A year or two ago I had my nieces & nephews over (I think it was a birthday party) and at one point the kids all went downstairs to play with my figures. If you told me ten years ago that I’d let any kids handle my figures, I’d have laughed myself apoplectic, but I guess I’ve mellowed. The oldest came up with some rules for playing a ships & sea monsters game, and wrote down some notes titled Ships ‘n’ ships, but it was nothing I could quite figure out.
Out of the blue a couple of months ago, my daughter wanted to break out the ships again, and seemed to suddenly have a lot of recall about what the rules were (much more than she remembered the morning after the original game; go figure). From her memories and my interpolations, we came up with a workable if somewhat simple game that engaged all my Man-o-War ships (well, the less breakable ones, and a bunch of card ships I’d been hoarding) as well as the sea monsters. The goal of the game was to land on an island with a lighthouse, that was guarded by two vampires; defeat the vampires and you win. Along the way you might be attacked by sea monsters and sunk and/or capture additional ships.
The original game had most of the players running ships and one player serving as the adversary (” the Merpeople”) who controls the sea monsters, but for two players I suggested we just take turns moving the sea monsters, so that it played a bit like Zombies!!!
We used a large blue battle mat one of my players brought over for D&D, and that was the board; wargame hills served as the starting island and goal island; the lighthouse is from a decoration; a few small islands were marked with flat cards.
We set up with the two player ships touching the ‘start’ island, and all the ghost ships and sea monsters were off-board until placed.
The turn sequence was:
- Move your ship (or 1 of your ships if you have more than one)
- Place or move a ghost ship
- place or move a sea monster
If your ship comes in contact with a small island, it can beach there and be safe from sea monsters. If it comes in contact with the lighthouse island, you have to fight the two vampires in succession (one per turn) to win. If your ship contacts a ghost ship, you claim it for your fleet. If a sea monster contacts your ship, you have to fight it. If you contact another player’s ship, you can fight it as well.
Sea monsters and ghost ships may be taken from the ‘reserve’ pile and placed anywhere on the board, but they must be at least 9 squares away from any player’s ship(s). If there are none left in the reserve piles, you can only move ships or monsters already in play.
All movement is d6 squares, except that the sea monsters that take up more than one square can always move at least their base’s length.
Combat is just a roll-off of d6’s (high roll wins; re-roll ties). Defeated player ships are returned to the start island or to the stock of ghost ships; defeated monsters go to the sea monster pile; defeated vampires are just removed from play.
A game took 15-20 minutes, and was actually pretty fun in a simplistic way. Maybe some day we’ll add event cards to spice things up.
For want of other entertainment, I uploaded the above picture to Google Drive and inserted the rules in some text boxes and voila, a one-page minis game. I’d LOVE to see more games like that which
- fit on one sheet of paper
- are suitable for playing with young kids
- use a picture of a set up game to provide examples/diagrams/explain the rules
I don’t know if there would be enough interest to do this properly but what I’d like to see is a one page game contest or something. Any takers? Surely you can do a better job than this: Ships’n’ships (link is to pdf file).