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Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients» Forums » Variants

Subject: More dynamic monster AI rss

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Colin Manning
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So I was thinking of ways to make combat a little more dynamic rather than bottleneck and shoot. I know that there are arguments to just not bottleneck but as a player, I would rather react differently than force myself to act differently. I came up with slight tweaks to most of the monsters. I haven't playtested these yet so I'm looking for advice or critique on what I should change if anyone notices anything glaringly unbalanced or has a better suggestion. Some of this has been pulled from other threads on this forum.

Large and Extra Large monsters can push past Heroes as well as smaller monsters. This may require an agility check. 3+ for Large/5+for Extra Large.

Large and Extra Large monsters block line of sight for all ranged attacks.

Void Spiders can wall crawl. The can move past heroes and other monsters. Must be able to get to an empty space. They can crawl on walls but not hang out on the wall for a turn and cannot displace other monsters. Getting on and off wall takes a movement so they can only move up 4 spaces with their base movement of 6.

Tentacles can throw heroes on a roll of 2 6’s. Heroes are thrown back 1d6 spaces away from the tentacle. Monsters and other heroes stop thrown movement, with both thrown hero and the stopper taking 1d3 damage if the monster is small or medium. If the hero is thrown into a wall, they take 1d6 damage. (I haven't decided if this would replace the regular damage for that tentacle's attack, if it did, I would probably make it so there's no save)

Stranglers can reach to 2 spaces in front of them and pull heroes toward them. If there is a monster between a hero and the strangler, the strangler rolls a die and on a 6 pulls the hero forward displacing the other monster. (They'd swap places with the hero) Excludes when the middle monster is also a strangler. Line of sight blocked by large or XL monsters.

Night Terrors target whoever hit them last for the most damage. (I.e. if multiple people hit in the same turn, whoever did the most damage, if the damage is tied, attack the target currently engaged if it is one of the damage dealers, if it wasn't the currently engaged target, attack the closer target)

Slashers target the hero with the most Dark Stone.

Hungry dead get no special rules. If any monster would shamble in line waiting to attack the heroes 2 at a time, it’s the zombies.

I haven't come up with anything for Harbinger or Goliath yet.
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kell zilla
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Both Harbinger and Goliath push smaller monsters out of the way and are both allowed to "overflow" out of the sides of the rooms. Goliath attacks every hero in a three-square radius. Harbinger flies. I don't think they need special anti-bottleneck rules.
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Sebastian Bludd
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Skullzbass wrote:
Large and Extra Large monsters can push past Heroes as well as smaller monsters. This may require an agility check. 3+ for Large/5+for Extra Large.

Large and Extra Large monsters block line of sight for all ranged attacks.


These two look fun, and at first I would just test the first variant without the agility check to see how it works.

Skullzbass wrote:
Void Spiders can wall crawl. The can move past heroes and other monsters. Must be able to get to an empty space. They can crawl on walls but not hang out on the wall for a turn and cannot displace other monsters. Getting on and off wall takes a movement so they can only move up 4 spaces with their base movement of 6.


I like this one, too, but I'd first try it without the movement penalty. That way they could more easily reach straggling heroes and clear up spaces for other monsters.

Skullzbass wrote:
Tentacles can throw heroes on a roll of 2 6’s. Heroes are thrown back 1d6 spaces away from the tentacle. Monsters and other heroes stop thrown movement, with both thrown hero and the stopper taking 1d3 damage if the monster is small or medium. If the hero is thrown into a wall, they take 1d6 damage. (I haven't decided if this would replace the regular damage for that tentacle's attack, if it did, I would probably make it so there's no save)


I think this one could be greatly simplified. One idea is to have the Tentacles move a hero if its attack wounds them. It would be similar to the Void Spider power (or is it the Ancient Spiders from Targa?) that reduces a hero's To Hit for their next turn if the Ancient Spider inflicts a wound. Maybe start with something like, "If a Tentacle's attack wounds a hero use the Dynamite template to move that hero one space. If the hero is unable to be moved to the chosen space that hero takes an additional wound ignoring defense."

