Skip to Content

Neutral Type in an RPS System

11 replies [Last post]
dnddmdb
dnddmdb's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/06/2009

Hey, everyone,

Lately I've been thinking of a game and have been trying to find an interesting combat mechanic to implement in it. I recently started considering a Rock-Paper-Scissors mechanic, and have tried to think of a few things that make it interesting. But one thing that came to mind for me while brainstorming that I'm curious to hear some opinions on is this: is there anything interesting about an "untyped" or "neutral" attack in an RPS system?

What I mean is, each type in RPS has 1 strength and 1 weakness. Is there anything to having a fourth type which has no strength and no weakness? Does that add any tactical depth? I guess it depends on how it's implemented. But what do you think of this sort of system:

Cards have a value in each of four types (RPS, and N for neutral). When comparing cards, they cancel each other's values 1 for 1, but R cancels twice as many S points, for example, while S cancels twice as many P points, etc. N never cancels double or is cancelled double.

If all the points on a card are canceled, it's destroyed.

Does this sort of concept have any increased tactical depth of decision-making based on the inclusion of the N type? Or is it better to just keep RPS as-is? Just some thoughts. Feedback is much appreciated!

Best,
Dan

X3M
X3M's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/28/2013
neutral gives a love/hate relationship to a game

I have only good experience with wargames that use this concept.

- Neutral can lead to choices like not taking risk versus taking risk. At any point in the game.
- Neutral can also be used as a means to amplify an earlier RPS choice that was lucky. This in the form of keep pushing without risk while the opponent tries to get back up.

So, yes! Neutral is interesting in my point of view.

But I have to warn. To have neutral to be interesting, it has to have meaning in the game mechanics.
And I don't know if you can reach the 2 possibilities that I mentioned above.
It also requires a keen skill on balancing.

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
RPS - by nature have a "neutral element" = SELF!

So let's just give an example using an RPS-3.

Rock -> Scissors -> Paper -> Rock.

That's our RPS-3 and it seems to cover ALL cases. That's NOT true.

What happens on:

Rock -? Rock, Scissors -? Scissors, Paper -? Paper.

Those are three (3) relations that could be NEUTRAL because there is no winner. Options are limitless to HOW you want to handle these three (3) cases.

1. Both are eliminated
2. Neither is eliminated
3. ... Invent your own rules ...

You already have a fourth (4th) set of relationships which is yet "undefined" and can be customized to your own liking...

FrankM
Offline
Joined: 01/27/2017
RPSN

questccg wrote:
So let's just give an example using an RPS-3.

Rock -> Scissors -> Paper -> Rock.

That's our RPS-3 and it seems to cover ALL cases. That's NOT true.

What happens on:

Rock -? Rock, Scissors -? Scissors, Paper -? Paper.

Those are three (3) relations that could be NEUTRAL because there is no winner. Options are limitless to HOW you want to handle these three (3) cases.

1. Both are eliminated
2. Neither is eliminated
3. ... Invent your own rules ...

You already have a fourth (4th) set of relationships which is yet "undefined" and can be customized to your own liking...


It's true that the RPS already includes cases where there is no doubling, but the idea here was for a class that never gets doubled (or doubled-against).

Suppose you have Dwarves > Elves > Humans > Dwarves... where dominance is simply doubling one's attack strength. This would be like adding a fourth creature type Zombies that always attack and defend without multipliers.

As mentioned, this makes Zombies the less risky choice (unless acquiring them is riskier or costlier, but that's outside the RPS proper).

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
I feel that the standard RPS already has enough possibilities

FrankM wrote:
It's true that the RPS already includes cases where there is no doubling, but the idea here was for a class that never gets doubled (or doubled-against).

I understood. But as @X3M pointed out, it needs to have a purpose and could break a system such as PYL. If the player "beats" the first time, and luckily "beats" a second time, his third play could be "neutral" to rack up free points (so to speak)...

And also remember that you will be introducing yet another SELF-relationship, Neutral -? Neutral...

And you don't need "doubling", it also can be an "attack-bonus" or a "defense-bonus" too. Like if Player #1 attacks and plays "Rock" and then Player #2 DEFENDS and plays "Paper", he could get a DEFENSE "bonus" rather than "beat" the opposing player.

There is a lot that can be done with the standard RPS too!

Note: This could all depend on each card too. Some cards say that a "defensive beats" means the opposing card gets to attack, others can say that it's merely a "defensive bonus" only. Could be case-by-case, card-by-card...

dnddmdb
dnddmdb's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/06/2009
A Non-Modified Type

FrankM wrote:

Suppose you have Dwarves > Elves > Humans > Dwarves... where dominance is simply doubling one's attack strength. This would be like adding a fourth creature type Zombies that always attack and defend without multipliers.

As mentioned, this makes Zombies the less risky choice (unless acquiring them is riskier or costlier, but that's outside the RPS proper).

Yes, this is exactly what I'm talking about. So would you say that it's sometimes strategically advantageous to choose Zombies, just because you don't know what might be coming, and Zombies can't be "countered", per se? Is it strategically advantageous to choose Zombies 90% of the time, since they can't be countered?

X3M
X3M's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/28/2013
dnddmdb wrote:FrankM

dnddmdb wrote:
FrankM wrote:

Suppose you have Dwarves > Elves > Humans > Dwarves... where dominance is simply doubling one's attack strength. This would be like adding a fourth creature type Zombies that always attack and defend without multipliers.

As mentioned, this makes Zombies the less risky choice (unless acquiring them is riskier or costlier, but that's outside the RPS proper).

Yes, this is exactly what I'm talking about. So would you say that it's sometimes strategically advantageous to choose Zombies, just because you don't know what might be coming, and Zombies can't be "countered", per se? Is it strategically advantageous to choose Zombies 90% of the time, since they can't be countered?


