# Combat Mechanic Question

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jasongreeno
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Joined: 07/31/2008

I'm trying to make a combat mechanic that feels less 'random' then Risk. Please give me your thoughts on my math / concept.

I'm proposing the following:

Each unit in combat rolls a d6 and then adds it's Accuracy rating (0-6). The total is divided by 5 to get the number of Hits.

I know I'm succeeding at making certain units more lethal (as their Accuracy goes up) but I'm not sure I haven't created a other problems.

Dralius
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Joined: 07/26/2008
The only downside i see is

The only downside i see is doing math. Funny how even simple math will put people off. Since it’s a war game you can always make charts for the results.

Zodiak Team
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Joined: 09/09/2012
I had the same issue and I

I had the same issue and I decided to use the mechanic mechanic I put below to prevent players from turtling.

"The attacking player must first select a Unit of theirs to conduct an attack and an opponent's Unit to attack. Then the attacking player must roll an Attack die to decide how much damage their Unit will do. If a Unit has more than 1 Attack, they can either re-roll their Attack die until they are satisfied with their roll up to the attacking Unit's Attack stat.

*Note: If a Unit uses up their Attack by re-rolling an attack die, it cannot attack another Unit.

The player whose turn it is can attack multiple times with all their Units up to their Units’ attack stat. No 2 Units can ever conduct battle against each other more than once in the same turn. Once damage has been inflicted or prevented, the attacking Unit can select another Unit for an attack (if they have any attack rolls left).

The Unit being attacked does not roll for defense until the attacking player is finished rolling for their attack. The player being attacked can re-roll their defense up to the Level of their Defense stat.

*Note: If a Unit uses up their Defense by re-rolling against the same attack, the Unit cannot defend against another Unit's attack.

No matter how many times Attack and Defense dice are rolled only the highest number is used."

PenteVPM
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Joined: 09/07/2012
Static value vs. randomness

As I see it, the way to reduce randomness is to balance the static value as opposed to the random value. This can be seen as a kind of continuum, where on the other end there are only static values, and on the other end only random values.

So basically, I think the system you have described should work fine. If you want even less randomness you could use d3 or increase the static Accuracy ratings. This could even be tuned on the unit level (ie. one unit uses d3's for the random part, while others d6's).

However, I'm not sure what the "divide by 5" is intended for? I guess this could be used to further cloud the static and random components of the result.

MarkKreitler
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Joined: 11/12/2008
Implicit vs explicit math

jasongreeno wrote:
I'm trying to make a combat mechanic that feels less 'random' then Risk. Please give me your thoughts on my math / concept.

I'm proposing the following:

Each unit in combat rolls a d6 and then adds it's Accuracy rating (0-6). The total is divided by 5 to get the number of Hits.

I know I'm succeeding at making certain units more lethal (as their Accuracy goes up) but I'm not sure I haven't created a other problems.

I'm with Dralius: even though this math is simple, it's still too much as presented here. There are ways to circumvent that, though.

For example:

1) Group attacking units into 'squads' of 3 (if there is a leftover squad with fewer than 3 units, it may not attack).
2) Each squad attacks with the accuracy of the lowest unit.
3) Roll a die for each squad and award a single hit for each successful roll.

This effectively "hides" the division and reduces the number of rolls. It also forces players to take care when combining units with different Accuracy ratings.

All this said, this is just an example of how to make "complex" math (like division) implicit in your system, rather than explicit. I'm not recommending this particular take on your idea.

Mark

Orangebeard
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Joined: 10/13/2011
Dice and Hit Number

I also agree that math is best avoided when possible.

You might be able to build some unit variance into the game by assigning 2 stats to each unit.
-The number of dice the unit rolls in combat
-The result on each die that results in a hit

For example, a Special Forces unit might be (2,2+); Small number of dice because their are only a few people in the squad, but they pretty much hit whatever they aim for. By way of comparison Street Thugs might be (4,5+). It's easy to arm punks with bats and trash can lids (hence the 4), but they aren't very effective combatants (hence the 5).

By adjusting either the dice rolled or the hit #, you can manage the average number of hits the unit should be expected to achieve. If you need more variance, you could also move from a d6 roll to a d10.

Ratmilk
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Joined: 02/03/2009

JustActCasual
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Joined: 11/20/2012
Groups or units?

Orangebeard wrote:
You might be able to build some unit variance into the game by assigning 2 stats to each unit.
-The number of dice the unit rolls in combat
-The result on each die that results in a hit

For example, a Special Forces unit might be (2,2+); Small number of dice because their are only a few people in the squad, but they pretty much hit whatever they aim for. By way of comparison Street Thugs might be (4,5+). It's easy to arm punks with bats and trash can lids (hence the 4), but they aren't very effective combatants (hence the 5).

This sounds like a great combat mechanic, but would it work as well with groups of units (especially mixed groups)? From the original post it sounded like fairly large groups ala Risk.

