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A new combat/fighting system

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jwarrend
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The recent discussion about the combat game kindled my interest in trying to formulate a new “combat” mechanic for a head-to-head fighting-style game. My main interest is going beyond the “dice-off” model, because I feel that this is too abstract. However, I also don’t want to go to a model that is fully detailed with 6 different stats, table lookups, complicated fiddly rules, etc. Such would probably improve the “simulation”, but at the expense of playability.

Combatant model

My “solution” would model the combatants in this way. Each has 3 “stats” – Power, Speed, and Energy. Power represents the ability to inflict damage (or to resist the infliction of damage): how forcefully can you swing the axe? How much of a blow can you withstand with your shield? Speed is kind of an amalgamation of quickness and agility; how rapidly can you thrust the trident? Can you move your shield into place in time to deflect the blow.

The idea is that each fighter gets, initially, a set of markers corresponding to his base stats. So, if I’m Power 4/Speed 3, I’d get 4 Power markers and 3 Speed markers. These markers set the number of Speed and Power tokens that you will get, and the tokens are used to actually pay for combat actions, which will probably be card-driven. So, for example, maybe there’s a card that says “Lunge Attack: Pay 2 Power tokens”.

Now, here’s where Energy comes in. You pay one Energy token to replenish your token supply up to the level indicated by the number of markers you have in the Speed and Power categories.

Why, you ask, use 2 different kinds of counters? The reason is this: “damage” will (I think) affect the number of Power or Speed markers you have. So, taking a good whack in the leg will damage your speed ability for the rest of the battle, and this is modeled by reducing the level to which your token supply can be refilled.

What this is trying to do is get beyond the abstraction of “damage” being this abstract thing that really only has two states: still standing (i.e., having a greater-than-zero number of hit points), or defeated. This model allows damage to be inflicted in a way that directly reduces your combat abilities. And my system also gives the idea of a “fatigue” model where, since you can only replenish your token supply so many times, there’s a finite duration to how long you can fight before you collapse in exhaustion.

So this explains how I’m modeling the combatants themselves. There’s one element I have left out, and that’s the possibility of “magic” abilities. Were I to include this (and I don’t think it would be that bad), I wouldn’t include a “Magic” attribute, but rather an attribute of Serenity. The idea being that to use “magic” attacks, you have to be calm in the midst of the battle. Serenity would also be nice for simulating that combatants fight differently depending on how mad they are; some thrive on this, some get careless, etc. So, my “two-attribute model” may extend to three attributes.

Combat model

The preceding explained how I’m modeling the combatants themselves, but I haven’t specified how combat actually occurs. Curiously, I think that the above system has a lot of flexibility to accommodate a variety of different combat models. The one I’m thinking of would be card-driven, but I suspect there could also be a miniatures-and-cards version that could work off of a similar model.

But here’s a rough sketch of some of the concepts in the combat model I’m looking at. As I mentioned above, I think that the idea will be that you have cards corresponding to maneuvers you can perform, and each has some costs associated and some possible outcomes. So, the “lunge attack” may require you to pay two Speed tokens. Perhaps you can also pay Speed tokens to accelerate the attack, and power tokens to throw some weight behind it. Then, the defender would try to respond; he’d have to spend Speed tokens to attempt to divert the attack, and/or Power tokens to mount a defense. (Probably, there would be defense cards as well as attack cards; in fact, I’m envisioning that each card would have an Attack on one side and a Defense on the other, so you flip your cards over depending on whether you’re attacking or defending). Then there would probably be a couple of possible outcomes; if the attack hits, it probably does something to the Defender, possibly costing him tokens. Some attacks will have the ability to inflict “Wounds”, and this would cost the player markers, thus inhibiting his overall attack. Some really powerful attacks might sap Energy tokens, which would be bad because losing those reduces your ability to replenish your supply of Power and Speed tokens.

