captain log 2021.Oct.15

First entry, an introduction to this series; aims to be a record of progress done towards the realization of a wargame design.

Is not new and has seen two generations of ideas but never passed the “very complicated” testing phases mostly due to me being completely inexperienced and stubborn. Also i’m not an engineer so I tend to look to a system not as numbers and charts but rather as a cloud of stories connected by possible courses of action.

It is my intent to focus on the age of sail naval combat at the Master and Commander level ( that’s a proper naval rank by the way ) where the action happens in presence of the “player” on decks and where engagements involve no more than half a dozen vessels from all contenders.

As such the “player” ( from now on referred to as – commander ) will have to command the crew, in their diversity of stations, to achieve the intended immediate objectives – such as changing tack through the eye of the wind – and aim for the greater prize – forcing the enemy commander to strike down the colours and surrender the vessel.

The first two generations lacked a proper objective and, in retrospective, the intent of doing everything and achieving nothing did weight heavily on the abandonment of the project for a while.

Not surprisingly, and many different games played after, and fast forward in time, the urge to pick up the entire project and try again with a completely different mindset kicked off.

I had to make two essential, and conscientious, decisions before moving to next phase planning table:

  • game board will use a grid of octagons
  • game scale is tactical – commanding a vessel via crew actions – with action driving mechanism – time/momentum

I did attempt a 12 point positional hexagonal grid but it became so complicated as to make it workable for the die hard aficionado but totally abhorrent for anyone else – and being honest it looks horrible ( hexagons split in 30 degree triangles and square grid connecting the half points. a visual nightmare for any game board ).

Octagons work fine visually in open sea boards IF the representation of the vessels is right, thus a ruleset that allows to use any type of visuals the players want is also something I aim for, thus no pieces that contain information so the players can use models or cutout pieces.

The information of each vessel will be conveyed via a data card per vessel, example below in the very early stage prototype. It will for sure change a lot as the project evolves but I am certain it does hint at what the game might become when finished.

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