Development Continued: Final Germans Vs. Italians Issues

It’s been a little while since an update…holidays, much less me being sick for well over a week at this point…anyways, finally coming back up out of the hole and felt a new blog post appropriate.

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Both Bryn and I’s own playtesting, as well as some thorough playtest reports from other groups, have brought us to a new stage concerning the current status of the German and Italian fleets.

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The Germans vs. the British and French work great.

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The Italians vs. the British and French work great.

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And even the Germans vs. Italians on 2 maps works very well.

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The problem is when you put the Germans vs. Italians on 4 or more maps…things start to break down at that point.The problem is multi-faceted.

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1. Germans are slow…on average the slowest fleet.

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2. The Italians have more torpedoes than any other fleet.

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3. The Italians also have access to different submunitions, including an extended range version (2DRed/24 hexes).

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4. The Italians have torpedoes mounted on Bows and/or in Turrets and are incredibly maneuverable.

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What all of that equates to is the Italians are able to easily get almost all of their torpedoes from Bows and one side Location always firing towards the Germans. And even though the Germans are heavily armored and high Breach Numbers, the sheer mass of launchers, even with the downgranded damage of the ER, means a few are going to get through for the 2 or 3 turns of that type of fire. And then it’s two or three more turns of a wash of standard torpedoes hammering into the Germans as the Italians continued to maenuver and compact down into a far corner, before the Germans finally get into range and start dropping Italian ships. But so much damage is done by that point, the Italians too often come out on top.

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Bryn rightly pointed out to me that in the fiction of the Gazetteer, the Germans are said to be working on some “advanced technologies”, and yet everything to date that we’ve given the Germans is all crew related. He and I had kicked around for some time the idea of an anti-torpedo Slot (basically a type of flake for torpedoes). The German battleship even against the French can sometimes run into trouble with torpedoes if the German player isn’t careful, hence our discussions already along those lines…but with the new playtest data in hand, it looks like we’ll push forward with rules creation and playtesting.

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The goal, of course, is to fix the German vs. Italians on 4 map sheets problem, while ensuring it doesn’t upset the solid game balance in all other aspects already achieved.

I’ll let you know in a few weeks if we’ve managed to grasp that brass ring.

See ya next duty shift!


Comments (42)

FrischiDecember 28th, 2012 at 2:29 pm

may i can give a input? maybe germans had a advance fire control system and theirs smaller weapons can target torpedos, so they can shoot them down before they arrive the own vessel.
but this is just a idea….

KarasuDecember 28th, 2012 at 4:59 pm

I believe that it has been established that Crew slots are a combination of the people who can do things and the equipment that they have to do those things with. This does mean that additional rules for crew slots doesn’t preclude them being due to advanced tech.

Also, quick question. The ER torpedoes of the Italians are listed as being 2d6/24. Is that supposed to be 2dBlue/24?

wundergoatDecember 28th, 2012 at 9:34 pm

I am thinking he meant 2dRed. 2d6 maxes out at 12, which really isn’t that dangerous.

StCptMaraDecember 29th, 2012 at 1:24 am

Germans were always known for their engineering and their mechanics who could keep anything running. Maybe giving Germans two crew slots to do repairs? Or and “Advanced Damage Control Teams” slot that can repair damage in other locations?
Simple rule, nothing requiring a new system. Put, say, 2 of them into the German Aft/Stern, and they can fight off the Italian Torpedoes until they are in range by
keeping the ships flying. When the Italians get closer, they gain the advantage by being able to maneuvre behind the germans and hit those slots.

Or you could do that German armour, with its sloping and better engineering, adds extra to the breech number against torpedoes? Say, each armour slot adds +1 to Breech values normally, but +2 against torpedoes?

Or “Flak Guns” that do very little against ships, but their presence subtracts 1 die from Torpedoes?

Chris ODecember 29th, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Maybe give them an option to fire a flak cloud instead of firing weapons? Place a cloud marker within two hexes of the ship, any torp passing through rolls a d6, on a 1-3 it hits the cloud and is destroyed.

Mike BDecember 29th, 2012 at 2:44 pm

How about saying they’ve modified their tesla trims with external coils, giving facings that have tesla slots somthing of a point blank anti-torpedo system. Torpedos entering the target ships hex on a facing with one could be destroyed via some quick roll. (i’ll leave the percentages to those who understand the probabilities of the dice better than me)

The method of protection would be a last second jolt of electricity to the torpedo, presumably the small electroid/propusion system could be vulnerable to “flashing over” if jolted, I dont imagine the torpedos have much of a glide pattern, so presumably they could be made to miss.

If you felt like it, you could even say that discharging enough electricity to do that could render the tesla coil less effective, garnering the -1 on breach rolls like an impaired coil for rest of the round.

