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PROBLEM - Units that move first are overly vulnerable to attacks.

6 replies [Last post]
Rimmsolin's picture
Joined: 12/13/2013

In my "wargame" prototype, there is a serious problem with an attacker disadvantage. Players field units of varying stats onto a small field jockeying for position as they capture bases and kill each other off for victory points. Combat is handled by one unopposed dice roll with a variety of hits, misses, retreats and special powers. All units effectively have 1HP and a defense value between 1-5. This value must be met or exceeded by combat hit results to kill the unit. This is binary and no damage remains on the unit. After attacking a unit exhausts and may not longer take any actions until a new round.

For the purpose of example, let's say red player and blue player have an identical tank fielded that has 5 movement, 1 range, 3 attack and 3 defense. They are spaced on a square grid 7 spaces apart. Units may move, then fire as an action that will leave it exhausted. With a range of 1, they must be adjacent to attack.

The blue tank is moved the full 5 spaces toward the red tank and is now at a range of 2. As red tank is not adjacent, blue tank may not fire. Now it is the red tank's turn and it is moved just 1 space forward to be adjacent and then attacks, scoring exactly 3 hits and killing the blue unit.

This scenario has created a negative pressure on attacking and players would have little incentive to move into another player's threat radius of move/attack range if they could not fire first.

Coincidentally there is an attacker advantage (killing the target) if the attacker can get into range first and actually fire, but this requires going through the disadvantage range which is large and often.

The design restrictions:
>Units may only have 1HP, to remove upkeep fiddliness and limit needed components.
>No unit counters or trackers are used. Units are alive or dead.
>Terrain does modify movement and defense values. (i.e. infantry in the mountains has +2 defense and water ends movement.) Calculating terrain advantage is very important when positioning.

The imperfect solutions I've so far come up with are:
1) Units could have more than 1 health point, supporting more back and forth volleys.
>>Unfortunately this leads to lots upkeep and does not meet the design requirements.

2) Attack strength is based on HP & units counterattack.
>>This is the Advance Wars solution that by attacking first, the defender is weakened and will not be able to do as much damage during the counterattack. This leaves the attacker in less danger as long as they attack. This does not support the 1HP requirement and still has the move partially into range problem.

3) Units may move OR fire (instead of both.)
>>This makes it choice to fight or flee when an attacker moves nearby. It also puts emphasis on using unit powers effectively or inherent asymmetrical stats to pair the best attacker with the weakest unit to it. It also would slow the game down significantly so is not ideal.

Are there any other solutions you can think of to allow attackers to retain an advantage when moving? Or at least not be overly vulnerable when sitting in the 'danger zone'? Any good examples that don't have lots of HP to track?


Tbone's picture
Joined: 02/18/2013
My Take

First off, number 2 seems like my favorite so far but might favor the attackers too much! Im not sure...

I have two possible solutions:

1) you can make it where when you attack and kill the opposing unit, that unit must move in the killed units' place. This allows for players to protect units that may be susceptible to attack. It brings another level to tactics. It leaves players saying "aw man... I want to attack your tank, but there is a infantry squad right behind it. Next turn you can kill me! I'll have to find another way."

2)instead of units strictly being "alive or dead" you could add a third called "injured". If a unit is attacked and it doesn't quite kill it that unit becomes "injured". Injured units cannot be used until healed or repaired etc. Combat would allow for retaliation aswell. You would maybe need a injure marker but you could always flip the card (if the units are on cards) or show in some other way and injured unit. So tank A with AT:1 and DE:3 is attacked by tank B with AT:4 AND DE:2. Tank A would would die while tank B is injured in the fight and cannot be used until repaired/healed.

I use both of these in my game Monumental Resolution and it makes for some great tension. Each of my units though, have unique directions in which they attack and move which also dictates certain outcomes as well (if you attack a unit from outside of the attacked units range you get a bonus). These things excite people: being able to leg up your opponent with well etched tactics, at least for me :P.

Joined: 07/26/2015
This is a common problem in

This is a common problem in turn and tile based games, but is not as big a problem as you think.

In your scenario, there should be allied blue tanks nearby the first blue tank that can move in next turn, and attack. The first blue tank should push forwards only a little, then it's the red player's turn to decide if he should move in and attack the lone tank, making the attacking units vulnerable.

