Maelstrom Game Mat and House Rules

Maelstrom Game Mat and House Rules

Thanks to my awesome friend Gigi, a unique Christmas gift arrived recently: a Maelstrom game mat!  😀   He was inspired to make it after seeing the concept as a Game Idea, and now fittingly enough I will be able to recreate the incredible scene from At World’s End!  I’ve come up with both regular and deathmatch house rules which you can see below.  The Maelstrom game mat is about 3 feet square, and has 10 concentric circles within it, not counting the foreboding center area.

Maelstrom Game Mat for Wizkids Pirates CSG

General House Rules:
-Ships can only travel around the maelstrom in an “anticlockwise” direction, just like in At World’s End.
-A move segment is required in order to move from one concentric ring to an adjacent one. This uses that move segment for the move action. Instead of moving the ship forward around the ring it’s currently in, move it laterally to the desired adjacent ring. (ex: a ship with L+S base move can use either segment to move to an adjacent ring, then use the other segment afterwards to move forward in that new ring. Or, it can jump two rings, or move L+S in the ring it’s already inside of.)

Maelstrom of Gold Scenario

These house rules are for a regular game with gold, though additional changes may be necessary.
-Set up for a regular game of Pirates, but with a minimum distance between islands of only 1L or 2L.
-Ships in the innermost ring can shoot at other ships in that ring regardless of cannon range (“unlimited” range to reach ships on the other side), as long as a clear line of fire can be drawn to the other ship.
-If a ship enters the center of the maelstrom, immediately remove the ship and all her cargo from the game.

Deathmatch Scenario

These house rules are for a deathmatch, ideal for recreating the epic movie scene.
-No islands. Each fleet starts outside the maelstrom on one of the four corners (opposite sides in a 1v1 deathmatch), and must enter the maelstrom from that corner during the first round (though not necessarily in the same spot for all ships).
-Ships cannot move rings towards the outside of the maelstrom. Concentric ring movement is limited to going towards the center of the maelstrom, as all ships get sucked into the middle.
-At the end of each player’s turn, each of their ships move laterally one ring closer to the center. (this cannot result in ramming/boarding/etc because it is not a move action)
-Ships within the innermost 3 rings of the maelstrom can shoot at other ships in those rings regardless of cannon range (“unlimited” range to reach ships on the other side), as long as a clear line of fire can be drawn to the other ship.
-If a ship enters the center of the maelstrom, she may be given one final action (unless she has already been given two actions that turn) before being removed from the game.
-Eternal only works once, regardless of whether or not the ship was sunk normally or by entering the center of the maelstrom.  If Eternal is triggered, the ship returns to the corner of the map she started in, outside the maelstrom.  She can repair normally there, and the player can move the ship into the maelstrom before repairing all masts.  If all masts are repaired, the ship’s next action must be to move the ship into the maelstrom.

Other Ideas!
These are meant to be interesting alternatives worth trying out, but not part of the core scenario ideas.
-Changing the movement rules: Instead of using an entire move segment to move laterally from one ring to another, ships can move “normally” under the same idea – you still need a move segment to cross a ring line, but you can move forward/diagonally as normal for enhanced speed.
-You may voluntarily eliminate any type of cargo during a ship’s action to move laterally towards the outside of the whirlpool (as if the ship is getting lighter and can potentially outpace the maelstrom).
-Risky middle: ships in the innermost 3 rings get +S to their base move, but must roll a d6 at the end of each of their actions.  On a 1-2, they lose a mast.
-All range extending abilities are doubled (or tripled). Ex: a flotilla with S range cannons and Extended Range can now shoot at a range of 4S (or 6S if tripling is preferred).
-Maximum shooting: S range cannons shot from within the innermost 5 rings can shoot at targets within those rings. L range cannons can hit anything in the maelstrom rings that a clear line of fire can be drawn to.  Or, all S range cannons have a range of 6S and all L range cannons have a range of 6L.
-Combine with the Other Worlds scenario with the Maelstrom being the “home island ocean” with HI’s on the outskirts of the maelstrom. Only once a ship reaches the center of the maelstrom can she use it as a whirlpool to teleport to the other oceans where the gold lies. (this may require banning HI raiders or other house rules to discourage blockading)

I realize there are a lot of game mechanics that might get fuzzy or confusing given these house rules, but they can be worked out as necessary. This post is subject to editing upon playtesting. 🙂

Maelstrom game mat - Black Pearl and Flying Dutchman

We have seen this before….

Maelstrom game mat - Black Pearl vs. Flying Dutchman

Black Pearl vs. Flying Dutchman!

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  1. Cool map!

    It doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of incentive to cutting through to the lower rings, aside from trying to shortcut your way to an island or to shoot at someone else that’s already in there on the other side. Having a constant “pull” toward the center could help with that, like making each ship roll a 6 every turn, and on a roll of 1 or 2 it immediately moves that many rings inward. It’s probably easier to have that roll at the start of a turn, so the ships can still use their action to attempt to get back out, but you could keep it at the end (or after each action) to increase the risk/danger. Ships that didn’t (or couldn’t) take actions could get pulled in even faster, like 1-3, or just make it an automatic 1 without any roll.

    • Woelf,
      That makes sense. At some point I’ll playtest the rules I laid out and see if any modifications are optimal. I think it would depend on how dangerous the players want the environment to be. Thanks for commenting!

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