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Dice Combat System - Help Me Choose

8 replies [Last post]
jasongreeno's picture
Joined: 07/31/2008

We've made good progress on Vigilante, the Street Level Superhero Co-op Game but...

I'm asking for your help to improve our combat system.

Current system uses d10s rolled against target Defense numbers. If one of your d10s equals or exceeds the target number you have one success. If two dice, then you have two successes and so on.

Each success deals damage as listed on your attack card, in most cases 1 damage.

The trouble is, this feels very luck-based. I think what we need is a 'bell curve' to lessen the extremes? The game is inspired by Pathfinder ACG which uses more traditional RPG dice pools. I didn't wan't to copy that, but now I'm seeing why they chose it. Is there an even better option I'm not considering? Should I just admit defeat and use the RPG system?

Suggestions? Questions?

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
I hope this helps give you an idea

The only way that I see to lessen the luck. Is to increase the hit points. And then to increase the amount of dice. Both times 2, "halves" the risk and thus halves the feeling of luck.

Another way is to increase all chances on a hit. While also increasing the health of each target. Instead of 50% chances, what about 60% chance to hit along with 20% more health?

You could experiment with for this.

On the other hand. The feeling of luck is always the greatest, when only pitting 1 against 1. When dealing with 10 against 10. This will be entirely different. And the bell curve will be very deterministic already.

If you have more than one soldier, than you might like to encourage players in a way to build up an army. Instead of taking a risk. Personally, I leave the risk for the stronger more decisive units.

FreedomPortal's picture
Joined: 08/24/2014
I normally consider hit or

I normally consider hit or miss base on some kind of dexterity rather than against the 'defense' value of target. So I'd assign the 'Accuracy' and 'Dexterity' value to characters.

Use Dexterity minus Accuracy to find the number on dice that player must throw equal or over to. (7 Dex - 3 Acc = Roll 4 or above to hit)

Then the amount of damage apply is just the classic Attack minus Defense.


Another example I fiund from Shadow Hunter is they use 2 die, D6 an D4. Throw both at the same time and apply damage by number of D6 - D4. So the range of damage is from 0 to 5. This mechanic can ofcourse apply to any type of dice.

Gabe's picture
Joined: 09/11/2014
What if you went a little

What if you went a little more Euro game in your approach?

What if the start player rolls a whole bunch of 12 dice.

Then, in turn order, each player chooses one or two dice to use during that combat round.

High numbers that are counted as hits would be the obvious first choice, but if each player had ways to change dice and mitigate low numbers through powers and abilities, the choices get much more interesting.

Add into that abilities that only trigger with a 1 or 2, and all of a sudden each character has a distinctive feel, and you've got more to think about than just "roll high numbers to win."

Each round would be like a puzzle the players have to solve to be the most efficient with the dice rolled to get the best result.

jasongreeno's picture
Joined: 07/31/2008
X3M: The targets are

X3M: The targets are currently tokens, which makes them hard to assign damage to. Currently they are all 1 hit point enemies. Thank you for the suggestions. Sorry for not providing enough info.

FreedomPortal: The Shadow Hunter suggestion is an interesting mechanic. Thanks for letting me know about that.

Gabe: That's a cool sounding system. I like the amount of control given to the players, but I think it might take out some of the drama of the individual attacks. Thank you for the ideas though. I might try it in a different game.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
With only 1 health each. The

With only 1 health each. The only other direction that you can take is allowing players to have more than 1 unit in combat.
Would it help increasing the number of soldiers?
You could add 5x tokens?

If you have for example 6 units shooting. Then you get a bell curve with these 6 units.

Well, I assume you are doing group vs group battle's. Because 1 on 1 battle's with 1 health each, indeed sounds like too much luck. But if that is the case. Then any other solution would be entirely luck based as well.

Joined: 12/22/2015
force a bell curve

If attacker and defender both roll d10 - modified as appropriate - vs each other, you have a built in 2 die bell curve.

I played with this idea using opposed percentage dice and it seemed promising.

Joined: 05/11/2010
Pathfinder is based on D+D

Pathfinder is based on D+D dice. There are some other good options from rpgs:

Rifts: 2d10+x for percentage rolls against target percent
Shadowrun: xd6 where target number counts as hit against target # of hits
WoD: xd10 where target number counts as a hit against a target # of hits

So in avoiding copying pathfinder you've basically copied WoD. The problem in adapting rpg system for board game, is the purpose of the dice in the rpg is to provide a basis for narrating what happens in the story. Oh, you only got one success? What you try to do works, but it doesn't solve everything! You failed many times? Well, not only did you not do what you wanted, but this other bad stuff also happened.

The board game doesn't have that nuance.

Pathfinder solves this by giving you a ton of options to roll more dice and to prepare for the randomness that you are going to have. One might even say that's the game. How many blessings do I use for this difficulty 18 monster when he's not even the boss? Do I use the weapon that lets me reroll if I fail, or the weapon that gives me a die that rolls higher numbers? In addition, if you fail a roll, it's a pretty minor setback.

So besides messing with the dice, you may look into the gameplay that your dice are fitting into. Maybe it's OK that the dice are very random, if rolling badly doesn't cost you that much? Maybe failing combat just means you will have to fight again on the next turn - running down the clock. Maybe when you roll more successes than you need, you get to keep them to spend them later.

And I'm sure you've already thought of this, but maybe you just need the target numbers to start much lower, until the players have leveled up and are rolling more dice. Minions start with a target of 2 (so 90% chance on one die), henchman at 3 (80%) and bosses at 4 (70%) but with more hit points.

jasongreeno's picture
Joined: 07/31/2008
X3M: Thanks for those

X3M: Thanks for those thoughts. I'll post a better description of the game to help with the conversation.

GXNPT: Huh, I hadn't thought of that. That's an different way to approach it and worth exploring.

Saluk: Thanks for your perspective and RPG explanation – that was helpful. I think I will start with a small change by adding a base d10 to all attacks (which you can add to by using your attack cards). Then I'll lower the target numbers a bit as you suggested. Good stuff.

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