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Need some help/assistance

3 replies [Last post]
Joined: 01/25/2017


I am trying to simulate basic naval combat in a board game that I have been working on for over one year that is centered in the Caribbean during the 1500s. My game has 4 units in it. I have Infantry, Cavalry, Cannons, and Frigates.

I have perfected my land combat system, which in a nut shell is the number of hits by infantry plus the number of cavalry hits x (the number of cannons + 1) My land combat goes fast and quick which players love.

Now with Naval combat I ran into multiple problems. The first attempt was using a 12-sided dice with certain values granting 2 or even 3 hits. The result was always a total wash out of both sides. Following that I tried a simple roll one die each and the highest number wins with ties being a reroll. The problem is that it takes forever.

My latest untested idea to resolve this to have the frigates produce hits based on getting a certain number of higher on a die. However to simulate combat, I am thinking that if a person uses 1 to 5 Frigates, then they have higher odds of getting hits compared to a person who uses 6 to 10 Frigates, and likewise someone with more than 10 Frigates. My reasoning is that 20 Frigates cannot all attack 3 Frigates at once. With line style naval combat, a ship has a limited range of fire, and having more ships is not really that much of an advantage.

Current chart is as follows:
1 to 5 Frigates: Need an 8 or higher on a 12-sided die
6 to 10 Frigates: Need a 9 or higher on a 12-sided die
More than 10 Frigates: Need a 10 or higher on a 12-sided die

Note that the values do not change as units are lost. This represents the fact that during a naval battle, if a line was broken, in general chaos and friendly fire would ensure because communication would be broken.

Land formations never worked in naval combat, so hence why I feel like my naval fights have to be worked out differently.

Any thoughts, advice, or suggestions?

Joined: 01/17/2016
Unify the combat

Hey Nucular,

My advice would be to unify the combat by mechanic while keeping a thematic separation. So land and maritime combat should follow the same or nearly the same mechanic, with a slight twist which allows for the thematic difference between the two.

So your land combat functions as:
Infantry + Cavalry x (Cannons +1)

And right now you are looking at smaller formations of Frigates being more viable in combat due to their greater relative ability to exploit sea room versus a larger opposing fleet. But you're not looking at that exact same issue when it comes to land forces, i.e. the Thermopylae issue. A handful of infantry with a constrained frontage for attack can only be attacked by a correspondingly constrained size of enemy force. So while a few thousand Persian soldiers attack, the rest of the Army sits on their hands.

So the phenomenon you have described for Naval combat is not unique to a Naval encounter. It is a tactical and geographical constraint. Since you did not apply it to land combat, I would recommend against applying it to your Naval forces.

The other balance issue is that you have 3 types of land combat unit and only 1 type of naval unit, thus greatly reducing the interactions possible for the maritime combat compared with land.

What about instead if your Naval forces benefit from a similar structure to the land units? Create a new unit, Carrack, Galleon or Ship of the Line (the latter really comes later historically, but so too does the true Frigate) and have the cannon, which is presently a force multiplier, work in both environments.

Maritime Combat:
Frigates + Ship of the Line x (Cannons +1 in adjacent land spaces)

Now cannons can be used for shore based fire, but maybe since they are now so versatile, there is also a restriction, like you can only count them towards land or maritime combat in a single turn, not both.

If your players currently love land combat, then they will feel the same way about maritime combat!

aka Havok12

Joined: 01/27/2017
Another way to get a single combat type

Another idea would be to treat each ship as an "army" with a variable number of boarders, crew and cannons in them. Combat damage could be boarders + crew X (cannon + 1) to highlight the necessity to get the ship lined up properly to use those cannon. This uses a unified system, and if you want to bring in terrain effects you can do it symmetrically across both types of combat (cliff behind your sails is [i]bad[/i]).

radioactivemouse's picture
Joined: 07/08/2013
Modern Naval Battles?

There was a card game called Modern Naval Battles that used a variety of mechanics in their depiction of naval warfare.

It's hard to get now locally, but here's a video on it:

It may not help, but I know there's something there you can use.

Good luck!

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