I haven’t fleshed out the specifics of how “hit success” is resolved; is it just a matter of raw comparison of how many Power tokens are “bid”? Or will there be some die rolling? (e.g., roll as many dice as the Power rating of your attack) It also might be necessary to introduce some more complexity in terms of whether the cards simply attack the other players "stats", or whether they're actually "positional" (ie, a kick to the head vs. a body-blow). There are still some details to work out with this aspect of the system.

But, how to decide who’s attacking and who’s defending? There’s one final attribute that I haven’t mentioned yet, but that will figure prominently into the combat, and that I’m calling Momentum. This isn’t an inherent stat, but rather, it is accumulated (and lost) during the combat through various actions, with the idea that at any given time, the player with the most “momentum” takes an attacking action, and the other player may try to respond with a defensive action. What I’m trying to get at is a model that realistically accounts for the fact that decisions of what maneuver to perform at a given time aren’t made simultaneously, but are made in an action/reaction scheme. It also aims to get beyond the simplicity of “I attack, then you attack”; if I hit you and it knocks you off balance, you aren’t going to get to respond; I’m going to hit you again.

This model has the potential for a runaway issue, and I need to work that out, but I think that there will be sufficient flexibility in the model to give players a chance to regain momentum. For example, if you deflect a lunging blow, it leaves the other player off-balance and you can then regain some momentum. Just a simple example, but you get the idea.

Theme

Now, I haven’t specified a thematic context for the game yet, and I claim that this is one of the strengths of this model; I could see it working for a gladiator game, or a knight vs a dragon, or two Ninja warriors dueling. The details of the warriors would be inherent to the cards themselves, and this is another cool aspect; players could expand the game simply by making their own cards (this is one of the great things about games like Star Wars Epic Duels, where fans have vastly expanded the game by whipping up card decks for characters not included in the original game).

I welcome any comments or reactions to this model. I don't think I've seen anything similar elsewhere, but I could be mistaken. I don't claim that it's earth-shatteringly great, but I do think it has a lot of flexibility, and that, despite being pretty simple, has a good balance between abstraction and simulation.

Thanks for slogging through this somewhat long post!

-Jeff

Anonymous
Interesting

Hey Jeff,

Well to support the old adage that there's nothing new under the sun - yup, there are similar ideas out there - but thats not a bad thing.
I've seen one or two home brew systems that use aspects of what you've described.
Heck I've used a similar forumla with two tabletop miniatures games I've built. I used action sequences where the unit uses energy or other tokens to get away from the 'you shoot then I shoot' paradigm.

In my superhero game (Tabletop Titans) I used this mechanic with an Energy token to allow any actions, use or powers etc.

I also used something similar in a robot card game (Trash Wars) where combat was done using drawn cards with random values but the players could bid energy tokens on their own card to increase its value or even have others add tokens to assist in combat.

I think you're on a good track though so keep at it.
Its really high time that more games appear that get away from the choreographed combat situation and the ever growing tables of statistics for reference.

Take a look if you want at those games I mention or my Action Combat system at my web link. Maybe they can give you some insight to what I did and that can help you on to either avoid any of my errors (I'm far from perfect) or even give you new ideas to help coalesce your own design.

sedjtroll
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A new combat/fighting system

I like this idea of getting action points (or "mana") based on stats, then spending those to act. I like it a lot.

I also like the momentum idea. I envision a simple track, with a pawn beginning in the middle. Cards played in combat would, in addition to (or in some cases instead of) doing 'damage' to the opponent would move the pawn on the momentum track- either toward your side (you gain momentum) or toward your opponent (you lose momentum). I could also see a more expensive class of defensive card called Reversals which may not do damage at all but flip the momentum track. For example if the momentum pawn is currently 2 spots toward you on the track and you attack me, I play a reversal negating your damage and flipping the momentum track so that the pawn is 2 spots toward me.

