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Subject: War Game Mechanics rss

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Dan Keith
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I am curious on thoughts about war game mechanics and peoples thoughts. The classic "dice role" resolution is a basic standard but has fallen out of favor with other game styles. War games are different, players go head to head with other players. In large scope war games resolution must be relatively fast and simple. So is the Die role then resolve still the way to go or is there something better. Thoughts and examples please cool
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Mitch Willis
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I like how Napoleon's Triumph handles conflict resolution...in general terms, it resolves combat via strength of unit and/or maneuver...it just seems to fit that era very well...
 
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Les Marshall
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I think the key to your question is what the designer is trying to accomplish. In most traditional hex and counter wargames unit numerical stats have reflected number of troops/vehicles, morale, training/experience, supply, leadership, communication, range/potency/reliability of weapons, etc. It is far easier for a designer to calculate these relative values and then allow for a random range of results to resolve combats that reflects chance and fog of war. Dice are still a fundamental randomness generator.

An early departure was Diplomacy which was diceless and counted only on numerical superiority to resolve combat with the losing unit(s) being displaced. The unknown factor was the simultaneous secret written orders that determined where such force would be applied each turn. FAirly sastisfying on a large strategic scale.

I have also played some diceless space combat systems such as Warp War and Nebula 19. In those games you would design ships with primary differences being speed, size, shields, weapons range and weapon strength. Combat resolution is usually simple comparison of weapon strength versus shield strength. The unknown tended to be how each player designed there ships and how they deployed each turn. (Nebula 19 actually had two identical maneuver maps so players were blind to each others movements before comparing positions for range and fire).

A Game of Thrones gives each player a hand of combat cards that vary in strength with special effects scattered among those cards. Players know the strength of each force in a combat but, players then secretly choose a battle card and then reveal. The higher combined strength would win and any special effects would apply but any used card would not be recovered until the entire hand had been used. So, while the range of cards was known, the unknown factor was which card a player would use wiht some advantage to one player getting a weaker card out of their hand at the risk of losing a particular fight.

I think the unifying idea here is that most traditional wargames give the players perfect information about what is on the board which is largely unrealistic. Dice allow the element of risk to occur so that the perfect information is only approximate to expected outcome. If you go to a non random combat result, it is often desirable to introduce some other element in the game which deprives the players of perfect information.
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Kent Reuber
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I think some uncertainty should be there. Commanders can order units and have some expectation of what the battle outcome should be, but there should be some uncertainty. The mechanism could be die roll, chit pull, card pull/play, etc., as long as the outcome isn't certain.

I'd prefer that there be some uncertainty in ordering troops as well. Commanders should issue orders to move and attack, but there should be the possibility of troops not activating, or not moving as far as they normally could.
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Dan Owsen
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Dice rolling is falling out of favor? Who knew?
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Man thinks, the river flows.
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    The target audience for wargames continues to be comfortable with unpredictability, provided there are reasonable boundaries on the results. Players of shorter, simpler games (i.e., most of the modern boardgaming concept) have decided luck is not something they want to work with. In my opinion they are putting the victory ahead of the game, but that's just one man's view.

    This is one of the primary reasons I'm moving more and more to wargames -- it's not the genre, it's the risk-management mechanic that is so readily available. Increased complexity is playing a role as well, though my IGS darlings are simple by wargaming standards.

    It's just different. I don't think either is better, but both need to cater to their customer base.

             Sag.


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Hunga Dunga
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Dirg wrote:
The classic "dice role" resolution is a basic standard but has fallen out of favor with other game styles.

I don't think so. Most recent wargames use dice, and some them require buckets of them.
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marc lecours
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As a randomisation mechanism most players don't mind rolling dice. You feel somehow in control yet you are not. On the other hand looking up a result in a CRT is not so much fun. Thus the recent trend towards buckets of dice. Also most of the gamers I know prefer when both players roll dice in a combat. That is one problem with the CRT in that usually only the attacker is rolling.

