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Wooden Ships & Iron Men» Forums » Variants

Subject: Anyone know of scenario variants for playability? rss

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Matthias Kievernagel
Germany
Braunschweig
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In another thread (http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1217863/list-differences-bet...)
dpnn commented about the light breeze in the Trafalgar scenario,
that "This is the Trafalgar scenario, and it makes the scenario unplayable, since ..."

So, this prompted me to open this thread
and ask if someone created balanced variants
of the historic scenarios and likes to share.
Also, I would like to know which scenarios you think
are quite balanced in their original form.

Thanks for any comments,
Matthias.
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Niek van Diepen
Netherlands
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Let me answer the last question first. In General 25-4 (pp. 25-31 and 45) Jim Lutz published an article "Age of Sail" subtitled "Chosing sides in WS&IM." His point was that superior crew quality won the day most of the time.

One thing we did at our club (Casus Belli Nijmegen, the Netherlands) was the addition of an extra crew quality:

A new Crew Quality, Seasoned (Se), is added between Average and Crack. Its effects are:
1. A +1 die roll hit table modifier when firing with 4 guns or more in the Basic Game and 7 guns or more in the Advanced Game. [Error corrected March 5, 2017. My apologies!]
2. A melee multiplier of 3.5 (round fractions up after computation).
3. Victory point value is that of a similar Average ship, with 10% added, standard rounding.

Note the 20% gap between Average and Crack VP values, while the other gaps (Poor to Green, Green to Average, Crack to Elite) are just 10%. So something in between is a natural addition. This allows us to upgrade the better French ships and downgrade the worst British ships. Depending on the situation one could be generous to one side or the other.

It is usually me who does the balancing, then I let the other commander pick his (often her) side.

For balancing by VP, I'd recommend adding 0.5 VP for every carronade factor for Average crews, 1 VP for Seasoned, 1.5 for Crack crews and 2 VP's per carronade factor for Elite crews (rounding up where appropriate). Carronades mostly shield the standard guns in the game, so they produce a game-long advantage in gun factors.

A more flexible way is bidding: each player bids for the higher morale side. The player losing this bid can upgrade the morale factor (Gr to Av, Av to Se, etc.) of the number of ships bid by his opponent. Only half of the points may be used to upgrade ships by two levels.

I'll see what I can do about making our club scenario's available. One of them (Camperdown) is on Grognard. Note that this scenario is almost 20 years old and based on another General article, The Royal Navy Triumphant. It is balanced, but I am going to revise the values. A lot more data has become available, especially around 2005, the bicentennial anniversary of Trafalgar.
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Matthias Kievernagel
Germany
Braunschweig
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Hello Niek,

thanks a lot for that valuable information.
I hope I can try out a few of these ideas soon
and will report back here.
Thanks also for the mail.

Regards,
Matthias.
 
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Niek van Diepen
Netherlands
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Balancing scenario 5

In a private message Matthias indicated that squadron actions, like scenario 5, Arbutnot and Des Touches (8 ships a side) would be to his liking. So this would be a good place to start. Unfortunately, this scenario is a very hard nut to balance. The British have an advantage in ships and crew quality, the set-up is wrong, and the redeeming factor for the French, high seas forcing the British to close their lower gun ports, is not in the game.

Fortunately, Mark Campbell tackled this situation in Rebel Seas, a scenario book for his game Close Action. I will rely on him.

First the set-up. It seems that this scenario is based on W.L. Clowes, The Royal Navy vol. 4, pp. 489-493. The French are given in order of seniority, rather than in order of sailing. Scenario 3 has a similar problem, order of seniority per squadron. This has the unfortunate effect of putting the weakest French ships nearest to the British in this scenario. Also, Clowes repeats an error seen more often, putting Des Touches in his original ship, the Neptune, rather than in the flagship Duc de Bourgogne. According to my French sources Des Touches switched ships with De Medine (the original flag captain of Rear-Admiral De Ternay, now deceased), so the 80 gun Duc de Bourgogne is the flagship still.

The French should be in this order: Conquerant (starting the line in QQ18), Jason, Ardent, Duc de Bourgogne (Des Touches), Neptune (De Medine), Romulus, Eveille, Provence (closing the line in CC11). The British should be in reverse order: Robust closest to the French in U11, Europe, Prudent, Royal Oak (V.Adm Arbutnot), London (R.Adm Thomas Graves), and then a small change in the order of sailing: America, Adamant, Bedford (G4).

Crew quality. At this time the French were quite good, and the British not quite up to par. Mark Campbell rates the ships as follows.

British Cr: America, Se (see my post above): Robust, Europe, Prudent, Royal Oak, London, Av: Adament, Bedford.

French Cr: Jason, Se: Conquerant, Ardent, Duc de Bourgogne, Neptune, Eveille, Av: Romulus and Provence.

If you do not like to use Seasoned crew quality, downgrade Europe, Royal Oak and Ardent to average, and upgrade the others to crack.

Carronades: while some carronades were available from 1779, the real introduction started in 1781. A squadron far from home would not have been able to fit carronades. Campbell gives carronades only to Adamant.

A scenario rule for closing the gun ports is not so easy to give. My suggestion would be to halve gun factors (not carronade factors) when firing downwind, rounding up for 3-deckers (the London) and down for the rest.

Finally, Campbell gives another, hypothetical, scenario situated a few days earlier, where he deletes the Romulus (not yet ready) and the Bedford (still repairing rigging damage. Wind velocity should be 3.

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