(Developer Diary) A Glorious Chance: A look at the combat system

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Originally, I didn't plan to include any combat in A Glorious Chance.

"Whaaa?" you say, "What kind of wargame has no combat?"

I didn't think think my game needed one. It was intended to be a player aid for tactical age of sail miniatures; a scenario generator that provided a historical framework, a wider context, something merely to set the stage for battles that players would resolve with their favorite tactical game.

But as I designed my game, I realized that I needed a little CRT that would let me resolve battles without forcing me to set them all up and play them all out.

So, here's the first important point about A Glorious Chance's combat system:

It's optional.

It's there if/when you want to use it. And it gives A Glorious Chance a satisfying, self-contained quality. I could imagine some people enjoying it purely as a strategy game, and never even bothering with the tactical stuff. This also makes the game friendly to new wargamers, or to wargamers who have little knowledge or prior experience of period naval tactics.

I wanted something simple; a throwback to strategic games with naval combat systems, like Avalon Hill's [thing=3312]1776[/thing]. It would be greatly abstracted for playability and speed. One thing I like about the 1776 table is its differential columns. From what I understand of fleet actions in history, and in my wargaming of them, even a slight superiority on one side can often become decisive.

Here's what I came up with:

I'll be subjecting it to the rigors of more testing, but so far it seems to do what I intended.

One change I see that I already need to make: More columns on the right and fewer on the left. I've had a number of combats easily hit the "+10 or more" maximum. The AI won't attack unless it has an advantage, and as the human player I wouldn't do so, either.

The units
What's so special about Lake Ontario 1813, and what aspects need to be in this game to simulate it in a fun and playable fashion?

To me, the most striking thing about the campaign was the great variety of ship types and ship armament. I love this, because it posed some special tactical challenges for the real-life commanders in addition to the standard ones in Napoleonic-era naval warfare.

While the American squadron had more ships, many were small merchant schooners that had been hurriedly converted to military use. They weren't designed to carry heavy cannon, so they were slow and sailed so poorly that they couldn't hold position in a line of battle. In any strong wind they'd have to be towed into action. Their top-heaviness made them liable to founder in a gale.

But the British ships couldn't match the combined power and reach of the swivel-mounted long guns on those converted lakers. It was only when the fighting got to point-blank range that the British strength in carronades could give them a rough parity.

So the campaign featured enemy squadrons circling each other around the lake like two boxers -- each looking for just the right conditions to land his best punch.

Some sample counters (just rough prototypes):

The slashes on the ship silhouettes signify the type of ship:
3 slashes = corvette
2 slashes = brig
No slashes = schooner

Next: We'll see how combat actually works, in an AAR from a critical turn in a recent test game...

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Updated 03-28-2015 at 23:38 by Broadsword56



  1. 7eat51's Avatar
    Will you publish as a PnP?
  2. Broadsword56's Avatar
    That's my intention.
    But it would be after the Vassal version.