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Working on a new combat mechanic

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jwarrend
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Hi all,

I'm trying to put together a good combat mechanic for a civ game I'm working on. The system has to allow for quick resolution, no chart lookups, and no dice.

As a frame of reference, other combat systems that have been used in similar games and which I like include Civilization and Vinci, which are a little too simplistic; Wallenstein, which is a little too random; and Empires of the Ancient World, which is a little too much like rock-paper-scissors.

With this in mind, my current system works like this: There are two kinds of units, Peasant and Warrior. For combat purposes, Peasants are worth 1, Warriors are worth 2. So, in combat, you sum the strengths of your forces and compare.

Now, that's kind of dull. So to spice it up a bit, I added a card component, where you can add between 1 and 4 "power cards" to your combat. These generally have a value between 1 and 4, and many have bonuses under special conditions. eg, "Phalanx" is ordinarily worth 1, but if the other guy plays a "Cavalry" card, it's worth 4, say. So, you add the value of your pieces and your cards, and determine the winner.

Now, that is a little better, but there are a few problems with it. For one, there is a big "luck of the draw" effect, since all cards are drawn from the same pile. For two, there is a "rock paper scissors" effect where if you happen to be lucky enough to use your Phalanx against the Cavalry, you get a bonus, but since you chose sight-unseen, it's not greatly to your credit and thus may reward you unfairly.

So, there a couple of things I want to change. First, I want to have a gradation in card values such that you need to do something extra to get better cards; since it's a Civ game, it will probably be that as you get more advanced, you can draw from a better deck.

But I also want to lift the rock-paper-scissors effect, yet still have an "aha!" feel to combat. So, how about this system: Combat cards are characterized by one or more of three values: Speed, Attack, or Defense. Combat would proceed in this way. First, we compare our Speed values. The faster army gets to attack first. Then I compare my Attack value to your Defense value, and get to do something if my value is higher; maybe I get to select a casualty, or loot some gold or something. Then, you compare your Attack rating to my Defense rating, and if it's higher, you get to do something as well.

I'm envisioning that in this system, Warriors would have an Attack rating of 2 and a Defense rating of 1, Peasants would have both ratings at 1.

So, let's say for example I have the cards
Chariots: Speed +2
Archers: Attack + 2
Trenches: Defend +1

and you have the cards
Elephants: Speed +1
Shields: Defend +2

Let's also say my army has 2 Warriors and 2 Peasants, your army has 1 Warrior and 2 Peasants.

So, first we compare our Speed ratings: mine is 2 (from the Chariots), yours is 1 (from the Elephants), thus, I attack first. I obtain my attack rating: it's 4 for the Warriors (2 warriors x 2 Attack per warrior), 2 for the peasants, and 2 for the "archers" card for a total of 8. I compare that to your defense rating which is 3 for your troops + 2 for your "Shields" card = 5. So, I have an 8-5 advantage, which allows me to do something; maybe take casualties or something?

Next, you compare your Attack rating, which is 4, to my Defense rating, which is 5. So, you don't get to do anything to me, because your attack rating isn't high enough.

I know it sounds a bit mathy, but I think it could actually be pretty simple, yet could still retain the flavor of "chariots are different from catapults are different from a phalanx", etc. It could also lead to some interesting strategic effects; if I want to hold a territory, I want to heavily invest in Defense cards, whereas if I want to be warlike, I want Attack cards, yet if I don't have some good defensive abilities as well, I will probably sustain heavy losses in battle.

The one thing to work on is the consequences of winning; what do you get to do if your Attack exceeds his Defense? I think "casualties" is good, but how many casualties can you take? It must be a simple formula for the game to work...

One thing that might be nice about this is it would make 3-way battles much easier. In the previous game, only 2-way battles could be accomodated, whereas here, you could perhaps have a 3-way fight, just by comparing speeds. Although, it would still be a bit of a pain.

Anyway, I welcome your comments and suggestions on this one. Combat will be somewhat infrequent in this game, with only a couple of battles per game turn (of which there are only 6 or 8 anyway), so it doesn't have to be totally superficial, yet it still must be quick, and it must be possible to internalize the combat system pretty early on into the game. I think the idea I've outlined above accomplishes this, but I'd really like to hear your thoughts on the matter. Thanks!

-Jeff

Scurra
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Working on a new combat mechanic

My reaction is basically that the system seems sound, but that the "power-up" cards need to have the same points value in order to work properly. Thus SPEED + ATTACK + DEFENCE have to be equal. That way you avoid the "luck of the draw" syndrome (well, you reduce it significantly anyway) and you keep that "do I hold this high DEFENCE card back (say, 0-0-5) or do I use it now to draw a potentially better ATTACK card (say, 1-3-1)?"

I'm not sure how the Warriors and Peasants are differentiated at present (beyond one having a higher value), but I could see the basic units having a similar SPEED - ATTACK - DEFENCE rating (probably adding up to a lower number than the combat cards) although I can see this being too complicated for what you want.

One game combat mechanism I particularly like is used in COPPERTWADDLE, a two-player card game. In that, you cannot launch an attack unless you have more power *at the outset* of the combat. The fact that by the end of the combat (following various cards being played) the situation will be very different is irrelevant. The strength of this system is that you can see your weak points and - with clever planning, can try to lure the opponent into attacking a weak point that you have planned on defending strongly with your cards. Or, alternatively, bluffing them so that they leave themselves open to a counterattack.

I can see that method working nicely in your game, so that players can only launch an attack if they are apparently numerically stronger in ATTACK versus DEFENCE, but the situation may change later (as the Elephants suddenly lumber in to defend etc.)

jwarrend
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Working on a new combat mechanic

Scurra wrote:
My reaction is basically that the system seems sound, but that the "power-up" cards need to have the same points value in order to work properly. Thus SPEED + ATTACK + DEFENCE have to be equal. That way you avoid the "luck of the draw" syndrome (well, you reduce it significantly anyway) and you keep that "do I hold this high DEFENCE card back (say, 0-0-5) or do I use it now to draw a potentially better ATTACK card (say, 1-3-1)?"

I was envisioning that each card would only have one, or maybe 2 of these properties, but I suppose you're right that each deck should be properly normalized. to reduce luck of the draw effects. Another thing I should point out is that I envision diplomacy being an important part of the game, so trading a good Attack card to the warlike player in return for a good Defense card which will protect you against aggression could be a good move; I think trade can perhaps mitigate luck of the draw, but shouldn't be relied upon exclusively to do so...

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I'm not sure how the Warriors and Peasants are differentiated at present (beyond one having a higher value), but I could see the basic units having a similar SPEED - ATTACK - DEFENCE rating (probably adding up to a lower number than the combat cards) although I can see this being too complicated for what you want.

Yeah, that's a little too complicated. I'd like to keep it nice and simple, if possible. The basic idea is that Peasants produce resources, Warriors are better at Combat. That could be manifested simply in terms of Warriors having a slightly higher "attack" rating. But beyond that, this aspect of the game is meant to be very simple, there isn't meant to be much complexity between the different types of units, although using this simple system I've outlined, one could probably make a decent wargame with more varieties of units.

