Wow! That was a year that went very quickly! In September of last year I penned a blog post about some ideas for - and here follows the link - Napoleonic Naval Wargaming using an old set of rules from the early to mid 1970s. These were called Ship 'O the Line and were written by the well known game designer, the late S. Craig Taylor. I am a huge fan of his work which also includes such games as Air Force and its expansions, Flat Top and Wooden Ships and Iron Men.
I am not about to repeat the previous blog post verbatim although I will reference one of the comments I received and apologise profusely for not following up on the request raised! The ignored party will know who they are (and apologies once more!).
I finally got around to organising the printed copy I have of the rules into the appropriate folder and naturally whilst doing so I skimmed through them. When I say skimmed through that is of course David Crook-ese for 'read from cover to cover'.
Several things struck me. To begin with, 'back in the day' the nautical chapter of the denizens of the sadly defunct Newham Wargames Club routinely used these rules for large actions. For sure you had to write individual orders for each ship but it never seemed to be the cause of massive delays in the running of an action. Looking at the rules now I am thinking that they are perhaps best suited for squadron sized actions or smaller because they are rather detailed.
Having said that the rule book is rather deceptive. It is some 32 pages long but half of this consists of optional rules and there is also a several pages of ship names and suggested ship characteristics for each nation - which goes way beyond the usual British, French, Spanish and American to include the Baltic fleets, Holland, Portugal, some of the Italian States, Russia and Turkey.
The rules themselves are easy enough to use although they are quite chart and factor heavy - this is a regular feature of Craig Taylor's designs - and I suspect that writing orders for individual ships may seem like a chore these days. Personally I have no problem with this although it would present some challenges for solo play.
Where is all this going? Well, there are a couple of things I have been thinking about at a low level. To begin with there is the forthcoming launch of the new Warlord Games age of sail wargame - Black Seas. The models for this are large - 1:700th scale I believe - and the focus of the game appears to be lower level actions - lower level in terms of the number of ships on the table that is. I could see myself using the models with the Ship 'O the Line rules as the numbers needed would be quite modest which is in keeping with my current 'low level naval action' ethos.
The Napoleonic naval section of my library is poised and ready for when Black Seas appears and the models certainly look nice. Cobbling up a couple of forces of around half a dozen ships or so would be an interesting project and is one that is certainly on the menu for due consideration.