Návarchoi is a low complexity game of ancient naval combat, designed to play quickly and with as many ships as possible. Typically, the battles simulated by this game system involved fleets comprised of hundreds of ships on a side. Unfortunately doing so is nearly impossible in play, so each ship represents several ships and the battles are more interpretations than actual simulations. The game is designed to entertain more so than to educate, but players will still derive a sense for the tactics of the period.
Generally, ancient galleys were initially named based upon the number of banks of oars a ship had on each side, but as the ships became larger, they were named according to the number of oarsmen in each section. A bireme had two banks, a trireme had three banks, whereas a quadreme and quinquerme had four and five rowers respectively. Ships represent one or more oared vessels involved in combat. The number of vessels a ship represents is dependent on the battle being fought. Each ship is represented by two separate units that may be interchanged during play. One unit indicates the ship while undamaged. The second, or damaged, marker is indicated with a white bar. While one unit is placed and moved on the map, the other is placed off-map and used to track the ship’s status and equipment.
The map represents an area of open sea where the battle takes place. Overlaid upon it is a grid of squares used to regulate the movement of ships and a compass rose indicates directions in which ships may travel (up to eight). The game scale is roughly seventy-five yards per square and a ship may represent one or several ships. The time scale is extremely loose, running anywhere from 1 to 10 minutes per turn, depending on what’s going on.A deck of 55 cards is used to drive the action in the game (thus, Návarchoi is considered a “Card Driven Game”). Each card has up to three separate effects (“strategems”) as well as a random effect.
Generally, a player wins through sinking or capturing more, or better ships than are lost. Each ship is worth a number of Victory Points equal to it's type. Návarchoi includes 8 scenarios with the possibility of adding many more at a later date. Plus players can easily design their own scenarios with just a little bit of historical research.