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Supplies at Sea [Idea]


Feb 25, 2019
This was an idea I posted in another thread that I thought I could explain in its own thread because I'm curious what people think.
So the idea is called 'Supplies' but you can call it something else, and it applies only to Naval units.

In technical terms, Supplies are basically something you purchase (when constructing your naval unit)
which allows your Naval unit to cross an area of Sea / Ocean.

For example, 1 unit of Supplies on your Galley will allow it to end 1 turn in the Sea, and then the next turn it needs to end on Coast
or it will get Lost at Sea.

Each naval unit has a maximum capacity for Supplies which increases with class of ship / era.
Each class of ship has a water type that it can cross normally without difficulty, a water type that requires Supplies to cross, and a water type it cannot cross.
(eventually your ships will be able to cross all tiles without difficulty)

Supplies on a ship cost extra money when purchasing with Gold, and extra production when building normally.
Ships can resupply for free at Friendly Docks by spending a duration of turns.

These supplies can be 'pillaged' by enemy units who destroy Ships carrying Supplies. (So you can have real Piracy)

Ships with Supplies can have weaknesses for balance reasons (Eg. less Movement or less Combat value)

Supplies can be used for alternative things (so they're not only limited to this specific function):
Eg. Use up one Supply for a quick heal.

The map can be explored earlier into the game at the cost of putting in extra investment.
Certain civilisations could have benefits that allow them to do this without artificially giving them the ability to explore the Oceans for free.
Naval combat becomes much more interesting, when ships can repair themselves mid-battle (but give up their ability to retreat into deep waters, without supplies)
Players will have to manage their game on the high seas, perhaps forcing them to pick off stray survivors to steal supplies and gain money.
There's a lot of modularity in the system, enabling bonuses for extra supplies with certain policies, etc.
Lemme see if I understand this: you want us to have to keep track of some kind of Supply Points for ships? Individual accounting for Supplies per ship per movement per 'water type'?

And Supply ships have a capacity in Supplies/Supply Points that also has to be kept track of?

To quote The Bald Soprano:

"No, No, Four Times No!!!"

Seriously, among the other problems is that the system would only 'kick in' long after the game started. Ancient and Classical Era ships largely supplied themselves without any interference from any higher authority. Galleys put in to shore every night to buy, forage, or hunt food and supplies and the ships like the Trireme and Quadrireme had very limited capacity to carry supplies of any kind. Civilian sailing ships/freighters had very small crews (8 - 30) comparatively, and aside from their Cargo capacity, carried food only for that crew and only for at most a few weeks - a tiny fraction of any Civ Turn. And the capacity of Civilian carriers varied wildly - from 30 - 50 tons in Bronze Age wrecks recovered in the Aegean and Black Seas to 300 tons in the 'typical' Roman cargo carrier to 900 - 1500 tons in the big Roman Grain Carriers plying the North Africa - Rome routes. Later on the variance gets even worse, among the various Medieval and Renaissance shipping ranging from 30 ton capacity Knorrs to 600 ton Treasure Galleons.

Either the system would have to treat all cargo ships as a single type, which makes the whole Naval tech progression a little redundant, or any such system would entail a nightmarish level of record-keeping.
Ahhhhh no no no

What record keeping?
It'd be like a bar on the unit itself.

So, like Charges for Builders.

You would use them up to repair your ship OR they would be used up automatically if your ship crosses Ocean.

This only applies if the ship cannot normally cross Ocean. So they would be able to, if the ship was "supplied" for it.
I am unsure of how beneficial this would be for gameplay, but for realism, this would not be a great design. While supplies did matter at sea, the major limitations against selling out of sight of lands were not supplies, but navigation technique (figuring out ways to determine where you are when all you can see is water) and weather (notably, the inability to seek refuge close to land from a storm).

So unless there is a truly massive gampelay benefit I'd generally lean against this idea.
I would concede on the realism aspect.

I just tried to design something that I thought would make naval combat and exploration more interesting.

If it was all down to navigation, then how did the "early" explorers manage to cross "before their time"
Out of curiosity.

Alternatively, maybe the better course of action to make naval gameplay more interesting is having the ocean actually move ships off course, and you would mitigate that with tech.
They didn't, as a rule. They sailed along coastlines with known landmarks, and used the sun and stars for rudimentary orientation when needed, but both were limited tools. Sometime a ship would be blown off course and on sheer luck find its way home, reporting on new lands sighted, but that was about it. It was all but unheard of for a ship to risk the unknown ocean without knowing where it was going.

By the time great oceanic voyages began in earnest, the navigation tools they needed - portolan charts (13th century), mariner's astrolabes (thirteenth to fifteenth century), dry compasses (in Europe in the fourteenth century) - for navigation out of sight of land had reached them

The first and foremost step to making naval gameplay more interesting is adding prevailing wind/currents to the game as modifiers.
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