Black Seas is naval wargame set in the age of sail fought using a range of specially designed 1/700 miniature ships from Warlord Games.
Using Black Seas you can fight battles from the american war of independence through the Napoleonic wars and beyond.
Prepare your fine array of 1/700th scale tall-ships for battle focusing on the golden age sail of military maritime warfare ships combating in the period 1770-1830, the 'carronade era'. From superbly detailed plastic Frigates, Brigs or 3rd Rates (usable for all nations) through to the mighty 1st rates in finely detailed metal and resin, there are plenty of options to take to battle!
Utilizing a unique and innovative initiative system based around the most important factor of sail powered combat: the wind. Additional rules enable you to fight in a 'line of battle,' engage shore batteries, rake your enemies with withering initial broadsides or capture vessels in heroic boarding actions. All while avoiding such hazards to navigation as fog banks, fire ships and shipwrecks.
The rules allow you to field fleets comprised of vessels ranging from the tiniest gunboats up to the true giants of the waves, the mighty 1st rate warships. Can be played on a 4' x 3' table or unobstructed floor space.
Each ship in Black Seas is accompanied by a ship card which details its speed, weaponry and other key ratings to help strategically plan battles based on their advantages.
Build, paint and play! The construction and painting of the models and watching them come to life are just as much fun as the game itself! Paint and glue are not included.
Wargaming, as well as being a recreational pastime, has been used as a military tool for planning and training since the late 1700s. These days, when most people think of wargames, it's usually associated with Space Marines or high fantasy races doing battle, but there is still a huge community and a booming industry around more historical wargaming as well.
This month sees the final weeks of an incredibly successful Kickstarter, Blood and Plunder Raise the Black from Firelock Games, and also the release of the fantasy nautical wargame, based in Mantic's Kings of War setting, Kings of War Armada. But there are also several other sea-based wargames already in production, along with many existing wargames with nautical factions. So we thought we would celebrate this with a Nautical Tabletop Month, where we'll look at loads of existing sea-based wargames and board games, talk to the companies and developers behind them and also look at loads of other products with sea themes.
So prepare to set sail, and join us on this journey on the high seas.
Black Seas from Warlord Games is a tabletop wargame that lets players fight sea battles during the Golden Age of Sail, 1770 to 1830. In this article, we're going to look at the starter set, Black Seas Master and Commander. We'll look at what's in the box and the rules, talk about the different ship construction options, and look at who the game is for.
This article forms part of our Nautical Tabletop Month that's running across all of November. We're going to look at different nautical wargames and board games, as well as interview developers about capturing the sea feel on the tabletop. We'll also look at nautical factions in popular wargames along with tabletop accessories that are available to keep your hobby ship-shape.
Master and Commander is the Warlord Games’ starter set for playing their Black Seas rules for naval battles in the age of sail 1770-1830 using highly-detailed miniatures. It is a companion to their Black Powder rules for land warfare of the same period ranging from the American War of Independence to the Napoleonic Wars.
You get a big boxful of stuff for your money!
Six plastic sprues to make 3 Frigates and 6 Brigs, a full-color, glossy 96-page, A4 rule and background information book, 6 sheets of ship detailing parts, 12 ship cards, 9 ship “wake” markers, 3 boards of terrain pieces, rulers and tokens plus the all-important wind rose and compass, 11 dice – 8D10, 2D6 and 1D3, 3 colors of cotton wool – white, red and black and a reel of cotton (which is superfluous unless you are insane, but more of that later!).
Write About My Rite Of Passage As A Ship Wright, Right?
The 9 ship models are incredibly detailed for their small size. At 1/700th scale the Frigates have 3inch long hulls and the brigs just under 2inches (sorry metric fans as metres weren’t used until 1795 and only by the French this system uses inches throughout!) You can see every tiny cannon in the broadside and even their gun carriages on the main deck.
Miniature lifeboats, stern lanterns, anchors and ratlines. The models are clean from flash and fit together snugly. After painting the details, assembly is straightforward if somewhat delicate. The double-sided, A5 instruction sheet just about covers it in half-a-dozen, wordless pictures (think IKEA flat-pack guide). The sails are added from pre-printed and punched thin cards which you need to curve before glueing in place.
Losing My Thread
And then there’s the rigging. With each ship you get 4 or 6 sets of pre-printed acetate, ratlines to put on. These are fair enough if a bit fiddly. Then you are presented with a tiny spool of thread with which you can fully rig each model with up to 31 fixing points! I spent a relatively enjoyable week of odd hours painting and constructing my fleet I did not add the rigging.
