Mar 012013

Today’s article is by a long time friend of mine who is looking to dip his toes into the waters of self publishing. This is just a little teaser he’s written for a product that will be available soon on DriveThruStuff. As soon as it’s up there, Ill update this post and let you all know. For now, take a read of what Ian has to say. As a point of interest, I was in the epic RPG finale he mentions below, and can attest to how much fun it was to take control of a ship in a full sized naval encounter.

I wrote the first version of the “England Expects…” Naval Wargame Rules back in 2005 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, and also to demonstrate them at various war games shows up and down the country.

They have progressed and developed through three versions over the years, to suit my requirements at the time; a hex-based system for ease of instant participation by novices, multiple dice and single dice systems as the whim took me, even as a multi-player three-ship finale to a pseudo-historical action and adventure RPG that I was running at the time. Now in their fourth incarnation and ready for promotion and sale to wargamers and Role-Players alike.

This is a fun set of ‘fast-play’ rules that allow you to re-fight larger size naval battles of the late 18th and early 19th century from six to thirty-six ships, or even more!

The rules are specifically designed to highlight the dilemmas of the higher echelons of command rather than deal with the complex intricacies of sailing such vessels, as faced by their crews. Nor are we concerned with the specific accuracy, ranges and size/type of ammunition used in cannon fire.

There are plenty of rule systems on the market which can provide you with this level of detail, but I feel it simply slows down the game thus deadening the ‘feel’ of a fraught and hard fought battle between huge wooden ships and iron men upon a harsh sea shrouded in the smoke of cannon fire, littered with floating wreckage of hull and sail, and the shattered bloody bodies of the dead. No, mine is a game for the imagination, not the slide-rule.

Each player will take command of a Squadron of at least three ships. A number of squadrons make up the Fleet, which the main player would ultimately command in the role of the Admiral.

Game play uses both dice (multiple regular d6), and a tailored sets of cards, in order to determine such aspects of the game as initiative, the results of broadside fire, boarding actions and crew morale, etc.

The Appendices to the main rules provide all of the ancillary components – counters and cards – required to play the “In the Spirit of Trafalgar” scenario which is a smaller version of the actual Battle of Trafalgar, using the derived statistics of half of the ships present on that day.

Examples of how the squadron/ship Log is filled in and marked off during the game as damage is accrued are also included within the text of the rules.

The Fate Cards were introduced to provide some additional degree of uncertainty (and control in some cases) to the game, beyond the Initiative Cards. Players may create their own tailored to suit specific nations and battles or events.

A series of Naval Expressions can be found at the end of the rules as an option to add fun and flavour to the game!

These are my own set of rules, used at my various club meetings, and were publicly demonstrated at the Pudsey Recon Kerriemuir Targe, and Newark Partizan wargame shows over a four-year period, using balsa and paper ships supplied by History Alive ( I have recently also used metal castings from the 1/1200 Navwar Napoleonic range available from Spirit Games, for play-testing purposes, which also work quite well with care. 

Here are the sections covered in the rules: Scales & measures, Game Set-Up, Random Encounters, Squadron Log Sheet, Officers, Warships, Crew, Basic Ship Data, The Game Turn, Sailing & Tacking, Broadside Fire, Officer Survival, Crew Morale Checks, Grappling, Boarding Actions, Prize Crews, End of Turn, Winning & Losing, Naval Expressions, Basic Markers, Commander Markers, National Flags, Fate Cards, Scenario Order of Battle, Scenario Battle Set-Up, Scenario Initiative Cards, and the Wind Direction Marker.

Thanks for your interest.

Ian F White