# Math question

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genericm
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Joined: 08/11/2009

I'm trying to sreamline the combat system in a game of mine and would like your input.

Currently the combat system (That everyone seems to like and encourages me not to change) takes too long in my opinion. Players can easily spend upwards of a minute making their choices in battle, and most battles last 3 rounds. Battles involve only two players at once, so when one player has to fight 2 or even three battles in a row, other players can be left for 10 minutes or more with nothing to do. This is obviously a design flaw, but the battle system is unique and truly strategic and it would disassemble the game entirely to make any drastic changes. Most of the game flows smoothly with no downtime, but when battles occur some players can be left with nothing to do. The players fighting are fully engaged any having a blast.

So I'm left tying to streamline the current system, perhaps even rearranging the moments when battles occur to create the feeling of less downtime.

Here is my question to you:

The system involves a bit of addition, players in a large battle often have to add up something like the following numbers (1,4,3,3,2,2,4,1,2,2). I'm considering simplifying the addition by reducing the different numbers to add. Like this: (2,2,2,3,2,2,2,3,2). This will eliminate some variability but I'm wondering if it will actually save any time.

So please do me a favor, use a stopwatch to time yourself as you add the two different rows of numbers and tell me if there is any actual difference in the time it takes you.

Here are my options:

Reduce the time of each individual Battle (without losing the current system)

Eliminate chains of consecutive Battles (this would spread out the down time into smaller more frequent chunks, could but disrupt the flow of the whole game and allow players to become distracted more often)

Probably a little of both is the best answer.

Any thoughts? Perhaps just writing this out has helped solidify the problem in my head.

Thanks

EM

sir_schwick
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Joined: 03/12/2011
Punchbutton Component

This may add a couple dollars, but if only two players are in combat at the same time then you only need two of these. They would be small specialized calculators that had input buttons for the possible numbers you are adding. From above it looked like four at the max.

No idea if mechanical or electronic adder would be cheaper, but I think there would be a cheap way to make these. Early on speed would not be much greater but after a while it would improve.

Also......
Are any of the numbers determinable before combat begins? I ask because then players who are not directly involved could be starting some of their calculations. This would reduce down-time by creating parallel tasks.

Yamahako
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Joined: 12/01/2010
Are these numbers coming from

Are these numbers coming from dice, or cards, or statistic look ups?

genericm
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Joined: 08/11/2009
they are coming from cards,

they are coming from cards, each player commits 3-5 cards and each card has 1-3 numbers each from 1-4.

I'm just trying to figure out if adding 2,2,2,2,2,3,3 is FASTER than 1,4,1,4,2,3,1,

I know which is easier, but speed it the concern.

for an example of the battle system look here:

Yamahako
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Joined: 12/01/2010
It's hard to say with that

It's hard to say with that example, the numbers you listed in your second post the second was faster than the first because the first three pairs of numbers all added up to five, where I had to count all the two's in the first number (which is hard on a computer screen), then add 6 to that value. It took me 7 seconds to add 2,2,2,2,2,3,3; and 2 to add 1,4,1,4,2,3,1.

In your first post, the first number was faster than the second number, because it likewise had no discernable pattern - the second number was grouped in sets of numbers that were easy to combine (3 2's is 6, + 3 is 9, repeated is 18 +2). It took me 9 seconds to add 1,4,3,3,2,2,4,1,2,2 and 2 to add 2,2,2,3,2,2,2,3,2.

In both cases I believe this to be a result of the pattern of the numbers more-so than the numbers themselves.

The fastest way to add a string of numbers is to be able to infer the addition of numbers in a quickly intuitive way.