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One game combat mechanism I particularly like is used in COPPERTWADDLE, a two-player card game. In that, you cannot launch an attack unless you have more power *at the outset* of the combat. The fact that by the end of the combat (following various cards being played) the situation will be very different is irrelevant. The strength of this system is that you can see your weak points and - with clever planning, can try to lure the opponent into attacking a weak point that you have planned on defending strongly with your cards. Or, alternatively, bluffing them so that they leave themselves open to a counterattack.

I can see that method working nicely in your game, so that players can only launch an attack if they are apparently numerically stronger in ATTACK versus DEFENCE, but the situation may change later (as the Elephants suddenly lumber in to defend etc.)

Very interesting, and worth thinking about. In the current game, there's a "pay to fight" mechanic so if you want to iniate battle, you must pony up resources equal to your army size. This makes moving a small army into a heavily occupied territory a relatively stable maneuver, since the opponent will have to expend a lot of resources to mobilize his army to expel you.

I should also point out that I'm advocating an "instant resolution" system, kind of like a die roll or a chart lookup. It's "once around" in a sense. The faster player compares his attack with the slower player's defense, he gets a benefit, then the slower player does likewise, then it's over. I suppose, though, that a "progressive revelation" of cards could be neat in the way you describe, but it would also make battles take longer; I'll have to see whether it's worth it.

One simple idea I had was that "the faster player compares his Attack with the slower player's defense, period" -- that the whole benefit of being fast is that it's your "Attack" number that will be compared with the opponent, and not your "Defense" number. That would certainly make things easier, and would still give some range of strategy; from a design standpoint, it's nice because it's a single event that resolves combat -- compare the ratings, and the higher result is the winner. In contrast, I now have to decide "what use do you make of the amount by which a player's attack exceeds the other's defense", since both players must derive this benefit. But, the whole thing bears more thought.

Thanks for your input!

sedjtroll
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Working on a new combat mechanic

I like the system you describe. Perhaps the result of the faster attack could be like Magic's First Strike... as you say, you get a casulty. I'd probably go with the Axis and Allies or Star Wars mechanic here- the loser of the unit chooses which unit to lose.

If you want to keep it to 1 step, you can assign a number (say 3) and for every 3 points of Attack value, the other team loses a guy. This sorta circuments the "attack first" thing though, unless maybe you go back and forth (faster player first) and lose guys until the attack isn;t strong enough to kill off a guy.

Having to choose weather to lose a Warrior- weakening your forces- or a peasant- weakening your production- might be interesting.

Just some things to think about...

- Seth

Brykovian
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Working on a new combat mechanic

I like what you have so far ... but I'm wondering why you'd have the calculated "speed" factor involved in a one-shot battle. Wouldn't the person choosing to go to battle automatically be the attacker, and his/her target the defender?

-Bryk

Scurra
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Of course it's always tricky to comment on the details of a game that you haven't seen :)
Now I can see what you are doing with Warriors and Peasants, I get a better idea of the intent behind it, although I still think that Peasants shouldn't be able to fight (or, if they do, they should count as less than half a warrior) but that they should be a more difficult target to hit than the warriors as a result.
Trading cards is certainly a good way around the balancing issue I was concerned about; I still think that the cards need to be internally balanced but a method of moving them around would certainly affect that.

I must admit that I do like the "pay to fight" mechanism - maintaining an army in the field is expensive so finding the balance between warriors and peasants is important - too many of one and the other will suffer. Very clever.

jwarrend
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Working on a new combat mechanic

Scurra wrote:
Of course it's always tricky to comment on the details of a game that you haven't seen :)

Yes, of course! There is a lot more to this one than just the combat mechanic, and it really makes more sense when it's integrated into the game as a whole. I described some of the core concepts in my journal, and of course I'm happy to elaborate if anyone wants to hear more about the larger design.

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Now I can see what you are doing with Warriors and Peasants, I get a better idea of the intent behind it, although I still think that Peasants shouldn't be able to fight (or, if they do, they should count as less than half a warrior) but that they should be a more difficult target to hit than the warriors as a result.

There's even a little more to it than this. First, Warriors count towards one of the VP conditions. Also, there is a limit to the number of pieces you can have in a given territory, and pieces aren't free to create. So, I think "Warriors = 2xPeasants" in combat strength is mitigated by these other factors. Since they cost the same, and since your ability to fill a territory is limited, you won't just stack a territory with Peasants if you want to fight, because it's not the most economical way to be warlike. But of course, some playtesting will be needed to reveal whether the relative values of Peasants and Warriors are balanced. Suffice to say, there are other considerations that balance them than just the ones I've pointed out thus far.

As for the "more difficult target", I think Seth's suggestion of using the Axis and Allies "casualty selection system" is probably a good way to go. You can decide whether you want to lose peasants, which costs you production, or warriors, potentially costing you the ability to strike back. This would be especially interesting in the context of my current idea; if I have a higher Speed rating and cause you some casualties, you must take into account having enough Attack power left to hit me back, if that's what you want to do.

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Trading cards is certainly a good way around the balancing issue I was concerned about; I still think that the cards need to be internally balanced but a method of moving them around would certainly affect that.

I don't object to the "internally balanced" idea, but the point will be that the areas where you're weak will still need to be shored up. All cards may have the same sum total, but if you need a good defense card, the balance alone doesn't cure that issue. I could do a Princes of Florence style "draw 5 cards, choose 1", but I don't think that's really necessary...

Quote:

I must admit that I do like the "pay to fight" mechanism - maintaining an army in the field is expensive so finding the balance between warriors and peasants is important - too many of one and the other will suffer. Very clever.

Yes, that's the idea! I also wanted to have fighting be costly so that "swooping" won't be the default strategy; ie, you create the Pyramids, then I swoop in, steal them from you, and net the VP. I want you to have to pay resources so that by fighting, you're denying yourself some other opportunity. However, the trick is to balance the motivator for fighting so that there still is one. You don't want the opposite situation where the reward of combat isn't worth the reward. Right now, the possible consequences of "winning" a battle are that you can take casualties, take resources, or seize control of the territory. Not sure how that will work in the context of the new combat system. For example, who would get to choose to control the territory? The faster player, ie, the one who took spoils first? Or the one whose Attack exceeded the opponent's Defend by a larger amount? Maybe my system whereby "Faster player uses his Attack rating, slower player uses his Defend rating" has some merit after all, because then combat really is resolved with a single comparison...

Anyway, thanks again for chiming in with some good thoughts.

jwarrend
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Working on a new combat mechanic

Brykovian wrote:
I like what you have so far ... but I'm wondering why you'd have the calculated "speed" factor involved in a one-shot battle. Wouldn't the person choosing to go to battle automatically be the attacker, and his/her target the defender?

I think it's just one more stat that can add some variety to the interaction. I'm not sure the execution is ideal yet, but what I was going for is that you can possibly, by being "fast", get to attack "first", which is supposed to give you some advantage.

It does make sense that the person initiating combat would be the "attacker", so maybe the use of Attack and Defend ratings are sort of misnomers, but what I want to get at is the idea that your army can be evaluated two different ways -- by its ability to (a) inflict damage, and its ability to (b) resist the infliction of damage -- and these are not necessarily the same thing. So the idea was that you want to compare player 1's (a) with player 2's (b), and also compare player 1's (b) with player 2's (a). The "speed" gives you a logical order for doing that, or, perhaps, tells you which player will be (a) and which will be (b).

