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Battle mechanic using dice, cards, and permanent upgrades

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Rick L
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REINFORCEMENTS 2.jpg

I have a game I've been play-testing for several months, and it's been going well. The only thing were still polishing up is the small battle "mini game" that is designed to interfere with players in the main objective of the game. So the battles are fun and useful, but not the main point of the game.

I mentioned my mechanic in another thread, but wanted some feedback from you good folks about the concept. Basically, players can build permanent upgrades that give you bonus points - some for your attacking rolls, some for your defending rolls. Players also accumulate Strategy cards that give points for either attack only, for defense only, or reinforcement cards that give points whether you are attacking or defending.

The attacking player initiates a battle by playing a Strike (attack) card, then rolls a D20. He adds the points from the card to the die roll, then adds the points from any strike upgrades he has built.

The defender rolls 2 D8, unless she has built an upgrade that allows her to add a 3rd D8. She adds any defense bonus points from her defense upgrades to her dice roll. If her score beats or ties the attacker's score, she has the lead. Otherwise, she can add another defense or reinforcement card to raise her score.

If the attacker has the low score, he might be able to add more Strike or reinforcement cards to raise his score - players are limited to how many cards they can play by the number of their strike or defense upgrades (one extra card allowed per upgrade).

There are 3 upgrades possible in both Strike and Defense. There are 2 other categories of upgrades in the game, but they have more to do with resources. However, one of those other upgrades is a Time Machine which allows a certain number of dice re-rolls per turn. Players generally use the Time Machine for other aspects of the game, where it's very helpful, but if they can spare its use in a battle, attacking players can re-roll the D20, and defending players can re-roll any or all of the D8. This means if you roll an 8, a 6, and a 2 while defending, you can use the Time Machine to only re-roll the die showing "2". Even though you can re-roll all 3 if you want, but why would you, right?

So far, this mechanic has worked well. The main issue we had with it was in deciding what each battle achieves. Originally, it was for worker elimination, but now we're trying it more as a way to play sabotage cards on opponents that will destroy equipment and ingredients for their Alchemy experiments, which is where the main objective of the game lies.

Rick L
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D20 and D8

So does it make sense why I'm having the attacker use a D20, with a riskier roll, and defenders use D8 for a more steady, dependable roll, with decent chances for higher numbers?

Anyone see any problems here, or have concerns about any aspect? Wondering how this sounds to you all - if it makes an interesting enough idea, and how unique it might be. Thanks!

EDIT: we did have one other issue before there were limits on how many cards could be played. We would use up a lot of cards, which was fun, but then our decks were depleted. If you were defending, that left you vulnerable to attack by another player, little or no cards left to play in defense.

Rick L
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new purpose

I uploaded an example of one of the cards. They all have dual uses now: use them for points to win a battle, or use them to play face-down as a sabotage against an opponent, to be triggered when they begin an alchemy experiment. A player first has to win a battle using their strike or reinforcement cards before they can use one of their remaining cards to sabotage the opponent they fought.

X3M
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The rolls might look like

The rolls might look like risky and steady. But they are not.
The whole combat has to be seen as one roll. And the conclusion in your case is a yes/no situation. Not a number (which could be steady).

If the defender wants to take the lead.

1D20 vs 2D8 returns a 45,00% chance for the defender.
1D20 vs 3D8 returns a 67,16% chance for the defender.

The results are very random, although, with 3D8, the defender has 2:1 chance. While with 2D8, the defender has slightly less chance, but it is very close to 1:1.

Those are good numbers.

My only concern is that when the defender uses the time machine as how you have described. The chances for the defender to take lead, will probably sky rocket.
Assuming that even a 7 is going to be re-rolled. (since I am no expert in programming, but I managed to exclude the re-roll on 8).

1D20 vs 3D8, rerolling lowest D8, returns a chance of aproximately 79% (or more) for the defender.
This is almost a 4:1 chance.
Is that ok?

