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SAILS of GLORY Starter Set £65.99


Published by ARES Games.  Designed by Andrea Angiolino & Andrea Mainini
The first thing I should like to say about SAILS of GLORY is that if you are looking to buy a present (Birthday or Christmas or just because you can) for someone who is into miniatures wargaming in the Napoleonic period then this will almost certainly be greatly appreciated.

The basic starter set is really meant for 2 or 4 players – it can be for 3 but it isn’t advised as it gets a mite messy. If there are 2 players they are suggested to take 2 ships each (either 2 French or 2 English being the most sensible) whereas 4 players will play sides, 2 v 2. You need a flat area on which you can (if you have one) lay a blue cloth (it looks so much better on blue cloth). The few flat  2D island and atoll tiles that come with the game don’t do a lot for the visual appearance so if you have any 3D scenery it won’t make the gameplay any better but it will be more visually aesthetic.

The starter set comes in a box large enough to keep all of the pieces in safely, though if I am to be honest I would have preferred to see a couple of zip-loc bags in there for the hundreds of small counters rather than just the blown plastic wells and card shapes. Most gamers have baggies available to them or they can be picked up in office supply stores or games shops quite cheaply. These hold the counters tight and still allow the box to close properly, plus putting the counters in baggies allows you to move the box around and even store it on its side safely. I have also put all the cards and ship log for each ship in separate baggies for future ease of sorting.


There are four ships that come with the starter set game. These are 2 smaller and 2 larger vessels. Each ship can be one of two actual ships simply by turning over the Base Card, so in actual fact you have 8 ships in the starter pack though you only have 4 models. The ships available to you are the French ships: Courageuse / Unité and Généreux / Aquilon plus the British HMS Terpichore/Meleager and HMS Defence/HMS Vanguard. 

Note about the Base cards: To use these you have to lift the ship from its base, then remove the clear plastic window and slip the Base card for the required ship onto the holder. The plastic window and ship is then replaced. You may have to make a very slight, and I mean really slight, trim along one side – whatever you do, don’t cut the complete colour scheme off from one side (you need it) – as they are a very tight fit in the ship holder.

If you have played ARES Games WWI combat game WINGS of GLORY you will be familiar with the concept of moving via manoeuvre cards; similar style cards are used in SAILS of GLORY.  SAILS of GLORY also uses a Wind Gauge (you need to assemble this), Attitude Indicators (also need minor assembly), and double-sided rulers (for combat).


The ships movement is by the strategic use of cards but the overall game is, as you would rightly expect, about dealing damage to your opponent’s ships, thus the strategic movement should encompass the manipulation of your ship or ships so that one or more of the firing arcs on your ship’s Base card line up with one or more of the opposition’s ships; this is where the Combat Rulers come into play (players of Wings of Glory will be familiar with this game mechanic).


There are hundreds of counters in the game, including 5 sets of Damage Tokens that are marked A, B, C, D and E. The A, B and E tokens are for the complete game and the Basic rules while the C and D tokens are introduced for the Standard and Advanced rules. The Action Decks are also marked A, B, C etc and on each Ship card, down the side with all the other pertinent information, is a letter which determines the manoeuvre deck to be used.


There are 60 pages of rules, which at first seem quite excessive considering the simplicity of the gameplay, but the reason for this voluminous verbosity is that virtually every page contains photographic examples of play, often not just one photograph but a series of photographs that make each rule abundantly clear. However, before anyone gets put off by mention of this large rules book,  I would like to point out that the Basic game can be set up and play started in very little time and that there is no requirement to read and remember the entire rules set before the action can begin.




There are four phases for a turn and yes, each player should have knowledge of what each phase entails, but other than that you can expand, embellish and enhance the game with Standard and Advanced rules once you are comfortable with the basics. The four phases, which are actioned by all players simultaneously, are:

1.    Planning:  This is where the players decide where they want to move their ship(s) and choose the appropriate manoeuvre cards. Also during Planning the players have to take into consideration the wind (remember these are large sailing ships and thus greatly affected by the wind). The pre-assembled attitude indicator is brought to bear on this decision.
2.    Movement. Manoeuvre cards have different colour borders and each signifies a variation on normal, straightforward movement. Thus selection of card is important.
3.    Combat: There are two types of attack – artillery and musket fire. Here the player uses ammunition counters to show when their guns are available to fire (ie the guns are loaded) plus the opposition ship has to be in range and within a firing arc. Musket fire comes into play when the ships are extremely close to each other.  Damage done to ships is in the form of hits which are converted to actual damage by the random drawing of numbered chits. Some of these chits show crew on their own or with a number. Losses are marked by placing these chits on the appropriate spaces on a ships reference card.
4.    Reloading: Guns are reloaded in the turn after they were fired. Counters are used to convey this aspect of combat.

The Basic rules end on page 20 – I realise that 20 pages seem a lot for Basic rules but these do include photographs of all components, an Introduction and a Table of Contents over the first 6 pages - and are followed by a simple scenario – Enemy in Sight – which will allow all players to put what they have learned into play. Pages 22 - 27 enhance the Basics into Standard and pages 28 – 33 bring you up to the Advanced rules (which include Boarding ships and special damages). After this the pages contain Optional rules and rules for Solitaire play etc.


SAILS of GLORY is already expandable with new ships that come in separate plastic bubbles along with the necessary documentation. You can purchase these in game stores, online or at conventions. They are not inexpensive, but their quality explains this.

  Embuscade 1798  £12.49

   HMS Cleopatra 1779  £12.49


  Montagne 1790  £17.99

I believe that in the future ARES Games will have a means to combining the excellent rules and mechanics of both Wings of Glory and Sails of Glory into a WWII game where we can move and manoeuvre warships and planes (fighters and bombers etc) over and around each other. The concept of such a wargame is within the capabilities of the ARES games designers. I haven’t heard anything about this idea from ARES, I am just saying that I think it’s something that could well be in their thoughts (if it wasn’t then it is now!).


© Chris Baylis 2011-2015