Weigh anchor as we get underway and review the latest Sails of Glory ship packs

By Richard Martin 25 Jun 2015 0

“This ship, never has she failed us . . . her name is an inspiration . . .” - Commodore William Bainbridge on commanding the USS Constitution.

 

Sails of Glory is Ares Games’ stunning follow up to the their extremely successful Wings of Glory World War I and II miniature game series except Sails of Glory takes us from the skies of the 20th Century to the seas of the 18th and 19th Century – the height of the Age of Sail. 

The starter game comes with 4 fully painted Napoleonic ships and full rules covering everything from basic action to advanced ship combat.  Since the release of the starter game, Ares has released over a dozen individual ship packs which include fully painted miniature sailing ships, maneuver cards for each ship and ship stats.  With release of ship classes covering classes of ships from sloops to frigates to ships of the line, the seas are becoming a dangerous place, indeed.  Now Ares is releasing six new ships including two 32 gun fifth rate frigates, two 74 gun third rate ships of the line and two special packs – the HMS Victory and the USS Constitution.

 

 

Fighting sailing ships of the 1700s and 1800s were generally rated by the number of guns that they had.  First rate ships typically had between 100 to 120 cannons; Second rate ships had between 90 and 99 cannons; Third rate ships had between 64 to 80 cannons; Fourth rate ships had between 48 to 60 cannons; Fifth rate ships usually had between 32 to 44 cannons while sixth rate ships had 20 to 32 cannons.  Sloops had between 16 and 19 guns and smaller boats, gunboats, had fewer than 16 cannons.  Of course, as with any system, exceptions could be found.

The following back ground information was provided by Ares Games and describes the 4 ships releases as standard packages:

  • The HMS Orpheus was a 32 cannon fifth rate frigate of the Royal Navy. She was launched in 1780, and served for more than a quarter of a century, participating in numerous actions in the East Indies against French and Dutch ships, and later in the North Sea and Jamaica. She was wrecked in 1807 sailing toward Port Royal. This ship pack can also be used to represent the British Amazon frigate HMS Amphion 1780.
  • The Sirena was launched in 1793 and was a frigate of the Spanish Armada that had previously served in the French Navy under the name Elene. She was captured in May 1793 by the Spanish frigates Santa Casilda and Perla and served with the fleet based in Havana, doing mostly escorting service. In 1807, it was wrecked on the coast of Mexico. This ship pack can also be used to represent the Spanish frigate Ifigenia 1795.
  • The British HMS Zealous was an Edgar class ship of the line. Similarly to the Bellona class, the Edgar class was one of the designs by Thomas Slade, using a slightly modified version of the original “Arrogant” design. Launched on June, 25th 1785, HMS Zealous served in a number of battles of the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars - notably the Battle of the Nile, where she engaged the French ship Guerriere, helping to force her surrender. This ship pack can also be used to represent the British Bellona Class ship-of-the-line HMS Superb 1760.
  • The 74-guns Argonauta was a ship-of-the-line of the Spanish Armada that had previously served in the French Navy under the name Argonaute and participated to the battle of Trafalgar. She was transferred to the Spanish fleet in 1806 in exchange for the Vencedor. After a short career, it was used as prison ship in Cádiz during the French siege of the city. On 26th of May, French prisoners broke their mooring lines and ship went adrift and wrecked. In order to prevent the French from using it, British and Spanish sent gunners boats to set fire to the ship. Argonauta was destroyed by flames and sunk on 29th of May 1810. This ship pack can also be used to represent the Spanish Téméraire Class ship-of-the-line Heroe 1808.

The two special packaged ships are the iconic HMS Victory and the USS Constitution.  Both of these ships are still in existence in Britain and the United States and both are considered “living history”, in fact, the USS Constitution is considered the flagship of the United States Navy more than 200 years after she was launched!

 

 

The HMS Victory was launched in 1765, more than six years after work started on her design.  She is a 104 cannon first rate ship of the line.   She was Lord Nelson’s flagship during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.  She was in constant use and saw many battles before being retired to harbor in 1824.  She has been the flagship of the First Sea Lord since October 2012 and is the world's oldest naval ship still in commission.

 

 

The USS Constitution is the oldest naval vessel still afloat and was commissioned by George Washington in 1794.  Its unique ribbed design gave her a very robust hull and the ship was nicknamed “Old Ironsides” when British ships during the War of 1812 had great difficulty in doing her serious damage, in fact, some say that many cannon balls bounced off her sides!  She served during the War of 1812, the battles against the Barbary Pirates and even took part in anti-slavery patrols off the coast of Africa in 1854!  Today, she still is crewed by US Navy sailors and took to the waves under wind power as recently as 2014!

All of the Ares ships are beautifully painted and sturdily constructed.  The minis are 1:1000 scale.  The Constitution and the Victory come with a wealth of new material including ship’s captain cards and special captain abilities plus new rules covering the death of the ship’s captain.  I would have liked to have seen a few special scenarios for the Constitution and the Victory included with each ship, but none-the-less they are worth every penny and a great addition to your own ships of the line.  The other ships which are part of this release are worthy additions and it’s nice to see more Spanish ships included in the game.

In comparing the two fifth rate frigates, the Spanish Sirena/Ifigenia is a little slower than the HMS Orpheus/Amphiom and doesn’t pack as many cannons, however, the Spanish frigate is a tough little beast and while the player will want to avoid getting in a gun to gun battle with bigger ships, they can both harass the heck out other ships with a few well placed broad sides and then ride the weather gauge to speed out of cannon range before they get blasted.

 

 

The Spanish Argonauta/Heroe packs both nice firepower and with its crew compliment is the perfect ship to perform boarding actions with.  If you’re fighting ships of this type, stay well away and snipe at them from range unless you feel confident in winning a crew vs. crew melee.

The HMS Zealous/Superb is a good solid third rate ship of the line and can hold its own both by cannon or boarding but it doesn’t appear to be extraordinary at either one.

All-in-all, these new Sails of Glory releases add more value and replay ability to this wonderful game system.  Raise your anchor, heave out the staysails and get these ships sailor!

 

Publisher: Ares Games  

Designers: Andrea Angiolino and Pier Giorgio

Constitution and Victory Price:  app. $29.99 each, other ships $14.99 each.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Richard Martin has written film and game reviews for over 20 years and has been playing war games and role playing games since the days of Ogre and Basic Dungeons and Dragons.  Additionally, he writes screenplays, games and works in the legal profession.  (Don’t tell anyone but Richard prefers writing games and movies to law work any day.)

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