Even as I typed the words in my pervious post grousing about having to wait for my pre-orders there was a Priority Mail box sitting on my table at home from GMT Games with my copy of 1805: Sea of Glory. As promised, here's my out-of-the box impressions.
First off the box is the standard GMT Bookcase size, the exact same size as Flying Colors with very similar colors, too. They will look nice next to each other. No complaints there.
Inside the box there's a pretty standard GMT-style rule book. This is already online at their site, so there were no surprises there. The game does appear to be a little more complex than I was expecting. It's definitely a full-fledged hard-core wargame that takes account of a myriad of factors and definitely not a euro-style wargame.
I had mixed feelings about the map. It's very nice looking, almost worth framing, but it's paper, so I was a little disappointed on that score, having gotten used to the cardstock maps in many GMT games. Being a paper map I do have some concerns about durability. Definitely worth playing under glass. It appears functional but I reserve judgement on that until I play it.
There are two counter sheets and indeed, while it will be perceived as being a block game, the vast majority of playing pieces are cardboard counters. And the majority of those are ships and admirals, with various game markers and chits for sundry purposes. All are attractively done, although not out of the ordinary for GMT.
The key component of the game are the fleet blocks. This was a little puzzling, however. It appears that a late decision was made to go with bigger blocks, because the rule book shows the small blocks we have seen used for infantry units in the Commands & Colors: Ancients series, and the stickers are sized for that size of block -- but the game came with the larger blocks that have been used for cavalry units in C&C:A. This poses a small problem because the larger block really don't quite fit in the hexes on the playing board, which may create some confusion about the location of the block and also make it hard to have multiple blocks in the same spot. I can only surmise that the larger blocks were substituted for ease of handling. The blocks with stickers affixed (I'm lousy at doing that, BTW) are shown at right. From top to bottom are a French "Fog of War" (dummy) block, a British frigate, A Spanish fleet, a British fleet and a French fleet. The numbers and letters on the blocks refer to the fleet's destination -- in other words there is a form of plotted movement, but rather painlessly handled.
The game also contains a couple of fleet and port displays, which is where the composition of the fleets is tracked. The ship counters, with a handful of exceptions, don 't appear on the map.
There are also two different player charts with various table needed for play. In an apparent error the box says there are four charts, but posting on Boardgame Geek indicate everyone is getting just two so I assume the box is in error.
Finally there are five dice and the usual allotment of small plastic baggies that GMT thoughtfully provides.
I'll save any remarks about game play for later once I have had a chance to play it, but overall it looks pretty good out of the box.