During July Alastair introduced us to “Sails of Glory” a game from the stable of “Wings of Glory” which recreates naval battles in the Napoleonic period. I rather enjoy Wings of Glory, especially as a low stress multiplayer game at the end of the week, yet I must admit I suspected that Sails of Glory would have limited appeal, being limited to a two dimensional game. As it turned out I was wrong.
In our first game we deployed a couple of frigates and took to the high seas. The manoeuvre system took a little getting used to but we soon started to get our heads around manoeuvring and the impact of wind on these manoeuvres. The system uses card movement, as with Wings of Glory, with the speed of ship movement is modified by the relationship of the ship to the wind and the sail settings. Advanced rules modify the movement further due to damage to the masts.
The combat system is particularly well designed. Fire is conducted at different ranges, much like Wings of War, however different cannon loads modify which damage deck is used. These include normal shot, double shot, chain shot and grape. The type of ammunition must be defined when loaded well prior to firing and different loads target different parts of the vessel more effectively than others. I found I needed to clear my guns after loading the wrong ammunition at one point. At close range musket fire can be used to inflict damage, and if the ships grapple boarding actions can take place.
Anyway after some training in the frigates, which are reasonably nimble, the other evening we deployed some ships of the line. These vessels were far less nimble but their ability to both dish out, as well as receive damage, was impressive.
Above, the British third rater Vanguard prepares to engage the French frigate Unite and ship of the line Genereux, both visible in the distance.
So what do I think of Sails to Glory? Well, it is a great system which captures the feel of naval warfare in the age of sail. While players are not lost in charts and record keeping the games have considerable depth. While I tend to think Wings of Glory works best with four or more players Sails of Glory produces an outstanding game with just two two players and two ships. I look forward to the next game…