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What is your favorite combat system and why?

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Anonymous

What combat system or mechanism employed by a board game do you find most appealing and why? Feel free to cite examples. Some basic ones use paper, rock, scissors principles, die rolling, just to name a few. I enjoyed the tile laying / counting system used in Tigris and Euphrates currently, but there are probably some better ones out there people could remind me of.

doho123
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What is your favorite combat system and why?

I sort of enjoy the AH Civilization "combat" system, which is more of a "how much can this space support" system. The fact that multiple players can share a space peacefully (and watching the ramifications of someone breaking that

Anonymous
What is your favorite combat system and why?

I hate Risk with an insurmountable passion (...Yes, and if your TWO infantry continue to roll 6s on these six-sided dice, they can decimate my army of over a dozen units. Makes sense to me) - but it holds one of my favorite mechanics.

A War-Game with hidden Goals to be met. Players (supposed to be) actually doing something other than sit-back and camp-out until their army is an unstoppable juggernaut, then take-out all other players

hpox
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What is your favorite combat system and why?

"Dune", what an amazing and deep combat system!

You choose how many units you are willing to sacrifice. (Sacrifice more, you have a highest chance of winning, but fewer will be left after the battle)
You choose a chief. (Value from 1 to 7) (Choosing a high value chief is not always a good idea. He can be killed, more likely to be a traitor...)
You choose 1 Attack and 1 Defense. (If you have them, if you lose that battle you

FastLearner
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What is your favorite combat system and why?

I like lots of different mechanics. I like tile-laying, for example, and very much to my surprise it turns out I like crayon rail games (which I thought I

zaiga
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What is your favorite combat system and why?

The combat system in Axis and Allies is not too bad. It has that right mix between luck and calculating odds. The amount of dice needed can be a bit cumbersome though.

Cosmic Encounter has a combat system that I enjoy also, which is much more psychologic. Perhaps the difference between the number of you ships you take in to a battle and the number of the cards is a little too big here.

As for other clever mechanisms, I absolutely adore the rotating role mechanic in Puerto Rico. It

Anonymous
What is your favorite combat system and why?

For me the best combat systems are simple (but mean something). Meaning I

jwarrend
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What is your favorite combat system and why?

Quote:
25-04-2003 at 01:17, zaiga wrote:
The combat system in Axis and Allies is not too bad. It has that right mix between luck and calculating odds. The amount of dice needed can be a bit cumbersome though.

Despite my recent "conversion" to German games, A&A will always be my favorite game; I love the epic scale. There

Cyberchrist
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What is your favorite combat system and why?

Hmmm, the Dune game seems to be a really cool game.
Gotta try it out sometime.

Speaking about mechanisms, im really a resource management junkie.
It doesnt matter if we are talking balancing mana or creatures in magic the gathering or if we talk optimizing in Settlers of Catan.

One thing that i really would like to see more of is sabotage in different forms.
Many games could need a couple of ways to sabotage/destroy the plans for the opposition, many really dull games would definately get a boost from this.
Sabotage is really a fun way of interacting :-]
There are often many subtile ways of sabotaging but im looking for mechanisms that are well balanced and more straight forward.

Anonymous
What is your favorite combat system and why?

Thanks for all the feedback. As some of you may know my entry into the contest is a wargame at heart, and combat plays a significant role in the flow of the game. My goals were lofty in that I wanted a highly strategic system that allowed for epic conflicts, but very fast play. No thirty minute Risk dice rolling slugfests while the other players pass out from boredom. A&A and Samurai both suffered from this syndrome where two players would clash near the end of the game and everyone got to watch. I wanted each battle to be completely resolved in no more than 4 shakes of the dice regardless of army size. In the end I used one of the more primitive mechanics, highest roller wins, but I added various twists to that old method. Different units rolled different sided dice, and by spending resources (Dune- done much differently) players could outfit their armies with weapons providing modifiers, leaders could provide modifiers by risking their lives, and having different levels of units give modifiers too. By the time I perfected the combat engine each battle had a calculated feel, with the dice rolling providing just enough of a random element to provide suspense, not shocking disbelief as in the Risk "Rambo" syndrome where one army wipes out a legion. Ninety percent of all battles are resolved with a single roll and in a 6 player game this makes a big difference.

