Inspired by the Warmaster Ship rules and with a bit of Steam Tank shoved in for good measure, I hope this will be more or less compatible with the normal Fantasy Battle rules.
In Sea Battles the scale is 1” in Warhammer equals 0.5 cm. So a cannon that may shoot up to 60” in Warhammer may shoot up to 30 cm in Sea Battles. Feel free to play at different scales if you wish.
Ships are divided into sizes according to their length. A ship that is up to 2 cm long is Size 1, one that is up to 4 cm long is Size 2, and so on. Ships should not normally be bigger than 12 cm or Size 6.
In addition to any required crew, a ship may also transport troops. A ship may carry a total Unit Strength of 20 for each level of Size, so a Size 1 ship may carry 20 infantry or 10 cavalry (or any combination of those), while a Size 2 ship may carry 40 infantry or 20 cavalry, and so on. Units may not be spread across more than one ship, although a ship can carry more than one unit if it has enough space aboard.
Ships in Sea battles who have sails are obviously affected by where the wind comes from. To establish wind direction the players can either agree on a direction, or roll a Scatter dice in the middle of the table and use the arrow to indicate which way the wind is blowing. Once wind direction has been established a more permanent way of showing which way it is blowing should be used, for example a strip of tape with an arrow drawn on it attached to the tabletop.
As with wind, the current of the water influences how ships can move. If the battle is on the open sea there will not be a noticeable current most of the time, but in rivers the current has more of an effect. If the table features a river running into the sea, then the current is obviously towards the sea. In other cases the players should either agree on which direction the river is flowing, or roll randomly for it.
Sea Battles a turn is divided into the same phases as Warhammer, but what happens in each phase is not necessarily the same.
- Start of turn
Damaged ships check to see if they sink. Psychology tests and similar are taken
- Movement phase
Ships move (duh!)
- Magic phase
Any wizards aboard ships may cast spells
- Shooting phase
Ships and the troops aboard them fire at each other.
- Combat phase
Any boarding actions are carried out.
When deploying a ship, a player has to decide whether one of the characters aboard will have command of the ship and be its Captain, or to randomly generate a Captain. To randomly generate a Captain, roll a D6 on the table below.
|2 – 5||Experienced
One ship in the fleet should be designated the Flagship, and its Captain is called the Admiral. Any ships within 6 cm of the Flagship may use the Admiral’s Leadership for all tests, in the same way as in Fantasy Battles.
Ships and Psychology
Ships take Psychology tests as normal, using the Leadership of the Captain. Remember that one inch in Fantasy Battles is only half a centimetre in Sea Battles, so ships don’t take psychology test very often.
Ships never flee, though, so if a test is failed the ship simply cannot voluntarily move next turn.
Ships are different from troops in that they have no set number of wounds they can take before they are destroyed. Instead a ship takes damage in the form of one or more Damage points. At the start of each of your turns you must check for each damaged ship to see if it sinks. Roll a number of D6 equal to the size of the ship and add them together. If the result is more than the number of Damage points the ship has taken all is fine. If you roll equal to or below the number of Damage points, the ship sinks.
Example: Jim’s Size 4 ship, the Hammer has taken 12 points of Damage. At the start of his turn Jim must roll 4D6; if he rolls 13 or more the ship is fine, if he rolls 12 or less the ship sinks.
Ships taking damage
In addition to being able to take large amounts of damage before they sink, it is also very difficult to inflict that damage; ships are rather hard to get to, after all.
Whenever an attack from any source hits the ship, you must roll to see if the attack hits soft or hard. Determine which direction the attack is coming from and roll a D6 on the appropriate table. Ships have facings just like units do.
|Location||Hard hit||Soft hit|
|Front||1 – 5||6|
|Side||1 – 4||5 – 6|
|Rear||1 – 2||3 – 6|
If a ship has transported troops aboard, a D6 should be rolled for each hit; on a 6 it hits a random unit onboard (characters can not be hit in this manner). Otherwise continue with the normal procedure.
Note that any attack coming from above automatically hits soft, as it is more likely to smash through deck plates and do considerable damage. This includes hits from stone throwers and spells such as Forked Lightning, but not ordinary shooting, cannons and so on.
Next, work out how many Damage points the attack does to the ship. This is done by adding the following factors:
- The score of a D6
- The Strength of the hit
- The number of Wounds caused, if the hit causes multiple Wounds. If the weapon does not cause multiple wounds, as is the case with nearly all weapons, nothing is added.
- If you have hit Soft, subtract 8 from the total you obtained.
- If you have hit Hard, subtract 10 from the total you have obtained.
Note that when an attack causes multiple hits (e.g. a Hellblaster), each hit is rolled for separately.
