Trireme Commander is an accurate simulation of ancient Greek and Persian triremes – rowed war galleys. It is an animated single-player PC game that is highly educational on the performance and tactics of the triremes.
The download includes 16 scenarios. The Helmsman Tutorial is the only option to start with, this scenario guides the player through the training area. Pass this to become a cadet. A cadet has two challenges, a trireme race and to ram and sink an empty enemy vessel. Pass these two and reach the rank of Helmsman. There are four Helmsman scenarios, two conflicts with a single enemy trireme (one damaged, one not), a recon of the Salamis straits, and an important Signals Tutorial: a guide to signalling vessels under your command to form different formations. Pass all of these to reach the rank of Captain. Then, with a single squadron, there are conflicts against an enemy squadron of lesser, equal, and greater size. The last of these is a tough challenge to pass, but when it is completed the player reaches the rank of Commander. At this level there are two battles, each side with three or four squadrons. Finally, with these two completed, the player can re-enact the Battle of Salamis (an epic battle from ancient history), the Battle of Artemisium (where the Athenians used the famous Kyklos – a defensive circle), and two possible but fictional encounters – a battle out in the open sea (so greatly to the Persian advantage) and another in the straits of Megara between Coryinthians (Athenian allies) and Egyptians (Persian allies).
All of these scenarios are included in the package, many with audio and diagrams as educational introductions to the scenario, and the history behind them. The battles are all fought around the island of Salamis. The ships all have names, the Athenian triremes have names from a list left behind and rediscovered. The physical performance of the Athenian trireme is reliably recreated, as a replica trireme – Olympias – was built and had full sea trials in 1988. The performance of a Persian trireme involved a little guesswork – they were reported to be slightly smaller and lighter than the Athenian vessels, but were no doubt very seaworthy given their voyages across the Mediterranean. In many of the larger scenarios, a player can select which ancient leader they wish to play including the Athenian mastermind Themistocles, Adeimantos – the Corinthian admiral, or, on the Persian side, Ariabignes -brother of Xerxes (the Persian King), or perhaps Queen Artemisia – one of naval history’s very few female commanders. By the time a player has reached the rank of Captain, Commander or Admiral, they will have a very good understanding of what trireme warfare was really like.