Man o War

This week the DM has some parenting duties so we played an old GW game: Man o War!

It came out in the early 1990s and like many GW games, went out of print after a few years. (It still has a strong cult following, with at least three Yahoo groups, and earlier this year GW released a new game very similar to MOW, called Dreadfleet, which had a slightly bigger scale and a deluxe set of components…but I don’t think it sold too well, priced at $115.  It looks gorgeous but…there will never be any additional models or expansions for it.)

The ship models for MOW were very nice looking but expensive, so I only bought a few ships beyond the basic galleys that came with the rules, but then I made a bunch of home-made models in the same scale because we used the game along for ship to ship fights in a long-running GURPS swashbucklers/fantasy campaign (and also because it was fun to build the ship models and sea monsters!).

This week’s game pitted the Empire against Bretonnia.  The forces were:

Imperials: three Greatships and three squads of War Galleys, three MOW cards (975 points)

Bretonnia: two Galleons, two squads of Buccaneers, one squad of Corsairs,  two Shore forts, and two MOW cards (1000 points)

The Imperials would have three players versus Bretonnia’s two, offsetting the slight points advantage.

In the end, only three players were able to make it, so I scrapped the initial scenario and instead had everyone choose 300 points of ships and we had a free-for-all.  We had to tweak a few things to make it a four-player game, since the rules are really set up for a one on one battle.

Richard & Matt each chose a Great Ship and a squad of Wargalleys; John chose a squad of Corsairs; and I took a Galleon and two squads of Buccaneers.

Back when I first played M-o-W in the 1990s, I thought the Empire ships were a lot better than the Bretonnians, and I’d still affirm that view. 

The ‘one squad or one big ship activation per turn’ gave a slight edge to smaller fleets, because with three units, I found that I could not really keep up with more than one foe; meanwhile John with just one unit could zip pretty quickly despite having the wind against him.  I had the wind at my back in the beginning which did not make my fleet any faster, but really slowed down Matt and John; Richard could sail with the wind abeam most of the time so the wind had little impact on him.

I was kind of expecting my little Buccaneer squads to be fragile, but hoped they would do some damage; in the end they were spread far too thin (I sent one squad after Richard and one after Matt, and in both cases their galleys had every advantage, being able to sink or disable my squads with very little loss.  Meanwhile with my Galleon I hoped to rake Richard’s Greatship, but he was able to take a broadside without effect and board, taking the galleon practically without a shot!  My bad for getting close.  Looking objectively at the Galleon versus the Greatship in Man-o-War, the Galleon has an edge in speed (sailing 9″ with wind abeam or astern while the Greatship sails 6″ abeam and 9″ astern) and broadsides (4 versus 3 dice) but the Greatship’s large crew, fore and aft batteries of 2 dice, and slightly better saves were telling.  Both Greatships took an immense amount of firepower and time to be destroyed.  The Wargalleys were an excellent buy at 150 points too, being able to ram, row, and fire.  One squad of them would probably have been a better choice than my two squads of Buccaneers.  If I hadn’t lost my Galleon so early in the game, I might have a different opinion, but it seems terribly vulnerable to boarding, which is not really what you expect with one of them. 

Richard took a pretty heavy beating, having to fight some of my ships and all of John’s in succession; he complained bitterly about that for a while, somehow taking small solace in the fact that he tore through most of my fleet in the first three turns. But we all had a lot of fun.

I think that if I run this again, I’d like to see how shore forts and sea monsters affect the game.  I think a ‘destroy all monsters’ game would be fun, and have gotten a few other ideas from some helpful members of the Yahoo group.

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Published in: on December 8, 2011 at 12:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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