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British Vs Pirates: Volume 1» Forums » General

Subject: Does the combat system break the theme beyond repair? rss

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Barry Miller
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And with that subject line, most of you are probably saying, "Huh?"
Let me explain...

First, due to my "very active" Kickstarter habit of the past four years, I pledged to "turn off" Kickstarter for all of 2017. As such, I missed this game entirely, but have learned of it through another forum. So here I am. Given that Sails of Glory and the Pirate theme are among my favorites... the theme, design, presentation, and combat system used for BvP has me seriously considering pressing the "late backer" button!!

But... it' the combat system that also has me taking a step back. Why?

From the two preview videos I've watched (BGB & Unfiltered Gamer), it looks like the combat system uses a "shield" concept to defend the ships. I.e., all four sides of each ship has a "shield" die (don't know what the game name is for these dice). Actual damage to the ship itself is tracked with a single "structure" die which is in the center of the four "shield" dice.

So if I understand the combat system correctly, when a ship is attacked and hit, the "shield" die on the side from where the attack originated will be reduced. The "shield" die is removed when it's reduced below "1". Then from that instance on, every time the ship takes additional hits from that same side, is when the structure die will begin to reduce. And when the structure die runs out of pips, the ship is "sunk". (Though losing ships were usually taken instead of actually sunk in those days, but that's a minor, irrelevant point).

So if I've got all that correct, here's why I feel like the combat system irreparably breaks the theme...

It's the "shield" concept. It's plausible and works well for futuristic ships or vessels, but is utterly too fantastic (i.e., "fantasy") for 18th century sailing ships. IOW, the "shield" concept is so inappropriate for the theme, that AFAIC, it breaks the immersion factor, and thusly, sadly the game.

Here's where I'm coming from: Let's use an example of your ship that's taking hits from the port side. It takes hit after hit from the port. So far, your structure is fine, but that port "shield" die continues to be whittled down until it's finally removed. (BTW, the starboard "shield" die is still at full strength). So from that point forward, any additional hits from the port side will damage your structure.

But, only from the port side?

Is it really the case that from now on, hits from the port will damage my ship's structure, but hits from the starboard won't? (Remember that starboard "shield" die is at full strength). Huh? After all, thematically, hits from any direction have an equal opportunity of damaging the ship's structure. So this "shield" concept isn't making sense at all for me for the target type and era that the targets exist in. Thusly this is where the combat system breaks the game for me.

The thing is, that I really love this combat system! I love the concept of the "shield" dice, and how it all works. I've got plenty of wargames on my shelf, with a huge gaping hole waiting for a pirate-themed game! Plus, I don't have many (if any) that employ such a system as is employed here. So it looks like a win-win. But...

In this case, looks definitely appear to be deceiving, as again, I can't get past the fact that the combat system used in this game - specifically its shield concept - is far more appropriate for targets/vessels that actually use shields! And completely breaks the theme when the target doesn't have - nor is supposed to have - shields!

So, as I really want to buy this game, please inform me of where I'm wrong, off, or am totally misunderstanding things! I WANT to be corrected here! I want to buy this game, but if I can only damage my opponent's ship when attacking from one side and not from the other, then I will have a very hard time "getting into" the game, which will override my desire to buy it.

Thx!
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Michael Maynard
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A very good observation, and one that I had made in the past. So here are some points that I feel should be made.
First, unless you intend to have a 200 page rule book, any "simulation" game is going to require an element of imagination, and require the use of mechanics that are not as they seem. My favorite example would be the Nebulon B in Star Wars Armada. This game also uses shields and hull values. In lore, the Nebulon B frigate had equal shields surrounding it, but a thin and fragile mid section (If you google the ship, you'll see what I mean.) The game system only has one hull value, though, not one for each arc of the ship. Therefore, the designers gave the ship low port and starboard shields to simulate the fragile hull. Genius! (In my opinion.) So with light to mid level war games, you should not judge a book by its cover.
So, what do the armor and hull values in BvP serve as? Here is the theory I've come up with:
First: When an armor value is reduced to zero, it is not that the armor was shot off, but a feature of the ship was destroyed. If one depletes port or starboard armor, he has disabled the corresponding cannons. If he depletes the stern, the rudder has been disengaged: loss of most pivot. And if he pierces the fore armor, the sails have been brought down: loss of speed.
The second aspect is what I find the more interesting one: NO SHIPS IN BRITISH VS PIRATES ARE SUNK! The armor value of the ships is actually the crew. That is why we try to "sink" merchant ships. This also sheds light on boarding. Now when a ship is boarded, we understand that the boarders are not hacking away at the hull mid battle, but actually killing the crew. And if an opening is found during the battle, the ships can fire grapeshot upon them.
Well that's my theory. I know that some of the skill cards might contradict it, but that's how I'll look at it when I play. I hope this helps, and you'll consider changing your mind on passing this game by. Just be open to using your imagination a little, and this game will be GREAT!
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Ji Atkinson
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@barry. The dice to the side represent the ships meaty exterior yes you have to dig a hole before you get to the juicy center that allows you to sink the ship. This allows for fun tactics and tunning battles. I have mocked up a version of the game with the first rule book to try and get a feel for the game and i would say gameplay felt great, the friend who i played with agreed with my statment. If it was your shot you sink it would make for a boring game.