Another even more popular randomization method is a hand of cards. THis is fun.Players like having cards in their hand and reading them. It gives something to do on other player's turns. Even Euros like Ticket to ride, Alhambra, Bohnanza, Agricola, Settlers of Catan have cards to randomize the game a little. Cards can add a lot of theme to a game without adding a bunch of rules (with cards, the special rules are in your hand rather than in a rulebook).

Cards have even made their way into wargames. But dice, if well done are still fun.
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Dan Keith
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Thanks for the responses, even the ones that said nothing.

I will clarify some on where I am looking. I speak of the combat resolution itself not general game play. Even that is not really clear, I am looking at large scale not small combat. The application obviously has great bearing here. The larger the scale of the game the more simplistic I think the rules should be if unless play time is not an issue.

So my interest on this is because I have a game ready for blind testing. However I am wondering if my combat system will feel to dated and turn off today's players. So I sit and ponder, do I rework my combat resolution mechanics or do I let it go as is. The goal of my design was to address failings I found in an old favorite (axis&allies) and I think I achieved that but maybe there is more here I should do. These forums have a lot of creative minds and I was hoping to get some feel of options people have considered before to make a well informed decision.

So summarizing what I have gathered so far

Cards - As a combat resolver I am unsure how well this would work in the structure of my game. I am unfamiliar with Game of Thrones more on that would help.

Movement/Maneuver - This probably doesn't work within the scale of the game I have in place without essentially creating an entirely new game.

Modifiable Dice - this would be a dice mechanic but with some twists added either a custom dice system or modifiers to the dice like cards etc.

Thanks again guys!
 
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Nate
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I was thinking of a way Fog of War can be represented by cards. There is something like this in War of the Ring and a little bit of it in Warcraft: TBG. The idea is that the pieces on the board only represent your most recent information about those units. The older that information gets, the less valid it becomes. So I thought that for each turn where you *don't* move a given unit (or probably group of units -- wouldn't want to do this for each individual piece in A&A), you get to draw a Fog of War card and assign it to that unit. Probably by having the unit represented off-board so you aren't cluttering up the board with cards. The cards would accumulate over time, and are mostly moves, but may also provide some combat bonuses (like "RPG - Gives soldiers +1 vs. tanks") or maybe can add another piece to the board, etc. When you activate the unit, or when your opponent attacks that unit, you can play as many of those cards as you want (the more cards there are, the less valid your opponents' information about the units is/was -- if you decide to play some "move" cards, it means that your troops weren't even there when your opponent attacked). This would probably encourage your opponent to attack you before you build up too many cards for that unit.


Disclaimer: I don't play very many wargames, so this has probably been done before.
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Philip Migas
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In war games dice are appropriate. War is a very random. You could have the most skilled soldier in the best combat equipment killed by a mortar because they took one too many steps. By contrast, dice almost seem constrained.

You also need to look at the player expectations. Yes dice have fallen out of fashion for a lot of games. But most of these games are Euro-style games not American Style wargames. My impression of the Game of Throne card+ unit point system is that it is a cop out. It makes combat in the game to analytical and one dimension. The biggest army will always win. The biggest does not always win in real war.

I am going to say what other said a little differently, if you do not use dice you need to provide another random generator for combat. Hidden information or randomly drawn cards is an acceptable form. Check out the combat system in StarCraft: The Board Game for an example. This combat system works ok. In a war game I would rather have a stack of dice with cool units over cards any day.
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Bill Lawson
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CRTs and dice rock!! The rest is all bullshit!
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Les Marshall
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Dan, it might help to at least know the theme of the game you are designing. That can often suggest a direction for modifying dice/card mechanics.

Gamers love to see new ideas and mechanics. However, on the topic of combat resolution, you are going to want a statistically narrow range of possibilities so that randomness doesn't utterly defeat tactical planning.

Good luck
 
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R. Michael Tugwell
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Greetings,

Using dice, cards, etc. to simulate the randomness of the actions of individuals and groups is proper and accepted in wargames. The potential problem is that randomness can ruin good play or reward stupid play (forgive it a little perhaps...). That's why I don't like Risk very much. You can't give the randomness too much weight - at any level.

