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No dice combat system

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madinthehat
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Joined: 09/12/2017

So I'm developing a area control war game at the moment, and I would really like to implement a combat system that does not require rolling dice. I'm not against random determination using cards perhaps, but I would like less randomness to determine victor.

I like what Jamey did with scythe where the combat value is blindly wagered against the opponents, with a small number of combat cards required and the power you have at the time limiting your maximum effectiveness.

I'm thinking of each player having a set number of formations which give bonuses or negatives depending on the formation chosen by your opponent. I feel
Like this could lead into more of a Rock Paper Scissors style of combat where one formation would defeat another and I want to avoid that.

I guess this is a large endeavour and I don't expect a complete combat system, just need help brainstorming. Any help would be great.

Thanks!

X3M
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madinthehat wrote:So I'm

madinthehat wrote:
So I'm developing a area control war game at the moment, and I would really like to implement a combat system that does not require rolling dice. I'm not against random determination using cards perhaps, but I would like less randomness to determine victor.

Don't go cards either, for random effects. Unless you can draw cards for both the effect and something else like more units or spawns etc.

madinthehat wrote:

I like what Jamey did with scythe where the combat value is blindly wagered against the opponents, with a small number of combat cards required and the power you have at the time limiting your maximum effectiveness.

I don't know about the game. But with blindly wagered; do you mean some sort of fog of war?
If that is the case, then that is the way to go with deterministic combat.

madinthehat wrote:

I'm thinking of each player having a set number of formations which give bonuses or negatives depending on the formation chosen by your opponent. I feel
Like this could lead into more of a Rock Paper Scissors style of combat where one formation would defeat another and I want to avoid that.

I see.
While it is the way to go with deterministic combat and RPS of any kind. The only other option that you have so far is not knowing how strong the card is that your opponent has laid down.
There is no need for RPS there. Only getting the right cards in place while discarding other cards.
Maybe a system where both players have the same amount of cards on the table. But each card is worth different. And may only be placed down by support cards.

I suggest taking a look into that:
- Players may play an equal amount of cards.
- Stronger cards require support cards to get stronger.

The way I see this, it can be done in several ways.
Either pay upfront the cards that are needed as payment.
Or use specific upgrade cards that will upgrade some cards slightly and other cards tremendously.

Maybe it sounds all good. But there is one problem with this system. It is like a glorified, who picks the best 3 cards.
Players gamble in getting the right cards and their upgrades. There isn't much game in it.

So step 2 needs to be added to the game.

Hints!

Hints what your opponent might get.
What if some cards, like the upgrades. Are actually shown to the opponent. This way, you may bluff into getting certain cards. While you are not.

Example:
A plays a 2
B plays a 2
A plays a 1 that will get +4 by an upgrade, total 3
B plays a 2, total 4

If B is going to combat now, B would win. Lets see what they play next.
A plays the upgrade, total 7
B plays a 2, total 6
Now A will win.

The bluffing would happen if the upgrade is shown.
Has the card that gains the upgrade, been played before? Upgrade is active.
Or after? Upgrade is not active at the moment of play.

Tactical speaking, you would play the upgrade after. And both players know now when to strike if they see the upgrade card. Which automatically means, it is over already.

step 3:
Hints should really be false.
You can have 2 different kind of cards in the game. Those that get the upgrade if it is played after. And those who can only get the upgrade if it is played before.
The upgrade card itself may absolutely not show for what it is going to be used.
Now it is a guess.

Of course, if one player has no upgrade cards. The other player might have 2 or 3 on the table. By that time, it could be logically over.

step 4:
RPS any way. But in a weird way.
Even if it is +1. If certain upgrade cards can hint that they give an extra +1 to a certain card. Then this is a hint, that also can be false. Because that certain card doesn't have to be played right after or before. Even in that, if a player knows it will be after. There might be another one before that doesn't have this +1 bonus. But it certainly could still win the game.

madinthehat wrote:

I guess this is a large endeavour and I don't expect a complete combat system, just need help brainstorming. Any help would be great.
Thanks!

That was my brainstorming. Hope you can get some good idea's from it.

madinthehat
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Re

Yeah I like the idea. It's a good way of just trying to outthink and bluff your opponent. Almost a mini deduction game with the hints being allowed.

Yeah deterministic combat is definitely what I'm going for.

I'm trying to figure out a good way also to give the person with the largest army a bonus. Could even be an additional hint definitely something to thinknover and try to implement.

Thanks for the brainstorming!

Fri
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Person with the most dudes in an area wins

Person with the most dudes in an area wins. This is the basic combat system from Small World. If you are unfamiliar with it, basically if you want to conquer an area on a map then you need to place more dudes on it then are currently there. (Of course there are a lot of modifiers.) Maybe you can make use of a similar system.