Ratmilk
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Joined: 02/03/2009
I'd go so far as to give each

I'd go so far as to give each unit 3 statistics. Every unit (true throughout history) is a mix of power(also firepower), maneuverability, and durability(defense/armor). By giving every unit 3 statistics you can get a lot of depth and allows a lot of different unit combinations. I'd also separate your combat into phases, a ENGAGEMENT and ADVANCE phase. When a battle occurs the attacker divides his frontline forces into an ATTACK FORCE and his RESERVE. The defender responds accordingly and divides his forces into his own FRONTLINE and RESERVE. When combat begins the attacker totals his attack force's firepower and compares it to the firepower of the defending frontline units, if there is an advantage to either player THE DIFFERENCE is added to a single die roll for each player during the engagement phase. It is the total of the units statistic in each group that goes to the modifier rather then the number of dice. Damage is inflicted by comparing Firepower vs. Durability and units are reduced to both sides accordingly. It comes down to a single modified opposed die roll and mitigates randomness because players can bring overwhelming firepower at the critical point.

Now here is the second part. If the attacker EXCEEDS OR MATCHES the defender in the initial attack he can then ADVANCE with that reserve force. The two reserves maneuverability scores are compared and the same dice resolution mechanism is used but the variable is the maneuver statistic instead. If the attacker exceeds the defender he is allowed to either attack in the next territory by bypassing the defenders reserve, or cut off the defenders supply lines, if the attacker does not exceed the defender's roll they both go back into reserve. If the attacker wins the maneuver roll and chooses to attack the same sequence occurs as a regular attack etc. but into the NEXT territory, If he chooses to cut supplies then the defender cannot reinforce the units trapped in the territory from outside areas unless he fights through them, you can even attrit. the units in the pocket over time for as long as they are cutoff. Of course, if the defender has no reserve to begin with and the attacker does then he automatically gets to continue attacking or cut off supplies if that initial breakthrough succeeds. Again, that whole phase comes down to one opposed die roll.

As an extra mechanic I'd put pips or marks along each areas borders that would limit the maximum number of units allowed to attack and advance across that border. It is a very easy way to put terrain restrictions and bottlenecks into your map.

This system is quick to resolve, tense and puts each player into a series of tactical dilemmas. The attacker needs to evaluate which units to put into the attack to make that breakthrough and what to keep as an exploitation force, it requires combined arms and thinking ahead. The defender has the dilemma of what to put into the front line and what to hold back to counter. The interaction is good and only requires a maximum of three opposed die rolls.

Redonesgofaster
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Joined: 11/14/2012
Look at Champions of (

Look at Champions of ( http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/92044/dungeons-dragons-conquest-of-ne... ) The way the reduced the "random" factor was to use several dice but keep the same target number IE scrub fighters hit on a 6 on a d6 and dragons hit on a 6 on a d20.

For that I think the game was pretty successful in making units feel a lot more like a sure thing, without taking the randomness completely out of a war game. Which would end up looking something like Vinci.

In design I have always been of the school that you streamline everything that isn't going to be a decision point for players. Adding additional math and chart checking could be fun if players get to muse over the options but if it is just for the sake of modifying probabilities in a way that feels more "right" to you it probably isn't worth it.

Ratmilk
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Joined: 02/03/2009
I'm with you Red streamlining

I'm with you Red streamlining is key. I would only add that another way randomness can be achieved is through hidden information. If forces are somehow hidden until committed to a battle it becomes another and fairly realistic way to simulate randomness. I'd really like to know more from the poster about what type of warfare and setting he is trying to simulate. My above example assumes it's modern conventional 20century+ maneuver warfare.

AnEvenWeirderMove
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Joined: 03/07/2012
Sekigahara has a very

Sekigahara has a very interesting combat/conflict resolution mechanism. So do games like Condottiere and Montana, with strength represented by cards which are committed to battle one at a time. In "dudes-on-a-map" games you could use a combination of card-play and sheer numbers to calculate total power, and the player with the higher power wins, destroying units from the other player's side. If this is a largely PVP game then this makes sense.

Otherwise, randomness can be changed by using cards instead of dice, that way the range/frequency can be tweaked. For example, if you have a deck of 10 cards, 5 are 1 power, 3 are 2 power, 1 is 3 power and 1 is 0 power.... then you can be fairly confident that you will draw at least a one.

This also opens you up to using other aspects of the game to modify the odds for different players or units.

jasongreeno
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Joined: 07/31/2008
More Details

Thanks for all the great feedback!

The game is modern warfare. Think somewhere between Risk and Supremacy/Axis+Allies.

A major design goal is that duration should be 2 hours max with 4 players, 3 hours with 6 players. (So simplicity/steamlined is key).

My core units include a Basic Tank, Improved Tank, Advanced Tank (and the same for Jets, Ships, Troops). I like the idea of one target number to hit with only the die type changing, but I guess I wish there was a way to be more elegant so I don't have to require excess components. - but I could live with it.

