Saturday, July 8, 2017

Avast me hearties... tried out Sails of Glory..

About a year ago, I bought Sails of Glory by Ares Games and finally got around to playing it today with my friend Jim.

I was looking forward to playing some ship combat these last couple of days. I love the Age of Sail, especially the Pirate Age. I am not too big of a Napoleonic Wars fan, unlike many of the gaming podcasts I listen to, except the naval battles back then.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Horatio Hornblower series, and eat up the old Royal Navy traditions like a spoon..

I sent Jim this photo message last night to get him in the mood.. and yes, I had to google what 2 o'clock was in nautical terms. I'm an old Army guy, not Navy alas..

Sails of Glory is a collectible miniature game that comes with pre-painted miniatures, which is great, as I personally have a 10 year lead pile of other stuff to paint. The paint jobs are not bad for the $10 U.S. you're spending for each booster..  The starter box comes with 4 ships (2 small ships and 2 capital ships) evenly divided between the French and British side.

Nice snug storage I might add..

The system uses the Flight Path system, which is used in different variations.. Games like X-Wing, Attack Wing, etc.. In Sail's Flight Path mechanic, you plan ahead 2 turns, and your plans will be implemented no matter what, even if it results in collisions, or the enemy ship is port even though you loaded your starboard guns, etc.. Lots of things can go wrong as it becomes partially a guessing game as in all the flight path games and that's what makes them so fun.

Sails of Glory seems to be a bit more comprehensive than say, X-wing or Attack wing though, but not too complex.. there is more to do for sure.. damage for instance, isn't just generic damage.. there is hull damage of course, but then there is special damage like fires, leaks, broken masts and rudder damage. You need to allocate repairs to fix leaks and fires, but also later on need to do further repair work such as pumping out water.  This is a lot more comprehensive than Attack Wing, where it's basically just shields and hull damage.

Here are the counters to perform some of those actions.. I've listed what actions need to be planned beside each counter.

Movement has more variations than the other flight path games.. There seems to be more subtle movement variations than the other flight path games and it's complicated by the wind.. The wind direction is very important in this game.  Every turn, you have to align your wind gauge to the wind direction in relation to the centre mast of the ship.. Every ship is bordered by red, orange or green lines.. if the wind gauge is over:

  • a red line, you are "taken aback"
  • orange line, you are "beating" into the wind
  • green line, you are "reaching" into the wind

The colour and how much sails you have unfurled determine how your ship will move, as demonstrated on your movement cards, which you usually put in front of your ship. (Two red line situations results in using a red card to drift backwards, not usually a good thing).

We got the hang of it in the first game we played, which was just the open sea and our two small ships..

Ship damage from our guns is colour-coded by range using a range ruler.. Short range is usually chain-shot to cut sails and masts, and grapeshot against sailors, while the longer yellow range is less effective cannonballs but can still cause damage like pesky leaks.

The luck mechanism in this game is through damage which is done in an old fashioned blind chit-pulling way; colour-coded by range and type (musket fire are the blue chits for instance).

All of the damage and actions are done by your individual ship boards, with each ship repair work, damage, pre-planned movement and actions are recorded.  It is on these boards you record everything..

One ship board is not bad to manage, but two of them, each with their own counters and planned actions, *and* their own separate movement decks which you can't mistakenly mix, can get a bit fiddly. Jim and I agreed that more than 2 ships to keep track of, and it can get nuts.

In our second game, we faced off with 2 islands between us..

In a two ship per side game, there is even more depth than just 1 ship vs 1 ship.. You appreciate just how you need to keep your faster ship close by the much slower bigger ship as you can see by the movement cards that the former will get get further away every turn from the latter if you don't trim your sails.

You also need to coordinate turning together correctly with the same movement cards to get the best effect by bringing both ships guns at the same time, *and* also avoid colliding with your own guys.

This is easier said than done when you throw in the enemy movements, changing wind direction, islands, damage etc..

Jim and I headed for each other at first..

but I couldn't turn fast enough as the wind was against me, and he pounded me at yellow range.. I took damage without hitting him back at first..

Then I got alongside him in the narrow channel mistakenly where I was at a disadvantage with the wind and the island constraining me.. Still, we both opened up point blank and let each other have it..

I broke 2 of his masts and he mowed down my sailors.. If I broke one more of his masts, that ship would have surrendered.

To make matters worse, we got entangled.. that is, our sails and masts got jammed between us, so we couldn't move.. it was thus going to end in a slug-fest.. but his smaller ship, which narrowly avoiding getting entangled as well, fired her guns by barely tracing an LOS to my ship and killed my remaining crew.

My other ship was still alive and kicking, but it barely missed the island and was going to face off against 2 enemy ships, so I conceded to end the evening.

All in all, this is not a bad game. I like the theme and setting and will want to try it again. Once you get a hang of it, it is not that complex and there is lots of replayability.

I do want to get the terrain pack though,  to add shore batteries and such and try out the very Horatio Hornblower-ish scenarios.

1 comment:

  1. The screams of the sailors aboard your man-o-war as they begged me to accept their surrender was truly satisfying... as was the whimpering of those aboard your frigate as it ran away!