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Subject: I Hate Hitpoints rss

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Benjamin Bentley
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Hitpoints are a huge pet peeve of mine, and while many miniatures games don't have them anymore, there are plenty that do (and many that do are space games). I've written up a combined rant against them coupled with an explanation of Silent Fury's damage systems, so enjoy.

I Hate Hitpoints
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Daniel Kearns
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So, what you're saying is, you blew your san check against hit points?
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Benjamin Bentley
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I ran out of SP trying to take out HP.
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James Hutchings
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In games where you have lots of units, the units are your 'hit points': they're the resource which is whittled away gradually and which ends the game when one side runs out. You usually don't need each unit to have its own hit points as well.
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Benjamin Bentley
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But at that point you've effectively removed the bookkeeping by making the units your hitpoint track, which no longer feels like bookkeeping. Plus, since your hitpoints are actually moving around the board and using different abilities for fighting with other hitpoints, they're far more entertaining than a number.
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One Armed Bandit
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SilentFury wrote:
Damage does stack a bit (two lights make a heavy, two heavies make a destroyed, two ‘destroys’ make a critical)


How is that NOT hit points?

It's HP per component, rather than for the ship as a whole, but it's still hit points.
Light = 1
Heavy = 2
Destroyed = 4
Critical = 8
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Benjamin Bentley
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Only damage of the same type stacks (four lights != destroyed, so a component can basically absorb infinite hits of a lower damage level than its current damage without further effect). Plus, each damage state is doing something different - with hit points, part of the problem is that often there's no difference between being at 5 or 25 or 100 HP - you're doing all this bookkeeping to arrive at a binary effect of alive or dead. With the damage states, each level of damage has a different effect, so it matters what level you're at.

As another comparison, an infantry combat game where damaged infantry progressively went from good order, to suppressed, to broken, to routed off the table wouldn't simply be a '4hp' unit, because each state is doing something different.
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Curt Woodard
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I picked up the Marvel Heroic Role-Playing Game (MHR) and based on the rules, you can effectively "hack" or create alternate genres VERY easily with the system. Oh, and they sorta don't have hit points, they keep track of "stress" and "trauma" using dice from d4 to d12 (d4 - d12 for stress, d4 - d12 for trauma at which point any more trauma and you're dead).

The system could very easily model just about any situation out there from starship combat to krill cannibalism. You can keep track of the stress steps by using a paperclip or the die that your stress is currently at.

Oh, and your opponents get to roll that die against you so the more damaged you are the easier it is to smack you around.

You can pick up a copy of the book from places like Amazon and there's a PDF available that's less expensive. But from what I'm reading, I am really enjoying the system.
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Steven Metzger
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I prefer cubes, except in Squaresoft/Square Enix titles made by the FFT team.
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Ronald Pehr
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Take a look at the TwoHourWarGames rules.
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Levi Mote
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Units as HP works fine in large scale SciFi miniatures games, but if you are trying to simulate small squad SciFi you need some way to enhance combat beyond one shot = one kill or the game is not satisfying.
Now this could be an Armor Save system that allows the squad's armor prevent the damage most of the time, but this leads to squad members being killed on a poor die roll with is often unsatisfying (although common in mini games).
I like the idea of adapting a stress / trauma system like MHRP.
I also like the idea of adapting a deteriorating condition system like the one I used in Infinite Power.
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Freelance Police
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Yeah, we also talked about this on RPGGeek. I like how Gears of War and Middle Earth Quest uses your hand to represent health. Maybe this topic's worth a Geeklist?
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Benjamin Bentley
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levimote wrote:
Units as HP works fine in large scale SciFi miniatures games, but if you are trying to simulate small squad SciFi you need some way to enhance combat beyond one shot = one kill or the game is not satisfying.
Now this could be an Armor Save system that allows the squad's armor prevent the damage most of the time, but this leads to squad members being killed on a poor die roll with is often unsatisfying (although common in mini games).


