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"Naval battle resolution system?" Topic

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Personal logo Lluis of Minairons Sponsoring Member of TMP25 May 2019 11:53 a.m. PST

I'm preparing an early 18th century campaign in the Mediterranean, that is alike to include naval engagements from time to time.

Most of these are likely to be small/medium sized clashes with just a handful of ships each side – those the players will have at disposal, that are'nt too many at all. I'm thinking of that kind of battles that can be dealt with Galleys & Galleons, for instance.

But then, while refining the 'non-player powers' OOBs, I've suddenly realized that these could be able indeed to amass a large fleet and throw it against another one.

(I'm talking about fleets consisting each of one or two dozens battleships and galleasses, a dozen galleys and around twenty or twenty-five smaller ships such as xebecs, pollacres, turkish 'karavels', perhps a handful of frigates too)

We haven't got that many ships and are unwilling to hurriedly collect them just for an eventual battle that might occur or not. But as game director I need to have something in the pouch for if such a big battle ever happens.

So here it goes my question: does anyone out here dealt with such kind of issue before? how would you advice me to eventually solve it? Any naval battle resolution system out there using just a handful of dice?

Thanks a milion in advance,

JimDuncanUK25 May 2019 1:21 p.m. PST

No dice, just cotton wool balls.



Fitzovich Supporting Member of TMP26 May 2019 4:24 a.m. PST

JimDuncanUK Those look Great!

Personal logo Lluis of Minairons Sponsoring Member of TMP26 May 2019 4:55 a.m. PST

Thanks for the contribution, but I can't see how this can help me. What I need is not to be forced to fielding 60 ships to a side on tabletop.

JimDuncanUK26 May 2019 8:16 a.m. PST

Bathtubbing is a possibility.

One force has 60 ships, another has 50 ships.

Play 6 versus 5.

Also look at other combat resolution systems. It doesn't have to be dice.

Or try a CRT (combat resolution table).

Make a chart with 1 to whatever on the x axis and the y axis.

Where the numbers meet have a diced table saying so many ships sunk, so many damaged and so on for both sides.

Personal logo Lluis of Minairons Sponsoring Member of TMP26 May 2019 8:27 a.m. PST

Yes that makes sense, thanks.

whitejamest28 May 2019 5:39 a.m. PST

One of my favorite long format war games is Empires in Arms, a massive grand strategic level Napoleonic game for 7 players. Each game takes us somewhere between 8 and 12 months down at the club.

The game focuses on strategic level decisions, but of course the land battles are extremely important, and have some elaborate charts and multiple decisions to be made. The naval fighting is much more abstract and simplified. This has always been dissatisfying for me, and we've toyed with the idea of adding a lot more detail to that as well, but in its present form it's a good example of how fast and simple you can make an abstracted battle.

First, if the defender fails to evade, you make a competitive die roll to determine which side has the advantageous position with regard to wind.

Second, the winner of that roll makes another roll to inflict damage on the opponent's fleet. Damage is a percentage of his own fleet size. So if you have 20 ships in your own fleet and inflict 25% damage, 5 of the enemy's ships are out of action. These casualties are inflicted before the enemy can respond.

Now the second player makes the same die roll, inflicting casualties based on his fleet strength, minus the casualties he has already received.

Whichever side lost fewer ships is the victor. The loser must flee to an adjacent sea zone or the nearest friendly port.

Obviously not a subtle historical simulation of naval battles, but it's quick and simple. It's easy to imagine how you could add a lot of additional factors to suit your taste.

Here is a page that pretty much has it all at a glance:


Personal logo Lluis of Minairons Sponsoring Member of TMP28 May 2019 1:21 p.m. PST

Yes whitejamest, that's the kind of CRT I was looking for.
After a quick glance, I think that I'll take it nearly as it is --only the period related modifiers will be replaced by others regarding the admiral's ability (-1, 0, +1, +2).


Woollygooseuk31 May 2019 10:40 a.m. PST

If you can pick up a copy cheaply (pfft maybe) GURPS Swashbucklers has a pretty good abstract system. It covers ship capabilities/numbers, but also commander's abilities & tactics.

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