If I understand your system correctly, your commitment to combat can have anywhere from 3 values, to 15 values. A way to add a pattern to the numbers would be to simply color each of the numbers, 1-4, a different color so the player could easily break them into a simple format for addition. With a quick glance I could see (3) green 4's [12], (3) red 3's [9 - 21], (3) purple 2's (6 - 27], and (6) yellow 1's [6 - 33]. Which is a lot easier to add up than 4,1,3,2,1,1,4,2,2,3,3,1,1,4,1

genericm
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Joined: 08/11/2009
Insightful

Insightful

Thanks for your response. I follow and agree with your points. Discerning patterns is the best way to add for someone good at discerning them. I kinda wonder though if those challenged with this kind of addition would have an easier time being able to count by twos and then 'finger add' a few three's at the end.

Perhaps it simply demonstrates that people have different ways of mentally perceiving numbers and any thing I do to cater to one school of thought could throw off others who add a different way.

Hmm, lots to consider.

It does confirm one thing though, with only 10 seconds dedicated to the addition (for a player slow at math) it must not be the adding that is making battle take a long time.

I'll have to examine option 2 a bit more.

larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
Quote:I'm just trying to

Quote:
I'm just trying to figure out if adding 2,2,2,2,2,3,3 is FASTER than 1,4,1,4,2,3,1,

If you want to resolve combat faster it will have to be more than changing values. There are probably abstraction and simplification that can be done, but I need to know how the combat system works to be able to make suggestions. With little info, we can give little solutions.

A quick idea, you can make sure that all battles are resolved at the same time. So that for example when player A and B are duelling, Player C and D can also duel instead of waiting.

It's not a perfect solution but it will at least cut some downtime.

genericm
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Joined: 08/11/2009
Agreed

Thats a nice suggestion, and the game currently runs that way, however here is the scenario:

All battles occur at the same time and are triggered by an event. In the beginning of the game this is fine and it reduces downtime, however as the game progresses battles occur more often. Eventually a single battle event occurs were all 6 players are fighting someone with some players fighting multiple times.

This is the result:

Player A and B are fighting, Player C must fight A when he is finished and player D must fight C when he is finished. Players B and E can fight as soon as the first battle is over, but Player F has no fights and so must sit through 3 rounds of fighting with nothing to do.

If each battle takes 5 min then 15 min of nothing to do for player F is a long time. Among all this waiting, there is also the potential for players to get distracted and further delay the game.

I have considered an arbitrary rule where whenever there are 3 fights on the board a battle event is triggered. Thus lowering the likelyhood of one player being involved in more than one battle at a time.

Or simply increasing the frequency of the battle event will create the same effect in a less obvious way.

I may have to test these...

Yamahako
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Joined: 12/01/2010
genericm

genericm wrote:
Insightful

Thanks for your response. I follow and agree with your points. Discerning patterns is the best way to add for someone good at discerning them. I kinda wonder though if those challenged with this kind of addition would have an easier time being able to count by twos and then 'finger add' a few three's at the end.

Perhaps it simply demonstrates that people have different ways of mentally perceiving numbers and any thing I do to cater to one school of thought could throw off others who add a different way.

Hmm, lots to consider.

It does confirm one thing though, with only 10 seconds dedicated to the addition (for a player slow at math) it must not be the adding that is making battle take a long time.

I'll have to examine option 2 a bit more.

Ahh explained your way (each 2 is 1 unit, then add another 1 for each 3) *would* allow me to add the numbers faster - as long as that method is explained.

If you expanded that, and showed that up in your combat (I'd be wary to change anything if people are really liking the way it works) - you could express the values in a different way, but still keep the interactivity.

If we base everything off of a "2", then 1 can be expressed as -1, and 3 can be expressed as +1, and 4 can be expressed as (2) 2's

Then you can make sets of a 1 and a 3 (they cancel each other out to 2) and you'll be left with either a small number of +x or -x, to a set of numbers that is the number of elements X 2

This could theoretically be done without numbers. If a 2 is expressed as a white box, a 3 is expressed as a black box, a 1 is expressed as a red box, and a 4 is expressed as 2 white boxes, then you'd make sets of red and black boxes, and multiply the total number of boxes by 2, then add 1 for each un-matched black box, and subtract 1 for each unmatched red box.

