Saturday, 22 December 2018

An old boardgame ... Armada.

The local 2nd hand shop is right across the local bakery, so every time I stop to buy fresh bread or pastries, I always pop in to check if there's anything useful for my wargaming habits.

So this is the latest acquisition (price: 2.5 Euro). A naval boardgame published in the late sixties called Armada. This is the Dutch version, hence the reference to the Zilvervloot (aka the Spanish Treasure Fleet).

The game itself is rather simple: each player has a number of ships, and you have to move them along the grid (the grid looks triangular, but since you move on vertices, it really is a hexagonal grid) to reach a destination port as soon as possible. Since players move ships in opposing directions across the board, you can also shoot at each other, taking out the enemy ships. As can be expected, the game has nothing to do with the actual history of the Spanish treasure fleet ... the theme is simply pasted on. Nothing new there, as we see this in many modern boardgames as well :-)

I doubt that I will ever the play game (the plastic model ships are nice though ... I can repaint them and use them in a proper naval game), but I was surprised to see a very nice mechanic for determining speeds of the ships relative to the wind direction.

In the middle of the game board there is a large plastic island containing a "compass" marker. There are 6 wind directions (determined by a die roll each turn). The nice bit is that the movement distances are indicated on the rotating compass marker, such that you can immediately read off the movement distances relative to the wind direction. When the wind direction changes and the compass is rotated, these indicated movement distance rotate along as well, and so you never have to "compute" your relative bearing to the wind direction.

The picture below illustrates the idea. The wind direction is direction 3, and you can immediately see that when your ship moves on the grid in direction 5, you get to move a distance of 3 or 1 (2 distances, since merchants and warships move at different rates). Direction 6 does not allow movement at all (0 and 0).

There is a blue and a yellow compass as well, for different wind strengths. The numbers are slightly different, but I didn't check them out whether they all make "sense".

The entire mechanic looks very nice. You can of course do all this using tables and modifiers as well (as you would expect in a proper naval wargame), but having 3 different dials for wind strength, and having movement speeds on the dials such that they are always relative to the wind, struck me as a very clever idea.

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