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Moving Around The Board

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Matt201
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I'm currently working on a game based on the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (in particular the second and third), and basically it's a mix between trading and to a lesser degree war.

The Pirates are up against the East India Trading Company for control in the Caribbean. The main objective is to sail from Port to Port buying and selling stock (eg. Rum, Gunpowder, spice, etc.), with the market fluxuating (spelling?) so there is no guarantee of making a profit. The player can use their money to buy stock, extra ships or cannons for their ships.

The Players can also meet in combat, blasting each others ships apart with their cannons. The Flying Dutchman also makes an appearance, giving an advantage to the player who holds the "Dead Man's Chest".

So my question is how to best impliment movement around the board. As you can gather, it is set in the Caribbean (and I've created the board to look like the real world Caribbean, with the made up ports being drawn in).

The Ports are pretty stretched across the board, and I originally planned to just have squares, but I was wondering if there was a better way. It should also be noted that the ships can be split into 3 categories based on their speed and hull ratings (how much cargo they can hold), so some ships get speed bonuses, etc.

Thanks for any help given :)

questccg
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Wind direction

Matt201 wrote:
So my question is how to best impliment movement around the board.

What kind of board have you designed? A board with squares or hexes?

Something to consider when designing your movement is having an indicator for the direction of the wind. You could have a dial you spin on each turn to change the direction of the wind. If you go "with the wind" you gain a movement BONUS. If you go against the wind, well then maybe you can only move one space, etc.

That might be an interesting "movement" concept... It might make it that ships sail by using the "wind" rather than just moving to their desired destination.

questccg
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6 Quadrants

questccg wrote:
Something to consider when designing your movement is having an indicator for the direction of the wind. You could have a dial you spin on each turn to change the direction of the wind. If you go "with the wind" you gain a movement BONUS. If you go against the wind, well then maybe you can only move one space, etc.

It would work well with a hex board. All you need to do is divide the dial into 6 quadrants. You could have a rule such that if you "follow" the wind, you can move 3 hexes + 1 hex in any other direction. If you decide not to "follow" the wind, you can only move 1 hex in any direction.

It might be also interesting in combat when you fight against another ship. Using the direction of the wind could get you closer to the enemy.

questccg
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Sample dial

I added a "sample dial" to give you an idea of what I meant:

http://www.bgdf.com/node/5169

Take a look, I think the concept might be promising...

Matt201
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Wow

That is an AWESOME idea!!

thanks so much :D

questccg
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Ship bonuses

You could EASILY add a bonus for different types of ships:

Instead of allowing +1 Hex any direction, it could be +2 or +3 Hex for something like a Galleon.

So it would be something like "Move according to the direction of the wind" + "Ship movement bonus".

I think that's what you were looking for by having different types of ships...

Matt201
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About The Ships

I was planning on having three types of ships.

Each ship had a different speed and hull rating, and hold a different amount of cannons.

Basically, it was:
Fast Ship - Hull rating 1, speed rating 3 (+1 to dice roll), 2 cannons
Mid Ship- Hull rating 2, speed rating 2 (base dice roll), 4 cannons
Slow Ship- Hull rating 3, speed rating 1 (-1 to dice roll), 6 cannons.

Hull rating is how much cargo it can hold (and damage it can take). This allows different strategies. That is, at first glance, it would appear that the slow ship was best, seeing as it had the most cannons and can hold the most cargo, but having a faster ship means you can move cargo around the board a whole lot faster (+ a player has to buy cannons, so it is more costly for a player (initially) to arm a ship to its full capacity.

And, as you said, a system similar to this can easily be adjusted for the wind mechanic. Thanks so much for that, I think it's a fantastic idea!!

lewpuls
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Winds

If you care anything about realism--probably not, being based on PotC--take into consideration that winds in the Carib tend to be circular, clockwise. So if you're north of Cuba the wind is likely to be blowing from west to east. If you're near South America, east to west.

questccg
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Another idea

Because the game board is probably a fixed size, it may be DIFFICULT to have actual boat battles on it... It may be too SMALL.

Therefore what I would suggest is that when TWO ships collide on the SAME hex, they go into BATTLE MODE.

Battle mode is a playing mat, about the size of a normal sheet of paper, in which BOTH ships battle in a dual against each other... The mat would have it's own hexes. Maybe you could make the mat SQUARE like 10"x10". Any ship that "exits" the mat, flees the battle. However movement (such as wind direction) is not in effect in such "close waters". You might simply use a 6 sided dice to move when in battle (on the play mat)...

ilta
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I would say that wind is even

I would say that wind is even more important in close quarters ship battles than it is in long-distance navigation. In the latter, you're talking about days to weeks of time represented with each turn, where wind direction will average out to a predictable direction. In a ship-to-ship battle you're talking about hours or even minutes between each shift of the wind, with huge bonuses for being upwind of your opponent. Watch "Master and Commander" for some discussion of this.