The reason it makes sense is let's say I want to initiate combat with you. I send out my elephants against your chariots. It doesn't matter that I picked the fight; your chariots are going to ride circles around my elephants, thus, they're going to attack me, and my elephants, though they precipitated the encounter, are going to have to adopt a defensive posture; how capable are they of doing that?

That's the thought process I'm working with, anyway. It may not be perfect, but the main thing I'm thinking about at this point is complexity; what's a simple way of having combat happen, yet which preserves some of the "flavor" of battle? I think the idea of a third ranking, which I chose to be "speed", doesn't add much complexity, but can add a lot of flavor, so I potentially like it. But your point is well taken. Thanks!

-Jeff

jwarrend
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Working on a new combat mechanic

sedjtroll wrote:
I like the system you describe. Perhaps the result of the faster attack could be like Magic's First Strike... as you say, you get a casulty. I'd probably go with the Axis and Allies or Star Wars mechanic here- the loser of the unit chooses which unit to lose.

Yes, this is probably the right way to go, even though thematically it's flawed, mechanically, it's most fair, and as you point out below, makes for a more interesting decision if the piece-loser is the one who's choosing.

I think I want to have the attacker decide what KIND of commodity is lost. In other words, maybe he can attack to take casualties, or to loot resources, or to gain control of the territory. And if he chooses casualties, the loser chooses which piece, etc.

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If you want to keep it to 1 step, you can assign a number (say 3) and for every 3 points of Attack value, the other team loses a guy. This sorta circuments the "attack first" thing though, unless maybe you go back and forth (faster player first) and lose guys until the attack isn;t strong enough to kill off a guy.

This is sort of like the system used in Mare Nostrum, although that uses dice rather than attack value. I like addition more than division in ease-of-gameplay terms, so I'm hesitant to do a "lose a guy for every X attack value", but in the end, it may be the way to go. As a starting point, I'll probably do "for every point by which my Attack exceeds your Defense, you lose one guy or one resource". In the end, that will likely prove devastating and will have to be changed, but it really depends a lot on how balanced everything is. If battles are usually close, maybe it will be ok...

Scurra
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jwarrend wrote:

I think I want to have the attacker decide what KIND of commodity is lost. In other words, maybe he can attack to take casualties, or to loot resources, or to gain control of the territory. And if he chooses casualties, the loser chooses which piece, etc.

That's quite clearly the right approach because it gives both players involved a tricky choice - should the winner choose to destroy a resource because there's a scarce one there, and should the loser accept this?
If you have a mechanism whereby the loser can pay an alternative (but obviously steeper!) cost, that makes things even more traumatic. If the winner chooses to destroy a particular resource, but the loser could opt to destroy three of a different resource instead, then they might be willing to do that. In which case the winner might decide to choose casualties instead, and so on. Possibly too brain-mangling for the sort of game you are looking for, but worth investigating.

Anonymous
Working on a new combat mechanic

On the different values of cards: This is easy since it is a civ game: Tech level 1 is +1, level 2 is +2, and so on. There is another interesting feature to having different tech decks: If you still have the special card abilites that play off different cards, a player now has some idea of what tech level his opponent has been drawing, and can make his plays accordingly

jwarrend
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Working on a new combat mechanic

Scurra wrote:
jwarrend wrote:

I think I want to have the attacker decide what KIND of commodity is lost. In other words, maybe he can attack to take casualties, or to loot resources, or to gain control of the territory. And if he chooses casualties, the loser chooses which piece, etc.

That's quite clearly the right approach because it gives both players involved a tricky choice - should the winner choose to destroy a resource because there's a scarce one there, and should the loser accept this?

Yeah...this doesn't completely work, because there is only one, or perhaps 2, resources in the game. This is something I'm working on; I'm quite adamant that there be at most 2 resources, because I think Civilization and Mare Nostrum have done the "tons of resources" thing quite adequately. And I think "having the right resources" isn't the focus of this game, nor the impetus for diplomacy and trade, so much as using your resources effectively to maximize your position. That said, if there are 2 resources, they will be used for different things; my idea is that Crops are for things like population expansion, Gold is for completing buildings. So, if the loser has to choose one or the other, it could still be a tough choice depending on his strategy...

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If you have a mechanism whereby the loser can pay an alternative (but obviously steeper!) cost, that makes things even more traumatic. If the winner chooses to destroy a particular resource, but the loser could opt to destroy three of a different resource instead, then they might be willing to do that. In which case the winner might decide to choose casualties instead, and so on. Possibly too brain-mangling for the sort of game you are looking for, but worth investigating.

Hmm...I like this idea quite a bit, and don't mind the extra challenge of tough decisions, but I do worry a bit about adding complexity to the rules in order to incorporate this idea. If it can be done easily, though, that might be cool. Definitely worth thinking about!

Thanks again.

Scurra
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It's that Catch-22 dilemma again - I don't know enough about the game to make useful comments, but don't want to know too much because you're discussing mechanics in the abstract, not a complete (if unfinished) game.

Anyway, you're quite right about having a "resource-lite" game: we need a few more of them really. But even having a choice of two makes for some decision making without adding to the complexity too much. Indeed, I would think that it would make adding the "destroy the other but at a higher cost" easier rather than harder since it's just a matter of defining an appropriate exchange rate.
For instance, imagine we've got two resources: crops and gold, and two units types: peasant and warrior. If you make one peasant = one crop, one warrior = one gold, and two peasants = one warrior, and assuming an alternate payment cost of 2 for 1, then:
If the winner elects to destroy a warrior - the loser can elect to lose 4 peasants, 4 crops or 2 gold instead.
the winner elects to destroy 2 crops (since they can't choose just one). The loser can elect to lose 2 warriors, 2 gold or 4 peasants instead.

Obviously the loser ought to be much worse off in all of those cases but sometimes they will be unable to afford one particular loss and will choose the worse option.
I'm not suggesting that there should be complete freedom of choice for the losing player - maybe you don't allow substitution of resources for units or maybe you can only choose alternatives that the terrain area could supply or something. But it doesn't seem too hard to have a simple equivalence formula for this sort of thing.

jwarrend
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Scurra wrote:
It's that Catch-22 dilemma again - I don't know enough about the game to make useful comments, but don't want to know too much because you're discussing mechanics in the abstract, not a complete (if unfinished) game.

Yeah, this is true; the game is fairly well fleshed-out, but I am trying, as you say, to divorce the combat mechanics from the whole game engine, yet things like "what should the outcome of battle be?" are intimately connected to the relative value in whole-game terms of the various units and commodities.

Maybe I should workshop this one. I'm rather excited about it as a solution to the "Civ lite" game. When I first heard about Mare Nostrum, knowing nothing about that game, I thought the idea of making a Civ lite would be fun, so this is my attempt, and I think it can work, but needs some streamlining to pull the various mechanics together. The combat mechanic is the one I'm addressing here, yet it's quite true that the other mechanics also come into play necessarily in assessing whether the combat mechanic "works" or not.

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Anyway, you're quite right about having a "resource-lite" game: we need a few more of them really. But even having a choice of two makes for some decision making without adding to the complexity too much.

