Jan Hus
Germany
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This is a very long thread (but the core idea is not so long.) I wanted make the idea clear by explanations and examples. People without patience and/or a limited time budget can skip the introduction, and jump to part A (playtested Variant- proposal which tackles with one modification of the sequence of players’ actions most of the important variant-issues discussed in this forum: from port hopping and down-time up to the frigate-galleone issue). Then you can decide if you are inclined to read examples and explanations (part B). I would be grateful for comments and thoughs.

Introduction and Disclaimer
First I want to apologize for my english. Second I want to say the game is wonderful. I enjoy it very much. I respect the game-designer and his resp. the team’s playtesting-competence and congratulate for having developed the all-time best pirate game. However I’ am somebody who loves pondering about rules. I followed the debate in this forum. There are a lot of issues and details. But basically it boils down to two fractions. On the one hand there are those who say the game is perfect at it is and that houserules spoil the game. People should adapt their strategy to the game and not the rules to their preferred (suboptimal) strategy. I want to call them the “Gamedesigndefenders”

On the other hand there are people who enjoy also the game very much. But they are not absolutely happy. The main issues are
- port hopping
- Galeone overpowered compared with the frigate
- Frustration about downtime. often giving example: pirate leaves port, tries to scout, fails, as he cannot scout the same ship twice, he has still one move, then his turn his over. All he had done is one scouting-
check. And after that he waits a long time while the merchants sell and buy goods in port.

At the end all this three issues are consequences of a basic preference: These people (I want to call them “riskbearer”) want to be pirates. They want to have action, they want to take risks and suspense. They accept that bad luck, dead, sinking of the beloved ship are parte of pirate’s life. They enjoy interaction in general and the up and down of the pirate life in particular. This way to play the game brings them a lot of fun, but unfortunately it seems to be not the best way to win. The “riskbearers are a little bit disappointed that in the game winning is also possible by peaceful optimization of turns and may be at the end the more reliable path to victory.

I don’t say that the risk-bearers are right. But I understand what they are pointing at. As Chris said, the game is a compromise between different preferences. I want to present a variant to bring the people closer to the preferences of adventure-risk-bearer group with a modification of the turn-sequence which aims directly or indirectly at all named issues. I tested it with my group in six games and it worked well. All in all there is more action. Although the players have slightly more options every turn, the down-time feels reduced. It increases the fun for the pirates and the probability of direct confrontation without changing significantly the balance between pirates and merchants.

A) Variant for sequence of player's actions
Each turn consist of two Phases: The “port-phase” and the “sea-phase.”

I) port-phase
In the port-phase a player may enter/ and or leave one port and take up to two from these port activities
Trading (Selling and/or buying goods) / Visit Shipyard / Recruit / Acquire Rumor / Claim a mission / stash gold

If a player decides to stay in the port the whole turn and skip the sea-phase he can make all possible port activities as stated in the original rules

Consequences for the down-time issue The limitation of the port activities limits the downtime of single turn. However in the end it does not limit the options of the players too much. As it makes in this variant no difference if a player just leaves the port or takes before leaving the port up to two port-activities, the player who entered the port the turn before (after his sea-phase) has in total four port-activities (two after entering the port in the previous turn and two before leaving the port). In the end the port actions are divided into two smaller, handy pieces. However there is one difference: The player can before leaving the port try the same action he tried after entering the port (for ex. try to claim a mission a second time after having failed the check after entering the port – helps limit the “check-frustration”)

II) sea-phase
In this phase the player has as many actions as his ship has Maneuverability. As in the original rules each movement and scouting is one action. A player with a sloop can for example scout two times and move two sea-zones. However if the scouting is successful and the player decides to attack a merchant or a ship this attack counts also as an extra-action. In this variant there are in the end three different possible actions: move – scout – and if scouting was successful: attack (for reasons for the attack action see below B III.)
One special rule: The sloop has four actions because of Maneuverability. However, her movement is limited to three (for details see B.II.)

III) The sequence of the phases
If at the start of the turn the player’s ship is in the port, the turn starts automatically with the port phase. As a consequence the player can this turn neither enter another port, nor return to this port (because by leaving the port the port-phase is over; it remains only the “sea-phase”)
When the ship is on the sea the player has the following choice
a) He can decide to start with the port phase by entering the port of the sea-zone where his ship is located. He can enter the port, make up to two port activities, leave the port and continue then with the sea-phase (unless he prefers to stay in the port and end the turn) or
b) Starting with the sea-phase. After having finished the sea-phase enter a port and make up to two port activities

Consequences for the Port-hoping issue: This mechanic solves automatically the port-hoping-issue and does not need a special rule as: “A player may not be in two different ports”. This variant has as genuine consequence that a ship can terminate his turn in a port only if it is at the start of the turn on sea. As a consequence a player has to end his turn on sea every second turn (unless he stays in port the whole turn, which would slow him terribly down if this becomes a habit). Therefore it is also a good option for those, who don't like the "cutthroat-variant" and/or tackle with the problem if the penalty should be one or two actions. This variant allows also confrontation and hunting of a merchant, but does not disrupt turn order.

B) Thoughs and explanations

I.) How does a turn look like in praxis? - example
Let’s say a pirate having a sloop starts in a port: He can for ex. repair his ship, try to catch take a rumour and leave the port (End of port phase). Then starts the sea-phase: He tries in the sea-phase to scout a merchant which is in the sea-zone of the port he left and – he fails. Following the original rules (port actions – leaving port – scouting = three actions) the turn would be over. Now following this variant, he has three other sea actions. As he is not allowed to try to scout the same ship twice he can for example sail to the next merchant token, which is in this case two sea-zones away (action 2 and 3) and try to scout once more (action 4). If the scouting is successful he however cannot plunder the merchant in this turn because in this variant this would require another “sea-action”. But the pirate has successfully spotted the merchant. The token stays revealed on the board. The pirate can try to plunder the merchant at the start of the next turn without scouting. In the next run after having successfully plundered the merchant (one sea action = attack) the pirate has up to three further movement/scout actions in his Sea-phase. Then the pirate can enter a port and take up to two port actions (for ex. selling the plundered goods and repair the ship). When the pirate (because of damages) enters the port immediately after the plundering he looses all the remaining sea-actions because entering the port terminates the sea-phase and starts port-phase.

II) Why does the number of sea-actions depend on maneuverability?
First of all, the mechanism number of sea-actions - maneuverability seems very thematic to me. It has also a nice side-effect on the “frigate versus galeone issue”: With the Frigate a player has now a sea-action more than the player with the galleone. In this variant the galleone would remain a strong defence against NPCs and pirates. But the Frigate becomes more attractive for pirate-purposes. As the number of sea-action depends on the maneuverability, the pirate with a frigate has more scouting-attempts than he would have with the galleone and with extra-sails a pirate who does not scout can move up to four squares. Therefore - without any further modifications - frigate and galleone seem to be more balanced.
For the same reasons no pirate can complain anymore that the sloop is two weak compared to the flute. (The special limitation to the sloop – max. three movements - prevents the sloop from becoming overpowered and is also thematic: The sloop is a fast little ship, but is not a ship for long distances. Therefore the sloop has four sea-actions but may move at max three sea-zones; the 4th action remains relevant because of scouting/attacking).
On the other hand the merchant having typically an interest in avoiding battles does not need to scout. Therefore the two sea-actions granted by flute/Galleone are enough for his purposes (for details see below IV).

III.) Why the new “attack-action”?
The requirement of an action for the attack of a ship counterbalances the fact, that pirates – thank to 3 or 4 sea-actions granted by frigate/sloop beside the port-Phase can make more scouting attempts and can move by one or two sea-zone more than the merchant. Another aspect: Two battles or two plunders in one turn would mean a lot of downtime. This way the player has several scout attempts. But normally there will be not more than one plunder / one battle per turn. (If the pirate has after the attack action no action left he can the next turn start with the port phase by entering the port of his sea-zone, repair the ship and start a new raiding-expedition by starting the sea-phase.) If people feel it is too complicated, I think they can play this variant also without this modifikation and stack for this part stack with the original rules under which scouting and plundering is one action. It seems not to me such a big issue.

IV) Impacts on the merchant
The Merchant is more exposed now because he has to be every second move on sea (see above A. III). But as in this variant there is no need to weaken the galleone for balancing with the frigate (see above B II), the galleone stays a strong defence against NPCs and pirates. The merchant has also more options: Under the original rules a merchant starting in a port and/or a merchant wanting to trade very turn could only reach the ports in the neighbourhood in one turn. (leaving port / movement / entering port). Now he can go one or two sea-zones without loosing a turn: port-phase / sea-phase (up two movements; with extra sails three movements). The next turn he may enter the port make up to two port activities (for ex. trading of goods + another activity). As entering and leaving does not cost movement, the merchant can after the port-phase continue his turn moving up to two sea-zones. A merchant who risks to be on sea every turn can this way trade once a turn and move up to two se-zones. (Starting on sea – port-phase in port of starting sea- zone – sea-phase; next turn starting the port-phase, sea-phase and so on.).
This is not overpowered. Under the original rules a merchant who does not want to hide in port can also trade almost every turn:
1) Enter port – TRADE – leave port.
2) move – enter port – TRADE
2) leaving port – move – enter port
3) TRADE– leave port – move
4) enter port – TRADE – leave port and so on

In both variants a merchant who ends his turn as often as possible in port (that means in this variant every second turn unless player stays completely in port) can trade fare less often.