For that, I like some sort of simple status system where units can be 'wounded' or 'suppressed' (or other effects). That means you can get a lot of different things happening beyond just 'dead', but the bookkeeping required tends to just be a marker placed next to the unit - or if you can keep the status effects low enough, you could represent it with the unit's facing - lie down the unit for 'pinned', turn it away from the enemy for 'suppressed' or 'routed'.
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Clay Blankenship
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In the Savage Worlds RPG, the standard minions/low level enemies don't have hit points. You just hit them once and they are knocked out. It is supposed to be cinematic. I think it works pretty well. The system for the important characters is a little more detailed.
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One Armed Bandit
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SilentFury wrote:
Only damage of the same type stacks (four lights != destroyed, so a component can basically absorb infinite hits of a lower damage level than its current damage without further effect).


That doesn't match how it's described in what was posted.
2 lights make a heavy. Now that heavy doesn't stack with lights...
But 2 more lights make a second heavy, which stacks into a destroyed.

I see your intent, but all it does is make weaker weapons worthless.
You have Light Lasers that do Light Damage?
Great. Even if you have a million years, you can't actually destroy anything with them, because you can't reach Heavy Damage.

Which is completely illogical, and silly.

Quote:
Plus, each damage state is doing something different - with hit points, part of the problem is that often there's no difference between being at 5 or 25 or 100 HP - you're doing all this bookkeeping to arrive at a binary effect of alive or dead. With the damage states, each level of damage has a different effect, so it matters what level you're at.


Plenty of games have had HP with progressive effects. The thing is, in a lot of cases they're a PITA to track and deal with.

HP gets used for specific reasons, and that reason usually is "fast and good enough is more fun than slow and detailed"
 
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John "Omega" Williams
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Alot of this is irrelevant as it still boils down to using *something* as a diminishing value. Which in the end is just Hit Points by any other name.

Blood loss? Thats hit points.
Deplete characters energy? Thats hit points.
Deplete cards in hand or deck? Hit points.
Attrition of Soldiers in a Unit? Cleverly disguised hit points. (If they dont have HP individually)
Gradual loss of sanity? Yep, hit points used creatively.

This also covers hit points in reverse. In Toon! One of the Call of Cthulhu parodies had the characters having to worry about gaining sanity from seeing the beings from other worlds.

Heck, even 1 hit kill games are essentially 1HP battles.

Some games bypass HP by requiring you to exceed a damage threshold on a roll.
Example: Opponent has a Armour rating 3. On an attack any hit of 3 or less fails to kill the target.
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Willem-Jan Rensink
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Omega2064 wrote:
Alot of this is irrelevant as it still boils down to using *something* as a diminishing value. Which in the end is just Hit Points by any other name.

Blood loss? Thats hit points.
Deplete characters energy? Thats hit points.
Deplete cards in hand or deck? Hit points.
Attrition of Soldiers in a Unit? Cleverly disguised hit points. (If they dont have HP individually)
Gradual loss of sanity? Yep, hit points used creatively.

This also covers hit points in reverse. In Toon! One of the Call of Cthulhu parodies had the characters having to worry about gaining sanity from seeing the beings from other worlds.

Heck, even 1 hit kill games are essentially 1HP battles.

Some games bypass HP by requiring you to exceed a damage threshold on a roll.
Example: Opponent has a Armour rating 3. On an attack any hit of 3 or less fails to kill the target.


And in eurogames, the player with the most (hit)points wins

Don't you think he just meant hitpointcounters and stuff like that?
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James Hutchings
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Zwavor wrote:
And in eurogames, the player with the most (hit)points wins


In Poker, you have Hit Points called chips, and you can only do damage by risking a similar amount of damage yourself
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Benjamin Bentley
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palmerkun wrote:


That doesn't match how it's described in what was posted.
2 lights make a heavy. Now that heavy doesn't stack with lights...
But 2 more lights make a second heavy, which stacks into a destroyed.


My apologies for the confusion - only damage of the same type has a stacking effect.

Quote:
I see your intent, but all it does is make weaker weapons worthless.
You have Light Lasers that do Light Damage?
Great. Even if you have a million years, you can't actually destroy anything with them, because you can't reach Heavy Damage.


Which is completely illogical, and silly.