Yeah, that was what I was thinking; I'm afraid going to only one resource would remove some opportunity for decision making. And indeed, it would put more demands on balancing that resource for various kinds of actions, whereas if "Crops are for population, Gold is for buildings", you can choose to emphasize production of the commodity that reflects the kinds of actions you want to take. So, I think two resources are probably good, it's just balancing the costs of the different kinds of actions that is required to make it useful.

For example, one dilemma I've had in the "pay to fight" mechanic was that originally, I had "you must pay crops for each attacking troop" with the intent that you would have to balance whether you want to pay resources to fight, or not. Yet in practice, it worked out that this prevented people from fighting because no one could afford it! That's not necessarily a bad thing, because it means you have to budget if you want to be warlike. My idea for a "solution" was to go to one resource type, so that people will really have to choose, as I originally wanted them to have to choose, whether to "build" or "fight". But actually, the problem was likely related to the "population expansion" actions, which cost Crops, came earlier than the "fight" action, which also cost Crops. Switching the order of those might be all that's needed, because now there's a clearer choice -- "do I pay to fight, knowing that it will limit my ability to expand my population?"

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Indeed, I would think that it would make adding the "destroy the other but at a higher cost" easier rather than harder since it's just a matter of defining an appropriate exchange rate.

Yes, that's true. But part of the dilemma is also defining what the rate of destruction of one ought to be; in other words, how it ought to be connected to the outcome of combat. Should it be "lose one resource/unit for each point by which my Attack exceeds your Defense"? This is really a play balance issue more than a philosophical question that can be answered here. But deciding on a simple yet also fair outcome for combat is turning out to be tricky.

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For instance, imagine we've got two resources: crops and gold, and two units types: peasant and warrior.

Hey, I don't have to imagine too hard, that's the way it works now!

Quote:

If you make one peasant = one crop, one warrior = one gold, and two peasants = one warrior, and assuming an alternate payment cost of 2 for 1, then:
If the winner elects to destroy a warrior - the loser can elect to lose 4 peasants, 4 crops or 2 gold instead.
the winner elects to destroy 2 crops (since they can't choose just one). The loser can elect to lose 2 warriors, 2 gold or 4 peasants instead.

Interesting idea. This will involve some re-thinking on my part, because of the way I'm currently adding units (which you obviously can't have known). It's basically "pay one crop to add one unit to a Territory", you choose which unit, max one unit per territory. (there's another way to add units, but I'll set that aside for now). If the different units cost different commodities, that would certainly make this kind of combar resolution approach easier.

Another thing I considered was an idea where loser decides whether Resources or Units will be lost, winner decides which type is lost. So, loser says "I will lose Resources" and then winner says "Ok, you lose Crops". Or it could be flipped, so winner says "you will give me resources" and loser says "ok, here are crops". You could easily incorporate your suggestion into this, by having it be that the loser can surrender the alternative of what was requested, but at double the rate required.

The question I still need to resolve, though, is something like "If I beat you 8-5, what happens?" Should the margin of victory count for something? Or should there be a fixed outcome for winning? The former case has merit in that if you go to the expense of bringing a devastating army into a territory, you want to get some benefit for having gone to that expense. But the problem is that margins of victory could vary wildly, and coming up with a simple system for turning the margin of victory into an outcome that is fair in all cases could be more difficult; and the converse approach of designing the game so that the outcomes are always close is equally difficult!

Do you have any thoughts on whether combat should be "Speed decides which player will count their Attack rating and which will count their Defend rating, and those numbers are compared" or "Speed decides whose Attack rating will be used first ; that rating is compared to the other player's Defend rating, the player gets a benefit; then the other player compares his Attack rating to the faster player's Defend rating, and gets a benefit".

The former seems quicker to resolve, and simpler to design, the latter seems to possibly lead to something more interesting...If I'm the fast player, should I take casualties to weaken his retaliatory attack, or should I take Commodities, which is what I really want? In practice, though, it will probably be a simple math excercise where the strength of his counterstrike is determined, and in most cases, it won't really be a dilemma.

Brykovian
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jwarrend wrote:
Another thing I considered was an idea where loser decides whether Resources or Units will be lost, winner decides which type is lost. So, loser says "I will lose Resources" and then winner says "Ok, you lose Crops". Or it could be flipped, so winner says "you will give me resources" and loser says "ok, here are crops". You could easily incorporate your suggestion into this, by having it be that the loser can surrender the alternative of what was requested, but at double the rate required.

It seems more natural to me that the attacker can pick the target. If there's a way for the defender to make adjustments just before battle, it might be interesting for the attacker to announce their target before the battle, so that the defender can choose when/if to apply extra defensive resources. Otherwise, I think the attacker -- if successful -- should be able to pick the casualty, since they would have (in theory/theme) concentrated their attack to take that target out. However, there is some room for the defenders to re-direct that attack, in order to protect whatever they feel is most valuable ... Guess I just talked the whole situation back around upon itself. ;) So much help, I am! :P

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The question I still need to resolve, though, is something like "If I beat you 8-5, what happens?" Should the margin of victory count for something? Or should there be a fixed outcome for winning?

and
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Do you have any thoughts on whether combat should be "Speed decides which player will count their Attack rating and which will count their Defend rating, and those numbers are compared" or "Speed decides whose Attack rating will be used first ; that rating is compared to the other player's Defend rating, the player gets a benefit; then the other player compares his Attack rating to the faster player's Defend rating, and gets a benefit".

I think that your decision on the second part determines the answer to the first part. If you are going to have a single battle, then both player's ratings should have an impact on the other player's stuff. Even in a successful attack, the attacker usually loses units, unless it was a massively lop-sided affair. You might do a every X rating put foward by the loser allows them to pick a casualty ... and every Y rating put foward by the winner allows them to pick a casualty.

If, however, you really do 2 battle calculations (which I prefer), then you simply allow the winner of each round to pick a single casualty, no matter what the margin of victory. (Hopefully, I was more helpful on these later points. ;) )

-Bryk

Scurra
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Bryk might have solved the dilemma there. If the attacker has to state what they are targeting first, then the defender might change their mind about how significant they consider the attack.
This doesn't necessarily negate the "pay a higher cost to switch to the alternative" option of course.

Can I clarify: the idea would be that if you are attacking a region, then you can choose anything in the region to attack, whereas the defender can only choose to target the attacker's army (which is presumably comprised of warriors only) ? Or could you choose to attack an enemy army, rather than the region in general? [note: these questions are based on the discussions we've been having, not necessarily the game itself!]

In which case, speed would probably be the determining factor as to who got to execute their manoevre first (playing cards etc.)

jwarrend
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Working on a new combat mechanic

Scurra wrote:
Bryk might have solved the dilemma there. If the attacker has to state what they are targeting first, then the defender might change their mind about how significant they consider the attack.
This doesn't necessarily negate the "pay a higher cost to switch to the alternative" option of course.

Nice work, guys. I initially read Bryk's post and said "no, that doesn't work at all". But the more I think about it, the more I think it works, in a lot of ways, better than my current concept.

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Can I clarify: the idea would be that if you are attacking a region, then you can choose anything in the region to attack, whereas the defender can only choose to target the attacker's army (which is presumably comprised of warriors only) ? Or could you choose to attack an enemy army, rather than the region in general? [note: these questions are based on the discussions we've been having, not necessarily the game itself!]