Skullzbass wrote:
Stranglers can reach to 2 spaces in front of them and pull heroes toward them. If there is a monster between a hero and the strangler, the strangler rolls a die and on a 6 pulls the hero forward displacing the other monster. (They'd swap places with the hero) Excludes when the middle monster is also a strangler. Line of sight blocked by large or XL monsters.


I'd change this one to be based on damage inflicted, like the Tentacle example above. Something like, "Stranglers can attack a hero up to 2 spaces away. If the Strangler inflicts a wound on a hero, it moves the hero to an empty space that is adjacent to the Strangler and as far away from the hero's starting space as possible."
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Adam Harrison
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I second the "if the attack wounds, then do this special thing" dynamic.

And for the stranglers, simply say that the hero is pulled one square closer to the strangler.

By the way, I'm totally going to try both the tentacle knocks hero on a wound and strangers have reach and drag on a would. They sound great!
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Sebastian Bludd
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bjorn2bwild wrote:
I second the "if the attack wounds, then do this special thing" dynamic.


I think that will work well for Tentacles (who crit on 6's) and Stranglers (who do 3 hits per 6 rolled for their To Hit), but I don't know if it will be too infrequent for other enemy types.

bjorn2bwild wrote:
And for the stranglers, simply say that the hero is pulled one square closer to the strangler.


Except the hero might still be relatively safe with few spots where the enemies can get to him/her. I worded it the way I did so that the Strangler can reach over, lift up the hero, and plop them in the middle of the room to be swarmed. devil
 
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Robert Clark
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I'm not sure I get what you mean with the agility rolls. Monsters don't have agility, so it must be the heroes that are rolling, but what happens if they succeed/fail. Do they take damage (or something strange) if they fail or does the more through fail if they succeed?

Higher agility heroes having a better chance of stopping the big guys seems backwards - that seems more the job of strength (at least thematically speaking).
 
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Orion Free
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I'm working on a system to make the extra large enemies (Goliath and Harbinger right now) more dynamic and challenging for max level players. You can see parts of it here - http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1292443/rise-infernals

If you have any ideas for it, or if it can inspire you with some ideas of your own, that would be great
 
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John Paul Sodusta
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orionstein wrote:
I'm working on a system to make the extra large enemies (Goliath and Harbinger right now) more dynamic and challenging for max level players. You can see parts of it here - http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1292443/rise-infernals

If you have any ideas for it, or if it can inspire you with some ideas of your own, that would be great


I was concocting something similar and was going to play test before posting but will post here just to help brainstorm.

I think having the additional disruptive action from the monster after a wound might be to debilitating. The hero got smacked around but now they also are going to get swarmed with no way of getting back to their posse? That is too harsh I think.

My take on the whole thing is to give the monsters abilities that were not able to attack that turn.

Strangler Pull
Stranglers has a "Pull" ability which enables him to pull Heroes up to 2 squares away to a square adjacent from the Strangler. This ability is only used by the Stranglers when they are not using their regular attack. "Pull" is a melee attack with a range of 2. It is 1 combat die using the same To Hit Roll (+3). Heroes can use their Defense to negate the "Pull". When the "Pull" is successful, the Hero is moved to a square adjacent to the Strangler as far away from the Hero's initial square. Other monsters will make room for pulled-in Hero.

Tentacle Throw
Stranglers has a "Throw" ability which enables them to throw other Medium monsters at the Heroes. This has infinite range. This is only used when the Tentacle cannot use their regular attack. The Tentacle attempts to throw a random adjacent monster by rolling 1 die using his To Hit Roll to determine success. The Tentacle will always target the furthest hero. If the throw is successful, the hero is moved to make room for the thrown monster. The hero will then use their defense to see if they were hit by the thrown monster or not. The throw deals 2 damage to both monster and Hero. Enemy defense can mitigate this 2 damage.

Flash Update
To help the Heroes with this increased monster power, the Side Token On top of Flash's ability to reduce Monster's initiative, Heroes have +3 on Escape Tests and can move through Monsters. This makes Flash a lot more powerful which gives Heroes more delicious choices.