All other upgrades have been excluded from the calculation though.

***

What does it mean? That the defender takes lead?

Rick L
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Great probability analysis

Great probability analysis X3M! I was never sure how to calculate much more than the medians.

What I referred to with taking the lead is basically that the highest score determines who wins the battle, of course. However, the battle ends when the player who is lower in points is unable to play any point cards to raise their score and take the lead.

So the lead passes back and forth until the battle ends. In the beginning, it won't pass so much, as players can only use one card each to raise their score, until they build upgrades. Eventually they can each play up to 4 cards in each battle.

Upgrades also give permanent score bonuses. I have the Strike bonuses maxing at 15 points, and defense max is 12.

The attacker has the advantage of deciding to attack when they feel prepared with upgrades and battle cards. They also have the option to use all available uses of the Time Machine, since power to the Time Machine is renewed as your turn begins. You can have up to 5 uses, if you upgrade time machine fully. The defender can only use it if they have leftover power from their last turn.

So the time machine really can make a huge difference for the defender, but the number of uses is limited. But as x3m pointed out, it only takes one use to boost the probabilities.

I want on the next play-test game to have one of the other more expensive upgrades provide "reconnaissance" and allow the attacker to add a D6 to the D20.

Rick L
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An alternative to High Score

Ok, to revisit this mechanic, I've removed the restrictions on how many cards can be played in a battle. That was a recent addition, but it just was too restrictive. Earlier play tests worked better and were more fun. So Attackers can play as many Strike or Reinforcement cards they need, and defenders can play as many Defense or Reinforcement cards as they need.

However, I've been re-thinking the linear "up the ante" style of bumping up your score using dice, upgrades, cards, and time machine. I came up with something that keeps all those elements, but uses them a bit differently.

I'm considering having the Strike and Defense UPGRADES represent your base "power" in a battle - this is the amount of power you start with each time you begin combat. The purpose of this is to use a battle to reduce your opponent's power to zero before he takes yours down.

Battle begins with the D20 and D8s as described in the original post. Subtract the low score from the high score on this roll - that's the amount subtracted from the person who had the lower dice roll. So subtract from their "power gauge".

Now, each player can play a point card from their hand to subtract more power from each other's power gauges.

Then repeat the process - roll the strike and defense dice again, subtract the difference in rolls from the lower player, then both players play their next card. Players with a Time Machine can reroll if they have sufficient "fuel" to use it.

Battle ends when either player reaches zero power, or when the attacker decides to retreat. When combat ends, players return their power gauges to the level they started at (based on their upgrades).

So which way would YOU rather play? I know I need to find out which ends up being more fun in play testing, but which one sounds more tactical or interesting? The second, newer version has similarities to "Risk", but I don't think it creates nearly as much randomness.

I want a certain amount of randomness from the dice to create tension and uncertainty, but I also want players to feel that they can deal with the unpredictable parts of battle using their choices.

In the original rules, you could just start adding your lowest cards to just get the minimum points to have a higher score than your opponent, and save bigger point cards for more desperate situations. Plus, you have to keep a running tally of how many points you are in the lead, and if someone changes their dice roll with the time machine, you have to recalculate.

In this newer idea, you don't have to keep a running tally or count - you just lower your gauges and you can clearly see how much you and your opponent have left. This helps you consider whether you want to play a higher point card or a lower one - do you feel like you need to play the higher one to guarantee a big hit to your opponent, or do you feel you have enough power left that you can play a lower card and take a chance on the next dice roll - maybe the dice will do a lot of damage, and you can save your cards.

Why save high point cards? Not only are they comforting to have on hand, in case of a more desperate battle, but all cards have a secondary use. If not used in battle, they can be used to sabotage your opponents later, and the higher point cards will sabotage more valuable things.

Rick L
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Also need to mention that,

Also need to mention that, while your permanent upgrades (your available battle power) max out at 12 for defense and 15 for strike, you can divert resources to boost them each up to 20 points. After a battle, the gauges reset to however much your permanent upgrades provides, then you can pay the cost to boost them again.

