Thursday, 15 October 2015

War Galley

It's been a long time since I played a hex-wargame on a paper mat with cardboard counters, and last night I realised why. It's fiddly, complicated and the markings on the pieces are difficult to read. However, there were enough positives from the game of War Galley to think that it might translate effectively to the tabeltop with models. In particular, I am convinced that hexes are the appropriate medium for rules involving ramming, raking, grappling and so on. It just makes crystal clear what actions are permitted and what aren't.

What was less than crystal clear was the prose in which the rules were written. Richard H. Berg (not to be confused with the Richard Borg who wrote Memoir '44, which I played the previous day) may be prolific, but it hasn't made what he writes easier to understand. In fact it may be part of the problem because there could perhaps be an assumption that one has played other games and is familiar with some of the conventions.

The game is part of the Great Battles of History [GBoH] series. Let me quote from the blurb on Boradgamegeek: "What is best about War Galley is how easy it is to play -- the rules are about half the length of the usual GBoH game -- and that means that most battles can be complete in several hours, at the most". Only several hours; sounds tempting. In the event our game lasted much less time as all my galleys got sunk. Games that rely on spatial awareness are really not my forte.

We had played the whole game getting the rules for failed ram attempts completely wrong and that may have altered the flow of the battle, although not I suspect the eventual outcome. We eschewed missile fire in this test run and every grappling attempt failed - another thing that may have changed if we'd played the ramming rules correctly - so there was no boarding. Also the command and control element seems a bit clunky. But as mentioned above they seem to have passed the first test and will now be tried in a second test on the table using some cobbled together hybrid of models and cardboard counters.

1 comment:

  1. On the topic of fiddliness in hex-wargames - I agree, with feeling. My gentle slide into dotage sometimes gives me the impression that I am sitting here, grinning vacantly as my abilities shrink around me. Certainly, (slight?) dips in my eyesight, patience and ability to retain great quantities of complex rules have hit boardgames as an early casualty. I recently bought GMT's "The Hunters" (U-Boat warfare) because it was recommended by a good mate, and because the game sounded interesting. Hasn't worked out - though it lends itself well to solo play, and though the number of counters is not particularly large (as these things go), I found that the game itself is such a dice-driven treadmill that I couldn't stop thinking how much better, quicker and easier it would have been as a computer game (on the Spectrum?). The thought of sorting out the counters before and after playing has me running around the house, screaming and waving my arms - I haven't lived this long to lower myself to such moronic tasks (though I'll happily paint and organise miniatures all day, of course).

    I was disappointed - especially in myself. Can't do it any more, as the bishop said to the elephant. (Was it an elephant...?)