I'd also say that you can make the wind more realistic by changing your spinner to a d4 that reads "stays the same / shifts clockwise / shifts counterclockwise / stays the same" rather than "N / S / E / W" (or, if you're talking hexes, a d6 that says "N / NE / SE / S / SW / NW"). The wind, when it changes, usually does so in increments rather than completely changing direction. This allows a good captain to use the wind over several turns because it's not likely to change too much in the next second.

Also it's worth noting that historically, bigger ships were also often faster, because they could support larger masts, and therefore more sails. They tended to be less MANEUVERABLE, however, and of course were much more expensive and difficult to crew and maintain. This might not make for a more fun game, although if player progression is something you're interested in then it does make for different "promotion" paths, as players upgrade to ships and choose to focus more on speed, maneuverability, cannons, hull strength, operating expense, or other variables, while overall improving their ships by buying ever-bigger ones. I guess it all depends on where your "sim" vs "arcade" feeling is in terms of game weight; certainly your inspiration is well on the arcade side of things.

Matt201
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I can see where you're going

I can see where you're going with the wind idea, and it actually makes a lot of sense. It takes a lot of the luck out of the wind direction and allows the player to plan better which is the "best" port to sail to.

And, I guess I just had the smaller ship the fastest for game-play mechanics. I had planned to have all ships the same cost, so in order to balance the ship types, ir had to be (i.e. if the big ship was fastest and could hold the most, why would you buy a smaller ship), but I guess varying the cost also would achieve this effect.

And with the whole combat situation, I had really planned it, but I was assuming it would work with just dice rolls. The more cannons you have, the more you roll. And when you lose a roll, you place damage tokens in your "hull". So obviously, the more damaged you are, the less cargo you can carry, and if you get attacked with a full shipment, you have to throw cargo overboard.

But I'm really interested in this "battle board" concept. I haven't ever really played a game with something like it, could you please elaborate a little on it, or point me in the direction of a game?

Thanks a lot guys, this feedback is truely awesome!!!

questccg
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The dial is better than a dice

Matt201 wrote:
But I'm really interested in this "battle board" concept. I haven't ever really played a game with something like it, could you please elaborate a little on it, or point me in the direction of a game?

The wind dial is IMHO the best solution because you can "control" your spin, favoring which way you want the wind to go. It's like Wheel of Fortune, where Pat spins the $5000 wedge for the last puzzle... He has a knack for spinning the wheel to land near that wedge. Same goes for the dial. Dies are "random" and I believe not as "unique" as the wind dial.

The idea of the "battle board" stems from the fact that you have a board which is of fixed size and you just can't have ships that are days away (in hexes and the geography of the game) battle each other if they are so "distant".

What you need therefore is to have a way to have proximity between ships. This proximity has to be close enough on your original board (say the next hex that is adjacent). But you cannot have a battle on the original board because of the geography (eg. two hexes away is much too far to be in battle).

So I thought that you could have a "battle board" when the ships get close enough to combat each other. Like I said the battle board could be something the size of a piece of paper but square rather than 8x11. So maybe 10x10. If a ship leaves the battle mat by reaching one of the sides of the mat, the ship has fled the battle. You could use a standard dice (d6 or d4) to control the movement when in battle. Whichever works better...

This would at least make ship battles MORE realistic (IMHO). And I would still omit using the wind dial during battle - because ships can have their crews row rather than sail with the wind in close proximity. But again that is just my opinion.

How you will handle the firing of your cannons is another issue... I'm not sure what you had originally planned but you'll need to think up something that will work. I don't have any ideas concerning this (at the moment). You might have something like "linning up the ships" to be able to fire at your opponent... Then you could have a "distance" that your cannons can fire, let's say 3 to 4 hexes away.

ilta
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Some examples of "Battle

Some examples of "Battle Board" games. Almost all are much heavier than what I think you're going for. Ultimately your best bet may be a bunch of die rolling, possibly modified with some interesting tactics cards or something to give you some more "flavor."

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/10979/games-with-battle-boards

Matt201
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Dice Rolling

When I first started thinking about the game, I did just have the idea of having the combat play out like Risk (highest dice roll wins), with each team having a card deck which helps in both combat and trading (as well as in some instances hindering your opponent)*.

The only problem I see with this is the importance of ships in the game (as opposed to risk, where you can get several troops a turn), it's a big investment to buy a ship, and to have something as simple as dice roll determining things...

But I think you are right in assuming I'd rather combat being overly simple than overly (for this particular instance) complicated.

*each deck also has special "green cards", which can only be used when you control the Flying Dutchman (by having the 'Dead Man's Chest' (found somewhere on the board). It's more of a novelty then a gameplay feature, but it adds a twist to the game (i.e. a player can control the kraken, etc.) It also draws on another movie element, if nothing more. (This is one of the reasons why it is a Pirates of The Carribean Game as opposed to a generic pirates game).

Yamahako
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You could make it so that

You could make it so that Ships aren't gone forever if they are beaten, they could just be scuttled, and have to limp back to a port to get fixed.

ilta
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Scuttled ships are ships that

Scuttled ships are ships that are destroyed by their own crews to keep them from falling into enemy hands, and/or to make a narrow seaway or harbor impassable. They are as gone from the world as ships destroyed by cannon. What Yamahako probably means is "damaged."