Just my humble opinion,

Mike
 
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Dan Keith
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The game is Iron Age of Man
( http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/43576)

I have the rules in what I think is a pretty polished form now and I am letting the game rest awhile. I'm having artwork done for it and when that is finished I'll break it out again with a fresher view. Then blind testing but the mechanics may be changed if I find something I like more during that time.
 
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Arrigo Velicogna
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I have never found CRT boring. Opposed die roll sometime are, too much often bucket of dice are poorly implemented. After a test play of Soldier Emperors my hands were hurting after a big battles... 43 dice rolled for three rounds? Crazy! also the end results were a waste of time.

a sinlge die and a CRT would have made a better and more intelligent results.

COmbat in wargames as to be not completely predictable, still you have to be able to inflence it. CRT also allow you to include multiple factors without resorting to inhmane amopunt of dice or multiple actions. So i think CRT are still the best way to go in 90% of situations.

Arrigo
 
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Cody Ferguson
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I like dice. As others have stated, they're a fundamental random number generator, and randomness in games is one thing that keeps them interesting (in my opinion). Randomness and unpredictability is a key mechanic in wargames. (In this post here I kept talking about dice, but any method used to generate random numbers applies).

Having said that, I intensely dislike pure dice mechanics. Games like Risk rely on little more than numerical superiority and die rolling -and even then, I've lost 4-1 battles because of a sequence of poor die rolls. To me that's far to abstract in a wargame. It can happen rarely as one of the "ah crap" moments in warfare, but in purely dice mechanic games it happens often enough to be annoying.

Perhaps stated another way is that dice should never be the primary mechanic in determining the outcome of a battle. The results of the dice should never be more important than say the strategy the player uses. If I'm playing a wargame and execute a particularly brilliant tactical manoeuvre, I shouldn't be completely robbed of that because of die rolls. That's not to say it needs to be 100% effective, but as a previous poster mentioned it become an exercise in risk management. If I execute said manoeuvre planning for a reasonable amount of randomness, I should be guaranteed a reasonable chance for success. Dice alone destroy that completely.

When I design wargames, I usually design die rolls with modifiers. This creates a condition where, in particularly advantageous situation (with positive modifiers) even on a bad die roll the player has a chance of success (with those rare instances where failure happens). Inversely, it allows give players in a very unfavourable situation (with negative modifiers) a rare and possible -but unlikely- chance of success.

I think the reason you're seeing dice fall out of favour with other game types is because people want simpler, easier to grasp, abstract games. Dice (when implemented properly) add a dimension to a game that (generally) takes planning and foresight to employ effectively to win. A lot of people these days don't want to be bothered with this kind of analytical thinking. I see this all the time when I'm trying to get people to play more “complex” games with me. If they see more than a die or two, they get scared. If they see anything else non-static that they have to consider along with the dice, they get scared.

I hope that rant made some sense.
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John Bobek
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Quote:
I'd prefer that there be some uncertainty in ordering troops as well. Commanders should issue orders to move and attack, but there should be the possibility of troops not activating, or not moving as far as they normally could.


In multiplayer games, there's plenty of uncertainty. Your idea of what should be done isn't always executed to your liking by someone else!

As for combaat systems, using 2 six sided dice for combat rolls gives you a spread from 2 to 12 with 6,7,8 being most likely die rolls. This gives you a moderate bell shaped curve for probabilities. If you add modifiers, you've got your accuracy with your randomness in a good balance. Hope that helps.
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John Bobek
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Quote:
p.s. Sorry, I am new to board game lingo, what is the acronym "CRT" and "BoD" mean? Thanks.

The lingo still drives me crazy too. CRT is combat results table (and I'm not a fan of those) BoD is ... Brain freeze, I forgetshake
 
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Scott and Suzy Krutsch
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Quote:
Sorry, I am new to board game lingo, what is the acronym "BoD" mean? Thanks.


Probably "buckets of dice" in this context.
Scott

p.s. I prefer CRTs
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Pelle Nilsson
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Quote:
Obviously I can't give away more for intellectual property protection


Obviously the quality of the help you can receive here will depend on the amount of information you are willing to share.
 
