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Secondary RPS on a forever expanding game

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X3M
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I completely redid this mechanic/rule, again, just moments ago. It was all such a bother for everyone. All the previous attempts are somewhere on this forum.
But I rather start fresh.

Since the holidays are limiting the time for play tests. I am posting it here first. To see if it has some merit. I wonder if the rules are simple enough to understand now. And/or if there are even simpler ways to do this.

This regards an implement of a secondary RPS. However, the game itself is to be expanded constantly in the future.

The new rule for the players are as following:
See the third post to avoid confusion.

My questions:
If you do or don't understand. Please let me know either wise.
If simpler ways can be done, while respecting the fact that this game will expand. Please let me know.

X3M
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Players familiar or not, with the game

See the next post. I deleted this one to avoid confusion.

Of the 5 players that are familiar with the game. I have reached 4 players understand the rule now. Still awaiting the last one.

X3M
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Last update on this one (for now)

This one, still wasn't very clear. The score went up to 3/5, right before I wrote the following. But that crowd isn't very useful any more since I already asked twice now. So I guess that they get it over time. I would like to see a "first time, Let's Go!"

So I went on with simplifying.

***

The rulebook contains the following:

Quote:
If an unit or structure has specific targets. Then this is indicated on the USC(unit statistics card).

Example:

Quote:
Specific Target(s) [#a]: Target(s) [#b]
Quote:
Specific Target [5]: Infantry [1]

The specific target(s) have to be "planned" for the game in the right ammount, for the rule to take effect.

For this, you count the groups that fall under the specific target(s) category. And all the other groups as the second category.

If the specific target(s) category are equal or less in the game than the second category. Only then will this rule be in effect.

When the rule is in effect. The accuracy [#a] that is given with the weapon will be adjusted by adding the adjustment [#b] for the specific target(s). All other targets will be reduced by this same adjustment [#b].

For the example that is used. The accuracy is 5. However, if the number of groups of Infantry is less or equal than all other groups. Then targeting Infantry will render an accuracy of 6 and all other groups will receive an accuracy of 4.

The USC will only contain:

Quote:
Specific Target [5]: Infantry [1]

This is kinda inspired by "Trample" in MtG. But then the rule works only part-time.

It seems, that this leaves most of you speechless so far...
(¬_¬)

I would like to count the people who get this. And who don't get this. So please leave a reply either way?

BHFuturist
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I am quite lost

I am sorry to say that, I am quite lost.

It might help if you gave us a frame of reference for this information. let me start with some questions.

What is "a mechanical RPS"?
What type of game is this (Theme/Genre)?

Sounds to me, like a combat system for a card and dice game... but I am not sure. Are the players placing the cards in a pattern to form the numbers you are talking about or are those numbers tables that will be referenced from the rulebook? Also, it is unclear to me what part of the game is ever expanding, outside of the way numbers do this on their own when incrementing them to infinity.

Overall I think you should take a quick step back from the mechanic you are trying to explain and just give us the big picture for how the game works. Then once we can see the structure of how the game might play/flow and what the game might have in the way of components. Then we might be able to see where this information fits into things.

-Eamon

X3M
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eamon wrote:I am sorry to say

eamon wrote:
I am sorry to say that, I am quite lost.

It might help if you gave us a frame of reference for this information. let me start with some questions.

Always posting about the same game, makes me forget that there are new people around. Not knowing what I am talking about. So I will answer the questions.

eamon wrote:

What is "a mechanical RPS"?

RPS stands for Rock-Paper-Scissors.
Over here, we have the understanding of a difference between "mechanical" and "natural" RPS.
"mechanical" is when you tell the player how good or bad your attack will be against a certain target. A RPS created by simply telling that rock beats scissors beats paper beats rocks.

"natural" RPS are things like having an artillery out-range a tower. A knight with horse, being to fast to be chased after, but very useful to get close to archers. Only slow reloading cannons can break thick armor, and this slow reloading makes the cannons weak against numerous cheap opponents. These RPS are seen when the game is played. You don't have to tell the player that they are there.

The thin line in between the 2 RPS would be aerial units. You could tell players that ground weapons cannot hit air. But you don't have too.

It surprises me that this concept isn't that well known around the globe. Or maybe it is named different.

eamon wrote:

What type of game is this (Theme/Genre)?

