View Full Version : Let's Redesign Battleship

2008-11-02, 08:41 PM
I was talking to a friend of mine (who happens to be a compulsive military buff) and he mentioned that he liked the classic game Battleship, but it just "wasn't complicated enough". Me being the compulsive game designer I am, I decided to take him up on it.

I really don't know that much about military history, so I'll need a couple ship-warfare people to help keep it accurate. Also, my friend's not an RPG player. He plays Warhammer, so I want to keep in the vicinity of Games Workshop complexity. Nothing too fancy, just a quick and dirty thing to prove the concept is doable. And now; the rant of what I have already:

What I was thinking was a generic warship simulator, with "rules modules" that could be applicable for anything from black powder cannons all the way up to modern cruise missiles. It might even apply to starships in space, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The players each command a ship (or a detachment of a few ships) and move them around on a map. Just like in the original Battleship, the players don't know where the ships are relative to each other (this might require a "Game Master" to keep track of the ship's actual position). Once the ship's see each other (weather by a man in a Crow's Nest, scout planes, or by radar) they can shoot. I'd like to impliment a long range system of "firing over the horizon" so you don't know weather you hit or what damage your ship inflicts, but I'm not sure anything short of ballistic missiles can shoot that far. Obviously, once the ships get within visual range of each other, they can fight normally.

Ship construction would be accomplished by spending points to improve characteristics like speed, toughness, or weapons. I'm hoping to provide a huge deal of customization without being too overwhelming. Perhaps there could be a "ship library" of preconstructed ships for beginners, with the full construction option for advanced users? What I'm looking for is a system halfway between Battlefleet Gothic (ship library with limited customization) and Mecha d20 (full customization from scratch).

The way I see it, rules for old-timey sailing ships wouldn't be too bad, but they'll get progressively more complicated and difficult as we move forward in time. By the time we get to modern day, I'm not even sure it's possible to keep it simple.

As you can see, I don't really have any set plans. Right now I just want to make sure it's doable. So, any ideas?

Mando Knight
2008-11-02, 09:18 PM
I'd like to impliment a long range system of "firing over the horizon" so you don't know weather you hit or what damage your ship inflicts, but I'm not sure anything short of ballistic missiles can shoot that far.

Oh, there's plenty of weapons that can shoot that far. Until the discovery of how useful aircraft raids were against battleships, naval battles in the early 20th century were determined primarily by who could shoot farther... and if I remember correctly, early naval aircraft were mainly spotters for the battleships' main guns.

2008-11-02, 09:30 PM
It doesn't meet ALL of your qualifications, but I highly suggest you take a gander at WotC/Avalon Hill's Axis & Allies: War at Sea naval miniatures game.

The game is fleet-oriented, where you get X number of points to build a fleet out of the various minis available. Each has special abilities, as well as various types of gunnery (main batteries, secondary batteries, anti-aircraft fire, depth charges, etc.) that are usable at certain ranges (and give you a number of attack dice dependent on that range).

An example stat card:


The Hood, here, for instance, is a battleship that can shoot it's main guns up to three squares away, and at range 3 attacks with 12 dice (d6s). It also has secondary guns, some anti-aircraft fire, and a couple of dice of torpedoes.

Basically, for your game, I'd do it something like War at Sea - each ship (battleship, cruiser, whatever) has stats, and some can even fight from long distances (battleship via main gunnery, carrier via bombers, etc.).

If you can find the WaS starter set, it shouldn't be TOO expensive (especially since the second set just came out a couple of months ago) and you can look through the rules for it and start adapting things.

2008-11-02, 10:38 PM
Thanks rtg, that looks just about what I had in my head. Any system I made on my own would probably end up resembling that anyway. If I slap on a system of ship construction, that will fit the bill perfectly.

I guess that solves the main problem. Now all we have to do is figure out how to adapt that game. My main concern is (as stated above) a system of ship construction. One idea is that ships have a number of "critical spaces" based on size. These spaces can be "filled" with different upgrades (I got this idea from an old D&D book on how to design castles).

Another fiddly bit is making the system time-independent. It's not a big deal but I would like a system that can do any kind of ship you could imagine (even alternate history airship combat and other strange ideas like that.)