Once again, I'm back at the drawing board. I'm working on a space fleet combat strategy game. I've gone through almost half a dozen combat systems, all of which haven't worked out. My previous one was awesome on paper but play tester feedback was that it wasn't fun enough (Sheesh, when did games have to be fun?). Anyways, I've scrapped the idea.
I started a new job recently so that's put my posting on this forum and working on my game on the back burner for a bit. I decided I wanted to figure it out so I actually played the trial of EVE Online to get some ship-combat ideas. I was impressed that they created a system where weaker ships are still relevant (even necessary) in large-scale combat and being more than just fodder. It works by large ships having a hard time targeting small ships and small ships can gang up and take out a large ships. It's not really a rock-paper-scissors system more that each ship is effective at engaging it's own tier and less so the further tiers you are away.
So this gave me the idea for my new combat system. It involved two types of damage and because I can't think of a better name for them at the moment they are "small" and "large". Small attacks are particularly effective when trying to damage ships with "small" defenses. Large attacks are effective at engaging "large" defenses. Neither is as effective targeting the other group as they are their own. For example, a small frigate would have 1 small attack and 1 small defense. A Cruiser would have 1 large attack and 1 large defense. Frigates would be effective at killing each other just as cruisers would be. However, frigates are not very good at engaging cruisers and visa versa.
What I like about this is having a "bomber" ship that has a large attack and a small defense. Or a destroyer which is the opposite with a small attack and large defense. I also plan on adding ships with 2 defenses which would add ablative damage and significantly increase in survivability. It allows for lots of differing ships and a fair amount of strategy in designing fleet composition (a key design goal of mine) while being simple.
Now the real question: how do you pull this off? My intention is to use one dice for each small and large attack. I've been modeling d8s in excel and have two options.
Ships can either "hit" or "crit". A hit can be used against a ship on their own tier. A crit can be used to damage ships on either tier. Because smaller ships will be cheaper, larger ships have better odds to hit and crit. The number's I've been playing with is small dice having 1/8 chance of critting, and an additional 2/8 chance of critting. This way frigates hit each other at a rate of 37.5% and large defense at 12.5%. Large dice have a 1/4 chance to crit and an additional 1/4 chance to hit, making a 50% chance to hit large defense and a 25% chance to hit small defenses.
This makes damage taking a little complicated. I'm thinking of having the defending player choose which ships takes which damage but requiring that they start with "hits" before they can divide out "crits".
My other idea works much the same way but instead, it takes multiple (say 2 for now) small attacks to equal one large one. This way, I could remove crits entirely and make it so that one large hit can take out a large or small defense, and multiple small attacks can take out a single large defense. This makes large attacks wasted on small ships and has the "gang-up" factor for small attacks. Some of the balance also comes from multiple small hits being required simultaneously (which would make 1 small attack worthless against large defenses).
As far as damage taking goes here, I would have to require that small damage can only be applied to lage defenses in groups unless there are no small defenses left to take damage. This way if Fleet 1 lands 3 small hits and Fleet 2 has 3 small defense and 1 large defense, the defender could lose all 3 small defense, or one large and 1 small. I don't know if that made sense. It basically means that the player can't use large ships to divide small attacks across large defenses. Another example is 4 small attacks agains 2 large defense and 2 small defense. The defender couldn't take 1 small attack on each large defense, they'd have to take either 1 large and 2 small losses or 2 large losses. Hopefully that clears it up.
I am highly in favor of Option 1. I wanted to get some feedback here before I go too far (again) with this combat so, what do you guys think? Does it sound good? Also, what should I call "small" and "large" attacks? I'm thinking something that implies small rapid fire (like a machine gun) and a single powerful blast (like a cannon).
Also, I'm entirely open to different ways to accomplish a similar goal. I'd like to run with the small/large thing and I'm not 100% sure my way is the best.
I was building some prototypes and I realized that having more than one defense (effectively hit points) has some issues.
First of all, ships are cards that are in stacks which correspond to a numbered token on the board. I've worked this much out so far: if a ship has 2 defense, a player can take a hit on it by turning it upside down (or tapping it).
The problem this poses is I don't have a way of tracking damage between battles. Like if in a multi-player game, the same fleet is involved in a fight more than once a round, I can't think of a means for carrying damage over from one fight to the next without it being cumbersome.
Any thoughts? Maybe I can just price double defense ships accordingly higher because this makes them more survivable.
I like the concept that big guns/ships are not necessarily better at hitting small targets. I have a game in progress that uses the same concept. I think it creates interesting opportunities rather than rewarding players for always buying the biggest guns/ships. It also explains why in real life a battleship never travels(*) without a host of smaller escort ships.
(*) More correctly "travelled", since in real life all battleships have gradually been phased out of service following WW2. They are simply too expensive to operate, and are vulnerable to subs/planes/cruise missiles. Which I guess is what you are trying to simulate.
