BACKGROUNDER FOR THE RULES & MODELS
When Neil first had the idea for these ships was proposed there was no commercial thought to it. They were purely sculpted, by Dave Lewis, as a personal project that would allow a bunch of friends to play fantasy naval battles using models that we all liked. This was to change as people saw what had been created and played the games, most significantly Mark of Crusader Miniatures.
The idea was to define a building block, as in each race having a balanced starter fleet which would consist of Battleships, Cruisers and Frigates – you get the point. We always thought of a gaming table as being 4’ x 4’ for this game, although we have played on large tables with many, many ships. With this gaming table in mind we set about defining a size for the models themselves.
We ended up with the following:
Battleships are sized as follows:
Dragon Lord (15cm)
Cruisers are sized as follows:
Dragon Lord (7.5cm)
Frigates are sized as follows:
Dragon Lord (3.5cm)
As you can see we’ve gone for what we felt was aesthetically appealing on the gaming table. A Human Battleship looks truly awesome when it is on a gaming table, its sails unfurled and its cannons targeting an enemy vessel!
The closest ‘historical’ modelling scale that the ships fit to is 1/600th, which is the classic scale as defined by the Royal Navy for its comparative drawings of ships. The scale works out at more or less 0.508mm = 1 scale foot. So a 3mm figure on a ship would be 6 feet tall – give or take a bit!
When you actually put the miniatures out on a gaming table that is 3’ x 3’ or 4’ x 4’ they don’t so much fill it as don’t get lost on it! The scale of the ships and islands and other terrain is designed to give you something large enough to look at, something to enjoy, but still be able to wargame with without having to hire a football ground.
The core rules for this game date back several years, derived from a home grown, simple set of combat mechanics. The whole premise was to make The Uncharted Seas a fun game and a fast game. The aim is to have a game finished within in 1.5 to 2 hours – or longer if you want to play multiplayer games or use much bigger fleets. If you want to play with 5 Starter Battlegroups (that would be 5 Battleships, 15 Cruisers and 30 Frigates) you could do it. Likewise, you could just play a one off compact game in 1 hour and then pack it all away ready for next time.
We also wanted a set of mechanics that abstracted complexity right out of the rules, adding them instead to decks of game cards, and allowing new players to rapidly grasp the game. Mark’s involvement in helping to take the old game ideas and turn them into something that works smoothly and provides a ‘fun’ game to play has been invaluable. From the simple core rules to the decks of Race Cards, Mark has worked wonders.
The decks of cards play an important role in the game, but you can play without them. Our recommendation is that you DO use the cards as they add a wonderful colour to game proceedings and a certain fog of war. The cards are also used to manage magic and the flexibility we bring to the game by giving each race 26 cards each is phenomenal. Games rarely play the same twice and there isn’t anything as satisfying as a player throwing down a rather nasty card, a smile across their face, only to see it wiped away as you counter it with one card and hit them back with another!
So with this all in mind we set about abstracting combat down and set aside some simple concepts:
1) Ranges should be banded for ease of game play. There are 4 bands and they are set at 8 inches each. If you want to play bigger and increase this, say to 12 inches per band, go for it. If you also want to change the bands on a per race basis, for cannon fire, you can do that. The rules won’t break and you may find you enjoy this more!
2) Movement is simple and fluid. Use an intuitive template to figure out what moves where –and away you go.
3) Oh, and the same template shows you what targets you can and cannot shoot at.
4) Reference cards and a Quick Reference Sheet (QRF) mean that once you’ve digested the rule book, games should be easy to control without the rule book. You’ll need it for reference, but not to make every facet of the game happen!
The game is, we think, hugely good fun to play. You can get up and running quickly, the rules do not have any grossly overcomplicated mechanics to confuse or befuddle you and the models look great! More upgrades are planned, and this includes models such as submarines, war platforms, troop ships, Dreadnoughts, Airships and so on. We’re also working on a supplement to the core rule book that supports all of the new models that are coming out.
Welcome to The Uncharted Seas – we’re happy to have you onboard and also eager to hear from you about what you are playing, how you are playing, how you paint your figures and anything else you fancy dropping us a line about.
Neil Fawcett & Mark Sims