I could see the combat being card driven as you said, with cards having a cost in Power and/or speed. Initially the momentum bar would be in the middle, so it could be random who plays first OR the first play could be simultaneous, with the card with a higher Speed cost resolving first. Three possibilities for the momentum bar and player priority:
1. Anytime the momentum bar is in the middle the players play simultaneously and higher speed card resolves first
2. After the first play momentum is maintained if the pawn goes to the middle, so you don't lose momentum until the pawn goes into your opponent's side
3. there could be no center space, and after the initial play either one player has the momentum or the other does.

The cards themselves could be either offensive or defensive, each one either applying damage of some sort, reducing it, adjusting momentum, etc. A defensive card might cost you little, reduce the damage you take but not negate it, and not affect momentum- mainly used to wear the opponent out. An offensive card might inflict some damage and increase momentum. Another offensive card might inflict MORE damage, but force you to LOSE momentum (leaving you open to attack after a big swing).

Jeff's idea of having Split cards- each card with an offensive use and a defensive use- is interesting. But also interesting is having to choose your cards much like a ccg- do you play with defensive cards? Offensive cards? How many of each? But then you have the possibility of drawing all your defense cards and no offense for example.

To get around that perhaps each player could have a particular number of cards (depending on your stats) which they start with in hand, and when you play a card you leave it face up. When you replenish with an energy token then you pick those cards back up. So your actions are limited. And of course there could be the Second Wind card, which says "Replenish as if using an energy token. remove this card from the game." Or else simply gives you an energy token (and still removes itself from the game).

Good ideas Jeff, really got me thinking.

- Seth

sedjtroll
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A new combat/fighting system

The other thing I was going to say about this system is that it's not limited to combat.

Players, or even characters (of which you could control more than one) could have similar stats which control the aquisition of Action Points.

- Seth

GeminiWeb
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A new combat/fighting system

I like it. Yes, I like it quite a bit ... sort of reminds me of Lost Worlds (?) game, except you only need a player card, rather than a player book to resolve combat.

Some initial thoughts ...

Different 'warriors'

I think this could be handled quite well just through the statistics, although there is also opportunity to consider a 'special move' card for specific characters, or the advantage of special 'powers'. For example, someone might be able to 'smash' for one less power, or another character might be able to have one more card in their active hand ...

Armour?

Might want to consider how armour works. Does it reduce damage to those hit locations? Does it reduce your speed? Does it prohibit maneouvers or, more likely, just make them more expensive.

Momentum

Nice idea, and sedftroll's momentum track could work well too. Another idea is for each move to have a 'momentum score'. Based on the two cards played, it tells you automatically who has the momentum ... or it provides a 'score' that teh attacker needs to roll to keep the momentum.

Card driven

I also like this, with dual use cards ... although it migth be interesting to have (say) 3 types of cards (e.g. attack/defence/special). It would be really nice if hand management could play an important part of the game ...

- Bill

Trickydicky
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A new combat/fighting system

I like the idea of having defense/offense on the same card. I've thought of using the same idea in a football based card game for the plays. That way it would be very difficult to run out of "plays". It would be particularly effective if one of the "plays" or "moves" were decidedly better than the other. That way a player on the defense would have to think hard about using a card to defend himself, if the card is more powerful on offense.

In your game Jeff, if it is card driven, the replenishing of those cards would have to be discussed. You don't want players running out of cards and being prone to whatever their opponents do (at least you don't want it very often). Perhaps you could have a rule that you can lose two momentum (or any number) to replenish your hand back to full. This may make momentum to important, but it might also help keep someone from running away with the game. To help balance this even more, there could be a rule that each time you use an offense/defense card for defense you draw a card, but each time you use an offense/defense card for offense you don't. Eventually, the player with the momentum (on offense) would have to refill his hand. By so doing he lowers his momentum giving the defender a "chance" to catch back up. It wouldn't be guaranteed that even with the -2 momentum that the momentum would completely swing.

Questions:
Would players get to assign the stats of their fighters?

