Dreadfleet hit the stores on Oct 1, and I was there eagerly awaiting the release. Here’s my thoughts on the latest from Games Workshop.
I didn’t really know what to expect, other than the obvious: a naval warfare game with plastic minis. However, if the game was anything like the latest Space Hulk release, then it was sure to be a quality game with great minis that I would enjoy.
I spent my free time during the weekend putting it all together and, not having time to paint the whole set just yet, washed the models different colors so the teams/other models on the table would be a bit more distinct. In retrospect, the purple team and red team are a bit harder to distinguish from one another than I would like, but not enough to be a problem.
The game is set in the Warhammer world, where a Grand Alliance of pirate lords unites to hunt down and destroy the undead Dreadfleet of Count Noctilus. Depending on the scenario, each fleet can have up to 5 unique ships, each with its own special skills:
The “Good” Guys:
The Heldenhamer: A heavy-hitter bristling with guns and tough as nails. The hood ornament with the hammer isn’t just for show, either. It can launch a potentially devastating prow attack.
The Swordfish: A good all-round ship with a handy prow attack and the ability to reroll one die out of each set of attack dice.
The Flaming Scimitar: An otherwise average ship with the ability to conjure one of three spirits each turn: speed, attack, or repair.
Grimnir’s Thunder: A slow, but heavily-armored ship that can weather a lot of firepower and can launch annoying dirigibles to harass and maim.
The Seadrake: An amazingly fast ship with the ability to deploy deadly dragons and to make two orders per turn (rather than the normal one)
The Dead Guys:
The Bloody Reaver: A monster ship with the ability to launch devastating boarding actions and to command the loyalty of sea creatures.
The Curse of Zandri: An average ship able to boost its stats significantly once per game, for those critical moments.
The Skabrus: A ratmen-infested leviathan (all of which are undead), difficult to command, but able to ignore armor with its warp-lightning cannons.
The Shadewraith: A flying ghost ship that is exceedingly difficult to hit with ranged attacks.
The Black Kraken: A giant mechanical squid that can submerge and reappear to ambush its foes with its massive tentacles.
The rules of the game for moving, shooting, and launching boarding actions are easy to learn. That being said, they interact in a way that definitely adds a great deal of dimension to the game. For example, if you want to launch a boarding action against an enemy ship, you may want to consider contacting it at an angle rather than head-on, so you can get the broadsides involved as well. Just keep in mind that you have to have more than 50% of the enemy ship in your side arc in order to fire on it, something that will definitely come up in your games. Arcs of fire/sight play a central role in Dreadfleet.
As for the contents of the game, you get a nice 5’x3’ seascape mat to play on, some dice, cards, counters, about a dozen islands/shipwrecks, 10 warships, 3 sea monsters, and the small auxiliary ships for both fleets. All of the models are distinctive and live fully up to the kind of detail one expects from Citadel plastic minis nowadays. Dreadfleet is a complete stand alone, with everything that is and ever shall be used for the game all in one box. Expansions are unlikely, as the core game itself is limited edition. Nevertheless, there is huge potential to make your own scenarios.
In all, this turned out to be a surprisingly fun game. When the “mystery box” was first announced months ago, many of us, myself included, had hoped that it would be Blood Bowl getting the love. Nevertheless, I am quite satisfied with Dreadfleet. It is easy to learn, yet very multifaceted. The models are great, and what seems at first like a hefty price tag actually turns out to be a pretty good deal.
That’s it, folks! Please share your experiences, thoughts, or questions on Dreadfleet.