Brian Blackwell
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Hey all! So I ran a preliminary test on my combat system and it took about 20 back-and-forth dice rolling contests to bring it to a resolution. My game is currently structured to have an enemy make one attack action, and a player to make one attack action, before moving to the next player's turn. At this rate, it would take at least 10 turns to defeat one enemy, which is way too long.

I was just wondering what you guys have come up with to keep combat moving along smoothly.

Some notes about the system, if you're interested:

-You can think of the game as a dungeon crawl for the purposes of this inquiry, though it's possible (and even likely) that characters will be working alone much of the time, 1 vs 1-3 with NPC enemies.

-It's pretty standard fare; attacker rolls 2d6 + Attack bonus, defender rolls 2d6 + Defense bonus. If the attacker's value is higher, he does damage equal to the difference.


The system resulted in a very balanced battle with a close finish, but there were a lot of misses along the way. The battle seemed to tell a good story, but took so many turns that it would likely get boring in practice -- this wasn't a boss fight, just a difficult mob. If you had to wait 10 turns to beat a single enemy, the game would drag overall, and if you were able to resolve this combat in one turn, the repetitive dice rolling would be monotonous, and it would be torture for everyone else to have to watch while sitting idle.

I'd love to hear your thoughts if you feel inclined to share them.

Thanks for checkin' in!
B.B.
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Selwyn Hope
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Many die based attack systems bias the die towards damage rather than defense.

Can you increase the damage output vs defense?
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TTDG
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Or, if the def roll is higher, the attacker takes damage = the difference.

Or, split "to hit" from "damage done", and then have a larger number for damage done if a hit is made.

Etc. Just look at some existing games.
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chadgar24
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how about a 3rd dice that is a multiplier? So if it is 7 attack vs 5 defense the damage is 2. Then you roll a die that has 1, 2 or 3 on it (more 2s than other #s). You then multiply that damage by that value. So if a 3 is rolled you do 6 damage in this example.

You could have ways of negating the defense all together, via events or chance, to speed things up.

I'm just curious...you said 10 turns. I would have to believe that at least a couple rolls resulted in the defender rolling a 3 while the attacker rolled a 10....how did you not get a lot of damage applied at least once or twice to end this fight. How many hitpoints do things have?
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W Scott Grant
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My thoughts:

1. Remove the defender's die roll and replace it with a static target number specific to the defender.

2. Make damage more lethal by either:
a. When damage occurs, apply a multiplier to the difference determined by weapon type (daggers is x1, swords x2, pole-arms x3, whatever)
b. Reduce the number of hitpoints
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Brian Blackwell
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chadgar24 wrote:

I'm just curious...you said 10 turns. I would have to believe that at least a couple rolls resulted in the defender rolling a 3 while the attacker rolled a 10....how did you not get a lot of damage applied at least once or twice to end this fight. How many hitpoints do things have?


Player had 20HP/+3 ATK/+7 DEF/3 DMG (4HP at end of battle)
Enemy had 7HP/+6 ATK/+5 DEF/5 DMG (defeated at end of battle)

There were no big hits because damage is limited to the DMG value (if ATK > DEF, you can only score damage up to DMG value).

This enemy is one of many intended encounters, though a tougher one. The player had no additional weapons or allies to help, but later in the game they would, presumably.
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John A. White
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The focus of the game is what matters.

IF this is a 20 roll single battle in Risk then this is really not good. No matter how cool the interaction is.

I made a game base on a 1 VS. 1 and in that single battle there are many rolls, 40.
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Brian Blackwell
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Sligo wrote:
My thoughts:

1. Remove the defender's die roll and replace it with a static target number specific to the defender.

2. Make damage more lethal by either:
a. When damage occurs, apply a multiplier to the difference determined by weapon type (daggers is x1, swords x2, pole-arms x3, whatever)
b. Reduce the number of hitpoints


I thought the DEF roll was more realistic, added more variety, and gives the characters a chance to exceed their baseline capabilities against enemies of various strength (making for more interesting/exciting storytelling). Even if this battle was an aberration, it CAN happen, so that possibility needs to be eliminated, right?
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Brian Blackwell
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I thought about making 3 combat rounds per turn or something like that. This way you'd cover more ground on a turn but it wouldn't get boring. What do you guys think?
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chadgar24
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bbblackwell wrote:
chadgar24 wrote:

I'm just curious...you said 10 turns. I would have to believe that at least a couple rolls resulted in the defender rolling a 3 while the attacker rolled a 10....how did you not get a lot of damage applied at least once or twice to end this fight. How many hitpoints do things have?


