Rules for Thought #26 – Broadsides Attack

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This topic contains 18 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Scheer 5 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #4374

    Ben
    Keymaster

    Now that the Rules survey has some results (39 responses as of this post), I think it would be a good idea to discuss some various options in detail.

    Which ability (including keywords) do you see as the most problematic in the game? Feel free to explain why if you’d like.

    Broadsides. It’s not reliable enough to play and it relies too much on a single die. I would allow rerolls and roll modifiers, like world haters, to affect these rolls.

    (different person)

    Which keyword has caused you the most confusion? Why?

    Broadsides Attack because of what “no other abilities can be applied to it” means, and limit.

    Broadsides Attack definitely isn’t worth using most of the time, and seems to be overpriced on most of the game pieces it showed up on.  (including crew for 4-5 points usually)

    However, I’m not sure that allowing modifiers/rerolls would be a good idea.  Perhaps, but it might make it too good.  BA seems like the kind of ability that should scale in cost to a ship’s armament; El Argonauta could be ~11 points because her cannons aren’t very good.

    Any changes you would make to the Broadsides Attack keyword or how it’s handled in the Pirate Code?

    #4377

    Mechavelli
    Participant

    I’m going to try to convince my friends to let me test the Julius Caesar with a modification to the BA rules, allowing for rerolls to apply. A simple cannoneer should increase its effectiveness, but there’s still a chance of rolling under 4 twice in a row, so hopefully it’ll be fun and neither underpowered or overpowered

    #4378

    Ed
    Participant

    Something I always think of for interesting abilities like broadsides is making whole scenarios around it for example everyship has broadsides as an ability.

    #4384

    Xerecs
    Moderator

    I feel that BA shouldn’t have been put on crew, and should have been limited to a ship only keyword. As for it’s mechanics, I wouldn’t change much, but I would (unless it’s been done already) explain what the ‘no other abilities’ would cover. I know that you can’t couple a WH or a re-roller crew with a Broadsides Attack, but you can use it in conjunction with a captain (unless I’m wrong), which has caused some confusion and salty situations more than once. Also to that end, I would make it more obvious that it will ignore almost all defensive abilities of a target ship.

    #4386

    Ben
    Keymaster

    @mechavelli: As with other house rules, let us know how it goes if you do.  Can provide valuable feedback for players to use in the future.

    but you can use it in conjunction with a captain (unless I’m wrong), which has caused some confusion and salty situations more than once.

    You can, but that’s actually a great point I hadn’t thought of before….

    No other abilities (including re-rolls, die roll modifiers, offensive abilities of this ship, and defensive abilities of the target) can be applied to this shoot action.

    Shoot action, versus captain having the shoot as part of the move.  Doesn’t look like the Code specifically covers the Reverse Captain ability though so that’s worth asking about.

    Sometimes BA is more of a disaster than I even realize…. XD

    #4395

    Countupyourcoyne
    Participant

    I’ve always been kinda confused by the broadside attack keyword and only recently actually looked at how to use it. I usually just avoided the keyword all together. I feel like an acceptable balance to the ability would have to deal with scaling and loss of hits. Something like you can roll and additional die and take the highest option but you lose one “hit” and have it scale up, giving heavy ships the option to risk all hits for a low chance or basically have a for sure single hit. I’m not sure how well that would work, I may test it in a game in the near future but I loved the concept of a ship being able to pull alongside another in classic cinematic action and blast another to pieces with a ripple line of canon balls.

     

    Whenever I have trouble interpreting the rules I try to visualize how they would function in a real scenario, how would actual naval warfare go? One of the other fixes I thought of for this is if the threshold for a hit was lower but if they hit, the enemy ship gets and opportunity to fire back before the hits “land”. Typically if two ships where to go broadside they would be blasting eachother right?

     

    #4398

    Ben
    Keymaster

    Something like you can roll and additional die and take the highest option but you lose one “hit” and have it scale up, giving heavy ships the option to risk all hits for a low chance or basically have a for sure single hit.