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What is your favorite combat system and why?

Quote:
24-04-2003 at 10:59, Mind4u2c wrote:
What combat system or mechanism employed by a board game do you find most appealing and why?

Button Men has a good combat system, one that can be applied to big armies (rolling dice of various sizes- bigger dice represent strength, smaller dice represent speed).

I read an article somewhere talking about how that system can be used for large scale combat.

- Seth

Anonymous
What is your favorite combat system and why?

I like to use a sort of modified form of the FUDGE engine in some of my miniture game designs. Fudge dice are normal 6-sided dice. But the sides are read as two minus, two plus and two "equals" or zero. You roll two dice and then you add that to the attacking unit

JPOG
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What is your favorite combat system and why?

Hmm I think it depends on the game, of course. I also play A&A now and then and like it ok but ... I just can

zaiga
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What is your favorite combat system and why?

Why do so many people think a combat system needs to involve dice? There are lots of ways to incorporate combat systems into games that don

Brykovian
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What is your favorite combat system and why?

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23-06-2003 at 05:13, zaiga wrote:
For example, instead of rolling dice to determine the outcome of a battle you could let players simultaneously reveal a card from their hand. Add the number of this card to the attack/defense number of your unit, highest number wins.

That

sedjtroll
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What is your favorite combat system and why?

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23-06-2003 at 05:13, zaiga wrote:
Why do so many people think a combat system needs to involve dice? There are lots of ways to incorporate combat systems into games that don

zaiga
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What is your favorite combat system and why?

I am not against dice as a method of handling combat, per se. I mentioned in an earlier post that the method used in Axis and Allies is fair enough and that game uses a lot of dice rolling.

I can also see how you have to play the odds in games with randomness (either rolling dice or drawing cards or whatever) and how that requires skill. Heck, I played a lot of high-level Magic and have seen many a player complain about an opponent

Anonymous
What is your favorite combat system and why?

I personaly like the the "no-dice" combat. The "Rambo" effect is very disappointing.

In the past few weeks, I've been working on a civ-like game. I added a combat capability though it's just an option and not the main objective of the game.

The combat system is very simple: Two unit types: soldier and worker.
Worker defends 1 and attacks 0. Soldier defends 2 and attacks 1. The attacker wins if his attacking total is greater (and not equal) than the defending total. As you see, a soldier won't win the battle vs a worker since both totals are equal. In most cases, defender has the advantage.
Typically, the attacking player will need at least 2 soldiers to defeat a single worker or even an enemy soldier. Here is the twist: Randomly, players draw "buster" battle cards. These cards modify the attacking/defense total. These cards are played "a la" Instant in Magic The Gathering once the combat is announced. A player may choose to improve his attacking or defending total before the combat is over. The other player may decide to play cards as well or pass and therefore loose the battle. Though I haven't playtested this combat system yet, I think it's light and simple enough to accomplish its objective without giving much to the luck factor.

I've never seen/played/read anything about Cosmic Encounters in general so I'm glad to know that the idea I had it's not a bad idea and it has been used before satisfactorily .... I was hoping that "my" idea will be original but it was so trivial that I knew it couldn't be ... Few days back I read some postings about a combat system and someone (jwarrend I think) had almost exactly the same idea: 2 unit types: peasent and warrior and similar attack/defense numbers. Again, I must be on the right track :)

- Henddher

Anonymous
Risk . . . and a certain game of wizardry

I too dislike risk. It is much too simplified, despite this the game is very time consuming, and the combat "system" can decide crucial battles seemingly randomly. I have found myself stuck in a corner many times. I would build up an entrenched force and then attempt to strike out so as to give myself some breathing room. I'd then proceed to lose all but one of my units against some three odd units that my opponent has. Also, the board switches hands much too rapidly for long term combat strategy to be employed . . . well, now that I'm done with my ranting ; ) . . .
Although this is not strictly a board game, I strongly believe that Magic: The Gathering has the strongest combat rules I know. It is firmly rooted in simplicity, but has a dimension most other games lack: variation. There are many, many ways to kill and enemy creature. Everything you do affects the outcome of the battle. You can play one of thousands of different spells. There really are infinite combinations between the various cards. This is what I like about Magic. There are many choices, but it is not completely free for you to choose what you want to do. This makes strategizing somewhat less cumbersome than in a game like chess where nearly every piece can move in many different directions and the effect of the move is noticed many turns later.

