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"Want to try Naval warfare. Please guide me." Topic

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MrZorro09 Jan 2019 8:09 p.m. PST

Hello guys, I decided to try Naval warfare and the era will be the Age of Sail in 1/1200 and the rule set I decided to try first will be Kiss me Hardy by TFL.

What I need advice is on my fist ships. What models should I use? I plan to start with 4 ships per side, what kinds of ships should I buy first? I want to start with British and French.

I live in USA, I checked a few manufacturers like Navwar, they have "Starter sets" but I can't find the ships included in such packages. I checked the Langton website but I can't find the prices or how to order.

GHQ option also looks nice and can be purchased in USA. Warrior miniatures from Scotland looks like a good option too. What do you guys recommend? Also any recommendation on stand up print outs to try the rules before I get my ships is appreciated.

Thanks, happy new year.

BrianW09 Jan 2019 8:57 p.m. PST

I would recommend stand up printouts to decide if AoS is what you want to do. If you can't find any of those, ODGW put out a set of top down view counters that might be useful. Let me know here if those might help you.

For stand up figures, there is the junior general website:

Dennis09 Jan 2019 10:32 p.m. PST

Take a look at Jeff Knudsen's War Artisan Workshop web page. He sells pdf files for card stock ships from various periods in the Age of Sail. Properly built-those constructed by Jeff for example-Jeff's card stock ships look great on the table, are available in a variety of scales, and he has some free models available for download so you can see if card stock model building is something you want to do; and the price is right, you can build a fleet of Jeff's ships for the price of a handful of metal models.

Jeff also has what he calls 2.5 d models--sort of "flats" with sails-that are inexpensive and would give you an easy way to try various AOS rules before committing too much money to your project. He also has a free download of true flats for the Great Lakes battles if you want to try them.

I'd also recommend looking at the various rules Jeff has written for AOS. Jeff tends to develop unusual rule mechanics designed to force players to make some of the decisions he views as important in that period's naval warfare. Away Boarders, available for free by the way, has some innovative mechanics that take a bit of getting used to, but once you understand them they, IMHO, elegantly and naturally model some of the more important decisions faced by a ship's captain of the period. He has other rules that model decisions made by squadron and fleet commanders if that is your interest.

The list of card stock ships available from Jeff is here:

Anyone interested in AOS should bookmark the War Artisan's Workshop and revisit it periodically.


d88mm1940 Supporting Member of TMP09 Jan 2019 11:05 p.m. PST

It's hard to go wrong with GHQ or Langton, although you may consider the newer Sails of Glory.
GHQ is very convenient with sales a couple of times a year. They now have 'battle sails' packs which is the best looking option for a battle line. There were times when they fought with full sails, but you risk more damage.
The Langton ships are a little beefier and higher in the water, but not annoyingly so. You have 5 or 6 options for sails, but battle or full sails are best. You have to purchase sail sets separate from the hulls. They also have the awesome 'at ready' with all of the guns run out on select ships. Get these!
The Sails of Glory ships are nice and they are pre-painted. You could pop them off their bases or try out their rules. They're annoyingly 1/1000 scale and are a little large compared to the more popular 1/1200 scale ships.
Regards which ships; how about frigates? There were many more frigate actions than 'big' battles. Get a US Constitution (very patriotic, too) and a few British and French frigates and a couple Brigs. Sometimes frigates were present at some of the big battles, but they usually stayed away and were not shot at unless they fired. They are often left out of the orders of battle.
Of course there is nothing like a fine battle line with 74's blasting away at each other…

MrZorro09 Jan 2019 11:16 p.m. PST

Thanks for the great advice guys. Why they come in different background colors, white and blue? To make 2 squadrons?

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP09 Jan 2019 11:22 p.m. PST

I have AoS fleets in 1/2400, 1/2000, 1/1200, and a smattering in 1/600. You asked specifically about 1/1200, so I'll give my 2 pesos:

I'm a fan of the GHQ hulls, and I have a lot of them. I'm especially fond of the Spanish ships with the lanterns on the taffrail (it's a personal thing). However, the masts and sails are sorta meh.

