This is the start of, (at least for me), a new type of hobby article, 'Reviews & Resources'. The idea is that as a gamer, those are two of the main things that I am interested in finding about a game. If I've not brought the game yet, I'd like to read some reviews to find out if it is any good and if it is the style of game that I am likely to enjoy. If, I have already brought the game then I'm interested in on-line resources for it, (errata sheets, quick reference sheets, painting guides, house rules etc). So, this series of articles is going to be structured that way with a top section with extracts and links to reviews of a game, and the bottom section containing descriptions of resources for the game and links to take you to them.
We are starting off with'The Cruel Seas'. This is a game that I got as a Christmas present. The contents of the box look fantastic, the models are very nice, but what is it like as a game?
"Announced at this year’s Warlord Studios open day, Cruel Seas is a new game, due out in December, that brings the naval action of flotillas of small ships to your tabletop. On the tables of Cruel Seas you’ll find everything you need to fight a fast-paced “naval dogfight,” which is where the game captures my attention. There are already plenty of games out there that simulate big battleship based naval combat, on and off the tabletop. Whether you’re looking at a game that faithfully recreates the setting of World War II, or most starship combat games (if you look at how they work, they’re basically WWII naval combat but in space), we’ve been there and done that and adapted a miniatures game."
Warlord have produced some excellent land games and the models and game components are well up to that standard, but in the rules they have attempted something out of their comfort zone with a lot of things that are just plain wrong – and which could have been made right before publication with just a little effort. Cruel Seas is, I think, an excellent introduction to naval wargaming and judging by the interest on Facebook and elsewhere it is proving to be a popular seller, and as an ardent supporter and promoter of naval wargaming I really wanted this to be great. But those with some knowledge of the subject will be annoyed and put off by the errors (see the extensive Facebook discussion on the topics highlighted above and more), and newcomers run the risk of believing “that was the way it was” because the rules said so. Shades of Warhammer Trafalgar.
So in summary, a good start, plenty of issues, hoping the second edition will clear these up at some point in the future. And at the time of writing Warlord have just released a ten page errata sheet where some of the issues above have been addressed, 13 days after release of the rules.
Quick Reference Sheets
There have been various chats about, and calls for, rules that covered dived submarines in Cruel Seas. I decided to take the old ASW rules from the Felix edition of "Action Stations" and modify them for CS. They will no doubt be appearing in "Narrow Seas" in the main rulebook or as a free supplement.
I've been musing on some house rules for "Cruel Seas" since they came out. The errata does a good job of clearing up mistakes in the rules, but there are some areas where I feel the rules lacked authenticity, and so could be "house ruled" for added realism without adding to the complexity of the game. Here's what I've come up with so far. I'd be keen to hear from anyone else who has thought about this.
Here we have a great set of video's covering how to paint ships from all of the main nations covered in the Cruel Seas miniatures game from 'The War Gamer' video channel.