Sunday, December 26, 2010

Trafalgar with an iPad

 I decided to get out my 1/2400 Napoleonic fleets and have a go at a game with a twist - I'm using an iPad to track damage of the British fleet and just pen and paper for the French.  The first picture shows all the game supplies one needs to play a game of Trafalgar.  I'll ramble on about the tracking software later on.
 The next picture shows the fleets in there starting positions, with the British in the lower left and the French at the other end of the table.  Both fleets consist of 12 ships eachs - 1 First Rate, 2 Second Rates, 5 3rd Rates, 1 Small 3rd Rate (64 guns) and 3 frigates.  The miniatures are from Figurehead.

 A close up of the British fleet.  The flag ship (HMS Victory) is leading the center column.  My apologies for the rather bland seascape - it's just a blue piece of canvas that hasn't been trimmed for the table top.  While not the best, it does work for a test game.
 First Contact!  As the fleets where closing the wind shifted in the favor of the French which allowed them to close fast and set up long range raking shots from the Austerlitz (1st Rate) and Commerce de Paris (2nd Rate) on the HMS Victory.  Fate was not kind to the Brits as 3 critical hits were rolled and not saved.  The Vicrory's rudder was jammed and she can't change course until she rolls a "6" (on a D6) to repair the damage.
 The Fleets continue to close but the hapless Victory only plows ahead into even more deadly raking fire from the French Heavies.  But all is not lost for our plucky British - their frigate line (top right) is giving the French 74's  something to think about.  A critical hit from the frigate Phoebe has set the Orion (a third rate) on fire.  Apparently, uncontrolled fires on wooden ship stuffed with gunpowder are a bad thing.  The Phoebe did pay a price as she lost her foremast in the exchange and will be significantly slower.  How does the battle turn out?  Well you must wait for a second post....
 The real goal of the game was to play around with using an iPad as a game tool.  The picture to the left shows an individual ship's damage sheet (in this case the Victory).  Each ship has a similar page.
The neat thing about tracking electronically is that individual ship data can feed into a summary listing so a player can get a good understanding of his fleet status at a glance.  The formating is crude as it's just a prototype but I think there is real promise here with the technology.  I'm just using a spreadsheet now but it works.

As far as practicality, using a electronic tracking form is likely more trouble than it's worth if there are only a handful of ship per side (say 2 or 3 each).  It becomes incredibly useful when playing large fleet actions where one can become confused easily.  I've also tested a version that sends it data to a third party (game umpire).  One of the side benefit of using this approach is that players can send out fleet lists before a battle and allow players to get a good understanding of the forces - that saves time on game day which leads to more game time vs set up time.

I'll be doing some more prototyping over the Christmas holiday and hopefully will refine the tool so it can be used for multiple game formats.  I'll be trying Uncharted Seas next.

I would be very interested in anyones thoughts on how to improve the concept of electronic tracking or other ideas for how to use an iPad with gaming.


Beccas said...

Very interesting. Probably in the next couple of years everyone will be using ipads in wargaming.

Misternizz said...

You are on to something here, sir. The more I look at an Ipad, the more I think this might be the solution for me.

Henry said...

Hey, sorry to resurrect an old thread. But was hoping to get some more info re your Ipad technique and how I could replicate it or whether you can export it to me in an email