I haven’t got opportunity to have closer look at the SCA: Fast Play before, mostly because I do like the detailed approach of the full game, and can appreciate the fine nuances it offers. However, I ended up in situation where I needed to see naval rules that were as little language dependent as possible, and remembered that I do have SCA: FP in the shelf. The rules, especially if read through the main product are very, very simple and very approachable. Simplicity is taken as fas as not to be concerned with multiple sail states and there are only three (Full Sails, Easy Sails and Furled) and various speeds in relation to the wind. So, in all simplicity, there are three speeds (0, 90mm and 180mm) and 11 eligible compass points one can move and 5 towards the wind that are used only when tacking.
I do admit that initially I was put away by this treatment of sailing model, but after being forced (if that is the right word) to use the model, I realized that in all it’s simplicity, it puts a lot of effort on what really matters – maneuvers, and positioning of fleets. SCA: FP is after all more of a fleet game than about individual ships.
So, as a test we played scenario adaptation from Close Action: Monsoon Seas, the “Happy Return”, which pits against each other French and British during seven years War. British (64, 60 and 64 gun ships of the line), better ordered and positioned on the windward side, have much stronger French (64, large 74 and 46 gun ships of the line) opposing them.
Initially, it was the French that took pounding, trying to get the ships in any sort of fighting order, or line while sailing by the wind. Initial maneuvering took down one RDC from the leading French vessel before French could fire a shot. Lost RDC significantly slowed the sailing. Further harm was caused British ability to concentrate fire from two to three ships against one.
Tide started to turn around mid game when French large 74 came into firing position and restlessly bounded on while closing British. Difference in firepower between 64 ship of the line (broadside: 6) and 74 large (broadside: 9) is huge.
After hour and a half, one British ship surrendered, one french ship shot in pieces and other two on both sides suffering minor damage, fleets separated and captains went to have dinner. Pretty good considering that other player was a complete newbie.
I guess that the conclusion is that when there is about 6-12 ships a side, SCA: Fast Play makes a better fleet level game. Especially when qualities and signaling are included. Question is twofold: what is important in the naval game of the period? To model sailing in exquisite detail, or to make sure that things that matter are executed fluently and that even larger game can be played to conclusion within time that is available.