Modern warfare with some high tech. Mostly played on an hexagon board. You have USC to give all the information about the units/structures that you use. You keep them in a book, and you can take them out when they are being used. The pieces (prototype situation) are combined with the USC. And the pieces are used on the board. It can be compared with A&A, but goes in the direction of C&C with complexity.
The cards are table's for reference. The combat is heavy with dice. There is resource management in the form of what you see in RTS games. Actually, the entire game is based as much as possible on well known RTS.

eamon wrote:

Also, it is unclear to me what part of the game is ever expanding, outside of the way numbers do this on their own when incrementing them to infinity.

The plan is to have new units and structures being added to the game over time. Just like MtG is bringing out new cards. But I don't want the old cards to become obsolete/weak or overused/strong.
My natural RPS grows with the game. But I always wanted to add a bit of mechanical RPS. But mechanical RPS cannot grow with the game. And normally, you are forced to bring out new versions of the same units, with slight variations all the time. Just to keep balance.

BHFuturist
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Thanks

Thanks, that does make things clearer. While I might be a "lurker" who has not been very active, I am not new to the world of board game design...

The use of terms and acronyms without a common understanding is something very near and dear to my heart right now.

Rock-Paper-Scissors (RPS)

I do think I understand what you mean now, but I am not sure everyone will.

-----------

Quote:
These RPS are seen when the game is played. You don't have to tell the player that they are there.

I do feel that you must "tell" new players this type of information. You might not need to tell players already familiar with real-time strategy games this type information, only because, they are already conditioned to this type of mechanic.

You are making an assumption of understanding where that understanding may not actually exist.

When you say "the RPS is seen when the game is played" I feel like you are taking about the feedback a player gets from a computer game. I as the player, take an action and the outcome (shown me by the game) tells me that my action succeeded or failed.

This is sadly not the case with board games. If you approach your design with the need for player feedback (as a learning method) you will need to provide that feedback in the form of informative rules or gameplay examples in the rulebook. Also, understand that "new" players will need to see the game played by others before the concepts in the game become clear to them.

You through the rulebook must tell the players how to determine the outcome of events in the RPS engine. The fact that one unit type is better at overcoming the strengths or exploiting the weaknesses of other unit types does not make it an RPS engine. The dice rolling aspect of combat makes the two ideas mutually exclusive.

As designers, we need to craft the game and the rules as if the people playing/reading them are new to the type of game we are making. I don't mean that you have to talk down to them like children (unless it is for children). I just mean we need to be careful not to make assumptions about what players already know or don't know about the mechanics we are using.

-----------

On the subject of "RPS"

The RPS that you are calling "natural" is not an RPS (in my opinion). It is more a system of interdependent power curves based on the natural way the physics and tactics of warfare happen in real life. This is more of an attempted simulation and not a zero-sum RPS.

  • Example 1: Tank beats soldier, soldier beats airplane, airplane beats tank

This is an RPS. This represents a zero-sum game mechanic.

  • Example 2: Tank is "stronger" than a soldier, but if I have more soldiers or a good roll of the dice the soldiers can beat the tank.

This is not an RPS because is not a zero-sum game mechanic.

These comments are meant only as my way of trying to clarify the concepts being talked about and not in a "you are wrong" sense. I just feel it is important as designers to understand the structure of the mechanics we are trying to implement so we can better compensate for the strengths and weaknesses of the mechanics. I am only ever trying to be helpful (for you and me). I am still working out the distinctions between these ideas for myself.

-----------

Back on the subject of you post...

I think you are onto something with having the comparison stats on the units. If I understand them right now, you can look at any two opposing units and based on how the stats "line up" with each other... the players will know what table from the rules they are rolling against?

For "specific targets" you might use "point targets" and "area targets". This is they way we talked about weapons when I was in the military. A big machine-gun was an area of effect weapon just like a grenade. Another distinction that we made about weapons was direct and indirect fire. The first being that you needed to see you target and the second that you did not have to. This would be a rocket launcher vs. a mortar. I guess this type of thing would be used more in rules about "cover" and "line-of-sight", but just throwing it out as ideas.

