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RPS Combat System

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Tbone
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Theme: You control ships attempting to destroy your opponents islands

Game Type: Hand management, moving pieces, attacking with RPS system, managing special abilities, two player game

Game Mechanics: You place cards from your hand as ships, ships have differing values, whoever loses a combat must "lose rank" by reducing the value of the ship with another card, two actions per turn (draw cards, attack ships, move ships, etc.), use your two unique abilities to turn the tide.

Okay, above is the basics of a previous game I have worked on (Island Apocalypse). What I am attempting to modify is the combat system. Before it was pretty simple: attack an enemy ship, that player must place a card from their hand lower than the value of the boat attacked. I wanted to change it because of two things: its too easy to attack and so there isn't any tension or development on the field.

Solution: variable RPS system

Basically, every card you draw will have either a cannon ball, torch, or sword printed on it (as well as the ship type, value, and resource amount). When you choose to attack a ship, you will place a card face down from your hand down on the ship that is attacking. The defender will choose to place a card to retaliate or not place a card and receive the attack discarding the ship. Whoever loses will incur damage depending on the type of damage dealt.

Cannon ball = Ship damage
Torch = Freight damage
Sword = Crew damage

Cannon beats Torch beats Crew beats Cannon

Ship damage: lose rank with a card from in hand
Freight damage: lose rank with a card from your resources
Crew damage: lose rank from the top two cards from your deck

This seems to be elegant enough and also adds a bit of micro (individual battles making the game feel "bigger" and more intricate), while not bogging down the game with too much math.

What are your thoughts?

the_mediocre_poet
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I think the mechanic sounds

I think the mechanic sounds fun. I like how the learning curve seems shallow for casual players to enjoy it quickly.

I assume a "Draw" would result in another card being placed? Or does the attack simply miss with no effect?

Tbone
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Good point

This is important. One issue that I have seen consistently while testing the game is the fact that the tension between the defender and the attacker is uneven.

For example, the whole point of attacking ships is to make your way to the enemy island and destroy them. Once you get adjacent to an island you can start attacking it, just like you would a ship. The problem that I see is you will get all the way to the enemy island just for them to place another high valued ship. By this time your ship is injured and attacking is much riskier.

What I need is risk for the defender as well. So what I am thinking is that if there is a draw, the attacker wins, or the defender must discard the card used to retaliate.

the_mediocre_poet
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I see what you mean with

I see what you mean with uneven risk.

Defending players discarding is one way around it. Another would be a bonus to the attacking ship. Perhaps by drawing an additional card prior to combat or something like that. I'm not entirely clear what "losing rank" looks like (Assuming it's the reduction of a stat), but you could gain rank in the event of a draw.

Hope this helps in some way. I like where this game is going! Sounds pretty fun.

Tbone
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Hmm...

Losing rank is basically replacing the card on the field (the ship) with a lower card, either from your hand (ship damage), your resources (freight damage), or your deck (crew damage). So, the lower value of the ship, the fewer options you have to lose rank (a rank 3 ship can only be replaced with a 1 or a 2 whereas a rank 8 ship can be replaced with a 1, 2, 3 ect.), making it harder to keep afloat!

I too think a bonus would be interesting. I definitely need to play around with it. Gaining rank is something that could be promising. Thank you, it does help!

bottercot
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I'm no expert, but it's my

I'm no expert, but it's my understanding that the biggest way to create tension is with rising action and chance. Like, if you can plot out the entire outcome of the battle (i.e. "Let's see... my ship does 3 damage, and his does 2 damage, so I will be able to overpower him and win."), there is no risk or tension. But, if the fate of the battle lies on a die roll, you won't be certain, and you will have to assess the risk before choosing a course of action.

questccg
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Some people prefer determinism

bottercot wrote:
...But, if the fate of the battle lies on a die roll, you won't be certain, and you will have to assess the risk before choosing a course of action.

The problem is that some people are "dice-averse" gamers. They don't want to play games where Luck is a large factor to the equation. I've had that happen with my own game where we use 1d6 to roll for "Initiative".

Basically it's as you suggest: a roll to determine who has the upper hand in the battle.

That one dice roll, as small as it might be has seen some people walk away from the table - because they say too much is left to chance (no matter how realistic it is...)

questccg
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Another approach

bottercot wrote:
...Like, if you can plot out the entire outcome of the battle (i.e. "Let's see... my ship does 3 damage, and his does 2 damage, so I will be able to overpower him and win."), there is no risk or tension...

