Mark came over yesterday, and we played a game of Flying Colors. Mark had played it once before with Jason, so he picked the second scenario (Cape Henry) to introduce me to the system. I decided to stick Mark with the outrageous French accent, and took the British.

In fact, I’d only managed to read up through the movement section of the rules ahead of time, so the beginning went very slow, as I tried to sort out just how combat worked. Thankfully, the opening is somewhat simple, with the French line reaching (really, broad reach) directly towards the British line, which is beating against the wind toward the French line.

Not liking the idea of cruising my line right down the similarly-equipped French line trading broadsides all the way, nor the fact that I had a mere 2 movement while beating, I started wearing the leading elements of my line to port to rake the French as they approached. However, this left them out of command for a couple turns, as I overestimated my ability to get a commander in range for a group command (especially as the commander with the higher range was in the rear). However, things degenerated into a pretty dense melee with the leading ships, so that my out of command ships were always adjacent to an enemy at the start of their move, and got to fire normally.

Both of us stuck to our national ‘strengths’, with me firing at the hull, and Mark going for the rigging, so that even my ships that were now reaching didn’t have much movement, as their rigging was too damaged. On the other hand, I was taking lots of raking shots, and getting good die rolls, and the leading two French ships were forced to strike their colors rather than sink.

I was just starting to reassert proper command over my leading elements, having driven the Royal Oak into a gap in the French line, and reasserted command, when turn 5 came up, and the wind adjustment check. The roll shifted the wind two points (of a hex map; 120 degrees) clockwise. This meant that suddenly my main line was running with the wind, and the French line was taken aback. This changed the nature of the battle immensely. The rear portion of the French line wore to starboard, and beat against the wind toward the initial, and continuing fighting for the rest of the game. I reached the French flagship with mine on that turn, and the only two 2nd line ships nearly crippled each other with very little input from the rest of the battle.

Mark was finally dismasting my ships while I struggled to get my line re-sorted and effectively fight back. The lower chances of striking the colors from a dismasting helped, as only one of three ships actually did (and that was on the third turn of rolls). Mark’s third ship had been heavily damaged, but managed to get out of the action before I could get its hull points to zero, and the modifiers for that kept it from striking the colors.

The scenario ends at turn 8, and I won on VPs at that point, 10.5 to 8. Mark had been having to roll for his fleet breaking the final three turns, but the odds of that were low. I also had to roll on the last turn, as one ship finally struck the colors. So for the final act of the game, both of us rolled ‘2’s (with the fleet breaking, and granting a decisive victory to the other player on a ‘0’), and Mark had a -1 on his roll…. Very close there.

At any rate, the game was fun, it seems to be a very good system that captures the flavor of Age of Sail naval combat quite well. We used the status markers all day, and didn’t have to write anything down, which was very nice. The markers got a little crowded, but the fact that the ships are 1″x0.5″, giving them room for two stacks of markers makes it work out, at least at this size of battle. It took all day (10 to 5, with lunch), but that was after a very slow start, and the later turns were going very fast as we continued getting used to the modifiers.