The "boxes" could also be different shapes for people who are color blind. And you would be fine putting the numbers in the shapes as well for additional enforcement.

This might not work for you - its just a thought - based on a possible mis-interpretation of your system.

Yamahako
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Joined: 12/01/2010
Could you put in a way that

Could you put in a way that Player F (in your scenario) can interact (interfere) with the other player's battles?

If that battles are what is interesting - then player F being engaged in the battles that are occurring (even if not taking part) would also solve your problem. This may not be possible at all - its just another approach to the issue you're describing.

drktron
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Joined: 07/18/2010
genericm wrote:they are

genericm wrote:
they are coming from cards, each player commits 3-5 cards and each card has 1-3 numbers each from 1-4.

Is it necessary to have each card have up to 3 numbers? If each card only had one number you could color code the cards of different values like its been suggested and when they are revealed cards of the same value from both players would cancel each other out. So they would only have to count the cards that are different. This would especially work well if one value of the cards is more common than others (2s more than 4s).

For example (2,2,2,2,3,4) vs (2,2,2,4,4). Three of the "2s" and one "4" cancel out so the first player only adds 2+3 and player two has 4.

Not sure if this will help.

genericm
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Joined: 08/11/2009
Nice!

Yamahako wrote:

This could theoretically be done without numbers. If a 2 is expressed as a white box, a 3 is expressed as a black box, a 1 is expressed as a red box, and a 4 is expressed as 2 white boxes, then you'd make sets of red and black boxes, and multiply the total number of boxes by 2, then add 1 for each un-matched black box, and subtract 1 for each unmatched red box.

Actually just what i was looking for, A way to take the math out, or at least make it not feel like math.

Here is a Forum simulation of the battle system to explain it a bit more, but i appreciate your out of the box ideas so far.

Just put the dots in.

genericm
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Joined: 08/11/2009

So... Here is the next evolution of this idea, please read it over and tell me if you think it is (1) understandable, (2) intuitive (once you try it a few times), and (3) easy.

This is the control group, compare the experience of counting these numbers with the system we're suggesting:

2,2 2,3 1,2,3 3 1,2,2,3

now the new idea:

( )( ) ( )(+) (-)( )(+) (+) (-)( )( )(+)

Count all the circles and multiply x2 (or count by two if that's easier for you). Then add 1 for each (+) and subtract 1 for each (-). Once your familiar with it you may note that if a (+) and a (-) are together you can ignore them both.

Now this is just an experiment but I suspect this may make patterns in the numbers more apparent, and help the players count more quickly and more confidently.

InvisibleJon
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Joined: 07/27/2008
You could get rid of numbers...

You said that you're using cards. Cards have several properties that set them apart from other number generators (dice, chits, etc.). Notably: They're easy to manipulate and stack without losing their value and they can contain a significant amount of data. You have a few options for ways to get the same exact effect of adding without having your players actually add. I'm going to focus on graphic representations...

Consider putting a line (one to five units long) on the right edge of each card. The side with the longest line at the end of the battle wins. If you don't want a really long line, put the line on the short edge of the cards.

Alternately, you can put bullet holes or gunsights along one edge of the cards. Players can line them up, just like the line idea above, but making the representation an icon instead of a number encourages players to cluster them into sets of five or 10, which should enhance speed of summing.

Add a "trademark" color (and/or icon) to the cards for each value. Even if you stick with numbers, giving those numbers color will further help players distinguish one from another.

...another stance: Write the rules in such a way that encourages efficient summation during play and resolution.

I hope your game turns out the way you want it to!

genericm
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Joined: 08/11/2009
Here is an

Here is an example

http://www.bgdf.com/node/4727

Redcap
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Joined: 07/26/2008
I can add both in the same

I can add both in the same amount of time. It took me roughly 2 seconds for both.