In the context of the game itself, the idea is that players can co-occupy a territory, but if one of them initiates combat, the winner of the combat gets one of three things: 1. Loser loses some units. 2. Loser gives winner some resources. 3. Winner gains control of territory . [*]

If the winner is the player who already owns the territory, I have that he can expel the other player from the territory instead.[**]

So, I could see something like this happening here, where you state the intended outcome of the battle before it even starts. "If I win, you will give me a resource" or "you will lose a unit".

What might be kind of cute is to have this be kind of like a bid. "If I win, you must give me 3 resources", but in order to get that, I must exceed his combat value by 3 points, otherwise I get nothing, whereas if I exceed his combat by 6, I still get the 3 resources that I "bid".

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In which case, speed would probably be the determining factor as to who got to execute their manoevre first (playing cards etc.)

It does seem that this is to be preferred; if I'm the defender, I can either try to play huge "Defense" cards so that his attack value doesn't exceed my defend value, or I could try to play huge Speed cards in the hopes that I can take casualties first and weaken his attack such that, again, it doesn't succeed. Whereas in the "speed decides who the attacker is" model, you would have kind of the same choices, but there wouldn't be as clear-cut a way for both sides to take casualties.

One thing that might be cute with the "bid" mechanic above is that the attacker could decide the consequences of a battle for both sides. For example, I could say "If my Attack exceeds your Defense, you will lose 2 Warriors". But then, if the other player's attack exceeds my own Defense, I will also lose 2 Warriors. And then speed really matters, because it will have a lot of impact on who loses warriors first, thus weakening their attack.

Alternatively, each player could, prior to the battle, lay out a "combat consequence" card, and a third could be drawn randomly, say. They could say things like "Lose 2 Warriors", "Lose 1 Peasant", "Surrender 2 Gold to the other player", "Gain control of the Territory", etc. So then, we have combat: We compare Speeds, and the Faster player compares his Attack with the other player's Defense. If the Attack is greater, he chooses one of the Combat Consequence cards and the other player must perform it. Next, the Slower player compares his Attack with the other player's Defense, and if it is greater, he chooses one of the Combat Consequence cards and the Attacker must perform it.

Or, in the "once around" model, the faster player chooses a combat consequence for the slower player (assuming his attack exceeds the slower player's defense) and then the slower player chooses one of the other consequences. (possibly too powerful).

Wow, lots of stuff to think about! I will mull it over for a few seconds and then create a new post where I'll articulate what I think might be a working combat system under the suggestions made here. By all means, though, please comment on this post as well! Thanks again, you guys are incredibly helpful in making this thing work!

-Jeff

[*] Initially, one of the victory options was also "destroy a building", but I'm not sure I like this game-wise even though it fits nicely themewise. I think the game is kind of short anyway (in turns, not in length!) and so destroying people's buildings just slows the game down. I think having the choices of looting their resources or seizing control of the territory has semantically the same effect; you can deny them the ability to build more buildings, or to reap the benefits of their building. So, I think "trash a building" isn't likely to end up in the game, although in this mechanic you suggest, it works really well, because the defender can decide how aggressively to defend a building...is it one he really cares about? In some sense, maybe that's a better option than "gain control of the territory."

[**] Reasons why you might want to expel a player: Currently, only the player who owns the territory can build in it, but both can produce that territory's resource. Additionally, attrition requires that a territory's population not exceed it's capacity, with both sides losing pieces till the limit is met. Also, how many territories you have a presence in is currently one of the VP-gaining systems.

jwarrend
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How about this system?

Ok, here's a way that combat could work.

1. The active player declares that combat will happen. He pays one Crops for each of his forces in the territory.

2. The active player defines a "Hit result"; if a player "hits", the result will happen to the other player. [*]

3. Both players choose between 1 and 4 Tactics cards to add to the battle (the number they're allowed to choose comes in via a separate mechanic that doesn't matter here...). Tactics cards have a rating in one or more of Speed, Attack, of Defend.

4. Players reveal their Tactics cards. The player with the higher total Speed rating is the first attacker. He adds the total "Attack" value of his cards to the Attack value of his forces: 2 per Warrior, 1 per peasant. The other player obtains his total Defend value: the total Defend value of his cards, plus one point per unit.

5. If the Attacker's total Attack rating exceeds the Defender's total Defend rating, the "hit result" is incurred by the defender. [**]

6. Now, the roles are switched; the slower player compares his Attack rating to the other player's Defend rating, and if it is higher, the other player incurs the "Hit Result".

Comments:

[*] The hit result could include:
1. The "hit" player will lose X units.
2. The "hit" player will give X resources to the "hitting" player.
3. The "hitting" player will gain control of the territory (?)[***]

In all cases, X could be set by the player, with the proviso that if the other player scores a hit, he will also incur that consequence.

I think, though, that this could be too devastating; you could go into battle with a pretty sure thing, and could set an absurd "hit result" that the other player definitely couldn't ever benefit from.

Better, I suspect to have X be a preset value that applies to all battles (such as 1 unit,2 resources, eg) or else to have players lay out cards that set out possible combat results.

So, for example, let's say before a battle, 5 "outcome" cards are randomly dealt. Perhaps they are:
1. Lose 2 Warriors
2. Lose 3 Warriors
3. Lose 1 Peasant
4. Surrender 3 Gold
5. Surrender 2 Crops

The player who initiates battle could choose one of these as a possible "hit result", then the other player selects one, and then a third is chosen randomly, or perhaps by the initiating player. Then when a player scores a "hit", he chooses one of the cards and forces the other player to perform that action.

This is probably too complex, though. Better, I think, to have step 2 be a clear-cut, definitive declaration. "If I score a hit, you will lose X Warriors" or more correctly "Anyone who suffers a "hit" will lose X Warriors" where X is a fixed game value such that any player who chooses "warriors" as the Hit Result always must choose "X" as the number that will be lost.

[**] The only problem I foresee is that if you've chosen "resources" as the "hit result" (an unfortunate term, but I'll use it for now...) then there's less incentive to play high "speed" cards, since nothing changes from one combat to the next. Maybe it would be better if the person who does not initiate combat MUST choose units as his "hit result". That way, if I'm initiating the attack, I want to strike first so that if the other player hits, he won't weaken my attack before it's had a chance to accomplish it's desired purpose, namely, getting me some resources...

So, this combat system is still pretty simple and quick, I think, but has some interesting decisions that need to be made by both sides. Here's an example:

Let's say, hypothetically, that I have 2 Warriors and a Peasant in Greece, you have 1 Warrior and 1 Peasant. I want to initiate combat. I pay 3 Crops, and declare that a player scoring a hit must "surrender 3 resources". We lay out Tactics cards. I play "Chariots: Speed 3" and "Swords: Attack 2", you play "Elephants: Speed 1" and "Armor: Defend 3". My speed exceeds yours so I attack first.

My Attack rating is 2x2 Warriors + 1x1 Peasant + 2 for swords = 7.
Your Defend rating is 1 x 2 Units + 3 for armor = 5.

I have scored a "hit", thus you give me 3 resources.

