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Making a battle mechanic more balanced

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Toa Lewa
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I have a tendency to give loads of background information, but this time I'll just cut to the chase.

My battle mechanic is currently as follows. When a battle is initiated in my game, the attacker counts up his attack total and the defender totals up his defense total. If the attack total is less than or equal to the defense total, nothing happens. If the attack total is greater than the defense total, the defender must remove x units from his hex (where x = attack value - defense value). To determine the attack and defense total, each player counts the number of his attacker/defenders and can blindly bid energy (the in game currency) from his hand to add to the attack/defense value. In addition, if the defender loses units, the attacker gains energy equal to the number of defenders killed.

The problem I foresee with this system is that a player can potentially place all of his units onto one hex, and a player that has fewer resources may not be able to amass a large enough army to even deal damage to it. I want to prevent this, but the only solution that comes to mind is limiting the amount of units that can be placed on a hex. I think I need to figure out another way that damage can be dealt by defenders. I can think of ways that this can be fixed with dice, but I really like how this battle mechanic is diceless, and I really like the blind bidding mechanic. Any ideas are appreciated.

MicroStack Games
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Could possibly only allow the

Could possibly only allow the same type of unit to be stacked on top of each other. A cap like you said could work too.

MarkD1733
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Can there be different types of attackers?

What struck me was the double-dose of victory that the victor gets...units are lost AND the energy is gained? That seems unbalanced, but will definitely encourage initiating combat.

1) Does the energy gained come from the defender or from general supply?

2) Does the Attacker knows what exactly he is attacking--what kinds of enemy units there are?

Is it possible that there could be two types of attackers that the player has to choose to deploy in any combat--ones that destroy enemies and ones that vampiricly suck out (and stored up) their energy and return it to base? That could be an interesting way for the attacker to deal with the defender's blind energy bid. I am assuming that attacker knows what he is attacking and can decide the risk, but the defender may not know exactly what he is being attacked with until that decision is made.

Another thought is just to let the victor of the battle determines the split between destroyed enemies and gained energy from the victor. To me that is more balanced, and it forces another little, yet strategic decision on the victor.

Can combatants withdraw or retreat?

laperen
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so to clarify, your system is

so to clarify, your system is basically:

attacker power - defender power = defender's damage
attacker power = army size + energy bid
defender power = army size + energy bid

If you are going to allow someone to amass as many troops as they want into a space, whats the point of using a grid system? Any grid system is meant to simulate limited space. If the empty space is infinite in a grid, there is no point for a grid system in terms of unit management.

But I think the bigger worry is the bidding and resource system. In your current system, the defender loses units, but the attacker gains energy.

It might become a perpetual system of bidding high when attacking, gaining more energy to bid higher. I also don't understand how it works thematically. If it was morale i might understand, but i would limit the max bid.

Part of the problem is you have not explained how energy is gained other than winning battles. If there is no other way to gain energy, the bidding system has little to no point. If there are other ways to gain energy, it becomes infinitely abusable.

I would look into using terrain advantages. Having rules for flanking manoeuvres and other formation rules. Have numbers printed on the energy card, making energy gain random. It also makes predicting the other guy's bid harder.

Masacroso
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If you want balance I

If you want balance I recommend to you a system more complex than just attack and defense, or at least the values of defense and attack being determined in many different ways.

You are seeing that if someone take advantage the game is determined. You dont want any explicit random event (the bid is itself a random event but of implicit type) so then you must add more ways to attack or def. You need to add something than let to the players the possibility for a comeback from some lose.

X3M
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That combat mechanic is

That combat mechanic is really a one side favourite. The biggest army completely obliterates the smaller army. Even if the difference is just 1 soldier.

Perhaps you could make it so that each unit has an attack and defence value.

The attacker goes first (attacking advantage)
Adds up the damage, then removes units from the defender that equal in defence value.

Then it is the defenders turn to do the same to the attacker.

An important note is that you don't want the battle have a too severe consequence. Thus your defence should be higher by a factor. A 50-50 unit could have 1 damage, but has 5 defence (5 health if you will)

Example:
Attacker has 100 soldiers with 1 damage/5 defence
Defender has 80 soldiers with 1 damage/5 defence

The attacker can remove 20 soldiers from the defender.
The defender has 60 soldiers remaining and can remove 12 from the attacker.

Both sides loose something.

*****

This is still easy to do, and without dice. In matter of fact, MtG people will recognise this mechanic now :).
The only differences are, no choice of blocking, and the attacker can choose the targets.

