Review: Uncharted Seas

Here is my Review of the Game Uncharted Seas, produced by Spartan Games.

Uncharted Seas is a naval game based in a fantasy world. My chosen race for this game is the Iron Dwarves, however as so many people in my local store play them this may change in the future.

The rules are not very complex, and the rulebook costs a meager £15. It also includes at least 2 cut out fleets for you to play test the game with before buying their models. Below is a brief synopsis of how the game works, and plays.

There are some negatives about the rulebook, and they are disappointing typos, where words are mispelt, and sometimes page references appear as page xx rather than with a page number.

The history however and rules as a whole are superb and I am very impressed with the fluff behind the game.

The Turn.
At the beginning of each turn, each player rolls to determine who has the initiative. Once this has been determined the winning player then gets to activate a Squadron (basically a unit of ships, or a single battleship). They then have to complete all the actions with that Squadron, i.e Moving, Shooting, Boarding then when they are done their opponent gets to activate a Squadron.

I quite like this turn method as it means that you dont just get pounded by then enemy for 15 minutes before you get to respond, it also means you can respond better to enemy deployment, movement and actions.

Activation.So when you activate a squadron you get to do the following actions (in this order).

For the ships you have to move a minimum of 2" each turn, unless you drop you anchor, in which case you can move upto Half your movement this turn, and you will not move next turn at all. Depending on the class of ship depends on how sharply you can turn, as you can imagine a Frigate can turn around very very quickly using less of its movement to do so that a Battleship.

You also have to determine the direction of the wind, as this effects how fast the ships with Sails can move, this Wind direction can change at the beginning of each turn, and can greatly affect how effectively your ships can move in the movement phase.

In each of the Start fleets they provide you with the 3 turning templates which allow you to easily move your ship in the correct turning circle.

This phase is the most important phase, and runs very well. Each ship has a selection of weapons, generally the larger the class of ship the more weapons it has. Each weapon also has a specific arc in which it can fire.

You can fire all of the weapons on your ship, so if you can position yourself right your Battleship can shoot both Broadsides and its forward weapons, it is also allowed to target its weapons against different enemies.

There are four specific range bands, with some weapons on your ships being able to shoot in all of them, and others being restricted to the short bands. The range bands themselves function as listed below:

Range Band 1: Upto 8"
Range Band 2: Between 8" & 16"
Range Band 3: Between 16" & 24"
Range Band 4: Between 24" & 32"

Once you know what range band your target is in (you can premeasure before declaring) you can determine how any attack dice you roll against the ship.

When you know how many dice you get to roll you simply roll them. After you have done this you pick out all of the ones that score a 4 or a 5, as each of these represents 1 hit. Any 6's represent 2 hits, and you get to roll the dice again. When you have done this you add all the hits together and compare it to the target ships Damage Rating and Critical Rating.

If you equal or exceed the Damage rating then you cause 1 hull point of damage, if you equal or exceed the critical rating you get to roll on the critical hit table. The crititcal hit table typically removeds 2 Hull points and has another nasty effect such as not being able to fire your port weapons or turn.

Hull points of damage also reduce the effectiveness of the ship in combat, as for each hull point of damage you have it reduces the number of attack die you roll for each weapon by that number (to a minimum of 1). Losing Crew points also has this effect, but you dont add the lost hull points and crew points together and then take it away, you simply check which is higher and take that away from the number of attack dice.

If a ship reaches 0 Hull Points then it is taken out of the game, if it reachs 0 Crew points then it becomes a drifiting ship.

There are some modifiers to the Attack Dice being rolled, such as shooting at a smaller target only allows 5 & 6's to count as hits (although the 6 still gives you 2 hits and a reroll).

Also if you manage to get yourself behind the enemy ship you get to perform raking shots, and these hit on a 3,4,5 or 6.

Boarding & Ramming
This is a somewhat desperate tactic and doesnt really have a specific order in the activation, you can sometimes hit the enemy ships with your ship, either on purpose or by accident, however it does tend to do a lot of damage to both ships, and then the ships are locked in comabt until on or the other crew is wiped out.
In the case of Crew combat you roll a number of dice equal to your remaining crew, with a 4 or 5 killing 1 enemy crew, and a 6 killing 2 and gaining you another dice to roll.

The Fleets & Models:
I have to say that all the models I have seen have been wonderfully modelled. They are not too tricky to paint so if that is something you dont like doing or lack confidence in then these models are easy enough to paint so that they look good with minimal effort.

The fleets vary in price depending on how many parts are required for each model in them, and can be as cheap as £30 or as much as £50. However each box contains everything you need for a game, including the turning templates, and a race specific deck of cards that are an optional extra in the rules, and grant you special abilities, like firing before you move, or repairing damage from your ship.

In Summary:
I have seen and played in several games and I have to say that both players thoroughly enjoyed the game, whether they were winning or losing, and given the simple system they have used for damaging the enemy it means even if you only have 1 or 2 dice you always stand the chance of rolling 6 after 6 after 6 and potentially destroying an enemy outright.

My Score: 8 / 10


Greg said…
Thanks for the review. I loved the old Man o' War game and wondered how this stacked up against it. Plus the ships really look good.
Kraggi said…
I have to admit I have never played Man o' War so cant do a direct comparison, although I have to say this is a very enjoyabe ruleset.
John Lambshead said…
Interesting review.
i have seen the models and they look great.