There is another APPROACH. And what it is is that "The Attacking player DECLARES his 'attacking ships'". Next "The Defending player DECLARES his 'defending ships'"... In this scenario, you can't say 3 damage vs. 2 damage ... because you don't know until the opponent counters with.

In your model, you assume that the "attacking" player controls the ENTIRE battle (Attackers and Defenders). While we do this in "TradeWorlds", we also use the dice to determine initiative. Because otherwise it would be BORING: You 4, me 5, therefore I win.

DECLARING "defenders" is another approach and it is USED by Magic. You declare your attackers and your opponent counters with his defenders. It's a different approach which makes battles more BALANCED. And then you ADD to the mix "Instant" cards where you can COUNTER right away with another card that gives you a SPIKE in "attacking power" or something like this...

Anyway I am sure you get the IDEA... Cheers!

Tbone
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Single ship battles

Excellent comparison! In this game though, it is one-on-one battles. One ship against one ship; one value against one value. Trying to get the balance is what is difficult.

bottercot
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questccg wrote:bottercot

questccg wrote:
bottercot wrote:
...But, if the fate of the battle lies on a die roll, you won't be certain, and you will have to assess the risk before choosing a course of action.

The problem is that some people are "dice-averse" gamers. They don't want to play games where Luck is a large factor to the equation. I've had that happen with my own game where we use 1d6 to roll for "Initiative".

Basically it's as you suggest: a roll to determine who has the upper hand in the battle.

That one dice roll, as small as it might be has seen some people walk away from the table - because they say too much is left to chance (no matter how realistic it is...)


My brother won't play any of my games with me because whenever he plays with me he always gets terrible dice luck. I realize that some people may not like dice in games.
There are ways to increase odds of rolls in your favor, of course. For instance, say a ship has "4 Strength", and it's facing an enemy ship with "2 Strength". You could have it where they roll a die for the battle, and add their strength to the die roll to form the total strength they get. The higher strength value wins.
And the higher the Strength stat of a ship, the less the die roll would matter.
But my original point that I was saying is that, although they may not be liked by certain gamers, die rolls can create tension. In fact, in general, unpredictability can create tension. Like, you said that you could have it where the attacker declares their attacking ships, and then the defender declares theirs. While there is some randomeness, this isn't really unpredictability, because you can predict what the defender will do.
I don't know, that's just my opinion. But I think that unpredictability in any form would be a good way to create tension.

questccg
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Only used as counters

bottercot wrote:
...I don't know, that's just my opinion. But I think that unpredictability in any form would be a good way to create tension.

And yet Magic: the Gathering is purely 100% deterministic in that there are no dice rolls... So there are alternative ways of playing which don't require or need dice rolls in order to build tension. Wouldn't you say that MOST (if not all) Magic games have a sense to tension? And with that, there are no dice rolls being parts/components of that game (yes — dice can be used as counters)...

questccg
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Some people prefer determinism (again)

questccg wrote:
And yet Magic: the Gathering is purely 100% deterministic in that there are no dice rolls...

Why do I think this is "important"? Because so that we don't "naturally" think that a game NEEDS to have dice if it's going to have "TENSION".

Correct me if I am "WRONG" (But I don't think I am...) Scythe also uses NO DICE. And it too is a game filled with "TENSION" too!

I'm sure other designers could chime in with other examples too... But the point I am trying to make is that "not all" games require dice to add tension. Yes some games use dice in a realistic way — which can be off-putting to some gamers.

But generally speaking there is a category of gamers who "DON'T like Luck"... And will not played games that favor luck heavily and in some instances even if a minor element too.

questccg
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The real issue is

If there is no "dice rolling"... What are players supposed to be doing?

(Right)??? And it's a valid question — because I too enjoy using dice in my games. But in "Quest AC v2.0", I am trying to design a game that had NO DICE. Believe me this is not as easy as you would think.

Some quick ideas are to use "Action Points" (APs) or define a strict "Turn Order" which helps guide players along with their turn.

The real FACT is that designing such games is far more involving that mere dice games because you MUST replace the LUCK-Factor with some kind of thinking strategy... And that can be at times difficult to do. Or the design LEANS towards requiring a die roll — because something is "too simple" or "too left to exactitude"...

You even hit the nail on the head when you explained "Your Ship = 5 Atk", "My Ship = 4 Dfs", therefore your ship beats mine.

That's a BRILLIANT situation where combat resolution is "just too simple". Maybe there is a SPEED stat which makes it that "Your Ship = 3 Speed" and "My Ship = 5 Speed" means that my "DICE ROLL" (Like you were talking about) gets a +2 ROLL Bonus...

This is one way of handling it...

