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Differences between combat types

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Joined: 10/28/2014

Hey everyone,

I started making my own board game, and the goal is to make an adventure + building game in the fantasy-setting that's easy enough for my mom (literally) but still interesting enough for myself to play. I'll introduce the setting of the game as brief as possible.

The combat mechanics I use are based on those in Runebound, i.e. monsters have a threshold and an attack value, such that only a single dice roll is required per combat round. A big difference is that a monster attacks in only one of three schools (ranged or melee) rather than both (in Runebound there are magic attacks too, but we only have spell casting), whereas the hero has to choose which school to attack with. Both the Monster and the Hero might have a Defense value (which is not school-specific). A big difference with Runebound is that in Runebound every character has an attack value in each school, whereas in our game the Hero has to equip either a Ranged or Melee weapon. Logically he equips a weapon in which he has a higher bonus (but I want players to be able to choose).
To decide if attack occurs, we roll dice. If the roll is higher than the threshold the Hero can attack but if it is lower the Monster can attack. To make it slightly more complex (but similar to Runebound) the Hero might have a bonus in both schools, thus is better to defend and attack in specific schools.
It is also possible to face a Monster with several players. A single player throws with 3 dice and for every additional player we add 1 die. That way you get stronger but not over-powered.

Now the problem, there is no actual difference between ranged and melee combat. Whilst monsters do damage in a certain school, these are interchangeable (Hero with 2 Ranged and 1 Melee vs Monster with 2 Ranged is similar to a Hero with 1 Ranged and 2 Melee vs Monster with 2 Melee). So I am looking for a cool way to differentiate between Ranged and Melee combat I thought of different implementations:
1. Ranged attacks have an extra attack at the beginning of the fight (because the Melee isn't near yet). To balance, we could give Melee characters more hitpoints. PROBLEM: when a Melee character equips a Ranged weapon he becomes overpowered.
2. Ranged attacks have an extra attack. To balance, Ranged attacks do less damage (e.g. 2) than Melee attacks (e.g. 3). This is OK if characters have e.g. 5 health, because it means everyone can die in minimally 3 rounds (except Melee vs Melee). PROBLEM: as soon as Defense/Armour is involved, Ranged attacks are penalised enormously (if characters get 1 Armour, it takes a Ranged attack 5 turns to kill, and only 3 turns for Melee).
3. Ranged attackers get an extra attack, the threshold of Ranged Monsters is higher but their attack value is lower. This makes Ranged Monsters more difficult to be attacked by Melee Heroes/Heroes without a bonus in Ranged, but once the Melee hits he hits harder. Heroes with Ranged find it easier to attack Melee Monsters because the threshold of the latter is lower, and even easier to attack Ranged Monsters because of the Hero's bonus, but their weapons do less damage than Melee weapons. PROBLEM: I don't see any, partly because I just came up with this system. It might be tricky to balance this.

Lore-wise I think the third system makes sense too. A Ranged Monster sees the hero coming and can try and attack, and has an advantage (translater in the high threshold) but doesn't do so much damage. Every round the ranger can try and back away to attack from range again, but if the Hero rolls high, the Hero can get in range and do damage (which is higher because its Melee).

I would like to hear your thoughts on this combat system. Is it too complex already and should I skip differences between Ranged and Melee damage? What other possibilities between combat schools could I incorporate?

Joined: 01/17/2011
Idea: Ranged Weapons give bonus to Threshold

Instead of extra attacks, could you make Ranged weapons give Heroes a bonus on their Threshold roll?

Then Ranged monsters would typically have a high threshold, high attack, and low defense (simulating that if they can keep the Hero at range it is going to hurt, whereas if the Hero can get into melee the monster is weak).

To balance the weapons you would probably have to give melee weapons bigger damage bonuses to compensate for the lower threshold. At least that way there is a choice to be made regarding fighting style: low damage more often vs high damage less often.


