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Part I in this series can be found here.
Last time, we looked at how Under the Southern Cross (USC) deals with shoals and sandbars in the various river battles included among the almost two-dozen scenarios of the game. In this installment, we’ll see how river and tidal currents are modeled and how the rules for gunboats have been refined, and in so doing, try to give interested gamers an insight into the design process.
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Designing a game that is part of an established and well-liked series such as Mike Nagel’s Flying Colors (FC) requires a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, the setting for Volume IV requires some special handling: river shoals and sand bars, the preponderance of small vessels like gunboats and schooners, and some of the unusual tactics historically employed such as towing heavier warships by their own boats through shallow waters and over shoals require some special handling. At the same time, continuity with the other games in the series, keeping the flow of play and the “feel” of the FC system, means that any changes have to be very carefully considered and approached with caution.
The Flying Colors series of tactical naval games, designed by Mike Nagel, has proven to be not only popular, but very flexible in simulating a variety of naval actions from the age of sail. Followers of the series have seen fleet actions in the Atlantic and Mediterranean between the great European fleets of Great Britain, France and Spain, fought battles off the coast of India, in the Great Lakes of North America, and even in the Baltic and Black Seas. Volume IV: Under the Southern Cross (USC) promises an entirely new set of challenges as the scene of action shifts to the rocky Pacific coast and the expansive river systems of South America.