A Storm on Cobas Haven epic multiplayer adaption

Welcome to the internet home for A Storm on Cobas Haven epic multiplayer mode, a fan adaption! If you’re looking for a massive Middle Earth naval battle, you’ve come to the right place. Dol Amroth is in trouble. It’s going to take some real sailing prowess and teamwork to save it, all while the corsair Captain Sahir is escaping. There’s no time to waste…prepare your fleet!!

All the files for this can be found here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1-1Mnr6RxzxYz3RH8mTbL9b1kEQfhEkNV. This includes the .txt files you need to load up in DragnCards to play there, one for each different stage, as well as card images in both regular and printable versions.

For a direct link to printing on makeplayingcards.com, click here.

Design Notes

At the start of Covid, the whole world was looking for ways to continue interacting with each other while stuck inside. For the many in the Lord of the Rings community, this meant playing together online. Epic Multiplayer games had never been attempted online before, but what better time than right then? We played through them, had a blast, and when we came to an end, I was sad there weren’t more of them. With so much free time on our hands, I began to wonder if it might be possible to make more of them. They each used the same physical deck…just the quest cards were different, and there were some extra rules for interacting with each other. Couldn’t someone take a different quest that was well-loved, switch up the quest cards for it, make a few new rules, and turn it into an epic multiplayer quest? It seemed plausible, if daunting, but a team of three of us set out to try and make it happen.

We picked A Storm on Cobas Haven because it was a fun and challenging quest with a story big enough to fit more roles into. If Dol Amroth was besieged, wouldn’t they call out for help? Who would come? And thus, we have three stages, the defenders at Dol Amroth themselves and the two different teams coming from a distance away to help. They’ve got to arrive fast enough to keep the defenders from being overwhelmed and to help gain control of the battle. That’s a solid story, and to make it work from a design perspective, it meant we had to do something different than we had seen done before.

Our three stages are NOT intended to be equal in difficulty. The Raider Flagship starts out at Dol Amroth and spits out an extra ship each round (or 2 with four players!), making it nearly impossible to keep up. The team that starts at Dol Amroth is mainly just trying to stay alive until help comes, and the longer that takes, the more trouble they are in. In the normal version of this quest, one of the best strategies for winning is to turtle on stage 1, but in our version, if the two teams coming to the rescue dawdle, it can have potentially deadly consequences for the team at Dol Amroth. So by placing high pressure on one team, we are forcing the other two to react and move faster than they might be comfortable with. 

Once they do arrive in the bay to help out, that’s where the fun truly begins. This is a naval battle, so why can’t ships move around from stage to stage? We went through several versions of rules for this kind of movement but wound up with a system I’m pretty proud of. If the players want to move a non-unique ship from one team to another, all it costs is that ship’s action that round (while it sails over there). Ship actions are precious, valuable commodities, as they have strong stats and are the only option to defend against ship enemies, so losing that round hurts. Alternatively, you can exhaust a ship you control to engage an enemy ship from a different team’s staging area to help them out. In playtesting, there were several times where one team chose to do this even though it would mean an undefended attack to help out another overwhelmed team.

If enough help arrives and the Tower objectives are all under the player’s control, the battle turns. One team will make a break for it, trying to chase down Captain Sahir. The Corsairs’ real goal here was to cover Sahir’s escape and try to catch Dol Amroth off guard, but now that the full fleet has arrived they are outnumbered and try to retreat. One team has to try to quest out for the win, but with corsair ships from each stage chasing them. They are trying to outrun these ships, so no optional engagement is possible, but they’ll have to stay on course and move quickly to outrace the speedy corsairs.

Meanwhile, the other two teams are trying to sink as many of the corsairs as they can. Each corsair ship they DON’T engage is going to slip away, going to the staging area of the team trying to quest out, but each one they do engage is going to fight to the bitter end. Before, when you dealt with a ship enemy, those ships kept some of their crew back to sail the ship while the others boarded you, but now that you are boarding them, even the ship’s cook has a knife and is fighting for his life. 

I love a good challenge and had a blast playtesting this with my fellow designers. We would each take a stage, two of our best decks, and go to WAR against this. I remember the first time I tried to handle stage 1A on my own, finding myself overrun from the start and only surviving because I had traveled to Cobas Haven and couldn’t clear it in subsequent rounds. At the end of each round, I’d meet with the other teams and tell them something like, “I’m still alive, but I’m not sure how. There are six ships in my staging area. GET OVER HERE AND HELP ME!!!!!” It was beautifully tense.

We shared this with the community in the summer of 2020 in a big Youtube event, but then it basically disappeared after that. I got distracted by my next project (Helm’s Deep!) and never got around to what I’m doing now, giving it an internet home where people can find it and play it. And that big internet event didn’t show it off very well, as we had never tested it at four players per team and didn’t realize how much easier that made it. (Plus, we kept it a big secret, and those players were afraid of whatever surprises I might throw at them and thus built some VERY strong fellowships. We have since tweaked a few things to make it tougher with more players, but the quest as a whole is just easier the more players you have.) So for most of the community, this project is either unknown or forgotten and certainly hardly played.

You can find the files for either printing it off for yourself or playing it on DragnCards in the Google drive link above, and I really hope you do. There will also be a fully playable copy up front at Con of the Rings 2021 that you can borrow and play there. You can play it with two, three, or four players per team, but for those of you who love a challenge, I highly recommend trying it with teams of two. Give it a try, and let me know how it goes!

Youtube playthroughs

These are all from the first time it was shared publicly. The event went quite long, but Card Talk’s game had the most action if you watch just one.

5 thoughts on “A Storm on Cobas Haven epic multiplayer adaption

    1. Whoops! Looks like I had the wrong link in there. Go ahead and try it now. The printable images should be in the “Printable Cards” folder.

      Liked by 1 person

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