ANOTHER way is my +2 BONUS is like a special "resource": it allows me to play up to 2 Points of Tactic cards which can alter the outcome of the battle. So my "+2 Bonus" allows me to play "Fight or Flight" (+2 Dfs) and therefore the attack would be stopped using a sort of "Instant" card that has a beneficial effect for me...

So there are usually "alternatives" to dice rolling. It's up to the designer to "get creative" and imagine other ways that the game could be played — and without the use of dice (if that's one of your design goals)...

questccg
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Having an advantage makes for an interesting INSTANT.

questccg wrote:
...ANOTHER way is my +2 BONUS is like a special "resource": it allows me to play up to 2 Points of Tactic cards which can alter the outcome of the battle. So my "+2 Bonus" allows me to play "Fight or Flight" (+2 Dfs) and therefore the attack would be stopped using a sort of "Instant" card that has a beneficial effect for me...

And the cool thing which would make the game "DIFFERENT" from a game like Magic, is that you just can't counter "however you please..." No you need to have some kind of "Tactical" advantage that "gives you the benefit" of playing certain kinds of "Instant" cards which can alter the course of any given battle.

And just in case you were thinking: "Hmm... So he stopped my attack THIS turn. I'll simply attack again NEXT turn..." While that may be true, on the opposing player's turn, he may decide to ATTACK YOU! And maybe even defeat your ship too! So this too adds some tension in that "small victories" can have a huge impact on how the game actually plays.

More for TBone to think about! LOL

Daggaz
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questccg wrote:And yet Magic:

questccg wrote:
And yet Magic: the Gathering is purely 100% deterministic in that there are no dice rolls...

That's patently incorrect. MTG has decks which you shuffle and draw in a limited fashion from. This is equivalent to rolling a large die and using a lookup table to find which cards you may place in your hand, provided you reroll all duplicate results. MTG is absolutely not deterministic, the dice are just hidden in plain sight.

questccg
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There is luck in everything...

Daggaz wrote:
That's patently incorrect. MTG has decks which you shuffle and draw in a limited fashion from. This is equivalent to rolling a large die and using a lookup table to find which cards you may place in your hand, provided you reroll all duplicate results...

Everyone knows that cards are prone to "randomness". I mean ASIDE from the cards themselves. I know that there is a "luck" factor in "drawing cards" from a deck... That is EXACTLY WHY Magic players have three (3) or four (4) of the same card in their deck: to increase the probability of drawing a specific card for their deck's overall strategy.

3:60 or 1:20 is better than 1:60. And 4:60 or 1:15 is better than 1:20.

So there are probabilities that come into play too... It may be "luck" prone too... But at the same times, players take measures to improve upon the basic probability of the cards they feel are important to their own strategy.

Daggaz
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Yeah but knowing that you

Yeah but knowing that you can't say it's deterministic by any stretch. It's not.

bottercot
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No, yeah, I get that dice

No, yeah, I get that dice aren't the only way to create tension. They're just a pretty valid way to do so. I personally haven't played MtG or Scythe, but I have played games with tension that do not have dice.
But the thing is I think in this setting luck could be a valid factor.
If a ship fires a cannon, it isn't deterministic that it will hit its target. The cannon could be faulty. The ball could be, too. The wind could blow it off course. The cannon may not be aimed right. I don't know, there are tons of things that could cause it not to hit its target, so a deterministic way to resolve combat doesn't seem fitting.
Again, the luck factor could become less of a problem by adding mechanics which increase luck or decrease the reliance on the roll of the die, such as making better ships able to add an amount to their die roll. This lines up, as better ships may have better cannons and crews.

questccg
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So what would be deterministic?

Daggaz wrote:
Yeah but knowing that you can't say it's deterministic by any stretch. It's not.

Do you have examples of both Games and Combat Mechanics that can be considered deterministic???

I ask this, because I figure ANYTHING with "Cards" cannot be deterministic by your definition. So if you use cards, the game has an element of randomness... and therefore cannot be considered "deterministic".

And so Scythe too could not be "deterministic" because there is an Event deck which is random as to what events get played (each round). Even if you tried to play exactly the same, the events and their capabilities would affect the overall outcome of the game... How much, IDK. But enough that the game would have different choices and therefore... NOT deterministic.

Daggaz
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Chess is considered to be

Chess is considered to be deterministic. Even tho player choice might be random, all choices can be mapped perfectly and a perfect player will ultimately select a winning strategy every time.

Tic tac toe is another even more simplified deterministic game.

MTG is not deterministic because unlike chess, players can not elect to play the exact same game every time should they so choose. The decks are randomised. You cannot predict the outcome.

