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Simple combat system

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alandor
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I’d like some advice on how to shape the combat system of the game I’m working on (Krakatoa - the lost island). Combat is very secondary in this game and I have therefore wanted to keep it as simple as possible. Now I’m asking myself if it’s too simple. Let me give you some background and maybe you can give me some advice.

First of all, this is a family game so I have wanted to keep the rules simple. The game is about exploring for valuables by flipping tokens in different territories. If the valuable on the token corresponds to your skill set you may pick it up and it will be worth victory points. The combat comes into play when you encounter beasts while exploring. You can choose to escape which will move you to an other territory and end your turn but lets you avoid combat, or you can fight for the right to stay where you are and finish your turn. If you lose however you must suffer the consequences of escaping and also discard one of your tokens. Normally it is not worth this risk, but occasionally it may be. You can fight unarmed but you will only be able to scare the beast off. If you have a weapon though, you can claim the defeated beast token for the victory points on it. All beast tokens provide money and hunting points. Money is a general valuable that all characters get points for but only a few get points for hunting.

The current combat system just says for the player to the left to take the token in one hand and hold out both hands. If you can pick the hand with the token you win combat, otherwise you lose. I have used this combat system since the first draft and I’ve liked the simplicity of it and the lack of any additional game components and the social interaction is popular when playing with kids. However, some play testers have found it a bit silly when played in an adult environment (”why not just roll a die instead?”). It is also quite limited in terms of what you can do with it. For normal encounters I feel that it is enough, most of the time you will escape, but if you want to take a 50% risk of fighting then it’s fine. However, for the characters that focus on hunting or get double points for money a lot can be at stake for this simple mechanic. The biggest beasts are worth 3/3 money/hunting which can add up to 6 or 9 points. If you only have VP-tokens that are worth much (let’s say 3 points is your cheapest token) the result of this combat will be gaining 6 or 9 points or losing 3, meaning a net value of 9 or 12 points. (The winner usually get around 30 points in a full game.) I’m feeling like with these things at stake it may require a more sophisticated combat system.

I have therefore started thinking of using a die instead. Six sided with two blank sides, 2 one bullet sides, one two bullet and one three bullet sides. The beasts would have one, two or three hearts. In order to defeat one you must get the corresponding amount of bullets or more. Some weapons may give you one extra bullet or a bullet plus a re-roll. This means that you could have an automatic defeat of the smaller beasts if you have a + 1 weapon, and highly increased chances of defeating lvl 2 or 3 beasts. Does this sound better? The thing I don’t like about it is the lack of design elegancy. Custom combat dice appear in so many games. While that testifies to their usefulness it makes me less willing to include them in my own game. Do I have a point in this or is it just dumb to limit oneself like that?

Can anyone think of a more sophisticated combat system that doesn’t use any extra game components, which is still simple enough for this type of game?

X3M
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Is it really nessecary to use

Is it really nessecary to use dice?

Maybe you can do something along the lines of. Using certain supplies to defeat the beasts.

When using a weapon, it is used and gone. A weapon of level 3 can be used to defeat level 1, 2 and 3 monsters. But would be overkill on the level 1 and 2 monsters. For level 3 monsters, you can also use 3 level 1 weapons. Or a level 1+2 weapon.
Each player could gather weapons and stock them. Only use them when they want to.

Equal the weapons to the beasts.
Some beasts might remain if someone does an overkill. Or overuses level 1 weapons on a higher tier beast.
Each beast might guard a treasure. So, if one player decides not to take down the beast. Another play might walk in and kill the beast with the right weapon. This opens a path to some teamwork too.

***

If you stick with dice. Try to find a way to use the 1,2,3,4,5,6. Don't do custom just yet.

I hope this was of help.

alandor
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Thanks! No, dice is by no

Thanks! No, dice is by no means necessary. I'm happy to consider other options like the one you brought up. I'm trying to think if I can adapt it to the game I have in mind. Currently there is only room for a few weapons, so using discardable weapons is not an option unless I increase the number of items. The problem with it is that I feel like it will bring combat more into focus if I add more weapon tokens. This must not be wrong but it is not what I'm looking for. Your suggestion certainly has an edge over dice in that it gives players a tactical choice, (do I spend this weapon for an overkill now or should I save it for full use later?). Keeping the design clean and simple is important though so regardless if I go with this idea or develop the dice idea it must be done with few or no exceptions and as few added components as possible.

On that last note. Why do you recommend a regular 1-6 die instead of a custom die. Production cost or some other reason?

