Help support TMP

"Napoleonic Naval Rules" Topic

18 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

In order to respect possible copyright issues, when quoting from a book or article, please quote no more than three paragraphs.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Napoleonic Naval Painting Guides Message Board

Back to the Age of Sail Message Board

Areas of Interest

18th Century
19th Century

Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Link

Featured Ruleset

Volley & Bayonet

Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star 

Featured Showcase Article

Oddzial Osmy's 15mm Teutonic Crossbowmen 1410

The next Teutonic Knights unit - Crossbowmen!

Featured Workbench Article

Painting 6mm Baccus Napoleonic British Infantry

After many years of resisting the urge to start a Napoleonic collection, Monkey Hanger Fezian takes the plunge!

Featured Profile Article

The Simtac Tour

The Editor is invited to tour the factory of Simtac, a U.S. manufacturer of figures in nearly all periods, scales, and genres.

1,145 hits since 6 Feb 2022
©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

TMP logo


Please sign in to your membership account, or, if you are not yet a member, please sign up for your free membership account.
Robert Burke06 Feb 2022 11:40 p.m. PST

I'm looking for a set of Napoleonic naval rules (for 1/1200th ships) that does not require a hex or grid map. Does anyone know of such a set of rules?

setsuko07 Feb 2022 2:06 a.m. PST

Two rulesets that don't use hexes or grids:

In production – Warlord Games Black Seas. It's for roughly 1:600-1:800 but I'm pretty sure you could adjust it.

Out of production – Warhammer Ancients Trafalgar.

Dexter Ward07 Feb 2022 2:52 a.m. PST

Black Seas
Post Captain
Form line of action
Kiss me Hardy
Fighting Sail

Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP07 Feb 2022 3:45 a.m. PST

Avpid Warhammer – Trafalgar, it is full of ahistorical stuff, "odd" mechanics and goofy probabilities.

The other suggestions are good though. I'd add "Sails of Glory", although its designed for use with its own range of models.

khanscom07 Feb 2022 4:54 a.m. PST

"Don't Give Up the Ship"

setsuko07 Feb 2022 5:02 a.m. PST

David: I found Trafalgar to be pretty beginner friendly though, and I still have a Wargames Illustrated issue with a whole bunch of house rules that fixed many of the odder things in the game. Worth a try if you find it, though it's pretty rare afaik.

Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian07 Feb 2022 9:15 a.m. PST

One question: Are you looking for "big ship rules" or "little ship rules"?

Many of the "big ship rules" compress at the lower end… meaning mechanics wise it is impossible to really get a feel for the difference between say a 10 gun Brig and an 18 gun sloop.

On the other hand, many of the "little ship rules" become very cumbersome when you start expanding into big ships.

Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP07 Feb 2022 12:03 p.m. PST

Trafalgar is beginner friendly in that it's a very simple set if rules. Unfortunately it's flawed and brings the wrong learning outcomes if you want to go on to a more realistic set. The issues were actually not difficult to resolve, but they weren't and the author was very resistant to discussion on those points. Fortunately not many if them were carried forward into Black Seas

dantheman Supporting Member of TMP07 Feb 2022 12:33 p.m. PST

There are a ton of rules. You want detailed? Simple? Fleet actions? Ship on ship actions? Too many to list and everyone has a favorite.

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP07 Feb 2022 1:35 p.m. PST

David: I found Trafalgar to be pretty beginner friendly though
FWIW, Robert Burke isn't a beginner. grin

I would also add Fighting Sail to the list of beginner-friendly but ahistorical sets.

Virtualscratchbuilder asks a good question worth considering. I would add another: lots of ships or just a few?

Most AoS rules stress out the players or bog down with more than a few ships per player; if you want to play large battles with 2-3 dozen ships per side, your options narrow down considerably. Adding in the requirement for gridless play leaves only a couple options I can think of:

  • Form Line of Battle by David Manley (Hi David!)
  • Signal Close Action Fast Play by Rod Langton

Both allow a single player to push around maybe a dozen ships with reasonable speed, at the expense of the ships feeling a bit generic. FLOB is a bit time consuming with a movement roll for each ship every turn; SCA-FP really needs the GM to develop good rosters and is perhaps a bit too bloody.

If you don't mind limiting the players to 1-3 ships each, I think Dexter Ward's list stands, and I would only add:

  • 74 by Steve Marthinsen
  • Ship Of The Line (or Wooden Ships & Iron Men) without the grid (not really that hard to do).

- Ix

John Leahy Supporting Member of TMP07 Feb 2022 4:24 p.m. PST

It's Warm Work on Wargame Vault is a set that readily handles medium to larger actions.



pvernon Supporting Member of TMP07 Feb 2022 5:03 p.m. PST

"Heart Of Oak" Fantasy Game Unlimited on Drivethru RPG.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP08 Feb 2022 3:55 a.m. PST

Trafalgar: "…a Wargames Illustrated issue with a whole bunch of house rules that fixed many of the odder things in the game."

David Manley, didn't you write these house rules for Trafalgar?

Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP08 Feb 2022 5:39 a.m. PST

I did :) That was a loooong time ago

setsuko08 Feb 2022 6:40 a.m. PST

Great job, I only played Trafalgar with those house rules. :) Still keep the copy at hand.

BrianW09 Feb 2022 9:57 a.m. PST

Mr. Manley is too polite to mention it, but his Far Distant Ships rules set is worth looking at if you want large battles. Written for 1/2400 scale models, but he tells you how to make it work with 1/1200.

As with all "large battle" rules sets, the ships can feel kind of generic. However, if you are trying to portray fleet level decisions then you honestly don't want the fine details of every ship in your force.

Stalkey and Co13 Feb 2022 10:29 a.m. PST

I think the key is what Original Poster is looking for.

For small ship actions, I think Heart of Oak is nicely done.

For larger actions, it depends on how much time you have.

I have been intrigued by many games that are out there, and lately have been checking out a super-interesting set of posts about Fighting Sail [mentioned by Yellow Admiral above] that are here:

Like Wooden Ships and Iron Men [a classic most of us have played], they are on a grid, but it is easy to make the grid disappear for miniatures. One thing I especially like is FS uses a square with 8 movement directions, which is better than the 6 directions of a hex game, IMHO.

If one is intending to play large fleet actions, then I suggest "Admirals" by Jeffrey Knudsen, War Artisan, which are free and are here:

Happy Sailing!

Blutarski24 Feb 2022 12:10 p.m. PST

I cannot recall whether it was DGUTS or WS&IM, but I do remember that the gunnery rules of at least one of those rule sets was such that the optimum engagement tactic for the British was to stand off at long range and pummel their French and Spanish opponents into submission.

Ahhhh … the good old days.


Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.