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Thread: A try at advanced rules without crew actions.

  1. #1
    Able Seaman
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    Default A try at advanced rules without crew actions.

    The crew actions are a thing that I have been very eager to try since I've gotten my hands on SGN base set. However, my every attempt to play with advanced rules resulted in a little bit of frustration - I don't know if it's just me, and everyone is having fun with crew action chits, but it bogged down the game and downtime, resulting in considerably less amount of fun for everyone, and making the game more sluggish without any added value.

    I've been thinking a lot how to remedy this, and make the crew play itself instead of choosing the chits every turn. I've noticed that it is so predictable, that it balances on the verge of pointlessness. The players fire every turn than can, reload if they fired, if they have a leak or fire they fight it, and if the mast goes down, they repair it. And when the crew is so decimated that it actually makes an impact, reduced number of hands results only in condemning the fate of the ship, making it only more impossible to win against all odds by some stroke of luck.

    On the other hand, playing without crew actions voids the usage of other fun rules, like reducing/setting sail, special damage, and so on.
    So after a dozen of games with some rules' elements, I came up with a comprehensive set of house rules, that allow playing the crew actions by themselves.
    Here it is.

    1) Broadsides and musket fire: firing works exactly like in basic rules - you can fire very other turn, and the guns reload themselves automatically. If you come in range, your marines take it upon themselves to sweep the enemy deck with musket fire :)

    2) Sails: If a player has a desire to change the amount of sails, he announces that while playing the maneuver card, by placing the sail change chit on maneuver card. It remains on the ship's base until the following turn, when he is allowed to use different arrow. On one hand, it is pretty much instantaneous like it doesn't impact the game flow, and on the other, you have to plan it in advance, and other players will see that you change sail - like they would in reality observe sailors working up the masts and so on.

    3) Special Damage:
    a) Sailors: a brown chit goes to the crew damage track as normal.
    b) Broken masts: a broken mast chit is placed in special damage box. The player is required to change his following two maneuvers for broken mast movement cards. After playing the second one, the mast is repaired, and the special damage chit is removed. Player can proceed with playing normal maneuvers. (as it would take two turns to normally repair the broken mast). The second mast cannot be repaired, and stays for the remainder of the game. The third mast damage makes the ship strike its colors. (as in standard rules).
    c) Fire Damage: the fire damage token makes you place a fire damage chit on empty track. The fire is extinguished next turn, but the damage cannot be repaired.
    d) Leak: a leak damage chit is placed on empty damage box on the beginning of next turn. It stays there for the remainder, and is pumped out automatically next turn (but it makes a ship more vulnerable, less effective per broadside, and potentially dangerous if it has only one hull box left). If a players draws two leak damage ****s, two boxes are filled, and the chits are removed in subsequent turns, one after another.
    e) Rudder damage and sail damage: corresponding special damage chits are placed on ships log, and have exactly the same effect as in standard rules. I don't see how a rudder or shattered sails could be replaced in the midst of battle, so no need for repair here.

    4) Boarding action: If two ships are in base touch, both players declare boarding or repelling (as per normal rules). If both of them don't want boarding, it wont happen, simple as that.

    5) Grog: It is a once-per-game action anyways, so no trouble in just declaring it at the begging of turn if possible.

    These are some serious changes, but I played with them already, and they seem to streamline the game, simplify things, making it more dynamic and quick, without too much hassle about placing all the crew chits. Searching for the right ones, and the worst thing, keeping up with pumps and repairs, what happens in which turn, that gave me headaches. What do you think guys?

  2. #2
    2nd Lieutenant
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    I like your thinking. I was thinking along these very same lines and going to experiment this weekend.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason View Post
    What do you think guys?
    I think your observations are accurate--95% of the time the crew actions are pro-forma and dealing with the chits is much more hassle than its worth. Your proposal makes a lot of sense.

    The one thing you would lose by this method is when the ship is close to destruction and you have few crew and need to make hard decisions. Even then what you need to do is usually clear, but the feeling that you are holding your ship together with spit and bailing-wire, and trying to outlast your foe who is doing the same, is a part of the game I appreciate. And there is the occasional interesting dilemma about things like whether to pump or work the guns...

