Sunday 29 May 2022

Ch, Ch, Ch, Ch….Changes….Turn and face the strain….

You know that feeling you sometimes get when something is not quite right but you are unable to put your finger on exactly what? Well, this week, following a successful play test of the current version of the rules I was left pondering one specific incident and the implications thereof. 

The defining moment - the C.S.S. Virginia meets her fate at the hands of the U.S.S. Monitor - two thirds of her hit points lost in a single pulverising salvo

On the very last turn of firing the U.S.S. Monitor fired on the stranded C.S.S. Virginia. After the dice rolls from both sides the C.S.S. Virginia suffered six hits which, along with the three hits she had already sustained, was sufficient to sink her. It was great at the time (not for the Confederates to be sure) but it did give me pause for thought. 

After pondering this (and indeed some other multiple dice roll induced effects) I realised that whilst opposed rolls works well, having great fistfuls of them tended to veer away from my original aim, that of maintaining a closer ‘feel’ between the characteristics of the ship the model represents and the game mechanics. 

I was pondering this when I had a bit of a lightbulb moment. As it stands at present a ship is rated for the number and type of guns carried and these in turn have a penetration factor based on the effectiveness of those weapons. For example a rating of 2/3 means the 2 refers to the notional number of barrels and 3 is the penetration factor. The current version of the rules adds these two figures together which is the number of d6 rolled when firing, in this example 5. It is fun but what tends to happen is the whole dice extremity thing makes things, well, extreme. It just felt a little over the top, even for my admittedly elastic and somewhat theatrical perception of reality!

So, what to do? Well the solution was an obvious one but as is usually the way with these things, it arrived in a roundabout fashion. I have gone back to my original idea of rolling a d6 per gun factor with the penetration factor acting as a modifier to each d6. The higher the adjusted score for each d6 rolled the more potential damage points can be inflicted. I have also added in ‘the rule of 1’ whereby when firing the roll of a natural 1 is an automatic miss. I did this because otherwise it would be possible, with the appropriate modifiers, to be in automatic hit territory which I have never been entirely comfortable with - there is always what I like to think is the ‘bead of sweat rolling into the eye of the tank gunner just as he fires and so misses the target’ effect or, the element of the imponderable that is ever present in warfare.

Damage points are now on a sliding scale rather than the 1, 2 or 3 being a miss, 4 or 5 a single hit and 6 is two hits. The damage point scale now runs as follows:

1, 2 or 3 - No damage

4 or 5 - 1 point

6, 7 or 8 - 2 points

9, 10 or 11 - 3 points

12 or more - 4 points

So you take the gun factor which is the number of d6 you roll, add any penetration factor with any applicable situational modifier to each d6 and consult the scale for the potential number of damage points. The target ship uses the hull factor to determine the number of d6 to be rolled and then add as a modifier to each d6 the armour value. The scores are then read off the same sliding scale as for firing to determine how many damage points are negated.

The end result is a system that feels more measured in that the potential for eye watering amounts of damage is still there  - as it should be - but is more the exception rather than the rule. 

I need to incorporate this in the draft that will be sent off to my trusty testing team - their patience knows no bounds - along with some other bits and pieces just to finish it all off. Overall it is getting pretty close to being finished - at least I think so!

Models and Boards

Based on some images I found on the net and being hugely flummoxed by my efforts at painting the ‘sun ray’ effect seen on some paddle wheel boxes and despite the etched versions I ordered from Warbases, I decided to replace them with my standard plain design. I now feel far more likely to get these built and so work has resumed on them.

The new board. The white spot in the square shows the corner of a 6” square for comparison.

I also managed to get some work done on my new 3 x 3 board. If you recall the original version featured 6” squares but these felt a little on the cramped side. All I did was to repurpose the existing board with 8” squares - the board is roughly 2ft square - meaning that the reserve or manoeuvring zones are now off the board. Once again I used white sticky dots to mark the corners, hence the four you see in the pictures.

Two sloops in a 6” square - it is a little on the cosy side.

The same models in the larger square - far better looking in my opinion, it also adds to the illusion of range but I am thinking that bigger still may be the way forward for the size of models I have.

All in all then, progress is progressing, changes have been made in various ways but it is all to the good and I now feel far better placed to get things back further along the track.

Just need to crack on then!


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


I think that the changes you propose should deal with the anomaly you identified, and I look forward to seeing how they work when you playtest the new rules.

I also like your new 8” square board. You could always have separate reserve boards that you could add on at either end if the need arises.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hello there Bob,

I am not averse to rolling great fistfuls of dice but the problem was that the extremes of fortune just felt too extreme! Dialling it back a tad served to purposes - firstly the pace of damage is rather more measured but with the chance of something spectacular and secondly it now feels more closely aligned with what the ship characteristics are in a gaming format. To paraphrase that old army saying “Time spent of testing is seldom wasted”.

The larger squares feel more comfortable for the models and your suggestion about separate reserve boards is exactly what I am going to do!

All the best,


Ray Rousell said...

Like Bob said, these changes should deal with the overkill problem perfectly. Keep pluggin away ol chap!

David Crook said...

Hello there Ray,

It was great fun but just felt a little over the top, even by my standards! The combat pacing feels better now with the chance of something extreme happening limited but certainly not totally impossible.

I am still plugging for sure but progress is definitely being made.

All the best,


The Jolly Broom Man said...

You’ll get there in the end mate. There’s many a slip twixt cup and lip. The bigger squares look better too.

David Crook said...

Hello there JBM,

That is what the testing is all about - assemble, disassemble, assemble again and then polish! I am very pleased with where it has gotten to thus far and the testing team have been worth their weight in gold for their input! It is very close to being done and dusted methinks.

The new board is merely waiting on a coat of varnish to be commissioned - the larger squares really help to give the impression of distance. I also have a pile of models that are now underway once again now that I have tweaked them ever so slightly….

All the bes,


Aly Morrison said...

This is coming along nicely David…

I think I prefer the bigger squares…

All the best. Aly.

David Crook said...

Hi Aly,

I do feel quite close to having this ready and for sure the larger squares look better. I need to get a larger area readied as well - perhaps over the long weekend.

All the best,