Player had 20HP/+3 ATK/+7 DEF/3 DMG (4HP at end of battle)
Enemy had 7HP/+6 ATK/+5 DEF/5 DMG (defeated at end of battle)

There were no big hits because damage is limited to the DMG value (if ATK > DEF, you can only score damage up to DMG value).

This enemy is one of many intended encounters, though a tougher one. The player had no additional weapons or allies to help, but later in the game they would, presumably.


So to reduce the number of turns needed you need to reduce the def. That 5 def, plus 2 dice is overpowered IMHO. There must be a lot of attacks that do no damage at all, which is very boring. I would suggest the defender only rolls 1 die, or if you want 2, then the dice only goes up to a value of 3.
In the above case, if the defender rolled two 1s, the attacker needs to roll a 9 to do maximum damage, not great odds.
Basically...no matter where you are in the game (start-middle-end) your hero should, on average, inflict a certain amount of damage each turn or kill an enemy in a certain # of turns.
How much damage do you want an attacker to do on average or how many turns to kill it?
Do some playtesting with the above scenario and do 100 turns. Take an average of the damage dealt over all the turns. (I am guessing it is 1-2 DMG) Then, make changes (probably with the enemy) until the average damage dealt per/turn is a value you want.
you said at this stage of the game he is not boosted by allies or weapons, so the hero will scale-up. If you balance it right, the additional attack power will scale up with tougher enemies and your average time it takes to kill enemies will remain about the same.
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This is great advice, thank you. I'm pretty new at this and I just came up with my numbers via intuition and am trying to work them into shape during my playtests.

Yes, there were many attacks that yielded no damage. The 5 defense was part of what makes this enemy tougher than others, and I thought since the player has an ATK bonus in a similar range (3 unboosted, only to get higher later) that it would balance out. Clearly this doesn't play out right, at least not at the beginning of the game, so maybe I do need to reduce the DEF. But then won't the game get too easy later?

I'm still not sure how to scale the game; I've got encounter decks that are random, so I can't know when tougher enemies are coming out. I've run into this problem in games like LOTR LCG, where sometimes you just get stomped because of a bad draw, but I'm not sure what I can do about it without adding fiddly mechanisms like having the deck arranged instead of random.

I have included a rule that would allow the player to disengage, shuffling the encounter back into the deck, at a cost of time (which is a consideration since the 1st phase of the game is a race to complete missions in a certain number of turns to prepare for the 2nd phase). This would give them an out in the early rounds until they can handle tougher encounters. What do you think?

When you suggest playtesting the scenario 100 times, do you mean with this particular player character against that one particular enemy?
 
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W Scott Grant
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bbblackwell wrote:
I'm still not sure how to scale the game; I've got encounter decks that are random, so I can't know when tougher enemies are coming out. I've run into this problem in games like LOTR LCG, where sometimes you just get stomped because of a bad draw, but I'm not sure what I can do about it without adding fiddly mechanisms like having the deck arranged instead of random.


There are a number of ways to do this. One is to have several encounter "Colors" ranging from yellow (easiest) to blue (medium) to red (hardest) and at some point you switch from deck to deck.

Another way is to pre-stack the deck kind of like how Pandemic sets up. In this case, shuffle the hardest encounters together, put them face down, next, shuffle the next level of difficulty and put them on top, then shuffle the next layer, and so on.

These approaches work subtly different in that with the first, you don't (necessarily) have to go through all the easy encounters before going to the mediums, whereas you do for the second. Conversely, the second method means you only have one deck to contend with.
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bbblackwell wrote:
This is great advice, thank you. I'm pretty new at this and I just came up with my numbers via intuition and am trying to work them into shape during my playtests.