In other words:
Soft damage = D6 + S + X – 8
Hard damage = D6 + S + X – 10
Where X is the number of wounds caused.
Example: A bow is S3 and does not cause
multiple wounds. It will then do D6 + 3 + 0 – 8 points of Damage if hit hits
soft, or D6 + 3 + 0 – 10 points of Damage if hit hits hard. In other words it
has to hit soft and roll a 6 to inflict a single point of damage.
A Great Cannon is S10 and causes D6 wounds. It does D6 + 10 + D6 – 8 points of Damage if it hits soft, and D6 + 10 + D6 – 10 points of damage if it hits hard.
An attack that wounds automatically has no special effect on ships, roll for damage as other attacks would. Ships are also Immune to Poison.
When a ship sinks it should be replaced by a Wreckage marker. At the start of the owner’s following turn the Wreckage marker is replaced by a Debris marker and the turn after that the Debris marker is also removed.
A ship moving into contact with a Wreckage marker may attempt to rescue the troops clinging to the wreckage (or, if they are enemy models, capture or kill them). Roll a D6 for each model onboard the ship when it sank; on a 1-4 the model was killed when the ship sank or has later drowned; on a roll of 5-6 the model is okay and can be picked up. Subtract –1 to the roll if the model had a 3+ armour save or better and add +1 if the model had a 6+ armour save or no armour. Characters may add +1 to their roll if they are Heroes or +2 if they are Lords. A ship can rescue or capture any models they have room for and either let the rest be or kill them automatically.
A ship moving into contact with a Debris marker has the same options, but there is an additional –1 penalty to all rolls to see if the troops are alive (e.g. troops with a 5+ save are alive on a 6).
As in the normal Fantasy Battle rules, ships move in their own turn's Movement phase, but differently from FB they must be given orders to move. In this manner, a ship may not always be able to move when it wants to, but on the other hand it could move several times per turn if the captain passes more than one Command test.
Generally speaking, a ship moves either using sails or oars. If a ship has both sails or oars the player must declare which method the ship is using before moving it and must stick to that method for all moves the ship makes in that Movement phase.
To move a ship has to pass a Leadership test, using the Leadership value of its Captain. This represents the Captain giving orders and the crew carrying them out as best they can and is called a Command test. If the test is passed, the ship can move up to it’s normal speed, if the test is failed the ship does not move. After moving a ship that passed its Command test, the player may attempt to move the same ship again by taking another Command test, and may continue to do so until it fails a Command test, at which point it cannot move any further that turn.
Note that ships do not charge or make march moves, they only move using Command tests.
Ships are moved one at a time, in any order the player likes, but a player must finish rolling Command tests for one ship before he attempts to move a second ship. He cannot move a ship once, move another ship and then go back to the first ship and attempt to move that one again.
Remember that a ship may use the Leadership of the Admiral, if within 6 cm of the fleet’s Flagship.
The following modifiers apply to Command tests:
- Each successive order to the
If a ship has already moved in that turn then the second Command test for that ship is made at –2 Leadership, the third test at –4 Leadership, and so on. This represents the difficulty of carrying out complex orders, the fatigue of oarsmen, and similar.
- Loss of crew: -1
If the ship has lost parts of it’s crew to shooting or close combat attacks (see below), it will naturally perform worse and any Command tests have a –1 penalty. This effect is not cumulative, and the ship only suffers a –1 penalty even if it takes further crew losses.
- Damaged sails / oars: -1
It a ship has taken damage to its sails (see below) and attempts to move using sails, it suffers a –1 penalty to it’s Command test. The same applies if the ship has taken damage to its oars and attempt to move by oars. Ships with both sails and oars obviously have an advantage here, as they can choose the other propulsion method if one is damaged.
- Sail moving against the wind: -1
Sail moving with the wind: +1
If the ship has sails and starts its current move with the wind blowing from its front arc it suffers a –1 penalty to its Command test. Similarly, if it starts it move with the wind blowing from its rear arc it gains a +1 bonus to its Leadership (up to a maximum of 10).
- Ship moving against the current: -1
Ship moving with the current: +1
As with the wind, a ship that starts its move with the current to its front suffer a –1 Command penalty, while a ship that starts its move with the current to its rear gain a +1 Command bonus (up to 10).
Note that when several modifiers apply it might be very difficult to pass the test, though a roll of double 1 is always successful.
If a double 6 is rolled for a Command test, a blunder has happened. Roll a D6 on the blunder table below.
The ship’s crew rebel against its Captain. The ship suffers a permanent –1 penalty to it’s Leadership. Further rolls of Mutiny are cumulative.