    For me the key change was moving to paper and pencil ship logs instead of using the chits (a laminated board would work too). So now instead of hunting around in a stack of 12 chits for the right ones, I just quickly mark down my actions, which usually requires me to jot down about 6 letters. For example fire to starboard is "FS", musketry is "M", repair is "R", etc. Most of the time I'm using mostly the same actions each turn, and can just put hash marks to indicate "same as last turn".

    This has made the use of actions much less hassle, so then the good aspects of them shine through

  4. #4
    Able Seaman
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    The advanced rules such as the special damage like fire and leaks destroy the ships faster and speed the game up , freds paper and pencil method would be a good way to reduce downtime I think. You need the advanced rules the game is lacking without them IMHO they add some really good things.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dobbs View Post
    I like your thinking. I was thinking along these very same lines and going to experiment this weekend.
    I concur. I finally played with the advanced rules for the first time. I didn't think it added much for the extra complication. I really like the ideas above, I will be giving them a shot in the future.

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    Former Admiral of the Fleet
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    We have found the laminated logs/mats to be very beneficial; everyone who has played with both the chits and the laminated method, thus far, has commented on the ease of the latter.

    For changing sail settings, we announce the changing of sails one step as we play the maneuver card. I like the idea of placing a chit on the maneuver card during the planning stage - similar to changing speed in WGS. We will go with this next time we play.
    “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ― Plato

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    Jan, we used these rules this weekend and they worked very nicely. Further tweaks we made for playability were:

    1) After the first mast hit is repaired (requiring two broken mast cards to be played - replacing the planned card - no coasting), a ship can take three mast hits before it surrenders.

    2) We decided that the broken mast cards indicated wreckage alongside, and could be cut away in two turns. Thusly, after the first (repaired) damage, subsequent damage would force the ship to move for two turns with the broken mast cards, then after the wreckage was cleared, it was able to move with the regular deck, only not use full sails. On the next hit, the same thing, only when the wreckage was cleared, battle sails were no longer an option. On the third hit, the vessel would surrender.

    Oh, and we chose to recycle the various damage chits after each broadside to maintain the same probabilities for all shots.

    We found that your rules combined with our tweaks made the game much less randomly bloodthirsty and more tactically interesting.

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    I seem to be alone here but I rather think the advance rules force players to make hard decisions as damage increases and crew casualties become greater. Once down to two actions things become very desperate.

    Can I reload or do I need to focus on pumps? Should I focus on breaking off or is it realistic to continue the engagement? Can I fire a broadside or should I focus on boarding the ship I'm entangled with?

    I think the importance of these decisions would be more significant if the games were treated more in a campaign context. The loss of a ship having a greater campaign impact than an individual action.
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by TWR View Post
    I seem to be alone here but I rather think the advance rules force players to make hard decisions as damage increases and crew casualties become greater. Once down to two actions things become very desperate.

    Can I reload or do I need to focus on pumps? Should I focus on breaking off or is it realistic to continue the engagement? Can I fire a broadside or should I focus on boarding the ship I'm entangled with?

    I think the importance of these decisions would be more significant if the games were treated more in a campaign context. The loss of a ship having a greater campaign impact than an individual action.

    Not alone, I agree that is exactly when the actions become very flavorful and tactically engaging:
    Quote Originally Posted by fredmiracle View Post
    The one thing you would lose by this method is when the ship is close to destruction and you have few crew and need to make hard decisions. Even then what you need to do is usually clear, but the feeling that you are holding your ship together with spit and bailing-wire, and trying to outlast your foe who is doing the same, is a part of the game I appreciate. And there is the occasional interesting dilemma about things like whether to pump or work the guns...

    But I do see the flipside, which is that juggling the action chits is annoying.

    One thing I was rolling around in my mind is some kind of hybrid, where you play without actions at the beginning, but a ship switches to using the normal action rules when it gets reduced to 2 or 3. I'm not sure if that would work though...

    Anyway, paper logs are better

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TWR View Post
    I seem to be alone here but I rather think the advance rules force players to make hard decisions as damage increases and crew casualties become greater. Once down to two actions things become very desperate.

