# Simple, RPS-like mechanic

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Joined: 02/25/2014

I am posting to find out if anyone has designed a mechanic like this before, and if not, what people think about it and what suggestions people have. I read several articles and couldn't find anything quite like what I'm proposing, so I thought I'd start up a new thread. Mods, if this is inappropriate, I apologize, and hope that you'll direct me to the proper thread.

I am helping a friend design a game, and as part of that, I thought of a mechanic that could be used for conflict resolution. It ended up not fitting his game very well, but I kept the idea because I think it might be possible to stand on it's own as a central mechanic. Here is how it works:

A player character card has 3 colored circles, each circle divided into 3 circles in a concentric pattern. This gives you 9 circles on the card, 3 red, 3 yellow, 3 blue (for example). Additionally, you have 3 sizes for each circle, a small, medium, and large red, a small, medium, and large yellow, and a small, medium and large blue. Colored wooden discs would be placed on the card to represent what "level" you have in a particular color.

Tests work as follows: Red beats Yellow, Yellow beats Blue, Blue beats Red. However, a small red does not beat a medium yellow, etc. A mechanic I've considered here is that a small red could damage a medium yellow, thus knocking it down to a small yellow, but I'm still ironing that out (thus my inquiry here). Once the test is complete (the opponent is eliminated), the player increases the size of the circle they used to defeat the opponent. In this case, their blue circle would increase one size. In the event that you encounter something you cannot defeat, you can take a black circle and place it on your character. On your next turn, you take no action except for removing the black circle (basically, you lose a turn for running away).

Opponents or creatures would never have more than 2 colored circles. So, for example, a Goblin might only have a small red. To beat a goblin, you just need a small blue, but that goblin may damage your yellow, removing it or shrinking it. A Dragon might have a large red and a large yellow, but it would never have blue. To beat a dragon, you would need a large blue and a large red. Because the dragon would be damaging your yellow and your blue, you would need to have some yellow as well; a large yellow if you wanted to beat it completely. After speaking with a mathematician friend of mine, I learned that this leads to 36 possible combinations of size and color circle for opponent cards.

The goal of the game would be to be the first player to get all 3 colored circles to their largest size. To start the game, each player would have the smallest size of each circle. It sounds like that would make the game much too quick, but if the damaging mechanic was used, the game could take some time. In addition, I'd want to flesh out the deck with some event type cards that would add circles or allow you to trade your circles around, etc.

Obviously, there are still quite a few rough edges here, so I wanted to see about any ideas people had regarding this mechanic. If it sounds usable, fun and/or doable. I want to keep the game as simple as possible. The idea is to have a game that you could play with someone with whom you share no common language.

***LEGAL DISCLAIMER (boring stuff)********************************
This mechanic is my intelectual property, though I'm willing to share it via my express permission. In the event that this mechanic has already been patented/copyrighted, I will review the previously claimed rights and act in accordance with my findings.
*******************************************************************************

mulletsquirrel
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Joined: 08/14/2014
How do you explain the game

How do you explain the game rules to someone if you don't share a common language?

laperen
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Joined: 04/30/2013
most important is, have you

most important is, have you tested this out with friends or others, and was it positively recieved.

So this idea is basically Rock paper Scissors with levels. Right now some details make the usage of the idea unclear.
1 How the cards come into play from the deck
2 How combat is played out and/or resolved
3 How those levels in each color are gained or lost

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Joined: 02/25/2014
Response to Questions

Q. How can you explain a game to someone you don't share a common language with?
A. This is an ideal situation, wherein the game is simple enough that you can just demonstrate how it works and the other player picks it up. I'm pretty sure this mechanic won't hit that mark, but I'm hoping for something close.

Q. How the cards come into play from the deck?
A. They would be drawn at the beginning of a players turn. However, I'd like to focus on the mechanic in question as a conflict resolution system, rather than the game play.

