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Subject: Boarding almost non-existent and aiming at the sails too effective? rss

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Jeff Wright
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I bought Flying colors and all the expansions for the game and have been enjoying the action! It is the game that for me has captured the flavor of the time without bogging down to too much bookkeeping.
I do have two slight reservations about the play which to me seem to detract from the experience.
I have been reading extensively about this subject for a while. Some has been fictional like the Hornblower series or the Bolitho series while others have been books like "The Sea Warriors" by Richard Woodman. They all indicate that the typical French tactic of aiming high was not all that effective. Most navies, the English in particular, were quite adept at repairing rigging damage during battle. One thing they could not repair was a mast coming down. I wonder if there has ever been a consideration to allow players to roll on a rigging table during the ship status check.
Say on a modified roll of 3 (nationality modifiers) repair on rigging damage?

The other oddity has been the difficulty of getting into a position to board. Unless I missed something the only way to board is if a target ship is adrift, in irons, dismasted, anchored or fouled. In reading the history it seemed as though ships kept their distance in fear of being boarded before such damage had occurred. Any thoughts as to why attempting to come along side and grapple is so difficult in Flying Colors, or have I missed something?

Thanks for your help,
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Seth Owen
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Well, on the second point boarding was relatively rare in this era. There were a few notable examples of pulling it off (including Nelson who captured two SOLs in one battle by boarding!) but it was very difficult unless the target ship was in a bad way.

In Close Action it's also very difficult.

I think ships often tried to avoid getting too close not just for fear of boarders but also because they didn't want to get fouled. This is considerably easier to do,
 
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Jeff Wright
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That does make sense and as I research it I am in agreement concerning boarding, though in fictional accounts even those loosely based on historic events (hornblower and bolitho) it is quite common.

I am still wondering about the partial repair of sail damage. Most historians say that it was quite common.
 
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Brad Miller
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Funny that in Wooden Ships & Iron Men, which would have to be considered a part of the "heritage" of Flying Colors, the exact opposite was true. Boarding was way overpowered, with most battles ending up in huge boarding actions.
 
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Mark McG
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Windopaene wrote:
Funny that in Wooden Ships & Iron Men, which would have to be considered a part of the "heritage" of Flying Colors, the exact opposite was true. Boarding was way overpowered, with most battles ending up in huge boarding actions.


I think it was exactly that part of Wooden Ships that has inspired Flying Colors and Close Action to make boarding so hard.

I can't recall where I read it, but it was something like between 1776 and 1815, only 5 SOLs were successfully boarded under opposition.
 
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Jeff Wright
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Still wondering if there is anyone that has played around with being able to do some repair to rigging?
 
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Mark McG
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grainywagons wrote:
Still wondering if there is anyone that has played around with being able to do some repair to rigging?


In Serpent of the Seas, there is an Initiative card that allows rigging repairs. Rigging damage is IMHO not so much holed canvas, but rather shot spars, stays and ultimately masts. A dismasted ship should never be repaired within the time limits of a scenario.

 
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Chris Montgomery
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An old, thread, but I'd like to open up the topics again. I'm just now getting into the game, and these are merely suspicions, not well-formed opinions. My opponent, who was teaching me the game and has played the game quite a bit (at least 10-15 medium to large actions other players), said he doesn't EVER fire at the hull anymore, just the rigging, regardless of whether he's leeward or windward. He said he's never won a game that way . . . rigging hits are generally easier to obtain.

REGARDING REPAIRING RIGGING and RIGGING BEING TOO EFFECTIVE

It does raise an interesting question about the game that I am curious to explore further, which is whether the game is weighted at all in favor of targeting sails rather than hulls. Rigging seems easier to hit (the CRT is self-evident on this score) - but requires more hits to get the VPs. The advantage, however, is that a damaged ship with hull hits doesn't appear to lose maneuverability . . . while a dismasted ship doesn't lose firepower. The problem for me lies with the automatic roll to strike when the enemy is nearby. This seems to me to indicate that, in the long run of a battle, firing at rigging is more advantageous than firing at the hull.

Historically, just from my reading - the reason the French have a reputation for firing at the sails is that they were often (1) trying to get away from the English, so firing at sails slowed them down, and (2) were usually leeward of the English so that the wind, hitting the side of their ship that faced the enemy, was tilted "back" so that the guns actually aimed higher. Finally, it seems to me that the amount of lead required to actually do damage to the enemy was very high and a hit was good enough - sure, targeting the rigging or the hull might have been attempted, but it was only effective at very close ranges from what I understand.

If there is consensus by experienced players, then some suggestions that might cause the players to behave more historically . . .

Just suggestions. I haven't played the game enough . . .

(1) A revised CRT in which the "Rigging" and "Hull" columns each have more of the opposite hit in it. In other words, weight the rigging columns with more hull hits and the Hull column with more rigging hits so that it is harder to get either one. At distances of, say, two hexes, allow a player to convert 1 of their hits to the location of their choice. This would be a pretty major undertaking, though and require lots and lots of playtesting. I like to presume that the game was well playtested and that any faults I find are from my gameplay, not the game's design.

(2) Repairing rigging. I like this idea. Not sure how historically accurate it is because I'm not well-read on the period. But if the superiority of rigging damage persists in my games, I may try it out. I think if it is used, it should be a simple mechanic . . . a 50% chance to fix a single rigging hit, automatic.

(3) Eliminate the +1 French bonus for rigging hits - they are the ones usually found leeward.

(4) Eliminate the rigging advantage in the CRT - just make hull and rigging hits just as likely by removing the lower to-hit numbers from the CRT. I think rigging is always 2 lines easier to hit as it stands.

BOARDING ACTIONS

My opinion on boarding actions is that they were very rare. My friend who's played the game a lot says that after initially messing around with boarding actions, it's far better (and easier) to just dismast the enemy ship or blow it to smithereens. If a ship is adrift, boarding it might get you more VPs, but the boarding action can go either way . . .

Just my thoughts. I'd like to hear from some experienced players as to what they think about targeting Rigging v. Hull - I'm not in that crowd, but I really like the elegance of the game. The realism and playability seems really balanced.

Cheers!

Chris
 
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Mark McG
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cmontgo2 wrote:
My opponent, who was teaching me the game and has played the game quite a bit (at least 10-15 medium to large actions other players), said he doesn't EVER fire at the hull anymore, just the rigging, regardless of whether he's leeward or windward. He said he's never won a game that way . . . rigging hits are generally easier to obtain.


This true to a certain extent I think. I confess my more recent experience is with Serpent of the Seas, where the hull factors are quite small, yet the rigging factors remain at 15, so there was a bigger pay off shooting at the hull and chipping away 5 hull hits for a damaged ship over 15 rigging for a dismasted one. However, in my most recent Ship of the Line action there was far more shooting for the rigging than the hull, even by the British.

Personally I didn't have any issue with the original 'equal' firepower table.
 
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