When playing i imagine bits of wood flying off the ship, people falling overboard as each side gets wittled away. Its not a shield as you say and losing one side cripples your ability to do things do you really dont want that happening. Click that button mate, you wont regret it.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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If you want a game that has pirates and a well thought out combat system, why not buy Merchants & Marauders? The 'shield' idea is nonsense, which isn't surprising given the title (a great many pirates were British and no pirate in his right mind wanted to fight the British Navy).
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Barry Miller
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Yeah, Merchants & Marauders has been on my list for a long while now. I don’t know really, why I haven’t bought it yet... probably because it had already been released just prior to me becoming active in the hobby, so I always felt it would be around... Along the same line of thinking as when you move to a new area, it takes years before you get around to visiting any of the tourist sites in your own backyard because they’ll “always be there”, is why I haven’t felt compelled to buy M&M just quite yet.

But with the newer games from less established publishers – especially those from Kickstarter — their future print run is less certain, thereby raising the compulsion to buy the game now — if it’s a good game, that is — rather than waiting, as I’ve been doing with Merchants & Marauders.

But I will get M&M ... sometime... soon! I’m also considering backing The Pirate Republic.

Sorry for the long—winded answer that could’ve taken 1/10 the words!

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Barry Miller
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senseiofthesqueegee wrote:
So, what do the armor and hull values in BvP serve as? Here is the theory I've come up with:
First: When an armor value is reduced to zero, it is not that the armor was shot off, but a feature of the ship was destroyed.
...
The second aspect is what I find the more interesting one: NO SHIPS IN BRITISH VS PIRATES ARE SUNK!
...
I hope this helps, and you'll consider changing your mind on passing this game by. Just be open to using your imagination a little, and this game will be GREAT!

Michael,
Thanks for the reply! Trust me, my imagination works overtime with many games, and I'm OK with that. But what I perceive to be a "shields" concept for this game is tugging my imagination in the wrong direction. However, your reply is providing a different perspective and I appreciate that!

I get what you're saying in that when a side of armor reaches zero, it represents the destruction of a feature. Many games use a similar system. But still, it also means that the structure (or hull?) can now start taking damage from that weakened side, whereas it won't take any damage from any other side. And this is what I'm struggling with. I get that cannon balls do most of their damage to a ship's hull and thusly if the hull of only one side continues to get hit, it will fail before the other side.

But incoming cannon balls from any side also do a lot of damage to a ship's deck and other structures... enough to also destroy a ship or at least cause the crew to capitulate. And its that this sort of incoming fire only contributes to a ship's loss when it comes from one side and not the other is where my imagination is failing, I guess.

Perhaps I need to learn more about how actual ship battles of the era played out. I may pay a visit to the knowledgeable guys in the Sails of Glory forum and ask them!

And about the ships not sinking... that's good to hear, actually. I got a different impression from watching one of the videos, is all. Anyway, thanks again for your reply. It's helped!


Zomboyd wrote:
The dice to the side represent the ships meaty exterior yes you have to dig a hole before you get to the juicy center that allows you to sink the ship.
...
Click that button mate, you wont regret it.

Ji,
Thank you also, for your reply. My response is the same as what I wrote above. Regardless, yours' and Michael's enthusiasm certainly does help with my decision.

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Derry Salewski
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I think it's probably a perfectly fine abstraction. (I think it would be a lot better if the die didn't represent hit points but things like manpower and firepower on the sides, maneuverability on the back (due to rudder/sail shots). . . maybe direct hits to structure on the front? raking someone's bow was pretty good apparently. But really it's probably just abstracting all that into a simple system.) I like reading things like pirate biographies and master and commander books. Not letting people keep shooting already damaged parts of your ship is a thing.
 
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Ji Atkinson
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bgm1961 wrote:


Ji,
Thank you also, for your reply. My response is the same as what I wrote above. Regardless, yours' and Michael's enthusiasm certainly does help with my decision.



you will find the Community and the Creator to be really fun to talk to and very friendly as well. He has taken a lot on board as well as fine tuning the system with advanced rules and ideas that people have put forward that have then been play tested to see if they work.

