June 18, 2024

#UnboxingDay – Undocking UNDER THE SOUTHERN CROSS: South American Naval Battles in the Age of Sail, 1811-1841

RockyMountainNavy, 20 July 2023

One of the earliest wargames I ever owned was Wooden Ships & Iron Men (The Avalon Hill Game Co., 1975). As the years passed, I moved onto other tactical Age-of-Sail wargame systems including Flying Colors (GMT Games, first edition 2005, Third Edition 2023) which is excellent for fleet actions. In addition to the Third Edition printing this year, Volume IV: Under the Southern Cross which focuses on South American naval battles in the early-to-mid-19th century also released.

Although marketed as Volume IV in the Flying Colors series, Under the Southern Cross is actually a complete, independent game that does not require the core box of Flying Colors to play.

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Not an auxiliary

 

Under the Southern Cross ships in a standard GMT Games 2-inch deep box that is fully laden.

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Over open sights (click images to enlarge)

 

There is plenty of content in Under the Southern Cross. If you don’t already have the Third Edition Upgrade Kit you will find several of the same content items packed in here. This is in keeping with the complete game marketing approach.

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Full locker

 

Under the Southern Cross comes with an insert that “floats” the contents to the top of the box. I am always torn as to what to do with an insert; some need to come out for storage space while others can stay. In this case I wonder how the cost of putting an insert into a box compares to the cost of including one dice tray? I ask in part because my copy didn’t ship with any small plastic bags for storing counters like so many GMT Games often do.

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Bilge or locker?

 

My copy of Under the Southern Cross shipped with the Flying Colors Rule Book Version 01.01.2023. As such, it is the most recent print version (the Living Rules version exists on the GMT Games website).

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Sailing regulations

 

Playing Under the Southern Cross means using Player Aids some of which fold out into two-page spreads.

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More helpful than many a midshipmen

 

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Gunner’s Mate

 

The scenario book for Under the Southern Cross includes not only new rules for this module, but also many scenarios or campaigns.

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Beat to Quarters

 

I’ll admit I was a little disappointed to see that Under the Southern Cross includes mostly “small” (single hex) ship counters vice the larger two-hex kind. That said, I still am happy to see the variety of nationalities and ships provided.

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Shipyard

 

To help navigate your battles, Under the Southern Cross is provisioned with three full-size (34″x22″) maps. One of the three maps is specifically designed for the Ship Duels rules (Flying Colors 5.0).

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Navigation charts

 

Under the Souther Cross comes with Initiative Cards (marked “Maneuver Cards” on the back) that can be used for Flying Colors rule 4.8 as an optional method of determining the order in which commands and out-of-command ships activate.

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Commanding maneuvers

 

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“England expects…”

 

I am not sure what advice to give owners of older editions of Flying Cross who want to upgrade to the Third Edition. Given Under the Southern Cross is a complete game, this might be a good pathway to use to upgrade as you get both the latest rules and Player Aids as well as new scenario content. The dealbreaker—if anything—may be those Maneuver Cards which are only found in Volume II: Serpents of the Seas and this volume.

 


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IF YOU ENCOUNTER A COUNTER CASTING A HEX IN A HEX
AND YOU COUNTER THE HEX WITH A COUNTER-HEX IN THAT HEX DURING THE ENCOUNTER,
AND YOU HAVE TO COUNT HOW MANY HEXES ARE IN THE HEX DURING THE ENCOUNTER
ARE YOU PLAYING A HEX-AND-COUNTER WARGAME?

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