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We were playing the Days of Wonder game Pirate's Cove earlier this evening; it's a lot of fun but the rules aren't exactly watertight, and more than once I felt there was considerable ambiguity in how they should be interpreted. Here's one that I remember:

  • You play the battle card that gives you a bonus of +6 to your Sails, when your Sails are the weakest aspect of your ship. Does this bonus only extend as far as letting you fire first in combat, i.e. if you get hit on your sails a couple of times are you still out for the count? Or do you have to be hit six extra times to be eliminated? I suspect the answer is the former, but as I've narrowly lost the game at least once because my Sails got speedily knocked down despite receiving the bonus from this card, I'd love to find out that the latter was true!
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By the way, after seeing this and your other Pirate's Cove questions, I thought to myself, "those were good questions. I wonder what other questions thesunneversets has asked." Lo and behold, I find that you've asked lots of the questions I've recently enjoyed. So, thank you for your great questions! –  Firefeather Feb 15 '11 at 20:20
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No, thank you for your great comments! ;) –  thesunneversets Feb 15 '11 at 20:38
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4 Answers 4

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Sails aren't strengthened; this doesn't work in the representation of the theme.

Days of Wonder games attempt to do a good job matching the rules to the game's theme. I can see Blow me down! thematically as having an advantageous positioning for the wind. I can also see the Parrot and Mastercraft cards' thematic workings. However, it doesn't make sense that sails would suddenly, and temporarily, become harder to damage in a combat.

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I've given several answers so each argument can be evaluated on its own. Each answer is a separate argument for why I believe the Blow me down! card does not make your sails stronger (i.e., doesn't give the sails any more hits before your ship is disabled). –  Firefeather Feb 15 '11 at 18:43
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This is my favourite answer I think. I can imagine a favourable wind giving you a temporary speed boost, but it's harder to imagine a spring-loaded surprise mast with reinforced sails popping up out of nowhere, Monty Python-style! –  thesunneversets Feb 15 '11 at 20:42
    
@thesunneversets: I think it's awesome that this is your favorite answer, because I'm a rules nazi and liked my deck composition answer the best. (Also, that answer is the one that would be most likely to sway my typical gaming companions.) I hadn't expected that you'd like this one the best! It's a good reminder that one approach won't resolve all disagreements about rules for all people. –  Firefeather Feb 15 '11 at 20:53
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Sails aren't strengthened; how would you track hits?

Because Blow me down! is a Battle card, it lasts only for the duration of the battle. Damage to any of the ship's sections is represented physically (e.g., moving a ring, turning a card sideways). Likewise, the results of repair/upgrade are represented physically and they require discarding a payment (e.g., gold, the Going on the account event card). If it made your sails temporarily able to take six more hits, how would that be represented without losing track of your sails' real strength?

(Note: This argument is weakened by the fact that the answer, "the same way as you'd track the legendary pirates' hull," is quite a reasonable counter-argument.)

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I've given several answers so each argument can be evaluated on its own. Each answer is a separate argument for why I believe the Blow me down! card does not make your sails stronger (i.e., doesn't give the sails any more hits before your ship is disabled). –  Firefeather Feb 15 '11 at 18:39
    
As you say in your note. You can mark hits on both Mastercraft Cards and Parrots by tapping them. You can mark hits on pirate hulls with counters. There are many ways of tracking hits in Pirate's Cove without moving the rings: all we need here is a bit of creative interpretation! –  thesunneversets Feb 15 '11 at 19:43
    
@thesunneversets: Very true. I think this is the weakest of my arguments. I still included it because (1) Legendary pirates are the only counter-example, and (2) Even in the case of legendary pirates, you're never expected to use stuff like counters to represent hits on an upgradeable part—legendary pirates just return to full strength after battle, AFAIK. –  Firefeather Feb 15 '11 at 20:10
    
This argument is the one that made me think, "I should probably split these into separate answers." I didn't want other arguments ignored because of this argument's weakness. –  Firefeather Feb 15 '11 at 20:49
    
It may be relevant to note that, regarding Parrot cards, the rules state: "If a parrot is hurt during battle but survives to victory or flees alive to Pirate’s Cove, it will automatically heal its wound. Put its card back in its initial upward position during the Upgrade phase." –  Firefeather Feb 22 '11 at 19:52
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Sails aren't strengthened; the deck composition would be different.

