On its surface, Osprey’s “Fighting Sail
” is a simple bucket-o-dice pool game, with a breezy little wind-gauge mechanic. I’m finding that the simplifications necessary to allow for fleet actions turn the chore of managing the wind into a real pleasure. This game plays so fast and easy that I struggle to put it down. For years I played spaceship battles that amount to the same sort of game minus the wind-gauge and now I’m wondering…why?
The ships from Tumbling Dice – I opted for 1:2400 scale for reasons of cost and portability – have the heft necessary to give this game its tactile satisfaction, and paint up with all the same techniques as human sized figures. They have been a delight to add to the collection and take up very little room on the shelf. Dressing the table for battle couldn’t be any easier. You just drop the cloth and you’re done. Sure, you can add shoals and fog banks and other such fun, but you don’t have to.
Speaking of…here’s a look at the terrain that I’ve put together to add just a little more dimension to the game. Shown here with a 15mm Napoleonic figure for scale. This island is nothing more than the core of a 10-mm thick piece of foam-core shaved to suit my taste, mounted on a 5-mm thick baseboard, and covered with a layer of glue and sand. The houses are just balsa wood cut into the right shape, and then a layer of flock and shrubs/trees scattered about.
Once painted, they look incredible, and now the ships have something more substantial than smaller ships to hide behind. All six islands in the collection took a single two-hour session to make and maybe twenty minutes total to paint. It’s really just that easy, and if you’re gaming in 1:2400, you have a lot of options for pre-cast terrain from PicoArmor and Tumbling Dice. You can find docks, piers, coastal forts, lighthouses, pretty much anything you need to make your table your own.
For about a hundred bucks I’ve assembled not just two fleets – each with five or six ships of the line and twice that number of frigates – but also a small pirate fleet and an in-shore squadron of fireships and bomb rafts. If nothing else, these make a great entry into a side of the miniature wargaming hobby that I put off for far too long.