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"What ruleset(s) should I try?" Topic

15 Posts

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18th Century
19th Century

768 hits since 14 Dec 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Weirdo14 Dec 2018 8:38 a.m. PST

Title pretty much says it all. I want to play Age of Sail games, but am not sure what to try out. So far I've played Captains Bold, and Wooden Ships Iron Men. Here's what I'm looking for:

Simplicity: I know maneuvering by sail is by nature much more complex than powered maneuvering, but I'd still like something that's reasonably quick to grasp, and easy to teach to others that know nothing about it. I'm looking for a game, as opposed to a simulation. Conversely, I'd also like for there to be enough detail for players to make actual decisions unique to the era, so the game is about more than just maneuvering into position, then throwing cannon dice at the other guy until his ship goes away.

Size: I'm looking for a game that can work well for single-ship actions up to the squadron level. I enjoy Captain's Bold, but things get difficult if you have more than two people at the board.

Variety: I want to be able to play with different kinds of ships, from brigs and sloops all the way up to ships of the line. Away Boarders looks really interesting, but I'm discouraged by the fact that it only supports the smaller ships and you only have sheets for ships from very specific battles.

Miniatures: My collection consists of 1/600 War Artisan stuff, along with a hex map sized so that each ship is about 2 hexes long, WSIM-style. Sails of Glory intrigues me, but the need for specialized bases is a strike against it.

Thanks for any help you might be able to provide!

22ndFoot14 Dec 2018 8:50 a.m. PST

We've had great success with Kiss Me Hardy from the TooFatLardies:


"The simple game mechanics mean that KMH is particularly suitable for those easily put off by the complex arithmetic or for club games where not everyone is a sailing expert. No maths degrees needed here, just a blue cloth, a few ship models and plenty of d6.

Sounds like the sort of thing you might be looking for and there is really nothing to lose for GBP8.

NOLA Chris Supporting Member of TMP14 Dec 2018 10:23 a.m. PST

Bloody Broadsides is quite fun,
fairly simple
good for convention games as well

Personal logo Stosstruppen Supporting Member of TMP14 Dec 2018 11:10 a.m. PST

22nd beat me to it Kiss me Hardy is a good set.

Waco Joe14 Dec 2018 11:54 a.m. PST

Another vote here for Bloody Broadsides.

Mr Astrolabe14 Dec 2018 12:29 p.m. PST

Sails of Glory is fun, simple & has enough age of sail elements to be representative of the era. However, it is 1/1000 scale ships. Ref the bases, these just give cannon angles & wind angles so they are easily substituted for some other mechanism if you don't like them.
Look at threads here for "Post Captain" – this is a good rule set though may get unwieldy for larger actions – however, after trying many options I find this the best for single ship/small actions, however, it is a step up complexity wise from say WSIM or Sails of Glory. that said once you've read some of the AAR's I'm sure you'll be drawn in, and the sailing mechanism is elegant & easy to learn.
Hope that helps.

coopman14 Dec 2018 2:10 p.m. PST

Bloody Broadsides is the best that I have seen. Playable and fun without being a PITA.

Stew art Supporting Member of TMP14 Dec 2018 3:36 p.m. PST

Hi everyone!

I started in the AoS genre myself about a year and a half ago, so I've stood where you are. I've even got a thread somewhere here on TMP asking roughly the same question. : ) so here are my thoughts:

Reading your criteria, the closest rules to match all of them is Post Captain, which are also my favorite rules. The game is complicated enough to be interesting but simple enough to pick up. I've been able to teach the game to people easily. There are a few other choices besides which way to point the ship. It does single ships through small squadrons, and small ships through SoLs. It's a good AoS ‘skirmish' ruleset.

The only thing that might be a problem is the 1/600 scale. You'll have to take the extra step of downloading the 1/600 templates from the ODGW site, and that scale might require a larger play area. I play PC at the 1/1200 scale and a 6x4 table is sufficient.

Here's a review of PC that I wrote on my blog:


There's lots of post about PC here on TMP.

And while I'm plugging my blog, here's a review of KMH:


(for more blog AoS goodness, click the AoS label. : ) )

Here are some other thoughts on rulesets, but none of these I think use the variety of ships you want, it's all SoLs and Frigates. So take it for what it's worth. I'll divide these between those that use hexes and those that don't. All of these I have read and / or played…

No hexes:

Captaincy: and it's more streamlined version Enterprize: I think this game has some of the most interesting and creative sailing mechanics EVER. Worth checking out, lots of decisions in sailing the ship. You roll a pool of dice and then organize the roll on how you want to sail the ship. The drawback is that it gets complicated. I've tried to teach it once and just got confused myself. It'd be great for single ship actions.

Form Line of Battle: looks good for squadrons. Alternate activation by card kinda like KMH, You roll to see how far a ship will move. Ships move straight and then pivot. I've read these and liked them, but yet to play.

Fire as She Bears (2nd ed): This game looks like it'd be fun, but uses a strange octagon system for movement that just creates an extra step. However the mechanics look good and seem like fine rules for playing large actions.

Hex games: I haven't done a lot of hex games because I lack a sea mat with hexes.

Form on Admiral's Wake: I really like this game. It's best when each players has 3-5 ships, so it's a fleet game. A card deck is turned over and depending on the card and the status of your ship then the ship can activate. As ships get damaged they will activate less.

Bloody Broadsides: Another good game; the preplotted movement is the heart of this game. It tends to play pretty quick though, it's more of a ‘shoot each to splinters and then reset' type game.

Hopefully people who are more knowledgeable than me will chime in eventually. I was pretty much just buying rulesets until I got Post Captain, and then I was happy and stopped buying rulesets because one can't go on buying rulesets forever. Good luck on your search. : )

RudyNelson14 Dec 2018 3:45 p.m. PST

The era of sailing ships is the one area that I never designed tactical rules for.
However we did develop a set of mechanics to manage a campaign. The size of the forces per side dis vary. The hardest part was finding suitable maps for all of the possible areas.

Lonkka1Actual14 Dec 2018 4:14 p.m. PST

Our club has been very happy with Form Line of Battle.

Aksu wrote a review of it:

BrianW14 Dec 2018 11:58 p.m. PST

Did you ever make those campaign guidelines available publically? I would be interested in those.

RudyNelson15 Dec 2018 7:18 a.m. PST

I will check my files, review and clean them up and then post availability on here for free if anyone wants a copy.

BrianW15 Dec 2018 9:26 a.m. PST

Thank you!

Aethelflaeda was framed In the TMP Dawghouse15 Dec 2018 11:13 a.m. PST

Bloody broadsides. Easy enough for complete newbies at a con. My favorite AoS system.

WKeyser17 Dec 2018 3:19 a.m. PST

Try Heart of Oak, it does a great job of the sailing aspect at the same time the combat feels right.

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