Have you thought about this for a larger scale battle with many fighters? The momentum could be army based, yet inside that army would be fighters with different stats and abilities fighting the opponents fighters. It could be very interesting and might open the theme up from a simple one-on-one battle to something a little more epic in nature.

sedjtroll
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A new combat/fighting system

I thin kthe momentum idea probably only works for 2 combatants, and for that it works well. But the stat based action points could easily work for more than 1v1.

- Seth

jwarrend
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A new combat/fighting system

Thanks for all of your excellent replies!

EdWhitey wrote:

Well to support the old adage that there's nothing new under the sun - yup, there are similar ideas out there - but thats not a bad thing.
Heck I've used a similar forumla with two tabletop miniatures games I've built. I used action sequences where the unit uses energy or other tokens to get away from the 'you shoot then I shoot' paradigm.

Yes, I think that “you shoot I shoot” is one of the key areas that I’m trying to “improve” upon. The other, I guess, would be the binary damage model; either you have 0, or greater than 0 hit points. I think that the idea of having a supply of “action payment tokens” that reduces as your attributes decrease models damage more realistically and, I think, interestingly.

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In my superhero game (Tabletop Titans) I used this mechanic with an Energy token to allow any actions, use or powers etc.

I downloaded the rulebook from your site and skimmed it. Very impressive, and quite comprehensive! I think I’m looking to develop something quite a bit more simplistic. I still think a wide range of interactions will be possible in my system, but the details will come in the cards themselves. Of course, much of the structure of your rules is needed to accomodate the “spatial” aspects of the game, which again are a level of reality that I may not invoke. But I think you do a nice job handling them, from what I saw.

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I also used something similar in a robot card game (Trash Wars) where combat was done using drawn cards with random values but the players could bid energy tokens on their own card to increase its value or even have others add tokens to assist in combat.

The “random card values” concept is one that I’m looking at as well, not just for this game. It reminds me of a game my Dad and I used to play, “Statis Pro Baseball”, where you’d flip cards to find the outcome of whatever play was being made. It’s a different way of handling things compared to dice. I think there’s a recent game that uses this; Heroes, Inc. maybe?

Quote:

I think you're on a good track though so keep at it.
Its really high time that more games appear that get away from the choreographed combat situation and the ever growing tables of statistics for reference. Take a look if you want at those games I mention or my Action Combat system at my web link. Maybe they can give you some insight to what I did and that can help you on to either avoid any of my errors (I'm far from perfect) or even give you new ideas to help coalesce your own design.

Thanks so much, Ed, I appreciate your insights and your assistance!

sedjtroll wrote:

I like this idea of getting action points (or "mana") based on stats, then spending those to act. I like it a lot.

Yeah, it is sort of an action point system. What I’m trying to get at, I guess, is moving beyond a realm where your abilities and attributes are static values and into a realm (more realistic, I claim) where they’re somewhat dynamic. Where, for example, you can choose to swing the sword really hard (up to the limit of your strength, of course), but there’s a consequence associated with that; maybe you’re more likely to be put off-balance, or maybe you expend more energy doing so. I think the action payment token system gives you that flexibility, and models the realistic idea that when you need to do something huge, you can -- but not as many times as you can do something “easy”.

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I also like the momentum idea. I envision a simple track, with a pawn beginning in the middle.

I wasn’t thinking about a track at all (which is ironic given my propensity for that device, e.g. Disciples), but now that you point it out, I think this is a fantastic implementation for this concept.

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Cards played in combat would, in addition to (or in some cases instead of) doing 'damage' to the opponent would move the pawn on the momentum track- either toward your side (you gain momentum) or toward your opponent (you lose momentum).

Yes, this is pretty much what I had in mind. The idea would be that the cards would have outcomes that would effect either one of your “ratings” (Power or Skill), or Momentum, or Energy. And there might be multiple outcomes depending on the attack. For example, a sword swing may not result in a momentum shift if blocked, whereas a lunging attack, while potentially more damaging, could lead to a big momentum shift if it was sidestepped.