Just spitballing.

Chris ODecember 29th, 2012 at 3:12 pm

The other possibility is something like an anti-torpedo bulge to add redundant armor spacing to absorb the torpedo. While this would be historically based, you guys would need to come up with reasoning that it works against torpedoes and not shells. Maybe something about armor piercing. Now that I think about it though it may not make any sense since it would have to be a full triple hull over the whole ship rather than just the water line down…

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Van GoghDecember 29th, 2012 at 11:54 pm

I like the idea of an alternative “flak shoot”, perhaps limiting it to the lightest batteries (3”, 75mm, 8.8cm…): this would bring them additional use (see how people would prefer to have them changed for bracketing 4.7” or equivalent), and give additional roles to destroyers, as escorts and torpedoe-catchers.
In-universe, this could be described as a speficic counter to torpedoes, as Air services around the world react to the appearance of Liberté and her sisters.

Savage CoyoteDecember 30th, 2012 at 6:36 am

Really looking foward to this box… hope everything gets sorted out!

Chris ODecember 30th, 2012 at 7:38 am

If Van Gogh and Frischi wouldn’t mind me rolling with this train of thought;

New rule in the Captains Manual called Defensive Fire. Guns of a certain size (assuming you don’t want to make a new icon for it, which would mean only the Germans have it or you have to re-print all the other cards) can choose to fire a flak field instead of firing at a target. This is done immediatly after movement, before torpedo target markers are revealed and instead of firing normally. For each gun making the action, place one flak marker in a single hex within 2 hexes of the ship. Any torpedo which draws line of sight through the flak marker suffers a -1 (or so. PLAYTESTING!) to its breach rolls.

ALTERNATIVELY. Any torpedo drawing LOS through a cloud rolls 1d6 and on a 1 or 2 (or so. PLAYTESTING!) is destroyed.

This way torpedoes, which are unique within the tabletop wargame genre of requiring some real aiming by the player rather than entirely determined by dice rolls, are countered by a similar method that also requires some thought and planning. A ship with only one or two available flak weapons will be forced to choose what vectors he’s protecting from, which leaves more room for player skill on both sides and doesn’t completely neuter the massed torpedo volley. Likewise, destroyers will be able to use their weapons to defend more valuable ships, furthur emphasizing their role as escorts rather than just small, weak ships.

If this method proves too effective you could also say that it requires a crew in that location to switch out the ammunition types or something along those lines.

Wall of text complete.

SeanDDecember 30th, 2012 at 7:57 am

I have a concern overall on the balance between the fleets seeming to depend on the maps being fixed.

Does the balance hold up overall if we use floating maps? Or can the Italians do to the British what they currently do to the Germans?

Still looking forward to the next faction box either way.

Chris ODecember 30th, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Historically speaking, its very hard to defend against “dumb” torpedoes besides manuevering. Ships of the early 20th century experimented with nets hung around the hull to catch the torp before it struck the hull but those were easily countered by putting cutters on the nose of the torpedo.

The solution they ended up coming up with was the “buldge”, essentially a series of alternating air and oil pockets seperated by armor plating that absorbed and dispearsed the blast before it struck the hull. The problem with this in Leviathans is that you would basically have to do this to the entire ship, which just ends up massively increasing the weight of the ship and amplifing the German’s problem. Not to mention the fact that you’d have to create rules to define the different interactions of the armor when struck by shells vs torpedoes.

It would actually be easier to confuse a seeking torpedo, as you can throw out flares or whatnot to break the target lock, but dumb torpedoes don’t leave that option.

Maybe a special crew rule for the chance at a last-second dodge?

Its hard to come up with a real-world equivalent because torpedoes were part of the downfall of the great warships because they can’t be reliably countered and are much cheaper to equip.

Hmmm…. this be a puzzle.

KarasuDecember 30th, 2012 at 4:41 pm

I get the impression that aerial torpedoes are very volatile and unreliable. They are also not protected by the water that naval torpedoes have to move through. This probably makes it easier to shoot them down with small rapid-fire guns. How would I model this?

I can think of two ways: I hereby waive any rights for the use of these idea in Leviathans. (Gee, I’m full of myself).

1 An anti-torpedo defense slot that just plain increases the breach numbers of slots in that location, like armour, but only against torps, also probably +4 or more.

2 An anti-torpedo defense slot that permits any guns with dG or dU short range values to be used defensively. When in a torpedo LoS, roll any appropriate dice and add that to your Breach numbers.

