Let me collate some posts from CSW. The designer's brother had a severe medical emergency earlier in the year, and work was understandably suspended, but thankfully he's recovering.
This project is back on the front burner. I put together a simulation of the USS Houston CL-81 which was torpedoed by Japanese aircraft off the coast of Formosa on the 14th of October '44, and hit again two days later while under tow. Incredibly, she did not sink, and made it back to Pearl 4 months later. (This is not the earlier Houston CA-30 which went down in the battle of Sunda Straight). CL-81 is a good scenario because (1) very detailed deck plans are available from the National Archives and (2), it's an incredible story, told both in the extensive 1947 War Damage Report, and the 1985 book "The Battle to Save the Houston" by John Grider Miller. She was torpedoed twice, suffered flooding, fires, two collisions, and nearly capsized, all while under threat of air attack. By all accounts she was saved by excellent damage control.
The game is card-driven and I've introduced "deck building" elements similar to Dominion. Seems to work well, but still too many rules. Needs boiling down. The War Damage Report and Miller's book really help determine what's realistic & what isn't.
I'll be playtesting this week here in DC, and I hope to bring a decent test kit to WBC. Definitely looking forward to sending a copy to Ken & Compass Games ... FINALLY!
> So is this as replacement or in addition to the original two-player game?
A replacement. It's still 2-player, but there's only one ship. One player wins if the ship survives, the other wins if the ship sinks. The fundamental game mechanics are largely unchanged (fires, floods, etc.) but the card-driven part is revised. It turns out adding a "deck building" aspect solves a lot of problems.
Each player begins with a deck of 15 cards, and each turn involves a hand of 5. Deck composition is adjusted by developments. For example casualty cards might be added to the USN deck, and removed if the player focuses on medics. They basically just clog up your hand and take the place of useful stuff. This deck-building thing, which is largely lifted wholesale from Dominion, is a very flexible way to represent historical things. The playtest kit will have around 40 different kinds of cards.
Two changes in the scenario have helped a lot: 1) focusing on torpedoes, so that damage events are infrequent & severe, and 2) choosing a case where a *very* detailed historical record exists. I'm hoping to pass muster in the realism department for naval architect gamers like John V. (Yes, John, I'd like to ask for another playtest soon!)
> How many different decks will it be possible to create? That is, is this fixed to a specific ship or is it possible to run it over a large variety of vessels?
The idea is to represent one class at a time. The game board is the deck plan for the hold, including the full machinery plant, which remained largely unchanged from one individual ship to the next, so several different scenarios can be represented using the same board. The first game board is for the Cleveland class CL-55, which works to simulate Houston CL-81 getting hit with torpedoes off Formosa (the scenario I'm working on now), or the Birmingham CL-62 hit with Kamikazes off Okinawa, etc. The Clevelands saw tons of action. Some were converted to light carriers - the Independence class - so the same board could be used with minor modifications to simulate USS Princeton at Leyte gulf etc.
Future game boards might include the Northampton class CA-26, which got slammed at Savo Island, Java sea, Sunda Straight, Rennell Island, etc. etc. Or maybe the HMS Exeter, which saw only two major battles, but those were historic: River Plate & Java Sea.
I had a really good playtest last night with my friend Doug Austin, who plays lots of card-driven games competitively. The revised card system works well (two thumbs up from Doug), but more tweaks are needed. I'm play-testing with my brother Matt this weekend. I'm really looking forward to sending a decent play-test kit to Ken & crew at Compass Games.
In terms of different decks, it's different each game. For example, if the ship was caught by surprise, like the Indianapolis in '45, then the "Adversary" deck will include "Material Condition X-Ray" cards which cause floods to spread rapidly through open hatches & scuttles.
In addition to "scenario" cards like that one, there's also choices the players make during the game to massage their decks - adding & subtracting cards to react to events & opponent play. Hopefully there will be good replay value.
I'd love to do RN vessels. HMS Exeter at River Plate would make a perfect scenario. It would start with the hit on B turret and go from there. Must keep engines running & communications clear so captain Bell can dodge salvoes and keep Graf Spee distracted, then Harwood might close and get a torpedo into her.
The way I have it set up now, battle is abstracted through a series of "scoring" cards. When those cards come up, the health of the ship is scored - propulsion, gunnery, etc. (different cards score different things). The scores don't give VP's, like in Twilight Struggle, but they control how many "Scenario" cards each player then draws from their respective "Scenario" decks. "Scenario" cards are kind of like victory points, but they're also regular cards (very helpful ones) that go right into your hand. They include story elements and game effects, such as "Harwood is able to close" for a River Plate scenario I'd imagine.
A while back I planned to do WWI vessels, and I went so far as to buy deck plans for HMS Lion, Beatty's Battlecruiser, from the UK Maritime Museum. That Q turret right in the middle looks awesome, and potentially disastrous. The thing is, I need very detailed accounts of damage, and there's just no substitute for the War Damage Reports and Action Reports I get from the National Archives here in DC. John Campbell's book on Jutland is excellent, but it still left me wondering about details. So I decided to start with WWII. I'd love to go back and do Lion later though.
I'll be glad to have playtesters. There's a ton of variables to tune. I plan to send out playtest kits "soon" but I'm reluctant to say exactly when because last time I did that, I missed the planned date, then got preoccupied with other things and essentially overtaken by events. (see previous posts).