I do see how adding columns adds a new level to the power curve over time. Do unit cards also have "abilities" or are they more of a "stat & roll" vs. "stat & roll" combat? I guess I am thinking about how to keep lower armored units useful once there are units with 5 or 6 columns on the field.

I hope you can see that I only want to help and I am not trying to be difficult.

-Eamon

X3M
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TLDR post of mine, sorry

eamon wrote:

On the subject of "RPS"

Tank is "stronger" than a soldier, but if I have more soldiers or a good roll of the dice the soldiers can beat the tank.

This is not an RPS because is not a zero-sum game mechanic.


What you describe here is known to me as soft RPS in the RTS franchise. If you spend an equal amount of resources, you still have an RPS effect. If the weaker party has more resources, it can turn the tides. Eventually, even the resource losses can be less than the opponent. The math to this is so much fun!!

I do know about zero-sum RPS. I find it funny that you mention it. While denying the above event as being RPS. I for one thought that zero-sum RPS means that each entity has an equal amount of counters and effectiveness. Against A, you lose 2 out of 4 units while the enemy dies. Against B, B loses 2 out of 4 units while your army dies.

If you disagree, this deserves a separate "discussion" topic in my opinion.

eamon wrote:

Back on the subject of you post...

I think you are onto something with having the comparison stats on the units. If I understand them right now, you can look at any two opposing units and based on how the stats "line up" with each other... the players will know what table from the rules they are rolling against?


It is about 1 "accuracy" die roll. The examples have a roll of 5 or less. Which in my game means, roll a 5 or less to "keep" the hit. It doesn't matter which target. Then, when the new rule is used. Against target A, it might become "rolling 4 or less" and target B might become "rolling 6 or less" or actually, that is no roll needed.

eamon wrote:

For "specific targets" you might use "point targets" and "area targets". This is they way we talked about weapons when I was in the military. A big machine-gun was an area of effect weapon just like a grenade.

No?, the bullet of a sniper should be specifically effective against infantry. But so will a flame-thrower. Both extra effective against infantry, yet 1 is for point targets and the other one is against area targets.

Area targets, are known to me as Splash damage in the RTS franchise (siege tanks vs zerglings). Sad thing is, this one is a no go for my board game at the moment.
I am planning to think of an "overkill" weapon. Right after the current issue is resolved. Since it fits Snipers and Bunker Busters very well.
And only after that step, I might reconsider splash damage again.
It's just very hard to balance without wasting time on play testing while other issue's are unresolved.

eamon wrote:

Another distinction that we made about weapons was direct and indirect fire.

Direct fire is completely done, obviously it started with that :)
Indirect fire is only in regarding the terrain.
I do like the concept of throwing a grenade over a wall to get an enemy killed. But at this point, it is an unresolved issue, putting that entirely in as an unit ability. This needs attention in a future topic, and it will fall in the "Focus" ability class seeing as how current mechanics work.

eamon wrote:

I do see how adding columns adds a new level to the power curve over time. Do unit cards also have "abilities" or are they more of a "stat & roll" vs. "stat & roll" combat? I guess I am thinking about how to keep lower armored units useful once there are units with 5 or 6 columns on the field.

Well, the basic game is a stat & roll combat. All dice rolls are to see if a projectile still hits. And there is only 1 statistic comparison without dice rolls.

All the abilities and players decisions will completely alter the number of rolls. And at this point, I am happy to report that the number of abilities have exceeded the number of rolls :)

Abilities are to counter mechanics that happen on the board. I have divided these into propulsion systems and projectile adjustments. There are still some that need a major overhaul. Like "closed and open "transport" ". And the mentioned "overkill", "splash damage" and "focus".

Can you see the path of play testing, that I have in mind with those ""?

You might be pleased to know that in my game. Infantry remains useful!!! And Vehicles too!!! I know the pain that RTS players have.

In fact, the 2 combined can beat most armies that are solely based on tanks. I even had a mission on that one in a very early single player mission concept. "Beat the prototype tanks".

And now it comes; while the game expands. And the current issue is still open to discussions.
Infantry actually becomes more useful!! (And every other existing unit) And it is this "specific target" ability that would counter the effect of increasing in usefulness.

***

I don't mind if people throw in new suggestions. But I think that at this point. I have seen most of them at least twice/three times??. Yet naming it completely different. And it always gets the topic sidetracked into clearing things up like how things are named or who is right.
It isn't just you. It's me, and everyone else too.