Initially, players won't have much power for combat, so battles will be quick. Eventually, as more upgrades are built, it will be easier to last more than one or two rounds of dice & cards.

X3M
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In most cases, the easiest

In most cases, the easiest way is the most fun. Less distraction from the game is better. But you need to play test to see if it holds true for the current mechanic.

By the lack of response, I think that both ways sound a bit to complicated to the people. I too have a hard time following it through. And I can't see all of the game either.

What if you explain by listing the options for both players in a certain situation? And explain how they battle each other step by step? Tell the story of what was happening. Then again, with the other set of rules? In fact, if possible, A and B. Simultaneously. Maybe that creates a better view.

If I can replay it on paper, I might have an answer. (I should follow up my own advice too)

Rick L
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I do agree that simple is

I do agree that simple is usually best, and even though the original mechanic here works, I keep rethinking things in hopes of simplifying.

On the other hand, "simple" doesn't leave much room for strategies. Since battles are not the main point of my game, but a little mini-game designed for interference, I'm looking for the perfect balance between simple (so as not to distract too much from the rest of the game) and strategic (to feel like you can make each battle work for you, no matter which side you're on).

Here's a link to the game manual: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7M6p5OME_94cE1xQTBNOTBhUDA/view?usp=dr...

There's an example of the battles on pages 12 & 13 with visuals to illustrate. I've changed tons of the actual card and game board graphics, which I haven't yet updated in the manual (example: strategy cards will be much easier to read). But as it is, the battle mechanic should be clearly explained.

I could just eliminate the dice part completely, and it would still work fine, but people kind of like the dice - the time machine wouldn't be useful in battles without dice, and if your defenses aren't great, the dice give you a chance to still hold out.

So for those interested, read those 2 pages of the manual for the Original battle rules - "Scenario A". My next post I'll write a quick example of Scenario B.

Rick L
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Scenario B

In this idea, we take the Strike and Defense upgrades as a starting point.

Player 1 has built Strike upgrades that add up to 7 points of Strike Power. He has also spent 8 units of steam to boost that to a total of 15.

Player 2 has built Defense upgrades only totaling 5 points of Defensive Power. On a previous turn, Player 2 had also spent 5 steam units to add 5 points (totaling 10).

Player 1 considers his Strike and Reinforcement cards & decides he feels confident in attacking Player 2. He places a marker to show which facility he's targeting, and rolls the D20 to Strike. He rolls a "13".

Player 2 has and upgrade that allows him to roll 3D8 (instead of only 2). He rolls and 8, a 3, and a 1. Player 2 doesn't have many Defense or Reinforcement cards, but he has one use left of his Time Machine, so he re-rolls the 3 & 1 (keeps the 8). The results are another 3, and 4. So adding the 8+3+4, his roll totals 15.

Player 1 rolled 13, so he lost the roll by 2 points. He subtracts those from his Strike Power (starting at 15) so he has 13 power left (he adjusts his gauge to show this).

Now they each play a card. Player 1 plays a Strike card worth 6 points, so player 2 lowers his Defense gauge by 6 points (10-6 leaves him at 4 defense power). Player 2 plays a Defense card worth 4 points, so Player 1 drops his strike gauge from 13 to 9.

Now they roll again, and repeat until one player is at zero, or the attacker withdraws and ends the battle.

When the battle ends, the defender's (player 2) defense power gauge goes up to 5 (for his defense upgrades). When player 1 ends his turn, his strike power gauge returns to 7, the total from his upgrades.

Well, after writing it all out, it sounds complicated! But in actual play, it's just a quick dice roll, subtraction and slide your gauges, then play cards, subtract, slide gauges again. Rinse & repeat.

Hope it makes more sense this time - sometimes I have a hard time visualizing a scenario just from a written description, so I understand if this doesn't come across well to a lot of you. Thanks for reading through at least!

