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Redesigning the Ramming & Boarding mechanics
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palamon

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Subject: Redesigning the Ramming & Boarding mechanics   PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2015 9:13 pm Reply with quote

I was wondering what are your feelings on the game's ship collision/ramming/pinning/boarding mechanics, what do you like about it, what do you dislike?
Do you have any ideas on how to modify it to make it more streamlined, more realistic, or coming up with something new all together?


When I'm teaching the game to new players, Getting through movement and shooting is easy enough, but trying to explain what happens when ships collide causes eyes to glaze over.
I like the aspect of boarding a ship to steal treasure and kill crew and it's an important part of being a pirate, but dealing with ram damage, trying to figure out who can shoot who and when, or when it's just better to sink the ship with cannons has never felt quite right.
So I was wondering what are your thoughts on how to improve the system.
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a7xfanben
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Subject:    PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 1:38 am Reply with quote

Welcome to the forum! (Although I see your account creation date so I know you've been lurking! Smile )

Great topic. In terms of making things more realistic, I've made a permanent house rule for teaching new players.

When a ship wins a boarding party, the winner gets to choose whether they take a treasure or eliminate a crew. In addition, if they choose to take a treasure, the winner gets to look at all of the treasure on the opposing ship (as they would in real life) and choose which coin(s) to take.

If they choose to eliminate crew, I still have the loser choose, but I'm on the fence with that one. On the one hand, oarsmen could actually be the first in line to be killed in combat or "sacrificed", but on the other hand (especially in the case of the ship that initiates the boarding party), captains and other important members of the crew would often lead boarding parties.
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Subject:    PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2015 6:17 am Reply with quote

You've been playing too much solitaire, Ben.

Officially, according to the Pirate Code, the losing player decides what is lost (as per the rules), choosing the crew or the treasure, and which specific crew or treasure.

The Pirate Code wrote:
Board
-A boarding action can occur only after ramming, unless an ability specifically allows otherwise.
-Only one boarding action can occur after each ram, but either player may initiate it. The player that rammed has the first opportunity to initiate; if he or she declines the rammed player may initiate it instead. If both players decline, no boarding action occurs. If the ramming player initiates a boarding, the rammed player cannot initiate a second boarding
-The results of a boarding action are applied the same regardless of which ship rammed and which player initiated the boarding; the winner steals a treasure or eliminates a crew (chosen by the player losing the item).
-If the boarding rolls result in a tie, nothing happens. Neither player steals a treasure or eliminates a crew.
-If one of the two standard results cannot be applied the losing player must choose the other option. For example, if the ship has no crew that can be eliminated a treasure must be stolen instead; if the ship carries no treasure or the winner’s ship has insufficient space to load any treasure, a crew must be eliminated instead.
-An ability that provides an alternative boarding result (such as capturing a crew, eliminating all crew, or taking all treasure) overrides the losing player’s choice, unless the winner chooses to not use that ability.


There is also that last bit at the end about abilities offering an alternative to boarding results that overrides the loser's ability to choose, confirming that the loser chooses.

For Palamon:
When teaching new players, I would suggest playing out a ram and board on the table before playing the game. You can quickly go over everything this way so they know what it's like. In fact, have them play the ramming ship. It will give them a general idea of how it works.

Ramming in three easy steps:
1. Move your ship so that its bow touches any part of the ship you wish to ram.
2. If your ship has a Captain crew (something with the move-and-shoot ability), shoot your cannons. You may shoot at any target, even the ship you're ramming.
3. Finally, roll a die and compare the result to the number of masts remaining on the rammed ship. If the result is higher (just like shooting), the rammed ship eliminates a mast.

Boarding:
1. Decide if you wish to board the rammed ship. If you choose not to, the player being rammed may choose to ram.
2. If either play chooses to ram, both players involved roll a die, then add the the number of masts remaining on their ship and any boarding modifiers.
3. The losing player either eliminates a crew from his ship or gives a treasure on his ship to the ramming ship.


As a general rule, the player losing an item always chooses which item (and what type, if there are options) is being lost, unless an ability specifically states otherwise.
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Subject:    PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2015 5:52 pm Reply with quote

captain_vendari wrote:
You've been playing too much solitaire, Ben.