Next, we evaluate your attack. It is: 2 x 1 Warrior + 1 x 1 Peasant = 3.
My defend rating is 1 x 3 Units = 3.

You do not score a hit, and I don't need to lose resources. (and maybe if you had, I would lose them to the bank rather than to you, since I was the one who initiated combat...maybe that's the benefit). An alternative would be that if you had scored a hit, you could have chosen for yourself to make me lose units, or perhaps that's the only thing you could have chosen. Maybe, coupled with the analysis under [**], that's the way to go.

I welcome your thoughts!

-J

[***] As I mentioned in my other post, "expel from the territory" was a possible consequence if the player who owned the territory won the battle. Yet, maybe you should have to *initiate* the battle in order to set the consequence. If you do not initiate the battle, then the most you can do is take casualties. Otherwise, this leads to a complicated interaction whereby if his attack exceeds my defense he gains control of the territory but if my attack exceeds his, I can kick him out of the territory, thus you need to compare things like "whose attack exceeded the other's defense by more", and it bogs down in complexity.

So, to clarify, perhaps the best idea is the person who initiates combat can set the outcome if he wins to be one of:
1. Take X casualties.
2. Steal Y resources.
3. Gain control of territory/kick out other player.

If the other player scores a hit, he gets to take option 1 only.

Note that I haven't taken into account Scurra's suggestion of "loser can choose to take a more costly set of casualties". So maybe if the initiating player chooses 1 and hits, the loser could choose to give 2Y resources, or to vacate the territory, instead of losing casualties...but again, maybe too much complexity, though an interesting decision!

Brykovian
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Quick reply to one of your current questions: I think that the player initiating the attack can choose from the various options you've given ... but the other player is really only defending himself against the attack -- so they can only cause casualties during their attack round.

And a bit of an extension to the concept: I liked the notion of being able to take your announced results up-scale for a bigger margin of victory. For example, you can say you want to kill off 1 peasant for every 1-point margin of victory, or 1 warrior for every 2-point margin of victory, or take 1 resource for every 2-point margin of victory (you'd obviously have to test out the numbers), etc. You'd have to say the specific level of results (I will attack to remove 2 of your warriors), and then you'd have to hit at or above the margin of victory needed for the announced results (>= 4 for this example).

This might be a way to simulate the scope of the attack/counter-attack ... do you "go for it all"? Or is it just a probing attack? If I do a quick probing attack, will they hit me back extra hard ("bring a gun to a knife fight"?) ... If I do a full-on attack and try to eliminate both of their warriors and come up short, did I waste my opportunity?

-Bryk

sedjtroll
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jwarrend wrote:

Yeah...this doesn't completely work, because there is only one, or perhaps 2, resources in the game... That said, if there are 2 resources, they will be used for different things; my idea is that Crops are for things like population expansion, Gold is for completing buildings. So, if the loser has to choose one or the other, it could still be a tough choice depending on his strategy...

I think that makes it even better... either you lose one of two types of units, or one of two types of resources...

By the way, the one resource lost would be given to the attacker, right? Also, is it ever possible for the attacker to lose? If so, do they simply suffer casulties?

Maybe it should be ALL the resources of one type- since 1 resource probably isn't worth all that much... also this means if you are hoarding resources, someone might have a reason to attack you (!)

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Scurra wrote:

If you have a mechanism whereby the loser can pay an alternative (but obviously steeper!) cost, that makes things even more traumatic.

Hmm...I like this idea quite a bit

I don't :/
You've already made the decision to battle or not, and all the decisions involved with the battle, and someone's won. There should be just 1 mechanic involved in the payoff for that, not 2...

Although this idea is apporximated in my previous suggestion of losing all of one resource- you could lose the one resource you want to use, or you could save it and give up three of the other resource. So that mechanic works implicitly that way, without having extra rules in case you don't like the way the battle turned out.

- Seth

sedjtroll
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Brykovian wrote:

It seems more natural to me that the attacker can pick the target. If there's a way for the defender to make adjustments just before battle, it might be interesting for the attacker to announce their target before the battle, so that the defender can choose when/if to apply extra defensive resources. Otherwise, I think the attacker -- if successful -- should be able to pick the casualty, since they would have (in theory/theme) concentrated their attack to take that target out.

I could agree with commiting to a particular type of attack ahead of time. It would suck though if the reason I attack is to get some of the recources you've been hoarding, and in the process of attacking you spend all your gold then I win and you choose to give me your Gold... I just wated a lot of time.

What do you think about players both losing guys due to combat, then the attacker upon winning can choose Resources (defender chooses which type to give) or X More Casulties (defender chooses which type(s) of unit). If the attacker loses they simply suffer casulties?

- Seth

sedjtroll
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Re: How about this system?

jwarrend wrote:
Ok, here's a way that combat could work...

Wow... that sounds unnecessarily complicated. Maybe that;s just because it's about 3 different possibilities simultaneously presented.

First off, if you do declare what you're after first, like Resources, is it possible for that number to change during the course of the battle? If you can't spend all your resources by the time I'm done attacking, then I am all for the declaring your target at the outset.

I think it needs to be simpler though. Something like this:

1. Declaration of war. Attacking player pays 1 crop per unit and announces his goal in the attack:
* Take Resources
* Inflict Casulties
* Control Territory

2. Players play Tactics cards (per other rules)

3. Tactics cards are revealed and Speed is compared. Highest speed total is on the Attack. Other players are on the Counterattack. Attack is resolved first.

4. Resolve Attack- Compare Attack total to other player's Defense total. If greater, defending player suffers casulties.

5. Resolve Counterattack- Compare Attack total to Defense total. If greater, defending player suffers casulties.

6. Resolve battle- Depending on the announcement at the outset of the combat, if the Active player's Attack (or counterattack) was successful (Attack > Defense), then the defending player either Suffers Casulties (loser chooses a unit or units to lose), Surrenders ALL of one type of Resource (loser chooses which type), Or Relinquishes Control of or Vacates the Territory (as appropriate).

What do you think of that?

I thik the "Combat Result cards" are a really bad idea, as they don;t do that much and they add a component to the game which is unnecessary.

- Seth

sedjtroll
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Regarding "bidding" for combat results...

Brykovian wrote:
This might be a way to simulate the scope of the attack/counter-attack ... do you "go for it all"? Or is it just a probing attack? If I do a quick probing attack, will they hit me back extra hard ("bring a gun to a knife fight"?) ... If I do a full-on attack and try to eliminate both of their warriors and come up short, did I waste my opportunity?

If this combat mechanic were the MAIN mechanic of the game and there was nothing else, then I would think the complex "bidding for results" would be worth it. As is, this is just a small part of the game that is supposed to be pretty quick and easy without being stupid or unimportant. I don't think the complex determination of spoils of war fits that bill at all.