Now for another brief rant: Magic: The Gathering is no longer the game it once was. It has been dumbed down for a mainstream audience. Much of the subtle strategy the game once had has been lost with the release of recent sets and the card block rotations. Ah, I am going too far. Let me leave it at this - Magic contains my favorite combat system. . . now that'll do, eh? ; )

- Silverdragon0

jwarrend
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What is your favorite combat system and why?

Henddher wrote:

I've never seen/played/read anything about Cosmic Encounters in general so I'm glad to know that the idea I had it's not a bad idea and it has been used before satisfactorily .... I was hoping that "my" idea will be original but it was so trivial that I knew it couldn't be ... Few days back I read some postings about a combat system and someone (jwarrend I think) had almost exactly the same idea: 2 unit types: peasent and warrior and similar attack/defense numbers. Again, I must be on the right track :)

That's interesting that you came up with a similar combat system independently. What I think it shows, in some sense, is actually that neither of us are being super original. As you point out, the idea of comparing unit strengths and supplementing with power cards has been used in Cosmic Encounter, Dune, LotR: the Confrontation, etc. I think it's a nice way to get variability in combat without randomness. It's funny that we both have 2 unit types, and similar values for them. For me, I didn't want a situation as variable as Axis and Allies or Sid Meier's Civ or Age of Mythology where you have lots of different unit types; I think you can get enough meaningful decisions out of that in the context of the game I'm working on.

I'd be happy to hear more about your Civ game; it would be interesting to compare notes and see what else we might have come up with in common...

Good luck with your design!

-Jeff

Anonymous
What is your favorite combat system and why?

Quote:

That's interesting that you came up with a similar combat system independently. What I think it shows, in some sense, is actually that neither of us are being super original.

Actually, I don't consider coming up with an idea similar or even the same as someone else in the process of design "not being original". It is more that during the process of design, the designer encounters a "problem" that requires a solution so the design works. It just so happens that many people come up with a similar solution to similar problems.

This is especially true in designing combat mechanics for a variety of games. Let alone the fact that similar design premises have similar mechanics issues to overcome. So, multiple games based on a similar premis will lead to similar solutions in mechanics, gameplay, functionality,
and then some. The drive to make the game better and/or different is really where the originality comes in.

As far as favored combat mechanix go...I'd have to say, like Silverdragon, that Magic: The Gathering has a great system -- out of the number of CCGs out there that I've played. However, the M:TG mechanix wouldn't necessarily be the best way to go for some other game, like Risk or even Axis and Allies. Another point, though, about M:TG and its mechanix is that it has inspired a whole new way of looking at design and a potential combat mechanic and variation of, that might be usuable in a variety of designs.

Dice are still a favorite tool of mine. They allow for an element of randomness easily. And, if you are able, can be "marked" in any number of ways that suits the game design. Like Sedjtroll wrote earlier, and this based on his experience with Blood Bowl; it comes down to how the dice are used. Both in the design, and by the player (based on the design).

Anyways...

May you all find your solutions easily! Have fun!

-Vexx

Anonymous
What is your favorite combat system and why?

Quote:

That's interesting that you came up with a similar combat system independently. What I think it shows, in some sense, is actually that neither of us are being super original.

Actually, I don't consider coming up with an idea similar or even the same as someone else in the process of design "not being original". It is more that during the process of design, the designer encounters a "problem" that requires a solution so the design works. It just so happens that many people come up with a similar solution to similar problems.

This is especially true in designing combat mechanics for a variety of games. Let alone the fact that similar design premises have similar mechanics issues to overcome. So, multiple games based on a similar premis will lead to similar solutions in mechanics, gameplay, functionality,
and then some. The drive to make the game better and/or different is really where the originality comes in.

