For the past couple of weeks I have been investigating different rule sets for ancient naval warfare. I have found several blogs with battle reports, book reviews, and information on different manufacturers. One of the best of these is Rams, Ravens, and Wrecks Not only does his blog cover rules, models, and books, it also has links to other sites. It has been very helpful in determining which rule sets might work for fleet actions and which are best for small actions along with which books on the subject are worth reading or purchasing.
One of those that looks like it might be good for fleet actions is Corvus from the Society of Ancients which arrived in the mail today. While there is an earlier version available for free online, the one from the Society is well worth the price. In addition to an expanded rule book it includes two color sheets of top down ships, a card quick reference sheet, markers, and turning aids for both 1/600 and 1/1200 ships. The color ship sheets are 1/600 scale and are similar to the ones from Tiny Tin Troops The ones at Tiny Tin Troops can be purchased in 1/600 scale and 1/1200 scale. I purchased all the 1/1200 ship cards that they have available.
Some time back I had purchased the Roman Seas ships from Hotz Artworks These are 1/300 scale, but with a bit of computer savvy they can be reduced to smaller scales. The first step is to take a screen print at 50% zoom. Next locate the screen print (easy to do with Windows Ten using the onedrive feature). Then using a program like Paint Shop Pro use the resize function to reduce the image to the scale you want. Note when resizing, increase the number of pixels per inch/centimeter to keep the clarity of the image. For example, if further reducing the image by 50%, the number of pixels should be doubled. There are also a number of side view images of galleys on the internet that can be saved and reduced to the scale you prefer. The Hotz ships are actually larger than 1/300. A trireme should be about 30mm long after reducing the 50% screen print image by 50% a second time. I found that I needed to make a further reduction in size to reduce the trireme image to 30mm. At the moment I am waiting for the cards from TTT to arrive to determine if the reduced images I have made will fit on the counters.
I have seen Hotz Roman Seas galleys reduced to 1/650 scale on The Miniatures Page in the Galley section and built as three dimensional models. 1/1200 is quite a bit smaller and I will be building 2.5 dimensional models instead, What I will do is print them on heavy cardstock, fold and glue the two side images together, trim as needed, glue them to a base and glue the oar banks to the sides for stability. I did look at various 1/1200 ships, but even the less expensive ones from Navwar are cost prohibitive for the number of ships I intend to use. Outpost Wargame Services makes 1/3600 ships, but their range is a bit limited and may be too small for what I want.
There are a couple of rule sets that I am looking at for large fleet actions. Corvus is one of them. The rules are not complex, but do cover ramming, grappling, boarding, oar shearing, missile fire, and morale. The rules for missile fire are a little odd as the only effect is setting the target ship on fire. Setting ships on fire rarely happened. What I will do is change that to a reduction to the class of the ship for the missile fire and close combat factors when a hit is scored. The ram factor will not be affected. This will reflect crew casualties. It may also reduce the ships top speed.
The Roman Seas website has a page on myths about ancient naval warfare. One of them has to do with artillery on ships actually firing stone/concrete balls. The artillery was the torsion type which fired projectiles in a flat trajectory instead of the Onager catapult that is often depicted for ancient artillery. The site mentions that the lighter engines could penetrate four inches of planking while the heavier ones could fire a ten pound projectile (think canon ball). Range was about 200 to 400 yards.
There is a tactic that is missing from the Corvus rules called the Anastrophe. This is a combination oar shear and ram where the attacking ship attempts to shear the oars on one side then make a tight about turn to ram the target from the rear quarter. War Galley from GMT Games has rules for this in section 7.3 of the rulebook. The War Galley rulebook is available for free from GMT games in their living rules section.
There are other bits of chrome that could be added. One is crew quality, with good crews costing an extra point and poor crews being reduced by one point. Another would be towers that were on larger polyremes. One probable change would be to add an initiative rule to determine who moves first in each turn after the first.
Ancient Naval warfare is one project that I will be working on this year. I will be posting more later when I look at other possible rule sets and put the ships together.
As an addition to this I have added more about other rule sets at
Ancient naval rules