With the intention to give a better idea of how the core GRAVETIDES rules play, this is the first of a series of posts in which we will both describe specific aspects of the rules and discuss some experimental rules proposals.
In this post will be described an experimental ships & squadrons activation rules based on the blind drawing of colored cubes that should add a bit of uncertainty and ‘fog of war’ to GRAVETIDES naval battles.
The same rules with some minor adaptions may be applied to other naval fantasy games.
If successfully play tested this new activation rules will eventually become part of the GRAVETIDES core set.
For each fleet in game a number of colored wooden cubes corresponding to the total of its ships (Flagships and Independents) and squadrons (groups of three vessels acting together) are placed in an opaque container (for example a dice bag), with each fleet using cubes of a distinctive color, different from the one used by other fleets.
To complete the pool, a number of cubes equal to the division by 5, rounded down, of the total of ships and squadrons in game is added to the container.
These cube must be of another color different from the ones corresponding to the fleets in game.
For a game with two fleets each composed by a Flagship, two Independents and two squadrons, place in the container a total of twelve cubes, five of one color for the first fleet, five of a different color for the second fleet and two of a third color ([5+5]/5 = 2).
For example, the pool will contain five black cubes, five red cubes and two yellow cubes.
Following the Initiative Order determined at the start of each Turn, players alternate nominating up to three ships or squadrons of their fleet to be activated, drawing a corresponding number of cubes from the container.
Players can Move & Fire one of the previously nominated ships or squadrons for each cube of the corresponding fleet color drawn, placing them near the ships and the Command ships of the squadrons to mark their activation.
Conversely, each drawn cube of different fleets colors allows the opposing players to move and fire with one of their ships or squadrons.
After nominating one ship and one squadron, the first player in Initiative Order draws from the containers two cubes getting one of its fleet color and one of the opposing fleet color. The player can move and fire with the ship or the squadron nominated before, and the enemy fleet can do the same with one ship or one squadron of its choice.
For each cube of the color not corresponding to any fleet, a ship or a squadron nominated for activation by the drawing player can only Move OR Fire.
The player chooses which of the previously nominated ships or squadrons move or fire, placing the cubes near their models to mark their activation.
After nominating two of its squadrons, a player draws from the containers two cubes getting one of its fleet color and one of the color not corresponding to any fleets. The player can move AND fire with one of the squadron, while the other can only move OR fire during the same Turn.
When all ships and squadrons have received an activation cube the Move & Fire phase of the Turn ends, followed by the Boarding and End phases as described in the main GRAVETIDES rules.
One or more cubes of a further different color can be added to the poll described above in order to trigger, when drawn, special events like a change in weather, the activation of sea monsters or the appearance of a strange marine phenomenon.
These rules are still under play testing and, so far, seem to work well.
What do you think of them?
Criticisms and suggestions are welcome as always.