X3M
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Well, seeing both options. To

Well, seeing both options. To be honest, I can't really choose or advice. The second one does seem a little bit easier. I think that someone else should advice.

Rick L
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X3M wrote:Well, seeing both

X3M wrote:
Well, seeing both options. To be honest, I can't really choose or advice. The second one does seem a little bit easier. I think that someone else should advice.

Any bit of feedback helps - thanks for giving it some thought! I think it's just going to come down to which gives a more enjoyable experience for the players, and for that I need to get more play-testing done - if only there were more gamers around in deep south Texas lol.

Rick L
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A couple of new notes:First

A couple of new notes:

First off, I had my username updated from the former "Mokheshur" to the current Rick L - just hoping to avoid confusing anyone out there!

Second, I've tried quite a few variations of combat using the same main elements mentioned above, and it's been a cool process. I'm hoping I've narrowed things down to where I can finally settle on the best option for my game!

So where it stands now: An attacker rolls 1D20, and the defender rolls 2D8 (or 3D8, if they have the upgrade for it). Whoever has the LOWER score can use points from their combat gauge (if they have any) to add to their dice roll - but only up to the point of evening the score.

During your normal play turns, you can beef up that combat gauge gradually, so how many points you accumulate there is mostly up to you. Same for the amount of Strategy cards you accumulate.

Once those points have been added in (again, this is optional - you can add as many as you want, up to the limit of creating a tie), no further points may be added.

Then, players use their combat cards to raise the score. Or, it's easier to just count how many points a player leads by.

If the dice rolls are tied, the defender is leading with zero points (defenders win ties). The attacker can play a 3 point strike or Reinforcement card to gain the lead by 3 pts. The defender can now add a 6 point Defense or Reinforcement card to take the lead by 3 points. The attacker can then play a 3 pt strike card to tie the score, but he still hasn't regained the lead, so he plays another 4 pt Reinforcement card to now lead by 4.

This continues until one player no longer has playable cards that can take back the lead.

The various cards give between 2-6 points, with a couple rare 10 pt cards. Some cards make the opponent discard a card from their hand, or discard the last card played (like the minefield card). But that's where I'm at for the next round of play-testing!

Rick L
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I'm still debating the use of

I'm still debating the use of the 3rd D8. I'm leaning towards eliminating it from the game, and just having the upgrade give extra strategy cards instead of an extra Defense die.

While it makes players feel safer in defense, it would probably make attacking someone feel maybe too daunting, and players would be less likely to engage in any combat. Yes, they could beef up their combat gauge, but if players feel like they have to focus too much on that, they miss out on production of other important resources.

X3M
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imho

It is this "having a chance" thing that presses games forward.
Or else, the attacker is going to count cards, and stuff like that. And once (s)he is sure, (s)he attacks. With 100% certainty if they know the exact workings of a game.

I even managed to do something similar in some MtG games. Literally killing all defenders in 2 to 3 turns, not just one. And then being sure to finish the job. I have to say, it is fun to find a way like that. But the third time is already super boring. 6 cards always beats 5 cards. A power of 3 always wins against a power of 2. Things like that.

With risk, attackers might attack sooner. 6 has a chance of 55% to beat 5 cards. 3 has a chance of 60% to beat the 2. Sounds better in my opinion.

3D8 sounds better in my opinion. It is only 1 roll for both players. And if you keep the roll, might as well keep the upgrade.
That is, unless you have so many new card idea's that you want to add.

On a side note, how do play testers feel about this?

Rick L
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The tricky thing about my

The tricky thing about my cards is the designation that separates them into 3 basic categories - Strike, Defense, and Reinforcement. Since the Strike cards can only be played by the attacker, and the Defense cards can only be played by the defender, you really never quite know how many cards your opponent has that can be used against you in a battle. They might have 10 cards, and only 2 or 3 that they can use against you. Not the most likely scenario, but it's happened!