Variation on Option 1
Custom dice have a combination of the following symbols:
- Crit: Hits small or large
- Small: Hits small only
- Large: Hits large only
This way you have more flexibility in ship creation and dice creation. You could have 3 or 4 different types of dice to represent different ship classes, rather than being restricted to only 2 dice types. It's also faster to read the dice results, because you only have to look at the symbols you rolled, rather than translating "A hit on a small dice means it hits small, but a hit on a large dice means it hits large."
I also like Option 2 for its simplicity, though it doesn't present as many elegant options for variation in ship design.
It sounds like you currently use a "defender assigns hits" rule.
What would happen if you did the following:
- Attacker rolls dice
- Defender selects a ship to take damage, which absorbs hits until it is destroyed
- Attacker selects a ship to take damage, likewise
- Repeat Defender and Attacker until all hits have been allocated.
- Ships not destroyed heal up to full at the end of the combat.
Taking Damage 2
Normally, "attacker assigns damage" results in making special ships useless because they automatically get picked on. In contrast, "defender assigns damage" makes special" ships invulnerable because the defender will not remove them until the very last.
However, what would happen if you did the following:
- Both sides roll dice (assuming concurrent damage resolution)
- Crits can be used as "hits anything" or "protects one ship"
- Both sides assign hits to the opposing side, but cannot hit "protected" ships until all other ships have been destroyed.
This system lets you protect certain ships (e.g. command ships) at the cost of less damage inflicted on the enemy because you are using up a "crit" result for each ship you want to protect (in effect, it is hiding at the back instead of attacking). There's also no benefit in trying to protect everything, because once you have no unprotected ships then all your protected ships are fair game. And you're not guaranteed to be able to protect your command ships because you might not roll any crits.
If combined with my Option 1 Variation above, it would allow for some interesting dice to match certain ship types. E.g. if an Assault Cruiser used a die with 1 crit, 2 large hits and the rest misses, an Escort Cruiser might use a die with 2 crits and the rest misses. So the Escort Carrier has less damage potential but is more versatile and better at, well, escorting.
For the name of the damage types, I would probably just go with "Light damage" vs "Heavy damage".
Alternatively, if in your game world you make the damage types consistent with the attack type, you could go with "Laser" vs "Warhead" with the explanation that lasers are useless against capital ships, while warheads (torpedoes, bombs, etc) are useless against small ships.
Thanks for the input. I like the ideas you've suggested.
I like the "protection allocation" model but one thing I want is for battles to be relatively quick. I feel like to do this effectively, players would have to take turns applying dice as either attack or defense.
Also, about the varying types of dice. I was planning on having two sets (small and large) where a hit on a small dice is black and a crit is black with a white outline. A large dice is just the opposite with a hit being white and crit being white with a black outline. This way, white symbols can be applied to large defense and black ones are applied to small defense.
My only concern with adding more dice is how many do you provide? If I have just the two types, I could do 5 of each if players take turns (10 total). I don't think tons of dice is a huge concern but there is definitely a balance to be made in simplicity, depth, and production cost. If I have 4 types of dice and provide 3 of each, that's 12 and includes a lot of re-rolling if you have need more than 3 of any type and then your opponent rolls.
I like where you're going with this mechanic and it's given me a few ideas.
On assigning damage.
Have you thought about giving the units an "initiative" score that assigns damage instead of leaving it to the players to decide?
small fighter= init: 1
large fighter= init: 2
cruiser= init: 3
transport= init: 2
This way you can still have the defender assign damage during an initiative TIE but you could arrange the tiers so that the decisions would be unpleasant for them to make.
The small units would get eliminated first leaving the big ships to duke it out in the end or maybe giving players time to bring in reinforcements.
On combat damage in general.
What about not using custom dice (just reg d8 or d10) and instead having the cards tell you what numbers = what kind of damage (small, large, crit)
on a d8
small fighter= dmg: S- 1,2,3, L- 4,5, C- 6 Miss- 7,8
large fighter= dmg: S- 1,2, L- 4,5,6, C- 6 Miss- 7,8
cruiser= dmg: S- 1 L- 2,3 C- 5,6 Miss- 7,8
transport= dmg: S- 1,2,3 L- 4,5 C- N/A Miss- 6,7,8
On keeping damage after combat.
In the game I've been designing (Arena combat with decks and dice) I ran into this same problem (chits everywhere!!!!! ARGH!!!). What I came up with is using these pointy plastic paper clips (found at office max).
I printed the unit's HP vertically total along the side of the card from 0-X and just attached the paper clip to that side and used it like a little slider and it's worked great for me.
As for damage names, what about: (S)= Hull (L)= Core (Crit)= Life Support
Hope this helps, lots 'o' luck.