I'm back, and this time with an after-action report! Bob Fanelli was once again running a game demo at 7th Dimension Games, and this time it was the recently released Sails of Glory!
After an explanation of the rules (and there were a lot!), the sides were drawn - both the French and British squadrons were formed of two frigates and two ships-of-the-line. Apparently a standard game of Sails of Glory takes place in a 2'x3' area, so our 4'x6' space allowed for quite a bit of maneuvering before our ships were close enough to open fire.
This was the ship mat for my ship-of-the-line, the Aquilon. Just looking at all of the spaces and chits was a little daunting at first! But we quickly found that as the game progressed the rules made enough sense to be easily remembered without constant rulebook consultation.
Like Wings of Glory, Attack Wing, or X-Wing, our ships used cards with distances drawn on them that changed the maneuver depending on the deployment of sails and windage. Since these old wooden ships were relatively slow, each move had to be planned out a turn in advance - so mistakes have to be corrected over a number of turns. Which explains why the Aquilon is a little off-course in the back.
We quickly realized that frigates were really fighting out of their weight-class when a fresh broadside from a frigate fore-raked a ship-of-the-line and barely managed to do any damage. Their only advantage was in their speed, which meant that a frigate with the wind in it's sails could fire on a larger ship and then quickly dance out of range.
The game progressed with the French coming to an early advantage. The two French ships-of-the-line managed to trap a couple British ships between them and pounded them down to kindling, while the frigates danced around with round- and grape-shot.
At the end of the day, the French carried victory by sinking the two British ships-of-the-line and a frigate while only losing a single frigate of their own. I had to leave at that point, but the guys were setting up another 3 vs 3 game with only ships-of-the-line, which seemed to me to be a better fight.
Playing the game, I can see that Sails of Glory is much more like Wings of Glory than either X-Wing or Attack Wing due to the complexity. With so many chits and actions to handle, I couldn't imagine a player handling more then one or two ships without causing themselves a major headache. However, this method means the game is perfect for larger games like this, where each player only needs a single ship.
I had a great time with Sails of Glory, and judging by Bob's collection, I'm hoping we see the game played more often.