Thursday, May 04, 2023

Thalassa and Dystopian Fleets

For our session in April we did a naval double-bill, starting with Thalassa, a free set of wargame rules that came with Wargames Illustrated #421.

When I first learned about the rules I was interested because of the positive experience I had with Never Mind the Billhooks, another set of free wargame rules from WI that blew up, but the cost and effort required in painting up ships made me hesitate. At Adrian's suggestion, I looked around for cardboard models, and found some nice ones at Tiny Tin Troops. The game is designed for 1/300 scale models while the card models are at 1/600 scale, but as the templates were available in pdf form, it was a simple matter of printing them out at 50% scale. I also approximated the move distance of 3" to half the width of the ramming template, which eliminated the need for tape measures on the table. The game features custom dice, but it was easy to use normal d6s and "convert" the results.

For our first game we pit six triremes against seven, with two players on each side. I had expected the game to be over quickly, with most ships being rammed and sunk after two turns, but my players seemed more interested in boarding and capturing enemy ships. The battle lasted a while, with melees involving three ships grappled together.

We had a lot more fun with the game than I anticipated, and the lack of custom game dice was not a hindrance at all. If there is one improvement I will need to make it is to reproduce the ramming template in clear plastic, which I will do before our next game.

For our second game we played a homebrew set of rules using Dystopian Wars models. We have had models for the game for literally more than a decade, but as we could not agree on a set of rules to play with, the project had languished... until the recent purchase of the East India Company squadron re-ignited my interest in the period.

I tidied up the rules I have been working on - a blend of Majestic Twelve Games' Grand Fleets and the movement templates and rules from X-Wing - and sent the rules to the gang, set a date for the session, and in a few months models that were left unpainted for a decade finally got finished, and were bloodied.

As the rules were not designed with a points system, I will need to do some work in balancing the factions and arms, but the basic concepts seem to work.

No comments: