Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Harpoon: Captain's Ediion

There are a lot of wargames that were published in the good old days that are now out of print that I wished I had purchased. So, I've been picking up a number of them. One reason is to have some board games available if needed. The other is looking at them in terms of converting them into miniatures games. This is nothing new for me. Way back in the late 70s, my buddy Mark and I used the rules for Avalon Hill's Midway as the basis for a very simple naval game using handmade ship miniatures. We also once tried using AH's Panzer Leader to have a microarmor battle.

I've been focusing on naval and air board games because there are few miniature rule sets out there compared to land-based games. My latest purchase is Harpoon: Captain's Edition (H:CE).

Unlike Harpoon rules, H:CE is a board game that takes place during the 80s. The rules are pretty simple, but not simplistic. They are also pretty clear cut and well organized. I read them in about 20 minutes and didn't feel confused about any particular part. I noticed that some of the mechanics are very similar to those of other modern naval rules, Shipwreck in particular. I think these can be easily converted into a miniature game. There are only two minor drawbacks. First, weapon stats is somewhat abstracted.

Sample of ship cards for H:CE. Weapon and defence stats on the right.
As seen above, there are anti-aircraft/anti-missile defenses, anti-ship weapons, and so on, but you don't know specifically what the weapons are. The weapon systems for Rory Crabb's Naval Command is the same way. I prefer to know exactly what each weapon does so that I can build my own boats. However, with a little work, I can figure out weapons data.

The second issue is more of general complaint of a number of modern naval rules. Many rules seem to focus on the "big ships" and leave out smaller ships. For example, there are no Soviet missile boats such as the Komar or Osa, or even the larger Nanuchka-class and Tarantul-class missile corvettes in this game. I can forgive H:CE as it has a narrowly focused scenario that takes place in the Northern Atlantic. However, I don't understand why other rules sets do the same thing. Not to pick on them, but Naval Command is an example. Interestingly, I've seen this in some WWII naval rules regarding destroyers. It's as if they don't exist. Again, I can work out the stats for these smaller ships, but it would be nice if they were already done by the author of the rules.

I need to get back to my 6mm miniatures. I have been making some pillboxes and small bunkers out of polymer clay. I will give a report on those soon.


  1. Thanks for sharing this, I wasn't familiar with this game. Looks interesting, I think I'll try to chase down a copy. Thanks again.

    1. Your welcome! Many times, I've considered getting it, but its been largely panned. Finally, when I saw another blogger using it as a basis for miniature rules, I thought I might as well take the plunge.