A quick note, if the other player is interested in the battles, IE the results will dictate their choice or gathering strategy to use against another player, longer more detailed battles aren't a bad thing. It doesn't sound like a family game; but rather a hardcore strategy game, so I would assume players would rather have strategy and wait times rather than quick battles and decreased strategy.

The hardest part of playtesters is listening to their feedback. Maybe they are right and you game is good the way it is ;)

disaac
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Joined: 02/26/2011

What about this... I have seen your post over on bgg as well where you were showing the actual combat mechanisim and having people test out a couple of rounds.

So how about this. Leave the numbers on the ship cards, and use stones (glass beads) to count up the points. These can then be lined up on the attack/defence board to indicate your choices for the round.

The players would not actually need to completely total up the number of points they have all together. Just count out 2-4 stone for each segment as indicated on the ship. When a segment is destroyed, they just need to remove that number of stones from their collection.

Additionally... Each card could indicte the total power of the ship (The total of it's component values) cutting the counting time in half or even thirds to get their initial values.

If you are running this as combat scenarios (each battle plays out a scenario which defines all of the ships that will be involved on each side) then the scenario could include total fleet values for each side as well.

henri
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Joined: 04/14/2011
Agreed on both counts

I also added both the set of numbers in a few seconds. I don't think the numbers is a big problem.

I also think you may not have a problem at all. My own favorite game of all times, Titan, has an involved battle resolution that can take 30 minutes, sometimes more. A few minutes to resolve a battle does not sound like much to me.

Edit: My post was meant as a reply to Redcap, above.

bonsaigames
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Joined: 12/20/2010
Math Question

First, why are there multiple numbers on these ship cards?

Second, could you put a total value number on each card to reduce the number or calculations needed? If it is meant to represent different types of weapons / damage / armor then aggregate those categories on each card instead of (or in addition to) showing emplacements.

Third, I think someone else already mentioned it but I love the idea of keeping Player F involved by introducing a mechanic for effecting battles you are not directly involved in or you could go the cosmic Encounters route and allow allies / reinforcements from players not directly involved.

Hope that helps,
Levi Mote
www.bonsaigames.net

Yamahako
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Joined: 12/01/2010
Well the flag ship is 8

Well the flag ship is 8 points, for example, cards can have values from 1 to 12 (IIRC) So putting a "total" on the card might make even more math which I think he's trying to get away from.

Unless it affects the game in a particular way - I'd recommend having each card have only pluses or minuses on it, so that you resolve the zeroing out on your own - It might affect the cards - and in that case it obviously won't work.

genericm
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Joined: 08/11/2009
sorry for the wait, long weekend...

starting at the top

disaac... We actually started this battle system using the glass stones you describe and it does help players keep their math straight, but moving phsyica tokens around is time consuming. The sliding cards shown on the forum playtest were a time saver hands down. Also others have suggested having a total value listed somewhere on each card, but I have avoided the idea because as soon as a ship takes a hit (loses a number) the total value would be obsolete even confusing.

Yamahako.... What do you mean only pluses and minuses, can you expand on that thought? As it stands now, most ships that have a minus also have a plus (allowing you to ignore them both). However if I use this system, an empty circle would be nessisary to designate a 2. I also like that the 2s look empty allowing players to easily spot the + and -, these + and - are like exceptions to the '2' rule and should stand out.

Yamahako
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Joined: 12/01/2010
genericm wrote:. Also others

genericm wrote:
. Also others have suggested having a total value listed somewhere on each card, but I have avoided the idea because as soon as a ship takes a hit (loses a number) the total value would be obsolete even confusing.

That tells me that clearing the balances wouldn't work for your game - I didn't understand that concept. So if I hit your ship on a plus I'm negating 3 value of your ship, that's an important distinction from hitting a minus.

Sounds good - I think the zero math way is faster and your cards look great!