Joined: 10/28/2014
Thanks Kos, that sounds like

Thanks Kos, that sounds like a good idea. I was a bit reluctant to incorporating extra attacks because that's something the player has to keep in mind. Rather I'd have the mechanics of the game fix it.
Weapons are cards of 4 x 6 cm so it would be no problem to include a bonus to Ranged Threshold on Ranged weapons. Then any Hero equipping a Melee weapon has difficulty fighting Ranged Monsters due to the high Threshold, but their weapons would do more Damage so once they succeed attacking they do more damage. Heroes equipping Ranged weapons get a bonus to Ranged Threshold, making it easier to fight Ranged heroes.
If I do it this way, the initial Bonuses of the Heroes (e.g. a Warrior gets 2 in Melee and a Ranger gets 2 in Ranged) are less influential. That's what I like to aim for anyway: there will be initial differences among Heroes, but any Hero can specialise in anything (as in The Elder Scrolls video games).

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
I see this question so many times

The question on "how to do ranged weapons" that is.

What happened to the "ranged weaponry fire more often before melee weapons clash"? (Depending on the melee speed)
Ranged weapons are often weaker too.
The shooter is often weaker in health and defence.
Ranged weapons are often behind some cover like a melee unit.
And in some games they shoot just once, but have "first strike".

All the above can be done without a physical field.

Joined: 10/28/2014
X3M, thanks for your input.

X3M, thanks for your input. Let me quote you line by line.

"What happened to the "ranged weaponry fire more often before melee weapons clash"? (Depending on the melee speed)"

I'd like not to incorporate speed. When encountering a Monster, 3 dice are rolled to define whether the Hero can attack (rolled higher than the threshold) or the Monster can attack (rolled lower). So if a Melee encounters a Ranged, both attacks are calculated the same time from the same roll. The same is true for Melee-Melee and Ranged-Ranged.

"Ranged weapons are often weaker too."

Agreed, that would be something logical, but then we need to counter this in some way. Like I said I don't want to give them higher attack speed, but Ranged Attackers might be more difficult to hit.

"The shooter is often weaker in health and defence."

That's a problem for heroes. Heroes can pick a weapon of choice. So if I give a Warrior more health and/or defense because he starts with a Melee attack, he would become overpowered when equipping a Ranged weapon (something I want him to be able to do).

"Ranged weapons are often behind some cover like a melee unit."

That might translate in a higher Threshold, i.e. harder to hit.

"And in some games they shoot just once, but have "first strike"."

Because characters have EITHER Melee or Ranged attack that would not work in this case.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
I'll guess, the only way

I'll guess, the only way would be to give Ranged attackers the chance to attack twice in a round.
Whereas 1 attack is about 50% what a melee attack would do.
The player however can have a choice to do the second attack, or try to keep distance.
If the second attack is done, the melee opponent can attack as well.
If the player however chooses to keep distance. There should be a chance to this for success or failure. With success, the ranged attacker gets an advantage. With failure, the melee fighter can do damage.

If you disagree with a double attack. You could also give the ranged attacker a choice before hand. The situations are different now.
1, the ranged attacker charges its weapon for a lethal shot. Thus both player act as if they are melee.
2, the ranged attacker does a quick shot, less lethal. And tries to keep distance like in the first example. If running fails, the melee attacker does full damage.

Joined: 10/28/2014
Ranged attacking twice

Giving Ranged the ability to attack twice also requires active input from the player. Would you suggest the first attack is free and therefore doesn't require a Threshold roll? So Melee gets damage from Ranged anyway, whereas Ranged vs Ranged and Melee vs Melee fight with the normal Threshold rolls.

I currently have default Level 1 Monsters as follows:
Ranged: Threshold = 8, Damage = 2, Health = 5
Melee: Threshold = 7, Damage = 3, Health = 5

A Level 1 Hero throws 3D4 and can add his Bonus (ranging from 0 to 2) to try and overcome the Threshold.