There are already cards that add strength to sections of the ship (Parrot cards and the Mastercraft card). These come with a cost for losing that additional strength; why would Blow me down! strengthen your sails without a cost? Why would a card strengthening only sails be needed in addition to these cards? Wouldn't the rules also make it clear which card takes damage if you had Blow me down! in addition to a Mastercraft on sails, or Squire Trelawney’s Parrot (who is "equipped" to the sails)?

Also, if Blow me down! was intended to absorb hits on the sails, why aren't there similar cards for cannons or crew (or hull, for that matter)? Perhaps a Battle card stating "For the rest of this battle, your cannons and crew each have a bonus of +2".

On the other hand, the Grapple attack card increases your ability to damage a ship, without increasing the strength (against damage) of crew or cannons. I'd say a similar effect is intended for Blow me down!.

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I've given several answers so each argument can be evaluated on its own. Each answer is a separate argument for why I believe the Blow me down! card does not make your sails stronger (i.e., doesn't give the sails any more hits before your ship is disabled). –  Firefeather Feb 15 '11 at 18:41
    
Who knows why the deck is composed as it is? I can think of all sorts of cards that could be in it, but aren't. The fact is, this card says it gives a +6 bonus to your Sails. It doesn't say "for the purposes of determining battle initiative, treat your Sails as though they were 6 higher than they were"... that would be way too clear! –  thesunneversets Feb 15 '11 at 19:46
    
@thesunneversets: LOL. I wish it didn't have to be that wordy (or legalese-like) to be that clear. But if that were the case, we wouldn't have this problem, would we? :) I guess the assumption here is that the deck was composed the way it was for a reason—and my answer explains what I would think the game designer's reasoning would be. –  Firefeather Feb 15 '11 at 20:15
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Sails aren't strengthened; it doesn't make sense with the game's RPG-like mechanics.

I haven't played many role playing games (I'm not meaning RPG video games here—I'm referring to stuff like Dungeons and Dragons), but I think I know enough about them for this argument. Pirate's Cove shares several mechanics with RPG gaming, so I'd expect the terminology to have a similar meaning.

The rules describe Blow me down! in this way: "For the rest of this battle, your sail has a bonus of +6." It seems to me that RPGs use terminology like "+6 bonus" to represent an additive benefit to only one specified attribute of a character. For example (and correct me if I'm wrong!), if I had a +2 speed bonus from equipping certain shoes (making me run faster), it wouldn't necessarily mean it's harder for my character to hurt his/her foot or that the shoes are harder to break. Similarly, I'd expect Blow me down! to mean I'm getting a +6 speed or initiative bonus without implying a +6 defense bonus on my sails.

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I've given several answers so each argument can be evaluated on its own. Each answer is a separate argument for why I believe the Blow me down! card does not make your sails stronger (i.e., doesn't give the sails any more hits before your ship is disabled). –  Firefeather Feb 15 '11 at 18:44
    
I don't really agree with this one - in Pirate's Cove, when you increase your Sails score, you increase both your ship's speed and your ship's ability to take damage to the sails and not be crippled. Why would a temporary boost (without additional clarification on the card) necessarily increase one aspect and not the other? –  thesunneversets Feb 15 '11 at 19:41
    
@thesunneversets: Fair enough, but I'd say that's because moving the ring up is called upgrading and not a bonus. I'm not sure if any RPG systems use the verb upgrade to describe the process, but it seems to be pretty much the same as level up. So I'd say the mechanics still match up. –  Firefeather Feb 15 '11 at 20:02
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