Yes, there were many attacks that yielded no damage. The 5 defense was part of what makes this enemy tougher than others, and I thought since the player has an ATK bonus in a similar range (3 unboosted, only to get higher later) that it would balance out. Clearly this doesn't play out right, at least not at the beginning of the game, so maybe I do need to reduce the DEF. But then won't the game get too easy later?

I'm still not sure how to scale the game; I've got encounter decks that are random, so I can't know when tougher enemies are coming out. I've run into this problem in games like LOTR LCG, where sometimes you just get stomped because of a bad draw, but I'm not sure what I can do about it without adding fiddly mechanisms like having the deck arranged instead of random.

I have included a rule that would allow the player to disengage, shuffling the encounter back into the deck, at a cost of time (which is a consideration since the 1st phase of the game is a race to complete missions in a certain number of turns to prepare for the 2nd phase). This would give them an out in the early rounds until they can handle tougher encounters. What do you think?

When you suggest playtesting the scenario 100 times, do you mean with this particular player character against that one particular enemy?


to answer your last question first....yes, do 100 hero attacks against this enemy.

I also play LOTR LCG a ton. In that game, when a big baddie comes down early on, you probably can't kill it the first turn it engages. But on subsequent turn(s) you add weapons and allies to finish him off, or other players help you via Ranged. In your game it seems that whatever you start the battle with you have to finish it with. No additional help comes in. How does a Hero scale up? Also with LOTR the worst enemies usually have high threat, so they might not engage you right away, allowing you to scale-up, or the quest brings them out at a certain time.
 
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Brian Blackwell
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Yes, that's true. I play a tactics/leadership deck with high starting threat so engagement doesn't come into play that often (I pretty much always have to take them), but that certainly is a sound mechanism for keeping baddies at bay until you can deal with them.

In my game, having enemies sitting idle in the active card zone would stall play because the active zone only holds a maximum of 3 cards, but my disengagement mechanism would allow them to delay the encounter until a randomly determined later time by reshuffling the active cards.

Further clarification: Players scale up by finding equipment and allies in the encounter deck. They voluntarily move their pawns on an area map, and when they land on certain spaces they draw 1-3 cards from that area's encounter deck. When they successfully deal with those encounters, or disengage, that space is dead (temporarily), so they would have to move to another space in order to encounter new cards and search for upgrades. This lost opportunity and movement cost is the penalty for disengaging.

Of course, there's no telling whether beneficial cards will show up in a timely fashion. They also only draw cards when they land on those certain spaces -- not each turn while they're there -- and those cards only apply while they are on the space; so if something didn't appear, it's not going to until they go somewhere else.

By disengaging, they can hunt around for beneficial items/allies while avoiding enemies -- provided they are fast enough to get away; though there is a dice roll that uses their speed and the speed of the fastest enemy as modifiers, so they always have a chance. You may notice that this idea is a big part of my thinking, I don't want static values like an Armor Class that always gets rolled against when defending. I think surprise is an important element of adventure theming, and I'd like to have the defender actively excel or fail at times, just like the attacker (especially since PVP combat is possible and encouraged.



 
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Brian Blackwell
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100 attacks made by this character to this enemy yielded the following results:

(Damage / Number of times this result occurred)

*Remember that the maximum damage per hit is 3 in this instance (even if there is a larger difference between the attack and defense rolls)

0 / 77
1 / 2
2 / 5
3 / 16

Clearly, we have a problem. Hahaha
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chadgar24
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yup, you need to balance that out. 3 out of 4 are 0 damage.
 
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Sligo wrote:
bbblackwell wrote:
I'm still not sure how to scale the game; I've got encounter decks that are random, so I can't know when tougher enemies are coming out. I've run into this problem in games like LOTR LCG, where sometimes you just get stomped because of a bad draw, but I'm not sure what I can do about it without adding fiddly mechanisms like having the deck arranged instead of random.


There are a number of ways to do this. One is to have several encounter "Colors" ranging from yellow (easiest) to blue (medium) to red (hardest) and at some point you switch from deck to deck.