It also opens up to giving certain units an bonus damage against certain targets. But that is if you want to make your game a bit more advanced later on. Another option is that you can have of course different amounts of damage or defence on different units.

Toa Lewa
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More about Theme

laperen wrote:
so to clarify, your system is basically:
attacker power - defender power = defender's damage
attacker power = army size + energy bid
defender power = army size + energy bid

You are right on target. This is how the system works.

MarkD1733 wrote:
What struck me was the double-dose of victory that the victor gets...units are lost AND the energy is gained? That seems unbalanced, but will definitely encourage initiating combat.
1) Does the energy gained come from the defender or from general supply?
2) Does the Attacker knows what exactly he is attacking--what kinds of enemy units there are?

Actually, I introduced the energy gain mechanic to encourage players to initiate combat. I originally planned the game to revolve around military battles, but it has been slowly turning into a civilization building game (which is fine, but combat started becoming less crucial and actually resource intensive). I needed to come up with a way to make military conquests worth it, and I chose to let players gain energy from successful combat (kind of like pillaging).

In a sense, the energy gained does come from the defender (but not in the way you are probably thinking). I will clarify down below when I talk about the theme.

Yes, the attacker knows what units are defending. There is no fog of war.

laperen wrote:
But I think the bigger worry is the bidding and resource system. In your current system, the defender loses units, but the attacker gains energy.
It might become a perpetual system of bidding high when attacking, gaining more energy to bid higher. I also don't understand how it works thematically. If it was morale i might understand, but i would limit the max bid.
Part of the problem is you have not explained how energy is gained other than winning battles. If there is no other way to gain energy, the bidding system has little to no point. If there are other ways to gain energy, it becomes infinitely abusable.

Actually, I don’t think the system will lead to a perpetual system of high bidding. Usually, I go overboard in explaining all of the nitty gritty details of my game idea when it is not essential. This time, I went to the opposite extreme and didn’t explain enough. Anyway, here is a rundown of the theme and why I don’t think that the bidding system will lead to infinite abuse.

The game is called Creature Clash – War of the Elements. The game takes place on an island with terrain completely made out of the five classical elements (fire, water, air, earth, and aether) and their combinations. The goal of the game is to earn a certain amount of victory points and players do this by building and developing kingdoms and by conquering other kingdoms.

As I stated before, the currency of the game is energy, but it comes in many different types. There is element energy (fire, water, air, etc.), and there is combination energy (ice, lava, plant, steam, etc.). Players use energy to build units and structures. Units include workers, attackers and defenders. Structures include, mines, settlements, cities, and city walls. Energy is normally acquired by using workers on a terrain hex or by using a mine; however, energy can be gained in combat as well. When energy is gathered or mined, the player gains energy of the same type as the hex it is on. For example, if the hex is an air hex, the player will gain air energy (which can only be spent to create air units or air structures, although this energy can be converted to a different type). When energy is gained through combat, the type of energy is determined by the units that are killed. For example, if the attacker kills five water units, these units will be converted into water energy and the attacker will add this energy to his or her supply (which is how the energy comes from the defender, MarkD1733).

The other thing that I did not make clear is that attack/defense values can only be boosted by spending energy of the same type as the attackers/defenders. For example, if a player is attacking with fire units and only has water energy available, he or she will not be able to boost his or her attack power. This is the reason I don’t think that my combat system will turn into a perpetual high bid issue. The only way for the bidding to escalate is if both the defender and the attacker fight with the same type of units (e.g. fire vs fire, or water vs water).

Another thing is that I allow the defender to choose which units he or she wants to remove, not the attacker. So, if the attacker is trying to escalate his or her bid by gaining fire energy and the defender has both earth and fire units on his or her hex, the defender can choose to have earth units killed instead. So, the defender has an opportunity to prevent bid escalation by including other types of units on the hex if he or she knows he or she is going to be attacked by the same element type.

By the way, thank you guys for your constructive criticism.

Toa Lewa
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Unrealistic Combat

One of the things I don't like about my current battle mechanic is that it is unrealistic, since all that matters is size. When was the last time you saw a stronger army not lose any soldiers when going up against a weaker army? Sometimes an army can be completely outnumbered in manpower and still give the larger army a whooping. So right now, I’m trying to figure out what I need to do. I think I need to figure out a way for the defender to damage the attacker in the process of defending. Do you have any suggestions? I really want to keep this battle mechanic diceless if possible, but it is not something I am going to die over.