That is the risk. Everyone goes neutral.
RPS breaks this.
Balancing neutral is rather hard. I always have them a bit of the underdog. So if someone picks neutral. They will have more defense then offense in a way. And only after picking another type, can neutral tag along for support.

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Managing bonuses/penalties

X3M wrote:
dnddmdb wrote:

Yes, this is exactly what I'm talking about. So would you say that it's sometimes strategically advantageous to choose Zombies, just because you don't know what might be coming, and Zombies can't be "countered", per se? Is it strategically advantageous to choose Zombies 90% of the time, since they can't be countered?

That is the risk. Everyone goes neutral.

RPS breaks this.

I think the real issue is how you plan for your RPS to work. Like I said it is possible to mitigate the EFFECTS of "being strong" (in RPS terms). @FrankM talks about a "doubling" effect (or being "doubled")... But that's ONLY the effect IF you want CERTAIN cards to behave that way -- not all of them.

There are so many variations on "beats" that some could be more powerful than others (granted). But that's the thing about RPS -- it can vary. And that variation can be done on a "card-by-card" basis.

So maybe "Dwarves" -> "Elves" where the "Dwarven Fighter" is ATTACKING the "Elven Magician". So maybe the Dwarven Fighter gets a +2 Damage. Nothing spectacular -- but it's still is a "bonus".

But in a scenario where "Elves" -> "Humans" where the "Elven Magician" is ATTACKING a "Human Swordsman", the Magician gets a 2x Damage... Something pretty powerful -- because it's Elven Magic!

All this happens on a "card-per-card" basis... Like @X3M says ... a Neutral Race might seem "useless" in a well-designed system of "bonuses/penalties". No risk, no reward. Anyway I've worked with RPS rules before and if well designed you can really have an interesting game.

I've since opted out of using my RPS-9... Because there were too many limitations in what I wanted to do.

X3M
X3M's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/28/2013
I think, neutral in your game will be RPS

I wonder what kind of mechanic you have in mind.
If it is really a 1 on 1 card basis. Then this can't really be balanced. Your neutral card will become a RPS card.

This is how I currently see the game evolving:

The RPS has a factor of 2 on the good targets. The factor remains 1 on the bad targets which include the neutral.

This means that each RPS card has 3 x 100% + 1 x 200%.
This is a total of 500%.

The neutral card also has to get 500% in total.
With 4 possibilities, this is 125% each.

The neutral always wins from a RPS card. It is always 125% against 100%.

How to get it fair:
The only way to keep it fair between neutral and RPS is to give both 100%.
What you get is that the neutral card is only worth 400%. Yet costs 500%.

The only valid strategy:
That I see here is that the neutral card takes a hit in order to protect a needed RPS card.

The problem:
But if a deck can be put together by players, they will not get the neutral cards. But extra RPS cards instead. And their reason would be that the RPS cards are a tad better against RPS players. While neutral decks will be just as effective. There will be less strategy by counting cards etc. Any form of trying to predict if you will.

Another option is to have the neutral card get the following:
100% against any RPS card.
200% against neutral cards.

What you get is that a neutral card becomes the invert of an RPS card.

Sorry to say, but I don't see any strategy in these.
The result is just the same.

With cards is certainly different then with a wargame with multiple pieces that fight at the same time.

FrankM
Offline
Joined: 01/27/2017
Doubling down

I only mentioned double-strength attacks because that seemed to be the original idea. It could certainly be a smaller bonus.

I agree that balancing the neutral cards would be a challenge. One alternative is to have a whole bunch of snowflake cards with widely varying costs and capabilities. Another alternative is to have two distinct RPS rings, where the members of one ring are considered neutral to those in the other.

Justifying two distinct RPS rings would be a challenge, though it could work in a purely abstract setting or with two very independent kinds of magic (elemental vs psychic) or tech (cyber vs bio).

If you want to overcomplicate things, go ahead with snowflake cards and two distinct RPS rings... each card could have a set of stats for each ring with 3x3=9 combinations to work with. This is not the same thing as having an RPS-9.

X3M
X3M's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/28/2013
RPS-4 might also be an

RPS-4 might also be an option.

Where the opposites are neutral to each other.

A>B>C>D>A
And A=C and B=D

gxnpt
Offline
Joined: 12/22/2015
perhaps a bit more complicated?

The only way I see for anything resembling a "neutral" effect with the regular RPS 3 item array (which can be expressed as a circle or a triangle) is to add a third dimension to the geometry (making a 4 sided die shape). For balance add an opposite on the other side. Let us say GUM and SLUSHEE as the neutral items.

Use 3 items in each draw (2 players plus house with house being a random if only 2 players).

If we arrange the standard RPS items so going clockwise moves to what beats the current item (rock then paper then scissors then back to rock again):

GUM fits in the triangle between the other items going clockwise (beats scissors but beaten by rock) and SLUSHEE goes the other way (beats rock but beaten by scissors).

Results if all 3 items are in the RPS group are
Circular Firing Squad = all 3 lose
2 winners 1 loser
2 losers 1 winner

If 2 matching in the RPS group then GUM beats them both but they both beat SLUSHIE.

2 non-matching in the RPS group then GUM and SLUSHEE go between them.
(1 winner, 1 neutral, 1 loser)

2 GUMS always lose to the third item
2 SLUSHIES always beat the third item
3 GUMS and nothing happens (all 3 win)
3 SLUSHIES and all 3 lose as in Circular Firing Squad.

1 item in RPS plus a GUM and a SLUSHIE is a win for the RPS item and a loss for both GUM and SLUSHIE.

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut