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Thread: Intermediate Solo Rule Development Discussions for October - December Campaign

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    Default Intermediate Solo Rule Development Discussions for October - December Campaign

    As we play the first solo campaign, folks will experiment with more advanced rules than the basic set. This thread is reserved for those discussions, as they will lead to the next level of solo rules. Please post any non-basic rule discussions here. Thank you.

    I will play July through September's scenarios with the basic rules for the AARs and basic rule feedback, and as time allows, with more advanced rules, posting those thoughts and questions here.
    “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ― Plato

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    After playing July's scenario with the basic rules, I went back and played with more advanced. The exchanges of fire were VERY deady so I do not know if it was a fair test, but it was bloddy. My one frigate drew a double fire and on the second turn I was unlucky and it blew up. The Burque after two rounds had two leaks, a fire, and 2 broken masts. She sunk on the same turna as my other Frigate, who had a leak and a fire. It was very very deady engagement.

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    I wonder if we'll experience longer turns due to more decisions, but less turns due to more severe damage. Disengagement, striking colors, and boarding could be significant additions, as well as captains being injured, killed, or captured.
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    It did take longer per turn, but overall it was quicker due to the near catastrophic damage done to all three vessels.

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    I wonder, over the long-term, where players will gravitate regarding using special damage tokens. Will they be more desirous of a broad range of damage effects, or limit the effects to lengthen game time? As a game, I am not sure how enjoyable a small-scale engagement would be if the outcome is decided within a round or two of combat.

    I was reading some Memoir 44 threads last night, mostly looking for reviews by old-school gamers. There was a common theme that these players are now looking for simpler and quicker games that retain some measure of thematic feel, and are moving away from detailed simulation type of games.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7eat51 View Post
    I wonder, over the long-term, where players will gravitate regarding using special damage tokens. Will they be more desirous of a broad range of damage effects, or limit the effects to lengthen game time? As a game, I am not sure how enjoyable a small-scale engagement would be if the outcome is decided within a round or two of combat.

    I was reading some Memoir 44 threads last night, mostly looking for reviews by old-school gamers. There was a common theme that these players are now looking for simpler and quicker games that retain some measure of thematic feel, and are moving away from detailed simulation type of games.
    Could be a combination of things; not enough time with all our other responsibilities, can't find people who want to play detailed games or a desire for quicker 'instant gratification' challenges that come with a more rushed digital age/environment?

    A solo game I played last night would have been over in 1/4th the time if I had used standard and/or advanced rules. While you might have the pleasure of a more realistic game it comes and goes too quickly.

    I think it's good we're doing six months of solo testing before we kick off the 2015 campaign. It's going to help a lot in determining what will work best in any solo scenario.

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    I think the thing that made Wings of War/Wings of Glory so popular was its simplicity. Many people with which I have gamed have no knowledge of aircraft or aerial combat but are able to learn the mechanics quickly are having a great time playing after a turn or two. Trying to retain that simplicity in a game for the complexity of sailing combat is difficult and takes more time for players to learn. And the game is not without problems that has caused veteran age of sail gamers to fully embrace it.

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    Personally I really like the special damage and the crew actions system (which aren't really separable from each other). I feel like they add a lot of depth, historical feel and tough decision making, in exchange for a surprisingly modest addition of complexity and time.

    It is true that the special damages make the game more deadly, but to me this feels like just an extension of the basic dynamic, which is that damage is tremendously variable, arguably to a problematic extent. Even in basic rules, any ship can take a 5-6 chit broadside and be almost undamaged, or nearly wiped out, with neither one being a particularly surprising outcome. The real wildcard introduced by special damages is fires, with the dreaded 2 fire draw being the kiss of death.

    So, I would agree with some thoughts that have been posted before, that fires, and maybe leaks, are too common; while masts and sails are perhaps a bit too rare. And maybe damage as a whole accumulates too fast. Those could all be tweaked. But the thing that seems most inherent, and perhaps most questionable, in the SoG system is that damage is REALLY random.

    One other side-effect of special damages, for good or ill, is that they skew the game back away from crew kills and toward more hull kills.

    Returning to the thread topic, I don't think I'm quite at the point of having a deterministic way of handling actions for the AI, although I feel like I'm 95% there in an ad-hoc way. Basically I've been giving the AI the benefit of the doubt, trying to allocate the available actions as optimally as possible. This usually means that I allocate the "life-saving" (extinguish, pump, repair leak) actions up front, then combat actions as the turn progresses, and if there are actions left at the end I retroactively allocate them for repairs and such.

    Also, I think the AI gets a meaningful advantage in standard/advanced play when the player has to plot cards two ahead, whereas the AI doesn't...

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    Quote Originally Posted by fredmiracle View Post
    Returning to the thread topic, I don't think I'm quite at the point of having a deterministic way of handling actions for the AI, although I feel like I'm 95% there in an ad-hoc way. Basically I've been giving the AI the benefit of the doubt, trying to allocate the available actions as optimally as possible. This usually means that I allocate the "life-saving" (extinguish, pump, repair leak) actions up front, then combat actions as the turn progresses, and if there are actions left at the end I retroactively allocate them for repairs and such.
    Returning to the thread topic? We never veer from that on this site.