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I could also see a more expensive class of defensive card called Reversals which may not do damage at all but flip the momentum track.

Hadn’t thought of this, but I like it.

Quote:

I could see the combat being card driven as you said, with cards having a cost in Power and/or speed.

Yeah, this is pretty much how it will work. I’m considering an idea where you can “bid” Power and Speed tokens to supplement your card choice. So, perhaps you swing really hard, or move quick-as-lightning. Not sure if this would be open or closed-fist style. It probably depends on how the resolution works. It may be a straight-up comparison of power tokens, (probably preceded by a comparison of speed tokens to see whether the defense gets into place in time) or it may be something like “Roll one die for each point by which you exceed the defender’s power”, where the die has perhaps 2 sides that say “hit” and the others say “miss”, and there are different outcomes depending on how many “hits” you have (e.g., one hit = opponent loses a token, two hits = opponent loses a marker, or whatever). I think there needs to be some level of randomization; closed-fist “bidding” could give uncertainty, but it’s still bounded by the parameters of the players’ abilities; it would be nice to allow “lucky” things to happen sometimes...

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1. Anytime the momentum bar is in the middle the players play simultaneously and higher speed card resolves first

This is something I’m trying to avoid; in reality, there’s never simultaneity; someone is always faster, and it’s always action-reaction. I don’t yet know how to answer the question “who has the momentum first”?

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2. After the first play momentum is maintained if the pawn goes to the middle, so you don't lose momentum until the pawn goes into your opponent's side
3. there could be no center space, and after the initial play either one player has the momentum or the other does.

(3) is a nice solution, and my original solution, with players having momentum “tokens” would be prone to (2), so (3) is probably best.

Quote:

Jeff's idea of having Split cards- each card with an offensive use and a defensive use- is interesting. But also interesting is having to choose your cards much like a ccg- do you play with defensive cards? Offensive cards? How many of each? But then you have the possibility of drawing all your defense cards and no offense for example.

To get around that perhaps each player could have a particular number of cards (depending on your stats) which they start with in hand, and when you play a card you leave it face up.

We discussed this briefly in IM; as I mentioned there, and will point out here for everyone else’s benefit, I haven’t really decided a card-play model yet. My initial thought would be that your cards represent “moves you know how to do”, and you have all of them available to you at all times. This necessitates having a limited number of moves available, of course, and that’s a drawback. But I think it just makes more intuitive sense than a model where you “pay” a card to take an action. If I know how to do a “whirlwind kick”, I can keep doing it as long as I have the energy and power to do it; I don’t need to cycle through 20 other moves first.

Quote:

Good ideas Jeff, really got me thinking.

Thanks, glad you like it!

GeminiWeb wrote:

I like it. Yes, I like it quite a bit ... sort of reminds me of Lost Worlds (?) game, except you only need a player card, rather than a player book to resolve combat.

Thanks, Bill. Haven’t played “Lost Worlds”, but yeah, the idea is that the combatants can be modeled fairly simply.

Quote:

I think this could be handled quite well just through the statistics, although there is also opportunity to consider a 'special move' card for specific characters, or the advantage of special 'powers'. For example, someone might be able to 'smash' for one less power, or another character might be able to have one more card in their active hand ...

Sure, and I think the tailoring of the cards to the warriors will be a fun process. My initial concept for this was that the players are some sort of “warriors” with base attributes specified, and they can study from “teachers” to obtain “move” cards, or to become proficient with weapons, which each give access to several cards themselves. So, you’d want to pursue the kinds of moves that complemented your fighter’s strengths. (For example, a strong but low-energy fighter might be able to wield the “50 lb. weight”, but it might not be ideal since he would run out of energy quickly when using it.