Yesterday I played a game as a Warrior, whom has a Bonus of 2 in Melee and a Bonus of 0 in Ranged. This means I had to roll 5 or higher to both defend and attack a Melee opponent, whereas I needed to roll 8 or higher to defend and 6 or higher to attack a Ranged Monster. I got quite scared everytime I encountered a Ranged Monster, meaning the system works quite well already.
Now in this example if I would have found a Ranged Weapon and equip it, I would still easily fend off Melee Monsters (throwing 5 or higher due to my Bonus) but since I had no Bonus in Ranged I would have to throw 7 or higher to attack them, thus it would make no sense to equip a Ranged Weapon. Encountering Ranged Monsters is even worse, then I would have to throw 6 and 8 (or higher) to attack and defend, respectively.
This suggests that a Warrior is incapable of using Ranged Weapons, but I want players to be able to choose between weapons (also because there is a chance of finding new items after every fight, so a Warrior could find a Ranged Weapon that is stronger than its current attack). If I give the Ranged Weapons a Threshold Bonus of 1 the Warrior is still worse off than with a Melee Weapon when attacking, but better off defending. However, the chance a Ranger Hero (which has a bonus of 2 in Ranged already) will miss on Ranged attacks will become dramatically low (e.g. a Melee Monster has a Threshold of 7 and the Ranger a bonus of 2+1, meaning he only has to throw 4 with 3D4).

Initially I wanted to have different types of items in both schools, so here are some examples:
1. Sword - 3 Melee Damage
2. Sword and Shield - 2 Melee Damage + 1 Block/Defense
3. Dagger - 2 Melee Damage + 1 Melee Threshold Bonus
4. Rapier - 2 Melee Damage + 1 Ranged Threshold Bonus
5. Bow - 2 Ranged Damage
6. Crossbow - 1 Ranged Damage + 1 Ranged Threshold Bonus
7. Throwing Spears and Shield - 1 Ranged Damage + 1 Block/Defense
8. Shuriken - 1 Ranged Damage + 1 Melee Threshold Bonus

As you can see, the standard Ranged Weapon, the Bow, does not give a bonus in Ranged. If I upgrade the default Ranged Weapon with a +1 Ranged Bonus, I make Warriors more capable to use them. It has to be seen whether is can be balanced properly.

Joined: 10/28/2014
After several playtests, let

After several playtests, let me comment on the reworked combat system. Short version: it works. Long version below.

As described above I gave all ranged weapons a default bonus of 1 to ranged threshold but 1 less attack damage than melee weapons, and ranged monsters a threshold 1 higher than melee but damage reduced by 1. This way a Hero with a ranged weapon, and a monster with ranged attack, has a higher chance of attacking and defending but his attack is not as high as one with a melee weapon/attack.
In one of the games I played a hero with a bonus in melee but not ranged threshold and suited with a melee weapon. I got genuinely scared when I faced a monster with ranged attack because of the high threshold. Indeed I was better off battling melee monsters. The same was true for ranged heroes (with a bonus in ranged threshold) fighting ranged monsters.

In the current version heroes can buy or loot items that increase their bonus to either ranged or melee threshold but their intrinsic bonus does not increase when they level up (all heroes have 3 levels). The dice change (D4 > D6 > D8) but the threshold scales accordingly and, therefore, I found it unnecessary to increase the intrinsic bonus each level.

Joined: 10/28/2014

>> post removed. See post below. <<

Joined: 10/28/2014
Ok, final post before I

Ok, final post before I receive any comments :P. I worked out the new system and would like to hear your thoughts.

Hero Boards determine how many dice players can roll. Die type depends on the Hero's level (D4 at level 1, D6 at level 2 and D8 at level 3). Monsters (may) come in groups and have a certain overall (e.g. equal for all Monsters in the group) threshold (e.g. 2 in case of level 1 D4 dice) and every die that is rolled equal to or higher than the threshold counts as a hit. Dice come in four colours with different properties:
- Green dice are Defense Tokens. These have a success rate of 50% and each successful roll adds 1 Defense. This absorbs Monster Damage; all damage that exceeds the Defense Dice will reduce the Hero's Health.
- Yellow dice are Ranged Tokens. These dice have a 50% success rate and deal damage before the Monsters do. Since Monsters (can) come in groups, they can eliminate Monsters before the latter can deal Damage.
- Red dice give Melee Tokens. These have a success rate of 50% and deal damage after the Monsters do. Because this is detrimental compared to Yellow dice, Melee weapons generally give more dice (e.g. a Sword gives 3 Red dice whereas a Bow gives 2 Yellow dice).
- Blue dice are magical and give Ranged Tokens. Blue dice have a higher success rate (75% at level 1 (3/4), 83% at level 2 (5/6) and 88% at level 3 (7/8)) and can be acquired by using spells (e.g. a Fireball costs 4 Mana and gives 4 Blue dice). Mana is limited which makes acquisition of Blue dice expensive. Successful rolls of Blue dice yield Ranged Tokens, hence Damage applied before the Monsters can do damage. The values on the Blue dice will be different (D4 will be 2,3,4,5 rather than 1,2,3,4) such that the players don't have to add bonuses themselves. Therefore the players just have to roll all dice their board indicates they're allowed to, and place hit tokens on the board accordingly.

