Friday, December 4, 2015

Ramming our way through Galleys & Galleons

Our opponents, Tom, Joel, and Allen, bickered and laughed their way through the game that ended with a hard-fought victory for them
 It is always seemed to me that there were two types of ancient naval rules sets. One is overly simplistic and provides unrealistic results. The other is too detailed, and takes too much time to learn the nuances for a game we don't play all that often. So, when Galleys & Galleons came out earlier this year, I immediately lumped it in my mind in the former category. We had played many of the "Song of Blades" engine games, and I didn't see how its activation system would adapt.
Our side's fleet rows towards the enemy
Our group of six were pleasantly surprised by the feel that G&G gave us. We were playing an Ancient naval game (Greeks vs. Persians? There were no historical specifics in our scenario. Suffice to say, there would be three four types of weapons in our game: Ramming, catapults, "chaser guns" -- lighter catapults, and archery. Nothing really rang wrong, except maybe how archery could cause so much damage when ships got really close. G&G does not differentiate between physical damage to a ship and casualties to a ship's crew.
Two of my quadiremes use Colossus Island to lie in wait for a larger enemy quinquireme and trireme
Those familiar with the activation mechanic of "Song of" games will be interested to see how it is handled in this game. The smaller, faster and more nimble ships have the better quality, while the larger, slower galleys will find it a little harder to activate. Flagships give a +1 like leaders do in other iterations of Ganesha rules. All in all, we weren't overly bothered by the rolling to activate ships, and the possibility of "crapping out" and losing your turn -- which I managed to do several times over a crucial span.
The battle becomes a mess of rammed and entangled ships
One of the more clever mechanics is how damage is handled. Each ship can take damage to a certain level, then become crippled. Once crippled, there is a chance that they will sink or surrender if fighting a boarding action. There is even more elegance and depth to the damage a ship takes -- particular when it attempts to activate on subsequent turns. We all thought it was a clever effect.
We kept track of damage with dark red dice and pretzels (oars that have been sheared away)...the black dice indicate grappled dice a crew that has been boarded and has surrendered
We will definitely give G&G another try. Some of the players expressed the opinion that we may have found a simple system that provides realistic results. Either way, it was a fun way to spend several hours, ramming our way through a new rules set.

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