Fighting Sail is a departure from the previous in that it is the first set of naval rules, set specifically in the majestic Age of Sail ranging from the American Revolution to the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Its in lovely full glossy colour and filled with lots of pictures of models and artwork from Osprey titles.
I was a Napoleonic affectionado two decades or so ago though I’ve barely touched it since. A lack of opponents after moving away from my mates who introduced me, but also because I just couldn’t face up to all those hull boxes, sail boxes, gun boxes and crew boxes anymore. We used to play a bit mostly using Wooden Ships and Iron Men. I still have that boxed game and a big, bulging folder with extra rules, articles and supplements and while I’ve tried (and still have) several other sets of rules, they were just different ways of doing the same hit box ritual.
Fighting Sail is different. You are the Flag Officer commanding the Squadron, not trying to be all the Captains of the ships. Too many rules try to do this, overloading players with detail. You won’t be deciding to double shot guns, load chain or grape shot, or increase sail. The Captains do that for themselves - its what they get paid for after all. That’s quite a different mindset to other Age of Sail games, and the immediate reaction is 'why can’t I do xxx’. The answer is that it is happening, but you as the Commodore/Admiral don’t care and the how too much (and frankly wouldn't know either), just what the outcome is. If you can get your head around that then everything falls into place and the streamlined elegance of the rules becomes clear.
|Fighting Sail lets you play fleet actions like this (Trafalgar 1805) and not get bogged down with more than 3 or 4 ships.|
A simple but effective Fleet building system also provides differentiated traits and skills for the different nations' Captains and Admirals. This makes the British quite different in flavour to the Yanks, Spaniards, French and Russians. Each nation also has a selection of legendary Admirals and Ships for those who want Nelson and Victory or Decatur and the Constitution in their Fleet.
What doesn’t it have? Campaign rules- rather simple and its curious that something that should only be 3-4 pages was omitted. I can see campaign settings being relatively simple to generate (e.g. Brit/France in the Caribbean, War of 1812) in which the different costs can be skewed to reflect specific availabilities and circumstances.
Overall, just reading these rules got me excited about a period I've long not thought about. So much so that I’ve spent the day scouring the net looking at different model ranges and trying not IF to buy, but what scale and how many...
If you have any interest in the period and want to try it out, or are looking for a set of rules that let you manoeuvre fleets and squadrons instead of getting bogged down with only 3 or 4 ships, then give Fighting Sail a look.
|The Battle of Athos, 1807 - for the ambitious gamer!|