GusDecember 30th, 2012 at 6:03 pm

How can I get new bases for my ships we ave couple craked ones Where can i order? Or am i out of luck

Proteus454December 31st, 2012 at 10:33 am

“Advanced tech”, as I believe was already brought up, could refer to handheld stuff and crew training as well as things like fire control, flak attacks, etc. Perhaps a greater range of functionalities the Germans could squeeze out of the crew slots? Or allow them to act as the also aforementioned “fire control/small things targeting” ability?

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I dont see how you could actually form an intelligent opinion on the subject. Its like you didnt even consider that there me be another side here.

Stormlion1January 1st, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Modify the engines and let them go faster straight ahead. Sort of a rocket assisted boost. Fixes the speed problem and shows German interset in rockets.

Chris OJanuary 2nd, 2013 at 5:54 am

Can we start a vote to add in captcha verification to get rid of the spam bots?

RamcatJanuary 2nd, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Glad to see you’re feeling better Randall!

Trajan KotareJanuary 3rd, 2013 at 4:10 am

Perhaps just eliminating the extra range torpedoes would help, or are the Italians too much the glass cannon to play with normal ranged torpedoes?

Randall BillsJanuary 4th, 2013 at 10:03 am

Wow…go away for a few days and come back to this…absolutely love to see all the discussions and ideas…

Couple of general comments.

1. Yes, that should’ve been 2DRed, not 2D6…been working on a new D6-based miniatures game, so that was stuck in my head.

2. While we could dump the ER torpedoes, I don’t think that’s enough of a fix…it’s ultimately the combination of very slow Germans and crazy maneuverable/heavy torpedo-carrying Italians on a large area that is the ultimate issue…that I think we must deal with.

3. Thanks for the well wishes…much appreciated.

4. No idea how to keep the spambots from hitting here…would love that.

Again, thanks for the great ideas and discussion, guys!

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CavaneJanuary 4th, 2013 at 11:55 am

I would also rather not see the Italians lose some of their distinctiveness because of balance issues in one very specific case. The flak cloud idea seems neat, though it would have to be carefully balanced to not render torpedoes completely ineffective. I think a 7-hex area and a 1-3 chance to destroy the torp is a good idea. Just removing a die is probably too powerful, esp. when the Germans already have thicker armor than most. Also there probably needs to be a minimum range for the cloud, so that players aren’t able to just cover a whole side of their ships with flak.

Chris OJanuary 4th, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Well my thinking was 1 hex of cloud per gun, so max cloud size would depend on the number of guns that can fire the flak. I would also think they have to be within a hex of the gun that fired them

WantecJanuary 8th, 2013 at 11:50 am

The flak idea, either as new equipment or as a special German crew ability is a good idea.

One other idea is to consider downgrading the ER torpedoes from 2dRed to 3dBlue or 2dYellow. This gives you a lower max number (18 for 3dBlue or 16 for 2dYellow) instead of the 20 max for 2dRed and it maintains (11.5 for 3dBlue) or lowers (9 for 2dYellow) the average roll from 2dRed (11). Depending on the breach and armor values of the German ships, this allows them a chance to close the range before the Italians switch to standard or HE torpedoes. If the numbers are high enough the Germans could use their type 4′s and type 3′s to shield their lighter ships from the ER torpedoes.

While this might affect the balance of the Italians with the Brits & French, I think the impact would be minimal. The French are fast enough to close the gap to the point where the Italians would switch to stronger torpedoes. The Brits are slower like the Germans, but their armor and breach numbers are lower than the Germans so the ER torpedoes should cause more damage versus the Brits than the Germans.

UpgrayeddJanuary 8th, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Similar to Stormlion1′s idea, give the Germans a one shot straight ahead speed boost. One burst of double movement to help close the distance could make a big difference. Require they move straight ahead the full amount. Solid fuel rockets that detach after use.

Chris OJanuary 9th, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I think the problem with the rocket idea is that most of the construction techniques in-universe are fairly logical so far as opposed to fantastic (besides the flying ships thing). It doesn’t make sense to attach highly-volatile single-use rockets to the outside of a warship. Not only are you attaching unarmored explosives to the outside of your hull, but you’re giving a vessel that is built to operate away from friendly territory a tool that can only be used once between refits. Usually (baring battle damage) a warship won’t see port for weeks or months.

While the boosters would definitely be “rule of cool” I don’t think it fits the established fiction. Of course I’m not making the game, so who knows.

Atlas3060March 29th, 2013 at 6:41 am

I wonder if its possible to make a flak torpedo specifically designed to “clog” up the airscrews for a short time?

Pop off the torpedo, it causes a cloud for (dice how many turns), and that cloud requires more movement points to go through because of maneuvering or the debris choking up the system for a short time. That way even if the Italians can pop off torps they would need to be careful of placement. The Germans could use the special slow down torp to harass the speed of the Italians until pure German might gets them close enough to bring in the pain.

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