The ACW naval rules in Bob Cordery’s book: Gridded Naval Wargames are great fun to use and give an excellent game as written. They are the product of much experience in respect of rules writing as well as a thorough knowledge and understanding of naval warfare of the period in question. It is fair to say though that the ship types depicted in the rules are pretty generic. This is fine up to a point but for the gamer that wants to drill down into the period then the application of some additional ‘chrome’ or detail moves away from the optional to the essential.
For me one of the attractions of the ACW from a gaming point of view is the incredibly diverse range of ships in use on both sides. From purpose built warships down to hastily requisitioned and armed civilian vessels the range in use by both sides is huge. Whilst I want to ‘ring the changes’ I most definitely do not want to go down the ‘rivet counting’ road of naval wargaming - this would be contrary to the spirit and flavour of Bob’s rules - and so a careful balance needs to be stuck with any additional features.
The more I read the rules as written the more confident I am that what I am doing will achieve that correct balance. To put it more succinctly, the rules will expand Bob’s original concept in a sympathetic way, there by preserving the all important ease of play and period ‘flavour’.
My additions will mean a degree of work on the part of the user in that a knowledge of the ships being represented will be useful. This is for a number of reasons. Speed, size, armament, and protection all play a part and will be needed for the ship record card.
I propose to detail the the four areas as follows.
Speed. Ships will be able to move a single hex for every 5 knots of speed. I need to think about turning as some ships were notoriously unwieldy to manoeuvre whilst others were quite handy by comparison.
Size. This is basically tonnage and overall dimensions. I will be using this as the basis of the number of hit points a vessel has but as yet have no specific formula in place. I am tempted to use Bob’s figures as the baseline for the types I shall be using and just tweak these up or down to suit. Certainly it would save a lot of work!
Armament. This will be one of the two biggest changes to Bob’s rules. Ships will have individual guns and these will be rated as heavy, medium or light. They will also have the positions noted on the ship record chart. I intend using the data cards from the Yaquinto game Ironclads for this information, either that or the ship data charts from David Manley’s rules. Under normal circumstances a heavy gun rolls 3d6 to hit, a medium gun 2d6 and a light gun a single d6. Firing will be as per Bob’s rules although with some additional steps in the process - nothing major, just to incorporate the revised weaponry.
Protection. I have no intention of working with armour penetration or hit location rules as this would be contrary to the spirit of Bob’s rules. All ships will be classed as having the following protection levels: Unprotected, Light, Medium and Heavy. My plan at the moment is to combine the protection level of the target ship into the firing process. Essentially the firer rolls the number of dice required by the weapon type and the range etc. Let us say that the target ship has a medium level of protection. The firer rolls, for example 4d6 and scores a 4, a 5 and a glorious 6 (meaning two points of damage - the 4 and 5 are but singles or 4 damage points in total). The target ship has been hit by 3 dice. It does not matter what weight of artillery has caused the hits - it is the protection level of the target that is important. A medium protected warship rolls the number of dice equal to the number of dice that hit but minus 1 dice. In this example then, the target was hit by three dice but has a saving roll of two dice. The chance to negate hits is the same as scoring them - a 6 negates two hits (not dice) and a 4 and 5 single hits. The target ship rolls their two dice and scores a 4 and 6. This is in effect 3 ‘saves’ so taking these from the hit points scored means that the target ship has sustained a single point of damage. Ships that are lightly protected roll two less dice to negate potential hits whilst unprotected ships do not have any saving dice. Obviously a target ship may roll well and negate all the incoming hits.
I rather like the mechanic of opposed dice rolls and certainly think that this is in keeping with the spirit of the original rules.
All of the above are very much works in progress and so I need to spend some time writing then down (tidying my thinking as I go!) And also to think about trying them out. Another outing on the Missenhitti River may well be in order.