mad tulip
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In the following wall of text i compare the attack symbols/damage and armor value as well as the rank and file system used here with WH40K, WHFB and Infinity and come to the conclusion that runewars system ist far less linear snowballing downhill, less predictable and more interesting to me in general.

In Warhammer 40K and WHFB you roll D6`s, here you roll D8`s which is better for granularity. You also have different D8 types (red and blue)(imo in expansions there should be more types (yellow and green like in IA or descent)). The dice in runewars dont just use one type of symbol (number) but add additional variable powers via surgers and moral symbols.

In WH40K the roll to damage includes a roll against against armor (AR) and a possible weapon property of armor penetration (AP). If the opponent has AR 3+ (like a space marine) he survives on a D6 result of 3+. If the weapon has AP 3 it fully negates AR 3+,4+,5+, and 6+. You buy armies with army points and weapons with higher AP cost more points. However a weapon with AP3 doesnt cost 3 times what an AP4 weapon would cost although its 3 times as effective against AR3+ (kills space marine on a 1 to 6 instead of only on a 1 or 2). Even if it would cost 3 times as much you would not want to use it against AR 2+ targets (as its as effective as the 3 times cheaper AP 4). So this is in principle not balanceable on its own. Calculating the average number of wounds on a space marine target and dividing by your own units cost to get to a measurement for efficiency (gain/cost) shows that some unit choices in WH40K are 300% as strong as others (i.e. vs. space marines). In an ideal game you dont know if your opponent plays space marines at all or what unit type he will mostly bring. In reality i play with my friends and i know what minis they have so i know what to exspect.

WHFB uses a system where AP is called "rending" i believe and it is no absolute barrier if you break the armor or not, it instead just applies a modifier to the roll. So if the target roll is 6 and the weapon is rending 1 you just need a 5 or 6. A +100% damage gain for a rending 1 modifier which you payed for in army points. The same modifier applied on a target 3 roll on the other hand changes results from 4/6 chance to succeed to 5/6 chance to succeed. not 100% gain anymore but just 25% - same cost though - hard to balance, not enough resolution on the 6 sides of the die.
Infinity uses a D20 instead of D6`s to mitigate this problem. For the usual target numbers of 9 to 13 the gaussian distribution is flatter -> absolute modifier effects differ less (maybe from 5% to 7% instead of 100% to 25%) for different dice roll targets - the above effect is lessened.

In runewars a different approach is used. An attack roll consists of multiple dice rolled and added up against a single target (in WH40K you roll multiple dice, but each as individuum against the same target number). Dice show attack symbols (next to other things) and target units have an armor value as well as hitpoints. You score one damage for each multiple of the enemies armor value rolled - fractions are lost(modulo(attack,armor)).
The modifier that the armor represents is thus implemented on the dimension "number of dice rolled" and not on the "number of sides each dice has" (as in WH40k, WHFB and Infinity). This implies that for large numbers of attack dice the armor becomes least efficient -> Targets effective hitpoints bahave like Armor times normal hitpoints. The small overhead you loose while doing i.e. 20 or 21 attack symbols on 3 armor becomes less relevant compared to doing 2 or 3 attack symbols on 3 armor (all or nothing). For low number of attack dice, when the armor value represents a large proportion of your average attack symbols, it becomes more efficient. Efficiency of armor vs. number of attack dice has a 1/n similar shape. In WH40K it doesnt matter how many troops shoot how many opponents, you allways inflict X% of your model count as average damage, which makes shootouts far more predictable and results in a snowball effect.
This becomes further interesting when looking at the damage multipliers which additional trays in the front row provide in runewars. Adding the 2nd tray collumn doubles (+100%) your average attack symbols. Adding the 3rd only adds another 50% of average attack symbols per roll. Depending on the number of attack symbols on each side of the attack dice the efficiency of a full reroll could be considered. A full reroll can never be more effective then increasing the average score rolled by +100%. So a 1 wide 2 deep formation is less effective then 2 wide 1 deep. However the broader the front row gets, the less each additional width offers (+100% for the 2nd tray, +50% to that for the 3rd tray and so on). So the option to reroll becomes better the more dice you are already rolling/the more damage multipliier you already added.
This also becomes relevant when damaging units. If you i.e. sniper out a single model from the 2nd row of a 2x2 tray unit, the unit looses its full reroll and gains a single die reroll - a big effect. If each tray of said unit contained 4 models, the 2nd model killed would not reduce the units damage at all - so there is less linear behavior. Instead there are different discrete states of damage potential a unit can be in over the course of a game and changes between those states are not linear eigther (mixture of full and single rerolls as well as x2,x3,x4, .. damage multipliers). In WH40K the same example would reduce said units damage potential by the same ammount in both cases (boring). Ever had the impression that the one or 2 rounds the archers fired didnt realy do anything and now you have the problem of them just having to back up? In runewars they can mess up formations quite effectively before the first impact.
On top of that nonlinearity there is the layer of armor behavior vs number of attack die described above. A fight between i.e. many trays of skelleton infantry and a golem unit (high armor) might thus initially start with the skelletons beeing in the more effective position, but this might not just snowball downhill but change. Once they both did some damage and say the skelletons lost only 40% troops while the golems lost 50% the armor of the golems might all of a sudden become much more effective allowing the golem to tilt the odds and still wrestle the skelletons down with average die results. In WH40K with average results this would just continioue in the same proportions it started with (weigthed by the units already lost/snowballing).
I like the idea that the fights can be in those different states of damage potential throughout the game and that a small number of killed units might have a large or no impact on units damage potential. By this the rules/mechanics/balance of the game is at least not trivial to break right from looking at it sharply only once.
On top of that there is surges, moral, and hidden information not even mentioned. The system looks far more interesting to me so far.

SAVE PAPER - THINK BEFORE PRINTING
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Matt Price
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Whew... That's a lot to read and take in.

I just like that for Runewars, I'll be tossing a few dice. I've only played 40K once, and played the orcs. One of my first attacks was with 130 (about? I think?) dice. And it seemed I had to roll them over and over...

That was just silly.
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mad tulip
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The number of dice is not a critique for me. I enjoy the haptic of rolling tons of dice, separating them and rolling the remaining dice again. Some ppl said thats a waste of time - the physicals and haptics of boardgames is what imo defines them compared to i.e. pc games. carefull so things dont fall over, judge the opposing players pokerface, pokerchits need to be heavy and such .

Calculating efficiencies of units to wound AR 3 and dividing it by the units cost was what broke WH40K for me. By that i also learned not to try to bring games down to the bare numbers again but instead just play. (That somehow also reminds me of that problem with the internet where 15 years ago we would just play what was available in the FLGS and now there is full disclosure and availability and critics about absolutly everything available instantly around the clock. even on sundays the internet is not closed!) On the other hand if it is too obvious without much thought a game might not be enjoyable right from the start, so a little investigation in this direction might be in order. Above thoughts just outlined for me that its at least not obvious/easy for me to see whats the best move/army composition. Which i consider to be a part of a well designed game.
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Samanar
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Great write-up. Love the math. Thanks for the insight!
 
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Erik Bernhardt
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Very interesting! Thanks for the analysis! If I'm understanding the bottom-line of your analysis, it seems like taking initial hits is less devastating in Runewars than in other games, and there's more "rebound" potential from a bad roll, turn or two.
 
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