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Pelle Nilsson
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From the way I read the OP, it makes me think "sure, my game collection could have room for something like a boardgame version of traditional computer RTS games". What might turn me away are the idea about different types of dice (rather than a good CRT, or even traditional BOD, even if I really always prefer a CRT). Other than that it is difficult to tell if it has something really good or bad about it. Event cards sounds like a fun thing to have.

(BTW the tokens in wargames are traditionally called 'counters'. You will confuse people by calling them 'tiles'. )
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Tim Avery
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pelni wrote:
From the way I read the OP, it makes me think "sure, my game collection could have room for something like a boardgame version of traditional computer RTS games". What might turn me away are the idea about different types of dice (rather than a good CRT, or even traditional BOD, even if I really always prefer a CRT). Other than that it is difficult to tell if it has something really good or bad about it. Event cards sounds like a fun thing to have.

(BTW the tokens in wargames are traditionally called 'counters'. You will confuse people by calling them 'tiles'. )


Thanks everybody!

So pelni, You've pretty much nailed what I was kinda going for, but turn based. Like I've said, I cannibalized other games and computer RTS was one of them.

SERIOUS QUESTION: Why would unique dice for each unit turn you away?

Not traditional and what you are used to? Has been tried before and didn't really work?


As for the BoD side of things:
1. I don't like the idea of a hug pile of dice to go through (That's just me)
2. It doesn't really fit my game model

Elaborating on #2, the idea behind my game it to streamline game play enough so people who aren't really into board games hardcore can play without going out-of-their-mind-bored.

Also, I really wanted to make a game that has a ton of options to choose from. Tech trees, unit upgrades, etc.

It is almost like combining RTS, RPG (just a bit), WARGAME and CARD GAME into one. That may sound ambitious, but like I said, I'm experimenting and am new to the board game design realm.

I haven't read to much about CRT's. But what I gather so far doesn't really fit my game model either so I guess this post might be mute, haha.

Again, any feedback is much appreciated.

- Veng

p.s. Thanks for the lingo tips!
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ICONOCLAST

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Dirg wrote:

I will clarify some on where I am looking. I speak of the combat resolution itself not general game play. Even that is not really clear, I am looking at large scale not small combat. The application obviously has great bearing here. The larger the scale of the game the more simplistic I think the rules should be if unless play time is not an issue.

...

Cards - As a combat resolver I am unsure how well this would work in the structure of my game. I am unfamiliar with Game of Thrones more on that would help.

Movement/Maneuver - This probably doesn't work within the scale of the game I have in place without essentially creating an entirely new game.

Modifiable Dice - this would be a dice mechanic but with some twists added either a custom dice system or modifiers to the dice like cards etc.

Thanks again guys!


I would recommend a combat system that harmonises with the rest of the game system. Without more information about the mechanics of your game, it is hard to suggest this, but since your game uses cards, maybe you could add a combat function to the cards. For example, put one of several icons on each card. To fight a battle, draw a card for unit and each card that has the right icon scores a hit. Hope this helps.
 
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ICONOCLAST

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VeangeanceRealized wrote:


THEME:
The basic theme to my game is that it is a war game (I apologize in advance if it is not a "true" War Game). So: Massive army vs. massive army with strategic movement and unit placement. Big battles while trying to stay away from being a "RISK" variant. It involves a hex grid for movement and unit placement, different types of units (troops, tanks, super tanks, etc.) and different structures to build (Does building structures fall into the "war game" category?).
Each unit has a weapon range and a set number of tiles it can move each turn.

My combat system uses dice to resolve combat. Each unit has a unique dice. Weaker units have lower number sided dice and visa versa. Basic combat resolution is based on dice values with other cool stuff I shall refrain from revealing.

I added some cards that players draw when certain events happen. They can use the cards to either help themselves out or throw a wrench into the works of another player.

So my question is: DOES THIS SOUND LIKE SOMETHING YOU'D PLAY?



The card and dice components sound like Fortress America. With massive armies and each unit rolling a specific type of die it sounds like your game could take a while to play. If you are looking to market your game, I'd recommend a fair number of scenarios playable in the 2-4 hour range.
 
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