X3M
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You don't need to equal the

You don't need to equal the amount of weapons to the amount of beasts.
A weapon can have ammo or durability.

Let's say, a bow does 2 damage. And can shoot 3 arrows. This is good for 3 level 2 beasts.

An axe might do only 1 damage, but can be used 6 times or so.

1 damage, 6 usage.
2 damage, 3 usage.
3 damage, 2 usage.
Maybe a super weapon with 6 damage for that one boss, 1 time usage.

If it isn't enough durability, simply increase it to your taste.

This is only a basic start though. You need to adjust the numbers a bit.

***

The dice?
Honestly, I can't remember why I even brought that up.

czarcastic
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I was going to suggest

I was going to suggest basically the same system as X3M, but already done, so count this as an up vote.
It sounds like it fits with the overall simplicity of the rest of the game mechanics.

If you do end up adding some randomization to it, consider FUDGE/FATE dice (mentioned in another thread) that modify by -1/0/+1 per die. An axe for example could have a damage code of 3+3dF, giving a range of 0-6.

let-off studios
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ZOMBIES!!! System

One of the simplest combat systems I've seen that allows the use of a standard 1d6 is that found in ZOMBIES!!! and its many expansions.

Roll 1d6, and a success is counted with a 4, 5, or 6. If the player does not succeed, they can use bullet tokens to add 1 to their initial roll. Bullet tokens are single-use collectible chits, and are discarded when used. They're also scattered all over the map as play continues.

When you mentioned the "one bullet, two bullet," etc. system already in use on your dice, this is what came to mind as a less hands-on (if you'll excuse the expression) combat system. Hopefully it will be useful.

Here's a how-to-play video for ZMOBIES!!! I just love misspelling that word. Combat is clearly explained, elegantly abstracted.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qFWaA8DcYg

alandor
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Thanks for all suggestions.

Thanks for all suggestions. Both could be useful. The zombies system could easily be adapted to suit different sizes of beasts (requiring 4+, 5+ or 6 to kill depending on size). The other system is more tactical though while still being quite simple. My main problem with it is that I really want some room for unarmed combat (where you fight to scare the beast away). It doesn't seem right if you are forced to escape because you have no weapon when you run into a beast. But perhaps I should consider that.

I'll share your ideas with some friends who played the game to see what they think.

X3M
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Scaring a beast away without

Scaring a beast away without a weapon? I can't picture that. How would this go?

No matter what the reason might be. That fudge die could be rolled for unarmed combat as well. And the +1 is simply the scare away.
You would be needing a weapon if you actually want to defeat the beast.

And once scared away. Where will it run to?

alandor
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OK, I thought your suggestion

OK, I thought your suggestion was to go without the die and only use predefined values on the tokens (and counters to keep track of how often they would be used). But you were thinking of combining it with a die or other randomizer? I want to keep this very simple (ridiculously simply from a gamer's perspective), so adding both counters and a die just for the combat system spontaneously feels like giving it too much focus. But perhaps I should rethink it. Combat does not have a big section in the rulebook and I want to keep a system that can be explained with as few words as possible.

For your question: If you scare off a beast it is discarded. There's an optional rule that lets beasts stay on the board though and in that case you move it to an adjacent unoccupied territory instead. Flavor-wise my idea is that it can cover several factors, using sticks and stones found where you are in addition to the beast not being hungry/threatened enough to bother. There's no real reason to keep this rule though other than beast encounter just being a strictly bad draw for players without weapons. Removing it could give me the space I need to use the combat system you have been suggesting instead.

I've just been shaping it in my mind briefly to match the game as it is. There are three weapons:
Machete 1/4 (attack/uses)
Flintlock pistol 2/3
Rifle 3/3

The same weapon could be used many times for one combat, so a machete could take down one size 3 beast and one size 1 best, or four size 1 beasts. The rifle has a higher total damage value, but is not as useful if you run into many smaller beasts. I like this because it makes a weaker weapon useful even if you already have the rifle, which it isn't with my current rules.

This system could be what my game needs. I need to work out if the lack of randomness is good or bad for this type of game though… (personally I like it).

X3M
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alandor wrote:OK, I thought

alandor wrote:
OK, I thought your suggestion was to go without the die and only use predefined values on the tokens

Well, that was the idea. Without dice. But some other people suggested some sort of dice. I was unsure in what direction you where heading at that point.
If possible, without any dice, since you don't want dice. And work further on that.

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