As an example, I learned how to beat the fritz chess engine on highest settings (ten years ago) by watching it play itself and memorizing a specific d4 opening line, clear to the endgame. By reproducing white's moves, I forced the deterministic algorithm to fail to win with black every time in the same exact manner. Best part, the trick worked on other people's computers too at the time.

If you gave me an AI MTG program, i could not do the same thing because MTG is inherently non-deterministic, albeit far less so than a game like axis and allies where you roll dice for every interaction. But for the definition of deterministic, the extent does not matter. Either it is, or it isn't. If you roll a single die, or shuffle a deck, you introduce a random variable and the game itself is no longer deterministic.

questccg
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Combat Mechanics

Daggaz wrote:
...But for the definition of deterministic, the extent does not matter. Either it is, or it isn't. If you roll a single die, or shuffle a deck, you introduce a random variable and the game itself is no longer deterministic.

What about "Combat Mechanics"??? Is it possible that the game is non-deterministic but yet that the "Combat Mechanics" are deterministic???

I ask this no-doubt because "someone" said something about Magic BEING "deterministic"... Could it be only the "Combat" portion of that game?... Is Combat in Magic: the Gathering "deterministic"???

Daggaz
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There are thousands of

There are thousands of different card interactions so I wouldn't want to say definitively but the ones I have seen are deterministic.

It doesn't matter tho with respect to the game as a whole because obviously the game is more than the sum of its individual card interactions. The underlying system for dealing with those cards is non-deterministic. Hence the game is non-deterministic.

It's like a computer program.. everything in the program, every command, every computation, is deterministic. But if you toss in a random number generator (I won't even call it pseudo because these days RNGs are random to an exceedingly high order) then the resultant program output is no longer deterministic, despite the bulk of the machine being perfectly predictable.

Daggaz
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There are thousands of

Annoying you can't delete double posts here.

bottercot
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Back to Subject?

Um... just saying you guys are veering way off topic. Maybe I kind of started it with my comment about dice, but I would still suggest that things be directed back toward the ship game.
Tbone, how do you feel about using dice in your game? Is dice something you want to avoid? It's fine if it is, I'm just wondering.

questccg
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I would go no dice

bottercot wrote:
Um... just saying you guys are veering way off topic...

Seems to me that "World of Warships" could be partly the inspiration for this game... Here's the link: https://worldofwarships.com

I've never played ... Just keep seeing the AD online for this game everywhere I practically go! MSN, Hotmail, BGG, etc.

Just to wrap up the "digression", Magic's combat is "deterministic"... So that means no Random Factor (given the same identical set of cards, the outcome will be the same).

And I think this is IMPORTANT when deciding on Combat Mechanics. Do you want "Randomness" or do you want it more strategic and then you have various "Stats" to rely on and I have suggested a "Speed" Stat which you can use as a BONUS resource which allows you to "counter" with various "Initiative" cards costing maybe 1, 2 or 3 points.

Personally I think people over-estimate the influence of dice. And to be real honest, working on "Quest AC v2.0" (in which I wanted NO DICE) has allowed me to learn more about how to balance out a Combat Engine that doesn't need "Randomness" to feel "beefy"! (Gotta love that steak!) LOL

That's my take on it... TBone may feel differently. It's his game... So he is left with the decision on how to make "meaningful" decisions especially when it comes to something as important as Combat.

Cheers mate!

Tbone
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Hand Management

The desired result is for this to be a sort of risky game. When you attack, the feeling of catching someone off guard and sinking a rank 8 ship is satisfying. This means the player doesn't have a card with a value 1 to 7 to replace the eight; very unlikely. Should I attack when he has three cards in his hand? Is it worth the action with the game in its current state? Should I develop my ships in another lane? I have gone through a number of iterations of the game and have lost this tension...

I am attempting to understand what aspects past versions had that made this tension possible but also what they lacked which needed changing.

Your question about dice: I want this to be purely card driven. What is lovely about this game is that when I get it to work it will be under 70 cards with massive amounts of replay-ability, quick to play, and plenty of room for expansions. I just need to get this tension right.

What I have found is that the victory condition (destroy the enemy islands) is broken. Basically, I will get a ship adjacent to an enemy island and the defender will always be able to place another ship on the island, preventing me from attacking the island. This is really bad because the defender has no reason not to do this (no tension), and the attacker has no choice but to continue attacking (no tension). Currently, I am trying to remedy this issue.

questccg
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Maybe I can help!

Here's an idea that may be SIMPLE and EFFECTIVE.

