Monday, 4 June 2012

Memoir of Battle at Sea 2 - You knew it was inevitable!

Over recent weeks I have been in contact with Bob Cordery over his plans concerning his 'Memoir of Battle' series of rules and it has been a mutually beneficial experience. Some of the ideas bounced around will be incorporated in one form or another in not only his MOB2 but also in the Napoleonic set I have been messing around with. Inevitably my thoughts also went back to my own MoBaS naval rules and guess what?

Yup, I have had another go at them!

I should qualify this by stating that I always intended to have a set of naval rules that mirrored as far as possible the mechanics of MoB so that a seamless gaming experience would be the result. This was an important consideration for me as I have a number of combined arms ideas in the pipeline and so having some rules with a common background would be a big advantage. I also wanted the rules to be usable as a standalone naval set.

Is this practical, or even possible? I have tried various ideas around this but the results have always thus far managed to deviate into a purely naval set. These have worked pretty well overall but there was always the nagging feeling that something was not quite right - almost as if they were in some way a starter and that the main course was still in the kitchen. After the recent Battle of Fort Duvet I got to thinking again that perhaps a new approach was needed because although Bob's rules have provision for naval support of land operations it is very much as an add-on. This may be the correct approach and the rules as they stand are fine but, for the reasons mentioned above I wanted to take them a step further.

I have taken this opportunity to go back to basics and guess what? I am really glad I did because an idea struck me which has had a profound effect on the whole process.

The dice in use with MoB use icons rather than numbers (which are easier to read than numbers although the same results could easily be obtained using regular d6) and so I got to thinking that perhaps using icons for parts of a ship rather than troop types would be a good idea. What I have come up with is as follows:

  • Infantry = Hull
  • Cavalry = Engines
  • Artillery = Artillery
  • Flag = Crew
  • Crossed Sabres = Additional Hit
The Infantry icon covered 2 dice faces whilst the others are 1 each. At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that if a ship has all of those attributes then surely it would be easy to score a hit more or less at any range because you have in effect a 5 out of 6 chance (Additional Hits are dealt with separately). What I have done though is to allow for a protection value for each ship based on its armour. This is heavy, medium or light and this is 3, 2 and 2 respectively. For heavy and medium protection a ship needs to score three icons of the same type in order to score a point of damage; medium protection is 2 similar icons whilst light protection requires any two applicable icons to score a single hit.

I have classed Close Range Combat as being in effect a melee but at range rather than adjacent depending on the calibre of ordinance being used. There are varying effects in play for the hits scored which will add a little naval flavour to the action. I have incorporated an activation sequence so that the action is very much an interactive experience which should make for some challenging tactical situations as the only way a ship can engage in close range combat (assuming it has not fired in the artillery phase) is to be successfully activated - if it is not then it may only move. Mention of the artillery phase is something that Bob used with MoB and is such a good idea as it really encourages players to think about how they use it. In naval terms it is also a very useful game mechanic as it is the only certain way a ship can get to fire in a game turn because it may be unsuccessful in activating the Close Range Combat facility which could leave it in, shall we say, a tactically compromising position!

I am hoping to test the draft of these rules with the ACW models later today and of course, the action will appear on the blog in due course.


Kaptain Kobold said...

I like the idea of having to score multiple hits based on the armour protection. It will be interesting to see how this works in an actual game.

Welshgamer said...

David - keep at it. I'm following the developments with interest.
However, as a great fan of Richard Borg's games, I would urge both you and the redoubtable Mr. Cordery to definitely stick with icon dice, not spot dice. There is a real difference - spot dice tend to lead to a numerically progressive effect approach, while the icons are far more flexible. Bob has obviously played some Memoir44 but as one plays more of the expansion sets one sees the flexibility possible when, for example, the 'star' face is used to add different effects specific to the type of weapon fired. E.g. Star is a miss for most purposes, but Tank Destroyers hit armour targets on a Star. You don't need to assign an icon a single effect!

David Crook said...

Hi Kaptain,

All I can say is 'coming to a blog near you, soon!'

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Welshgamer,

I will be sticking with the icons as it is much simpler to see what has happened and it does serve to move thoughts away from numbers as you rightly say.

There is certainly mileage to be had from varying icon effects and it is an area I have not explored previously but hope to do so now!

The after action report will on the blog soon.

All the best,