# Calculator for board game

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sol
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Joined: 08/18/2011

I've playtested my game, and the people who played had a great time. My game is rpg-based, except unlike D&D, it uses a physical board map with spaces. For the combat part though, calculators must be used to calculate damage and stats. It's simple multiplication, addition, and subtraction. The people who playtested had no problem with it, but if this ever gets to the stores, I'm afraid that the calculator-required part will scare away potential buyers. Do you think that this is a problem?

Tenelen
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Joined: 07/13/2011
It Depends

I think it really depends on the market that you are aiming to sell to. I personally do not bother trying to make my game without any sort of math because the people that I aim to sell my game to are people who do this for other games already.

If you want to hear more you can check this out:
http://www.bgdf.com/node/5115
There was a discussion about it on here a few weeks ago.

Dralius
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Joined: 07/26/2008
There is always another way

There may be ways to do it without electronic calculators. Many games use charts, calculator wheels or sliders to figure odds of event outcomes. It all comes down to how complex your system is and how much of the effort can be reduced with good components.

The easier it is to figure the outcome the wider your audience will be.

sol
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Joined: 08/18/2011
My game is for older teens to

My game is for older teens to adults. There's no way around having to use a calculator. For example, during a battle with one of the four enemies on the board, a player with an attack stat of 140 uses a level 1 attack. They roll a 10 out of 12 (2 six sided dice). The calculation will then be (.8)*140=112 damage to the enemy. The enemies hit points goes from 1000 to 888.

It's stuff like that. Not to mention players gain stat boosts as they go throughout the game. The system makes perfect sense, but it does require a calculator. Like I said, I was just wondering how many people who like RPG style board games would be okay with having to use one.

suf
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Joined: 07/26/2010
Is that enjoyable?

Sorry for being a bit pessimistic, but I don't think I'd like to have to do such calculations. I love math but I don't think I'd enjoy doing this. Players should be able to easily estimate the amount of damage they would inflict before deciding to go for it, or maybe they'd like to know "what do I have to roll to kill that guy"? If that takes long it might feel boring. The game should be about theme, not about math :)

One thing I'd try is to make numbers smaller. What if enemy has 20 hit points instead of 1000 and you round everything up/down? I doubt it would ever make any difference weather the enemy has 980 or 970 hit points remaining. In similar popular games enemies rarely go over 9 anything (so you have only one digit); if they can do it maybe you can do it. Also try to work with integers only, it's much easier that way. From what I can tell the damage value comes from 2 values, meaning you could easily have a matrix chart for that. Have few values on each axis (not 1000!!) and you're all set.

I wouldn't try to be very accurate. Change a value by 2% up or down and nobody cares (most of the time at least). It would be more accurate to think that a wounded enemy's attack becomes weaker and weaker the more you hit it, or the longer its blood goes out of the wound.

Cogentesque
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Joined: 08/17/2011
Well if you are going to

Well if you are going to stick to your working out - yes a calculator (or a load of charts) will be needed. Itt sounds similar to the work that normally goes into to a PC-based RPG with all of the maths done behind the scenes and instantly.

What might make it a little easier is change your 2 d6's into a propper percentage based dice. as in, intsead of 7/12 as a result you would look at 60% - which makes it a little more straightforward (at least in the players mind) to work out "60% of 1000 is 600, where as I have no idea what seven twelthes of it is." So either 1 or 2 d10s for an exact random percentage.

If you wanted to keep the values normalized (like in a bell-curve) by using the two d6's (eg: much more likely to get 6,7,8 than 2 or 12) you could use skewed percentage dice (eg: 2 d10s but missing the 1 and 10 numbers on each alternatively 4 d10s : 2 blue (add result for the 'tens' value) and 2 red (add result for the 'ones' value)

sol
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Joined: 08/18/2011
Sorry, I should have said the

Sorry, I should have said the current mechanics of the dice roll.

Each outcome, 2-12, has an action multiplier that goes with it. This is multiplied by the characters current attack, defense, or spirit (healing) stat. I have a chart made for it already:
2: 0
3: 0.1
4: 0.2
5: 0.3
6: 0.4
7: 0.5
8: 0.6
9: 0.7
10: 0.8
11: 0.9
12: 1

The pattern is easy to learn. Let's say a character's attack stat is 250, and they are attacking an enemy. If the player rolls a 9, the player takes (.7)*250=175 points of damage to the enemy. The steps are simple enough, but it does involve a calculator, and that's what i am afraid will scare people away from trying my game.

Flaise
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Joined: 08/19/2011
.

For the record, using 2 dice gives a different probability distribution than using one die. A d100 would be simpler than 2d6, but it would give more erratic results.

