Monday, 10 October 2011

Building a better Dreadfleet

Right, some of you have tried guilt tripping me into feeling bad over not getting my Dreadfleet review up sooner. Well, I say lets make the best of a bad job. I know some of you really like the idea of the game and indeed the miniatures. So I'm setting myself and all you out there who own the game the task of 'buildin a better Dreadfleet'. Now after my recent games of Dreadfleet for my review I really don't think that should be too hard at all. The aim is simple, remove the elements that slow things up. and make the game more random than a highly random thing and actually try and inject some fun back into proceedings. I think Jake Thornton over at his Quirkworthy Blog is going to attempt something similar.

My first targets for for re-writing have got to be the 'Fate Cards' and the 'damage mechanic' in the game because it's these two elements that seem to destroy the fun more than anything else. I also believe this will lead me too having to change the wind dynamic in the game, not that it would be a great loss, as removing the stupid wind mechanic will open up the possibility of playing the game on different sized boards. So I'm currently working through:

  1. A new damage mechanic
  2. A new wind mechanic
  3. Some way of getting the fun elements the fate deck was supposed to provide, without them being game breakingly tedious.

However if you guys think there are other things that need changing please do let me know your thoughts below in the comments section.

My method will be stripping back the layers of crap, to try and get at the solid core mechanics that are underneath all the rubbish. Once I've found the solid foundation I'm looking for in every aspect of the game, then I'll build back up on top of those foundations until I think I have something that is workable. My current first target is the damage system, I think the idea of randomly selecting damage cards is just a fundamentally bad one. It real naval conflicts ships actually chose which parts of the ship they were targeting, be that Hulls, Rigging etc. I also think that Crew should only really be able to be targeted at close range, well that's my opinion on it right now. I've decided the best way to go about this is to apply further modifiers to the rolls that are made when you choose to target a specific part of the ship. I'll post my initial thoughts on damage at some point this week once I've had the time to flick through the rules and get my calculator out. Peace out!


  1. as far as damage goes, and as i touched on in a previous comment, i believe that ships should be able to fire different shot (with conventional cannons), or that their other types of weapon should do a certain type of damage (much like the elven ships bolt throwers). you could be able to choose which type of shot to use each turn, and this would correspond to the area of the ship you want to try and damage.

    round shot - fired at the hull and dealing hull damage, accurate to quite a long range
    chain shot - fired at the sails and dealing speed damage, short to medium range but rapidly decreasing accuracy beyond shot range
    grapeshot - fired at the crew and dealing crew damage, fired at short range only

    the miscellaneous damage cards all fit logically into one of the other three damage types anyway, so they could be included. after all, a BIT of randomness doesn't hurt, and with cannonballs flying, you truly do never know when that powder store is going to get hit.

    some weapons which have different types of powers such as the skaven warp lightning should perhaps be randomised in the types of damage they do, seeing as they are temperamental and inaccurate, but maybe there is a more elegant way of dealing with this.

    also, boarding actions are a problem since they also randomise damage. i am not sure whether they should only deal crew damage (this would make them somewhat overpowered i feel) or whether the loser of each round should simply 'take a single point of crew damage' and save the damage cards for broadsides.

    one problem i can see is that if you were able to choose your types of damage it would make it much faster to kill ships off. perhaps too fast. i would have to do some mathhammer, but since i am at work and don't have the stats etc to hand i cant really say.

  2. Yeah in terms of damage I agree about choosing the different type of 'shot' that's the principles I'm working on now. Sorry but I think the majority of the the cards in this game have to go. The damage they deal, when the special cards can actually totally swing some of the games. I'm 'mathing' it up as I type.

  3. (A suggestion from someone who hadn't seen the game up close yet)
    How about that for a "called shot" mechanic: Get a penalty on the dice roll (-1, -2...) and for each hit, draw multiple damage cards (I'm thinking 2, or perhaps 3), pick one to be effective and discard the others.

  4. @Zero, I did think about that, but some of the damage cards are so head stompingly powerful that genuinely drawing a number of cards and then deciding which one to inflict on your opponent is no better I'm afraid. No the cards themselves are the problem. Not that cards are bad, just what is written on these ones I'm afraid.

  5. Can't wait to see the sort of improvements you develop for Dreadfleet. Four hours to play is ridiculous for this sort of game and definitely screams out for streamlining the mechanics.

  6. You could retain the fate cards, but tame them a little. Something along the lines of drawing three rather than one, and choosing which one you want to play.

  7. I too have been wondering what could be done about Fate cards. I still need to spend more time looking at the set to see what really are the most bothersome elements. What about removing the worst offenders from the deck, then dealing a limited number (I'm thinking just 3 total) to each player at the start of the game but then no more. You can play a Fate card to either get the stated result or to change the direction of the wind, but not both. Maybe even allow the other player the option of burning one of their own fate cards to cancel out the first one's effects. That's the initial direction at least that I would like to test out.