather, rules for "sea terrain" (fog, mist, smoke, shoals, islands, etc) and poor light conditions (dusk dawn and night) to flesh it out a bit. They are more tricky to game than daylight battles.

hindsTMP06 Jan 2012 7:56 p.m. PST

A nice introductory WWI practice game would be Goeben versus Indomitable and Indefatigable. The 2 British BCs were shadowing Goeben during the morning of August 4th 1914, but couldn't open fire since the British ultimatum hadn't expired yet.

The British approached Goeben from ahead, passed her, and then took up station astern. You would therefore start the British squadron 10,000 yards behind Goeben, who would be slightly faster.

Only 3 models needed for this battle. Unfortunately, you would need to buy 3 Figurehead packs to do this in 1/6000, at a cost of about 12 pounds plus tax & shipping. On the other hand, the 3 packs contain extra ships, which could be used for other battles later on. 1G031 (Blucher, Von der Tann, Goeben, Moltke, Seydlitz), 1B031 (Invincible, Inflexible, Indomitable), 1B032 (Indefatigable, New Zealand, Australia). All these ships were at Jutland, except for Blucher, Goeben and Australia, and in various combinations could be used for Falklands and Dogger Bank.


stenicplus07 Jan 2012 4:53 p.m. PST

Another vote for Naval thunder: CoD. We use that in 1/2400.

Mongoose Victory at Sea:Age of Dreadnaughts is alos a good simple set to get you started

StokieSteve08 Jan 2012 5:34 p.m. PST

Took a look at the Age of Dreadnaughts set. Looks loke the one I may choose to start with. Cheers Stenicplus.

afilter Supporting Member of TMP20 Jan 2012 10:52 a.m. PST

I am a big supporter of Naval Thunder as well especially for WWI and Pre-dreads where Air Power is not a factor.

My Pre-dread fleet is all 1/2400 Panzershiffe with masts added for detail. My WWI fleets include a combination of Panzershiffe (Cruisers) and GHQ for the capital ships. GHQ ar 2-3x the price of panzerschiffe, but panzershiffe while perfect for pre-dread detail lacks some of what I am looking for on the larger dreadnoughts especially when it comes to superstucture which is more difficult to model.

GHQ example:

Panzerschiffe example:



warren bruhn22 Jan 2012 4:46 p.m. PST

I like Fleet Action Imminent, the WW1 version of General Quarters III. It's reasonably simple and quick to play gunnery actions. It includes most, though not all, of the detail that I want to see in WW1 naval rules.

There is a 1/2400 scale manufacturer in the UK, Stonewall Figures "My little ships" line, though the line is not extensive yet, I don't know if the ships are any good:


Certainly 1/2400 scale is great in the USA, but 1/3000 seems to be the main scale in the UK.

stenicplus23 Jan 2012 7:59 a.m. PST

My Little ships are not bad compared to Panzerschiffe and sit well enough alongside them once painted up (I have both). They have a big advantage of being quite cheap and UK based so not VAT on imports!

They are not as good a GHQ of course but then at that scale and distance on the table it's not an issue.

If you are just looking to get started and want models rather than card or paper they are a good way to start a fleet.

My only worry was one pack of destroyers were miscast and at that scale it looks bad, but I couldn'r summon the energy to complain as they were so cheap.

Steve P

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