13 August 2012

Dreadfleet - first glimpse of the game and the rules

Earlier last week I went over to my buddy Daniel who had bought a copy of Dreadfleet with the intention of painting it up and selling it on eBay. I was curious about the game and asked if we could try it out before he sold it. And so we did.

   The game was released a while ago as another demented "limited edition" product, but the price was very steep and off putting for a game that I knew nothing about when it was released. People apparently didn't buy it, and it ended up being a bomb for GW. Now you can get the game for 50% of the original price here in Sweden at a select few store that still have it in stock- 400SEK instead of something like 700-800SEK.

And I have to say, for that price, the game is a bargain, if you can stomach the "GW" style "skulls on everything" approach to the sculpting. The box includes a large amount of cards and components, all dice, measuring sticks, beautiful looking rulebook/scenario book ( I love the art direction – and the style of the artwork), pretty high quality plastic ships and the wonderful looking "sea cloth ”that is used as the game board. Ironically my interest was sparked by the "Beasts of War" review of the game, the BoW guys are usually extremely bad at doing reviews that make sense, but the information they did share in their video was enough to attract me to investigate the game closer.

 Sure enough, the game mechanics are simple,
and not revolutionary.
They are based upon D6 rules, and you have alternate ship activation combined with the wind and manauverability factors combined with a couple of "order cards" that you captain can issue. But the few games we tried out demonstrated a very tight set of rules and game mechanics. Every ship is a "character" with its own special rules. I thought it would be boring and I think many people wanted a Man-o-War game instead. But Dreadfleet was surprisingly fun, and the abilities of each ship and captain along with the random events and constant change of wind direction each turn provided a most unexpected good time. I actually ended up going down to the store and picked up a copy of the game of my own (though I don't know when I will have the time to paint the contents up, and have yet to open the box).

This game shows the irony and the great tragedy of the GW marketing department. When they actually offer something solid and good - they charge an arm and a leg and make it limited edition hoping that people will kill for it. When the success doesn't happen they withdraw and destroy their own unsold copies. Granted that you will never need to buy more than one box, because it is a self contained game. But if GW had any kind of intelligence left, they would have made this a regular "collectors game", and released standalone expansions forit to keep it alive and expand upon the replay value. I also think that the price was crazy to begin with as well.500SEK would be a good price. Anything beyond that is simply off putting.

I will write a proper review of the rules and the game soon. Though I will wait with painting the miniatures for this game until I finish my current painting projects (By Fire & Sword, Empire of the Dead and 20mm Modern Warfare). I really recommend it if you want a self contained game that is complete straight out of the box. Just make sure to try to get a glimpse of the stuff and how the game plays IRL to make your final decision whether or not to buy it.

In the meantime, here are some pictures of Daniel’s WIP Dreadfleet box contents.


  1. No doubt they've also been hammered by the popularity of Dystopian Wars.

  2. I have played Dystopian Wars and must say that I found Dreadfleet more fun. Maybe it was the "skirmish nature" of this game as opposed to units with unit coherency in DW.

    The DW miniatures are crazy crisp though, can't believe how they are able to make them with that amount of detail and qualit on such tiny models.

  3. Good quick review. You are absolutely right on the GW marketing aspect. Shame really that such a good product had such a short life in the marketplace.

  4. The price here was way to much for me at release (as you said) justifying it to the wife would have been tough. It was the same thing with space hulk, it was one of the first games I bought as a teenager and I would have liked to have picked it up but I just couldn't justify the price. Shame they didn't make it (or this) a longer production run. Another face palm for GW marketing.

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