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Subject: Playing an NPC to Lose rss

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Thomas Bolster
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Omaha
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The rules indicate that:

"NPCs in combat are controlled by another player with an interest in doing his or her best to secure victory. If there are any issues over who gets to control an NPC, then the player to the left of the player fighting the NPC controls it."

But who's victory are they trying to secure? The Player's or the NPCs?

After last game, one of the other players posed this question. If an NPC ship hunts another player and ends up fighting them, can the player play the NPC poorly on purpose? There are a few scenarios where you might want to do this.

* The fighting player has a much more powerful ship and you would prefer to not give them a glory.
* The NPC ship has been damaged to the point where victory seems very unlikely, and you would prefer not to feed the player a glory.
* The NPC controlling player is located very nearby, and is next in turn order, so they would be interested in damaging the player's ship before sweeping in themselves to take out both the NPC and Player.
* The NPC Controller and the fighting player both wish to be in top shape in order to take down another player who is running away with the game.

Are any or all of these situations legitimate? or does the NPC need to fight to the best of his ability at all times? I assume that the NPC is allowed to flee in some situations as the rules make no reference to them not doing so.

Sorry to have to ask this question, but my group likes things like this spelled out if possible.
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Anthony
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The sentence is refering to NPC combat and therefore the victory mentioned would be for that combat. There is nothing in the sentence to suggest that the word "victory" should be generalized to refer to the whole game when the rest of the section concerns the more narrow topic of NPC combat.


Further, you can think of it from a thematic angle as well...would the NPC captain be willing to let himself be sunk and his crew killed in order that another ship, possibly a pirate would end up more famous that nother captain. I think the answer is that the ships' captain would only be interested in his own survival.
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Kyle
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Up Nort' Der
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The rules for NPC combat do allow them to flee, but only if its cannons or crew are below that of the player's ship. (It's the second paragraph under "NPC Ships in Combat", in the bolded text.)


More simply put, the NPC controller should try to win the combat but when it starts losing the battle it's okay to try to run. In other words, play it like it's your own ship; try to win, but when it becomes clear that you can't, focus on survival.

Also keep in mind that NPC ships always "reset" at the end of each battle, so if it does manage to flee it'll be right back to full strength if any other player shows up or if that first player goes after it again.
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Ted Groth
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Agreed, So to specifically address the situations mentioned:

1) The NPC controller could legitimately flee rather than allow the NPC ship be captured or destroyed. So it would be best not to choose an NPC controller who has an interest in allowing the NPC ship to be destroyed.
2) This situation wouldn't come up when choosing an NPC controller, since the NPC ship would still be intact at that point. But yes, the NPC controller could legitimately flee rather than allow the opponent to win, just as in item 1.
3) The NPC ship should try to destroy the opponents ship rather than stop when it is severely damaged. So avoid choosing an NPC contoller who has an interest in fleeing to allow a disabled opponent to survive for subsequent capture.
4) The NPC ship should try to destroy the opponents ship if possible, so avoid choosing an NPC controller who has an interest in fleeing early to allow the opponents ship to survive intact.

These motivations could easily be in conflict, where one player would have an interest in the NPC ship fleeing early, while another would have an interest in allowing the NPC ship to be destroyed. That is why it might need to go to the player on the left.

But really? People I know get into the part, and generally play the NPC captain in character, even to the detriment of their own captain.
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Chase Clinton
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I think a problem exists where the player controlling the NPC decides to deliberately sink the ship so that the opposing player will still get the 1 GP but not the gold on board and the ship itself. That would occur if for example the NPC has no masts (and so can’t flee) and decides to apply skull hit locations directly to the hull.

A house rule should probably be used: If rolling for a NPC, you can’t apply skull hits to the hull if there are still other locations available.
 
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Kyle
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kalem wrote:
I think a problem exists where the player controlling the NPC decides to deliberately sink the ship so that the opposing player will still get the 1 GP but not the gold on board and the ship itself. That would occur if for example the NPC has no masts (and so can’t flee) and decides to apply skull hit locations directly to the hull.

A house rule should probably be used: If rolling for a NPC, you can’t apply skull hits to the hull if there are still other locations available.
This seems like a really rare situation that's very easily avoided.

If the NPC is damaged enough that a few skulls or a "lucky" hit to a destroyed location will sink it, and the player fighting it wants to capture it, they probably shouldn't be shooting at that point. They need to be switching over to boarding at that point, or if they have a chain shot or grape shot left they can plan to use one of those to prevent any skulls from sinking the ship.

More importantly, if the NPC controller is dumping all of the skull damage into the hull with intent to sink it when there are other locations that are still in good shape, that person is clearly not "doing his or her best to secure victory", so arguably, doing that would even be illegal.
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Ezra Strong

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Agreed; I play with a house rule that skulls have to go into a ship component that still can take damage if possible. Although, now you have me thinking... Some sort of rule to allow NPCs to scuttle their ships to avoid the pirate taking it... I think ultimately though, it would be too unfun. "Oh, you're trying to take the man-of-war? The captain reefs the ship."
 
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