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Saturday, May 15, 2004

What I would like to see

I have two alternative visions of what I would like for 17th-Century naval wargaming. One vision includes a better computer simulator for fighthing battles. The other is a set of quick play rules that allows for fighting large battles with individual ships.

The computer simulator approach seems to be heading more for role-playing and high-definition graphics, which is nice. There is a new game under development called Pirates of the Burning Sea. The game will require a very high-end PC. The game is meant to be played as an ongoing, networked game, with many players. The nice thing about it is that it includes 17th Century ship types.

The thing that is less appealing is that it doesn't seem to accommodate solo playing of battles with large fleets. Privateers Bounty, at least, allows battles to be fought with 40-some ships per side. That was large by 18th and 19th Century standards, although not be 17th Century standards, where there battles between over a 100 ships per side.

Even though a computer simulator would seem to be the best option (after you have tried Privateers Bounty with my 17th Century scenarios, perhaps you would be able to see why), that seems to be a forelorn hope. I have never been able to get Akella to answer an e-mail.

That seems to leave some sort of quick-play rules for miniatures as the only viable option. A good option is Iain Stanford's General-at-Sea rules. I thought that there had been a page on the Pike and Shot Society's site that showed these publications, but there is not now such a page. Geert-Jan Kruijff's old site has a link to a pre-publication version of the rules. David Manley's rules, Form Line of Battle, isn't intended for large scale battles, although they are an alternative.

In miniatures land warfare, you don't have the bookkeeping burden, at least in the sort of battles that I have gamed. I must admit that I have fought North African battles with guns and tanks on the scale of 1:4, rather than 1:1, so maybe my desire to fight with fleets of single ships on a 1:1 basis is not reasonable. What I would like, and have wanted for the last decade, were a set of rules that minimized bookkeeping, but kept the right flavor to a 17th Century naval battle in its play.

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