Langton 1/1200 ships are easier to paint, and the sails and masts look far better. The details on Langtons are exaggerated, so if you look too close they seem a bit cartoonish, but this makes them far easier to see and paint, and it's easier to make them look really nice from a few feet away. Look at the work by Julián de Sevilla to see just how nice they can look: link

Both options are somewhat expensive, but you get what you pay for. You can buy cheaper models from Red Eagle Miniatures (the old Skytrex/Triton 1/1200 line) or Navwar, but they are blobby and difficult to make nice.

Since you're starting small, I recommend setting up for small actions. Get one large frigate of 40+ guns, two medium frigates (32 guns or so), 2-3 small frigates (24-28 guns), and a few small ships like maybe a sloop, a corvette, and a brig or two which can switch sides. You can make a lot of interesting actions with an array like this, and the little ships will be useful hanging around any fleet you build in the future. The little ships were extremely useful and attended all battlefleets.

I also recommend making your small collection generic. Do not glue on the flags – instead, drill a hole in the stern to stick a flagpole in. You can choose a different nation to assign them to in every game. When you decide you want to play that cool scenario with a couple of Dutch ships fighting a Spaniards or Portugese, it's a much easier project to make a new flag than to paint and rig and flag another whole ship.

If you have no interest in small actions and/or just have to have ships of the line, I suggest 2x 74s per side, plus a 64 and a 98 (3-decker) for the British, and a 64 and an 80 (2-decker) for the French. To expand on this core, just add 3rd rates at a ratio of about 2x-3x 74s per 64, and once the fleets are a good size (a dozen or more per side) add a 3-decker or two.

I have links to a few useful painting and rigging tutorials on this web page: link

- Ix

Bozkashi Jones10 Jan 2019 3:21 a.m. PST

I would agree with Yellow Admiral and choose a 'core' with which I can try different combinations. When I'm starting a project I tend to find a good reference for battles of the period: for age of sail I'd really recommend 'Sea Warriors' by Woodman, methodically goes through the smaller actions of the period.

From this I'd select a number of actions that interest me involving similar ships and then get these, so that with a core of, say 6 to 8 ships I can game maybe 15-20 historical actions.


22ndFoot10 Jan 2019 7:32 a.m. PST

I agree entirely with what has already been said but, if you haven't tried this sort of naval wargaming before, in the first instance, I'd get the paper Trafalgar ships by Florian Richter and Peter Dennis (ISBN-10: 1912174812) and give it a try with those before investing a lot in lead and the time to paint and rig. You could copy and print in 1/1,200th and then you could use both metal and paper side by side if you wanted while you got up to speed with the metal.

Vincent the Librarian10 Jan 2019 10:01 a.m. PST

Take a look at the Oak & Iron KS. You could use the ships and ignore the rules if you feel. I bought into it and am very excited that they center on 17th-18th naval, rather than the usual Nelson/Napoleonic period.


DeRuyter10 Jan 2019 10:15 a.m. PST

As a KMH player and game master I agree with your choice ;)

KMH was designed with larger battles in mind and primarily using ships of the line. Having said that I ran the Battle of Lissa at Cold Wars once, which is a 6v4 frigate battle.

I have both Langton ships and a large collection of Sails of Glory ships which I would recommend for a quick start. I would also second 22ndFoot's recommendation on the paper ships in the Peter Dennis "Trafalgar" book. Quick and inexpensive way to get started, it cost me less than 20 USD on Amazon.

Lastly on the Oak & Iron KS – You won't have any ships until next October at the soonest and it is for an earlier period – 17th century – 1640s to 1670s mostly.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP10 Jan 2019 11:11 a.m. PST

I checked the Langton website but I can't find the prices or how to order.