2: Tangled rigging
The crew make a mess of the ropes and rigging. The ship suffers a ‘Sails damaged’ result as described on the damage table below. Additional ‘Tangled rigging’ results have no further effect and ships without sails ignore this effect altogether.
3-4: Wrong turn
The crew misunderstand the order given. Instead of moving, the ship turns 90 degrees either left or right (roll randomly).
The crew don’t understand the order they are given and instead do nothing. The ship does not move.
A move for a Ship is up to 20 cm at full speed, or up to 10 cm at half speed. This move must be in a straight line, though a ship is allowed to turn one or more times during its move.
A ship moving by oars may make a single turn of up to 90 degrees at any point during the move and still move at full speed. If moving at up to half speed, the ship can make an additional turn at any point during the move. These two moves can be combined into a single 180 degree move if the player wishes.
A ship moving by sails can make a single turn of up to 90 degrees during its move and must move at least 10 cm before turning if going at full speed, or at least 5 cm if moving at half speed.
Embarking and disembarking
Units can move on or off ships at the end of the Movement phase. As Sea Battles are intended to be played at a much smaller scale than Fantasy Battles, cardboard counters should be used. However, there is nothing stopping you from scaling the game up, allowing you to use Warmaster or even Warhammer miniatures, if you have enough space to play the game!
Flying units may disembark just like any other unit, and may even disembark while the ship is at sea, to go and attack enemy ships. They can embark again in the same manner. While operating on their own they should be represented by a Flyer counter. Flyers do not have to land at the end of their move and are not affected by ramming.
Man the Lifeboats!
Units aboard ships can man the lifeboats by disembarking normally. It is assumed that there is enough lifeboats for each unit aboard the ship and each unit, along with any characters in the unit, should be represented by a lifeboat counter. Lifeboats may be fired upon normally and provide no protection to the unit (i.e. all hits should be worked out according to the normal Warhammer rules).
Lifeboats can move up to 10 cm in each movement phase and do not require orders. Units in lifeboats may embark onto friendly ships following the normal rules for embarking. A rammed lifeboat automatically sinks and is replaced with a Wrecked marker. At the start of the owner’s next replace the Wrecked maker with a Debris marker, as normal.
Ships ram other ships by moving into contact with them. As you would expect, this may cause damage, quite possibly to both ships. Use the normal method above for calculating damage, but note that both ships take a hit. The damage you cause on the enemy ship when you ram it or are rammed by it is as follows:
- The D6 roll for damage is made as normal.
- The Strength of the attack is double the Size of your ship, minus the Size of the enemy ship. The maximum Strength is 10 and the minimum is 1. So a S6 ship ramming a Size 3 ship is Strength 6 x2 – 3 = 9.
- When you are ramming an enemy
ship you cause D6 Wounds if you have moved at least 10 cm so far in this
Movement phase, or D3 Wounds if you have moved 10 cm or less this Movement
If you are the one being rammed you cause no additional Wounds.
- Roll for hard or soft hits as normal
Example: Your Size 5 ship rams a Size 4 ship in the rear after moving 15 cm. You roll for location and hit soft. The Damage taken by the enemy ship is therefore D6 + 6 + D6 – 8. Meanwhile the enemy rolls for location and hits your ship hard. The damage taken by your ship is D6 + 3 –10, in other words no damage.
A ship with a Frenzied Captain will always ram whenever possible.
The magic phase should be handled just as normal in Warhammer. Spells may be cast at ships as if they were units, and affect them normally unless the Sea Battles rules mention an exception.
Spells that affect a unit’s move will affect a ships move, counting it’s half speed move as it’s normal movement and it’s full speed as its charge or march movement. Remember to scale any distances accordingly. E.g. the Hand of Gork spell cast on a ship will cause it to move 2D6/2 cm towards the enemy.
Spells that affect a unit’s Leadership will affect the ship’s Captain.
If more than one point of Damage is caused against an enemy ship in the same Magic or Shooting phase, extra damage may happen. At the end of the phase, roll a D6 for each Damage point inflicted on the ship. For each double (or triple, or whatever), look up the result on the damage table below.
- Batton the hatches
Sudden fires cause panic onboard the ship. It may only move at half speed next turn.
- Sails or Oars Damaged
Extra damage is caused to the ship’s sails, lowering their effectiveness. If the ship has no sails, or if the sails are already damaged, the oars take damage instead. If a ship has neither undamaged sails or undamaged oars this result has no further effect. See ‘Command tests’, above.
- Crew slain
Some of the crew are slain and they will have problems controlling the ship. Each ‘Crew slain’ result lowers the amount of crew support attacks in combat by –1. See ‘Command tests’, above.
