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Friday, March 19, 2004

A closer look at the "Generals-at-Sea" rules

I have had an opportunity, finally, to give Iain Stanford's General-at-Sea rules a closer examination. In some ways, since he uses the concept of a "stand", there is something of the flavor of Napoleonic miniatures (or whatever your favorite period is). I was particularly impressed by his dealing with the mechanics of sailing ships.

My tendency would be to handle some issues differently. For example, my reading of the use of fireships would separate them more from the commanders. The Dutch, at least, would have them grouped (in General-at-Sea terms) on their own "stand".

I can see that Iain has concentrated on providing mechanisms to allow players to set up and game their own scenarios, independent of history. Since I have more detailed information, generally, about factors like wind direction and time of day, I would incorporate that, rather than trusting to chance.

For playability's sake, General-at-Sea takes some steps towards simplifications that we would find in board games, rather in miniature sailing naval warfare rules. I can't say that it is wrong, as it makes playing some of the larger scenarios feasible, retaining at least a semblance of the right "flavor".

My tendancy is towards less simplification, which is why I have not found miniatures sailing naval warfare gaming feasible. Iain's approach is as good as any I have seen, for making larger battles possible. I am still holding out for less simplification (although that may not be possible).

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