Rules for thought #44 – Boarding ships that are already touching

Pirates with Ben – About Pirates CSG Pirates CSG Forums Pirates CSG Rules for thought #44 – Boarding ships that are already touching

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • Author
  • #13523

    Now that the Rules survey has some results (61 responses as of this post), I think it would be a good idea to discuss some various options in detail.

    Boarding could be an action on its own so if a ship rams, each turn as long as they were pinned they’d be able to initiate a board.

    Would a free action be the best way to handle this?

    I do like the idea of boarding ships that are already touching (even if they’re not pinned), but I’d prefer if it wasn’t a full action (partly because I don’t think it would be a good idea to add a 5th action to the game that only happens in niche circumstances).  Thematically it makes sense for ships to board each other back and forth, and I mistakenly played that way a while back.


    I don’t think it should be added as a general action (for now), but I do think you should be able to board a ship if the ships are touching, and not just rammed and pinned. Additionally you could revamp the S-Board ability and include that as part of a general mechanic instead of a niche ability on certain crew and ships.

    I do like the back-and-forth option you mentioned, since that does make a lot of thematic sense, and could open up new abilities and what-not.

    Boarding in general should/could be overhauled.


    Boarding in general should/could be overhauled.

    I definitely want any future rules to have the house rule that the winner gets to choose whether to eliminate crew or steal treasure, and choose which treasure gets stolen.  However, I’m also in favor of doing away with ram damage, which might make boarding even less likely to happen.  A pretty drastic measure would be to have Hoard/Massacre be the default results – make it all treasure/crew, rather than just 1.  That could apply to the loser of the boarding party too.

    Maybe doing away with pinning could make boarding more viable as well.

    Personally I think S-Board should be left alone as an ability.  The only thing I would do there is make it cheap, like 2-3 points instead of 4-5.

    Thanks for the feedback!


    If the goal is to keep the game relatively simple, boarding as a single, abstract die roll when contact first happens, works okay.    If you’re going to expand it, actually expand it instead of just repeating that same die roll another time or two.    Make boarding its own full action, with multiple dice being rolled and all sorts of extra variables thrown into the mix.  Give players options and decisions to make even if they’re at an obvious disadvantage.   Make it painful for the attacker or winner too.      (The crew combat phase in Merchants & Marauders immediately comes to mind as an example of how to do it.)

    Maybe doing away with pinning could make boarding more viable as well.

    Is there any historical evidence of ships becoming pinned in any meaningful ways during actual battles?

    That and ramming need serious looks, and should maybe even be pushed toward being phased out entirely, or left in only as last resort-type options.  These ships generally were not outfitted with battering rams that would allow them to keep plowing into each other regularly, and even ships that were equipped for ramming probably couldn’t do it more than a few times before suffering significant structural damage.


    Just stumbled across this thread as I started researching if ramming was a common naval tactic. It also seemed funny to me as a rule and more of a last-ditch option. Found this Wikipedia article which is helpful. In particular:

    “A key element in the design and construction of a ramming vessel is the ability to stop its forward progress and reverse course, the better to allow the rammed ship to sink without her crew boarding the ramming vessel. As navies became more dependent on sailing ships, which do neither well, rams were generally discarded, particularly as gunpowder increased the range at which ships could effectively attack one another. Only a few instances of non-accidental ramming are recorded from the Age of Sail”

    From a thematic rules perspective, it would seem more accurate that if the ramming ship causes damage, it also takes the same amount of damage. One of my favorite strategy games is Xia, which allows ramming with space ships but damages both ships equally.

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.