So I bought this newest game from the Games Workshop stable. Released last week, I found the box all nice and shiny on my doorstep past monday, and now I`ve scrummaged through it`s contents and had a look around.
I`m not a GW fanboy, don`t get me wrong, I can understand some of their pricing policies working in a highly involved in economics branch, but that doesn`t mean I have to agree on some insane prices of the brand. And the resin range... well, let`s just forget about those will we not.
But when I saw the announcement and contents for this game, I really wanted to buy it, no doubts, no pondering, straight wham bam shiskadam mail order. Why? Because of three reasons:
1. All you need is in the box. No need to buy many more models to expand forces, no need for `upgraded` codices and editions each and every so many years. This is a boardgame, though a lavishly nice one with some assembly required.
2. I like naval games. Just as with scifi games, I like the slow ponderous turns ships make, and the fact the game plays in `2D` meaning ships, opposed unfortunatly to scifi games often, block line of sight. That half sunken hulk can be useful for other then drifting and pot shots, you can make it an obstacle to save your next ship from certain doom.
3. It`s great value for money. heck, I even dare say it is dead cheap! The game costs 70 GBP with free shipping from GW Direct (sorry, no way I ever set foot in the GW store in Antwerp again) for 10 high quility sculpted `main miniatures`, about a dozen small miniatures like auxiliaries and monsters, and terrain pieces. The gaming mat that comes with it is a great addition, as those buggers tend to cost me (shipping et all mind you) around 30 - 35 GBP to get to Belgium, so yeah, I liked the pricetag a lot.
But let`s have a look in what is included in the box then...
First, there is the `paperwork`. A rulebook, who, like Battlefleet Gothic in the time, is printed sideways instead of the normal format. I still don`t get it why they do this though. It`s nicely laid out, has a lot of fluff in it, and artwork all over by John Blanche. Sure, his style is controversial, people either seem to like it or hate it, I`m keeping my opinion on that for myself as I can`t nearly wield my brush like him, no matter what style. Also, the cards are all included, including large `ship stat` ones and smaller wound and fate cards. A little touch I found quite amusing is that there also comes a bag of clipbags with the game to store the cards into once you took them out of the initial wrapping...
The story of the game is about a captain of the Pirate isles that came back to Sartosa, only to find his family murdered by the Dreadfleet. He sets out on a yearlong quest to gather allies and a fleet to enter the Galleon Graveyard on Geheimnissnacht where he supposedly defeated the Vampire Count Noctilus, as from then on no more outings of the Dreadfleet have been spotted. The game takes place at that moment that the Heldenhammer, a huge sailing ship and the Grand Theogonist`s private warship has entered the vortex and fights his way around the mythical area against the undead forces there.
So let`s look at the sprues. They are all made up of sturdy, dark grey plastic (saving the need of a grey undercoat) and contain all the kinds of pieces to built the fleets and the scenery.
First, you have the sprue with mostly the scenery pieces on it, a lot of skull islands which can be useful for all kinds of fantasy naval games. One has a castle on top of it, there are some shipwrecks, and a `course valve` to check the ranges and turns of the ships.
Next, you have the sprue with the bases of the vessels, all with sculpted on waves making that a nice touch. The ships are about 10cms in length, which is a handy size to move and play with without having to large a vessel on your tables.
The next sprue mostly features the various sails for all the ships. A nice detail here is that almost all the intricate designs you see on the painted examples is actually sculpted unto the plastic, though this does limit the options of the vessels being painted as something else a bit, I don`t mind it as free hand designs... that could ruin your whole paintjob if done wrong!
Next, we have the various vessels themselves. Each ship bar the Ghostship have some kind of auxiliary vessel attached to them which can be used for a sortie of kinds. Think of them as a heavy fighter a vessel carries onboard in most science fiction games.
The fleets each have 5 vessels. For the Grand Alliance you have the aforementioned Empire warship our main hero `borrowed` from the Empire. Aside from him, there is a sleek ramming ship from a pirate queen, a dwarven ironclad with a dirigible auxiliary, a high elf galleon (in the style of the old Man O War vessels) with a dragon auxiliary and my personal favourite, a sultan`s pleasure barge powered by the use of Djinn`s.
The dreadfleet consists of the cobbled together wrecks to make the Count`s floating monstreous barge, a pyramid vessel from Zandri which also is nice looking, a living seacruture bristling with rats (which in my opinion is the least of the models), a Chaos Dwarf submersible looking like a Kraken (20000 Leagues anyone?) and the one Dreadfleet vessel I really love, a flying Ghostship that hovers above the waves.
Apart from that you get the auxiliary cogs, a sea serpent and a sea giant to make up the numbers of models in the box. As I said, surely not to shabby for the value.
But the final thing you find in the box is the absolute winner for me. The mat. I expected some sort of felt mat like you have for so many scifi outings, but instead I found a heavy material, feels like silk blue mat about the size of an average kitchen table, making it useful for in house play. The material is of a kind it doesn`t `crack and bump` like so many mats, staying smooth as it lies before you, and it has a really gorgeous printing on it. This thing alone is what makes it worthwhile to buy the box if your setting your steps into naval fantasy games.
So will I be playing the game? I honestly don`t know, at TSA we`re about to embark upon `that other fantasy naval game` but I don`t say it might not be possible that once I built and painted everything I could be trying to get the 12 scenarios done. The game itself is not revolutionary in mechanics as such, and even though it was marketed on forums as `a new sort of Man O War` it draws more mechanics from Battlefleet Gothic then the old GW sailing game.