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pirate combat mechanic

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drktron
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I have come up with a new combat mechanic for my pirate game and I want to get some feedback on it before I further delve into designing the actual cards. My original mechanic was a simple one using dice. Each player would roll a die for each cannon on their ship (2-5). Each 5 or 6 would hit. The player with the higher maneuver rating could add 1 to a die for each maneuver point he was higher than the opponent. The most hits won. While this was quick and simple it also seemed too boring and luck based. So this is my new system:
There is a common wind deck (for movement) a common cannon deck and a common maneuver deck. Each player keeps a hand of wind cards equal to the ships sail rating. When he wants to attack he plays a wind card to move into position and announces the attack. The attacker and defender each draw cards from the cannon deck and the maneuver deck equal to their ships cannon and maneuver rating. Each simultaneously plays one cannon card and maneuver card, compares them and applies damage (to the hull rating). If neither ship is defeated then the defender may try and escape by playing a wind card. The attacker may persue by playing a wind card matching or exceeding it. They would repeat this process until a ship is defeated, escapes, the attacker chooses not to persue or runs out of cannon cards.

The cannon and maneuver cards are divided in three sections port, center (steady), and starboard and have numbers 0 to 3 in each. For example, Some cards may have a 2 in the port section and 1 in the center and 0 in starboard. Some cards would affect the next wind card, or allow you to draw additional cannon, maneuver or wind cards or to make the opponent discard them.

Granted this system adds a lot of cards to the game but to me is a lot more interesting. So do you think this would be too complex or time consuming?

sedjtroll
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drktron wrote:I have come up

drktron wrote:
I have come up with a new combat mechanic for my pirate game and I want to get some feedback on it before I further delve into designing the actual cards. My original mechanic was a simple one using dice. Each player would roll a die for each cannon on their ship (2-5). Each 5 or 6 would hit. The player with the higher maneuver rating could add 1 to a die for each maneuver point he was higher than the opponent. The most hits won. While this was quick and simple it also seemed too boring and luck based. So this is my new system:
There is a common wind deck (for movement) a common cannon deck and a common maneuver deck. Each player keeps a hand of wind cards equal to the ships sail rating. When he wants to attack he plays a wind card to move into position and announces the attack. The attacker and defender each draw cards from the cannon deck and the maneuver deck equal to their ships cannon and maneuver rating. Each simultaneously plays one cannon card and maneuver card, compares them and applies damage (to the hull rating). If neither ship is defeated then the defender may try and escape by playing a wind card. The attacker may persue by playing a wind card matching or exceeding it. They would repeat this process until a ship is defeated, escapes, the attacker chooses not to persue or runs out of cannon cards.

The cannon and maneuver cards are divided in three sections port, center (steady), and starboard and have numbers 0 to 3 in each. For example, Some cards may have a 2 in the port section and 1 in the center and 0 in starboard. Some cards would affect the next wind card, or allow you to draw additional cannon, maneuver or wind cards or to make the opponent discard them.

Granted this system adds a lot of cards to the game but to me is a lot more interesting. So do you think this would be too complex or time consuming?


I would have to ask if the combats are intended to be a big part of the game, or are they sort of a side issue. This mechanism sounds to me like it's complicated enough to be the main mechanism of the game. If combat is a side issue in the game, then I think it should resolve more quickly and easily.

drktron
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Thanks for your response.

Thanks for your response. The goal of the game is to earn the moist victory points (or whatever I call them). This is mostly accompished by collecting resources and gold by trade or by piracy (stealing). Points can also be earned by completing missions or gaining rank. So ship battle would be a large part of piracy and a good portion of the missions and gaining rank. I really like the system but worry that it may create too much downtime in a 4-6 player game. I think I may need to streamline the player vs nonplayer battles and leave the player vs player battles longer and more epic. Alternatively I could adjust the hull ratings down to have the battle end sooner (on average).

ilta
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I like it -- it's

I like it -- it's straightforward, each card does what it feels like it should, it rewards different kinds of ships (slow behemoths, nimble but lightly armed sloops, etc) as well as providing for an easy way to upgrade a ship over time: simply let the player draw more cards. Battles shouldn't take too long since they're just a succession of two-cards-each duels, basically.

I agree that automating NPC combat would be good though. It would be annoying to use this method for every single combat, and have a player "pretend" to be an NPC ship or something. I think you might be better off designating "to-beat" numbers right on the NPC ship, or simply having it select x number of cards and always use the highest first.

