Saturday, 12 January 2019

Cruel Seas ahoy!

It seems half the world has recently bought into Cruel Seas, the new coastal boat game from Warlord Games.

I've always been a fan of this setting and already have a few boats in 1:600 and lots in 1:1200 (bit too small).  My rule set of choice has been the excellent Action Stations by David Manley.

So when the news broke about CS I was a bit torn...these are in 1:300 which is an unusual choice for this type of game.  Warlord have made a similar move with Blood Red Skies; the standard scale for air games is 1:300 So they went with 1:200.  It seems like a bit of a marketing gamble but I guess if it works then everyone buys into your products.

No sooner had the starter sets begun landing on formats than the debate on the rules started.  The general consensus seems to be that they were a bit rushed and would maybe have benefited from more proof-reading and play-testing.  This was quickly followed by a number of errata released by Warlord.  Critics complained that the 11 pages of corrections and clarifications suggested problems ahead but actually it isn't as bad as all that.  Some of these are clarifications rather than wholesale changes and a lot relate to scenarios rather than core rules.  The house style with lots of illustration and space on the page has also pushed the number of pages up.  If they had simply listed bullet points of corrections it would probably only have been a page or 2.

Having said that, the rules are a bit unclear in some places (especially around turning for example) and there are a few rules that simply don't make sense.  An example of this is the use of splash markers which in the rules can aid with targeting but which, in reality, would have the opposite effect and would make it harder to coordinate fire.

The box comes with a 108 page rule/resource book and models for 6 MTBs and 4 E Boats.  The models are very nice indeed and I can now see the attraction of the larger scale.

The rule book

Splash markers
Each boat type has a data card with info about weapons, speed etc.  These are a bit small, especially when trying to clarify for example the calibre of a particular gun.  There are sliding paper markers to fix onto these cards which are used to denote hits but by all accounts these are a bit flimsy and a lot of people seem to laminate the cards and the using a marker or something else to denote hits.

Boat data cards
Rather than keeping track of knots and speed, each boat has a wake maker which shows the speed band the boat is moving at.

Wake markers which
denote speed

Counters and rulers

This is a sprue for 2 E Boats
Activation is done by drawing a dice from a cup which makes the action even more chaotic...a good thing for this type of combat and ideal for multiplayer games.

Dice are drawn from a cup a la Bolt Action

Smoke and flame markers

The actual rules (with the caveats I mentioned earlier) look pretty straightforward...not overly complex but very playable so ideal for a fun evening game and I'm pretty pleased with the overall set and love the models. 

I haven't actually played a game yet but hope to.remedy this later next week.  David Manley has produced an excellent set of house rules on his blog which I suspect I will be adopting from the start...they can be found HERE

I'll post some photos of the completed boats soon and a write of game #1 when I get a chance.

Assembled MTBs and E Boats


  1. Very cool starter set - has everything you need, including nice ship models.

    1. The models are lovely and the rules, with a bit of tinkering, have a lot of promise.

  2. Looks intriguing. I think the splash markers represent weight of fire rather than actual fire.

    1. They get put down for near misses I think and give a bonus for future fire but all the evidence is that lots of splashes from different guns would actually make it harder, not easier, to judge accuracy. I might leave them out and maybe just use them for a bit of added scenery.