As far as favored combat mechanix go...I'd have to say, like Silverdragon, that Magic: The Gathering has a great system -- out of the number of CCGs out there that I've played. However, the M:TG mechanix wouldn't necessarily be the best way to go for some other game, like Risk or even Axis and Allies. Another point, though, about M:TG and its mechanix is that it has inspired a whole new way of looking at design and a potential combat mechanic and variation of, that might be usuable in a variety of designs.

Dice are still a favorite tool of mine. They allow for an element of randomness easily. And, if you are able, can be "marked" in any number of ways that suits the game design. Like Sedjtroll wrote earlier, and this based on his experience with Blood Bowl; it comes down to how the dice are used. Both in the design, and by the player (based on the design).

Anyways...

May you all find your solutions easily! Have fun!

-Vexx

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What is your favorite combat system and why?

Vexx_Paradox wrote:
Quote:

That's interesting that you came up with a similar combat system independently. What I think it shows, in some sense, is actually that neither of us are being super original.

Actually, I don't consider coming up with an idea similar or even the same as someone else in the process of design "not being original". It is more that during the process of design, the designer encounters a "problem" that requires a solution so the design works. It just so happens that many people come up with a similar solution to similar problems.

Maybe I worded it poorly; my point is that both of us are treading ground that is well-worn. The fact that we may not have been aware of the previous designs that used these mechanics just means we came up with it independently, but if we tried to market our games, people won't say "ah, this is the same combat mechanic as Cosmic Encounter, but at least he came up with it on his own." No, they'll expect you to be aware of what has gone before, and will evaluate your game as if you were. That's not to say that reusing other people's mechanics is "bad" or anything; we all like Puerto Rico, which has very little mechanical originality. The point is more that Seyfearth couldn't say "the character mechanic was completely my own invention". But whether he did or not doesn't affect the quality of the game. As you say, the mechanic must be evaluated for how it solves the particular problems of the design, and how it fits into the framework of the whole game.

Quote:

Dice are still a favorite tool of mine. They allow for an element of randomness easily.

I would have thought this too until I played "Wallenstein" which uses a "cube tower" for battle resolution. Players commit forces, then throw their cubes into the tower, and the results are determined by which cubes come out. The kicker is that some will stick in the tower, and could come out in later battles. Thus, you don't have to rely on the statistics of "eventually, the dice will go my way". You go into future battles with the "dice" already somewhat "loaded", in a sense. I find this to be a much more elegant solution than dice. It still retains the surprise element of combat, yet doesn't require tons of battles or rolls for statistics to even out. It also leads to much more interesting decisions -- do I commit many troops to the battle, knowing that some may get trapped in the tower, thus giving me more "tower-power" but less "board-power"?

Of course, this is also a much more expensive and less accessible element than dice. But I'd like to see it in more combat-heavy games.

Scurra
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What is your favorite combat system and why?

One of my absolute favourite "random factor" mechanics is used in an Alan Moon game called Andromeda. Players put coloured cubes on various locations and every so often you have to determine who has "won" a space. So all the cubes are covered over by a sort of plastic lid with a hole in the side, the cubes are shaken around and then the lid is pulled back until one cube comes out through the hole.
If there are six cubes on the space, five of one colour and one of another, then the major colour is likely to appear; but the glory of the game is that the other one might :) And because the number of cubes vary on the different spaces, you don't need complicated polygonal dice or tables to work out the result.
It's a brilliant device that ought to be revisited.

Anonymous
What is your favorite combat system and why?

I've never seen or heard of the game that uses a tower for the cubes/dice, or the game Andromeda. They both sound like interesting solutions to the luck of the roll problem. I'd have to see them in action though; the descriptions make them sound kind of funny. Not that I'd dismiss those methods.

However, this brings up a good topic. Just what kind of uses and solutions to the luck of the roll can we work out? You two and others have mentioned the use of statistics, using lots of dice, and lots of dice rolls. Seems that some of the issues come from having too many stats to worry about. :)

Could be that one way of looking at dice in combat mechanix is to determine just what the dice would be needed for and when. This after determining just what CAN be done without the dice. In essence, an attempt to simplify and minimize the use of dice. All this in a hope to use them especially for something essential in the design.