    Can I reload or do I need to focus on pumps? Should I focus on breaking off or is it realistic to continue the engagement? Can I fire a broadside or should I focus on boarding the ship I'm entangled with?

    I think the importance of these decisions would be more significant if the games were treated more in a campaign context. The loss of a ship having a greater campaign impact than an individual action.
    As I've stated - I've seen things exectly the same way as you do when I played the game first couple of time. It promised to deliver a rewarding and dramatic experience. Except... it didn't. After a couple of games I've felt that any dramatism generated by that kind of decision-making was ruined by a need for counting and shuffling the chits and keeping an eye for when the leak floods the deck and when it's pumped out and stuff like that. I am not theoreticaly speaking - these are just my experiences with the game. It's just the games with basic rules proved to be insanely more fun, but I wanted to make use of all the special damage chits.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dobbs View Post
    Jan, we used these rules this weekend and they worked very nicely. Further tweaks we made for playability were:

    1) After the first mast hit is repaired (requiring two broken mast cards to be played - replacing the planned card - no coasting), a ship can take three mast hits before it surrenders.

    2) We decided that the broken mast cards indicated wreckage alongside, and could be cut away in two turns. Thusly, after the first (repaired) damage, subsequent damage would force the ship to move for two turns with the broken mast cards, then after the wreckage was cleared, it was able to move with the regular deck, only not use full sails. On the next hit, the same thing, only when the wreckage was cleared, battle sails were no longer an option. On the third hit, the vessel would surrender.

    Oh, and we chose to recycle the various damage chits after each broadside to maintain the same probabilities for all shots.

    We found that your rules combined with our tweaks made the game much less randomly bloodthirsty and more tactically interesting.
    Thank you! I have also assumed that it takes two turns for the crew to cut away the wreckage draging alongside the ship. The "No full sails" rule is a great - and self-explanatory - idea :) Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by fredmiracle View Post
    Not alone, I agree that is exactly when the actions become very flavorful and tactically engaging:

    But I do see the flipside, which is that juggling the action chits is annoying.

    One thing I was rolling around in my mind is some kind of hybrid, where you play without actions at the beginning, but a ship switches to using the normal action rules when it gets reduced to 2 or 3. I'm not sure if that would work though...

    Anyway, paper logs are better

    I need to try the laminated/paper logs thing... But you may have a point with the hybrid thing! Perhaps, the crew actions might be used after receiveng enough crew damage indeed?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TWR View Post
    I seem to be alone here but I rather think the advance rules force players to make hard decisions as damage increases and crew casualties become greater. Once down to two actions things become very desperate.

    Can I reload or do I need to focus on pumps? Should I focus on breaking off or is it realistic to continue the engagement? Can I fire a broadside or should I focus on boarding the ship I'm entangled with?

    I think the importance of these decisions would be more significant if the games were treated more in a campaign context. The loss of a ship having a greater campaign impact than an individual action.
    At our club, we started playing SofG with crew actions, and subsequently tried it with just the standard rules (while playtesting Powder Monkey), and found the crew actions made the game for us, as it seemed to make us feel as we were actually commanding a real ship, to some extent.

    I always felt Wings of Glory WW1 slightly strange when a damage result seemed to 'get better' by itself after 3 actions!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herkybird View Post
    I always felt Wings of Glory WW1 slightly strange when a damage result seemed to 'get better' by itself after 3 actions!
    You mean you don't utilize an ariel form of AAA?

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    We adopted the rule of removing a turn card from the deck of the same direction as the rudder damage.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7eat51 View Post
    We adopted the rule of removing a turn card from the deck of the same direction as the rudder damage.
    I just had an idea - how about removing cards from the deck when you receive rudder damage in SGN? Instead of -1 veer.

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    Remove the hardest turns, ie those with highest and lowest value. Return cards if the damage is repaired.

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    Able Seaman
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    That's exactly my first thought.

    But on the other hand - wouldn't it be more fun to loose two cards from one of the sides? So the ship now tends to steer more to one side?

