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Dice Combat for Sea Warfare - Help!

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Actionartist
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First off, I know this subject has been rehashed a million times over, so forgive me if this is old hat to y'all. But I'd like to ask for some wisdom on this point anyway, because I can't yet find specific answers to my question in the multitudes of posts ;)

So my game is about privateering ships attacking and plundering each other, bribing the roving corsair, and raiding unexplored islands that hold rare jewels. Great stuff, definitely been done before, but what the heck … I like it! :D

The combat mechanic I devised has worked great so far, and the "HOW" isn't really important to the game—it works no matter what combat mechanic I use. But the "HOW" does decide how fun the game is, because fighting sea battles is a big part of it.

So each player has ships on the board, and cards representing his ships that list how many hit points and dice each ship has. Each player has seven dice matching his ship color, which is how you keep track of whose dice are whose.

One player moves his ship or ships onto the same space as an opponent's ships and the battle starts.

Here's how the combat itself works, straight from my rule book:

1. Collect dice

Each ship card has a certain amount of battle dice listed. This is how many dice you can use to attack with. If you are attacking with multiple ships, add the dice totals together, but with a maximum of seven dice.

2. Roll dice

When you have collected your dice, you are ready to battle. Roll all your dice at the same time as your oppponent. Do not roll the dice again until steps 3-5 have been completed.

3. Take damage

Every die that is a 3 or less represents one hit point. Your ship card has a certain amount of hit points listed on it. Once your ship has taken its maximum number of hit points, it is destroyed. To keep track of hit points, take any “hit” dice that your opponent rolls against you and set them on your ship card(s). When hit, you decide which hit points are applied to which of your ships.

If you and your opponent haven’t lost any ships after this step, repeat steps 2 and 3.

4. Remove destroyed ships

Once one of your ships has received enough hit points to destroy it, remove that ship token from the game. After removing your destroyed ship token from the board, return the matching ship card to the bottom of your battle deck and return the dice to your opponent.

If you destroy an opponent’s ship that had jewels on board, immediately put these jewels on any of your attacking ships, up to your cargo limits. Any jewels that exceed your cargo limits must be returned to the nearest empty island. The plundering of jewels is only done in this step, not step 6. It is possible to lose jewels to your opponent’s ship, then destroy that ship and steal back the jewels, all in the same battle.

If you and your opponent still have surviving ships after this step, repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 until one of you has lost all his or her ships in that battle.

So there it is. The ONLY problem I have with this system is the fact that you are putting your hit dice on your opponent's ship cards. That means you have to grab more dice from your stash to keep going in the battle. But what if you are attacking with all seven dice, and roll one hit, and have to keep going? Now you only have six dice left to roll, even though you're entitle to seven! That's the basic problem I have with this mechanic. Otherwise it's pretty good.

I have one solution in mind, but it is a little clumsy and adds yet more pieces to the game. That is to have a pile of chits that say DAMAGE on them, and use the chits to mark damage instead of your dice. But seriously, I don't want this game to have so many pieces. Not when most of the light war games out there don't need such a complicated system of damage chits and millions of dice besides …

So please …

Help!

FrankM
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Avoiding damage chits

You could have the ship's owner put dice on the ships to represent damage, and include a bit more than seven of each color. The rule is that you get up to the sum of combat dice on the ships subject to how many dice you have left, and still a max of seven.

So if there were, say, nine dice, a player could sustain two damage without any potential loss of combat effectiveness. Further damage starts to erode the fleet's ability to do damage.

This would affect strategy, as players with a lot of damaged ships would try to keep fleets with strength no more than the number of currently available dice.

Actionartist
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Thanks for the input :) So

Thanks for the input :) So essentially you're suggesting that I include more dice? Along those lines, then, I could also just limit the number of combat dice to five and keep the seven. I'm not sure if this actually solves the problem, but I'll think about it.

FrankM wrote:
This would affect strategy, as players with a lot of damaged ships would try to keep fleets with strength no more than the number of currently available dice.

I was originally thinking that all damage to the winner's ships would be revoked after the battle—but I like the idea of retaining damages. Keeps it a little more real.

Actionartist
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Am I overreacting?

Maybe I should have just changed my question for this post instead of complaining ;)

I guess my real question is, Are damage chits a bad idea in a game that already has four types of cards, 29 dice, 17 ships, a pile of jewels, a pile of coins, and seaport markers? Wouldn't that overly complicate things?

let-off studios
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Damage Dials

Yeah, there are a number of ways you can go about this. I completely understand why you're concerned about adding more components after seeing your components list.

Why not have a clip or pointer of some kind on the ship's card? Slide it up or down depending on when a ship takes damage. If you wanted to be really fancy (and thematic), you could likely come up with a compass rose graphic for each card, indicating how much damage ships have taken.

That's only one more component per ship, as opposed to 100+ punch-out chits players would need to wrangle. Personally I would prefer that, considering the number of components you've already listed. Depending on other mechanics in your game, you may be able to reduce the dice required.

X3M
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Most wargames try to get

Most wargames try to get either health or the number of ships, out of the equation.
If you still want to use both. Then the game should have less ships in total.

3/6th of a chance is rather high when using dice for hits. You might want to try 2/6th and remove 1/3th from all health instead.

Eg. 6 health with 3/6th or 4 health with 2/6th. Both have the same average durability.

