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"Black Seas from Warlord Games - a flick through the book" Topic

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Arcane Steve19 Sep 2019 7:04 a.m. PST

This weeks blog is a quick look through the latest rules set from Warlord Games. I've just got my hands on a copy of the rules and the demo set.



79thPA Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2019 7:09 a.m. PST

It certainly looks nice.

WarWizard19 Sep 2019 8:07 a.m. PST

That looks really well done. Would like to see how the ships get based.

BillyNM19 Sep 2019 8:58 a.m. PST

Is there any chance they'll sell the ship models separately?

Personal logo taskforce58 Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2019 9:02 a.m. PST

I am not interested in their rules anymore (hence I didn't place a pre-order on any of the starter sets), but I do want to get a few ships.

setsuko19 Sep 2019 11:06 a.m. PST

BillyNM: there are already separate ship model boxes as well as squadron boxes (one for briggs and frigates, one for 3rd rates) not attached to a starter box or a rulebook available on the pre-order page.


coopman19 Sep 2019 4:08 p.m. PST

I hate the way that they market their stuff now. If you want the data cards you have to buy our models. Not playing it! They have burned me for the last time with "Cruel Seas".

Dennis19 Sep 2019 4:17 p.m. PST

BillyNM and taskforce58,

the latest issue of Wargames Illustrated has a frame of the Black Seas ships included with the magazine. See

This would be a relatively inexpensive way the see if you like the ships or not.

Northstar posted an announcement about this on TMP a few days ago, but I can't find it now.

Mister Tibbles19 Sep 2019 5:34 p.m. PST

After especially Cruel Seas, I worry that their rulebooka will be loaded with errors and large errata PDFs. IMO their recent crop of games need more Playtesting and editing. :-(

Dukewilliam Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2019 6:56 p.m. PST

The sprue looks great!

dbander12319 Sep 2019 7:00 p.m. PST

Cruel Seas is a fun game. If you've gamed at all the typos are nothing more the an inconvenience. Have fun.

JAFD2619 Sep 2019 8:33 p.m. PST

Well, at some time in the next five years I hope to diminish my lead mountain sufficiently to justify firing up the printer and turn out the kits from and 86% of original size. Who knows, these rules may still be played then…

Arcane Steve20 Sep 2019 2:56 a.m. PST

Hi There, thanks for the comments. Just a couple of points. If you did click through to read the blog you will see that there are links to the current issue of Wargames Illustrated which has the free ship sprue on the front. We not only send post free worldwide but also allow you to choose whether you would like the Frigate:

or the Brigs:


Lastly, if you are viewing the blog article on a desk top or lap top everything is OK. If you are using an Ipad or Iphone, for some reason the photos's have become inverted…I can only apologise for the glitch and my techy guy is trying to sort as I write. Thanks again!

Major WIttering20 Sep 2019 5:22 a.m. PST

Just to respond to Mr Tibbles point about editing: as a new practice for Warlord, Gabrio Tolentino, Black Seas' author, asked me to review the rules three times during drafting. I've >25 yrs experience of editing/proofing, especially technical dox, and relevant qualifications etc. I gave Warlord a large number (>300) of notes, some trivial, some substantial and I believe they took account of all of them. Which is not to say the book is error free – it's a rare technical document which can make that claim, and I didn't have sight of the final ms (so I have noticed one misplaced apostrophe in the Youtube flick through!) but it's been subjected to a higher level of quality control than any recent Warlord game. I can only comment on the rules themselves as another gamer – I like them – but I'm able to say that these rules have had a professional review beyond which many receive.

Martian Root Canal20 Sep 2019 6:23 a.m. PST

Major Wittering – that's good to hear. It sounds like Warlord is listening after getting slammed about Cruel Seas. I like Cruel Seas, but it had more issues than 'typos' in the initial release. It severely needed some blind play-testing by someone outside of the immediate group working on the game (e.g., torpedo bombers being able to reload during the game LOL).

Things slip through, and no game is perfect. But this is certainly a step in a better direction for Warlord.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2019 10:36 a.m. PST

I expect this to be a shot in the arm for Age of Sail gaming.

Lord Ashram20 Sep 2019 11:08 a.m. PST

I can't wait for this one… something about little ships is just fantastic. My son can't wait for it either, so I expect we'll have some fun battles!

nugrim20 Sep 2019 1:50 p.m. PST

the starter sets look affordable

Mister Tibbles21 Sep 2019 5:56 a.m. PST

Good to hear Major!

4DJones21 Sep 2019 6:33 a.m. PST

If you think the Cruel Seas rulebook was bad, have a look at SPQR.

Crazycoote21 Sep 2019 1:12 p.m. PST

I managed to get a look at the book today. For those expressing a need for caution after Cruel Seas and SPQR, I can only say that your concerns are well founded.

On the positive side, the book is very nice looking with some lovely illustrations, and at first glance the rules seem comprehensive – there are sections covering all the things you would hope for from Fire ships to anchoring & fortifications etc. Everything you would want really. Unfortunately once you read the actual rules under the section headings they are pretty horrible.

