Close Action - Warfare in the Age of Fighting Sail

"There I have you,' cried Jack. 'You are bit - you are completely dished. Don't you know that in the Navy you must always choose between the lesser of two weevils? Oh ha, ha, ha, ha!'
- Patrick O'Brian, The Fortune of War

As a big Patrick O'Brian fan I had always wondered if there was a good game out there that would allow me to step into the boots of Lucky Jack Aubry and exchange broadsides with enemies of Her Majesty's Royal Navy. After some research I narrowed it down to three potential games: Wooden Ships and Iron Men, Close Action, and Flying Colors.

Flying Colors looked like fun, but it was too high-level to me. I wanted to command one ship and Flying Colors allowed one person to control many, many ships. So that was out. Wooden Ships and Iron Men is a classic and well loved by many. It was very interesting and I almost chose it... until I read that Close Action seemed to go into even more detail without too much more difficulty. Close Action appears to take WS&IM and toss out the bad and make the good even better! Close Action won the day! Its simultaneous movement and gunfire coupled with the details of ordering your crew about and having a completed ship's log at the end of each battle to relive the excitement had me hear the snap of the sail, the boom of the guns and the creaks of the rigging as I was reading the reviews. I sent my money in to Clash of Arms Games and a few days later I had the box in my hands!

Close Action has a reputation of having a steep learning curve, so I was a little apprehensive when my box arrived in the mail. Would I be able to get it? Or would this end up on a stack of unplayable games (Napoleon's Triumph, Prussia's Glory)? Was my lot to be a Captain without a ship, sitting at home on half-pay with no prospects and my prize money dwindling away?

As I opened the rulebook I decided to take it slow and easy. I read each section and took my time absorbing it. I would refer to the sample Ship's Log as I would cover each area in the rules. The ship's log was the key! I could see the game being played through that sample sheet. I read the rules one time through, waited a day, and then read them through again. Everything was clicking into place. The movement, the log, the firing... it all fits, it all makes sense and I am in command! I passed my lieutenant's exam and I believe that I am ready to go!

My friends have no idea that I have this game. I am planning on springing it on them during a future Craft Day. Oh, and I should mention that I couldn't just leave well enough alone with it... what with miniatures to possibly purchase and optional rules to consider...


  1. Nice review Jeff. I'm excited to play. Will try to get a PDF of the rules.

    1. Michael - I am excited to play as well! It is a beautiful game and I know that we can play it. It won't be like Napoleon's Triumph or Prussia's Glory! Ha ha! We'll get this game sorted out and have a great time.

      Beat to quarters! Run up the colors! Helm: straight at 'em.

      - Jeff


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