“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.
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.
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.
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!