If you extend the range of units, and decrease their movement, Such baiting maneuvers should be easier to pulls off.

Or place some spots in the middle of the battlefield small defense bonuses. Sort of as a compensation for moving in.

Or alternatively, have units with long range or growth capabilities. The player with fewer such units will be pressured to move in and attack while he still has an advantage. (since those units should be much weaker)

Or in my opinion, make the game objective based instead of defeat all enemy units based.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
1 on 1 battles

I think you want this to be better balanced. You want your example to work.

So in that case, I'll ignore the possibilities of support units and other units that tag along.

However, you have only 1 health. While still wanting both tanks to have a chance. More health leads to balance by randomness. So only one solution remains.

All return fire is 50%. So even if your tank moved last round 5 places. It still is able to fire for 50%, but only if it is attacked.
(Good defending units can have a higher return fire. And the units that attack from longer distance can have this lower.)
The same can be done to units that more only a part. If they move like 50%, then they can only attack for 50%. For this you might want to get the numbers linked in a proper way.
Let's say, movement is 6. Attack is 0.
Movement is 4-5. Attack is 1.
Movement is 1-3. Attack is 2.
No movement gives attack is 3.
Return value is 2.

You might think that when one tank attacks and fires. The other tank defends. But then the turn is for the defending tank, using full force of 3? No, if a tank has returned fire, it is in combat. The next shot will also be a return fire.
A valid strategy might be deciding on taking the fire without return fire. And then the next turn, firing at full force.

Joined: 03/02/2014
Move and attack is weaker

There should be a noticeable disadvantage to your attack if you moved that round. So I know that if I move into your threat range such that you could move and attack me, there's a decent chance that I'll survive your volley. Then I'll get a full strength attack on you because I won't have to move first. This is simple and requires no ongoing bookkeeping (like hit points would).

An additional approach is just in unit types. If some units have lots of armor but little attack strength, then I can move those into your threat range, and they are so likely to survive that you might choose not to take the bait. I would like to be able to defer my move with my other units, so even if you do move in and kill the bait unit, I will be able to jump in with my other units and take you out.

Rimmsolin's picture
Joined: 12/13/2013
Thanks for all the great suggestions!

Thanks for all the great suggestions. To boil down it down so far:

>>Terrain with defense benefits

>>Units with extra defense may be more likely to be able to survive an attack

>>Attacking after moving reduces attack strength by X (or based on distance moved)

>>Weak counterattacks (or based on distance moved)

>>Increased range for all units allows overlapping defensive coverage

>>An Exhausted state allows for at least one response before destruction (Units can be: Readied, Exhausted, Damaged)

>>Units may have more than 1 HP and/or attack based on HP strength

>>Units may move or fire, but not both.

I will add a few more defensive units and support abilities (i.e. Shield a friendly nearby unit.) I think the terrain is already supporting tactical movement as certain spaces increase defense (but not attack.)

I really like the simplicity of reducing a unit's attack after moving because it increases the chance of the player that moves into threat range (but not combat range) a little bit. The first player to initiate combat initiative still can win if they roll well or use the right ability, but it's less guaranteed while maneuvering. However I would probably flip it on its head and state you gain +1 ATTACK bonus when attacking without moving. This will take a little balancing but should feel more positive and less a penalty.

So for the example the blue tank moves 5 spaces and then stops. The red tank still has to move 1 to get into range and fires with normal attack value of 3 getting a 50% chance to destroy blue. If they are unsuccessful blue can then attack stationary for a boosted 4 attack value getting a 67% chance to destroy red. Add to that that either tank could have stopped on a +1 Defense terrain to increase their odds and that should feel fairly tactical for equivalent units.

Also this increases the value of the range unit class as they will have reason to plant and fire (artillery for instance.) Also I agree there will be interesting choices to be made such as: either move the full distance and attack or move and stop just outside the other unit's range. Then try to survive their next attack to be able to gain the boosted attack the next round (as mentioned above.)

I’ll put that into this into playtesting first and see how it works out! :) Open to additional ideas too!

Joined: 08/23/2013
Opportunity fire

Another option is adding opportunity fire. If a unit has moved but not used it's attack ability when another unit moves into range they could shoot on it due to opportunity fire.

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