I have to admit some of what you guys were suggesting goes a litte over my head with terms like "implicit" and "explicit" when used in the context of mathematics.

jasongreeno
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Joined: 07/31/2008
Since you all seemed

Since you all seemed enthusiastic and experienced in war games let me ask your opinion:

If my game uses tokens (like small poker chips) that stack how would you feel about the potential annoyance of having to pick them up to see what was in the stack of either your forces (if you forgot) or your opponents? There could be a mix of Air/Sea/Ground/Troops and potentailly more variations.

When looking at your opponent's token stack, does it make it too obvious that you are thinking of attacking your opponent?

Should I embrace this and have the tokens face down for fog of war? But then doesn't the person with the best memory win?

MarkKreitler
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Joined: 11/12/2008

jasongreeno wrote:
I have to admit some of what you guys were suggesting goes a litte over my head with terms like "implicit" and "explicit" when used in the context of mathematics.

Hey Jason,

Sorry for the jargon. Here's what I meant:

If the division is "explicit," you're telling people right out to "divide by 5." For a lot of people, this makes their head explode.

But you can make the division "implicit" -- or "implied" -- by asking players to divide their units into attack groups first. Few people object to taking their stack of tokens and grouping them by 3s (or 5s or whatever). Even though that's still division, it's a visual operation most people take for granted.

So that's the crux of my idea: instead of having each unit roll a die and dividing the total by 5, have the players separate their units into "attack groups", then have each group roll a single attack die, which are then added together. This "hidden" division won't scare people, and can give you similar mathematical results. It also has a neat side effect of creating another tactical decision: how should I group my mixed forces for maximum effect?

jasongreeno
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Joined: 07/31/2008
Thanks

Thanks Mark.

That's a great explanation. I see what you are saying about offering an interesting choice the player has to make about grouping 'less accurate' units with 'skilled units'. It will also help keep in check the player who wants to buy a bunch of cannon fodder units and one super unit so that their battle group has one ace and a bunch of throwaway targets.

MarkKreitler
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Joined: 11/12/2008
Stacks

jasongreeno wrote:
Since you all seemed enthusiastic and experienced in war games let me ask your opinion:

If my game uses tokens (like small poker chips) that stack how would you feel about the potential annoyance of having to pick them up to see what was in the stack of either your forces (if you forgot) or your opponents? There could be a mix of Air/Sea/Ground/Troops and potentailly more variations.

When looking at your opponent's token stack, does it make it too obvious that you are thinking of attacking your opponent?

Should I embrace this and have the tokens face down for fog of war? But then doesn't the person with the best memory win?

If you're imagining a scope and number of units similar to Axis and Allies, I'd say looking at stacks would be too fiddly. It's hard enough to keep the board organized in Axis and Allies without having to rustle through stacks to judge unit strengths.

You could make this easier by making each unit type a unique color. Then people could tell (mostly) what a stack held from its profile. I assume that you're using color for player identity, though.

Not sure what to say about your last two questions. There's always a risk of tipping your hand when surveying the board in a wargame -- but seasoned players can use this to mislead opponents. In the end, I'm not sure it matters very much.

And fog of war? The important question is, does that fit your vision of the game? Some war games have it, others don't. Wargamers play both kinds, so it's not a make-or-break mechanic. Pick what you feel is best for your game and let the chips fall where they may...

Ratmilk
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Joined: 02/03/2009
Embrace it. Use those chits

Embrace it. Use those chits and here is how I'd suggest enhancing the components. For one, do not let opponents look at other peoples stacks, thats cheating. Add false chits to add to the stack, this way players can deceive opponents by planting false intelligence as to unit strengths. Think about the operations prior to D-day with an entire fake army created to trick the Germans with the false invasion of Calais. My opinion on Fog of War is that any game that doesn't have it, loses a lot, I'd even go so far as to say if it doesn't have it, it's not a very good simulation.

One way to avoid clutter is player mats where players keep their chits off board and bring them into play when combat occurs. It also solves the problem of players checking chits on the map as anyone can check their own forces whenever they want without interfering with each other. It also adds an extra layer of Fog; replace those stacks with a single army markers on the map with reference markers on the mats. When armies engage they get brought from the player mat and put into play. Look at post number 8 for my suggested combat system, this would work well with poker chip like components as they would simply split the stack into lead element and the reserve. Mixed forces are easy to implement, just put one facing for the unit on one side of the chit. Two sided poker chits can also show a reduced strength or out of supply side.

I'd also, and this is just a suggestion, add order markers to be placed on the board with those army markers. Players would pre-plan all moves (Attack, reinforce, recon, entrench/fortify, move, etc.; put in a feint (Feint would be a bluffing marker for another layer of deception) and resolve them either in player chosen order or by flipping them all at the same time and then resolving. All at the same time can be done using a mechanic that prioritizes order resolution. For example, all players flip all markers and orders are then resolved; movement resolves first, followed by recon, followed by entrenching, then attacks, and lastly reinforcement. It would add a serious level of depth to your design.