    I don’t fully understand – if you rolled 2 dice, wouldn’t the probability of getting hits be better regardless of ship size?  Perhaps an example would help.

    Whenever I have trouble interpreting the rules I try to visualize how they would function in a real scenario, how would actual naval warfare go? One of the other fixes I thought of for this is if the threshold for a hit was lower but if they hit, the enemy ship gets and opportunity to fire back before the hits “land”. Typically if two ships where to go broadside they would be blasting each other right?

    Absolutely, unless one ship was already heavily damaged from the same battle against other ships.  If you want more ideas on how to make your games more realistic, check out my post on the subject.

    #4416

    Countupyourcoyne
    Participant

    I don’t fully understand – if you rolled 2 dice, wouldn’t the probability of getting hits be better regardless of ship size?  Perhaps an example would help.

    By this I’m refering to a kinda complicate custom rule in an attempt to rewrite the keyword. For example we’ll say a 4 mast ship holds the keyword and engages in the action after fulfilling the requirements. Before rolling the attacking player must choose to engage the normal braodside attack or the modified. If they choose modified, they can roll an extra D6 but must forfiet one potential hit. So in this case a sucessful broadside would only render 4 hits rather that have the bonus fifth, the benefit being a higher likelyhood of hitting. If the opposing ship has more masts than the potential hit count then the attacker must call out targets. Thr attacker can add as many dice as they want as long as they still have one potential hit left (ex: a 4 mast ship rolling five dice negating the bonus hit from the original broadside rules and three of its canons). This way you can choose to go for the massive payout of destroying a fully repaired ship in a single action or you can dramatically increase your chance of landing a hit. The rationale for this rule was that in a real broadside engagement, a gun crew could simply fire at will, hoping that the enemy ship would be incapacitated from the barrage or a well disciplined and commanded crew could stagger their fire, targeting a single spot on the enemy ship- the main mast, the magazine, the rudder- as the passed by the enemy.

     

    Not the most simple fix but one I found interesting and rooted in a some-what realistic strategy

     

    #4418

    Ben
    Keymaster

    This way you can choose to go for the massive payout of destroying a fully repaired ship in a single action or you can dramatically increase your chance of landing a hit.

    Ah, makes perfect sense now, thanks for explaining.  That is quite interesting and unique.   Do you plan to test it out in a game?

    #4420

    Countupyourcoyne
    Participant

    Ah, makes perfect sense now, thanks for explaining.  That is quite interesting and unique.   Do you plan to test it out in a game?

    Certainly would like to when I get the opportunity again, I have only a couple of pieces with the keyword though, don’t often make there way into most games.

    #4436

    Scheer
    Participant

    I’ve never like broadsides attack as a ship keyword. I’ve always wanted to use it because the idea is super cool, but it is just too swingy. And usually swingy rules are not fun for the person using it (swings low and misses) or for the person facing it (swing high and knock a ship out in one go in most cases).

    Taking a step back, the purpose of a broadside attack in my mind is to take advantage of good positioning to inflict consistent damage before the enemy has a chance to open fire with its full armament. This is not reflected in the BA rule, as there is a possibility to totally whiff and leave yourself open to full return fire. The suggestion by Countyupyourcoyne is a step in the right direction:

    Something like you can roll and additional die and take the highest option but you lose one “hit” and have it scale up, giving heavy ships the option to risk all hits for a low chance or basically have a for sure single hit.

    But still not enough in my mind, ships pay a lot in points for that keyword. Instead of rolling an additional die and dropping a hit, the attack could lose a die for a guaranteed hit. So your maximum damage on a 4 masted ship would be 3 hits, and your minimum would be 1 (even if rolling all misses). This achieves the same result as the above proposed rule, just with absolute consistency.

    EDIT: Of course, I guess this would cut out some of the flavor. Rolling less dice makes the attack seem less impressive. Countyupyourcoyne’s rule provides a high number of dice rolled so the attack is appropriately fun to roll. Although I guess rolling 1 dice for the original BA rule is pretty unimpressive.  However, I think my rule has a more meaningful end result and game impact.