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Might want to consider how armour works. Does it reduce damage to those hit locations? Does it reduce your speed? Does it prohibit maneouvers or, more likely, just make them more expensive.

Yeah, all of this hangs on the scheme of how hits are resolved; I think it will work by comparing the “power” invested in the attack with the power mounted by the defense. So armor would give an automatic bonus to this; it would presumably also reduce the number of speed markers the player had.

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Nice idea, and sedftroll's momentum track could work well too. Another idea is for each move to have a 'momentum score'. Based on the two cards played, it tells you automatically who has the momentum ... or it provides a 'score' that teh attacker needs to roll to keep the momentum.

As I said above, this would work better with a simultaneous card-play model, which I’m trying to avoid.

Quote:

I also like this, with dual use cards ... although it migth be interesting to have (say) 3 types of cards (e.g. attack/defence/special). It would be really nice if hand management could play an important part of the game .

I think the reason I gravitated to having Attacks on one side and Defends on the other is simple practicality; in my model you don’t lose cards when you use them, so being able to just “flip them over” when you go from attack to defense was attractive. To me, the “management” aspect of the game involves managing your supply of Power and Speed tokens. But it could be interesting to add some management of cards as well; I’m just not determined enough on a card play mechanic to say definitively how it will play out.

TrickyDicky wrote:

In your game Jeff, if it is card driven, the replenishing of those cards would have to be discussed. You don't want players running out of cards and being prone to whatever their opponents do (at least you don't want it very often).

I agree; this is another reason why my model of “you have all of your moves available to you at all times” is attractive to me, but...

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Perhaps you could have a rule that you can lose two momentum (or any number) to replenish your hand back to full.

This is a cute idea for a play-cards-and-lose-them model. Nice!

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Would players get to assign the stats of their fighters?

I don’t see why not; the game could come with some “canonical” fighters, but “rolling your own” might be a fun thing to do for players as well. My initial thought was to make the game a sort of “Duel of Ages”/”Heroscape” style where you have fighters from all different eras/myth patterns available to duel each other. (With the difference being the omission -- probably-- of the board aspects of those games). But dropping it into a specific thematic context would be doable as well; the most likely, currently, is probably an Asian model where players are learners traveling to different schools to acquire new combat skills. (Actually, such a game might be somewhat close to “Pirate’s Cove”; may need to rethink that...)

Quote:

Have you thought about this for a larger scale battle with many fighters? The momentum could be army based, yet inside that army would be fighters with different stats and abilities fighting the opponents fighters. It could be very interesting and might open the theme up from a simple one-on-one battle to something a little more epic in nature.

Not a bad thought at all. I’m afraid that the details of this system are sufficiently involved that you couldn’t really handle more than, say, 10 fighters at a time, and that wouldn’t be terribly “epic” in nature. (I suppose you could move the model up to battalions, but it would give other problems then). Some of the concepts -- like Momentum -- would translate well to a big-scale battle, but others -- specifically, the “pay Energy tokens to replenish your supply of action tokens, up to a number that decreases as you take damage” is probably specific to just an individual fighter/boxer/wrestler/gladiator/whatever. But it’s worth trying to think about how some of these concepts could be extended to a big-scale battle. Good thought!

Anonymous
A new combat/fighting system

Great ideas!

If you want to go with a kind of closed-fist strength bonus, how about this?

Each card has a bonus number on it, roughly corresponding to the card's strength when played as an attack/defense (some cards are better than others). After revealing the attack/defense card pairing, players can boost their chance of winning by simultaneaously discarding another card from their hand and adding its bonus value to [some number on the card they played].

Perhaps when you play a card, you draw a new one, but when you discard one for a bonus, it's gone for good.

Also, how to decide who starts with momentum? How about the player with the most speed?

sedjtroll
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A new combat/fighting system

SevenSpirits wrote:

Each card has a bonus number on it, roughly corresponding to the card's strength when played as an attack/defense (some cards are better than others). After revealing the attack/defense card pairing, players can boost their chance of winning by simultaneaously discarding another card from their hand and adding its bonus value to [some number on the card they played].