This isn't how it works, and the rules are on the site if you want a full description of the combat mechanics, but here's a brief clarification. Weapons have a power value, and comparing that power to the target's defense results in rolling one, two, or three damage dice. The result of that roll determines whether you get no damage, light, heavy, or a destroyed result. More dice are more likely to result in more damaging outcomes (though even three dice could result in no damage). A single die can still achieve heavy damage, so you could still destroy something by stacking on another heavy (though it will never cause a crit).

If your power is too low vs. the defense, however, you wouldn't roll any damage dice - your weapon just isn't powerful enough to seriously threaten the target, which forces the much smaller or lighter ships to position themselves on the weaker sides of larger enemies to threaten them (it also makes very low power weapons like flak only a threat to very small craft).

Quote:

HP gets used for specific reasons, and that reason usually is "fast and good enough is more fun than slow and detailed"


I'm shooting for fast and detailed - actions you take in the game often just rely on the number of a certain type of components you operate on your ship, so you don't need to remember effects or do much math to determine what's happened. Take shields for instance - when you operate them, you get one shield marker to put on a side of your ship for each shield generator operated. If someone's damaged one of your shield generators and you don't (or can't) operate it, you don't get a shield marker from that generator.
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Confusion Under Fire
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A very good article, Tank warfare can be unrelenting and hit points in a tank game whether video or board should be a no no. Conflict of Heroes has a damage chit which means unless the tank brews up you are never too sure as to what damage you have caused. The fun of a tactical tank game should be in the hunt and outwitting your opponent, even getting around the back of the enemy. Once you get a close range shot off then the results are going to be lethal. The great Michael Wittmann said he was more wary of Anti Tank guns than of tanks. If AT guns came up against Tanks in a hit point system the Anti tanks would probably lose as their defence must be pretty low. In real life it was the opposite.
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Enrico Dal Monte
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I think hit points in video games are meant to represent the abstraction of an average amount of damage. Some hits are criticals, some are misses, you average it out and that's the number you get. Hit points, or health points, is just a name that the player can easily understand.

Then again, this mechanic may not work in every kind of game. It's pretty impersonal, you don't develop an attachment for the units for example.
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Benjamin Bentley
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But in a video game, you've got a machine to do all the math for you. At that point, so long as you don't go crazy nuts, the bookkeeping for a more complex and interesting damage system can be handled by the processor, and while the code still needs to be efficient, any game that's already spending cycles simulating a 3D environment and calculating the intersection of bullets with objects can afford to do more than simple subtraction for a damage system - and some games have done a great job. Combat Mission has an incredible armor damage model, and after playing IL-2 (The PC versions) I just can't go back to something like Blazing Angels no matter how pretty the graphics get.
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Levi Mote
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whatambush wrote:
A very good article, Tank warfare can be unrelenting and hit points in a tank game whether video or board should be a no no. Conflict of Heroes has a damage chit which means unless the tank brews up you are never too sure as to what damage you have caused. The fun of a tactical tank game should be in the hunt and outwitting your opponent, even getting around the back of the enemy. Once you get a close range shot off then the results are going to be lethal. The great Michael Wittmann said he was more wary of Anti Tank guns than of tanks. If AT guns came up against Tanks in a hit point system the Anti tanks would probably lose as their defence must be pretty low. In real life it was the opposite.


You should play the free video game World of Tanks. It may change your mind about HP & tanks. It does also use hit location damage as well.
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Confusion Under Fire
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levimote wrote:
whatambush wrote:
A very good article, Tank warfare can be unrelenting and hit points in a tank game whether video or board should be a no no. Conflict of Heroes has a damage chit which means unless the tank brews up you are never too sure as to what damage you have caused. The fun of a tactical tank game should be in the hunt and outwitting your opponent, even getting around the back of the enemy. Once you get a close range shot off then the results are going to be lethal. The great Michael Wittmann said he was more wary of Anti Tank guns than of tanks. If AT guns came up against Tanks in a hit point system the Anti tanks would probably lose as their defence must be pretty low. In real life it was the opposite.


You should play the free video game World of Tanks. It may change your mind about HP & tanks. It does also use hit location damage as well.


I did have a quick look at this game some time last year and was turned off by the points system for buying tanks. There were also a few other things that I cannot remember now that just seemed too gamey and a far cry from realism. I understand why they took this approach but it isn't for me.
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