Getting The Wind Up
So how does Black Seas play? It’s all about the wind. In the Age of Sail, those with the wind at their backs had a great advantage over the rest. You go faster with the wind to your side or better still behind you and you can’t sail directly into the wind at all.
Scenarios start with the wind direction set on the elegant wind rose with a 1 in 6 chance it might change in any round. The closest ship to the wind has the “Weather Gage” and activates first. It sets its sails to light, battle or full and moves 1, 2 or 3 times accordingly and can turn and/or fire at the end of each move.
To shoot you roll a number of D10s as printed on your ship card, aiming for a 5 or less after applying modifiers. Damage then accrues and is marked off by sliders. An unmodified 1 is a critical hit which can quickly turn very nasty particularly if it starts a fire. Finally, if close enough, you can attempt to grapple and board another ship. These actions are repeated for each ship in Weather Gage order to complete the round.
Scenes We’d Like To Sea
There are 13 pre-set scenarios provided in Master & Commander. The first 6 can be played just using these ships on the 4 foot x 3 foot playmat provided and it’s easy enough to rescale some of the others. They do encourage you to get more ships from their extensive range and why not? Who wouldn’t want to command a scale HMS Victory? (Though maybe not rig it!).
Indeed No. 13 is the Battle of Trafalgar involving over 70 ships in an unlikely scenario that would cost hundreds to put together ending when 36 ships are lost. Still, this could be an aspiration for a club event.
Fast And Furious
Scenarios tend to start slow jockeying for an upwind position. Long range fire tends to be fairly ineffectual. Then as you sweep into close quarters it all gets pretty heated and ships can be quickly lost. Grappling and boarding tend to be very bloody affairs.
The two factors you must constantly watch are the wind and your speed. Dramatic maneuvers are tricky at best and a miscalculation can leave you facing a headwind with drastic consequences. That’s before a sudden wind change can throw your plans into disarray. All the fighting ships in Master & Commander have a speed of 5 Knots meaning they must move a full 5 inches in each movement phase.
Full sails will therefore take you nearly halfway across the board in one activation. You can only speed up or slow down by one level per round. You move before you can turn. If you leave your ship less than one move from another or worse still a terrain feature, you’re in trouble.
Rules Are Rules
The rules are both straightforward and highly detailed. The core rules are easily digested with lots of illustrations both figuratively and literally. There are then a few pages of additional rules to cover specifics. This sets you off on the basic scenarios to get your sea legs. Finally, a further 7 pages of advanced rules that you pick and choose to give greater depth.
Terrain In Spain
The 4 foot by 3 foot play mat is double-sided with darker, northern waters on one side and a brighter, Caribbean Spanish Main on the other. This is reflected in the harbour, fort, reefs and the four land segments. The latter can be used at the edges of the sea or go together to form an island. This in turn can have the fort and gun emplacement on it. All this can lead to all sorts of Pirate and Treasure Island fun or storming ports and forts.
Sail The World
Master & Commander leads you into the full Black Seas system and you can additionally buy and build all sorts of ships from the English, French, Spanish and US fleets of the time plus terrain packs and accessories.
The rule book is the full rules and a lot more, an entertaining read in its own right. Over 50 pages detail the battles, the ships and the commanders of the period all lavishly illustrated. With the sections on the four different nations, you also get national characteristics rules that can be added. Apparently, the British can fire faster whereas the Spanish have more guns.
Overall, this is one of the best starter sets I have come across. You get a whole heap of goodies for your money and the production values are first rate. Whether you sail off into the full world of Black Seas and even link into Black Powder campaigns is up to you but you won’t find a better value introduction to warfare in the Age of Sail than Master & Commander. Black Seas Black Seas Black Seas Black Seas Black Seas Black Seas French Navy French Navy Royal Navy black seas master starter setTwo Player Starter Set + 0 more Integrates With N/A Black Powder: Second Edition Black Seas: Master & Commander Starter Set + 0 more Advertisement Black Seas is naval wargame set in the age of sail fought using a range of specially designed 1/700 miniature ships from Warlord Games. Using Black Seas you can fight battles from the american war of independence through the Napoleonic wars and beyond. + More - Less Official
If you're not in the mood to hand-tie your rat-line webs, Warlords provides a set printed on acetate in each box. Fleet Lists, a very short painting guide section, and upgrades for the ships are detailed in the back matter of the book. In addition, National Rules for Great Britain, France, Spain, and the USA are listed in the back (we'll cover these as our writers look at the different nations). Over a dozen scenarios are included in the book, along with the grand-daddy of all battles of this era, Trafalgar. Demo Games At MiniWars this weekend, I was able