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by  Scheer.
    #4440

    Ben
    Keymaster

    Instead of rolling an additional die and dropping a hit, the attack could lose a die for a guaranteed hit. So your maximum damage on a 4 masted ship would be 3 hits, and your minimum would be 1 (even if rolling all misses). This achieves the same result as the above proposed rule, just with absolute consistency.

    Sorry to be so dumb, but could you provide an example?  It sounds like you wouldn’t need to roll if you’re getting guaranteed hits by forfeiting rolls.  It’s starting to sound more like a regular shoot action to me.

    #4443

    Scheer
    Participant

    I have a 3 masted ship with 4 cannons. I maneuver into a broadsides position against an opposing 3 masted ship with 2 cannons. I know that if I don’t take out any masts this shoot action, my ship will likely be crippled next turn. As opposed to doing a normal shoot action (with ~30% chance of all misses) I perform my modified BA. Instead of rolling 3 dice and possibly knocking the opposing ship out in one go (~4% chance), I roll 2 dice. I now will not be able to derelict the ship in one shoot action, but I am guaranteed at least 1 hit for performing broadsides attack. So rolling 0 hits will result in 1 hit, rolling 1 hit will also result in 1 hit, rolling 2 hits will result in 2 hits.

    I haven’t looked at the stats enough to see if this would be viable to use across the range of ships that have BA or can get access to it from crew.

    Another option could be to borrow a rule from X-Wing. Roll for hits twice. For each roll, if any hits are made, eliminate them and add 1 success.  This one is maybe a bit hard to decipher so I will provide an example:

    I have a 3 masted ship with 4 cannons. I maneuver into a broadsides position against an opposing 3 masted ship with 2 cannons. I know that if I don’t take out any masts this shoot action, my ship will likely be crippled next turn. As opposed to doing a normal shoot action (with ~30% chance of all misses) I perform my modified BA. Instead of rolling 3 dice and possibly knocking the opposing ship out in one go (~4% chance), I roll 3 dice twice (basically performing my shoot action twice). I now will not be able to derelict the ship in one shoot action (as only 1 hit can be taken from each shoot action), but my chances of rolling 1-2 hits goes way up. I roll 3 dice, I get 2 hits. I eliminate all results and add 1 hit. I roll 3 dice again, I get 0 hits, so not hits are scored.

    This would bring the example ship’s chance to score at least 1 hit way up, from ~70% to >90%. The chance of getting at least 2 hits goes from ~25% for the standard shoot action to ~50%. The chance for the ship to score 3 hits goes from ~4% to 0%.

    Again, not sure if this would get too under or overpowered across the wide range of ships with access to this rule. Not only is there a variable in # of shots (1 cannon x 2 VS. 5 cannons x 2 = BIG difference), but also quality of cannons (the opposing ship in example above with 3 2 cannons would go from ~75% of at least 2 hits to ~92%, but would lose out on ~30% chance to score 3 hits, so probably would opt for standard shoot action).

    #4446

    Ben
    Keymaster

    I now will not be able to derelict the ship in one shoot action, but I am guaranteed at least 1 hit for performing broadsides attack. So rolling 0 hits will result in 1 hit, rolling 1 hit will also result in 1 hit, rolling 2 hits will result in 2 hits.

    I realize this applies to existing BA game pieces that are paying for the keyword, but guaranteed hits are likely to be a problem for some people.  As you can see from the survey results linked in the original post, 68% of respondents so far think that a roll of 1 should always miss.  Personally, I’m not fond of getting 1 hit whether you roll for 0 hits or 1 hit.  Each result of the rolls should be different.

    I can’t say I’d ever want to roll even more dice while shooting either, unless perhaps the entire combat system was completely revamped.   I think the second example overcomplicates the shooting process, but I’m not someone who has played more complicated games outside of complex Pirates situations.

    Glad to see some seriously in-depth ideas and discussion in this thread!

    #4455

    Woelf
    Moderator

    Sometimes BA is more of a disaster than I even realize…. XD

    I think the best solution for BA is to toss out the existing text entirely and rewrite it from scratch.