ADD A RULE like this:

  • When a ship is "destroyed", it takes "X" turns before the ship is completely submerged and underwater.

During the time that ship sinks, your opponent CANNOT put a ship in its place UNTIL it is done... This will create HIGH TENSION!

Why? Because it creates a WINDOW (I would say try 2 turns) for the opposing player to attack the island. So the player has maybe 1 or 2 turns to attack the island and hopefully defeat his opponent.

And the logic makes sense... in a very simple way.

Tbone
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Really nice idea

I tried implementing something similar awhile back. Basically, if a ship successfully destroyed an enemy ship stationed on an island, it would then be considered "on shore". This allowed that player to essentially attack for no action cost. This was annoying because the defender was helpless; no real way to deal with it.

But, I decided to bring it back and modify it.

As before, if a ship successfully destroys an enemy ship stationed on an island or attacks the island, it will then be considered "on shore", and you will show this by placing the card half way on the island card. This prevents the defender from placing down ships on that island UNLESS, they place a ship with the same exact value as the island. This is interesting to see and adds yet another facet to hand management. If your island gets attacked, you either need to defend it long enough to find the right card, or successfully fend off the attacking ship.

I have tested it once and it felt fun, but this will make the game last longer than anticipated. It definitely needs tweaking but I think we might have solved a pretty big issue.

questccg
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I had another IDEA too!

If your "islands" are HEXES and your "board" (play area) is divided in such a way that the HEXES adjacent to the island can allow an opposing player to attack an island.

Here's the thing: there are 6 "adjacent" HEXES next to an island.

While you could have ships to "patrol" the spaces, it's not like a player has all 6 of his ships blocking access to the island.

The other point is that EVEN if another player is attacking the island. The defending player cannot stop the attacks but can retaliate and attack the lone opposing ship...

I don't know much about your "board"... If it's SQUARES, well then there are 4 positions "adjacent" to protect with ships. If you have only 3, one position is open for an opponent to position themselves and make their island attacks!

Tell me what you think about this idea. Better, worst, about the same, room for change, etc.

Cheers!

Tbone
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Some Clarity.

I guess Islands might be misleading. The play area is as follows...

Player one

[Island space] [Island space] [Island space] [Island space]

[Water space] [Water space] [Water space] [Water space]

[Water space] [Water space] [Water space] [Water space]

[Island space] [Island space] [Island space] [Island space]

Player two

This is strictly a card game so the islands are cards and the water spaces are merely two spaces between each player's island cards.

So, in essence, you idea would probably work but not with this set up. What I have also thought about adding is different damage values and a flank damage increase.

For example: If I attack you with 1 ship damage (cannons) you must lose rank (decrease the ships value) by at least one from your hand. If I attack with 3 ship damage, you must lose rank by at least three from your hand.

Two reasons I want this. First, I am noticing that I want to keep information in my hand from the other player, so I will continue to use the same cards for attacking. This will possibly increase bluffing which I would like because, though you may play a higher damage attack card, I still win if I choose an attack that beats yours. So a 1 crew damage can beat a 3 ship damage card.

Second, I want ships to blow up faster. Higher damage means I have less choices and thus a higher chance of me not being able to lose rank. This is some cool tension.

Flank damage would work similar just in that you would +1 damage if you are attacking a ship beside one of your ships (not directly in front of). I may even add if you attack a ship of the same type (color), you get +1 damage.

Ship types are important because they allow you to do some cool stuff. You can place two ships of the same type for one action. You can have two ships of the same type on the same space. I'd like to maybe add some sort of bonus when attacking as well.

With all this, there are plenty of ways to develop strategies.

questccg
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I have yet another IDEA!

Again take it or leave it (no worries) — Just working with your DESIGN-constraints.

Here it is:

Player #1
Water [A] Island Water [C]
Water Water [B] Water
Water Water Water
Water Water [B] Water
Water [C] Island Water [A]
Player #2

Your version was a 4x4 grid (16 spaces). Mine is a 3x5 grid (15 spaces).

The difference between my grid is that there is ONE (1) LESS space (no big deal)... But it makes the ISLANDS have THREE (3) Points of attack:

  • Right, on the right-hand-side. [A]
  • Center, in-front [B]
  • Left, on the left-hand-side. [C]

Something like that could EXPAND your horizons (in term of the design).

Again just some ideas — Feel free to ask questions or if you have concerns... Cheers!

Update: If you place the cards along the longside (90 degrees), this would make the spacing even better in my "proposed" layout. and of course if your ships are "longer" that could also be more appropriate too (length-wise instead of height-wise).

Something more to think about!

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