Then again, it ultimately comes down to what is required by the design. If dice work, kudos. If cards are better, sweet. Whatever makes the game as simple as possible without losing anything worthwhile I guess.

Well...Have Fun!

-Vexx

jwarrend
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What is your favorite combat system and why?

Vexx_Paradox wrote:
I've never seen or heard of the game that uses a tower for the cubes/dice, or the game Andromeda. They both sound like interesting solutions to the luck of the roll problem. I'd have to see them in action though; the descriptions make them sound kind of funny. Not that I'd dismiss those methods.

You can check out Wallenstein at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/viewitem.php3?gameid=3307
(There's a photo of the dice tower)

Quote:

However, this brings up a good topic. Just what kind of uses and solutions to the luck of the roll can we work out? You two and others have mentioned the use of statistics, using lots of dice, and lots of dice rolls. Seems that some of the issues come from having too many stats to worry about. :)

I think you're using "statistics" differently than me. I'm not talking about statistics in the sense of "ratings" -- like "Haldor has a +1 to-hit, a Combat Skill of 24, a Defensive rating of 16, a Dexterity of 11", etc...
I'm talking about mathematical probability and statistics. It's very important in dice-rolling games. For example, statistically, over 6 rolls, I should get each of the numbers on a standard d6. But in practice, I usually won't. I'll need many more rolls than 6 to have the statistics even out.

And that's what I'm talking about for combat games. You need to have enough rolls so that all of your probability space is sampled. Otherwise, "lucky" results could dominate your game. The reason I like Wallenstein is that the results of two battles are correlated; if I do poorly in battle A, there's a good chance I'll do better in battle B, because the tower "remembers" the results of A via the cubes being stuck in the tower. In Risk, every battle starts afresh, and I must rely on statistics every time. Nothing wrong with that, but I think Wallenstein and Andromeda are more elegant ways of solving the same design problem.

-Jeff

zaiga
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What is your favorite combat system and why?

Some stuff to think about: a Risk variant that is very popular here in Holland is "Fanaat Risk". There are no dice in that variant. Instead, when you move your units into enemy territory, both players trade their units one for one. For example, John moves 6 units into Pete's territory which contains 3 units: both players lose 3 units. End result: John has now 3 units in what was formerly Pete's territory. Think about how this changes the dynamics of the game (for better or for worse, I'll leave that up to you).

Also, try to imagine a game of chess where you resolve a fight by rolling dice. The attacker rolls 2d6, the defender rolls 1d6. Highest roll wins. Ties are won by the defender. Would this change the game fundamentally? Would it be a better game or worse?

Anonymous
What is your favorite combat system and why?

I've always had the opinion, right or wrong, that including a dice roll can sometimes speed up games. In a purely deterministic game, I've seen players spend a LONG time counting up units, etc, determining if they have enough 'points' to win the fight. When you know dice will be involved, you're forced to make a faster, more intuitive decision. Of course, once the number of dice rolled gets above a handful, the actual resolution slows down considerably.

On another note, I read somewhere about two basic ways of determining whether a given action succeeds. It was talking about an RPG setting, but the same concepts apply to other games. One technique is testing a random number, plus modifiers, against a target number. The good ol' roll the dice method. The other technique is to allow the player to allocate an amount of resources from a limited pool. If the player allocates enough, they succeed. The Dune game sounds like it takes this approach.

zaiga
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What is your favorite combat system and why?

Fungus_Amungus wrote:
I've always had the opinion, right or wrong, that including a dice roll can sometimes speed up games. In a purely deterministic game, I've seen players spend a LONG time counting up units, etc, determining if they have enough 'points' to win the fight. When you know dice will be involved, you're forced to make a faster, more intuitive decision. Of course, once the number of dice rolled gets above a handful, the actual resolution slows down considerably.

