For two bleak decades the Undead reavers of Count Noctilus have plagued the oceans of the world. After each raid, the Dreadfleet disappears into its lair as quickly and silently as it appeared, far from the reach of Man. And yet there remains hope. Captain Jaego Roth of the Heldenhammer has vowed to hunt down and destroy Count Noctilus and his Undead captains once and for all. With him sail the most notorious and cunning of the pirate lords of Sartosa, each borne to battle upon a giant warship bristling with cannons, organ guns and bolt throwers. At the stroke of midnight on Geheimnisnacht, most forsaken of nights, the Heldenhammer and her companions sail into the realm of undeath known as the Galleon’s Graveyard. One by one, Count Noctilus and his vile allies move in to stop them.
Back in my day (he says, putting his feet up by the fire and drawing back on his pipe), Games Workshop made fantastic, over-the top, ‘big box’ games in addition to their core tabletop miniatures systems. Games like Necromunda, Space Hulk, Blood Bowl, Dark Future and my personal favourite, a fantasy naval combat game called Man O’ War. These games are long, long gone, and if, for example, you want to get a few fleets of Man O’War miniatures together these days it will cost you a pretty penny on Ebay. Luckily, I bought these games when they were first released, and have built up a nice collection of miniatures for them over the years.
Although these games did have expansions and decent ranges of miniatures, they weren’t big money spinners like Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000, so they were dropped from the GW product line. Gamers like me waited in vain for them to return until suddenly, in 2009, a impressive new ‘limited edition’ of Space Hulk was released. Chock full of components and unique miniatures of incredibly high quality, and folding in some of the rules from expansions to make a stand-alone game, it showed that GW really could still pull out the stops and make an amazing miniatures-based boardgame if it wanted to. Space Hulk sold out of its print run pretty quickly, and it seemed thereafter that GW were content to leave Fantasy Flight Games to make money from boardgames based on their Warhammer licences.
But to everyone’s surprise, it seems they aren’t done mining their old glory days yet. Dreadfleet has just been announced, and it’s a truly excessive and wonderfully extravagant-looking production with a huge gaming mat, 10 fantastically detailed ship models, over 130 cards, and numerous other bits. And all I can say, frankly, is … gimme!
I don’t see any sign of ship template cards, so it’s possible this is a completely different system than the original Man O’ War, or at least a streamlined version; and certainly that game had entire fleets for each of the races. For this game it appears to be the good guys alliance versus the bad guys alliance, five ships a side, though with the addition of some very cool island terrain and lots and lots of very thematic special events. Almost every Warhammer race is catered for with an unique ship, from a huge sea monster carcasse to a ghost ship that float above the waves to a Chaos Dwarven mechanical metal giant squid! Dreadfleet really does look spectacular, and is sure to be another short-run sellout for the GW.
So to all of you that missed out on the fun of Man O’War, you really should get your mitts on this game and experience the broadsides, boarding actions, manoeuvering and uniquely Warhammery madness of naval combat in the Warhammer world!
Click here to watch a video overview of Dreadfleet.