And you're far too invested in the rules. Razz (Not to mention I haven't played solitaire for months. All of the reports you've seen recently were not solitaire.)

I don't think you read my post. Sad

a7xfanben wrote:
In terms of making things more realistic, I've made a permanent house rule for teaching new players.


The text following that statement WAS the house rule that I use for EVERYBODY I teach. Why? The rules aren't realistic. This first word of this thread is called "Redesigning" the ramming and boarding mechanics. We know the rules. We have problems with them and don't always want to follow them to a T.

I know the rules, my post was simply what I like to do, discussing changes rather than how things already work.

Quote:
As a general rule, the player losing an item always chooses which item (and what type, if there are options) is being lost, unless an ability specifically states otherwise.


And this is what I don't like. This would almost NEVER happen in real life. If you were a Pirate and wanted to get rich, would you just be nice and accept the meager token of armistice given by the enemy to get you off their ship? No! Laughing
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Subject:    PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 12:34 pm Reply with quote

a7xfanben wrote:
I don't think you read my post. Sad


No, I think I just misread it. My apologies.


a7xfanben wrote:
And you're far too invested in the rules.


Well, considering I've read the Pirate Code cover-to-cover about 5 or 6 or 15 times.....
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Subject:    PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 5:01 pm Reply with quote

captain_vendari wrote:
No, I think I just misread it. My apologies.


Yup, that's fine. I was confused when I read your post!

Quote:
Well, considering I've read the Pirate Code cover-to-cover about 5 or 6 or 15 times.....


Shocked

I've never read it all the way through, but through reading up on specific abilities and checking things when I need to during my 200+ games, I've probably read almost everything in it.
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palamon

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Subject:    PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2015 6:51 am Reply with quote

Interesting that the Pirate Code directly contradicts the instruction sheet given with the cards, particularly where the winner of the boarding roll gets to choose what is taken (crew or treasure) and vague about who chooses what specific crew/treasure.
I do like the idea of the winner choosing to kill a crew or take a treasure, but only if they do not get to flip over the face down pieces first. That way, the crew and unique treasure that is face-up makes it more of a clear target, but allows the winner to make the choice between a known crew member or blindly at an un-revealed crew member for an interesting challenge which should speed up the game.
No hemming and hawing at which cool crew to kill first, just a "That one" from the winner to an un-flipped crew.

What do you guys think about shooting while pinned or being boarded by another crew?
It seems weird that you would fire your cannons at a ship right next to you, with the danger that debris would fly back and damage your ship. Also, seems unlikely that after losing a boarding roll and having your crew defeated, that they would be able to arm the cannons.

Also what do you think about firing at two ships that are touching? (seems kind of risky to fire at an enemy when your teammate is literally standing right next to him)

One idea to make things more interesting when firing at a group of ships is that for each official missed shot, you re-roll it. If it hits on the re-roll, it hits the adjoining ship instead.


BTW I'm new to the online Pirate community, and have just been playing the games by the Ocean Edge rules as well as some custom rules.
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Subject:    PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:21 pm Reply with quote

palamon wrote:
Interesting that the Pirate Code directly contradicts the instruction sheet given with the cards, particularly where the winner of the boarding roll gets to choose what is taken (crew or treasure) and vague about who chooses what specific crew/treasure.
I do like the idea of the winner choosing to kill a crew or take a treasure, but only if they do not get to flip over the face down pieces first. That way, the crew and unique treasure that is face-up makes it more of a clear target, but allows the winner to make the choice between a known crew member or blindly at an un-revealed crew member for an interesting challenge which should speed up the game.
No hemming and hawing at which cool crew to kill first, just a "That one" from the winner to an un-flipped crew.
It's not really a contradiction because the rulesheet doesn't actually say who gets to choose any of it. It's easy to assume one way or the other depending on how it's interpreted, which is entirely the problem - no one could ever agree completely. That's why the decision was made very early in the game (long before I took over as Rules Arbitrator) to let the player losing the thing choose what is lost unless an ability specifically says otherwise.

It's a little bit less thematic than allowing the winner to pick what they steal or eliminate, but balance-wise it helps reduce cherry-picking a little bit.