Or a "destiny draw" like Star Wars CCG has... you add to your total by revealing the top card of your deck and looking at the number on it.

- Seth

Anonymous
A new combat/fighting system

I'll start with an apology for only skimming the posts above. What I did read was chock-full of good ideas. In any case, I want to pass on a couple of references.

The Firestorm CCG was one of the best designed CCGs I've ever played. It took all of the best elements of its contemporaries and put them into a single game. The game also had a bit of a board game flavor to it. Unfortunately, the rulebook was quite detailed in a way that rules-lawyers would love, and the sheer intimidation of a 92 page rulebook probably scared a lot of people away. Anyway ... The ship-to-ship combat system worked in a similar way to what was proposed above. Each ship had 4 stats: Guns, Shields, Structure, and Energy. Each turn, the ship reset it's Power level to equal its Energy stat. In combat, players alternated taking actions. For an action, a player could make his ship shoot its guns. This would cost 1 point of Power, and would inflict damage on his target equal to his Guns stat. His target could then, as a response, spend a Power point (actually as many as desired) to prevent damage equal the defender's Shields stat (each point of Power spent prevents this much damage). Any extra damage would reduce the Structure, and when Structure hit 0, the ship was destroyed. Thus, one needed to balance how much attacking one could do against how much defending you'd need to do. It was a good mechanic that worked very well. The game had many other effects that could alter this basic setup, some on cards and some on the ships themselves.

As for momentum, there was a CCG in the last year or so, called Ophidian 2250. It was cancelled either right before or right after its first expansion. It used a mechanic called "The Flow" to determine who could take actions. Most offensive actions were either a Positive or Negative Flow actions. Once you got the Flow, you could play a Positive Flow action. By definition, a Positive Flow action allows you to maintain the Flow, and as long as you had the Flow, you could keep taking actions essentially uninterrupted. A negative Flow action gives the Flow to your opponent. There were also defensive reactions ... I bought 2 starter decks when it came out, but never sat down to play the game.

In any case, these are two good examples of ideas similar to yours. Check them out and see what they did. ... Then figure out why the games failed and do it right!

I hope this helps.

Captain Sky

jwarrend
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A new combat/fighting system

Captain_Sky wrote:
I'll start with an apology for only skimming the posts above. What I did read was chock-full of good ideas. In any case, I want to pass on a couple of references.

Thanks, these are quite helpful.

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The Firestorm ... rulebook was quite detailed in a way that rules-lawyers would love, and the sheer intimidation of a 92 page rulebook probably scared a lot of people away.

I can see why! I just downloaded it, and yikes, what a ghastly monstrosity it is!

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Anyway ... The ship-to-ship combat system worked in a similar way to what was proposed above. Each ship had 4 stats: Guns, Shields, Structure, and Energy. Each turn, the ship reset it's Power level to equal its Energy stat. In combat, players alternated taking actions. For an action, a player could make his ship shoot its guns. This would cost 1 point of Power, and would inflict damage on his target equal to his Guns stat. His target could then, as a response, spend a Power point (actually as many as desired) to prevent damage equal the defender's Shields stat (each point of Power spent prevents this much damage). Any extra damage would reduce the Structure, and when Structure hit 0, the ship was destroyed.

This definitely has some similar ideas to what I'm working on. The "innovation" of the system I'm articulating, I think, is the idea that "Energy" represents how many times you're allowed to replenish your "Action" tokens, and the level to which you replenish them decreases as you take damage. It adds a level of complexity to a system like Firestorm's, but I think it works more "realistically"; in the Firestorm-like system, the guns can blaze full-steam until the hull ruptures. My system has that taking damage directly reduces your ability to inflict further damage, but in a much simpler way than having to monitor stats with time.