    I finished rereading a book today about Trafalgar, and the author pointed out how gun crews were formed, often with two men here, or two men there, being pulled off to handle other actions, such as damage control or boarding, for example. I wonder when thinking about the AI mechanism for crew actions, if there should always be one regarding gunnery, either reloading or firing, regardless of whatever else is happening onboard, to reflect that some folks were pulled off guns, but not always all of them. Part of this can be handled by adjusting the probabilities of certain types of special damage, such as fire and leaks.

    One thing to think about regarding solo rules, we can do whatever we desire. If we devise a more suitable way to incorporate special damage and crew actions for the types of games we hope to play in the campaign, great.

    Jim, to your point, I do not want to set up games that end too quickly, especially for the campaign. Besides, I enjoy writing AARs and reading them. I think if too many games end quickly, it could be somewhat tiresome to engage in AAR development.

    Bobby, I agree with your assessment of WoG. I saw the same with a basic plus set of rules for SoG. That's one reason I am highly desirous we have a solid basic set of solo rules in-hand.
    “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ― Plato

  17. #17

    Default Additional AI movement rules

    As discussed in the recent AAR of the Treasure Island scenario, the current AI - while doing an admirable job to maneuver for battle - is not very good at reaching a fixed point on the map. I've experimented a bit, and I think the below rules might make a good starting point for setting an alternative system for this kind of sailing.

    Basically, the player determines whether the AI ship is maneuvering for battle (use the original rules) or is trying to reach a fixed spot (use the following ones instead).

    AI movement towards a fixed spot on the map

    1. If target spot is dead ahead and ship is not taken aback, use 5|. Repeat until target is reached. Else...
    2. Determine the letter code for the ship's situation (use attitude reference as normal).
    - First letter = quadrant of target spot as seen from AI ship
    - Second letter = quadrant from which wind strikes AI ship
    3. Roll a die
    - If target spot is within a ruler of AI ship, add +1. If within half-ruler, +2.
    - If AI ship is taken aback, add +3.
    4. Lookup AI ship's movement card in table below.
    - If AI ship's deck lacks the indicated card, use the tightest turn available in the same direction.
    5. If AI ship is taken aback, handle it normally, replacing the maneuver with the matching red card. Use 1 hourglass on first turn, 2 hourglass on subsequent ones.
    6. If AI ship would end up within half-ruler of map edge or obstacle, handle as per battle-movement rules, except touching these is necessary to reach target spot.

    AI movement table for fixed destination

    Code:
    Target Wind    1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8+
    A        A     5|  5\  5\  4   3   2   1   0
    A        B     5|  5\  4   4   3   3   2   1
    A        C     5|  5\  5\  4   4   3   2   1
    A        D     5|  5\  5\  4   4   3   2   1
    B        A     5|  5/  6   6   7   7   8   9
    B        B     5|  5/  5/  6   7   8   9   10
    B        C     5|  5/  5/  6   6   7   8   9
    B        D     5|  5/  5/  6   6   7   8   9
    C       any    -------------0---------------
    D       any    ------------10---------------
    I've tested this a couple of times, both with the wind being favourable and blowing from the target. As you'd expect tacking towards the target in the latter case is a laborious process, I think as it should be. Having variable maneuvers when heading towards the target makes for some unpredictability, though if course it's not 100% efficient. But the spread is lower than for battle maneuvers and the AI will only do tight turns when closing in.

    When headed away from the target doing anything but the tightest possible turn doesn't seem to make much sense. I looked at turning through the wind and around it, but the former does seem to be almost always the better option.

    The +3 when taken aback rule is there to make sure the AI doesn't use a 5 maneuver in that case, as that would have the ship drifting backwards for a turn.

    Let me know what you think, and if you can give this a try, so much the better!

  18. #18

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    Thanks, Ralf. This is something I'll try to test later today. I finished my Treasure Islands adventure yesterday, but I haven't even started the AAR.

  19. #19

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    Ralf, I just now finished testing your table for moving towards a stationary object. It works really well, or at least it has for me? I repositioned the stationary target and the AI ship in various locations on a single SoG mat and regardless of positioning the AI ship will move rather directly toward the focus point.

    The only time I had an issue was when I tested how an AI ship already grounded on land would respond with the target in "D" quadrant and the wind in "C". I fell back on using the basic rules taken aback maneuver (2nd hour glass) to get me off the land. To be clear I don't imagine the AI ship would have found itself in this position in the first place unless the 'stationary target' changes randomly in a scenario. I don't expect grounding will be all that common in campaign scenarios, but this is something I wanted to check out.

    Thanks for the table and rules. This will go in my files for future use and in fact I could have used this when testing the Egmont and Bellona for Diamondback.

  20. #20

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    Great to hear this is working as expected (or should I say "as hoped for"?).

    And yes, it does need scenario-specific rules for moving off land. Note that the official rules don't allow for that. Once run aground, there is no moving off. :D

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    Having just had my attention drawn to this it looks like just what I needed for several past scenarios.
    Thanks Ralph.
    Rob.

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