I got the same issue. But had a personnal solution. The attacker places the hits instead. More die this way. And the defender will place the last and only injured one at the back of the pile. Only one unit per battle that has its health tracked.

The only reason that you have it the way it is now. Is to push the game to the highest possible balance. Which is IMHO fine.

Actionartist
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Too many ships?

X3M wrote:
Most wargames try to get either health or the number of ships, out of the equation.
If you still want to use both. Then the game should have less ships in total.

Definitely hear what you're saying here, which is why I have the issue. Just to clarify, each player can only have three to six active ships at any given time. So that doesn't make for a very crowded board. And there isn't very much placement/movement strategy (e.g., the way that moving troops is the strategy of Axis & Allies or Risk). That's why I wanted health to be in the equation, because most of the strategy needs to be in planning the attack itself, not where it takes place.

So are three ships per person too many? Or do I already have what you're suggesting here?

Actionartist
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Maybe the solution!

Okay, how about this? So your ship cards are all faceup in a row, right? What if there is a mat that you lay your cards out on, and layed out on the mat are outlines for each card. But for each card, the outlines look like a picture of six cards in a stack, spread slightly towards you so you can see the top of each card. Then, written on the visible portion of these outlines, there is a one, two, three, four, etc. labeling each outline? So a healthy ship card would be placed to cover all of these outlines. Then the first damage you sustain, you slide your ship card down so that it exposes the "one" written beneath it. For the second damage, you slide your ship card down again to reveal the "two" beneath the one?

Am I onto something here?

X3M
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To complicated. But you are

To complicated.
But you are yalking about only 3 to 6 ships.
How much health can they have?

gxnpt
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ship cards and counters

If the ship cards have spots on them to track damage (1 to maximum) a marker chit could shift from one spot to another to indicate current damage. (no chit = no damage)

Just need enough marker chits to match number of total ships that could exist at one time (actually less but this would allow for all ships to be tracking damage simultaneously).

edit - if damage spots are by the edge of the card a marker clip could be used instead of a chit (for prototype testing use small paperclip) and would stay in place when card was moved to and from combat area

Actionartist
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I really appreciate all the

I really appreciate all the ideas, btw :D It's really helping me get down to brass tacks here.

X3M wrote:
To complicated.
But you are yalking about only 3 to 6 ships.
How much health can they have?

The maximum health a top-level ship can have is only 4. Yes, and we are only talking about 3-6 ships per person, because privateering ships didn't exactly travel in big groups back in the era …

It's fair enough to say that the mat idea might be too complicated. Could I ask for a specific reason of why you think the card mat is too complicated? It seems a lot simpler than using chits or clips …

Actionartist
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gxnpt wrote:If the ship cards

gxnpt wrote:
If the ship cards have spots on them to track damage (1 to maximum) a marker chit could shift from one spot to another to indicate current damage. (no chit = no damage)

Just need enough marker chits to match number of total ships that could exist at one time (actually less but this would allow for all ships to be tracking damage simultaneously)

That's a fantastic idea, I really like it. A lot better than adding a new damage chit for every hit taken. The clip is good, but seems a little bulky and/or clumsy to attach to the edge of a card. You won't ever be moving the card from your row, however; the ship card is just a reference to know how powerful your ship is.

X3M
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It is better to design a

It is better to design a "have or have not" kind of set up when given the chance. Reason is that things might shift accidently. The smaller the distance between similar objects, the bigger an error can occur. In this case, the mat and the card health.

If 4 is the maximum and you like the idea of only 1 chit moving around. Have one move around the 4 corners of the card?

It aint that bulky. And having 6 ships x 1 chit x number of players in a bag. That aint much either.

Ps. A total of 24 health per player isn't that much. I come from a 36x5 health + 6x180 health per player kind of game. So don't worry to much unless others tell you otherwise.

Actionartist
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Gotcha … I see what you're

Gotcha … I see what you're saying. I'm not sure that the cards would shift around on the mat any more than a chit would shift on the card, but I do understand your point.

I might need to raise the health bar. I'll keep an eye out for that during my next few playtests.

Once again, I really appreciate all the input from everyone :) It's really helped me get some perspective on this mechanic!

Stormyknight1976
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How about this idea?

Attacking and defending:

Example: Long battles for players.

Player 1 Ship attacks Player 4 ship.

Player 1 rolls all seven dice. Player 1 attack is 32.

Player 4 rolls all seven die to defend. 25.

Player 1 rolls again to do more damage. Player 1 rolls all seven die again. Player 1 rolls a 36.

Player 4 rolls all seven die again to defend. Player 4 rolls a 35.
Since player 4 could not defend on both attacks. Player 4 loses 1 die for that ship.

Example: For quick battles :

Players attacking and players defending:

Instead of attacking twice and defending twice in the same battle analogy, just roll once all seven die. The defending player removes one die from ship. The die is put aside.

Stormy

Mike Atencio
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Ship / dice issue

Instead of using die, why not use tokens so you get to keep your die? How do you account for raking shots, tangled rigging, drift and turning circumference?

Actionartist
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I'm not really looking for

I'm not really looking for something that complicated … But yeah, I am still considering using a token for marking damage

joebergmann
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My 2 cents

I think I would use a marker per ship to show how much damage it has sustained. If you really want to make sure the markers don't move you could do the board with cut-outs for a cube or something similar to Scythe. Then you can stick to a maximum of 7 dice per player. I like it! This sounds like an interesting battle mechanic. Thank you for sharing!

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