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Balancing systems for ships like x-wing

11 replies [Last post]
Joined: 01/24/2013

I'm trying to find out what other games are out that use a point based system to balance ships in a space fighting game. Either miniatures or board game. I'm working on a game that has ship stats for shields, attack, movement and defense. It's been tricky trying to figure out the right system that balances out all the stats.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
If nobody replies...

I'm not the right person for this inquiry... BUT I'm sure if you ask Eric aka "larienna", he will be able to answer this question!

He is VERY Knowledgeable in all kinds of games. His suggestions are always valuable also...

Like I said Eric is the man for that job... But I'm sure there are other BGDF members that are equally versed in a full repertoire of games and systems for balancing miniatures.

Unfortunately his website is "Temporarily Down"... Which sucks because he used to have a bunch of articles on balancing. Check with him, send him a PM (user: larienna)!

Update: to find a user, type the name and do Search. If you find his alias, you can usually click on "Send PM" to send a private message!

Joined: 01/24/2013
Thank you much for the reply!

Thank you much for the reply! I will definitely check with him on that.

thoughtfulmonkey's picture
Joined: 12/04/2014
Some games

I can't help you with the balancing question, but some games that you might want to look at (that have rules available to review for free) are:

Joined: 11/14/2012
Why just space?

If you are looking for inspiration for balancing a game I'm confused as to why you are limiting yourself to other "space" games. Every miniature game ever had a point system and it would probably be good to give them all a look and see what you can learn.

Warmachine//hordes. Is a game that comes to mind that has something to teach about point costs etc.

In Mk1 the game was released with large numbers 100+ per unit etc. The game evolved into something that wasn't what the developers wanted, so they gave the game a major makeover and released mk2. It has since been a huge sucess, they lowered the numbers so that points range from 1-20, but even more interestingly they created incentive for players to take the cool stuff in the game; the actual warmachines.

Since mk1 competitive play devolved into spamming units, not only did the game leave its "skirmish level" roots but everything enticing about the game was being left out because frankly it didn't do enough. They managed a pretty simple bandaid by effectively forcing players to take at least one big monster mech//beast (each caster has free warbeast points they must spend on the big stuff).

For your purposes you may find that in playtesting, players find that the "capital" class ships are "awesome!" but not effective.

If you get your hands into as many mini games a possible you will be better off; the skining doesn't matter for balancing purposes.

Joined: 01/24/2013

I'm not trying to limit myself to space games. I'm certainly open to learning from any system or game that's available. I just want to know what's already out there that is spaceship related since I'm developing a spaceship type game. That way I can avoid creating something too similar to something else out there. There are so many games out there, I thought it would be better to put my feelers out there to other gamers/developers that know more than I do. That being said I will definitely check out all the games suggested. Thanks for all the input.

Joined: 01/24/2013
Board game

I guess I should also mention that my game is not a miniatures game. It will be a board game played on hexes.

radioactivemouse's picture
Joined: 07/08/2013
Games that use a point-based

Games that use a point-based army system:

I would assume any of the Attack Wing games (Star Wars X-Wing, Star Trek Attack Wing, D&D Attack Wing. etc.) use that point system.

Warhammer: Diskwars does it
Any miniature games (Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, Hordes, etc.)
The old World of Warcraft Miniatures Game uses it (you can probably find it cheap now).
Star Trek: Fleet Captains uses it.

Those are games off the top of my head that use it. I think Mansions of Madness has something similar, but I haven't played it.

Hope this helps.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
It is ok to look at examples

It is ok to look at examples out there.

But it is also important to know how your stats work.
I can name over a dozen ways how other games use "shield".
It all depends on the mechanics that you want to use too.

It is a lot of work. So instead of awaiting answers from others. You better get started.
- Define the statistics (you already did that)
- How do you want these statistics to work?
- Define the game mechanics; what is compared to what? Dice involvement? Type of consequences?: instant defeat or levels of damage? etc.

From this you can derive the balance that you seek. And others can help you better when you go into the specifics.

Are you planning something along the lines of:
1 capital ship, 2 cruisers, 4 fighters? And you want this balanced?

Joined: 12/27/2013
I've had similar inquiries

I've had similar inquiries about space fleet games and their mechanics on different forums. The overwhelming majority of responses were about Full Thrust.
You can download the rulebooks for free at

Joined: 01/24/2013
Full thrust

Thanks for the link Jarec. Just looking over the rules of full thrust quickly it is far more complicated than where I am taking my game. There is definitely some good insight there. I'll keep reading. My biggest concern at this point is the balance of attack/defense rolls and shield levels.

Joined: 01/24/2013
Point system

To answer your questions X3M here are some of the basics of the game.

I've already gone through several versions of the game.
Right now it is based on a 20 point system
The board is 14 hexes by 12 hexes
Movement cost 2
Attack cost 1
Shield Cost 1
Defense dice are fixed based on movement and shield levels
So if a ship has 6 movement and 4 shields it would have 12 defense dice.
You would get 6 defense dice for movement plus 6 to shields to equal 10 on shields to get 12 defense.If that makes any sense. Basically adding the difference on shields to equal 10. I did this because before with so few defense dice AND having to roll sixes to evade a hit made it seem pointless to roll defense dice at all.

I did have it set up where there were only 3 types of ships. the 20 point system has changed this a bit for a variety of combinations between movement,attack,shields and defense dice.

This is the old system
Light -7 movement 2 attack dice 4 shields 6 defense dice
Medium- 5 movement 4 attack dice 6 shields 4 defense dice
Heavy- 3 movement 6 attack dice 8 shields 2 defense dice
Just as a generic reference for types of ships

As of now there are just different ships with different abilities instead of strictly light,med and heavy ships.

With new 20 point system I've only playtested a few times. Once with 4 players. 2 teams of 4 ships each side. So 8 ships total with fairly inexperienced gamers. The game lasted 60 minutes. All iterations of the game have been under an hour, which I want.The first scenerio was 6 on 6 ships which usually lasted about 45 minutes.

In the latest version attack works like this:
If your ship is attacking any of the 4 sides of an enemy ship you need a 4 and above for a hit. Attacking face to face you need sixes. And attacking from the rear you need 2 and above for a hit.

Defending, you need to roll sixes to evade a hit.

So the problem is that based on the 20 point system, after mapping out all potential combinations of ships, some ships can be destroyed before they ever get a shot off, which I really dont like.

Potentially you could have this scenerio

A ship with
3 movement/ 12 attack dice/ 2 shields/ 11 defense dice goes up against
7 movement/ 4 attack dice/ 2 shields/ 15 defense dice


7 movement/ 4 attack dice/ 2 shields/ 15 defense dice ship defends against

5 movement/ 2 attack ship. Virtually impossible to get a hit on the 7 movement ship.

This might be fixed by simply employing a rule in an elimination game where if you destroy half your opponents fleet the game is over. It might not be an issue with different scenerios. I dont know. Only playtesting will tell that.

In any case, yes, it is a lot of work trying to find the right balance.

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