Galley Warfare: A Roman Seas game at Fall In 2009

“Anyone can steer the ship when the sea is calm” –Publius Syrus

I managed to skeeve my way into a game of ROMAN SEAS, a game of galley warfare at Fall IN 09 on Saturday in the AM.  The GM was Mr. Brian Cantwell, a fan of the Roman Seas system and a builder of the paper galley figures. Long term readers of this blog may recall ancient galley warfare is a favorite period for me.

Ram Speed line of battle...

I liked the rules, which are far more simple than, say, Naumachiae, but more complex than the old metagaming Ram Speed or NavWar’s galley warfare rules. A nice balance of realism and playability. Eric Hotz’s rules work very well, they emphasize the current speed of the ship being activated as well as the experience levels of the respective ships in action. I would definitely play these rules again.

The Saxons and Imperials shake it up some

By far and away, the gem of this event was the paper galley miniatures published by Hotz Artworks. They are amazing… fantastic detail, lovely scale to work with, and with proper care and attention and effort put into constructing them, one of the most affordable methods of creating a galley fleet I know of. Each CD of ships comes with a pretty thorough order of battle for Romans, Carthaginians, and Saxon. So for about 20 USD you get a set of PDFs that can generate as many fleets as you like. The mind boggles at what a great bargain this is. I inquired of the GM about his method of creating ships. He prints the ships out (no rescaling) on 8.5 by 11 color paper, then takes it to kinkos to have it laminated on heavy (800 weight is what I heard) card stock. Then he cuts the ships out and mounts them on a piece of cut wood he uses specialty bases made out of hardboard, but basswood is possible, too.

Attack of Dewey LaRochelle's Imperial Liburnian Squadron

As far as the game went, I did reasonably well– charging my squadron of rebel/separatist Liburnians (all experienced, except one veteran) into the opposing Imperial line. Dewey LaRochelle was on the opposite side, running one flank of the Imperials, facing a Saxon Fleet allied to the Rebels. The Southern Imperial commander formed line and I charged his left flank of the line, raking one ship’s oars, engaging in missile fire, and attempting ram across the line. This isn’t a subtle situation.

Two of my ram attempts worked, one did not and one did not have the impetus to crash in the first turn, so instead went in for the oar rake and some missile fire mayhem as we sailed past. Grapples in the subsequent turns were hit and miss. I did manage to connect (or be connected by) imperial ships and managed to board and do some damage. Alas, Dewey got tired of slapping around the Saxons and detached a fresh squadron of Liburnians to head south to help his colleage admiral. That changed the odds drastically. My squadron was struck in the flank by Dewey’s squadron and pretty much disintegrated. Such are the fortunes of war!

The GM declared it a marginal Imperial victory and handed out prizes. A fun time was had by all who played!



  1. Walt,

    Glad you enjoyed the game. You were doing a good job out on the end of the line , but when Dewey’s fresh squadron came roaring around there was little you could do. I thought it was a great thing that even later in the game, a frsh unit committed to action could maneuver into place to change the outcome.

    One clarification on my construction methods – I laminate the printout to the card stock myself using spray adhesive.


  2. Hexes on my mat are 4.5″. I chose that size over the 5″ hexes Eric Hotz uses so that I could cram a couple of more hexes of maneuver space onto a 6′ wide table. So far, all of the ships I have made fit onto those hexes well enough, although the long monoremes hang over their single hex a little lit. I suspect that if I were to get the Marc Anthony ships (with models up to 10’s), they may hang over a little as well.

  3. That fresh squadron spent the whole beginnning of the game trying to get into formation, not sure where it would be needed. As the Saxons were being fairly well contained with missile fire and a few well placed rams (and falling for the bait of the smallest ship on the table to go tackle) I did not need them to support the command squadron. That left them free to manuever around the flank. I was very shocked to get into position and have the whole rebel fleet laid out in front of me as sitting ducks with their sides exposed. Almost like we planned it.

  4. Unfortunately for the rebels, the Saxon player utilized a mix of one part dithering and one part unlucky dice. Without rams or significant missile weapons, he has to bring the Romans into a general scrum ASAP. The Saxon player had 38 light Marines and 10 heavies compared to ~25 or so light marines in the command squadron that Dewey commanded. He didn’t break his ships out of their pack into a line so that he could maximize his grappling attempts and so Dewey beat him piecemeal with just the command squadron. Good job Dewey.

    Unfortunately, in the three convention runnings of the game, no one has aggressively utilized the Saxons such that their melee power played a significant role

Comments are closed.