The text in the rulesheet should have been changed as soon as the ruling was first made, but for whatever reason there was always an odd sort of disconnect between the rules and the rulings being made. Numerous things over the years could have been tweaked just slightly in the rules to cover and/or eliminate the need for countless rulings, but it almost never happened. At times it was almost like the rules-writers were completely unaware the FAQ even existed.
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Subject:    PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2015 4:30 pm Reply with quote

palamon wrote:
I do like the idea of the winner choosing to kill a crew or take a treasure, but only if they do not get to flip over the face down pieces first.


Good point, and I still like that much better than having the loser always choose the lowest value crew or treasure. Also, thematically it makes sense because if you're in a rush to get gold back onto your ship after winning a boarding party, there's not necessarily time to grab the heaviest chest of gold. Not to mention that even if you look inside the chests/boxes, a person might not know which gem or good is more valuable than another (unless it's gold! Cool ).

Quote:
What do you guys think about shooting while pinned or being boarded by another crew?
It seems weird that you would fire your cannons at a ship right next to you, with the danger that debris would fly back and damage your ship. Also, seems unlikely that after losing a boarding roll and having your crew defeated, that they would be able to arm the cannons.


Interesting point. I'm in favour of keeping the rules the same as much as possible, but that part about the loser choosing has irked me too much. Also, perhaps there should be an option to not be pinned after ramming, such as if you win the boarding party or shoot off the nearest mast.

Quote:
Also what do you think about firing at two ships that are touching? (seems kind of risky to fire at an enemy when your teammate is literally standing right next to him)

One idea to make things more interesting when firing at a group of ships is that for each official missed shot, you re-roll it. If it hits on the re-roll, it hits the adjoining ship instead.


Very cool ruling. Definitely something to consider. Thanks for the ideas! I'm adding this discussion to the Thread of Threads under "Cool Stuff".
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palamon

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Subject:    PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2015 7:16 am Reply with quote

Quote:
Also, perhaps there should be an option to not be pinned after ramming, such as if you win the boarding party or shoot off the nearest mast.


The problem with not being pinned when you are the rammer is that you have a ship directly in your way until they move. One way to get around that is when a ship contacts another ship, you slide it up next to the ship so both ships are parallel when boarding occurs (just as it's depicted in every boarding attempt of every pirate movie ever made)

The loser of the boarding could then be pinned during the next turn, which allows the winner the option to continue to loot the ship, flee, or get into an attack position.

BTW I looked over a bit of the Pirate Code. Great job Woelf. I know weeding through all those fine points and keeping everything balanced required a lot of forethought and play-testing to keep it all balanced.[/quote]
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Subject:    PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2015 3:37 pm Reply with quote

palamon wrote:
The problem with not being pinned when you are the rammer is that you have a ship directly in your way until they move. One way to get around that is when a ship contacts another ship, you slide it up next to the ship so both ships are parallel when boarding occurs (just as it's depicted in every boarding attempt of every pirate movie ever made)

The loser of the boarding could then be pinned during the next turn, which allows the winner the option to continue to loot the ship, flee, or get into an attack position.


Good points. Another thing I'll have to try someday! Very Happy
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Subject:    PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2015 7:44 pm Reply with quote

In your experience, How big of an effect does ramming damage have in your typical games?
If ram damage were removed (for the sake of speed & simplicity), do you think it would drastically change the base game or make certain types of pieces (like subs) obsolete or broken?


Part of the reason for this post is I'm trying to incorporate a simplified version of boarding rules into the already streamlined introductory rules given in the packs for first-time players.
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Subject:    PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:08 pm Reply with quote

palamon wrote:
In your experience, How big of an effect does ramming damage have in your typical games?
If ram damage were removed (for the sake of speed & simplicity), do you think it would drastically change the base game or make certain types of pieces (like subs) obsolete or broken?

Part of the reason for this post is I'm trying to incorporate a simplified version of boarding rules into the already streamlined introductory rules given in the packs for first-time players.


