CoSims and Pacifisms
Admiral's Order could be called a CoSim(conflict simulation). It teaches historical facts about the Napoleonic Age and especially about naval tactics as they were used during the Age of fighting Sail. As a good historical board game, Admiral's Order also tells a story. For each single game you play, all details on manoeuvring your fleets, firing broadsides or chase guns and finally fighting at close quarters, could be written down as individual chapters in an imaginary history book.
But more than with any other game I know, playing Admiral's Order becomes very emotional. Not just historical facts, details and tactics are provided - it is much more than that you receive an emotional understanding of what lead the participants to act the way they did in similar situations in actual history.
On the one hand there is heroism, cleverness, enthusiasm and recklessness. Positioning your squadrons in a better wind position and keeping them together in close line formation to use their artillery in the most effective way requires all your strategic excellence and dedication. Making the decision when and how to start an attack is pure adrenaline.
On the other hand, there are no winners in war, only victims. No matter how smartly an attack was prepared, each side will suffer and this is even harder to stand as more enthusiasm had been there from the beginning. To endure a loss and to retreat and minimize further damage requires some strength of character.
Wooden model ships with tiny little masts on a hex board are rather abstract. All players may decide for themselves how detailed a picture of scene they allow their imagination to paint. Ultimately, what was left behind after the impact of a raking broadside at short range or a mêlée while boarding an enemy ship matched the bloodiest and most horrifying scenes from a slaughterhouse. (How ambivalent is this compared to the sense of delight if rolling a high dice result when firing a broadside in the game?)
As a kind of role playing game, Admiral's Order offers a "play ground" to experience all these feelings and emotions, from a safe distance. One can learn about different human motives and may understand why things happened the way they did.
In the Age of Sail, although at war, seamen rescued others of any nationality from drowning and it was no disgrace to strike your ship's colours if it meant saving lives. Enemies were treated in a dignifies and respectful manner.
For me, taking pacifist position goes without saying. This includes an examination on human nature, concerning warfare and conflicts. Designing a "war game", or as I would prefer to call it, a "conflict simulation", has nothing to do with glorifying war. The exact opposite is the case and I would like you to see and to enjoy Admiral's Order in this spirit.