There's a "how to order" link on most pages of the Langton site, which leads here:

The prices are on every page containing a list of models, stated in pounds (GBP). For the Napoleonic ships, you have to click one of the menu items on the side to get to the sub-page listing the models (like "1:1200 Ships", "Sail Settings", etc.)

Langton's online ordering system is stuck in the 1990s, but works well enough. If you don't feel like dealing with it, you could also try ordering from Brookhurst Hobbies or Waterloo Minis in the US.

- Ix

MrZorro10 Jan 2019 11:24 a.m. PST

Guys, thanks so much to everyone for you support and help. Now I have very good options and I will go with paper models first and then depending on the impact of the game in me and the gaming group we will decide what brand and quality of miniatures to purchase for the long run.

By the way, how does KMH works for more than 2 players? Is the card system a factor to consider? Thanks again.

22ndFoot10 Jan 2019 11:43 a.m. PST

Kiss Me Hardy works very well with multiple players. Nick designed it, at least in part, "for club games where not everyone is a sailing expert."

There are various refinements and scenarios in many of the Lardie specials too.

Good luck with it.

BrianW10 Jan 2019 1:37 p.m. PST

KMH works just fine with multiple players. Unlike many other TFL games, you go through the entire card pack each turn. A player may have to wait to get to his card, but unlike IABSM (for example) there is no "Tea Break" card that stops the turn right then.

It is my go-to set of rules for large engagements. I have run scenarios with 8-10 players. It can be slow for the first couple of turns, but once everyone understands the game it moves pretty quickly.

You can find pictures of my ships on my blog:

Stew art Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2019 2:47 p.m. PST

I see the best people have already been to this thread, but as I only started AoS gaming a little over a year ago, here is some stuff I learned along the way.

Waterloo Miniatures is the best place to buy Langton ships (here in the US). And there are starter sets in there. There is already a link in Yellow Admiral's post. I've bought all my ships from there.

But let me link to War Artizan's rigging tutorial using thread stiffened with glue..

PDF link

I was very intimidated by rigging until I saw this and it's how I've been rigging my ships.

And If I can self promote, my blog has an AoS label and can be seen here:

BrianW's ships are much prettier.

I won't say too much about rules, because what one person likes another doesn't, but in general I've found out two things:

1) there is a difference between rules that are for Fleet actions (with lot of ships per side) and rules for the sea equivalent of skirmish actions (a few ships per side). Some rules kinda straddle the center that can be used for both like KMH; a card can either activate 1 ship or 1 squadron of 3 ships. Rules that are for fleets make managing the ships very easy / abstracted, so you are able to sail several ships at once, but if used with a small amount of ships tend to be unsatisfying because there is not enough detail. Rules for skirmish actions have a LOT of detail in running a ship and then bog down when you have too many ships.

After a year I have a whole 6 ships so far, so I'm still doing skirmish level. The rules I like the best so far are Post Captain by ODGW. All my fleet games have been at conventions.

2) AoS games tend to break down to those that use Hexes and those that don't. both styles have their merits. Hexes is great for larger games and preplotted movement. It's kinda a pain because you can get a sea mat that has hexes and just try to ignore them when using rules that don't use hexes, or you end up getting two mats.

good luck! and enjoy life at sea. Let us know how you get along.


SgtPrylo16 Jan 2019 12:09 p.m. PST

I appreciate the plugs from the esteemed admirals on this thread. MrZorro, I run the Waterloo Minis site. Feel free to ask any questions you might have. You can reach me at waterloominis at yahoo dot com. I carry all the Langton line, and I can tell you if talk to Carol at Langton about ordering, she's going to refer you to myself or Brookhurst just because shipping will be cheaper.

If you have enough interest in the Age of Sail to start, you will get hooked. All the blogs mentioned here are excellent resources, I highly recommend visiting them. Also highly recommend checking out Julian's work that Yellow Admiral linked to. But be warned: Julian's ships far exceed what we mere mortals can accomplish. But you can get an idea of exactly how awesome these ships can be at the pinnacle of our hobby.

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