Q. How combat is played out and/or resolved? combining How those levels in each color are gained or lost?
A. That's what I'd like to focus on with this question. The idea is this: Each character starts with a small red, a small yellow, and a small blue. When a character encounters something, they compare their circles. We'll use an opponent with a small red circle in this example. The player compares their character's circles to the opponent's circles. The player's character has a small blue, which beats a small red, which will allow the character to defeat the opponent. Additionally, the opponent has one small red circle, which beats the character's small yellow circle. So the character will lose it's only yellow circle. That's ok, because a character is only defeated if it has no circles remaining. At the end of this comparison, the opponent has no circles, whereas the character has a small red and a small blue (having lost the yellow to the opponent). Since the character used it's blue circle to defeat the red opponent, it's blue circle increases in size by 1, so now at the end of the round, the character has a small red and a medium blue circle, but no yellow circle. The opponent has no circles, and so is defeated and the card goes to the discard pile. Here is the problem: the character can no longer fight any opponent who has a red circle of any size. If it did so, it would have to lose a yellow circle, but since it doesn't have any, I think this should defeat the character. Additionally, the character could no longer damage an opponent with a blue circle, since the character has no yellow circles to use in it's attacks. In order to get a yellow circle, you would have to fight an opponent with blue, but since you can't you're kind of stuck. So let's say the next opponent the character faces has a medium yellow circle. In the first round of combat, the character damages the opponent with his small red circle, thus knocking the opponent to a small yellow circle. The opponent also damages the character, knocking his medium blue circle to a small blue circle. In the next round, since no one was defeated, the character damages the opponents small yellow circle with his small red circle, thus removing the small yellow circle from the opponent; however, the opponent also removes the characters small blue circle through damage. What we have left at the end of this comparison is a character with a small red circle (which will go up in size to medium), and no other circles. The opponent will have no circles, so is defeated and goes to the discard pile. At the end of the round, we have a character with one medium red circle, and that is all. This character can no longer fight an opponent with a red circle, as they have no yellow circles to take damage. They can't fight a yellow opponent, because they have no blue circles to take damage. They can't fight a blue opponent because they have no yellow circles to do damage.

Ultimately, this mechanic may just not work, but I wonder if I added more colors if that would fix it, or if I started all characters at medium instead of small. If I did an RPS-5 style, would that be better? Or if I had characters start at medium in each color? Or I wonder if I can give characters the option to skip a turn and earn a small circle in any color they may be missing? Any thoughts would be great, and thanks for your responses!

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Joined: 02/25/2014
A thought

I just had a thought, I wonder if this would work better if I gave each character a small circle in each color, except for one, where they would have a medium. For example, a starting fighter could have a medium red, a small yellow and a small blue. Then the character would face the opponents cooperatively, capitalizing on their strengths. It may not fix the problem, but it might help.

Zag24
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Joined: 03/02/2014
Where I thought you were headed ...

Where I thought you were headed once you introduced the sizes was that the sizes also made a Roshambo, where large beats medium, medium beats small, and small beats large. I think that this makes for a weird and interesting game, if you always have to put up three discs at a time, hidden. Then both sides reveal and points scored.

Obviously, it's not what you said, but I thought that was interesting, too. For your actual question, I think it's not a terrible idea, but the theme would have to support it. That is, if players are resolving some conflict this way, it would have to make sense, or it will just feel contrived.

kos
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Joined: 01/17/2011
RPS

If you treat your small, medium, large as 1, 2, 3 then it is easier to represent mathematically. It's also expandable, in that you could stack colored chips to an arbitrary height instead of being limited to 3.

Your Red1 opponent is guaranteed to inflict 1 damage, so if the reward for defeating it is +1 then it is a zero sum game.
Similarly, you would need a reward of +2 just to break even against a Red2 opponent. Against a Blue3 Red2 opponent you would need +5 to break even.
Alternatively, you would need a separate mechanic for raising your stats between fights otherwise you will eventually be ground down.

Note that the mechanic as stated has no player choices (unlike a true RPS). The resolution is entirely deterministic. Now that is not necessarily a bad thing (since deterministic combat resolution usually has the advantage of being quick), but in that case it needs to be part of a larger game that presents the players with interesting choices.

Regards,
kos

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Joined: 02/25/2014
Where I thought you were headed...

This sounds pretty cool actually, and may have some application at some point. I'm hoping to make this mechanic simple enough and interesting enough that people will be able to use it in their own homebrew games, or retheme it a dozen times like, "Dead Drop," whose rethemes you can see on Board Game Geek in the pictures. Thanks for the input!

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Joined: 02/25/2014
RPS

A zero sum game! Yes, that is the problem. I think I'll need to go back to the drawing board a bit due to that problem. The deterministic combat is alright, as I want the resolution to be quick and easy, though I know deterministic combat is not a lot of peoples favorite. This is my first real attempt at designing a mechanic like this, so it's ok if it isn't popular, I just want it to work well and be available for other people if they want to use it (I put that disclaimer in my first post because I don't want someone to come along and patent the mechanic so others can't use it, though that seems unlikely at this point. ;) ). Thank you for the input, Kos!

truekid games
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Joined: 10/29/2008
For what it's worth, it would

For what it's worth, it would be easier to parse the statement in rules (generally speaking) as bigger circle beats smaller circle, with color priority breaking ties (rather than starting with the non-transitive part).

Also, that legal disclaimer protects roughly nothing.

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Joined: 02/25/2014
truekid games wrote:Also,

truekid games wrote:
Also, that legal disclaimer protects roughly nothing.