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
Consider switching dices

sol wrote:
Each outcome, 2-12, has an action multiplier that goes with it... I have a chart made for it already:
2: 0
3: 0.1
4: 0.2
5: 0.3
6: 0.4
7: 0.5
8: 0.6
9: 0.7
10: 0.8
11: 0.9
12: 1

I just bought a new set of polyhedral dies and there is ALMOST the perfect dice for you. It is a 10d x 10. It has values: 00, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, and 90.

What is missing is the 12: 1 (or 100). You could also use the d10 dice which has values: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. But again you would be missing the 10...

But using either of those dies would be simpler than having a "lookup table" IMHO. So you don't get the 10 or 100 (or 1). Is that a big deal? If not, I would switch dice from 2d6 to 1d10 or 1d10x10.

With either of these dies, there is no "erratic" numbers such as with the d100. Not to mention having such a big dice, with such small numbers is probably a "no-no".

sol
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Joined: 08/18/2011
The two d6's is a necessity,

The two d6's is a necessity, and is not my major concern. If I were to post the rulebook, it would make more sense. There is a lot more to my game than what I posted. My question is whether or not a calculator required board game will scare potential buyers away (this game is meant for older teens to adults).

Grall Ritnos
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Joined: 02/07/2011
Different calculator application

I've been wrestling with the same issue of whether or not needing a calculator is ok. My current project (aimed at a similar audience) often relies on calculators in a different capacity than the combat math you've described. In this game, players are buying resources from a market with constantly changing prices which can theoretically range 1-40, although in most cases the values are 5-25. Players often buy resources in batches of 10-20, so the integer multiplication quickly exceeds the mental math capacity of many, including adults.

I've only run 4 playtests so far, with some gamers and some non-gamers, but while the calculators do slow the game down a bit, the negative reaction to them has been fairly limited. I'm in a similar boat where designing calculators out of my game would rip some of its mechanical guts out, so I think I will press on until I hear some really negative feed back. I would however echo the comment of one of the other posters that designing fractional numbers into your game moves the level of required math one step higher. Although I don't see an easy way around it for your current implementation, I fear this level of math will challenge a fair number of players, and possibly turn a few away. Overall, I'd recommend hanging on to your current system, but attempting aggressive play testing with a wide range of players, and asking for feeback on this specific issue. Just my \$0.02.

larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
Transpose calculations outside the battle

I think it depends on the calculations. One of my friend made once a RPG about final fantasy. So you could imagine that making thousands of damage were normal. From what I remember, it managed to play well.

In the example you give:

Quote:
They roll a 10 out of 12 (2 six sided dice). The calculation will then be (.8)*140=112

I think it's actually ok to use a calculator to keep track of large numbers, but the formula above is much more complex.

First for the 2D6, calculating % odds required for the other formula is annoying. I would suggest 1D10, or 1D100 (2D10) for this purpose. Else, as other people suggested a table could be used. Calculating a % of the maximum damage is not so bad.

Personally, I always try to find a mechanic that will be elegant. For example, you could use a pre-calculated damage mechanics so that the calculation are not done during the game play. It reminds me of the "Alternity system".

For example, let say that your attack is equal to your character stat + your weapons strength, this can be pre-calculated. Let say the total is 120. Now let say you use 1d6 to determine the % of damage (16% increment), you could pre-calculate the damage of all the values. It would give something like:

1= 20

2= 40

3= 60

4= 80

5= 100

6= 120

In that case, players have their custom pre-calculated lookup table that they can adjust as they change weapon and raise level.

So in the end, the only calculation they need adjusting HP according to damage. Even for damage, I would have tried to find a more elegant technique:

Idea: Let say all players has 20 energy bars. Player takes their total HP and divide it by 20. So if a player has 500 HP, it makes 20 bars of 25 HP (this is pre-calculated). When they receive damage, instead of subtracting the damage from the HP, players dash 1 energy bar for each slice of 25 points inflicted round up. So If a player makes 120 points of damage, the player will dash 5 boxes.

With a method like this, it reduces the amount of calculation that needs to be done during battle, and the health system will remove the need of constantly erasing/writing your HP value.

So I think that your best bet should be to remove the calculation that needs to be done in the middle of the actions. It will accelerate the game and make your combats less boring.

suf
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Joined: 07/26/2010
Off Topic

This is a bit off topic but still related to math.

truekid games
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Joined: 10/29/2008

To answer the base question- yes, it will scare away some potential buyers/players. I would advise against having a calculator be a requirement or even a suggestion.

sedjtroll
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Joined: 07/21/2008

truekid games wrote:
To answer the base question- yes, it will scare away some potential buyers/players. I would advise against having a calculator be a requirement or even a suggestion.