Quote:
As for momentum, there was a CCG in the last year or so, called Ophidian 2250. It was cancelled either right before or right after its first expansion. It used a mechanic called "The Flow" to determine who could take actions.

I'll have to check his one out as well. It sounds similar to what I'm advocating. My main motivator for articulating this system was to come up with a way to model the act-react nature of combat (because I don't feel that simultaneous card play really models how combat works). Sounds like they worked out something similar.

It's too bad to see these good ideas buried in obscure CCGs! But, I'm glad you've heard of them and alerted me to them. Thanks much!

-Jeff

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
A new combat/fighting system

The conversation about combat mechanics this week got me to thinking more about how to move beyond the combatant model into a card-based combat model using these ideas.

As I’ve previously discussed, players will pay Power and Speed tokens to perform their attacks. What I think that the cards should do is give a “payout” per Power and Speed token that you spend, and let’s say these payouts can be between 1 and 5. So, for example a “Crushing Blow” attack might have Power 4/Speed 2, meaning that if you spend 2 power tokens and 2 speed tokens, your attack would be Power 8 and Speed 4. (Alternatively, the cards could just have a token cost and a fixed payout, or maybe a nonlinear scale, though that would be more complicated).

Additionally, each card lets you attack one possible area: the head, the body, or the legs. Successful attacks to the head would affect the Energy of the defender; attacks to the body and legs would affect the Power or Speed, respectively. Probably, there would be an icon on the card with a figure showing which area(s) that card can attack/defend. And probably there's a little schematic in the center of the table onto which you place a marker indicating which area you're attacking.

So, I think that what you would do, if you were attacking, would be to play a card, face down, and say “I’m directing an attack at your head, and I’m playing 2 Power tokens and 2 Speed tokens”. Then, the defender would pick a card, presumably one that could protect his head, and also play Power and Speed tokens. Then, the cards would be revealed and the tokens played would be multiplied by the ratings of the card.

Now, I think that resolution works like this: first, you compare Speeds: if the defender is quick enough, he gets his defense in place (or avoids the attack entirely, if that is the card he played). If he has defended the attack, he compares his power with the attacker’s power. (If not, his power is reduced/non-existent).

The attacker’s card will probably have 2 possible outcomes, depending on whether his power exceed the defender’s (a hit) or not (blocked). Probably, missing an attack costs some momentum, but landing an attack will cause damage on the defender. Perhaps you lose as many tokens based on the margin of the hit (how much your power exceeds the defenders), or perhaps some kinds of attacks cause “wounds”, a loss of markers (which, recall, affect how many tokens you receive when you pay an energy token to replenish).

The only thing I’m not sure of is how the card play will work. I initially wanted to just give each player, say, 7-10 cards, each of which he could use at any time (and perhaps with a corrollary rule that if you use the same card too many times, it starts costing you momentum to keep using it). But maybe it would permit more variety if you had a hand of, say, 5 cards, and had to draw to replenish your hand. It would be a slight loss of realism but might be more playable.

Anyone, there’s a brief update on where this one might be going. I may try to whip up a couple of decks of cards and some sample combatants to try the game out and see how it goes...

-Jeff

sedjtroll
sedjtroll's picture
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Joined: 07/21/2008
A new combat/fighting system

jwarrend wrote:
I initially wanted to just give each player, say, 7-10 cards, each of which he could use at any time (and perhaps with a corrollary rule that if you use the same card too many times, it starts costing you momentum to keep using it). But maybe it would permit more variety if you had a hand of, say, 5 cards, and had to draw to replenish your hand. It would be a slight loss of realism but might be more playable.

I'm thinking you're right about the replenishing of the hand. Suppose the cost to replenish your hand (when it's your turn to act) is to put the momentum bar on your opponents side (at a level of 1). So if you get on a roll and unlad your hand on the opponent, you only really play 4 or 5 cards max, then you have to catch your breath and replenish- giving the momentum to your opponent.

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