Television is rather a frightening business. But I get all the relaxation I want from my collection of model soldiers.
Peter Cushing

Wednesday 7 September 2016

Avast! Splice the mainbrace and so forth

I ran into a slight problem with the naval games; I didn't have a suitable playing surface. I asked on the fighting sail Facebook group and they suggested a lot of excellent products but they were all a little expensive. Even the cheapest option - a Sails of Glory playing mat - was £35.

I was all for going to the local Boyes fabric department to buy some blue felt when a Google image search suggested something else.


For those of you unfamiliar with this it was more or less the first of Games Workshops most recent attempts at standalone games. It was a limited release and had no expansions. Being a game of naval warfare in the Old World it came with the usual GW quality components - one of which was a mat. I could find someone selling these mats on eBay for about £30 so it was already cheaper than most other options.

More digging led to the discovery that although the going price for a Dreadfleet box is around £60-70 some could be snapped up for lower prices if you box clever. I found a likely looking couple of listings and started the process of haggling using the Best Offer mechanism. After back and forth that would have done the Souk proud, we settled on £35 and a few quid postage. So I more or less got the mat and the rest of the game for a fiver. At that price I don't care if the game or components are shoddy, frankly. It's second hand but all that's been done is a few of the bits have been stuck together and one ship has been under coated. 

Today, it arrived.

I opened it up and oh, my Lord, it's gorgeous. The rule book is a work of art:

I'm used to the quality of GW plastic engineering but this is fabulous. The playing pieces are fabulously designed and sculpted but u hadn't realised how much impact they have on the tabletop. Here's a few of the pieces so you can get a sense of the sheer amount of character some of the ships and scenery have:

Even the simple game components are beautifully designed:

What I hadn't quite got to grips with was how BIG they were. Talk about impact on the table. Here's a few shots with a Gandalf for scale:

So regardless of everything else, I'm going to have enormous fun painting these; this is going to be a lovely little project to do. 

But what about the mat, I hear you cry? After all, that's my I bought it. The mat was still in the original bag; it's thin material but oh so pretty:

And here it is with the ships I painted:

I think that will do very nicely indeed, don't you?

I have no idea about the game; but if you like the idea of painting some fantasy ships and you see a copy of this cheap, snap it up. 


  1. That mat looks great for any naval gaming and I always thought the components for Dreadfleet were fantastic but I could never convince myself of the price for it.

  2. I hear that the base game is good, but that the "event" deck or some such randomness ruins it.

    Not that I would know, mine is still in the box.

    1. I think with some board games if you know there's a big chunk of randomness built in you can enjoy it for what it is. The pro let comes if you're expecting a strategic eurogame style affair and your plans get shafted by the rand,ones. That just narks you off.

  3. I hear that the base game is dreadful, pun intended, which is why it flopped. But yes, the components are beautiful, a shame they didn't make a better job at the game.

  4. Nice one. The box set looks a bargain and the mat really works well with the Naps.

    I did look at getting a proper gaming mat for my naval games, but I'd really require at least an 8ft mat and the cost was prohibitive for just occasional gaming. But I'll no doubt end up getting a big space mat, someday, for my Star Wars Armada games.

    1. We used a 6'x4' last night, with only five vessels used in total - But they were the 1/600 models, and could be doing 40cm moves a turn if desired, or, firing at maximum range with a Heavy Rifle cannon as far as two and a half metres. Big boats, big silly measurements!

  5. My copy of this game is also still in its box, too many other projects on the go atm & I had hoped this would have opened up expansion possibilities. However as to a game mat, I just tend to use a blue tarp purchased from the dollar store for my Pirate Games. Here is a link to the game I ran using one in 2014
    I find the light reflects off it nicely to almost create a shimmering effect

    1. The tarp does look really effective, doesn't it? Works brilliantly for 28mm - gives a really good sheen. I'm nicking that idea.