Another way is to pre-stack the deck kind of like how Pandemic sets up. In this case, shuffle the hardest encounters together, put them face down, next, shuffle the next level of difficulty and put them on top, then shuffle the next layer, and so on.

These approaches work subtly different in that with the first, you don't (necessarily) have to go through all the easy encounters before going to the mediums, whereas you do for the second. Conversely, the second method means you only have one deck to contend with.


One idea I've worked into a couple of my (unpublished) games now goes like this:
1. All the enemies (except maybe the boss) are at the beginner's level. The enemy deck is simply shuffled and that's it.
2. Enemies scale because of this: every time an enemy is defeated, it leaves a little something behind that makes the next enemy a little harder. When the next enemy is defeated, it also leaves something behind so the third enemy has the first two enemies' "bonuses" added to it, and so on.

Works pretty well if you can spare components you'll need to track these bonuses. Just takes some tweaking to determine what kind of bonuses they should leave behind when they die so they get tougher at the right pace.
 
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bbblackwell wrote:
100 attacks made by this character to this enemy yielded the following results:

(Damage / Number of times this result occurred)

*Remember that the maximum damage per hit is 3 in this instance (even if there is a larger difference between the attack and defense rolls)

0 / 77
1 / 2
2 / 5
3 / 16

Clearly, we have a problem. Hahaha


Yeah, 77/100 is going to kill the fun. If really want to keep your combat model, though, you could maybe give the players (and the enemies) something to do when the miss. Preferably, something that would make their next attack more likely to hit or do extra damage.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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Sorry, I don't have the patience right now to read the entire thread, but several observations:

1 "Taking too long" says nothing whatsoever about your balance (or lack thereof)

2 Too reduce the number of attacks required to complete one combat, increase the average percentage of health lost per attack. You could do that by increasing chance to hit, increasing damage done on a successful hit, and/or reducing HP totals.

3 You can also make combats shorter by making each attack faster to resolve. You might do that by reducing the number of dice that have to be rolled, reducing the number of modifiers that have to be applied, or making the math easier to calculate.

4 You're currently rolling 4 dice per attack (2 for the attacker and 2 for the defender). The more dice you roll, the more your probability distribution is going to be curved towards the average result. 4 dice is going to give you a pretty noticeable curve, with results concentrated towards the center.

bbblackwell wrote:
Player had 20HP/+3 ATK/+7 DEF/3 DMG (4HP at end of battle)
Enemy had 7HP/+6 ATK/+5 DEF/5 DMG (defeated at end of battle)

Yeah, those are really weak attacks. You can see the probability distribution here on anydice.

The player inflicts an average of .5 damage per attack, and the enemy inflicts an average of .89. Most attacks miss.
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Brian Blackwell
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kungfugeek wrote:
Yeah, 77/100 is going to kill the fun. If really want to keep your combat model, though, you could maybe give the players (and the enemies) something to do when the miss. Preferably, something that would make their next attack more likely to hit or do extra damage.


Great advice, thank you for sharing these ideas with me. This is the first crack at playing this game, and there's a lot to work out. In Magic Realm, when a player misses an attack, their weapon is then in the ready position ("alerted") for the next attack, which typically makes that next attack better.

I could think about implementing something like this, but the more I think about it I'm starting to think that the the ATK roll vs DEF roll model is better for the PVP aspect of the game. NPC's really don't need to roll. Maybe I'll go with static values for them and have players roll only for their own ATK or DEF depending on which side of the sword their on.

Your scaling idea is excellent. I don't want any book keeping on NPCs for this particular game because there's enough going on already with players managing their own bonuses and allies under their control. But it's food for thought and I feel like I need to do something to scale this better. Of course, once I get the combat system nailed down, playtesting should tell me what I need to know.
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Brian Blackwell
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Antistone wrote:
Yeah, those are really weak attacks. You can see the probability distribution here on anydice.

The player inflicts an average of .5 damage per attack, and the enemy inflicts an average of .89. Most attacks miss.


That's great, thank you. I just took a shot in the dark with my initial values, hoping that I could work them into shape during testing.

I have much to learn about probabilities; thank you for the link!
 
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