CanucKnight
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Brainstorming

I've been working on an area-control war game for a while now and have needed to rewrite the combat system from scratch no less than 3 times. I'm not sure what exact mechanism you should use (from what you wrote I'm inclined to suggest some kind of Card hand) but here are the questions that were most helpful for me getting combat to where it is in my game:

What percentage of overall gameplay should be devoted to combat?
-If you have any kind of economical decisions (ie your game isn't simply tallying provinces like Risk), a complex combat system will drastically increase the playtime/complexity of your game. I had one combat system that was AWESOME, but would have made the main game so long that became a completely separate game. A 2 player game can have longer time devoted to battles since there is no 3rd spectator waiting on the result. If you are planning to have a larger number of players, take into account that a 6 minute card exchange between a minority of the players is not fun for half the people playing the game.

What rate do you want to be losing units in a battle?
-This might seem like a weird question, but its actually really important. It can really set the tone for the rest of the game (ie how hard is it to recover if this hand doesn't work out). Think about what you want the average loss per battle or per hand to be as well as the maximum loss possible. Do you want a player to be able to risk their whole army in a single hand? Or do you want a more constant and predictable attrition?

How can you reward players for preparing for battle before it starts?
-Is there a tech tree or pool of better cards that your players need to be considering before they attack? Maybe I played a less clever hand than my opponent, but I also had this battle in mind 3 turns ago. Should I be compensated at all for that?

Hope that's helpful
Best of luck

madinthehat
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Brainstorm questions

Wow! That was a super helpful post. Lots of things to consider and get on the right track. I was working on a card system, and now I'm trying to implement a sort of tech tree idea to it.

Thanks for the advice! Great way to look at this system. Hope your game goes well also.

WinsmithGames
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I've been a fan of the blind

I've been a fan of the blind wagering combat mechanics for awhile now. Many awesome area control games use it; because it works well.

Another option could be simply the number of units (or strength of units) in the occupied territory? If that's too deterministic, you could add a slight die roll, similar to Small World.

spaff
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Check out...

Take a look at the Cry Havoc combat system and the Kemet Combat system.

Additionally Jamey basically copy/pasted the Dune/Rex combat system for Scythe. But all those are worth looking at.

Eric Lang took the blind wagering to the next level with Rising Sun -- worth looking at if you're into that mechanic.

mindspike
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I run percentages.

One of the first things I try to do in contest resolution is find out what the median value looks like in perfectly automated system.

You might think about what an opponent's "median formation" would look like and what kind of player formation would exactly counter that. That ought to help you identify your variables and where they can be implemented.

For example:
If your defending formation is 2-2-2, and you can deploy a formation of 1-2-3, your cards need to add 2-1-0 in order to win.

larienna
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I hate bidding in combat, so

I hate bidding in combat, so much unthematic.

A method used in dune express and a couple of other games is that each sides systematically lose 1 unit until one side survives.

So 3 vs 5 units, the remaining units after combat will be 0 vs 2.

Other options and variations are possible. For example, traitors in dune express makes kill at 2:1, so you lose less units.

In my game fallen kindom. You first destroy units by rolling a pair of dice, then the survivors are eliminated one for 1. So you kind of know the min/max range of units you can lose.

Smallworld/Vinci is a nice system since it allows many variations with the special abilities, but the players must be allowed to easily reposition his routed units, which for example is impossible in Dune Express.

FrankM
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Not so much blind wagering as blurry-eyed wagering

Combining a couple of the earlier ideas, suppose the player has a hand of cards. Some are units and some are tactics/widgets that might function as buffs for you or debuffs for your foe. Most of the useful tactics/widgets are only effective on certain kinds of units, with the occasional one that directly counters an opponent tactic/widget.

Players alternate committing cards to the battle. Units are played face-down and tactics/widgets are played face-up. It doesn’t matter what order the cards are played since buffs/debuffs are assigned after all cards reveal. It’s entirely possible that a face-up card has no valid target at all (a bluff) in which case it has no effect. A player could even play a tactic face-down as a feint (completely ineffective “unit” that nullifies any normal effect on that card).

Generally, each player commits 5 cards to a battle.

One tactic that could mix things up would be a way to call for an immediate reveal. Probably need some limit on this, such as at least one face-down card on each side before one can play CHARGE!

WinsmithGames
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Although I disagree that

Although I disagree that bidding in combat is unthematic (on a macro level, it can be very thematic), I like Larienna's idea of each side lose units until one side survives.

This system is flexible. Combat may continue until one side survives or retreats.

Or instead of units, this could work with Health.

Anyways... good ideas!

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