Over the weekend was my third game of Uncharted Seas and my third loss. The encouragement is that in the past two games it has been the lack of grace from Lady Luck that has been my undoing. I am probably not nearly as gracious in defeat as I should be either…
My purpose today is to give an overview of one of the Fleets that is available in the game, but before I do that I’ll give an overview of the game world so that you can get a feel for things. This game is a fleet based naval combat game, you roll initiative each turn and then whoever wins gets to move a ship or squadron of ships and fire with them before the opponent does the same, this goes back and forth until everything has been used and another initiative roll is made for the next turn. The rulebook has scenarios in it and we are currently just playing the “I am going to kill you” one while we learn the rules. I can see all kinds of interesting campaign play and scenearios in the future though as the game is a solid system. Everything works off D6’s and the line of sight system is easy to understand. As we are using broadsides, Cannon in most instances but some races have magical weapons, this being a fantasy setting after all, most attacks get more potent the closer you get to the enemy. Everything is of a Galleon style but you have the traditional fantasy races fulfilling their stereotypes here;
Humans are loaded with guns all over. Orcs want to get up close and personal. Dwarves (both kinds) have tough steam ships brimming with guns. Elves are lightning quick. Bone Griffins (Undead) are slow but tough to kill. Dragon Lords are a kind of Human/Elf cross though.
You roll an amount of dice that varies with how far you are away from your target in range bands that are 8″ each, anything further than range band 4 (32″) is out of range, most ships don’t have weapons that will reach that far anyway. Wind can slow anyone that sails into it by half their speed, but this doesn’t play too much of a role in the game and it just something else that you have to consider, some fleets by their nature ignore the wind and therefore end up with a slight tactical advantage although this also tends to mean that they are slower than anything powered by sails.
So, the Human fleet, I played it on Saturday so what’s it all about?
Well, I suppose the best way to start is to say that the Humans are really kind of middle of the road. They have attacks available in almost all of their fire arcs with the number of attack dice increasing in line with the size of the vessel. Getting up close with the Imperial Navy Battleship is not something to be taken on lightly as they chuck out a horrendous amount of firepower up close which can often be supported by cards in their deck that provide bonuses to these attacks. They are also effective out to Range Band 3. The Humans are not long range, nor are they short range masters, they are very capable at both and this is where their strength lies. No matter what is coming at you the starter set you play with (2 * 3 Frigates, 1 * 3 Cruisers and 1 Battleship) gives you enough to counter whatever come across at you. The Cruisers are very capable of putting out some hurt as they close in, softening targets for the Battleship.
Playing as Humans you’re also not faster or slower than anyone else. Outmaneuvering is not really going to be something you’re going to achieve very well but this is compensated again by the amount of guns you have. Also, you will not want to be doing any ramming as the ships are not built for it, neither in the strength of their hulls nor the number of crew on board to fight in boarding actions. Yet, anyone wanting to ram you is going to have to brave a hail of fire as they try to close, meaning the potential for lost crew that will make that subsequent boarding action even less effective.
The card deck that accompanies the fleet is fairly mundane also, you have a number of damage repair and shooting buffs/debuffs. The two standout signature cards are a ranged 8AD (8 attack dice) attack that can hit any ship on the table and my own personal favourite “From Hell’s Heart I Stab at Thee”. The first card can be used to soften a target before you really let rip, the latter is used to changed the result of a sinking. All ships in the game have two ratings, a Damage Rating and a Critical Rating. When you attack a ship you roll the dice and count up how many hits there are, if you beat the Damage Rating then the ship suffers one hull point of damage, if you beat the Critical Rating you roll on the Critical table and this will see at least two hull points of damage caused but normally you will get a secondary effect that will hinder the ship. The Critical Chart has number from 2 to 12 and everyone normally hopes for a 2. If this happens the ship’s magazine has been hit and the whole thing goes nuclear spraying an 8″ area with flaming debris, normally meaning you can take the enemy with you as the most effective gun fire normally takes place inside 8″ as you’re at Range Band 1. Your ship doesn’t have to be destroyed by a critical though, once it has lost its last hull point down it goes. Cruisers and Battleships of all fleets are classed as Capital ships, what the aforementioned card allows you to do is when a Capital ship is destroyed it has the same effect as if that double 1 had been rolled on the critical table. If you have this in your hand (as I did on Saturday) this makes the destruction of any of your more powerful ships a potential issue for your opponent. Now, as this was the first game I had played with this fleet this was an unexpected trick that came out, the only problem being that the 16AD it generated meant I only hit the enemy’s Battleship three or four times… way lower than averages would declare and that pretty much sealed my fate, his battered Cruiser squadron sank though as did a Frigate squadron of my own.
The Human fleet therefore is pretty dependable, you know what you’re going to get out of them. Being sail ships they are affected by the wind and you need to account for this but you’re going to be chucking out firepower on the way in to soften up your targets before unleashing hell once things are up close and personal. Also, just because someone manages to sink you doesn’t mean you are out of options for striking back. They are a solid fleet and I had some fun playing with them. I just need to go ahead and finish their construction and add them to my painting schedule.
They should be ready sometime around 2064.