It depends on your target audience as well. I have seen calculators out, even laptops with spreadsheets, to facilitate some of those 18XX games! That subculture is fine with calculators. The more mainstream gamer crowd probably isn't.

truekid games
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Joined: 10/29/2008
right- and a large chunk of

right- and a large chunk of normal gamers don't go near the 18XX tables, and would be even further chased away by a calculator. so you will lose -some- of your potential buyers/players with a calculator, regardless of target audience.

for the record, I've played, enjoyed, and would play further games that needed a calculator. but if you're worried about scaring people away, I'm not sure if there's any other component you could include aside from potentially offensive ones (religion/sex/politics/drugs/etc.) that would manage to scare away more players than a calculator.

budleiser
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Joined: 07/28/2011
Going niche is fine. Just

Going niche is fine. Just understand you are going Niche. Math-y people will enjoy your game. A lot of college D&D players are math-y people. But part of the appeal is it gives them a chance to interact with non-mathy people in the same game. Will yours?

pelle
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Joined: 08/11/2008
As a rather math-y person, I

As a rather math-y person, I disagree. Even of all wargamers I met only one have accepted using a calculator for odds (he had to simplify his wip game, realizing calculator would scare away even hardcore grognards).

Making the probabilities seen above into a system that can be handled easily by humans is much of what game design is about. Most math-y people will frown upon crude calculator mechanics, but be impressed by a clean clever implementation that solves a difficult problem in a few simple operations.

CRTs of different kinds, maths (eg logarithms), abstractions. There are many solutions to borrow fron to make a better more elegant system without losing anything (give or take a few % rounding errors).

pelle
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Joined: 08/11/2008
I remember one wargame

I remember one wargame requiring calculating % losses. It came with a big lookup table, so no calculator was required.

Personally I would experiment with logarithms, turning multiplications into additions and rounding fractions. Search bgg forums for some threads on that topic. As a fallback if things really can't be abstracted to fix it anyway.

Maaartin
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Joined: 05/15/2011
Maaartin

I'm quite math-y person, too, but this doesn't mean I like to perform calculations with number as big as 1000, not matter if using calculator or tables or whatever.

sol wrote:
player with an attack stat of 140 uses a level 1 attack. They roll a 10 out of 12 (2 six sided dice). The calculation will then be (.8)*140=112 damage to the enemy.

*With such a luck factor in the game there's no reason to avoid round-off errors. For me any rules in such a game using number much greater than 10 are simply wrong.*

suf wrote:
What if enemy has 20 hit points instead of 1000 and you round everything up/down? I doubt it would ever make any difference weather the enemy has 980 or 970 hit points remaining.

Exactly. And even if there was a difference, it's meaningless. Given the rules, you can never be certain about anything, no matter how strong your army and how weak the enemy, with a probability of 1/36 you make no damage at all. So why care?

*Using big numbers only makes it more complicated to keep track of the state and to compute anything.*

As an extremely conservative change I'd suggest the following: Multiply the attack strengths AS by 1/20, so use 7 instead of 140. Calculate the damage as AS*(2d6-2)/10, obtaining 0.0, 0.7, 1.4, ..., 7.0; round to integers (down or up or however). Also multiply the hitpoints by 1/20, so use 50 instead of 1000. I don't think any player would notice any difference, except for things getting much easier. Use a table for making it even easier if you want to.

I'd actually go further for something like this: Multiply the attack strengths AS by 1/20, so use 7 instead of 140. Calculate the damage as AS*d6/10, obtaining 0.7, 1.4, ..., 4.2; round up. Multiply the hitpoints by somthing like 0.03, so use 30 instead of 1000. I strongly doubt there'd any change in the strategy.

ReluctantPirateGames
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Joined: 09/27/2011
Cosmetic change

sol wrote:

Each outcome, 2-12, has an action multiplier that goes with it. This is multiplied by the characters current attack, defense, or spirit (healing) stat. I have a chart made for it already:
2: 0
3: 0.1
4: 0.2
5: 0.3
6: 0.4
7: 0.5
8: 0.6
9: 0.7
10: 0.8
11: 0.9
12: 1

This suggestion is basically cosmetic, but have you considered doubling the multipliers and halving the base attacks? Mathematically it does nothing, but thematically it feels better. If you have a character with a listed attack, it seems weird that you would basically never achieve that. If the 7 is a x1.0, your most likely event is that your character attacks with the value listed on their card. That way rolling a 12 has a much grander feel to it, like a critical hit or something. You would feel like you had exceeded expectations, whereas under the current system you are always coming in at less than 100%. Anyway, this shouldn't change any math, I just think it would be nice on a psychological level.