- Seth

Scurra
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Re: How about this system?

sedjtroll wrote:

6. Resolve battle- Depending on the announcement at the outset of the combat, if the Active player's Attack (or counterattack) was successful (Attack > Defense), then the defending player either Suffers Casulties (loser chooses a unit or units to lose), Surrenders ALL of one type of Resource (loser chooses which type), Or Relinquishes Control of or Vacates the Territory (as appropriate).[/i]

I don't think that's necessarily any simpler than what I proposed, and may remove some tactical choices. I am assuming, of course, that if you don't have any of one type you can't choose that type to be hit if you choose an alternative.
i.e. the attacker declares they are targetting crops at the start. The defender begins with both crops and gold, but by the end of the battle they have spent all their gold. They can't then say "I'll give you gold instead of crops".
And if the attacker targeted gold but the defender had none left at the end but did have crops, then they would have to surrender crops (at the double rate).
That gives both sides some decisions to make, without adding to the complexity.

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I thik the "Combat Result cards" are a really bad idea, as they don;t do that much and they add a component to the game which is unnecessary.

Now this I completely agree with. Just doesn't work at all.

jwarrend
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Re: How about this system?

Seth,

I'll try to respond to most of your points in this one response. (and hey, incidentally, did you just post four separate messages just to pad your message count? Are you going for the coveted "30 sided die" or something? (kidding) )

sedjtroll wrote:
jwarrend wrote:
Ok, here's a way that combat could work...

Wow... that sounds unnecessarily complicated. Maybe that;s just because it's about 3 different possibilities simultaneously presented.

Yeah...I started off intending to write something semi-definitive, but then I realized there were multiple solutions for some of the different steps. But I think the core combat "engine" is pretty solid, and resembles the one you advance below. It's only the details that are left...

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First off, if you do declare what you're after first, like Resources, is it possible for that number to change during the course of the battle? If you can't spend all your resources by the time I'm done attacking, then I am all for the declaring your target at the outset.

The only "spending of resources" happens when one player chooses to initiate combat. He pays one resource for each of his troops. Then, under the system we're going with, he decides what he will "get" if he scores a "hit" . The "defender" never has to spend resources in combat. (there are some bigger reasons for this system, and I can explain them separately if interested...)

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I think it needs to be simpler though. Something like this:
1. Declaration of war. Attacking player pays 1 crop per unit and announces his goal in the attack:
* Take Resources
* Inflict Casulties
* Control Territory

2. Players play Tactics cards (per other rules)

3. Tactics cards are revealed and Speed is compared. Highest speed total is on the Attack. Other players are on the Counterattack. Attack is resolved first.

4. Resolve Attack- Compare Attack total to other player's Defense total. If greater, defending player suffers casulties.

5. Resolve Counterattack- Compare Attack total to Defense total. If greater, defending player suffers casulties.

6. Resolve battle- Depending on the announcement at the outset of the combat, if the Active player's Attack (or counterattack) was successful (Attack > Defense), then the defending player either Suffers Casulties (loser chooses a unit or units to lose), Surrenders ALL of one type of Resource (loser chooses which type), Or Relinquishes Control of or Vacates the Territory (as appropriate).

What do you think of that?

I think we're on pretty much the same page. I might quibble a bit over some of the details, but the core engine is the same as what I'm trying to articulate. You put it much more succintly than I did. Nice!

I don't think "Defender surrenders all resources" would work; that's probably too devastating. (because in the turn sequence, it's Production, then Combat, then Construction -- thus, the defender will have no funds for Construction! Better if he has less funds for Construction). I think a preset, universal value, like "3 resources" is appropriate. And a preset number of casualties, maybe "2 units" is also appropriate. The exact values may change with playtesting to make them balanced.

I'm a bit torn now whether to have Attacker decide which specific resource or which specific unit is lost, should he score a hit. Your position was, and still is, I assume, that if Attacker says "you'll lose 2 Units", defender chooses whether to lose Peasants or Warriors. I think that's probably the best way to go. I think Scurra's suggestion, which would involve Attacker saying "lose 2 Warriors" in which case Defender can choose to lose double the number of Peasants (or, I guess, double the specified value of resources) is cute, but probably adds too much complexity to this combat system. It is a good idea, though...

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I thik the "Combat Result cards" are a really bad idea, as they don;t do that much and they add a component to the game which is unnecessary.

I agree, they don't work in the context of this game.

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If this combat mechanic were the MAIN mechanic of the game and there was nothing else, then I would think the complex "bidding for results" would be worth it. As is, this is just a small part of the game that is supposed to be pretty quick and easy without being stupid or unimportant. I don't think the complex determination of spoils of war fits that bill at all.

I also agree with this; "bidding" is needless complexity. What I wanted was something where the combat outcome could vary a bit; where if you really wanted to cripple someone, you could press your luck and "bid higher"; in practice, though, it wouldn't work for a few reasons. One is that if you have a pretty sure thing, you can bid crazy high and be assured of getting it. Another is that it presupposes that the number of units lost can be related to the margin of victory in a simple way. I'm almost sure that "1 unit per margin of victory point" is never going to work in practice; it will be too easy to have a margin of victory of 3 or 4 points, which probably doesn't merit the devastating effect of being able to take 3 or 4 casualties. Much better, I think, to have all combats having the same outcome.

The cute thing about this is that if you really want to devastate someone -- cut down their number of Warriors, say, you can still do that, but you have to just fight them in more battles, which means you have to pay more to fight more. It also suggests to me that as territories get more populous, and players' income gets higher, fighting just to hurt someone's military or to loot resources will become less productive, and so the players may tend towards peace as the game progresses, nicely simulating the progress of civilization!

(Of course, the opposite effect could also happen; as territories have more buildings and thus become more lucrative, fighting to steal someone's territory will become more attractive. But, since it will get more expensive as the number of units on the board increase, perhaps it will still balance out...)

I think I've already addressed these other issues, but just in case I didn't...

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By the way, the one resource lost would be given to the attacker, right?

Yes.
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Also, is it ever possible for the attacker to lose? If so, do they simply suffer casulties?

I think that's the idea we're settling on. The "aggressor" decides what will happen if he "scores a hit". If the "non-aggressor" scores a hit, he must choose to take X casualties (where X = 2 for now...). (and a "hit" is scored according to your point 4 and 5 above...)

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Scurra wrote:

If you have a mechanism whereby the loser can pay an alternative (but obviously steeper!) cost, that makes things even more traumatic.

Hmm...I like this idea quite a bit

I don't :/
You've already made the decision to battle or not, and all the decisions involved with the battle, and someone's won. There should be just 1 mechanic involved in the payoff for that, not 2...

I like the idea very much in principle, but in practice, I agree that the decisions for the battle should be made "up front" (by choosing what the "hit result" will be, and what Tactics cards to use), and then the battle should be pretty deterministic after that. I think I'd like to try it this way first, and then if people seem open to adding a little more complexity, I could add the idea that a person who scores a hit can name the commodity/unit type that will be lost, and the loser can choose either that or double the other type. Since there is already a fair bit going on in this game anyway, I think that is a rule that is best left on the back burner for now. It is an interesting idea, though...

Although this idea is apporximated in my previous suggestion of losing all of one resource- you could lose the one resource you want to use, or you could save it and give up three of the other resource. So that mechanic works implicitly that way, without having extra rules in case you don't like the way the battle turned out.

jwarrend
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Re: How about this system?

