Rules for Thought #28 – Mercenaries could pay to dock/repair

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Ben 4 months ago.

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  • #4844

    Ben
    Keymaster

    Now that the Rules survey has some results (42 responses as of this post), I think it would be a good idea to discuss some various options in detail.

    How do you think the Mercenary/Ex-Patriot distinction should have been handled?

    Differently, to make them competitive. I would have allowed docking but only if there’s gold being deposited by any ship in your fleet that turn. For example, your fighter ship needs to repair, but it’s a mercenary. Your gold runner docks and unloads gold, which allows the fighter to dock and repair. More gold won’t be needed to keep the fighter repairing or docked unless it moves away and redocks. That way,  the mercenary keyword is a bit more flavorful, since your home port doesn’t love you but will allow you to use it’s facilities if you have the coin to pay for them. I would also give mercenaries a buff in order to offset this requirement, since right now the ability is strictly a negative one.

    I think this is worth experimenting with.  I also like the idea of having Mercenaries actually pay to repair, such as eliminating 1 gold per mast repaired while docked at home or perhaps 1-2 gold per repair “session” where a ship could stay docked and repair as many masts as it wanted for a fixed cost. (which you’d have to pay again if you moved away and redocked later)

    I don’t see the Mercenary keyword as strictly a negative.  The ability allows you to start the game S away from your home island, which can give you a slight edge in the first few turns of a game.  You can also really “game it” and use the length of a 10 master to get even more mileage out of the head start. (since a 10 master’s hull at the waterline alone is nearly L long)

    What do you think of this?

    #4995

    Mechavelli
    Participant

    I was the one that wrote that suggestion, thanks for featuring it!

    I respect your opinion that the S move is good enough, but it’s not for me. Mercs have a really tough time in my experience repairing and competing with other factions due to the lackluster ships they field and the no docking rule.

    In suggesting that they pay to dock, I didn’t mean that they’d have to eliminate gold to do so, but to deposit gold in their HI like any other faction, the difference being that France doesn’t have to deposit gold when they want to repair, they just do it. The Mercs would have to be escorted by a gold runner or at least a hybrid, making their playstyle financially-minded, at the very least.

    This isn’t enough to make them competitive in my opinion, but it does make them better and more useful overall. Hopefully you guys will agree!

    #4996

    Ben
    Keymaster

    In suggesting that they pay to dock, I didn’t mean that they’d have to eliminate gold to do so, but to deposit gold in their HI like any other faction, the difference being that France doesn’t have to deposit gold when they want to repair, they just do it.

    I understood that, I was suggesting it as yet another potential house rule allowing Mercs to repair.

    I also think it would be thematic if the Mercs had more named crew of a warfare/killer variety, something I explore in my custom set.

    #5010

    Ed
    Participant

    I like that idea, this may be off topic a bit but my group has been developing an additional rule. I kinda ripped off carbon Charlie in that you can spend a gold coin when docking to repair an extra mast so that could be used in conjunction with your mercenary rule.(thematically its like hiring more builder or maybe just paying them to work overtime)

    #5011

    Woelf
    Participant

    I really like what WK tried to do by introducing Mercenaries to the game, but like so many other “big ideas” added over the years, the execution of it wasn’t as good as the concept.

    The way the keyword tied in with Mysterious Islands (another “big idea” that suffered between concept and execution) was great, albeit difficult to actually use without specifically building toward that purpose, but being unable to dock at home hurt them far more than the loose thematic benefits from it. Yes there are some workarounds (cancelers, dories, etc.), but those are all extra things that non-Merc nations don’t need to spend points on just to be viable, which is piling additional indirect limitations on the already limited pool of resources from being a (mostly) once-off minor nation.

    Starting S away from home does benefit them slightly, but that always seemed like less of an intentional bonus to me than it was a band-aid to avoid the rules issues/ambiguities that would certainly come from starting them out docked [SEE ALSO: Eternal Sea Monsters]. With the exception of the 10-mast ships, the benefit barely even matters beyond the first turn because many non-Merc ships can outdistance the vast majority of Merc ships on their first move despite that head start.
    ———————————–

    Setting aside any desires to play viable Mercenary-only fleets, what I’d really like to see the Mercenary keyword do is play into the “independent for hire” thing far more than giving them an odd assortment of benefits and weaknesses. Drop the first-turn boost and the docking restriction, and instead give them more flexibility on mixed-nation crew usage. Maybe not quite to the level of the “any crew may use their abilities”, but more flexible than calling out a specific nation.