I've pretty much kept the same lineup of cards (including the special ability ones) the same since the very first playtest over a year ago. But recently, I've been messing around with the rules and mechanics a lot, so play tester feedback is a little erratic, depending a lot on which versions I've tested.

Most like having the 3D8, but it has made a lot of battles hard for the attacker to win. I might keep the 3rd D8, but just make it come into the game later, with a different upgrade that takes longer before it can be built.

The new idea I posted about using the built-up combat bonus gauge as a way to even out dice rolls feels promising, after all the other things i've tried. So far, I've only tried it out in a game playing against myself though! But the idea now is that one player or the other will have to use that gauge - that supply of "bonus" points in the battle, while the other player doesn't use any - they get to keep the points for another combat situation and continue building up a nice big supply (in case of a really bad roll)

So the dice roll basically exists to cause one player to use up some of those stored up points to even things out. Then, they will have a good chance of winning the combat with their Strategy cards. I'm speculating that the difference between 2D8 and 3D8 for the defender is going to be, on the one hand, the defender having to spend bonus points more often (2D8) or on the other hand, the attacker spending their points more often (rolling against 3D8). That would be "more often" based on multiple battles.

Rolling a d20 against 2d8 means you'd automatically lose if you roll a 1 or 2 (that's a 10% chance) but you'd automatically win if you roll a 17, 18, 19, or 20 (that's a 20% chance). Rolling a d20 against 3d8 means automatically losing with a 1, 2, or 3, and no unbeatable roll. In fact, the 3D8 defender would now have 4 additional possible unbeatable rolls (20-24).

Don't really know how all that figures in statistically, since for the D8s, the low and high rolls are statistically a lot less frequent.

X3M
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Well, somewhere up in this

Well, somewhere up in this topic. I had 2D8 and 3D8 compared to D20. The chances of when the defender could take the lead.
Number of D8 - Attacker - Defender
2 - 55% - 45%
3 - 32,84% - 67,16%

Rick L wrote:

Most like having the 3D8, but it has made a lot of battles hard for the attacker to win. I might keep the 3rd D8, but just make it come into the game later, with a different upgrade that takes longer before it can be built.

When looking at the chances. It makes a lot of sense. 1 to 2, is really a big difference.

If you go to anydice.com. You can see for yourself, how big the chances are when rolling 2D8 and 3D8, compared to 1D20.

Rick L
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Thanks X3M for all your input

Thanks X3M for all your input throughout this thread! I was on all dice last night with BH Futurist helping me figure it out, but still learning to make sense of all the graphs.

From those numbers you put, it seems like it would be best to have the 3rd D8 come into the game later - players won't get to unlock it until they do more upgrades first.

For one thing, battles are more useful in the first half of the game, and later it's better to use the Strategy cards for sabotage (they're dual use cards). Any late battles will be easier for the defender.

Secondly, the new mechanic basically has the dice determining which player has to spend their accumulated points (and how many). It doesn't necessarily determine who's gonna win, unless it's an unusually high point spread. Once the points are used to mitigate the dice roll, it comes down to the card playing to determine the winner.

X3M
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Rick L wrote:Thanks X3M for

Rick L wrote:
Thanks X3M for all your input throughout this thread! I was on all dice last night with BH Futurist helping me figure it out, but still learning to make sense of all the graphs.

You're welcome. Just keep asking like I do.

And obviously, I still need to learn to see the obvious.

That reminds me. The time machine is also in favour for the defender, right? Or can the attacker make use of the time machine as well?

Rick L
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Each player can build their

Each player can build their own time machine as well as upgrade it to have more uses per turn. You don't necessarily want to spend all your uses for it on a battle, since it's much more helpful in the Alchemy experiments of the game (for game points).

And of course the time machine can be more helpful for the defender, since they might have a high result and a low result, then choose to use the time machine to only re-roll the lower die. For the attacker, you just have the 1D20, so it's only worth the re-roll if you have a pretty low roll to start with.

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