Thursday, April 14, 2016

Fighting Sail

I was out at Bruce's on Tuesday for a second game of Fighting Sail (an Osprey set). I recall quite liking the rules the first time we played. The mechanics are very slick with variable movement, easy combat and simple damage tracking.

Things started out okay, with both fleets running with the wind towards contact.

Then things got really good as my rolls turned hot and one of Bruce's ships took a real pounding. We had a coupe of ships disintegrate after a combination of close-range rakes and hot dice. I wonder if the ships were a bit brittle? But so far so good.

Then we ran into a real mechanical problem. The ability of the ships to fall with the wind means that when the game gets into a knife fight, whichever player rolls lower on initiative (and goes second) has a huge advantage. We had turn after turn of rakes as the "loser" in the initiative roll swung into the best position. While the initiative winner fires first, if you are getting raked, you don't have much of a target!

This seems to be a design error (as one of the "advantages" you can have is a great admiral who can increase your initiative roll--pretty much the last thing you want). We couldn't figure out an easy fix (which was too bad as the rest of the mechanics are awesome. Maybe simultaneous orders? But that is hard to incorporate give the variable move distances each ship gets each turn.

I had fun and all but this seems like a pretty major (and obvious) issue with the rules (unless we were playing them incorrectly--but I don't think that was the case).


  1. Cool battle. Made my list of the week's best:

  2. Yup, bought and tried these rules and shelved them. Simple mechanics that showed promise but poor statistical development. Shelved them after too many random combat results simile to what you experienced. For similar complexity I use It Is Warm Work with minor mods. Also use other rules that are simpler but go up the complexity scale from there.

  3. Not familiar with this rule set, but spit balling solutions at you. Is it possible to modify it to something of an individual initiative? Examples being Dux Britanurm with the card system for who goes first or This is not a Test where you sort of kind of alternate, or even Bolt action where you get a die per model and pull them out of a bag to decide who gets to move a model. While I still enjoy Saga with it's your turn my turn system, I am finding more and more attraction to the not being sure who gets to go next games, and regularly look at how to implement that into games to make them more interesting (combat is not something you have full control over, especially not in a time without radios).

    1. That might well work--I'd need to think about how this might interact with other mechanics.