However, it doesn't feel like much of a pirate game if you can't take or destroy other peoples' ships!

One way you could do things would be to let players pick a free new ship of one class down from their previous one, possibly taking a full turn to do so. It still hurts but it doesn't throw you out of the game. You can couple this with letting a player steal some amount of cargo from any ship he captures, and even take the ship for his own and scuttle (there's that word) the previous one if you don't want to deal with players being in command of fleets (which you probably don't).

Cogentesque
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This is a brilliant idea

This is a brilliant idea questccg. Very similar to Sid Meirs: Pirates! title on pc. I was dubious that the spinner would be simply "wind is north." or "wind is south." but with the "general direction" in three quadrants of the hex, I think that is a really great idea.

It would add to the boardgame construction and spinners are always the first thing to go as they are the least solid, so you could even do the same things say with circular cards: one for each direction and mix them up before randomly picking one required for the round: this would also eliminate the arguments about not spinning properly and which direction it is pointing at if it is right on the line.

I would hope of course if you used this idea Matt you could include the inevitable clever ship that has standardised movement and "ignores the dial" kind of thing.

Again, great idea.

Relexx
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Trade Routes

As side from a basic hex or square board, you could just have web of trade routes (uses dots to indicate points of movement). Once set on your coarse you could not change until another trade route crosses your current ones path. If you still wished to take wind direction into account have one colour dot for north/south movement, and another colour for east/west movement.

If you are on a coloured dot, and you are traveling in the direction of the wind you would get extra movement points (once you move off the colour you no longer receive any bonus).

The d4 option that has 2 x stay the same, 1x wind turns clockwise, 1x wind turns anti-clockwise is sound. However I would be more inclined to have it as a six sided dice. 3 x stay the same, 1 x clockwise, 1 x anti-clockwise, 1 x about face.

If you want to add more variance to the movement, you could simply add another dice to give a wind strength, basically the roll would determine the wind movement bonus/penalty. (1,1,1,1,2,3) might be valid. If the wind is so strong that your modified movement is <= 0 then you do not move due to the ship not being able to move in such conditions.

Matt201
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I implemented a trade route

I implemented a trade route system in another game I made, and it worked well. But unfortunately in this board set up, a lot of the action (in terms of ports) are in the centre area of the board, so trade route advantages + wind (if it's in your favour) would mean you could reach a port in one turn...

Also, I am also more inclined to use the dice to control wind. Using a spinner makes it just a little to chaotic (even if it is in the Caribbean). I was thinking of maybe having a spinner keep track of wind direction, so if gives the players the freedom to go either way, depending on what they think is best (i.e. alternate ways to play).

ilta
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on "alternate ways to play"

You're the designer, you get to make the choice: dice or spinner. You are suggesting introducing component bloat into your design, which increases the price and complication, for little added gameplay benefit. Alternate rules are fine if they add something to the game (the wacky co-op game "Red November" has an interesting alternate rule for players regarding character death, for instance), alternate ways of achieving the same thing (wind direction) aren't really needed. So it comes down to which idea better supports your vision of what the game should be. Be ruthless and cut out everything that doesn't contribute to that vision.

Here are the problems with a spinner: a spinner that is good for spinning will not be good for keeping track of something for very long, because it will move at the slightest bump, and a consistent (sticky) dial is designed not to spin. Use the first for deciding the number of spaces you move in a roll-and-move ("Game of Life") OR the second to keep track of something over time ("Battlestar Galactica"), but don't expect one component to do both well. Over time all spinners will tend to degrade in quality. Spinning also takes longer than rolling a die. And there's always the issue of landing on the line.

HOWEVER, there is something really fun at a visceral level about flicking a spinner, and certainly the design possibilities for a navigational game are excellent; presumably your artist would integrate it into the compass rose.

Personally, though, I would suggest a custom die as described upthread (2x clockwise one step, 2x counterclockwise one step, stays the same, reverses), with a "sticky" tracker dial. But that's just me; certainly it's a slightly "heavier" way to deal with wind than simply rolling or spinning, and if suddenly shifting wind direction makes for a better game then you absolutely don't want that (in which case I'd suggest a custom die with whatever directions are valid in your board grid).

Ultimately, it's a question of your priorities as a designer, and the mood and complication level you're trying to convey.

As for the ports, if much of the action is centered in the middle area of the board, perhaps you might want to consider just making that area your game map, and abstracting out more distant ports with a simple arrow off the edge of the board, or even cutting them completely (see above about being ruthless). Alternately you can make your map not-to-scale, arguing that calmer waters, thicker sea-traffic, and governmental red tape like customs houses, quarantine periods, or waiting cues for docking space means that ports who are near to one another still take several turns to reach.

TomDread66.6
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Dials

I think personally you should be more true to life and make a 8 side dial and use ruler based play as to follow the dial exactly and maybe make the background of the dial a compass as to give it that pirate feel. "ARRRR MATEY'S!'
-Just trying to help, Tom

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