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Thread: Better boarding

  1. #1
    Ordinary Seaman
    United States

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    Apr 2015
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    Default Better boarding

    I know it's come up a lot, but I really want to try and nail down a good set of boarding house rules that are better than the ones in the rulebook but I keep hitting a snag. Basically every solution I come up with ends up leading to either "Boarding actions would be god mode" or "Boarding actions would be worthless next to x which is much easier to pull off" or even worse "boarding actions would be functionally identical to y". My main problem with the rulebook boarding actions is that they don't take remaining crew into effect. I've heard people attempt to justify this by saying that the crew chart and musketry values are a measure of your musketeers specifically and not your overall crew capacity. Here's why that doesn't make sense. A) you lose crew actions per turn in advanced play as your crew track dives, indicating that it's a measure of your able seaman and marines and officers etc. Basically the rule implies that the crew track correlates to your total crew. B)If it runs out your ship surrenders. I can't see a captain going "****, we lost the guys with muskets, the day is lost." but I can definitely see a captain saying "They killed us almost to a man, if we are to survive we must strike our colors" so another indication that the crew track indicates total crew, not just musketeers.

    So why base boarding strength on burden regardless of how many crew remain? But here's the ulterior motive to why I want to improve the boarding rules. Better boarding would make grapes and chains viable again. Currently there's not much incentive to use chains and grapes to cripple a ship unless the rules to take her a prize are improved. Damn it, I want to chain the daylights out of a ships masts, use grapes to cut down her crew and thereby set myself up for a boarding action. Currently I could a grape a ship nearly to death and she'll be just as dangerous when boarded. Why bother tracking crew separately from hull damage if it won't matter in the most obvious of situations, a boarding action? So here are some ideas and why I don't know that they'll work.

    1. Boarding actions are based on musketry value rather than burden. This allows use of the crew track while taking into account that bigger ships have an advantage (the progression of musketry values involves higher numbers for larger vessels). It also allows a smaller vessel to overcome the size advantage with the liberal use of grapes. Here's the problem. Mechanically this is indistinguishable from simply firing muskets at her.

    2. Solution one but you use the grapeshot chits. This means that your musketeers are slightly better at scoring crew hits during a boarding than otherwise but there's a new problem (a problem that actually exists in solution 1 anyhow) and that is simply that it would still be better to just grape shot them in the first place instead of bothering with a boarding action. It also introduces the curious side effect of a boarding action resulting in sail and hull damage(although you could say that in the case of a boarding action all damage counts as crew hits).

    3. Don't pull chits but just deal a number of crew hits to each other equal to musketry strength. I really don't like the idea of taking the element of chance out of it and this solution feels like it might be a wee too powerful since some of the bigger guys have 4s in musketry and such. Then again, a boarding action would be a bloodbath and that's probably half the point. It makes me think of the boarding action in Master and Commander: The far side of the world in which a battle would have involved trading shots and maneuvering but the boarding action was bloody and quick and ruthless.

    4. somehow combine one of the first two solutions with the stern rake rule. I.e. it's like a musketry stern rake dealt to both ships. So a ship with a musketry of 4 deals 6 E or D chits to a ship in boarding actions while a ship with 2 musketry does 3. This would have the effect of making the remaining crew boxes matter while making it worth while to board (instead of simply firing the weapon who's chits you'll be using). So far this one seems like my best solution, but I'm curious if you guys have any better ideas.

  2. #2
    1st Lieutenant
    United States

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    Feb 2015
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    I've been thinking of making the available number of crew actions be the number of chits drawn in a boarding action, instead of the ship's burden. This reflects the state of the ship's crew at the time of the boarding action. I do not use the crew action rules in play. Any feedback?

  3. #3
    Admiral of the Blue.

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    I do use the crew actions once the crew start to try and do more than the basic. Usually they never get more than four things at a time anyway. If the actions get to three and crew suddenly get lots to do I start recording, but for boarding I only use the crew available, so if I were firing cannon on the lower deck for instance, and had men firing from the tops, only two chits would be available to boarding. I always thought the burden was a nonsense and never rely on it.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.


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