Now that we've thawed out, I thought I would debrief a bit and share some thoughts on both the outdoor gaming experience and the Fletcher Pratt combat system.
As a reminder, three of us set us set out on a cold blustery fall day to play with toy ships in the park. Details can be found at my earlier post, and Sylvain's post over at Curt's blog. For the record I should add that Sylvain used General Quarters for damage allocation, but allocated hits by the Fletcher Pratt ranging guessing method.
- Playing in real scale really felt nice. Curt and I were hitting at 30 feet or 12,000 yards. It really put things into perspective.
- We did really appreciate the need to maneuver your ships in a way to help your gunners. I've seen some naval games where the maneuvers are so intricate, the ships' tracks look like modern art. Try that with FP range guessing and your messing with yourself as much as (or more than) your messing with your opponent.
- The FP range guessing does reward skill (but not tactical skill - see below).
- The combat results did have a "morale" impact on players. If you opponent is hammering you and you're not able to range in, it is very easy to get panicky and flustered.
- It got us out in the (very) fresh air, which my better half tells me is a good thing.
- It was fun and forced us to think differently (I found myself estimating ranges in "Sylvains" at one point).
- It amused the heck out of my family members!
- The range guessing is (literally) hit or miss, all or nothing. More over, once you've ranged in it's reasonably easy to keep ranging on. I know it is skill and judgement based, but it actually felt more like luck than anything else.
- I would rather blame the dice than blame my eyesight! To paraphrase Homer Simpson "Weaseling out of responsibility is what separates us from the animals". More scientifically, when you roll badly, you know that the odds favour you making it up sometime in the future with a good dice roll. When you can't find the range, the odds are that you'll keep on missing.
- It rewards physical skills over mental ability - and I speak as someone with excellent long range vision and depth perception. I thought that I endured junior high school gym class so that I wouldn't need to be judged this way an adult!!
- It gives the wrong level of command. I want to be a ship captain or an admiral, not a gunnery officer. And I certainly shouldn't be acting as both. I prefer game systems where you have mechanism to account for the actions of your subordinates and let you focus on command decisions at the appropriate level. The technical term for these mechanisms is dice and combat tables!