Toa Lewa
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I just reread your reply X3M,

I just reread your reply X3M, and I think your suggestion is in the realm of what I'm looking for. However, I don't think I understand it completely. How do you come up with the 20 killed by the attacker and the 12 killed by the defender? I think I'm missing something.

laperen
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after reading through more of

after reading through more of the specific info you have given, seems the only thing missing really is the interaction between units and the default terrain.

since you already have elements, maybe water units have reduced power in fire terrain and vice versa.

since you have mentioned building of structures, sounds like a big management game. i am in favor of limiting the number of units which can stand on a hex. I would in tandem create a formation system which gives bonus power to group attacks which utilize more than 1 hex of units.

schattentanz
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The biggest issue

The biggest issue I currently see in your combat system is:
The Attacker defeats his opponent, thus gets energy he uses to defeat more opponents to get more energy he can use to defeat even more opponents and so on ..
I hope, you have balanced this well!

Another suggestion to keep it diceless:
Energy spent is just a factor that guarantees damage, no matter the actual outcome of the combat. So if I spend four Energy, I deliver four damage, no matter whether I attack or defend or whether your value is higher than mine.
And Energy is harvested someplace else.

X3M
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Ah, sorry for the

Ah, sorry for the confusing.

In that example, the defender looses 20 soldiers and is down to 60.
With only 60 soldiers, you can kill 12.

If you want the defender and attacker to fight simultaneously (which is fair) Then the defender actually kills off 16 soldiers of the attacker.

There is a big difference in the 2 mechanics. It is your choice if you want the players fight 1 at a time, or at the same time. Then build further on the mechanic for balancing.

MarkD1733
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laperen wrote:after reading

laperen wrote:
after reading through more of the specific info you have given, seems the only thing missing really is the interaction between units and the default terrain.

since you already have elements, maybe water units have reduced power in fire terrain and vice versa.

since you have mentioned building of structures, sounds like a big management game. i am in favor of limiting the number of units which can stand on a hex. I would in tandem create a formation system which gives bonus power to group attacks which utilize more than 1 hex of units.

I think the elements are tougher on their home turf. I don't know that attackers have to be penalized, per se. Defenders would be expected to be in home turf.

Toa Lewa
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I Like It!

X3M wrote:
Ah, sorry for the confusing.

In that example, the defender looses 20 soldiers and is down to 60.
With only 60 soldiers, you can kill 12.

If you want the defender and attacker to fight simultaneously (which is fair) Then the defender actually kills off 16 soldiers of the attacker.

There is a big difference in the 2 mechanics. It is your choice if you want the players fight 1 at a time, or at the same time. Then build further on the mechanic for balancing.

I understand now. I kind of like your suggestion. I'm not sure which version of the mechanic I will choose, but I think I will test both of them. Thanks X3M!

Toa Lewa
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Terrain, Bonuses, and Limits

laperen wrote:
after reading through more of the specific info you have given, seems the only thing missing really is the interaction between units and the default terrain.

since you already have elements, maybe water units have reduced power in fire terrain and vice versa.

since you have mentioned building of structures, sounds like a big management game. i am in favor of limiting the number of units which can stand on a hex. I would in tandem create a formation system which gives bonus power to group attacks which utilize more than 1 hex of units.

Good idea laperen. I didn't think about adding terrain advantages. It is something I think I will include; however, it will probably only be for defenders (as markD1733 suggested). Oh, and I already have an element strength and weakness chart that will affect attack/defense strength depending on what elements are in combat. For example, fire is weak against water so water gains a bonus when attacking/defending against fire. Likewise, fire gains a defense/attack bonus when facing plant.

I agree that the number of units should be limited. I'll have to figure out a good limit.

MarkD1733
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challenging the interactions

While I see where you are going with the interactions as you suggested, I propose not using them. Thematically, there is sense to it...or is there? Why would one element be weaker to another? For example, the assumption is water puts out fire, but why can't fire evaporate water especially if on fire terrain? This may sound silly, but the point is just that having the interactions might not gain you as much thematically as you think. It certainly adds complexity, but does it add value to the gameplay? How do I calc my chances of winning a battle now? Keep to more basic mechanics on the combat. Can players manipulate terrain to their advantage? Does terrain fluctuate, forcing players to keep their forces moving? I think you may have better interactions with some varied mechanics vs more in depth combat. Just my thoughts.

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