Right now, I tend to treat each little mechanic separately. Making sure it is balanced as a stand alone mechanic. And then how it relates to all the other ones. You know, 1 step at a time. Then looking backwards at the steps that I have taken to see if it still flows in the right direction.

Might I ask, have you played RTS games? If so, which ones?

The game is more or less a copy of existing RTS. Except for the fact that it contains less "real time" and is only played on a board.

BHFuturist
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more talking points

Quote:
What you describe here is known to me as soft RPS in the RTS franchise. If you spend an equal amount of resources, you still have an RPS effect. If the weaker party has more resources, it can turn the tides. Eventually, even the resource losses can be less than the opponent. The math to this is so much fun!!

Quote:
I for one thought that zero-sum RPS means that each entity has an equal amount of counters and effectiveness. Against A, you lose 2 out of 4 units while the enemy dies. Against B, B loses 2 out of 4 units while your army dies.

-------------
Zero-Sum: "A zero-sum game is a mathematical representation of a situation in which each participant's gain or loss of utility is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the utility of the other participants."
-------------

You are not wrong about what a zero-sum is, but there is a flaw in the thought that a "soft" version is what real-time strategy games have.

Quote:
What you describe here is known to me as soft RPS in the RTS franchise. If you spend an equal amount of resources, you still have an RPS effect.

This is can be a fascinating topic to listen to when doctors of mathematics get into game theory. The main problem is that for every one layer of complexity that we added to a game system we bring in thousands of mathematical variables that need to be balanced in order to maintain the "claim" that it is a zero-sum game. Adding randomness is the leading cause of death for zero-sum games. The second cause is variable powers... this is a bad combo for the type of game we are talking about.

I don't point this out to say you are wrong (because I think you understand the concept of a zero-sum game quite well)... but more to try and explain the need you and I (and all other board game designers) have for the qualifying language that surrounds the topic.

"Mechanical or Natural RPS" and "Soft RPS" and an "RPS effect"

These are all "abstract versions" of the core concept that modify the meaning. Because none of these "extra" terms are clearly defined it adds misunderstanding and flawed thinking into the mix.

I am not saying that we don't need these variations of the core RPS concept, but we do need to understand how they are different from the core.

But I am sure this is something that should have its own thread someday... and I am sorry this side-bar has distracted from your core point.

--------------------------------------

ON/OFF topic, I think you have been doing balancing using the zero-sum idea as a guide and that is a great guide.

One way to do group or area of effect "tests" is to start with just one unit that can attack two targets at the same time. this in playtesting will reveal how strong that power is... and that might serve as a guide for powers that attack a group of hex (spaces). It will be hard to measure the power vs. the cost of these special units or unit powers.

Even with only stat vs. stat comparison, you will have a challenge in the way the power curve is built. but I do recommend looking into the math of power curves rather than trying to maintain a zero-sum RPS mechanic.

One of the strong and weak points of Magic the Gathering is that the design team did not use an RPS style of thinking... but they did have times when the power cures were not managed as well as they could have been.

I guess that was the point I was trying to make at the start... you might have an easier time thinking about things if you take off the shroud of the zero-sum and just work to make good power curves for each unit type. Just don't fall into the power curve traps and I think you will be fine. But this might open up the field and give you the freedom to add features I can tell you want.

As always... just food for thought not intended to be negative. I think you have put a lot of thought into the design and from your comments I can tell you have done your homework.

-Eamon

--Edit--
RTS games I have played.
Warcraft 1,2, & 3
Starcraft 1
Command & Conquer
Age of Empires 1
Dawn of War 1 & expansions
Sins of a Solar Empire
--------

X3M
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eamon wrote:But I am sure

eamon wrote:
But I am sure this is something that should have its own thread someday... and I am sorry this side-bar has distracted from your core point.

I simply set it all aside. Since it is all basics, but we use the definitions a bit different.

I am guided by "practical" balance. It comes close to zero-sum. But everyone knows it is impossible to have "perfect balance" when using variations in stats. "practical" balance also practises player decisions in the game. And certain snowball effects that can happen in these decisions. It deals with over- and underpowered units as well.