To sum up: In both variants the Merchant has the choice between more safety or more actions, especially trade. In this variant absolute safety is not possible anymore at all. But that does not shift the balance between merchant and pirates. First, the port-hopping strategy is anyway an ineffectiv strategy anyway. SEcond in this proposed variant the merachant has more options: If the merchant wants to combine trading and movement in one turn, there are more destinations he can reach within one such turn. This way missions and rumors become more attractive options for a merchant. A little bit more "obligatory risk" on the one hand, more possibilities on the other hand.

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Dmitry Vensko
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What happens if you scout and have no actions left to attack, but another player attacks your target. Is it possible? How can I scout and attack for another player? Does it take 2 actions as well? What if if I scout with success but the player leaves the region next turn?

I see that main drawback of the variant that there are too much changes from base game.

Also now you have more "base game" actions per turn. I wonder about how it impacts the game. For example a pirate-player may sail for more regions to attack. And you probably will have less events per game.

And actually I do not like any way which exposes merchants to pirates so easily. In that way I do not like either how it works here, in base game, or in cutthroat. For example in first game turn where merchants buy cargo while pirates buy special weapons I wouldn't be a merchant.
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Jan Hus
Germany
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"What happens if you scout and have no actions left to attack, but another player attacks your target. Is it possible?"
Yes, if the other player has success in scouting

"How can I scout and attack for another player? Does it take 2 actions as well?"
yes

"What if if I scout with success but the player leaves the region next turn?"
bad luck for player who scouted (here is some counterbalance. Because this limits a bit the possibilities to attack the other player. In the end scouting fora player if it is the last action does not make sense)

"Also now you have more "base game" actions per turn. I wonder about how it impacts the game. For example a pirate-player may sail for more regions to attack."
this is counterbalanced by the attack-action requirement

"And actually I do not like any way which exposes merchants to pirates so easily. In that way I do not like either how it works here, in base game, or in cutthroat. For example in first game turn where merchants buy cargo while pirates buy special weapons I wouldn't be a merchant."
At the very begeinning it is more attraktive to plunder neutral merchants. Why risk the nice new ship-improvement in a battle with somebody who has not much to loose? In a player to player battle you risk your ship, by plundering a neutral merchant is far less dangerous. You mus sail towars the other play, scout him, defeat him for what? You a get very gold and the other player gets sponsered a new ship by the "bank"
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Dmitry Vensko
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Wieacker wrote:

"Also now you have more "base game" actions per turn. I wonder about how it impacts the game. For example a pirate-player may sail for more regions to attack."
this is counterbalanced by the attack-action requirement


Let it be heavily damaged Frigate with Rigs and Sails. In base game he might enter a port to repair, then sail back to sea, that's all. In your variant, If I understand it correctly, he may enter a port, repair, sail out, then move 2 regions away, scout and attack. This is a big change.

From other side, if it's not upgraded, he may attack only player just a single move away. In base game it could attack 2 regions away.

Quote:
"And actually I do not like any way which exposes merchants to pirates so easily. In that way I do not like either how it works here, in base game, or in cutthroat. For example in first game turn where merchants buy cargo while pirates buy special weapons I wouldn't be a merchant."
At the very begeinning it is more attraktive to plunder neutral merchants. Why risk the nice new ship-improvement in a battle with somebody who has not much to loose? In a player to player battle you risk your ship, by plundering a neutral merchant is far less dangerous. You mus sail towars the other play, scout him, defeat him for what? You a get very gold and the other player gets sponsered a new ship by the "bank"


Merchant raid using starting sloop is quite risky, in terms of getting VP. Defeating a Flute makes you 1 VP, the same 2 cargo, probably Glory Card. Probably less money but likely with less damage. It's not so difficult for a pirate to capture a flute with his 2 crew vs 1 and usually better captain's battle stats. And actually merchants should know their place and it's just plain fun!
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arturiStellare stocchetti
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mmm this rule variant seem to be very interesting!
sounds very intriguing and gives strategic depth. I propose these rules to my gaming group.
your proposal includes the changes that I was already thinking, such as maneuverability to determine the number of actions or movementsthumbsup

 
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ryan campbell
United States
Rockford
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I like this idea and want to try it.

However, I'm visiualizing that this will ultimatly give less actions per game relative to the events deck. I would be interested in knowing if the overall tempo of the game changes significantly from it.

I also wonder if it would even be effecient to trade, sail and trade in another port unless there was an in demand good and very near. It seems this might make a captain just stay docked and trade for half the game.

I am looking forward to trying this. Thanks for sharing!
 
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arturiStellare stocchetti
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i also propose that a sloop can also may 4 movement!!! no limited movement for sloop

no limit movement is acceptable because the sloop is still too weak physically, i will test with my group
 
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J.-T. F.
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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We have played the variant now two times and it fixes most of the issues that we had in the previous games.
The Port phase is a little awkward and rumours are now not real a choice you do when entering a port.

And we will try it next time with the increasing money cost for prestige. Its still too easy to gather coin.

But all in all a wonderful variant that will be my standard now.

Thanks a lot.
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