These are used with rules:

Large+ enemies may displace and move through Heroes (No checks)

Void Spiders can climb walls (no movement penalty).

Let me know what you think.
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Trent Boardgamer
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Interesting idea's. I wonder whether some of the wave 2 expansions will include these types of variances as part of the standard rule set?

I hope so.
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Elliott Harding
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I like the idea of tentacles throwing hero's around using the dynamite rules and template. And if the hero ends up thrown into a group of figures, he takes the spot and the figures scatter around him like being tossed into a crowd.
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Philip Jelley
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Wouldn't it be simpler to just give the Stranglers a ranged attack?

Range - 2

Shots - 2

Damage - 1

To Hit 4+

Alternatively, give them Flailing Tentacles (2) like the Golaith; roll a 2 Combat attack against every hero within two spaces.

Philip
 
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Philip Jelley
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Another thought is to -1 to all your Hold Back the Darkness 2D6s, giving you less time to gather up the group into bottlenecks in the first place.

Philip
 
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John Paul Sodusta
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Philip Jelley wrote:
Wouldn't it be simpler to just give the Stranglers a ranged attack?

Range - 2

Shots - 2

Damage - 1

To Hit 4+

Alternatively, give them Flailing Tentacles (2) like the Golaith; roll a 2 Combat attack against every hero within two spaces.

Philip


Yes, that would be simpler but it doesn't achieve the goal for disrupting the bottlenecking. Giving the Stranglers ranged attack just increases the number of monsters effectively attacking the Heroes. My goal for the Stranglers pulling is to discrupt the bottlenecking by moving the Heroes to where they don't want to be. They now have to decide what they have to do. Stay and fight wherever he got pulled, or try to run back to the safety of the bottleneck/posse.
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Emivaldo Sousa
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The key to solve the problem is line of sight.

The absence of cover means we do not need to maneuver to protect. The absence of obstructions means we do not need to maneuver to attack.

I have to play more to see, but I am tempted to simply say that you have a -1 penalty to the to hit rolls for each figure in the way (friend or foe). This would create the motivation to maneuver, but you would sometimes not do so in order to maintain a defensive formation.

I guess that the main issue is that most monsters swarm the heroes on the first turn and there is no time nor space to maneuver, so FFP ditched any reason to do so.

With a more variable initiative system there would be no problem, though.
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John Paul Sodusta
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zinho73 wrote:
I have to play more to see, but I am tempted to simply say that you have a -1 penalty to the to hit rolls for each figure in the way (friend or foe). This would create the motivation to maneuver, but you would sometimes not do so in order to maintain a defensive formation.


This is intriguing. It is a simple rule that can have significant impact. Please tell us how it goes.

Quote:
I guess that the main issue is that most monsters swarm the heroes on the first turn and there is no time nor space to maneuver, so FFP ditched any reason to do so.


This is the reason why there is limited tactics in combat. Since you are swarmed by so many monsters at once, you HAVE to bottleneck and have your back be covered by your allies to not just get destroyed. It is natural. Same thing would happen in real life.

If you want to increase the tactics in the game, you'd want to reduce the monster spawn rate and just make them a lot stronger. This gives you ability to perform actions that would set-up for higher damage and higher defense, thus increasing tactics in the game. This would require an overhaul.

Quote:
With a more variable initiative system there would be no problem, though.


I am curious why you think this would increase tactics in the game.
 
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Emivaldo Sousa
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Barkam wrote:
[q="zinho73"]

Quote:
With a more variable initiative system there would be no problem, though.


I am curious why you think this would increase tactics in the game.


Saying that would be no problem is a hyperbole , but it would help.

If heroes like the gunslinger acted last sometimes it would create the need to change formation and tactics a bit. The bottleneck would still be viable but if a large number of monsters were to activate first sometimes it would be more likely to have more deaths in the front row, and maybe heroes would prefer to retreat or change formation.

At the very least it would change the order of die rolls to add some variety to the encounters.

But to really change things it is necessary to create a dynamic in which some positions are better than others, depending on the context.