True, having random or unknown quantities in a game prevents min/maxing. If all information is known, players might be tempted to analyze all the possible permutations before reaching a decision, which leads to downtime for the other players (analysis paralysis). That is the reason why I like to have at least a bit of hidden information and/or randomness in my designs. That way a player has to make a more intuitive decision, which is more fun.

Quote:
On another note, I read somewhere about two basic ways of determining whether a given action succeeds. It was talking about an RPG setting, but the same concepts apply to other games. One technique is testing a random number, plus modifiers, against a target number. The good ol' roll the dice method. The other technique is to allow the player to allocate an amount of resources from a limited pool. If the player allocates enough, they succeed. The Dune game sounds like it takes this approach.

That's a good way of putting it. I think the second method is typically more satisfying for a player. Sometimes dice can give you something for nothing or vice versa. You have to play the odds, but sometimes the odds are against you. The dice rolls may average out in a long game, but not every roll is equally important. In the "resource allocation" method you can at least decide for yourself how you value each action.

To make it a bit more abstract, I think you could use any one of 4 methods in a game:
1. Perfect information & actions decided by resource allocation -> predictable outcome, may lead to analysis paralysis and min/maxing. Examples: Through the Desert, Puerto Rico, Chess.
2. Perfect information & outcome of actions decided by random means (ie. dice) -> uncertain, variable outcome, may lead to unsatisfying or unrealistic situations when the odds are against you in certain crucial actions. Examples: Axis & Allies, Formula DE.
3. Non-perfect information & outcome of actions decided by random means (ie. dice) -> uncertain, unpredictable and random outcome. Almost impossible to follow a strategy, you just have to go with the flow. Examples: ???
4. Non-perfect information & actions decided by resource allocation -> uncertain, variable outcome, but players decide when and how much they want to invest in certain actions. Examples: Magic, Lost Cities, Euphrates & Tigris, Settlers of Catan, Robo Rally.

I personally tend to go for method #4 in my designs, but I think any of these four methods can work in the right game and when implemented in the right way. Of course there are several gradations of "non-perfect information" and "randomness", so take that into account.

-Rene Wiersma

Scurra
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What is your favorite combat system and why?

Good analysis there.

#3 is exemplified by "Can't Stop!". Although the players know the odds at all times, the game isn't a totally random affair, like, say "Yahtzee" (which, of course, also fits that category, illustrating your point about gradations of randomness very nicely :))

Anonymous
What is your favorite combat system and why?

zaiga wrote:

That is the reason why I like to have at least a bit of hidden information and/or randomness in my designs. That way a player has to make a more intuitive decision, which is more fun.

I also like shaping my designs with a bit of the unknowable. That is one reason for my interest in using dice or cards. In most strategic game ideas I have, I still want some little random element. However, now thinking about it, in something strategic like Chess, the touch of randomness comes from the possibility of your opponent doing something unexpected. Hmm, that very idea may have something if it can be isolated and exploited in a design.

zaiga wrote:

To make it a bit more abstract, I think you could use any one of 4 methods in a game:
1. Perfect information & actions decided by resource allocation -> predictable outcome, may lead to analysis paralysis and min/maxing. Examples: Through the Desert, Puerto Rico, Chess.
2. Perfect information & outcome of actions decided by random means (ie. dice) -> uncertain, variable outcome, may lead to unsatisfying or unrealistic situations when the odds are against you in certain crucial actions. Examples: Axis & Allies, Formula DE.
3. Non-perfect information & outcome of actions decided by random means (ie. dice) -> uncertain, unpredictable and random outcome. Almost impossible to follow a strategy, you just have to go with the flow. Examples: ???
4. Non-perfect information & actions decided by resource allocation -> uncertain, variable outcome, but players decide when and how much they want to invest in certain actions. Examples: Magic, Lost Cities, Euphrates & Tigris, Settlers of Catan, Robo Rally.

This is a great analysis. Thanx! From your list, my favorite methods to work with would have to be numbers 2 and 4. I can't say I care for the methods which allow for predictable outcomes. I like the excitement in a game where all players are on edge when it comes to what just might happen. However, I still want logical outcomes (if that makes sense).

Good stuff! Have fun!

-Vexx

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