    For example, keeping the same general concept, but making it much less divisive and lower cost too:

    When this ship is given a shoot action, you may choose to fire all of your cannons at a single target. If you do, roll one die and compare that result to all of your cannons that have a clear line of fire and are within range of the target. All cannons that would hit are applied normally, one at a time. If at least one cannon hits, do 1 additional damage to the target; if 3 or more cannons hit, do 2 additional damage to the target instead.

    Things to note:
    1) It’s still based on a single roll, but isn’t an “all or nothing” result anymore. One bad cannon won’t ruin the shot for numerous other good ones.
    2) The “no other abilities” thing is gone completely. It’s too much of a mess, and not worth trying to salvage.
    3) Defensive abilities (ignore the first hit, two hits per mast, etc.) function normally, but the hits are applied sequentially instead of all at once, so parts of it will still get through, and the bonus damage can help make up some of the difference.
    4) Modifiers and rerolls work. (Additional limits on those could be added if it got too powerful in playtesting.)
    5) It doesn’t address Specialists or other offensive abilities (two masts per hit, cargo-killing, etc.), but since it’s not ignoring defensive abilities any more, I don’t think it would hurt to allow these back in. They’d still be subject to their individual rules (range reductions, etc.), and wouldn’t apply to the bonus damage.

    #4456

    Mechavelli
    Participant

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>I would like to try your rules, Woelf. That seems to me a lot better for ships like the Julius Caesar since it has a good 2 rank cannon, ensuring that it would have a good chance to get at least 2 hits in from it.</p>

    #4457

    Ben
    Keymaster

    @woelf: Yet another interesting take on modifying BA.  My initial thought is that it might be too powerful, or at least worth the ~5 points it was costed at.

    #4470

    Woelf
    Moderator

    Yet another interesting take on modifying BA. My initial thought is that it might be too powerful, or at least worth the ~5 points it was costed at.

    That was just a quick take, so it probably would need some refining. My main goal was to get rid of the ability blocking mess.

    I wasn’t going for any specific point cost, but upon reflection, 5 points would probably be close – or at least close enough to swap it for the current keyword text without breaking things too much.

    A floating cost would be ideal because it’s obviously better on a larger ship, but by not extending that bonus damage scale higher (like giving +3 damage for 4 or 5 hits) means a 10-mast isn’t getting any more out of it than a 3- or 4-mast ship with good cannons.

    #4473

    Scheer
    Participant

    1) It’s still based on a single roll, but isn’t an “all or nothing” result anymore. One bad cannon won’t ruin the shot for numerous other good ones.

    Its not necessarily an “all or nothing” result anymore (if all cannon ranks are the same it would be), but instead a “something or nothing”. Which is arguably worse. Although your chances of completely missing go down if using BA with a ship equipped with mismatched cannon ranks. I still don’t think I would use the ability, but its certainly better than the original rule.

    I also think it takes a bit away from the flavor of the rule if you don’t need to be in range/LoS with all cannons, but that’s just me.

    I can’t say I’d ever want to roll even more dice while shooting either, unless perhaps the entire combat system was completely revamped.   I think the second example overcomplicates the shooting process, but I’m not someone who has played more complicated games outside of complex Pirates situations.

    I guess I come from a WH40k background where rolling pools of 20 dice at a time is not uncommon, occasionally even 100+ dice at a time (yea lets not talk about it). Although I was also erroneously thinking that Pirates shoot actions were rolled in groups, not one cannon at a time. My group rolls similar cannon ranks together if firing at the same target. So I guess if you were rolling each cannon individually, rolling my BA on a 5 masted ship (so 10 shots) would take a bit.

    As for the complex game mechanics, it only sounds complex until you actually try it out, believe me! Although again, X-Wing rolls shoot actions in groups. If rolling each cannon individually, it does get a bit more complicated (roll 1, roll 1, roll 1 then roll 1, roll 1, roll 1 — instead of roll 3 then roll 3). So oops on my part on forgetting how Pirates is actually played.

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