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Example D6 Combat System

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Joined: 04/21/2009

This post/thread was inspired by the "Opposed Rolls" thread.

I'm currently using/developing a system for a mediaeval-era card game where each combatant has a "combat strength" (usu. from 1-6) which represents the number of dice he may roll to hit. Hits are on a "6", unless there is a special modifier that applies.

Each combatant also has an "armour value" (from 0-3) which represents the number of dice he may roll to save vs. damage. Hits are blocked on a "6", again unless there is a special modifier that applies.

One unblocked hit is usu. a kill, again barring some exception.

The attacker and the defender both roll their dice and set aside their hits, then roll to save vs. damage. Each unblocked hit is assigned to a combatant by the player suffering the damage. In that way, Heros/stronger combatants can be spared a little longer during combat and less potent combatants can be used as "cannon fodder". (It's good to be the king!)

After each round of combat, both the attacker and the defender can decide whether or not to continue to fight, negotiate some sort of truce, or withdraw from the field of battle altogether.

I've playtested this system a few times. It has its strengths and weaknesses. For instance, it can become a "dice-fest", esp. in larger battles during the first few rounds. Still, it's a pretty simple system that is easy to learn, gives the players some flexibility, and yields fairly realistic results.

Anyhow, I'm open to any comments, criticism, or suggestions if you've played a combat system like this one and know of any ways to improve it.



Hedge-o-Matic's picture
Joined: 07/30/2008
Example D6 Combat System

Combat systems in games have to be more than effective. They have to be fun. The old "classic grognard" wargame was about nothing but combat, and the systems that evolved became so overburdened by tiny details that the fun was slowly leeched from them. So you can have a system that resolves combat "like it should" (i.e. elites not being taken down by greens), which is totally un-fun.

I'd look more at what you want combat to "feel" like. Do you want the units to be tough, making combats a slow game of attrition, or fragile, which emphasizes maneuver and position? Are the most experienced units very much more effective, or does the technology of every unit pretty much even out the field? This will count a lot toward conserving units, as beneficial experience won't be squandered if it pays to save it up.

In more concrete terms, begin with your basic system. Since your rolls are boolean rather than numeric (a 6 is "1", and anything else is "0"), there's no theoretical limit on how long a combat can continue. Every roll to hit can come up all misses, even against units without defenses. This can continue forever unless you rule it out somehow, either by decree ("Combat is over the course of three rounds"), or by adding some other variable that will tip the balance one way or another over the course of time.

I think the issue of "endless combat" is only a problem if each round is the same as the last except for the number of dice being rolled. Basically, are there enough tough decisions the players need to make each turn? Players should be presented with options that are painful to choose between. If there is always a best-case option, the game isn't going to be very much fun. These choices should, ideally, lead to the conditions that break the infinite loop.

So there has to be some other element, like a resource that is allocated, that builds over time into a combat-significant effect. Or perhaps movement options influence combat, meaning the players will keep changing their deployments to gain advantages. In most cases, having a option that can be applied to more than one unit, or now instead of later, will force the player to choose. In an open system like yours, there's no reason why a player can't have numerous factors come toether momentarily to make a given unit invincible. If the condition is a matter of numerous choices rather than dice-rolls, the players will see it as fair.

Joined: 12/31/1969
Example D6 Combat System

So each army totals it's offense and defense dice, and rolls each set all at once? Or do you resolve pairs of combatants one at a time?

Regarding hitting/saving by rolling a 6 on a d6 - Eagle Game's Age of Mythology did something similar and it produced fairly unsatisfying probability distributions. I think the basic problem was that unless the number of dice was high (>6 say) the number of 6's rolled varied wildly - such that 1 dice vs 4 dice seemed to win way more often that seemed right in a 1 vs 4 situation. The game was later amended by the designer so that each die scores on 5 or 6. That seemed to tame down the swings of fortune to a more comfortable level while still allowing for the occassional upset.

Joined: 04/21/2009
Example D6 Combat System

I agree with you that combat systems have to be fun. And, I do wish to resolve combat realistically. However, I dont necessarily think that Elites cannot be taken out by Recruits. That is the reason for a random element: nothing should _guarantee_ victory, in my opinion; the enemy is an animate, independent force trying to resist.

My game is of a mediaeval genre, and I am looking towards adapting some form of modified paper-scissors-rock (PSR) game as the combat resolution system. Swords > Spears > Knights > Swords, all of whom are vulnerable to Archers, though Archers are vulnerable to each of them. I would like the stronger units (heroes, nobles, etc.) to be tougher than the basic troop types, to give them "personality"; unfortunately, as there is no board (this is a card game), I dont think that in my game manoeuvre will play much of a role.

I hadnt thought about my system being "boolean"; thanks for the insight. Still, as the number of dice increases, I think that the odds of rolling all ones in a handful of dice is pretty slim.

Back to the drawing board...

Yes, that is essentially the case: each army totals its offensive & defensive dice and rolls each set all at once. Regarding a saving roll, I thought that I should be able to reflect the degree of armour worn by the combatants to some extent. Heavier armour gets more dice to throw to save.

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