Yes, those jerks finally found a chink in my armor. Alas, it was a Galleon sized chink in my armor.. a boxed fantasy naval warfare game, years after Man o’ War, the one Games Workshop game that I lusted after back in the glory days– only to find out it was out in the American market for all of six weeks or something like that. So, yes, indeed.. Games Workshop has produced something that has kinda sorta made me go back on my self-imposed boycott of their pricey products. Sorry, can’t help it. It’s a fantasy naval combat game. With cool bits. and great looking ships.. all in a huge scale not too dissimilar to my extensive Uncharted Seas fleets. I was hooked! In my defense, I didn’t give GW the money directly, I went through a reseller– knowing that like all secondary or limited edition games, it was buy now or buy never.
So my spine isn’t entirely made of jello. Right? Right?
To business: The game is DREADFLEET. It appears to be similar to old Man o’ War, but the focus and scope of the older game has shifted dramatically– the ships are much larger and individualized, not fleets. The focus of the mechanics appears to be single ship engagements, as in one to one pirate ship battles. They could easily work in the 1:600 Uncharted Seas Scale. Like many Games Workshop products, they are lovely, gothic, imposing and weird. I did stop by a group playing a game of it tonight and the mechanics seem a lot simpler than Man O War was, but frankly that was back in the 90s and I can’t remember how the game played, to be honest. I can’t really comment on the mechanics as the players were trying to figure it all out and going very slow.
Description: Dreadfleet is a boxed game for two (or more) players that includes everything you need to make war on the turbulent seas of the Warhammer world. At your command are two fleets of ships – the Dreadfleet led by the Vampire Count Noctilus, aboard his gargantuan sea-hulk the Bloody Reaver; and the Grand Alliance commanded by the Pirate Captain Jaego Roth, who recently stole the Heldenhammer – the pride of the Imperial Fleet, and one of the largest galleons to ever sail the high seas.
As your ships engage in furious battle, it’s down to you, the fleet captain, to make important split-second decisions. Do you bring all guns to bear on the closest enemy warship, or do you sail into position for a furious broadside? What happens when the warship catches fire, or worse, the powder kegs ignite? Exactly how much punishment can your warship take before it sinks without a trace? Are those Undead seagulls or flying piranha fish? And, when all else fails, do you have the courage to ram your foe, board their ship, and engage them in a duel to the death? — GW Dreadfleet website”
Here’s some visuals:
Games Workshop is claiming they didn’t rush this to market to compete with Uncharted Seas and that (furthermore) they don’t much care what Spartan Games gets up to. I think otherwise. I think this is designed to compete directly with Uncharted Seas by eating into their market share with a release of a reprise of the grandaddy of fantasy naval games. It’s all about name recognition, right?