I’ve been toying with the idea of naval wargaming for some time. I’ve always been fascinated by sea battles and as a teenager, I played GW’s Man o’War, a fantasy naval game that was great fun. However, this time I wanted something more historical. The medieval naval project that I started with scratchbuilding a cog is something special, as I intend to use it for small-scale actions with 15mm figures. So what else?
It was K. who proposed napoleonic, as she really liked the battle scenes in the movie Master & Commander. Ready to oblige, I looked into the miniatures available. For me, two options were interesting: 1/1200 or 1/2400. I pondered the pros and cons of each for a while. K. argued for 1/1200 as the ships look really nice, but then she wouldn’t be the person doing the rigging! I was very doubtful if I could get this done. Although I don’t mind modelling small stuff, once it gets too fiddly, there is a point when I lose my patience – and once it’s lost, it’s gone for good. Also, transporting 1/1200 ships seems to be a nightmare and I had the idea of making the naval game suitable for taking with us on travels – after all, there is no need for terrain, a blue table cloth, some dice and a couple of ships will do. However, the decision really presented itself when I calculated the cost of the models: Langton 1/1200 with the full monty (brass etched ratlines etc.) are lovely, but quite expensive (and those are the ones I would have gone for)! Too expensive, I thought, for throwing a tantrum when trying to thread thin nylon string around tiny masts.
So I went for 1/2400 and ordered five third rates from Tumbling Dice. The models are larger than I thought and have stunning detail, so I am very happy with the choice. Also, Tumbling Dice has great costumer service. When I made a mistake ordering, Paul immediately helped a landlubber get his bearings!
The ships come with sails that have to be attached to the masts. This was no problem once I discarded superglue and discovered the joys of a two part epoxy glue. They also come with a nice scenic base. In the photos, you can see a French line consisting of a 74 and two 80s and two British 74s. The French have superior numbers, but the British have superior crews, so this should even out. And yes, I did some rigging by glueing bristles of an old broom onto the masts, and when I did it I was very glad that I wouldn’t have to do more than that.
Rules wise, there were only two sets that interested me: One was Trafalgar from Warhammer Historical. As I said, I have fond memories of Man o’War and those rules seem to be based on the old game. However, it’s out of print and second hand copies are quite expensive; also, I have read that they tend to give some dubious results from a historical point of view. So I decided to go for Kiss me Hardy by TooFatLardies. Now I am something of a Lardies fan and very much enjoy their approach to wargaming. After reading that you don’t have to have any knowledge of sailing to play the game, I was sold. I had a quick preliminary read and they look solid and fun. I am looking forward to giving the little ships some action!
Also, for those of you thinking ‘What, he started another project?!’ – this is no new project, just a little diversion. The real new project will be coming soon enough, and it’s going to be big…