It actually has a decently large impact in my games. A lot of times I will advise new players that ramming and boarding is a key part of the "first shooter has the advantage" philosophy, mostly because you get to shoot before rolling for the ram and board. If not for that, both mechanics would see less usage. A lot of times a successful ram roll occurs immediately after a successful broadside. I personally use ramming and boarding a lot and find it to be generally effective (although I find ramming to be less risky and generally more effective). A long time ago, there was a game (the Pirates/Spanish battle) with a ton of ramming and boarding, which was my first real look into just how important it was to take out that extra mast (and cannon!) from ramming.

I don't think it would drastically change the base game, and I've had thoughts about how (un)realistic it is (which is obviously something I think about since I made that thread linked in my first post of this thread).

As for subs, they're already difficult enough to bring to the surface and/or sink, especially with cancellers aboard them, so they're still powerful pieces. It wouldn't make them obsolete, but it could speed up games that they participated in. I've NEVER played a game where either player just had a sub fleet and tried to ram enemy 5 masters to win (reminiscent of xerecs' latest BR). It's boring and silly.

I'm so glad to hear that you've been teaching new players! I generally start them off without terrain, named crew, or UT's, but ramming and boarding is definitely an issue. People usually don't know what their goal is when rolling. Also, when I say "you just want to roll high" (for the initiation of a boarding party), it seems vague since when shooting there's always a defined number you want to roll above.
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Subject:    PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2015 5:13 am Reply with quote

Yea, my board game group doesn't have much patience for heavier games. They have about enough attention span for 10 mins of "how to play" and setup before they lose interest.

So I've tried adapting various strategies to speed up and streamline the game so I can get a 4-6 player game of 2 ships each to about 1hr30min. One of the big things was adapting the simultaneous move system from Sails of Glory and X-Wing that utilize move/turn templates that are chosen and revealed all at once, then all the ships move simultaneously, then all the ships fire simultaneously, etc.

One of the major issues with simultaneous movement is ship collision and figuring out who rams who without getting too complicated. I tried simplifying the ramming rules to a flat 5+ damage roll for all ships involved (so small ships could survive) but that barely had an effect on the games. So I figure stress-free way to handle it is simply remove ram damage.


BTW I read the thread linked from your first post. How is that house rule that every ship gets the "Two hits from the same shoot action are required to eliminate one of this ship's masts" ability working out?

I'm tempted to use something like that but I suspect it makes smaller ships cannons obsolete.
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Subject:    PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2015 3:47 pm Reply with quote

palamon wrote:
So I've tried adapting various strategies to speed up and streamline the game so I can get a 4-6 player game of 2 ships each to about 1hr30min. One of the big things was adapting the simultaneous move system from Sails of Glory and X-Wing that utilize move/turn templates that are chosen and revealed all at once, then all the ships move simultaneously, then all the ships fire simultaneously, etc.


What an intriguing way of doing things. Idea

Quote:
BTW I read the thread linked from your first post. How is that house rule that every ship gets the "Two hits from the same shoot action are required to eliminate one of this ship's masts" ability working out?

I'm tempted to use something like that but I suspect it makes smaller ships cannons obsolete.


I love it for huge games. That being said, I've only really used it once, during my Century of the Empires game from a few years ago. It definitely makes combat more realistic, and it takes longer for battles to play out. In addition to that rule, I made it necessary to hit a derelict twice as many times as the ship originally had masts to sink it (2 hits for a derelict one master to sink, 8 hits for a derelict 4 master to sink). This dramatically increased the number of derelicts and captures in my CotE game, which is also more realistic.

I like both house rules a lot, but there are issues. One issue is keeping track of damage, since there are a lot of instances where a ship will have an odd number of hits on her. I would put one of the tiny dice next to the mast that was about to fall. For derelicts, I would put a tiny dice with the correct number of hits on top of the ship's deck. In this way, there would be two dice (one with a 6 face up and one with a 3 face up) on a 5 master that only needed one more hit to sink it.

Relevant to this thread, there's also a problem where ramming damage becomes more important than I'd like it to be. I didn't change the ramming rule, so it was easier to ram a mast off a ship with one roll than try to hit twice. xerecs' CotE game also used my house rule for damage (not the derelict house rule however), and if you read the reports you can see how ramming had a big effect on the game. For the future when I use this house rule, I'll either do away with ramming damage altogether or make it so a successful ram only counts as one cannon hit.
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