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In between random and non-random

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Desprez
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Joined: 12/01/2008

I've noticed that in my designing, in regards to conflict resolution, I tend to slip into either:
1) Some randomness: Roll a die, usually with some modifiers, to determine result.
2) Non-random: Highest score wins, with maybe some modifiers.

These are pretty standard was of doing things, but I'm interested in exploring the middle-ground more.

The die rolling can be designed to be either quite predictable or not, but can suffer from being tedious if you have endless die rolls. This depends on the game and how it's used, of course.
A simple comparing of scores, with no randomness, is more streamlined, but suffers from predictability.

What are some good ways of getting a little of both, and keeping complexity down?
All I can think of at the moment is using a non-random system, with some kind of hidden modifiers - playable modifier cards perhaps.

InvisibleJon
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Nice question!

I don't have an answer for you yet, but you've got me thinking. I like this question. It pokes parts of my brain that like to be poked.

If I think of anything, I'll let you know. =)

JB
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Joined: 02/06/2009
There are some strategies I

There are some strategies I have deployed.

If it's appropriate, putting the randomness before the action can greatly lessen the feeling of randomness. For example, in an early protype of my game the player would:
1. Try to sing to a tribe member.
2. See if the tribe member liked singing.
3. Recruit the tribe member if he likes singing.

Now the player first knows what each tribe member likes. So he can choose between a simple Recruit or a riskier Challenge based on what he has.

Another method I have used is to can the dice for counters or cards. Many players erroniously think that if they have been rolling low that the dice owe them a high result. This is untrue. However, if you replace your d6 with a cup of 30 counters numbered 1 through 6 and have them discard used counters---then their intuition is correct. If you ensure the game goes long enough to use all the counters, then you ensure that streaks of luck are temporary and will level out in the end.

I have a couple others if you're interesed. But I want to avoid the great Wall-O-Text.

Arvin
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JB wrote:Many players

JB wrote:
Many players erroniously think that if they have been rolling low that the dice owe them a high result. This is untrue.

I'm one of those... =(

JB wrote:
However, if you replace your d6 with a cup of 30 counters numbered 1 through 6 and have them discard used counters---then their intuition is correct. If you ensure the game goes long enough to use all the counters, then you ensure that streaks of luck are temporary and will level out in the end.

I have a couple others if you're interesed. But I want to avoid the great Wall-O-Text.

I really liked your Idea, please can you tell me more?
I don't mind long texts, as long as I'm interested to read it I'll finish it...

Asdoama
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Joined: 02/18/2009
I was thinking the same

I was thinking the same thing, the counters idea is great please tell us more.

Black Canyon
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Use dice as modifiers

You could combine the number comparison and dice rolling by using the dice as modifiers. That way, you have a general idea going into the conflict who has the advantage, but the dice may alter the outcome. Of course, if there is a huge difference between the two numbers, the roll won't be enough to compensate, and the player can plan to use that to his advantage.

Nix_
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I have a game that uses

I have a game that uses resolution charts. In the game the players collect tokens which raises their probablility of success on a roll. For example if a player has 1 token they must roll 5+ on a d20, 2 tokens 8+, and so on, to the point that the player will automatically succeed. Using a resolution chart makes it so that the objectives can easily have varying difficulties

Desprez
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It should be noted that it

It should be noted that it isn't the randomness I'm trying to get rid of.

I'm looking for a resolution system that can handle many resolutions, without becoming tedious, while retaining some uncertainty. One way was to move to a non-random system where you simply compare scores, which is much quicker, but the problem with it is that it removes the uncertainty.

So, I'm looking for was to speed things up, or streamline, the process.

ilta
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Keeping scores secret. You

Keeping scores secret. You know what you have, you know generally how well everyone's been doing, but until you actually reveal what your (attack value / defense value / victory point total / fisherman ability index) is, and compare it to your opponents, you don't know how the contest will turn out.

But I like the dice-as-modifiers the best. Nice and simple, but keeps the tension because it's possible for the weaker person to win, sometimes.

pelle
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CRT

Isn't some variation of the good old CRT an obvious reason? One or two dice (sometimes 3-4) and a table or a few tables and you can have as many outcomes as you want, with any distribution of probabilities that you want. Can be combined with hidden units or cards (as seen in many existing games).

When it comes to replacing dice with cards, many people erroneously believe that it somehow makes a game more fair, forgetting that different "die rolls" are of different importance, that the cards will distort probabilities (less likely to "roll doubles" for instance), and that if you don't use up all the tokens exactly (no cards left in the deck at game end) players can get different numbers of each result anyway... Plus card-counting will enter the game, which is only fine if that is something you want in the game (and sometimes it is a nice mechanic).

Desprez
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pelle wrote:Isn't some

pelle wrote:
Isn't some variation of the good old CRT an obvious reason? One or two dice (sometimes 3-4) and a table or a few tables and you can have as many outcomes as you want, with any distribution of probabilities that you want. Can be combined with hidden units or cards (as seen in many existing games).

Except that this is even more complicated, not less. If rolling 1 die to get a result can get tedious when you have to resolve a bunch of battles, having to do it 3-4 times and use multiple CRTs or two, and then do that a bunch of times... well.

