Ralf Schemmann's Man O'War Fleets

The Elf Fleet

"The Elves are the greatest seafarers in the Old World. No other nation can match their deep knowledge of the sea and all its mysteries. No other race can match the speed of Elf warships, the skill of the Elf sailors or the long range of their devastating weapons." (Man O'War rulebook, p. 48)

Elf fleet
Elf fleet (2 Dragonships, 2 Eagleships, 2 Hawkship squadrons)

The Elves were the fourth fleet I tackled and they proved quite a challenge, because their graceful lines and slender towers were hard to recreate in cardboard. Still I think they came out pretty nicely in the end.

The Elves haven't been played very often in our group, mainly because I finished them fairly late and by then most regular players had their favorite races picked out. In the few battles they took part, the elves performed adequately. While their supreme speed and maneuverability (two movements and a special turning template) are great assets, this is at least partly offset by their low fire power. Their Eagle Claw ballista have superior range, but each ship is only equipped with a few of them. The elven crew compliments are also small, making the ships vulnerable to boarding.

All of this combines into one really obvious strategy: Use your superior speed and maneuverability to stay at long range and harrass your enemy from afar. The Eagle Claw ballista have no damage modifiers for range, making this tactic even better. While that sounds easy, space on the gaming table can be a great problem. The tactic only really works on the wide open sea, cramped spaces and many islands will throw a heavy wrench into it.

Individual ships


The Dragonship

The mighty flagship of the Elf fleet is an incredibly powerful man o'war. While its firepower is only mediocre it has one of the greatest weapons of all the ships of the Old World: The Dragonblades. These ancient and ensorcelled rams enable a Dragonship to slice other ships right through and sail on. In one of our games this resulted in a Dragonship sinking three enemy ships in one turn! The move is not without its dangers though, as the Dragonship can get stuck, if the prey does not sink right away.

At a cost of 200 points the Dragonship is not a cheap man o'war, but it is well worth the cost. The crew is numerous and its hull sound. The ships only weakness is the relatively low firepower.


The Eagleship

As the small cousin of the Dragonship the Eagleship has a few significant differences, all of which reduce its effectiveness. With no Dragonblades it has no ramming capability at all, and its crew complement is rather low for a 150 point man o'war.

Of course it shares the speed and maneuverability of all elf ships, but its guns (ballistas) are mounted all broadside instead of forward as with its companion ships. This makes the ship a little harder to use effectively in battle.

At its cost the Eagleship is probably the weakest unit of the elf fleet, and if the fleet list didn't require an Eagleship presence, I would go for another Dragonship or Hawkship squadron instead.


The Hawkships

The tiny but fast and quite powerful Hawkships are probably the best 150 point squadron afloat on the seas of the Old World. That's because in addtion to their elven speed and agility each of them sports two forward ballistas, giving them double the firepower of a squadron of monitors or wargalleys.

If at all possible, the Hawkships should form the bulk of the elf fleet, running circles around the enemy fleet and bothering him with ballista bolts from all directions.


In addition to their ships the elves have another type of unit they can buy: Wardancers. For 25 points a troupe can be attached to a specfic ship and provides a reroll in boarding actions. This can do a lot to offset the elf fleet's weakness in boarding actions, but is expensive, if applied to more than a few ships.

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Created by Ralf Schemmann, last updated: October 5th 2005