Lol, no surprise there. It's not a big deal, as I think this idea sort of works, but certainly isn't ironed out yet. Also, I'm hoping to make this a publicly available system (if I can get it working).

Great suggestion about the rules, thank you!

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Joined: 02/25/2014
kos wrote:Note that the

kos wrote:
Note that the mechanic as stated has no player choices (unlike a true RPS). The resolution is entirely deterministic. Now that is not necessarily a bad thing (since deterministic combat resolution usually has the advantage of being quick), but in that case it needs to be part of a larger game that presents the players with interesting choices.

As a possible alternative, what if instead of circles, the character acquired dice instead? I'm thinking six sided dice. In that way, the combat wouldn't be entirely deterministic, though a character with more dice would have an advantage over a character with fewer dice. In this scenario, each character would start with a d6 in each color, then combats would be decided by higher dice rolls. Upon winning, instead of getting a bigger circle in a color, you would get an additional die in a color, up to three (maybe more?). Do you think that would be more fun and/or work better?

laperen
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Joined: 04/30/2013
That might be interesting,

That might be interesting, but would bump into the problem of requiring quite a number of dice to play, although this depends on the user experience you want for your game.

looking at what you have now as is, I feel the player who wins the first battle, has a major advantage even if its not absolute.

I still think you need to explain a little more about your game. By isolating the combat resolution and talking about 1V1 combat, one forgets the idea as a whole

One quick point i can think of which would change how one would approach combat, or even approach giving ideas for: Since there's a deck and cards are like characters, are they able to work together to make up for each others weaknesses?

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Joined: 02/25/2014
laperen wrote:looking at what

laperen wrote:
looking at what you have now as is, I feel the player who wins the first battle, has a major advantage even if its not absolute.

I still think you need to explain a little more about your game. By isolating the combat resolution and talking about 1V1 combat, one forgets the idea as a whole

One quick point i can think of which would change how one would approach combat, or even approach giving ideas for: Since there's a deck and cards are like characters, are they able to work together to make up for each others weaknesses?

I think I can answer each of these points at once. Overall, I would like to make a quick, cooperative card game. Players may assist one another. Players don't fight other players, all opponents come from the deck. The deck would only have opponents and event cards in it. There would probably be four player characters to choose from (think D&D archetypes). This last part is what made me think that giving starting characters one medium circle might balance things out better.

What if I just made it so that the players do damage first, rather than everything being simultaneous? That way, if you eliminate an opponent, they don't damage you that round. So in the example with the starting character vs a goblin (small red), the player would deal the damage first, using their blue circle, and the goblin would lose his circle and be eliminated. Then the player would advance his blue, and that would be it. Then when you get to the bigger creatures, those with medium and large circles, it would be tougher. You'd have to make sure you could take the damage they were going to deal before you eliminated them. This would be an extremely simple, and not necessarily very fun system, but it would be quick. As part of a larger game (as mentioned before), it might be something that could work. ??

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Joined: 02/25/2014
Alas

I think this mechanic may not work after all. I've been pondering on it, and it just doesn't seem to want to come together. I'm hoping that a fix will become apparent some time in the future.

I do really like several of the suggestions here, and I think I may look into using some of them. I like the idea of blind bidding that Zag24 mentioned.

Thanks to everyone who posted, and I wish you all luck with your own projects!

X3M
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Joined: 10/28/2013
The mechanic might work. I

The mechanic might work. I though of something similar some years ago.
The problem with it is that it is perhaps too fast.

Instead of adding +1 after one victory. Let the players save up some points before they can spend it. Or the costs should be cumulative, that would help too.
And the points should not have to be spend on one particular card, but any card.

And with a loss, no reduction please. Relatively, a victory with a bonus, is a reduction to all other players.

Would this help?

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Joined: 02/25/2014
Mayhaps?

X3M wrote:
Instead of adding +1 after one victory. Let the players save up some points before they can spend it. Or the costs should be cumulative, that would help too.

And with a loss, no reduction please. Relatively, a victory with a bonus, is a reduction to all other players.

Hmm... That might help. So you're saying that instead of having the character lose a circle, if they lose the fight, they shouldn't lose anything, they just don't gain anything? That actually might fix the problem. Also, I hadn't considered how far behind that could put someone who is just drawing nasty monsters from the top of the deck. Good catch!

I do think that as a stand-alone mechanic, this would be boring, but as part of a bigger game, this could be a quick mechanic that helps move the game along and determine a winner.

I'm hoping to use this mechanic as part of a small, portable game. My version will be fantasy, but I want it to be reskinnable so that others can use the mechanic if they like it. Hm... I'll have to come up with a game surrounding this mechanic and pitch that on the site.

Thanks again everyone!