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First Look: Black Seas

unknown member writes:

I've been debating this set for a quite a while. Perhaps I should man-up, grow a pair and take the plunge.


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25 October 2019page first published

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unknown member writes:

I'm making my first examination of Warlord Games' starter set for their Black Seas Age of Sail game, Master & Commander.

Master and Commander

My set arrived well-packaged in a large box, shrinkwrapped, the only damage being a slight dent on the front (under the 'B' in Black Seas). It's a heavy box! Here's a look at what's inside:

Master and Commander contents

The contents are enumerated on the box bottom, and that's it – there's nothing in the box to specifically explain everything in the starter set and what it's for.

Generic frigate sprue

There are six sprues in this set, of two types: generic frigates (one ship per sprue) and generic brigs (two ships per sprue). You get enough to build three frigates and six brigs. Be careful unpacking these, as some of the small parts may detach (I found one in the bottom of the box).

Generic brigade sprue

There's also a sheet of assembly instructions, one side for frigates and one side for brigs. Just the basic assembly, nothing about sails, ratlines or rigging; nothing about painting.

Assembly instructions

There are three baggies: one holds a spool of thread for rigging the ships, another holds dice (eight 10-sided in red, blue and black, two small 6-sided, and one red 3-sided), and the third holds wool (for marking smoke and fire).


Then there's a resealable plastic bag of stuff…

Bag of stuff

…which contains ship cards, pre-punched color sails, pre-punched wake cards, flagsheets (one British and one French), and a card of ratlines.

Stuff in the bag

Then comes a shrinkwrapped set of three diecut punchboards…

Punchboard set

…which, when punched out, give you a selection of markers, play-aids, rulers, and cardboard terrain.


There's a folded, A0-size, double-sided paper gamemat. (According to the internet, A0 size is 841mm x 1189mm.) One side is darker than the other, perhaps to represent Atlantic versus Mediterranean.

Master and Commander

And, finally, the 96-page softcover rulebook. While this book was not designed specifically to go with this starter set, it does include explanations of some of the contents: ship cards (page 5), tokens and wool (page 6), wake markers (page 11), and the turning gauge (page 12). Pages 90-91 explain how to use the thread to rig the ships, but you'll have to explore their website to find how to use the sails, flags or ratlines. Pages 92-92 provide a painting guide.

Master and Commander

Scenarios 1-4 and 6 from the rulebook can be played with the ship mix in the starter set.