Although a nice idea, there are some shortcomings with the ship cards included in the game. Many of these are fixed by the after market options available, my favourite being Battlewiki’s ship trays. These look amazing and provide all the required functionality, but New Zealand is a long way from Europe and so I wanted to see what I could make myself.
I want my ship cards to present all the required information for each ship that isn’t already shown on the table, along with reference information to make the game friendly to new players. My main requirements are:
- Include sail state tracker.
- Be built with newer players in mind.
- Include information required for advance rules.
- Have room for upgrades and crew information.
- Minimise time spent looking stuff up.
- Be reusable.
Top left of the card features movement information. The sail state marker replaces the wake markers supplied with the game, which look cool but can be fiddly to move and slow down play (basing ships does improve this, but even so make of the YouTube videos I’ve seen on play use alternative sail markers). The sail marker has been designed to use with a magnetic whiteboard pin with a second magnet on the back of the card (see gallery at the bottom of the page)
I’ve included the number of times the ship moves under each sail state as a reference for newer players.
At the bottom is the rate of knots for each player and the turn angle.
Shows the number and type of guns for each position is a similar way to the ship cards. I’ve used colour for the numbers to show the colour of dice used, to help new players quickly select and roll when shooting.
I’ve also included a visual reminder of the gun arcs using the same colours as the templates used with the game.
At the bottom is a box which is used to mark when the initial broadside is used. I’ve seen some after market card holders include markers for the port and starboard broadsides, suggesting each gets an initial broadside bonus, but only the first broadside fired gets the bonus so only a single box is needed.
This area includes the ship class and a signal flag, which matches the 10 types of signal flag included in the game. I attach a single flag to each ship giving me 10 unique ships per model type. Allowing for duplicates of different sides (made unique by the nation flag) this should give enough unique ships for all but he biggest battles.
Below the class and flag is a space to write the ship name. For the famous, unique ships this is already filled in.
The large space below is to write or place upgrade tokens, with a maximum of four upgrades this should be plenty of room. For unique ships the special rules are included here.
At the bottom is space to write the crew quality, as well as the skill test number and boarding to-hit number for that level of crew. Although those numbers are included in the quick reference sheet, having them here can speed up play.
At the bottom of the card is the damage tracker, using the ‘cross off the dots’ style from Battle Tech. Damage should be crossed off left to right, top to bottom.
Ship points are split in into a top and bottom section to show when a ship has taken half damage. This is for the damaged ships advanced rule (the effect of the rule is included on the card as a reminder).
The ship points are also grouped into sets of ten, which makes it a bit clearer to read and is also useful when calculating the number of dice to roll in boarding combat (ship points divided by ten, rounded up)
The break vale of the ship is also marked in red. As soon as you cross off a red damage marker you must make a skill test to strike colours, and repeat at the start of each activation.
Finally, for ships with the sturdy upgrade 20 additional points are included on the right of the card (shown in blue). These should only be used when the ship has the upgrade and make it easy to track the additional ship points (break value is not effected and remains the same but the damage ships rule is effected and shown correctly).
Making the cards
You can download the ship card designs from my public OneDrive folder. I currently only have designs for A4 paper size but will add Letter size and more ship types when time allows.
Each PDF files includes cards for each of the 10 signal flags included in Black Seas.Black Seas OneDrive folder
There’s loads of ways you can use these cards, but I did the following.
- Print out in colour.
- Laminate (using a home laminator)
- Glue to thick card using spray contact adhesive (this works really well on a laminated surface).
- Once dry cut out using a craft knife and ruler.
For the sail tracker I bought some magnetic notice board pins from Amazon and some 8mm x 2mm disk magnets with the card sandwiched between the two magnets. These stick really well but allow you to easily move the pin up and down the tracker.
The above photo shows the HMS victory card in use, having taken 13 points of damage. Note how the dice rolls for crew actions are included on the card reducing the amount of time looking up values in the rulebook or QR sheet. I have also included the specific rules for the named ship in the section where upgrades would be added. As a named ship Victory can’t have the sturdy upgrade so the blue ship points are not included on the card.
BattleKiwi card trays
If you’ve got the money BattleKiwi produce the best looking ship card trays I’ve seen. They contain all the important information and come with really neat features such as embedded magnets to clip each tray together for transport. Due to the exchange rate shipping isn’t actually that bad, but you do want to buy everything you need in one go. I was very close to picking up the Admiral fleet command pack and a couple of fleet command trays for a total of 16 ships.
They also produce a really nice looking wind rose.