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    These are good ideas! - especially for Wings of Glory. I agree there is a need for a simpler veer damage system, this may do!--however, the different sizes of manoeuvre deck between different classes of ship (EG: frigates have loads more turns than first raters) - could mean you would have to take a larger number of cards from smaller ships, or they would be less affected by rudder damage!

    Methinks our beloved Lord High Admiral may have opened the proverbial can of worms here!
    Last edited by Herkybird; 02-25-2015 at 14:22.

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    Since we're not talking about repair amidst a battle, I think adding rudder damage with a reduced card set could easily be introduced into the solo campaign, at the least as a scenario rule in one or more scenarios.

    As long as additions are simple and make logical sense, these are the types of house rules worth play testing. Over the next few weeks, let's discuss how rudder damage impacted ships with an eye to a house rule we can test run; the rule must be easy to implement.
    “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ― Plato

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    I think the first point of rudder damage can be repaired during combat.

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    Bear in mind that in actual combat for these ships a damaged rudder could be something as simple as a parted rope or a broken block from the wheel to the tiller. It doesn't necessarily mean the physical rudder is smashed.

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    And even if it was it was an eventuality that (first rate navies at least) trained for regularly and for which there were quick fixes that would suffice to see a ship through an action or get out of danger.

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    I must admit to preferring to use the crew action rules during a "home" game.
    This weekend I am running a demo / participation game which will be using the standard rules only.
    I think the hardest part is getting the correct sequence of events, especially for leaks, repairs pumping water, fires etc.
    If this can be mastered then the crew action flows more smoothly.
    Just my 2d

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    I find all of these house rules to be interesting. I haven't really started playing with the advanced rules yet as I have to coax my friends into playing a naval wargame in the first place and part of SoGs selling point is its simplicity. Still though, a way to make the tactically interesting advanced game more accessible is certainly something worth looking at. I'm going to bookmark this thread.

  23. #23
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    Ive found that ive reached a happy balance in SoG by not using crew actions.
    My daughter and i just want a fast game that is fairly tactical with forethought and planning.
    The move cards and choosing when to fire (too many times ive fired early and then missed a raking shot while reloading), provide us with a great game that doesnt get bogged down in paperwork. Unlike some hugely popular current games, SoG has a great community that embraces fun and whats right for yourself above all else.
    Keep sailing these fair winds shipmates and we will continue to enjoy this great game together.

  24. #24
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    I've enjoyed this conversation. I also am looking to streamline crew actions. I agree that they add realism/drama, but my hope is for larger games with more ships. As a fleet commander rather than a ships captain I would rather have some of those decisions more automatic.

  25. #25
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    I would think you could use a system I have been considering?

    Firstly, all ships use battle sail, but if a squadron is in line, they use the card of the slowest ship in the line.

    Damage is recorded as usual, but crew actions are not required to deal with them!
    Fires cause 2 damage boxes at the start of the next turn.
    Leaks cause 1 damage box at the start of the turn of the next turn.
    Mast damage is dealt with at the start of the turn after a turn when you are fighting fire or flood.

    Musketry is only used if not firing main guns or fighting fire/flood/broken mast.

    Main guns fire every other turn, as normal, recorded by moving ammo.

    I would record special damage by putting damage counters in the special damage box on the log, as normal, and remove them when the damage is inflicted/repaired.

    Just my thoughts....

  26. #26
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    Very interesting considerations Shipmates. Like most of you I tailor the rules which I include to the type of game I am playing and audience. However until crew numbers diminish I always treat actions as automatic. it is only when the cost of the action becomes critical that such considerations are made. This speeds up a game considerably whilst a lot of ships are in action, and as they are gradually lost there is more time for the niceties with those remaining.
    Although i play to the rules on fire power I have always felt that not being able to load and fire the guns because all the crew were engaged in other tasks a bit of a double jeopardy because you lose firepower steadily as the ship is damaged anyway. From my readings when the guns fall silent it is usually about the time that the ship strikes .
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

  27. #27
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    First time I've read this thread. Some real innovative ideas that would certainly, for me, speed up multiple ship actions and solo games.

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    I love the Advanced rules, I dislike games that go bye too fast.

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    I can understand that. But for me it's about being faithful to a certain command level. In a small fleet action I'm more concerned the coordination of the ships than individually ship command.

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