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Random movement

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Darth TTam
Darth TTam's picture
Joined: 12/30/2016

In a space game I'm creating, the enemy fleet must attack the space station. The enemy ships appear on the edge of the hex board when a specific card is drawn.

I need some way for the ships to move toward the station. Originally, I wanted to use dice, but it proved too random to have any success against the players fleets.

Is there any mechanic to automate enemy movement, or should I change my game (possibly by secretly assigning one "spy" player to the enemy fleet)?

Sorry if I'm breaking any rules, I just found this site.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Using LESS "random" dice...

You could instead use CUSTOM "dice" with custom "movement" faces. And then roll five (5) of these custom dice to move.

So let's say you roll 5 dice and get 3 "movement" faces. That means you can move 3 spaces out of a maximum of 5. You can play with the odds of each dice to ensure that probabilities of the bell curve usually favor an average of 3...

This "reduces" the amount of randomness... And yields more consistent rolls as opposed to standard d6s.

You could also play around with "attacks" on the faces... So let's say you roll 3 "movement" and 1 "attack". This could signify that the enemy movement will move three spaces and attack 1 enemy along the way (for example).

Just some ideas...


-A "movement" die could be: 3 Faces = Movement, 1 Face = Attack and 2 Faces = Nothing. "movement" dice are Blue.
-A "balanced" die could be: 2 Faces = Movement, 2 Faces = Attack and 2 Faces = Nothing. "balanced" dice are Purple.
-An "attack" die could be: 3 Faces = Attack, 1 Face = Movement and 2 Faces = Nothing. "attack" dice are Red.

Something along those lines... Could roll all the same or mix and match for different odds...

BHFuturist's picture
Joined: 11/01/2008
Some thoughts

For random anything we all sort of "default" to dice. But there are many ways of doing random things and controlling the random part to a degree.

    An enemy tactics deck (flip to show what action this turn).

    Pros: This gives you control over the full turn of an enemy and lets you have many different types/combinations that make sense with the theme of the type of combat you are going for. It could even have the combinations of actions the enemy will take (attack/dodge/torpedo/kamikaze)

    Cons: Cost of adding a custom deck in art design and production

Some games to look at for ideas:


questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Feel welcomed

Darth TTam wrote:
...Sorry if I'm breaking any rules, I just found this site.

Quite the opposite, we acknowledge that you are in the middle of a design and that you need some advice/diversity of opinions.

What we (this forum) dislike are designers who "magically appear" with a Kickstarter and advertise the link and ask for backers - only to never return to this website or even post anything "design"-related.

So no... your inquiry is totally acceptable. We welcome "designers" who are looking for answers to the design issues!

Update: You can also have two (2) separate dice pools. For example one set is "movement" oriented, the second set is "combat" oriented. In the "combat" set, the odds of rolling a "attack" are far more probable than movement. And you could roll something like five (5) dice and get ... 4 Attack and 1 Movement. meaning that the enemy fleet would attack 4 opposing spaceships and make a movement of 1 only.

I say two (2) dice pools, but you can define several. And just use colors to distinguish between them. Like "Blue" is movement, "Red" is combat, etc.

radioactivemouse's picture
Joined: 07/08/2013
I'd suggest...

I suggest a bag or tin with custom tokens indicating movement. That way, you can customize the enemy movement with the scenario it's in. The variant would be eamon's idea with using cards if it's too much to use a bag and tokens. Again, you cold customize the deck for each scenario...whether it be more aggressive or more on a route.

That's what I've got right now.

Darth TTam
Darth TTam's picture
Joined: 12/30/2016
Thanks for the great advice!

Unfortunately, the ships all have different move stats, to account for their size. I like the idea of cards, as there could be a graphic of the hex grid, so players could not be confused. (This would also probably be cheaper than a custom d2 or d3, like I was thinking about originally).

I may just let the ships attack anything in range, or give each enemy type a specified attack order (ex: carrier,fighter,cruiser). I probably don't want another deck of cards for that, as my game has several decks already.

I guess I have to playtest some of these...

BHFuturist's picture
Joined: 11/01/2008
Even if there are differing

Even if there are differing ship stats the card information could be made to have variables instead of values. or just a number that is added to the ships move stat.

or even have all the ship types represented on every card divided by a line.

| Ship type 1 action |
| Ship type 2 action |
| Ship type 3 action |
| Ship type 4 action |
| Ship type 5 action |

Granted depending on the number of types of ships, the text and/or graphics will be small.


let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Deck or Token Bag

I like radioactivemouse's suggestion for a token bag, or the other suggestion for a deck of cards. You can stack the deck with active or inactive cards, but when you have dice there's no way you can determine how active the AI will be.

The old wargame Battlemasters featured a deck where players drew a card at the beginning of a turn, and the card determined which units moved that turn. Sometimes the Empire would move, sometimes the Chaos Army moved. Sometimes a faction would move several turns in a row. The only assurance players would have is that there was an equal number of cards for each faction in the deck, and they're all drawn at least once before the deck is reshuffled.

This same kind of mechanic could be used in your game, and could allow for some interesting mechanics for the AI to make use of, adjusting the difficulty as needed for a given scenario or player ability level.

ElKobold's picture
Joined: 04/10/2015
My suggestion would be to

My suggestion would be to simplify as much as possible. Maybe making predefined routs for the AI and then using cards/dice/tokens to trigger the move itself.
Or, even simpler than that, move them after every player has done their turn.

Maintaining the moves of an AI units is rarely fun (for me at least).

Daggaz's picture
Joined: 12/19/2016
Dice / Tokens / Cards are all

Dice / Tokens / Cards are all effectively the same thing, in that you get a random outcome (assuming you shuffle decks and tokens) which you connect to some meaningful action through the rules. Tokens/Cards just allow you a little more ease in altering the probability distributions, and you can fit more of the rules on the piece instead of putting it in the rule book.

So your problem is that you need to set up a system of meaningful action which has a bias (moving towards the target) instead of an unbiased random walk (which is still a system of meaningful action).

You can put the bias in by several methods. One is to weight direction of movement towards the target somehow, if this is possible. If your map and positions are generally fixed, then just put in more probability for the direction towards the target. Let's say the enemy's gate is always down, but there are four directions you can move in. A d6 could have three sides attributed to the three incorrect directions, and three sides attributed to going down, with one of those sides giving double movement. Now you have a somewhat random walk that will strongly favor moving down.

Another method is to build in rules based on state information from the game. Like a computer program, except humans are going to have to do it and you want them to not spend a lot of time or make mistakes, so you need to make your rules very simple.

1. If no enemy ships are within one square, move towards the target.
2. If enemy ships are within one square, engage the weakest ship.
3. Etc if needed

You can combine the two methods and get some interesting emergent behavior as well.

A final method is to have an static list of actions which do not depend on state information to any great significance. This is more like a count-down timer that the players have to race against, and again you can add in a little interaction by mixing, so maybe there is an exception that if players take action X, the count-down responds to this state information by taking action Z instead of action Y, slowing or speeding it up somehow.

FreedomPortal's picture
Joined: 08/24/2014
Some idea for using just

Some idea for using just standard dice for anything.
For example, using only 1 d10
You can define action differently for each ship.

1-3 = Move 1 grid
4-6 = Move 2 grids
7-8 = Shoot laser
9-10 = Shoot missile

1 = Move 1 grid
2-6 = Move 2 grids
7-9 = Move 3 grids
10 = Shoot laser

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