- Hull Damaged
The ship takes an additional point of Damage.
- Captain Slain
The Captain or members of his senior staff are slain or seriously injured. The ship suffers a permanent –1 penalty to its Leadership.
If a character was commanding the ship, he takes D6 S5 hits (any bonus to his armour save for being mounted / barding does not apply).
- Below the Waterline Hit
The ship is sinking! Remove the ship at the start of the owner’s next turn.
Example: Three Damage points were inflicted on the ship Victorious in a single magic phase, so at the end of that phase 3D6 are rolled, which come up as a 2, 2 and 5. In this case the result is ‘Sails or Oars damaged’.
Note that it is possible to get multiple rolls on this table in a single phase, if enough Damage was inflicted.
The number of models that may fire from a ship depends on its size and is 5 models per point of Size. I.e. on a Size 1 ship 5 models may fire, on a Size 2 ship 10 models may fire, and so on. War machines count as 5 models each. Models may fire in any direction, though all models from the same unit must fire at the same target. Enemy ships are, naturally, Large targets.
If a weapon uses a template, the players should scale this accordingly. If a small round template or a flame template hits a unit aboard a ship, they take D6 hits, with 2D6 hits being inflicted from a large round template.
Shooting can cause Extra damage in the same manner as magic.
Combat in Sea Battles is normally initiated by one ship ramming the other, but can also happen by flyers attacking enemy ships. Attacks are always made against troops onboard a ship, if any. Only if a ship has no troops aboard can the ship itself be attacked. When a ship is charged, models aboard can stand and shoot following the normal rules.
Fighting aboard ships
Due to the nature of ships, fighting aboard them is a bit different than fighting on land. The following special rules apply:
- Units get no bonus from ranks
- Cavalry models gain no bonus to their armour save from being mounted or barding, and the mounts do not attack. Weapons that may only be used by mounted models may not be used. In essence the rider fights while the mount is kept in the hold.
- Monsters and chariots may not attack at all, being locked down safely in the hold.
Battles onboard ships are not worked out over several game turns, instead they are fought until one side is destroyed or the winning side decides that it does not wish to continue the combat and disengages. Before fighting starts, each player writes down the order in which each of his units may attack. Characters may fight with a unit or as a unit on their own, if you wish.
Who can fight?
After both players have decided on the order of attack, they both reveal their first unit and those two units fight against each other. The number of models that can fight from each side is double the Size of their ship. So a unit fighting from a Size 5 ship may attack with up to 10 models. Models on 40 mm or larger bases count as two models each for this purpose.
Challenges may be issued and accepted as normal. A challenge may be declined if there are members in the unit who are not fighting. Outside challenges, attacks may be allocated against any enemy model who is fighting.
In the first round of combat the chargers strike first as normal, with the defenders having the advantage of a defended obstacle. Note that this also applies to flyers attacking ships, who must take care not to get their wings tangled in the rigging.
Support attacks from crew
The crew of a ship are generally not fighters, but can support an attack made by the troops onboard it. Each round a player gets a number of WS2 S3 bonus Attacks equal to the Size of his ship. These attacks are always made against the enemy unit, never against enemy characters, unless the character is fighting on his own. Any ‘Crew Slain’ results on the damage table above will reduce the number of support attacks.
Combat results are worked out as normal, though no unit may claim a rank bonus. Any unit that breaks from combat is immediately destroyed, as there is nowhere to run to. If this happens, or if a unit is wiped out to the last man, the next unit in line will fight next round. Units fighting aboard ships are Immune to Panic.
As mentioned, a combat onboard ships may continue over several rounds, all in the same game turn. A combat ends when all units from one side are destroyed, or when one side wins combat, but decides to disengage. When one side disengages the combat is over and the ships are moved 1 cm away from each other. If one side wipes out the enemy they may take over the ship if they have a character who may command it, or they may scuttle the ship, sinking it. Any number of models may be transferred to the captured ship, space permitting.
Models who are Frenzied or Hate their opponents will never disengage and will instead fight till the bitter end.
Army specific rules
- Orcs & Goblin ships are affected by Animosity just like units are. If a ship rolls a “Let’s get ‘em” result they will ram the closest friendly ship that suffers from Animosity, but will not board it.
- Tomb Kings ships can only make a single half-speed move in the Movement phase, but automatically pass the Command test. To move a ship further the owner must cast Incantations of Urgency on it.
- Vampire Counts ships can only make a single half-speed move in the Movement phase, or a single full speed move if within 6 cm of the Admiral at the start of the turn. They automatically pass this Command test. To move a ship further the owner must cast Vanhel’s Danse Makabre on it.
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