    Perhaps something like this:
    Ex-Patriot: This crew may use its abilities on any ship. Other crew of the Mercenary nation may use their abilities on this ship.
    (Important! This does not grant the Mercenary keyword to the ship.)

    Mercenary: While* placing your ships during setup, choose a nation belonging to any non-Mercenary ship** in your fleet. All*** ships in your fleet with the Mercenary keyword are considered members of that nation (in addition to their own) for the duration of the game, even if their keywords are canceled or all ships of the non-Mercenary nation are captured or sunk. [Could also throw in the MI roll bonus pretty much as-is.]

    *I use the term “while” rather than “after”, so it could theoretically allow the placement of nation-specific 0-point crew (including 0LR+5) on affiliated Mercenary ships.

    **This follows somewhat on the Fort rule of needing at least one ship of the corresponding nation in your fleet. A 100% Merc fleet would still be viable due to the lack of the docking restriction, but wouldn’t be able to poach crew from any arbitrarily-chosen nation. Dirt-cheap ships like El Raton, Jolly Mon, etc. would be able to cheat this a little, so maybe a minimum percentage of the point total would be required instead of just having a ship.

    ***This could be handled on an individual ship basis, where you choose an affiliated nation for each during setup. It would add some effort to tracking, but could be done by swapping out the bow flags or by using any number of other methods.

    #5022

    Jean
    Participant

    I’m in agreement that while I sort of understand what they were going for with the thematic purpose of Mercenaries not being able to dock, the negative impact that has on them is too huge. Even with the thematic argument, why would an all Merc fleet not be able to dock at their home island? And why would a mixed fleet with Mercs not let them dock when the Mercs are supposed to be “hired” by other nations? The Mercs got payed to get gold for another nation and aren’t allowed to actually turn in that gold?

    I feel that it would be best to just let the Mercenaries dock at their home islands like normal and have the keyword effect changed to something else thematic. I like Woelf’s idea of letting them be part of another nation in your fleet. Maybe even give them the Homemade Flag ability since they’re posing as another faction. Honestly just about anything is better than taking away their ability to do the one thing that wins the game.

    And on the topic of the Mercs, what the benefit of Ex-Patriot allowing a Merc crew on a different nation ship to let other Mercs use their abilities on that ship when every named Merc crew has Ex-Patriot and can already serve on any ship?

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by  Jean.
    #5026

    Woelf
    Participant

    And on the topic of the Mercs, what the benefit of Ex-Patriot allowing a Merc crew on a different nation ship to let other Mercs use their abilities on that ship when every named Merc crew has Ex-Patriot and can already serve on any ship?

    As-is, it allows you to bring along generic Merc crew that can replace or mix with crew of the ship’s own nationality. Useful if you’re short on crew of one nation or another but have extra Mercs available, or you just want extra flexibility if you plan to move them from ship to ship during the game.

    Conceivably, if the keywords were modified and then new named Merc crew were created, they wouldn’t automatically have to include the Ex-Pat keyword. They’d still work fine on Merc ships, but to go elsewhere you’d have to send someone else along with them. It would be a good way to give powerful (unique?) abilities to the Mercs without making them too easy to grab by other nations.

    #5081

    Ben
    Keymaster

    @woelf: Interesting ideas, I like your modified Ex-Patriot keyword.

    Dirt-cheap ships like El Raton, Jolly Mon, etc. would be able to cheat this a little, so maybe a minimum percentage of the point total would be required instead of just having a ship.

    That’s one thing I would worry about – calling a nearly-pure Mercenary fleet “half-Pirate” from having the Jolly Mon sit around is a weird one.

    I kind of like the idea of letting factions purchase (only) Mercenary ships and crew during a game to simulate their nature.  (not a cumulative/campaign game, but a house rule to use them thematically)

    Thinking about reading this thread as a newbie to the game is intimidating, which I think speaks to how complicated they made this “category” of the game.  Two somewhat wild faction-based keywords, one of which forces usage of the other.  What could go wrong?  XD

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