Starting point: Two players, small fleets (perhaps even single ship actions) and an umpire. Players controlling the fleets are stepping into the shoes of the admirals, commanders or captains, but unlike normal tabletop miniature game, only view players have over the surrounding sea is what they observe from the deck of the flagship (or position elevated very slightly).
Each admiral, commander or captain is equipped with a signal book, list of available tasks, wind/speed chart and their starting fleet order in relation to each other. Umpired ships (those without player controlling them) will take the best shots available, with preset restrictions. Crews will perform tasks that are mandatory within the constraints of the admirals orders, but no ship will put themselves into suicidal position, nor intentionally distort the line unless explicitly told to do so by the admiral
Headings and sail states of vessels are given (but opponents will not possess information of wether ships are coppered or foul and hence speed is not given exactly). Rest of the information, such as damage is obscured, unless visually evident. Admirals control their own vessel, but has no direct control of the rest of the fleet. Any orders need to be conveyed by signals to other vessels in the fleet. There will be no direct interaction between players – no more than one would be able to have during the times. Despatch or two can be exchanged between the captains, admirals and commanders to describe the overall plan before the battle commences. Any exchange is controlled by umpire.
To make things more interesting and realistic, view is shot from the position of the admirals flagship (or if each ship is controlled by individual, then from each ship separately) at the beginning of each turn. Based solely on visual information about positions, headings etc. Fleet admirals, captains and commanders issue the orders and fly signals to the fleet.
Of course this is an experiment, and I cannot say in advance wether it will work or not, but I’d expect that if it does, it would make interesting – albeit somewhat confusing command and control experience.
So, if you are captain in a half pay, and would like to participate to this (unique?) naval game experiment, then comment below and make your interest known. After action report will be published for everyones amusement after experimental game is over. If it proves to be success, then other games will follow.