Friday, May 22, 2009

Following up on naval eras

Wargame designers have thumbed deeply though the history books looking for new topics.

Undoubtedly popular interest explains why there are so many games on topics such as Gettysburg or D-Day, but it's also true that designers have dug up enough information to do games on obscure wars in South America, Africa and India.
But part of the reason why topics such as World War II, the Civil War or Napoleon's campaigns are popular for both book authors and game designers is that there is a lot to say.

The classical ear of oared warfare lasted about five centuries, from approximately the Battle of Salamis in 490 BC to Actium in 31 BC. That era was rich enough in battles to supply games such as War Galley or the earlier Trireme with scores of battles.

And the period from 1580 to 1945 has an even richer history of fleet battles, naval campaigns and warship development.

But for almost 1500 years in between there's very little. That's not to say that there were none, but not the rich variety seen earlier or later. Indeed, while the Battle of Lepanto is, by any measure, one of the biggest and most important naval battles of History, only recently has someone proposed doing a serious wargame on it.

I'm looking forward to seeing it appear, but it seem likely that more would have been done about this era if there was more to be done. And Lepanto is so close to the begnning of the most recent era of contending navies that it might well be considered part of it. The main reason why it my stand apart is that it featured oar-driven warships ratehr than the sailing ships that characterized the next era.

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