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Alternatives for one on one combat to dice rolls?

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Willem Verheij
Willem Verheij's picture
Joined: 06/08/2016

The games I have played personally and those I have seen with one on one combat seem to be focused on dice rolls, or drawing cards.

But for the game I work on I would prefer to not have combat with dice rolls.

The game will involve characters of different classes traveling the board, and they may encounter enemies. But they will also do other stuff on the board but I can work on how they perform the other tasks after I get the combat locked down since that seems the hardest part.

I'd love to hear about solid alternatives to dice rolls that dont get too complicated.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Maybe an idea to use cards solely for each character?

If the game is indeed going to have 1 on 1 battles. Perhaps having a set of cards for your character might help.

During game play, each card costs the same. Thus they remain in a fog of war for other players, if kept hidden.

Then, when the encounter between 2 players occurs. Cards can be played against each other. The characters show their hidden skills for all to see.
Obviously, more cards is better. But with a little RPS system in the cards in total. You might have a "luck" decision, resulting in breaking through defences entirely.

Joined: 04/28/2016
How involved do you want

How involved do you want combat to be?

Dice are popular because they are cheap, easily understood, and honest (some "this is not a dice mechanic" systems are end up being fancied up dice equivalents) probability generators. If you want your combat to be nondeterministic, you're basically going to need a randomizer (in which case there's nothing wrong with dice) or a game system without a steady equilibrium (, RPS).

If you are looking for complex combat that rewards planning or system mastery, then cards or mini-decks or a series of abilities that can modify basic die rolls is a reasonable approach. If you want something that is lightweight but has *some* strategic element, take a look at Tales of the Arabian Nights and maybe add a *bit* more player agency. In Arabian Nights, you have different players roaming the map having adventures and combat is no different from weathering a storm or attempting to trick a merchant.

Joined: 02/05/2016
Hidden bidding?

The other main alternative is some sort of hidden bidding. This could be a face-down card with a value on it, or a closed fist full (or possibly empty) of battle tokens. The number of tokens available to each player could be open, hidden or partially hidden, equal or unequal, deterministic or random, and so on. Usually this unknown element would be added to something visible on the map, so the basic strengths are known before the battle starts, but there is scope for investing more or less in the battle than your opponent expects.

Willem Verheij
Willem Verheij's picture
Joined: 06/08/2016
Mainly it will be against the

Mainly it will be against the board, but I have not ruled pvp combat out yet. Ideally the system could allow for it too.

I suppose I could go with dice, but I am just thinking that I would likely end up with something very similar to A touch of Evil and other Flying Frog games.

I do like those games a lot, and I am going with something similar for my game. A main difference is that all characters start out with their gear and allies instead of having to gather them.

But, they cant carry everything with them, they get limited inventory slots so need to leave some stuff at their starting position. They have to plan their trip so to speak.
They'd always have their standard armor and main weapon of course, but a knight for example could carry two equipment items.
So he'd have armor and a sword which would give him his basic attack and defense.
But he could take a shield with him to give increased defense, a horse for faster movement over the map, and a choice of various weapons that each give bonus damage to specific enemies.

Like a mace that does bonus damage only to undead, but would deal the same damage as the basic sword against all other enemies.
Great when he goes to the graveyard area, but not in the forest area.

Might still be a few very special items to aquire in the game by any class, powerfull magical items, but I want all heroes to use what they start with, which they can lose even.
They start fully prepared on their quest.

Through this I want to counter the usual grind of finding equipment in the early game.

Joined: 06/06/2016
If this is a competitive

If this is a competitive game, a race to see who completes the task first, and you want to eliminate truly random factors on skill/combat checks, this may work for you...
Each player gets a hand of modifier cards. These are played by the active player as a bonus, and by his opponents as a penalty to his action.
"I'm picking this level 2 lock because I have Lockpicking Skill 2." *opponent drops 2 modifier* "It's harder than it looks." *Player drops a 3 modifier* "But I still manage to get it open."

The primary strategy would be whether to save your cards for your own actions or use them against your opponents. Card replenishment would have to be carefully balanced against potential uses.

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