Issue: 20
System: Man O'War
Publisher: Games Workshop

Ram O'War
by A. Measures

I have been interested in naval wargames for a long time, especially ancient/renaissance warships, so I was very interested when Games Workshop's Man O'War was released. I personally like GW products which, although pricey, are very well presented, and I do like more simplistic systems as my gaming time is limited. I like to be able to pick up a game system quickly.

However, given the GW penchant for bolting on and upgrading their rules, I am surprised that the ramming rules have never been improved. After playing with several sets of historical naval rules, one thing in common with all is the relative complexity of the ramming rules compared to those in Man O'War, which are simplistic in the extreme, consisting of a die roll on a chart. In determining damage, not much account is taken of ship size, angle of attack, or the rammer being damaged.

So what follows is a simple set of rules to be used for ramming actions, the special rules for ships still apply, and only ships which can ram in the original rules can do so.

Firstly, each vessel is given a size rating as shown in the size rating table.

I have upgraded the dwarf ships due to their metal construction, so an extra 25 points should be added to their cost per ship/squadron.

Class 1 Class 2 Class 3 Class 4
  • Warp Raider
  • Death Dealer
  • All War Galleys
  • Hawk Ship
  • Buccaneer
  • Doom Reaver
  • Big Chukka
  • Drilla Killa
  • Hell Slicer
  • Hull Destroyer
  • Thunder Roller
  • Nautilus
  • Death Fortress
  • Eagle Ship
  • Monitor
  • Wolf Ship
  • Iron Shark
  • Hell Rammer
  • Plague Crusher
  • Great Ship
  • Ork Hulk
  • Dragon Ship
  • Galleon
  • Ironclad
  • Dreadnought
  • Blood Ship
  • Hell Ship
  • Plague Ship
  • Doom Bringer
  • Chaos Dwarf Battle Barges
  • Black Ark
Illustration of ram hit locations

The next thing is to determine the part of the target ship hit. This is determined from the adjacent diagram.

One die is thrown per ram and the roll modified as follows, all rams use the same table:

-2 Bow ram
-1 Stern ram
-1 per class difference when ramming a larger ship
+1 per class difference when ramming a smaller ship
+1 Blood Ship ramming
+1 any Dwarven ship ramming
+1 rammer moved full move distance in a straight line
-1 rammer moved less than half move distance
+1 target immobile

The result is then read off the table below and applied immediately:

Score of Modified Die Roll Effect
-3 or worse Ramming ship takes 3 points of damage
-2 Ramming ship takes 2 points of damage
-1, 0, +1 Ramming ship takes 1 points of damage
+2, +3 Rammed ship takes 1 points of damage
+4, +5 Rammed ship takes 2 points of damage
+6, +7 Rammed ship takes 3 points of damage
+8 Rammed ship takes 4 points of damage
+9 Rammed ship takes 5 points of damage

All damage points are taken from below the waterline

So there you have it: my ideas on modifying the rules. I'm sure others could come up with some better suggestions than mine, but it might just stop your Black Ark being sunk by a poxy Imperial war galley when you are not looking!

Ed Note: Man O'War is a set of fantasy naval wargames rules published by Games Workshop although at present only available by Mail Order. It was reviewed in Ragnarok 9.