At any rate, using a set of custom dice is much quicker and easier to use than the traditional CRT. (You embed the table into the dice.)

darker
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A few thoughts

One possibility might be to use a deck of cards which gangs up multiple results into a single random draw - perhaps by having a sequence of values to use in-order; perhaps by specifying a set of modifiers to apply to a "highest score" comparison (red whoozits get +2, green whoozits get -1, black whoozits get +1, and any diseased whoozits get an additional -3); or perhaps by having the resolution criteria be specified by the card itself.

Similar to the modifier-based card, you could also have a single die-roll (of whatever sort) which applies some sort of overall modifier / alteration / limitation to a non-random resolution - eg, "In this brawl, up to [roll] 5 angry senators on each side can get their licks in before Security breaks it up. Total up the Partisan Vitriol for each faction."

I think perhaps the "a little of both randomness and non-randomness" and "streamline large numbers of resolutions" are really separate constraints? For example, you can mix randomness and non-randomness by having a (known) set of tiles stacked in a partially-known ordering (eg: the hexes in Tikal), but while that's not intrinsically slow, it's not really a streamlining mechanic, either.

Desprez
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You're right, they do seem to

You're right, they do seem to be separate. I may not have described what I was after very well. I'll be more specific.

In one of my games that I've been toying around with, every player ends up with a large number of pieces on the board. This hasn't been a problem by itself, until you come to the point when you want to fight other player's units, especially if they also have a lot of units too.

Despite relatively simple combat resolution, it becomes a bottleneck when there a many such resolutions.
One way to counter this (and this is were the confusion is coming from, I think) was to move to a non-random system. The downside to this was combat then becomes extremely predictable, which is undesirable in this setting. (also, in games where combat it accurately predictable, I find that players end up spending a lot of time thinking exactly what will happen, because you can, and ends up making turns take longer, despite the increased resolution speed.)

Still, I feel like there has to be a better solution than these two options, and I'm looking for something that has the speed of the non-random system with some of the uncertainty of some randomization.

One possibility I just though of is to roll all your attacks at once (using many dice), have the value needed to hit be constant, say a 6 or something. And higher strength units get to roll dice with a greater number of faces, thus giving them a greater chance to hit. Then give the defending player the choice of which of his units were hit. This would speed things up a bit, but comes with its own pitfalls.

Regardless, this problem may be a lost cause for the game I have in mind, as I am thinking of moving to a more abstracted/strategic system. The current system is looking to be a bit detailed for a game where combat isn't the only thing to do.

Asdoama
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Hey, what if there are damage

Hey, what if there are damage card piles, say low, med, and high, and each unit can pull from the pile, adding up to the total of the attack. pile low might even have from -2 to +2, med might had 0 to +5, and high might have from +1 to + 8. You could have any number of piles, such damage type piles, or just piles W, X, Y, Z each with varying amounts of higher and lower damage.

I'm thinking of something similar for my game but also adding when unit A and unit B are together it adds +2 or something, and when unit A is involved in an attack against enemy unit C it gets +1. However this too is getting a bit bogged down, but with the simple card idea there is just drawing cards and adding.

Finally, i had similar a problem with people massing troops and though that a good way to reduce this problem is making it beneficial for people to be aggressive early. In my game i have land regions that range varying distances, meaning that troops can sometimes move 1/4 across the board from one land region, bring them in close proximity to the enemy, though sometimes a move leaves them in the starting space. Anyways, by making settlements established early worth more as time goes on, players will establish more aggressively in the initial fazes, meaning less money for war, and earlier and more prevalent war, meaning less troops on the board at any one time.

Hope these ideas inspire something great in you! Cheers!

scifiantihero
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Joined: 07/08/2009
TI3?

Desprez wrote:

Regardless, this problem may be a lost cause for the game I have in mind, as I am thinking of moving to a more abstracted/strategic system. The current system is looking to be a bit detailed for a game where combat isn't the only thing to do.

Are there more units than, say, Twilight Imperium? That has the same sort of "lots of different units, many with all sorts of different modifiers, but combat isn't even the main thing going on, at times" feel, of what you're sort of hinting at.

Desprez
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I'm not real sure of what

I'm not real sure of what typical numbers of units people have while playing TI.

JB
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That's an even more difficult

That's an even more difficult problem.

One solution pops into mind:
You can use the non-random resolution, but give players a limited number of leadership points (or somesuch) that allow them to roll dice for important battles. So if you gave two leadership points to the attacker and three to the defender, then the attacker would have a couple of chances to go for broke and the defender could make some desperate attempts to hold some weak positions. The battles both sides cared less about could go more quickly.

Brykovian
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Whims of fate

You might also consider keeping your primarily "known" strengths as the basis for your outcome, but include a deck of cards that might play the role of "luck" or "fate" in the battle. The cards could have a sway amount to give +/- effects to the attackers or the defenders ... this would also be an opportunity for some nice flavor text as well.

To extend this a bit -- and to play a bit on something JB mentioned -- players might be able to draw from this deck throughout the game, and then play a card or cards (depending on how many leader units they have in the fight?) when the battle takes place.

This would still give players the knowledge of the "known" information as the primary source of resolution ... but then throw in some variance (other than rolling dice) that can be tweaked throughout the game.

-Bryk

Desprez
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Joined: 12/01/2008
Yeah, that's pretty much all

Yeah, that's pretty much all I could immediately think of, as noted in the original post.

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