Yesterday, ships were finally added to Widelands! Strictly speaking the ships have been in since build 16 was released, but now they even do something. Eager to test them out I took a look at the latest version, I edited the allowed buildings of Atlanteans and used the editor to set up a quick map with a small lake. I built a port on both sides of it, and then a ship which sailed between them, transporting wares and workers. Transportation was easy to set up by adjusting priority in the ports which worked just like a regular warehouse. The advantage of course is that with ships you can transport resources across the map as long as there is a port on both sides.
Personally, I’m really happy to finally get to play with ships. Those familiar with Widelands will know that it is similar to the older Settlers-games. And while Settlers II introduced ships, I have to admit I have only ever played demo versions of it. Ships, of course, were one of the promised features which was only included in the fullversion. They did include teaser screenshots and descriptions of how the ships worked though, and in some way I have been waiting more than 10 years to get the ships sailing back and forth on my screen.
And I think it looks awesome. At the present no scenarios or maps are built around ships since they have not been available and even now they are not enabled by default. However, I think that in time this can offer some significant changes to the gameplay. I look forward to how expeditions, colonies and dealing with territories split across the map works out.
For those who are impatient and want to try it out for themselves, grab the latest development build or compile the latest version yourself. (Beware that changes happen rapidly in the development versions and are not guaranteed to be free of bugs or issues.) For the rest, seafaring will be included in build 17 (unless something unexpected happens) which is due to be released some time next year. I look forward to it.