Monday, August 25, 2008

Flying Colors and command and control in the Age of Sail

Flying Colors is GMT's attempt to make a workable two-player fleet action game for the age of sail.

There can be little doubt that the most satisfying way to play any tactical naval game is with as many individual ship captains as possible. Even in the data-linked modern era of Harpoon or the TBS-equipped World War II era it's better to have each ship controlled by one player, or at least have each player control no more than a couple of ships. It's the best way to explore the command and control issues involved.

But you can't always get a bunch of folks together for a multi-commander game of Close Action, so Flying Colors attempts to mimic the command and control of age of sail fleets with two rules. One is a simple command span rule, which lets players move ships freely so long as they are within the command range of a leader. This is a tried-and-true wargame rule. Except for a few rare and talented folks (such as Nelson, Hood and de Grasse) this range is inadequate to control the whole fleet. That brings in the second rule, formations, which allows an admiral to command all the ships that face the same direction and are within 4 hexes of at least one other ship in the same formation. This would seem to encourage historical formations. Is it enough? I haven't played enough to judge, but I'd be interested in hearing from those who have.

1 comment:

  1. Played a few sessions of FLYING COLORS and find the command rules pretty good...but not without problems. In "Formation Command" the requirement to be facing the same direction breaks down when you have a longer line of ships. There has been lots of discussion about this over at consimworld forums. Our house rule is that one "kink" is allowed in the line.