Black Seas Master and Commander

Today, I want to share my thoughts on a fantastic naval wargame that's been sitting on my shelves for quite a while. I finally got around to painting the models and giving it a go, and I have to say — I regret not doing it sooner. Anyway, this is my first historical game that I've had the pleasure of playing. There's a first time for everything, right? Better late than never, as they say. Whether you're a seasoned wargamer or just dipping your toes into naval battles, this game has something for everyone. So, grab your tricorn hat and let's dive in!


Black Seas | Warlord Games | Historical Wargame

The Master & Commander starter set has everything you need to dive into Black Seas. It comes with a rulebook, mat, dice, ship cards, tokens, 2D terrain pieces, and nine ship models. Giorgio and I decided to split the ships between us to build two fleets. So, I chose the Royal Navy, while my fiancé decided to mix things up a bit and create his own pirate fleet. He hand-painted different symbols on the sails to distinguish each ship and added some Green Stuff modelling putty to create custom stern decorations that looked like pirate skulls.


Black Seas | Warlord Games | Historical Wargame

Smooth Sailing with the Rules:

First things first, the rules in Black Seas are top-notch. They’re clear, concise, and make the game both easy to pick up and challenging to master. The rulebook is filled with examples and diagrams that help you get the hang of things quickly. Plus, the balance between historical accuracy and fun gameplay is just spot on. You’ll find yourself learning a bit of history while plotting your next naval victory.


Black Seas | Warlord Games | Historical Wargame

Ship Models and Miniatures:

Now, let’s talk about the miniatures. They might not blow you away if you’re used to high-end models from other companies or 3D prints. The differences between ship models can be pretty subtle, which might be a bit of a letdown if you’re after something more spectacular. But, this is where your painting skills and imagination come into play. And for those who love a bit of historical flair, Black Seas offers special historical ships from each fleet that you can buy separately. This adds some awesome variety and authenticity to your games.


Black Seas | Warlord Games | Historical Wargame

A Few Rough Seas:

Of course, no game is perfect. The paper mat that comes with the base game is functional, but not very durable. The wake markers, which show the level of sail for each ship, are another gripe. They can be a bit fiddly and hard to manage, especially when you’re moving your ships around. It can disrupt the flow of the game, which is a bit annoying. Another issue is the red damage sliders when you want to track current ship points value. These are also made of paper and tend to wear out quickly and often fall out of the ship cards. This problem can be easily solved by using custom-made indicators or looking for hobby shops that sell laser-cut markers designed for other games.


Black Seas | Warlord Games | Historical Wargame

Packed with Historical Content:

One of the coolest things about the rulebook is how much historical content it packs in. There's a ton of information about the history of sailing from that period or a detailed list of ships elements. For example, a iconic British ship HMS Victory is beautifully represented, allowing players to appreciate its construction and history. Plus, it’s filled with fascinating historical tidbits, like the origins of various weapons' names, quotes, etc. For those who aren’t familiar with nautical terms, there’s even a handy glossary. This makes the game not just fun, but also a great learning experience.


Black Seas | Warlord Games | Historical Wargame

Flexibility and Strategy:

Another great feature is the flexibility Black Seas offers. The game comes with 13 scenarios to keep you busy, but you can also create your own fleets. You and your opponent can agree on a points total to buy ships, equipment, and crew, which adds a ton of strategic depth. This system is really well-organized and gives you the freedom to tailor your fleet to your play style. Different weather conditions affect ship movement and actions, adding a layer of realism and forcing you to adapt your tactics. It’s a neat touch that keeps the game exciting and challenging.


Black Seas | Warlord Games | Historical Wargame

Hold Fast Expansion:

It's also worth mentioning the expansion (available separately), Hold Fast, which takes the game to another level. I have only the rulebook, but the whole bundle includes a lot more. The book introduces new scenarios, river combat rules, and detailed histories of major fleets from the era, including famous captains and ships. The coolest part, in my opinion, is the ability to create your own smuggler fleet. The publisher even added some fantasy elements like sea monsters from sailors' tales, including the legendary Moby Dick.


Black Seas | Warlord Games | Historical Wargame

Final Thoughts:

All in all, Black Seas is a fantastic naval wargame that offers a rich, immersive experience. The minor issues with the paper mat, wake markers, and red damage sliders are easily overshadowed by the well-written rules, and the treasure trove of historical content. Whether you’re a history buff, a model enthusiast, or just love a good strategy game, Black Seas is definitely worth checking out.

So, set your sails, gather your crew, and prepare for some epic naval battles on the high seas. Happy gaming!




Black Seas | Warlord Games | Historical Wargame

Black Seas | Warlord Games | Historical Wargame

Black Seas | Warlord Games | Historical Wargame

Black Seas | Warlord Games | Historical Wargame




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