1) The writing is clunky – took me and the guys I was with several attempts to untangle the meaning behind the Line of Sight wording – and none of us are total novices.
2) The rules are inconsistent – for example in the first section it tells you the base number on tests is dependent on skill level (6 for inexperienced, 5 for trained, 4 for veteran), but then in the actual rules you use a different system in some places (shooting for example). Some tests are rolling high, some rolling low which confuses my older brain a lot!
3) The sailing rules are fairly lame, as others have mentioned, but the worst of it is you have to measure angles using a widget – but there are no bases in the game to align this – so using the widget is fiddly/best guess. Same applies to arc of fire, which is basically the length of the ship, but you have no base to measure that off…
4) some ships can move up to 18", which makes the recommended 4' by 3' table size feel a little cramped!!!
5) some of the history is just wrong…for example the Sloop is the fastest ship in the game (faster downwind than frigates at full sails!)
6) there are rules that make no sense – "Rules of engagement" for example (optional advanced rule thank heavens). Apparently captains in this period were so honourable that they won't fire on smaller ships (even if that ship is its only viable target…even a fire ship). You have to take a skill test to fire on a smaller ship; in fairness I think I understand what they were trying to achieve (ships in line tried to engage their opposite numbers as a matter of course), but this is just such a bad way to try to represent that and is complete nonesense if you really think about it.
7) I don't know how balanced the rules will be, but there is some cause for concern. Nelson on the Victory adds 3 to shooting tests on a d10 to hit for all ships within 20". A 30% bonus to hit sounds extreme, but the worst of it is that it encourages "stand off" tactics – which is about as non-Nelson as I can imagine
8) the damage to ships and crew is tracked as a single number. That feels unsatisfying…

I could go on, but this feels like another rush job and not play-tested. Please note, I did not play the game, just a good look at the rules/components, and it may play a lot better than it reads, but I am definitely going to wait to see some more reactions before I buy in (particularly at those prices).

I had such high hopes too…

Arcane Steve23 Sep 2019 5:45 a.m. PST

'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off'

Well I should do, BUT

I usually read the posts on TMP and try to avoid responding to negative feedback – after all we have facebook for that pleasure grin so I'll try to keep my responses to some of the comments regarding Black seas to the issues raised. As the comment that prompted this reply was posted both on my original thread and a separate thread ‘Black seas, a word of caution' – the writer appears to have an axe (boarding?) to grind- I felt it appropriate to return the favour.

The first comment that the writing is clunky is somewhat subjective. Patrick O'Brien it isn't, I'll give you that but as a rule book it is quite straight forward. The offending passage that appears to have caused the issue looks straight forward enough to me but I suspect that if the rules were read in conjunction with the pieces on the board it will make sense even to the most jaundiced eye.

The rules are inconsistent….again, a subjective view and misleading. The way I understand the rules are that skill ratings are applied to tests of skill, not generally applied to the rules. As to rolling high for some tests and low for others, I guess that is a personal preference. High rolls to hit in Black Powder, low rolls to pass orders. My old brain must be a bit more nimble than I thought.

The sailing rules are simplified, deliberately so from what I understand. There are only eight points to the wind and the wind strength will tend to be consistent. This is to facilitate the game play. As for the widget, here's a picture. You place it at the stern of your model and rotate the model in the cut out. It doesn't seem too complicated to me. It may not be precise either but is this really an issue in a game with friends?


As for bases, the game is designed to be played without basing your ships. If you want to base them, I don't see why this would be an issue. It would certainly help with firing for those who can't work out where the bow of a ship ends and the Bowsprit starts.

Some ships can move 18 inches, Sloops and cutters. And yes, if you decide to move down wind at full speed without changing direction, you will run out of table pretty quickly if you are using the smaller table. Then again, you could either use a bigger table or maybe use the rudder to alter direction.

Some of the history is wrong…..yes, the number of ship types is reduced to five for game plays sake. But there is a comprehensive list for those new to the period. As to which was the faster ship, a Frigate or Sloop (of war) I'll leave someone else to argue about that. It's a game mechanic to differentiate ship types.

There are rules that make no sense – don't play them then. They are optional and again, this is a game mechanic. It doesn't say that you can't attack smaller ships only that you have to pass a skill test before you do attack.

The rules for HMS Victory are the rules for HMS Victory – if you choose to take that particular ship. There are other special rules for other notable ships. They are all optional and from what I can see are there to add a bit of flavour to your games. If you don't have ‘named' ships, both players will be using the same rules. Sounds balanced to me.

Damage to the ship and crew is tracked by a single number is a simple way of monitoring the fighting effectiveness of the ship. I guess they could have made it more complicated. I can live with my Napoleonic infantry battalions morale being monitored by a single dice so this appeals to my simplistic approach to playing wargames, whether on land or sea.

The final comment is probably the one that prompted my response. ‘This feels like another rush job and not play tested' says a man who has written a critical review without even bothering to play the game. How unjust and what an insult to the writer and all those involved in producing the game. As I have made clear in my blog, I have only played one game and enjoyed the experience. That may change as I play a few more games but for now, I will repeat the view expressed in my blog. The Rule book is nicely produced, well illustrated and supports the beautiful miniatures that Warlord have produced.

I too have high hopes of this game and will approach it with a view to enjoying the game and models. I'll let you know how I get on when I have actually played the game a few more times and built the ships.

Martian Root Canal23 Sep 2019 7:27 a.m. PST

You should have listened to Taylor Swift after all.

He wrote a review with disclaimers about not having played it. So what? Half the game reviews on YouTube do the same thing. His review is a cautionary note about another product from a company that has recently rushed things to market. I for one am glad he wrote it, since I invested heavily in Cruel Seas, only to find I need to refer to a plethora of errata and FAQ responses to play it. It was a rushed production. I love the models, but have turned elsewhere for rules.

Old Contemptible23 Sep 2019 10:57 p.m. PST

I am really burned out over rewriting rules that I payed for, just to make them playable.

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