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How to make your games more realistic

 
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a7xfanben
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Subject: How to make your games more realistic   PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 12:50 am Reply with quote

I've always been interested in making things in Pirates more realistic to resemble real life because I'm so interested in Age of Sail naval warfare. If you're like me, there are a lot of different things you can do.

(I put this together off the top of my head as a "rough guide" for people to look back at. Any ideas/house rules/threads/documents that you contribute would be much appreciated!)

- 90 degree move rule

No ship can turn more than 90 degrees when moving. In reality a ship wouldn't simply turn around almost 180 degrees just because the sides of her hull didn't overlap. (This is an old house rule that I use in my games, which can be broken when ships are otherwise surrounded and cannot move without breaking the rule.)

- Every ship has the ability of El Acorazado

Since when did every cannon shot eliminate a mast? This is my personal favourite, although I've used it just once, for the Century of the Empires game.

- Instead of having derelicts sink after they've been hit once, they need to be hit twice as many times as they originally had masts. In this way, it takes 2 hits to sink a derelict one master, 4 for a derelict two master, and so on.

This really makes things more realistic because ships rarely sunk in combat (more likely burnt, blown up or scuttled).

- Return Fire

There have been numerous ideas presented for this idea, many of which can be found in the linked thread (also this).

- Wind

As with return fire there are many different variations, of which I've found a lot on BGG (ctrl+F "wind" to find some of them. A bunch of them are very old and therefore have no thumbs ups. I was going to test at least three variations in January but I ran out of time).

- Treasure

It would be great if there was a way for players not to know how many coins were on opposing ships, since even this knowledge (without knowing the values) can be quite valuable. Other than an honor system I haven't thought of a good way to make the gold game more realistic. As woelf plays, it's good to use non-standard (30) totals of gold and keep gold face down on HI's in all games. A friend of mine also suggested a box that would house all of the treasure, which is mixed up into different boxes and placed on islands so that nobody knows how many coins are on the different wild islands.

- Play with larger build totals

Normally I wouldn't call a group of 1-4 ships a "fleet", but rather a squadron (or duo/trio/etc. with less than 4). Most naval battles were not 1-on-1 confrontations but rather larger fleet actions between opposing navies. It's difficult to make things actually realistic in Pirates, but if you want to try you can really jack up the build total. I've played three 5-player 500 point games (one of which was a deathmatch scenario), as well as numerous cumulative campaign games and even more games with a point limit of 100 or more. The biggest issue with this is the obvious time and space constraints, which have increased for me lately and sadly will only continue to increase in the foreseeable future.

- Scenarios

This is a nice big list of different scenarios, some of which are based in historical contexts.

- Combine the naval aspect with a land/trade aspect.

This is something that comes up in campaign games, where the build total increases exponentially as gold is spent to launch more ships and hire more crew.

- Use proxies for historical ships from custom sets

You can create your own stats for your favourite historical ships.


Last edited by a7xfanben on Sun Feb 15, 2015 7:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Subject: Re: How to make your games more realistic   PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 1:07 am Reply with quote

a7xfanben wrote:
- Treasure

It would be great if there was a way for players not to know how many coins were on opposing ships, since even this knowledge (without knowing the values) can be quite valuable. Other than an honor system I haven't thought of a good way to make the gold game more realistic. As woelf plays, it's good to use non-standard (30) totals of gold and keep gold face down on HI's in all games. A friend of mine also suggested a box that would house all of the treasure, which is mixed up into different boxes and placed on islands so that nobody knows how many coins are on the different wild islands.

Again, this is just the start of this thread; I'm hoping to add to it soon.


I really only have a comment for the face-down treasure on ships. Realistically, a ship with a full cargo hold would have laid lower in the water than an empty ship, thus providing pirates a way to find potential targets. Personally, I think the current system simulates this fairly well (ie more coins equals the ship is lower in the water, offering a potentially better bounty)
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Subject: Re: How to make your games more realistic   PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 2:18 am Reply with quote

a7xfanben wrote:
- Treasure

It would be great if there was a way for players not to know how many coins were on opposing ships, since even this knowledge (without knowing the values) can be quite valuable. Other than an honor system I haven't thought of a good way to make the gold game more realistic. As woelf plays, it's good to use non-standard (30) totals of gold and keep gold face down on HI's in all games. A friend of mine also suggested a box that would house all of the treasure, which is mixed up into different boxes and placed on islands so that nobody knows how many coins are on the different wild islands.
Unless you're willing to switch to a completely different style of treasure, randomizing the total value is the best way to maintain that uncertainty in the game. You'll still know how many tokens are on another ship, but at least you won't be able to estimate their values ahead of time based on what else has been revealed.

As for alternatives, I've often thought of using a few of the treasure chests from Mage Knight Dungeons as replacements for the coins:

Each has a spinning dial on the inside with various items listed (every chest is different), and most of those have a gold value attached too. When you first explore an island you could open the chest, roll a d6 to see which click to set the spinner on, and then use that as the value of treasure found.

The two biggest issues with using them:
1) Most of the chests have at least one **TRAP** setting on the inside with no gold value, so if you got that you'd have to either reroll or you could have some other effect kick in (maybe a few UTs?)
2) Cargo spaces get thrown way out of whack. You'd have to figure out a fair way to determine how much space each chest would take on a ship, without making them untouchable to small ships or ships with several crew, or become a big penalty to larger ships that would normally be able to carry more than several small ships at once.

Quote:
- 90 degree move rule

No ship can turn more than 90 degrees when moving. In reality a ship wouldn't simply turn around almost 180 degrees just because the sides of her hull didn't overlap. (This is an old house rule that I use in my games, which can be broken when ships are otherwise surrounded and cannot move without breaking the rule.)
The funny thing is, I've always viewed turning limits to be far less realistic than the standard method. In fact, I think doing away with turn limits entirely would be the most realistic way to handle it.

The reason being is the overall [lack of] scale in the game. It has always been this weird hybrid between massive global movements and up-close tactical maneuvering. Consider that average trip from just one island to another "nearby" that takes just a turn or two in the game would in reality take anywhere from several hours, to a few days days, to even a week or more. Within even that shortest time frame of a couple hours, the extra minute or two it would take to make a full 180° heading change is trivial to the point of being almost completely irrelevant.

When ships get up close to each other the relative movements become more literal, but it's still very abstracted because you don't get any of the continuous jockeying for position. Most of the time it's just a few quick moves, a few shots back and forth, and then it's over. It's just not something you can simulate realistically in a board/tabletop game without a ton of abstraction (as the vast majority of games do, Pirates included), or without tightening the focus and detail so much that it could take hours of game time just to depict a battle that in reality only takes minutes (think Car Wars, or Wings of War).
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