Heroes will receive intrinsic reroll values (e.g. a Warrior can reroll 1 Green die, a Thief can reroll 1 Red die, a Wizard can reroll 1 Blue die and a Ranger can reroll 1 Yellow die), and additional rerolls can be acquired through items (e.g. a Clarification spell gives 1 Blue reroll).

These are the steps of combat:
1a. The player 1 rolls his dice
1b. The player applies rerolls
1c. The player places Hit Tokens in the appropriate place in a Hit Box (I think I'll make three coloured circles - Ranged, Melee and Defense). When multiple players are in the fight, every player rolls, rerolls and places Hit Tokens before it's the next player's turn
2. Ranged Attack. Ranged Hits are made and Monsters receive Wound Tokens accordingly. Defeated Monsters are removed
3. Monster Attack. The sum of Attack Values of all Monsters is compared to the number of Defense Tokens. If the Attack exceeds the defense, this is applied as Damage to the Heroes. The players can decide how to divide these Hits.
4. Melee Attack. Melee Hits are made similar to the Ranged Attack phase.
5. If any Monsters remain, repeat the cycle.

Monsters are classified as either Ranged or Melee. This currently does not change their attack type (there is only 1 monster attack type) but does change attack priority: Ranged Monsters cannot be attacked before all Melee Monsters are defeated. So although Ranged Monsters might be more "squishy", they are protected by the Melee guys.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
This sounds as a well thought

This sounds as a well thought mechanic.

I can even picture a ranged hero being good against a group of little monsters. While the melee hero is able to deal with 1 bigger one.

Joined: 10/28/2014
I'm not so sure how that

I'm not so sure how that could happen. Whether a hero uses ranged or melee attacks, he gets a number of successful dice which then can be applied to monsters of choosing (although ranged monsters cannot be attacked when there are still melee monsters). I don't think I want to allow ranged attackers to attack other ranged attackers.
I am also considering to add "slumbering" monsters: they will not attack you until you attack them. That way I can make rather large groups of monsters which can still be fought on by not-so-strong heroes. Since heroes can leave combat before all monsters are killed but only receive an item (loot) once the whole group is defeated, slumbering monsters have to be defeated eventually. For instance a Boss will be part of the fight but it would be unfair to have him fight the heroes from the beginning because he's strong.
If the final version of the game will not feature different monster attacks, I could simply use priority: 0 = slumber, 1 = lowest attack priority (i.e. ranged) and 2 = high priority (i.e. melee). This could go up as high as I'd like.

I'm still open to suggestions for differences in attack type for monsters :).

Joined: 10/28/2014

So last weekend we played both versions - the first where 3 dice rolled at once decide whether a player can attack or has to defend versus the second where four colours of dice yield tokens for ranged, melee or defense. We liked the latter better so I will work with coloured dice. We also had a cool addition.
Rather than thresholds for every monster and dice with numbers, the dice will have symbols, and every symbol yields a specific tokens. Yellow and blue = bow = ranged tokens, red = sword = melee tokens, green = shield = defense tokens. Have to work it out but I could, for instance, have a yellow D6 with 2 empty sides and 4 sides with 1 bow each, and a red D6 with 2 empty sides, 2 sides with 1 sword each and 2 side with 2 swords each.
Based on suggestions in the other topic I'm considering to get rid of leveling, which would mean players would not advance from D4 to D6 to D8. I could use die-type for differences within combat schools but I have to think about this.

I think the new system is much more intuitive, in part because monsters do no longer need a threshold parameter. They'll have HP, attack and, possibly, armour.

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