---

You are talking about power curve's. And it's traps.
But "power curve's" is a definition, not used in the internet. So I can't find a thing about it. Not even on wiki. So please elaborate about what you mean.

My best guess would be, an "army's effectiveness in the game against a certain opponent" graph.
Which I have plenty of regarding any possible statistic difference.

---

There is one more thing to know about the game that I am developing. You where a lurker, but I think you didn't find that topic from when it all began.

And that is that the basic RPS system that I use, only has damage and armor. I do not have multiple damages set out in a table or anything. Players compare damage to armor and apply the right amount of damage. Which is either damage or armor. With only 2 statistics, I have the entire C&C franchise copied. Except for...

The RPS in this topic would be an extra addition in the form of different accuracies. eg. 4 and 6 instead of 5. It is simply an addition to the game. Snipers could even get 3, +3 and -3 regarding shooting infantry.

The question remains. Is it understandable as how the rules are described above?

X3M
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Sorry for double post.

But a good friend just replied back on the adjustment. And on this, I got yet another adjustment. I will post the "end" result. Soon after the last guy has given feedback. The score went up though, 4 out of 5 :)
And they like this secondary RPS a lot. Since it can, but doesn't have to be used in the game.

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X3M wrote:I am guided by

X3M wrote:
I am guided by "practical" balance. It comes close to zero-sum. But everyone knows it is impossible to have "perfect balance" when using variations in stats. "practical" balance also practises player decisions in the game. And certain snowball effects that can happen in these decisions. It deals with over- and underpowered units as well.

This is why we need a common board game design dictionary :) I think you would be able to clarify a lot of terms and terms with added "qualifiers".

--------

X3M wrote:
You are talking about power curve's. And it's traps.
But "power curve's" is a definition, not used in the internet. So I can't find a thing about it. Not even on wiki. So please elaborate about what you mean.

I think you already have the overall idea from what you said. It is true there is not a lot on the subject as it relates to game design. This is because the idea of a "power curve" as it relates to game design balance is a "newer" concept. It is only when a design is open ended and ever changing that there becomes a need to be concerned with the game's "power curve".

I guess, with all of my comments on this subject I have been trying to address the title of your OP: "Secondary RPS on a forever expanding game"

Here are some links that help to frame power curve in the subject of balance (you will already know a lot of this information):

http://game-wisdom.com/critical/power-curves-game-design
http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/DanFelder/20151012/251443/Design_101_Bala...
https://gamebalanceconcepts.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/level-3-transitive-...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bxszx60ZwGw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3b3hDvRjJA

The long and short of it:

The balance between the "cost" of an action and the "benefits" that action gives in a graph (like you said). It is the way to find the "practical" balance you were talking about, just without thinking about the need to keep things close to zero-sum (because there are different levels of power). Because there are so many factors in the design. The "power curve" becomes a "guide" to track deviations from the curve and keep "practical" balance. But at the same time allows for fluctuations within the system that make things the type of dynamic they need to be in this sort of game.

The idea is to point out that it is not a balance issue to have different levels of power just to keep each level in balance with itself and the other levels along the curve.

--------

In the end, the only thing we are really talking about here is how we think about the goal of balance and what it takes to reach that goal. Like you said, true balance in a complex system is nearly impossible. This way of thinking about balance has helped me to shake off the blinders of the zero-sum and given creative wiggle room for what you called "practical" balance. I am adding that to my terms and definitions under balance (thank you for giving that definition).

--------

Back on the OP:

Only having, "damage and armor and accuracy" be the factors in the combat, does help to clear up what I was thinking your game had. Knowing that the rules you put forth above do make sense.

So, the added "accuracy" is directly applied to the damage or armor? like the sniper accuracy equals more damage against the "Specific Target" of infantry.

Could this also be more armor against the "Specific Target"? Like tanks have more armor against infantry?

I do see how this can be an "advanced" rule set that does not have to be used when playing with beginners, and I like that!

-Eamon

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I think, I understand this

I think, I understand this power curve now. (First link)
I just never had a name for it :D I called it "keeping it balanced". The second and third link look promising, but time is short this day :D. I also like those youtube links. They keep things short and understandable. Worth a watch next year :)

Yet, it all summarizes into this:
https://www.magicmadhouse.co.uk/images/hill-giant-p56327-152809_image.jpg
compared to
http://magiccards.info/scans/en/9e/274.jpg
And that immediate WTF moment that I had when looking at their costs. 15 years ago already. After that, I studied every game that I played to seek out more of them. No definitions back then, only gathering numbers and math. You don't want to know what kind of wreck WC3 is.

