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Re: strike the colors rule

From: agoodall@c...
Date: 2 Jan 2001 15:28:30 -0800
Subject: Re: strike the colors rule

On Tue, 02 January 2001, wrote:

> No, no, a thousand times no. I hate this rule. This is not the 
> wooden ships and iron men era. How many ships "struck their colors" in
WW1 & 
> WW2?

The flip side of the question is how many times in World War II did two
fleets meet where both sides lost all of their escort craft and all but
one or two capital ships? This is pretty common in FT pick-up games.

The problem with any naval wargame is that players will play to the last
ship. Losing a ship is less important than losing a scenario. If there
is the slightest chance that a ship will do major damage to the enemy,
even though it means certain destruction for the ship, the player takes
it. There is no reason not to. Losing the scenario with 10 ships
destroyed is no different -- in players' minds -- to losing a scenario
with 100 ships destroyed... they still lost. The tactical game doesn't
take into account the importance, and rarity, of the ships as strategic

This is true of naval games and sci fi starship games. I've seen it
argued that the only way to properly play naval games is as part of a
strategic campaign. That's the only time you see players try to protect
ships during a losing battle. It's the only time you see both players
willingly disengage after having dealt and received what many in FT
would consider minor damage.

The "strike the colours" rule tries to bring this sort of situation into
play by not letting players waste their ships. It's essentially a morale
rule. It's the same reason Stargrunt players aren't allowed to waste
their squads to the last man (though the morale rules are too forgiving

I've used the rules in one shot games and I don't mind them. It helps
simulate "the big picture". Perhaps more of a SG2 type of rule is
needed, though, with differing motivation rules. 

Certainly ships shouldn't surrender during a "last ditch attempt to save
Earth" scenario. On the other hand, a squadron commander should be shot
if he loses all of his destroyers to a chance encounter with a
battlecruiser on a simple patrol mission. In the FT tournaments I've
helped run, a ship loses after half of the fleet is destroyed -- points
wise -- which essentially mimics a "we've lost too many ships, time to
bolt!" situation. Still, in "real life" most of those fleets should have
left MUCH sooner than before half the fleet is destroyed.

Allan Goodall -
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