As i said, i also built a version of the game to test out and trust me your "shield" worry wont be there. It becomes a matter of positioning and running gun battles when things go bad, and evokes the feel of those grand battles in Pirates of the Caribbean where the ships exchange broadsides and not sink immediately.Remember this a game and it is trying to catch that feel and thrill of those kinds of battles. (this is just my opinion on that)
 
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Dusty 27
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I don't find the shield concept overly abstract.

I mean I would if the combat strength of those cannons were not reduced. And it sounds like we have a raking fire skill card in the works. So there is some theme here gluing it all together.

For me it feels just right for the weight of the game. I could see how some folks might get hung up on it but to them I would suggest Sails of Glory for in depth simulation.
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John Cross
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The rules are definitely an abstraction for quicker game-play. I like the damage system that this game uses. I think "armor" is the wrong term. Use the term "hull" instead. I know, semantics... but as shots come in, some miss or are turned away by the strength of the hull (represented by rolling too low on your to-hit roll). Think Old Ironsides. Its hull was so strong that cannon balls literally bounced off! Some shots may damage the hull of the ship, weakening the timbers or even punching holes through (represented by one or more hits) the hull and making that side less effective in turning further shots away, thus reducing the "hull" die on that side. Once the hull is so weakened, then you start dealing serious damage to the ship. Removing the hull die renders that part of the ship ineffective, whether it be cannons, movement, or maneuvering. I don't think of the ship as having all of its cannons blown away, just that there is enough damage on that side of the ship to make firing difficult at best.
Removal of the structure die also does not mean necessarily that the ship was sunk, per se, but that there was enough damage done to it to make it useless in a fight. That could include high crew casualties, too much physical damage, total loss of morale, etc...
Above all, as mentioned before, the community for this game is great. Never met a single backer or the creator, but I would invite each of them into my home for a game or two!
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Barry Miller
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OP here...

Well, thanks to everyone's input, I decided to go ahead and press the "Late Backers" button! I also added the Spanish fleet add-on, as well. (I usually don't stop at the basic level of anything)!

I spent a few days thinking about it... weighing my originally posted concerns vs your comments, and also after watching another video, and decided you guys are right.

So again, thanks!

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John Cross
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Welcome aboard BGM1961! I can tell you have great taste in game selection. Also, all criticisms are welcome. Because of folks comments and criticisms over the past several weeks, the game has been made even better, in my opinion. Rules have been expanded and clarified. Ships are 250% better than originals. The creator, Apollo, has been very receptive to backers' wishes, but more importantly, has also been able to say "no" to some ideas.
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Apollo Weston
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@Miller, First, I am sorry for the late response and thank you for your valuable insight, as I like hearing from all sides regarding my game. I didn't read anyone else's response so here we go.

Right, This damage system took me quite a while to nail down and when I did it felt perfect for game engine. I wanted to take it a step further and have a sail damage model but the ship card became way to cluttered. So back on to the "shield". I never thought of it as a futuristic shield. I was quickly sold on the idea when I released I could justify this damage model with the mental image of planks being blown away on each side of the ship, as it took damage.

Admittedly, real ships do not work like this. They do not need to be damaged 4,5,6 times to start taking on water and sinking. 1 shot or broadside could be a critical hit and the whole thing goes up in flames. But for game mechanics sake I feel this damage model to be acceptable and relatively believable.

I am not sure if you backed us or not but I really appreciate you being critical on the matter. I will continue to work like hell to bring the best possible game I can to backers. Thanks again for your awesome insight mate and may the winds be at your back and your enemies sinking to the bottom of the sea.

-Captain Apollo
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Apollo Weston
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@Captain Miller, Oh right on thank you for backing Sir! Welcome aboard.

*bows graciously*

-Captain Apollo
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Barry Miller
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exocrategames wrote:
...this damage model with the mental image of planks being blown away on each side of the ship, as it took damage.

Apollo,

Thanks much for the very kind, thoughtful, and attentive response!

Originally, it's the sort of imagery that I quoted from you above, that I assumed depicted the "structure" of the ship being damaged, which I in turn assumed to be modeled by the center die. That's why I labeled the outer dice as "shield" dice. I.e., I wondered why the port side, for example, has to take so many hits before the port side planks start taking damage?

But all the fantastic replies in this thread helped me see the game's design from a different perspective, which your reply only confirmed. I appreciate that!

My original perspective was built upon the erroneous notion that incoming fire always hits the deck of the ship. Such a notion explains why the "shield" concept wasn't working for me, as the deck should take damage equally from any direction. (Even more so if it's a "raking" shot). But upon reading the replies, it dawned on my that most incoming fire actually hit the hull, and not the deck.

With the above realization being the case, and considering that the center die represents the structural "core" of the ship and not necessarily the structure in general, is why I suddenly saw what you achieved with your damage model. This is when I decided to buy your game. I look forward to it!

 
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