If you wanted to streamline it generally you could have a player play only one card -- a maneuver, a cannon card, or a wind card. Rock/paper/scissors: Wind is a disengage move, Maneuver dodges cannons, reducing or eliminating damage, cannons fire and do extra damage against ships playing wind.

drktron
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Thanks for your input. My

Thanks for your input. My original idea for the NPC combat was that you would just flip the top card of the appropriate deck. The max allowed number of flips over the course of the battle is limited by the npc's cannon, maneuver and sail ratings. If you had the right firepower you could win after a round or 2. Or the npc could escape if you couldn't pursue. Some npcs like pirates or warships would be more difficult and longer battles.
The other thing about npc's is that they don't move around the board but are represented by an encounter deck. Each turn a player moves (sails) there is a chance for him to encounter another ship. The odds are less in the open ocean and increase the closer you are to a port or trade route. If encountering a ship you flip he top card of the encounter deck. How the npc reacts to you depends on your nationality, status, reputation etc. Also the likelyhood of encountering say a spanish ship near a spanish port is also greater. You would flip two ( or maybe 3) cards and encounter the first spanish one (if any) ignoring the rest. Anyway i'm getting off topic. Do you think this npc combat would be too long if just using the first card flipped each round of combat?

ilta
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I don't understand the

I don't understand the question at the end there -- how can a round of combat be flipped? Maybe I'm just not processing the syntax, but it feels like there's a key word missing in the sentence or something.

Also, it sounds like you have a LOT of decks here. Or is this all accomplished by simply drawing more cards? If so, how many nationalities are there? If you have any more than 2 or 3 (and assuming that some/many of your "encounter" cards will be blank) you're going to be drawing an awful lot to produce very few combats, since only 1/6 cards, say, will actually be the kind you're not ignoring. It also seems to me that players might get tired of resolving every action in the game by flipping a card.

I feel like there's a more elegant way to do your "more ships on sea lanes, more Spanish ships near Spanish ports" but I'm not sure. Memoir 44 Dice maybe? Different stacked decks for different areas of the board?

A lot of nitpicking going on, but only because the whole idea of a fairly dense pirate sim game sounds so cool.

drktron
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Sorry for lacking clarity.

Sorry for lacking clarity. What I was trying to say is that when you combat a npc ship the player only will draw cannon and manuever cards (according to its ratings; say 4 cannon and 3 maneuver or whatever). The player would play a cannon and maneuver of his choice from those he just drew. the npc would "play" the top cannon and maneuver card from the cannon and maneuver deck. This would be done by just flipping over or revealing the top card of those decks. The cards the npc "plays" are set aside to track how many are played over the course of the battle and cannot exceed its cannon, maneuver (and wind) ratings. The cannon and maneuver cards would be compared and damage applied. If neither ship is defeated, the npc (the defender) would "play" a wind card to try and escape by revealing(flipping over) the top card of the wind deck. These two steps would continue until a ship is defeated, escapes or the attacker runs out of cannon cards to play (or doesn't pursue). Does this explanation clear it up?

The game has 4 nationalities. There are no blank cards. All npc ships from all nations are shuffled into one deck. A die is used to resolve the probability of an encounter. Roll a 6 to encounter in the open ocean. Roll a 5 or better on a sea square containing land. 4 or better on a trade route or a sea square containing a port. On a successful roll you turn over the top card(s) of the encounter deck (containing a mix of ship types and nationalities). Of course the probabilities may need to be adjusted. I hope this clears things up a bit. Thank you for your input.

GustavMahler
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Great !!

I happen to think this mechanic is quite innovative and well done. At first read it WAS a bit complex to grasp, but after some of the reply clarifications it all comes together.

May I ask a few questions :

Do all players have the same cards and it's a chance of the shuffle who has what on top of their C and M decks? ( I don't mind this fact, it adds a bit of luck which I think a BIT is fine in combats.) How do players GET the cards, are they just all dealt/assigned at the outset of a turn or game or is there some way players obtain them?

Again , great idea thanks for posting !!

Badger
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Joined: 03/27/2011
Interesting.... This might be

Interesting....

This might be more detail than you want to get into, but it occurs to me that maybe one option could be to "aim for the rigging", reducing the number of wind cards the other player might hold in their hand, at least for the duration of that combat. Playing with one's own sail state might be an option, too; the more sail you have up, the harder it might be to shoot, or shoot accurately.

"Age of Sail" naval combat isn't my forte', but there are several computer and board games devoted to it, and they might be a good source of further ideas -- though I like your work to simplify things to a more manageable level than most of those games as I've seen them!

benjaminvictord...
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Joined: 08/05/2008
Another way of streamlining

Another way of streamlining the idea would be to include the three ratings on each card, so you can make it one big deck. That way, players have the added tension of using a card for one ability or the other.

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