But it is all familiar to me. Some definitions, I know and use them too (creeping, henceforth my avatar). Some others are certainly new to me.

***

I kinda work like this to prevent most of it:
Every strength must have a weakness.
And it is ok if some strength's stack up and grow exponential. It simply means they together have an exponential weakness.

This "specific targets" is one of those strengths, that should get a weakness. And I had trouble with it being to weak or to strong. And the youtube links described this problem all to well, especially the second one. I had that before with other abilities as well. And they snow balled each other too. Synergy was also fun to have, but it can become a big problem if you don't know how to keep it from snowballing.

Now I am at a point of having it practical balanced, if the situations are right. Actually, I am telling players to see which situation is right, and they adjust the numbers to it.
Translated into:
Would the unit become OP? Then don't use the rule. Is it weaker after using the rule? Then use it, since it is a situation effect.

The only question that remains is if players understand how the game play works. Not the math and designer rules behind it.

***

eamon wrote:

Only having, "damage and armor and accuracy" be the factors in the combat, does help to clear up what I was thinking your game had. Knowing that the rules you put forth above do make sense.

That is what I wanted to know :)

Specific armor???
A tank with a shield against anti tank shells. Interesting concept. I need to keep in mind, that an accuracy of 4/6th on a weapon is 66,7% Yet on armor it is 150%.

4/6th and 6/6th has an average of 5/6th. On a weapon which normally costs 6, gives a true cost of 5.
With armor it would be 125%. Or a normal cost of 6 now becomes 7,5.

Any way, it also reminded me of checking one more thing on the specific target calculation. Eg. A weapon with 9 damage works most optimal on 9 armor. But if it has this specific target rule on an armor of 1. The extra bonus isn't that much in comparison if it was a weapon with 1 damage.

Now, specific armor is a cool idea. Since body abilities are rare at the moment.

eamon wrote:

I do see how this can be an "advanced" rule set that does not have to be used when playing with beginners, and I like that!

Thanks, I got more of those too.
The whole campaign is to learn mechanics and choices. And right after, a new ability should kick in to help the player counter these mechanics and choices.

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Found a creeping mistake again

X3M wrote:

Now I am at a point of having it practical balanced, if the situations are right. Actually, I am telling players to see which situation is right, and they adjust the numbers to it.
Translated into:
Would the unit become OP? Then don't use the rule. Is it weaker after using the rule? Then use it, since it is a situation effect.

Whohaaaah!!!
A half year has passed. And it took that long for us to adjust the rules a bit, once again. Here is the story:

One of my friends had this super tank. This tank had specific damage against infantry, light vehicles and heavy vehicles. Well, in a sense. But it was very complicated. Let's just say, certain medium armor was safe.

Then I started calculating the overall damage of this monstrosity. And I concluded, that if the specific targets where not applied. The tank could do so much more against all targets, and logically including the medium armor.

So, the rule dictated above, needed a change once again. And frankly, it is either a choice out of 2 different targets. Namely, Units and Structures.
Or it is a choice out of several classes of armor. But then neatly packed.

First, I had like +2 against 1 target and -2 against 1 or multiple targets. And the players needed to see if this was balanced themselves. It often resulted in +2 -2 -2 -2 or something along those lines. The weapon would be weaker.
Now with neatly packed classes. It is +2 0 0 -2. Which yields an adjustment of 0 on average.

And if that doesn't work in the next gathering. The gun is loaded my boy. My zombie old yeller will get some more lead leading towards the grave, if needed.

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BAM!!!

http://i.qkme.me/35njke.jpg

No matter what I tried. It never was right.
Either too weak, thus it could be abused.
Or too strong, thus it could be abused.

No second RPS system any more for the current RPS system.
The problem lies within the connection between a limited RPS and an infinite expandable RPS.
One works lineair. The other curved.

The only thing that remains is making distinction between units and structures. This has no connection with the infinite expandable RPS whatsoever.

It is over. Yeller is dead.

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