As those of you who have read my reviews of Dreadfleet will know, I wasn’t entirely impressed by the rules. The models are well made, the mat looks great and the rulebook is very pretty, but the game itself? Well, that’s way too random and way too long for my taste.
So, I have a very expensive box of nice models sitting about not likely to do anything but gather dust. I could just stick it on Ebay and have done with it, and I was sorely tempted when I played it. Well I never got round to that, and now I’m curious. Instead of just binning it, can I tweak the rules a bit and get a game I like?
I like naval games, and have quite a few. Individually, most of the rules in Dreadfleet are fine and are often “industry standard” – it’s just the whole ensemble that doesn’t work. I don’t have either the time or the inclination to start from scratch, so I decided on a brief for my project:
- Don’t change the background – that’s fine already.
- Keep as many of the original stats and rules as possible.
- New rules should be kept to a minimum.
- New rules have to fit with the story and existing rules.
I also defined my aims for this so that I could tell if I’d succeeded or not:
- Player skill needs to play a bigger role than randomness in deciding the winner.
- Playing time can be no more than 2 hours maximum for a 10 ship game and 90 minutes would be much better.
Having defined some parameters to play within, I came up with some ideas, and when GloatingSwine came over at the weekend we gave it a go. He had loads more thoughts, and between us we bashed together some house rules that form a pretty good starting point. It’s not perfect after one scrap, but it’s proof of concept, and as he put it “there is a game there now”.
I’ll tell you more about the house rules and what happened next time, but for now have this one morsel: we played the same 10 ship scenario that took Bob and I 4 hours last time (and that was after we’d played the first scenario and knew the rules a bit). GloatingSwine had never played before and I’d not played since October. We fought the game to a conclusion in 90 minutes.