Cold Waves is the final game of a set covering the War of the Austrian Succession at sea (plus the concurrent War of Jenkin's Ear). Though relatively unknown, these conflicts, raging from 1739-1748, comprised the first "world war". The primary naval actions took place in three theatres: the English Channel and Bay of Biscay, the Caribbean, and the western Mediterranean. Forces also clashed in India, along America's eastern seaboard, and in the Pacific. Cold Waves examines the European Atlantic coasts, the Channel, and the North Sea, where tedious blockade duty and convoy hunting was laced with the everpresent fear of amphibious invasion – something both sides tried more than once.
Cold Waves is a two player strategy game. You command either the British or Bourbon (French and Spanish) 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). 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 actually in playon the map is quite small). The campaign game consists of a number of years pre-chosen by the players.
Every ship that appeared in the theatre is accounted for, as is every leader of note. (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. Specially named squadrons represent the great ships, like the 112-gun Real Felipe, which successfully beat off a simultaneous attack by three British ships of the line. 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. Leaders are ranked, and rated for skill and personality.
1) Five map sheets representing the waters stretching from Norway to the Canary Islands. The map uses a point-to-point system of movement based upon the various prevailing winds.
2) 960 standard square counters plus (in the boxed version) 53 round ones. These represent the British and Bourbon squadrons, leaders, and auxiliary assets.
3) Rules, charts, tables, and display cards.
4) An historical commentary.