Somar Skrala
The Baltic, 1741-1743

Volume II in the Sea Lords series

Somar Skrala is the second of a set of games covering the Age of Sail at an Operational level. While the War of the Austrian Succession raged elsewhere in Europe, and around the globe, in the Baltic Sweden and Russia faced off in the little known War of the Hats. At one level, the war had been engineered by France to keep Russia from helping Austria, but at another level, it was a war to reclaim Sweden's lost empire. The war was poorly managed by Sweden, and for a number of reasons they suffered a catastrophe of the first water – especially, the war was begun to help a Russian princess overthrow the current dynasty (in return for territorial concessions that were not forthcoming); a war with such an object was sure to be a confused affair.

Somar Skrala also examines the possibility of Danish intervention. In reality, the Danish Prnce Royal was an heir-presumptive candidate for the Swedish crown (the Swedes having an elective monarchy), and the Danish King assembled men and ships to help Sweden defend this choice against Russia. But Sweden, in the end chose a candidate favoured by Russia (as the price of peace) and the Danes very nearly went to war against Sweden instead.

The Game

Somar Skrala is a two player strategy game. You command either the Swedish or Muscovite (Russian) fleets. Orders are handed down to you from your Admiralty, and you must try to fulfill them within the framework of the wider war, which is represented by a set of events. Your opponent will have orders of his own to fulfill, but with his spare forces he will be attempting to foil your plans. Success will earn you Prestige (victory points), and may even have an impact on the land campaign. You must decide when and where to commit resources, where to feint and where to strike, organising your "sail" (ships) into squadrons, and your squadrons into flotillas commanded by leaders (commodores and admirals). Maintaining sufficient forces at "battle readiness" is critical, but very difficult, since ships constantly suffer wear and tear – a battle may be won and the campaign lost. Scenarios are one year (16 turns) long, playable in 3-4 hours (the number of counters in play is quite small). The campaign game consists of a number of years pre-chosen by the players. A special campaign scenario allows the players to link Somar Skrala with its companion Lace Wars game – A Lesser Wrath.

Components

1) Six 11x17 inch full colour maps representing the Baltic in the 18th Century.
[NB sample map image is low-res].

2) 360 counters. The boxed version of the game also includes about 18 wooden disks as an alternate means of representing the higher formations. Every ship that appeared in the theatre is accounted for, as is every leader. (Although by the basic rules ships are generic "SPs", players can use the OOBs to add detail and even fight battles using their favourite tactical system). Squadrons are rated for movement and the number of sail they can contain. Special named squadrons represent the great ships, like the 114-gun Imperial Anna. Other counters represent special assets, like fireships, frigates, and galleys. These can be "played" (like cards) to conduct special tasks such as search and shore bombardment. In the Baltic, galleys played a prominent role, and thus appear as Sail as well as mere "assets". Leaders are ranked, and rated for skill and personality.
[NB sample counter images are low-res].

picture of the game

3) A set of charts and tables, plus display cards.

4) A series rulebook (called the Fighting Instructions, or FI), a game-exclusive rulebook, and an historical commentary.

The game is available both as a digital download (PDFs, not software) and as a boxed game with die cut counters. The boxed version comes packaged with RSG's companion land game (Lace Wars system): A Lesser Wrath.