Wednesday, August 12, 2020

On the High Fantasy Seas - Man O' War AAR

Recently, John put out an invite to play Man O' War, the naval combat game set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe that came out in 1993. 

I was two years old at the time. Yeesh

Anyway, I volunteered, got shanghaied, and found myself commanding a dwarf fleet facing off against an orc armada.

The objective was simple - sink more of the other side before they managed to sink you.

The dwarves looked like they were steaming out of the late 19th century, with a Dreadnought, an Ironclad, a Nautilus (submarine) and a squadron of Monitors.

The orcs were fielding (sea-ing?) a large flotilla of barely floating ships. The greenskin admiral led from a Hulk, flanked by two squadrons each of Bigchukkas and Drillakillas.

With both sides equipped with either steam- or slave-powered paddles, neither fleets needed to worry about the direct of the wind, and so powered forward.

The Nautilus was the first to fire a shot, diving and launching torpedos at the oncoming Drillakillas. Unfortunately the orc ships were just out of range.

My Monitor squadron was less lucky, as one of John's Drillakillas surged forward, rammed, and sunk a dwarf ship of the line. The Drillakilla sunk as well.

The dwarfs had their hands full dealing with the Drillakillas, while the slower orc ships advanced in a second wave. My Ironclad and Dreadnought were able to handle the orc assault ships, defeating the crew of one in a boarding action and immobilizing the other.

The Monitors continued their run of misfortune, ultimately sinking after being rammed by more Drillakillas.

The Dreadnought and Ironclad readied for contact with the rest of the orc fleet.

I thought the Nautilus would be enough to handle the three Bigchukkas on its own, but a well aimed shot from a catapult smashed through the submarine, sinking the boat and drowning the crew.

Now it was up to the two Man O' Wars in the dwarf fleet. The Ironclad was taking a pounding, losing hull integrity and taking on water. Both it and the Dreadnought fired volley after volley into the advancing orc Hulk, watching as the massive ship and its close-combat weaponry loomed ever larger.

However, the broadsides eventually broke through the Hulk's hull, causing enough critical hits and damage below the waterline to sink the greenskin juggernaught. With only a few Bigchukkas left, the Orc fleet retreated as the dwarfs raced to rescue their waterlogged compatriots.

Well, damn. Here's another fun set of rules that I'm tempted to get into. And it's only for a game that's been out of print for nearly three decades!

Luckily, John has a massive collection of original models that are beautifully painted. I'll have to read more of the rules and learn how to move ships under sail, as well as learn how wizard and aerial units work. While I'm interested in playing as the Empire, I may join John in a campaign, pitting his Bretonnians versus a combined fleet of Dark Elves and Skaven.


  1. It a great game that stays out of the weeds allowing for fast action.

    1. It's very strange how fast-playing, but somehow detailed the game is? The act of moving and dice-rolling is quick enough, but there's a lot of little details, like ship hit locations, Man O War cards, magic, etc.

      Still tons of fun!

  2. Great photos of the game! Do you happen to have some photos of the side board? I recall this game using a lot of unique ship cards to track details like damage and what have you.

    1. I didn't take any, unfortunately, but yes - each ship has its own large card to track damage locations with a fully drawn picture of the ship. There's a ton of empty space, but that feels like early 90's game design.