Monsters with ranged attacks, area attacks, cover, mission objectives in the room (pull a lever or something), line of sight limitations and so on. There is nothing like that in the game.

The combat is like in Final Fantasy: once you encounter the monsters it is I go, they go, in order of initiative, without not much moving.

A variable initiative order would make you think a little bit more about healing, retreat an which monster is worth to hit first, but things would still be static.
 
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Ken H.
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Barkam wrote:
zinho73 wrote:
I have to play more to see, but I am tempted to simply say that you have a -1 penalty to the to hit rolls for each figure in the way (friend or foe). This would create the motivation to maneuver, but you would sometimes not do so in order to maintain a defensive formation.


This is intriguing. It is a simple rule that can have significant impact.


It's probably not as simple as it sounds. The line of sight rules would have to be rewritten. Otherwise you'll spend too much time trying to figure out which figures are "in the way".

I also think it will not actually solve the bottleneck problem. It will just make fights take longer due to reduced accuracy. And it will cause the heroes in front to get more kills.
 
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Emivaldo Sousa
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Rubric wrote:
Barkam wrote:
zinho73 wrote:
I have to play more to see, but I am tempted to simply say that you have a -1 penalty to the to hit rolls for each figure in the way (friend or foe). This would create the motivation to maneuver, but you would sometimes not do so in order to maintain a defensive formation.


This is intriguing. It is a simple rule that can have significant impact.


It's probably not as simple as it sounds. The line of sight rules would have to be rewritten. Otherwise you'll spend too much time trying to figure out which figures are "in the way".

I also think it will not actually solve the bottleneck problem. It will just make fights take longer due to reduced accuracy. And it will cause the heroes in front to get more kills.


The rule is simple: center to center, if it crosses any part of a square occupied it is blocked.

The main problem, I think, is that there are not enough space in the tiles for maneuver without being surrounded, and the only option to maneuver would be retreat. That's why I said I have to play more and study the space available more. I think it is possible that, with that rule, heroes would want to move around because longer battles will always favor the monsters. Maybe a bottleneck as an "opening" move and more movement on the second turn onward.

One other solution might be spawning half of the monsters in the entrance and the other half on the last room visited (on the back of the heroes) and/or, some monsters being able to "jump" the heroes (as others have proposed). Also some adventures in which the heroes must stand on a place or flip a switch in the middle of the room during combat.

The solutions are there they just have to be tested. My point is that since there is not enough room in some tiles, this movement will not be as dynamic as in other games in any case. Even if your guy wanted to move he would have nowhere to go, so I guess the opening move will mostly be the bottleneck.

One tip I do have is to use the rolled move and not the fixed 4 to move. This way, it is not that easy to form the bottleneck in the best way possible every time and sometimes you will either lose time or compromise.

A simple system like that needed differently designed tiles, with obstacles, large areas and, mostly, larger doorways (and some smaller ones). The tiles are varied in shape but not varied in function. Some events that changed the rules of combat would be nice also: teleporting heroes to the corners of the room or irradiating them with a mysterious energy that grew stronger every time they were adjacent to each other, giving mutation tokens every time a hero starts a turn next to another hero (for each adjacent hero).

I can also imagine a blind monster that when see heroes together thinks they are just one thing and enrages, giving it temporary elite statuses. And so on - the game is super-random and most alterations would not be harmful to try out.

Zombicide is a fairly simple game that is underdeveloped in several areas, but this they got right: everyone in the tile is fair game, no one is safe. In a tactical horror game that must be rule number one.
 
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Jared Voshall
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This is one area where I think adding in a set of Quests could be quite helpful. These could be picked up in Town that trigger at a particular tile or depth, played off of an Encounter token to add more interesting tactics to a given mission (that doesn't otherwise use Clue tokens) - or be used to create a narrative framework for an entire campaign (including branching paths for Success or the various kinds of failure). These could then be used to add in different tactics to spice up the various fights throughout the game - though there is always room for a straight up brawl - and could certainly add a good chunk of variety in some of the more cut-and-dry missions provided in the book.
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