Hidden Gem: Sinking Ships is the Napoleonic Naval Warfare mini-game you never knew you needed

We’re no strangers to low-poly or out-dated graphics here on Wargamer. Some of the finest wargames available use little more than pixel graphics – what matters is the mechanics and the presentation of what’s on offer.

At the top level, Sinking Ships is a fairly arcade-y take on Napoleonic-era naval warfare. You steer the ships with the arrows keys, and you have two buttons that trigger broadsides on either side of your ship. Watching your vessel skirt the flat blue makes it look like you’re skating on ice more than anything else… and yet it hides a surprisingly authentic simulation of manipulating wind currents to gain an optimal position on your foe.

There’s a wind-gauge at the bottom right hand corner of the screen, and it will show which direction the wind is blowing. Depending on the direction you’re trying to go, this will effect your speed and rate of turn.

Broadsides are a fairly scatter-shot affair. You hold down the relevant button to charge a broadside to go further, but when you release it your cannons fire off all at once. Being able to get into a good position to hammer away at your opponent without receiving too much damage in return is key. Again, all pretty arcadey but it abstracts all of the key decision making in Age of Sail combat into a short, fairly intense duel.

Sinking Ships can be played for free, either via a browser or you can download a client to play on your desktop. It can support play vs. an AI, two players facing head-to-head using both sides of the keyboard for controls, or a ‘Survival’ mode where you need to last as long as you can against never-ending waves of enemy ships. There are four types of ships to try, all modelled as authentically as possible to highlight their strengths and weaknesses. There’s even a toggle for Day/Night fighting!

Check it out, and let us know what you think.