Scurra wrote:
sedjtroll wrote:

6. Resolve battle- Depending on the announcement at the outset of the combat, if the Active player's Attack (or counterattack) was successful (Attack > Defense), then the defending player either Suffers Casulties (loser chooses a unit or units to lose), Surrenders ALL of one type of Resource (loser chooses which type), Or Relinquishes Control of or Vacates the Territory (as appropriate).[/i]

I don't think that's necessarily any simpler than what I proposed, and may remove some tactical choices. I am assuming, of course, that if you don't have any of one type you can't choose that type to be hit if you choose an alternative.
i.e. the attacker declares they are targetting crops at the start. The defender begins with both crops and gold, but by the end of the battle they have spent all their gold. They can't then say "I'll give you gold instead of crops".
And if the attacker targeted gold but the defender had none left at the end but did have crops, then they would have to surrender crops (at the double rate).
That gives both sides some decisions to make, without adding to the complexity.

One thing I should be very clear on is that there's no spending of resources within the battle itself. The Aggressor pays to initiate the combat, but that's it; after that, no more resources are spent. You just select your cards, lay them down, add up the value of your troops, and compare the numbers and assign outcomes. No resource spending.

Also, I am envisioning that the Aggressor has 3 "consequence cards" that he picks one of and lays it down, just so it's crystal clear what he is going for -- Casualties, Resources, or Territorial Control. I could add a couple of cards so that the Aggressor chooses between Peasants, Warriors, Gold, Crops, or Territorial Control. On each card, I guess, could be an alternative that could be "lost" by the non-Aggressor should he suffer a hit. For example the Warriors card could say:

If Aggressor scores a Hit, non-Aggressor loses X Warriors OR Y Peasants.

Something like that. The thing I like about this is that you, as the Aggressor, may want to target something specific. You may want to make the guy lose Warriors, to reduce his tally for the "Warriors" VP condition. Or you may want to target Gold to help yourself have enough money to build a building; or maybe you want Crops, to be able to expand your population. Having the loser be steered in the direction you want him to go could be nice for that. And the more I think about it, it isn't really an addition of complexity, as long as the choices are on the cards themselves.

Because if I, as the Aggressor, choose a card that says "Lose 2 Units", and I score a hit, you, the non-Aggressor, must choose which 2 Units you will lose. If instead I could choose a card that says "Lose 1 Warrior OR 2 Peasants", you still need to make a choice, it's just been bounded a little bit. So as long as the mechanic is "aggressor chooses a consequence up front", and this is implemented via him laying out a card with the desired consequence of success in battle, then there's actually no difference in complexity for Scurra's version than Seth's and mine, and moreover, it gives the Aggressor a little bit more control in steering the outcome, which I assume is a good thing, since he's paying resources to start the fight...(in fact, it could lead to some neat mindgames; I really want him to choose to lose 2 Warriors, so I'll lay out this "1 Peasant/2 Warriors" card, and let's see if he bites, or if he just takes the 1 Peasant...)

Thanks, Scurra, for helping me to see this more clearly. It is clearly possible to do your system just as easily as "my" original system. But which is "better"? This, I need to mull over a bit...

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I thik the "Combat Result cards" are a really bad idea, as they don;t do that much and they add a component to the game which is unnecessary.

Now this I completely agree with. Just doesn't work at all.

Yup.

-Jeff

Scurra
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OK, no spending of resources. That's fine - it's a much more streamlined system that way (although I quite like the idea that you could spend gold on something in an emergency which would then skew the symmetry of the system nicely.)

The combat system is certainly approaching an interesting point now.

sedjtroll
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Re: How about this system?

Scurra wrote:

I don't think that's necessarily any simpler than what I proposed, and may remove some tactical choices. I am assuming, of course, that if you don't have any of one type you can't choose that type to be hit if you choose an alternative.

I think it depends on weather or not resources can be spent during combat.

If not, then "loser chooses the resource" is fine, although now that I think about it "winner chooses" is probably better and it makes more sense.

I just don't think people should be able to wriggle out of losing their resource- If I spend the time and energy to make sure my army is strong enough and attack you, and then I win, I want my spoils- If I want gold, then you give me gold- not whatever leftover wheat you have.

To me it sounds too much like say you're playing Settlers and you need a Rock to finish a City, so you trade maybe 2 Wheat for a Rock, but instead of handing you the Rock they hand you three wood. Unless you happen to have a Port, that's almost useless.

note: this is a reversal from my position before- I was trying to keep consistant with the "loser chooses" mechanic for units. No reason for that, Perhaps the winner should choose which Unit to lose as well? In that case Loser Choosing seems better tho...

- Seth

sedjtroll
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Heh, you agreed that consequence cards don't help any, and in the same post you advocated a different kind of consequence card :P

I know, it's a whole different situation.

I think you just say out loud- I'm on a killing spree, I'm looting Gold, I'm looting Crops, or I'm giving you the boot. I don't think we need to have cards that say that or anything.

Also, the reason for 4 posts was that I was readin gthrough (catching up) and replying to messages as I read them.

- Seth

jwarrend
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Working on a new combat mechanic

sedjtroll wrote:
Heh, you agreed that consequence cards don't help any, and in the same post you advocated a different kind of consequence card :P

I know, it's a whole different situation.

I think you just say out loud- I'm on a killing spree, I'm looting Gold, I'm looting Crops, or I'm giving you the boot. I don't think we need to have cards that say that or anything.

I think that after a certain level of familiarity with the game, yes, the cards will become superfluous, but I think to facilitate learning the game, handing someone 3-5 cards before the battle and saying "lay down whichever one of these you want to be the outcome if you succeed" gives one less thing to memorize, makes it easy to remember what the outcome will be, facilitates learning the game, etc. I find that in my group, it's important to have as much in the way of player aids as you can; people (me included!) have a hard time remembering all the rules, and so until they (the rules) become internalized, it's useful to have some components that remind us of them. Plus, in a game with a lot of cards (probably 70, easily) what's 3 or 4 or 5 more?

The other thing is that if I did go to Scurra's system where each consequence is "either this OR 2 times as much of that", it might be nice to have the alternatives spelled out clearly on the cards, again, so that the player who has lost doesn't have to remember what his choices are.

I guess it's something that could go on a player aid chart or something, but hey, that just clutters up the player aid chart!

I don't know if you're thinking along the lines of selling the game, in which case of course the idea is "as few components as possible". But for me, I figure why not have a lot of components in the prototype of the game, if they make it easier to play? For example, the board in my Archaeology bidding game wasn't strictly necessary, and might not be included in a published version of the game (since it would be tougher to justify the extra expense) but I just included it to enhance the "feel" of the game, since publishing considerations don't apply yet.

But, of course, I do see the irony that I said "yes, consequence cards are bad" and then advocated using consequence cards!

-Jeff

sedjtroll
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jwarrend wrote:

The other thing is that if I did go to Scurra's system where each consequence is "either this OR 2 times as much of that", it might be nice to have the alternatives spelled out clearly on the cards, again, so that the player who has lost doesn't have to remember what his choices are.

I agree if you use that method the alternatives should be spelled out. I really think that you shouldn't allow those alternatives though, heh.

I would prefer a quick reference card to 3-5 consequence cards. This reference should really just be in the rulebook anyway. There's already going to be a rulebook, might as well use it as a reference. No need to memorize stuff if it's laid out in the rules.

Note: this means summarize the attack stuff in a chart or seperate example in the rules- not just bury it in text.

- Seth

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