This review is not based on play yet so I’m not sure how it works on the table although I do plan to use it.
I am GM’ing Skull and Shackles and midway through book2 with at least 6 sea ship battles under my belt. Using the rules in the players guide although pretty decent they do tend to be very much a one PC against
the GM. The other players are left twiddling thumbs most of the time. The boards offer a few alternatives in which actions are shared amongst the crew which do work rather well indeed. This book however trumps these ideas in spades.
The combat here is pretty simple, ship movement is better, grapple, ramming and broadsides are more streamlined. I particularly like the Crossing the Boards action (bow spits together, crews jump across for boarding actions). Ship speed is faster then Skull and Shackles though, twice as fast I think and uses 20ft instead of 30ft squares. Ships have a number of hull and rigging locations based on size and height each a 20ft cube, this makes ship combat so much easier as you now have areas to hit, it is also easier (I think) to sink a ship.
In order to use these rules for S&S will mean some conversion work as you will need to re-build the ships to this new system. This is an area that also shines. It’s dead easy, all you need is an idea how the ship will look, the length, width, in feet and whether it has bow or stern castles, how many masts it has and how high and you can build ANY ship in minutes.
Crew are given a good few pages, offering you an alternative to the 1 point of plunder share (each crew member has an allotted daily amount of sp or gp). There is also a loyalty score that helps to avoid a mutiny or a crew routing.
I can’t recommend this book more if you are running any kind of nautical game and is REALLY useful for Skull and Shackles. Every time I read it more ideas just pop in my head.
A stunning piece of work. My only problem is I wish it had been released earlier.