Rules and Things
Even allowing for the fact that naval wargaming is something of a Cinderella compared to land games, it is surprising how little attention this period has attracted. If you want to game the World Wars, Nelson's battles or play with triremes, then you are really spoilt for choice. For the Sixteenth Century, however, I have yet to find a completely satisfactory set of rules. To date I have looked at some half a dozen different sets, and rejected most them for one reason or another. One major reason is that I want to fight larger scale battles as well as small, and I especially wanted to avoid bookkeeping, so those rules that require a log to be kept of each separate vessel are going to lose out to those that don’t, which is most of them. Ideally I want a set that captures the feel of the period without slowing a game up with micro-management of every ship. Barbarossa and Don Jon of Austria didn’t have to worry about it, so why should I?
Secondly, any rules that cover things like ramming (not a feature of combat since the Roman period) and/or the wind gauge (this is the Mediterranean Renaissance, not the Napoleonic Wars!) smack of anachronism and will also likely be passed over in favour of others. At present my preferred set is the old WRG rulettes set. Very brief and to the point, they reflect some of the doctrinal differences between the different nations and their galleys and allow for land forces and fortifications, important features of the galley warfare of the period. Most importantly they provide for a quick game with no record keeping. When I tried them out at a club meet in Tokyo, my opponent found them easy to use and was quite happy to give them another go in the future. I haven’t yet tried Langton’s “Serenissima” rules, or the “Lanterna” set from the Perfect Captain, so I can’t comment on those, but to date I haven’t found a set that gives me as good and as fast a game as the old WRG set.