Naval Wargames and Naval Wargaming

Naval Wargame Recruiting Poster

Regardless of your preference for naval boardgames or naval miniatures rules, naval wargaming can be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone. Whether you are fascinated by the stout wooden ships of the age of sail, the stately old pre-dreadnought warships of the late 1800's, the imposing dreadnought battlefleets of the early Twentieth Century, the far-reaching fast carrier task forces of World War Two or anything in-between, naval miniatures games and naval boardgames give you the opportunity to relive the past in many ways.

If you're not already playing naval wargames, please have a look at some of the naval miniatures rules and wargames available on our site. If you already play naval wargames or if you are a naval history buff, you're sure to find something of interest here at SEAWARSTORE.COM. We stock the full line of SEEKRIEG 5 products as well as the naval miniatures rules from Clash of Arms and the Great War At Sea and Second World War At Sea series of naval wargames from Avalanche Press as well as the new naval miniatures rules Battle Stations! Battle Stations, Victory At Sea and General Quarters III.

A Brief History of Naval Wargames
Although wargames in one form or another have probably been used as a training tool for military officers at least as far back as the early 1800's, the first widely-distributed and publicly available naval wargame was invented by naval analyst and publisher Fred T. Jane. Jane presented a paper on the subject to the U.S. Naval Institute in 1898 and later published his rules in the 1905/6 edition of "Janes Fighting Ships", a semi-annual publication listing information and technical details about the warships comprising the navies of the world.

Years later, in 1940, Fletcher Pratt designed and published a set of naval wargame rules entitled "Fletcher Pratt's Naval War Game". These rules gained wide acceptance and are still a favorite of naval wargamers even today.

Both the Jane and Fletcher Pratt naval wargames used miniature model ships (hand made from wood and roughly 1/600 to 1/1200 in scale) and required a very large floor space in order play in scale (warships engaging one another at 15,000 yards would be about 38 feet apart in 1/1200 scale).

During the 1960's through the late-1970's, naval wargaming increased in popularity to the point where numerous commercially-produced naval wargames were available. These ranged from the relatively simple and self-contained tabletop boardgames "Jutland", "Bismarck" and "Wooden Ships and Iron Men" produced by Avalon Hill to somewhat more complex gaming systems like "Seapower" (Alnavco), "Seekrieg" (Sartore) and "Command at Sea" (Clash of Arms) designed for use with naval miniatures.

The 70's and 80's also saw naval wargaming expand beyond the limits of early Twentieth Century naval warfare. Naval miniatures rules and boardgames were now being produced that covered just about every era of naval history from ancient galleys to the Age of Sail to the Nuclear Age.

Space continued to be a problem since the only large selections of commercially-available miniatures were still 1/1200 scale and they were becoming expensive to collect. Firms like Alnavco, GHQ and C-in-C began producing naval miniatures in 1/2400 scale and it was now possible to use a large tabletop instead of the floor to re-fight a naval battle in miniature. Other smaller scales of naval miniatures like 1/3000 and 1/6000 are now being produced allowing naval wargamers to collect relatively large fleets of miniature ships for a reasonable cost.

Naval boardgames such as those now produced by Avalanche Press, Ltd. are a popular alternative to miniatures gaming. Like their predecessors, these are self-contained games that do not require a separate collection of ship models but rely on colorful and often quite detailed die-cut cardboard counters up to about 2" in length and a printed map for strategic and tactical movement. These games are generally less-complex in nature than many of the naval miniatures rules and, of course, require nothing larger than a kitchen table for a playing surface.

A naval wargame in progress at Historicon 2005

How Do I Get Started In Naval Wargaming?
The question most often asked by those interested in getting their feet wet in naval wargaming (pun intended) is 'How do I get started?'. The answer is that there is no good answer -- it all depends on many variables like your level of interest in naval history, what particular era appeals to you and how much time, money and space you are willing to devote to your new hobby. Believe me, it ranges from a few favorite boardgames tucked away on a bookshelf to large self-constructed gaming tables, huge collections of painted miniatures and a veritable library of books and other reference materials.

Here are a few suggested courses you can steer on your voyage to naval wargaming:

1. Take the plunge. Purchase a naval boardgame or set of naval miniatures rules that fits your interest and budget and give it a try. Not all games play well solitaire so having a friend or two who may be willing to join you in your experiment can be a big plus.

2. Seek out naval gamers and clubs in your area. The internet offers us all an unparalleled ability to connect with others who share our interests. Try searching the internet (using several search engines) for gamers or gaming clubs near you. This is important since not all search engines use the same algorithm, a search is likely to yield a very different set of results in Google, MSN, Yahoo! and others.

3. Join an online naval wargame discussion group. There are numerous naval wargame-related discussion groups on the internet as well as several general gaming discussion boards with special sections devoted to naval gaming. Some groups are specific to a particular era of naval history or a specific set of rules or product line but joining these groups and either lurking or actively participating can be a great way to see what other gamers are doing and what they think of a particular game.

4. Attend a game convention. Game conventions are one of the best ways to see what this hobby is all about and provide the opportunity for everyone to check out the available naval wargames and miniatures first-hand. In addition to the many scheduled games available for sign-up, there are often numerous "pick-up" games and watching or participating in any of these are a great way to become more familiar with the naval wargaming hobby.

Links to Wargame Convention Web Sites
HISTORICON: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
COLD WARS: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
FALL-IN: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
ORIGINS Game Expo: Columbus, Ohio
RECON: Orlando, Florida
HMGS Great Lakes

Links to Wargame Discussion Groups
Official SEEKRIEG Naval Wargame Discussion Group on Yahoo!
NavWarGames Discussion Group on Yahoo!
The Miniatures Page
Miniature Wargaming Forum
Pre-dreadnought Discussion Group on Yahoo!