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Which of these Combat Systems Do You Prefer?

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dnddmdb's picture
Joined: 01/06/2009

Hey, everyone,

Lately I've been working on a design that I briefly alluded to in another post ( - Neutral Type in an RPS System).

It's a tactical, card-driven board game, and without getting into too many details players basically move cards in the form of Monsters around on a map consisting of tiles. The goal is to get VP, 1 for each tile you control at the end of a Round (there are 3 Rounds). You also receive VP for each Monster you have on the map, the value of which varies from Monster to Monster. Monsters can attack each other by attempting to move into an enemy Monster's tile. Game is 2p, ~30-45 minutes.

So I have this design in the early playtesting stage, and I'm working out a few kinks but the design works fairly well. But the combat system I have strikes me as a little bland, and I was thinking of changing it. So, which of these combat systems sounds more appealing to you?

Strike/Vitality System:
This is the current combat system. Each Monster has a Strike and Vitality value. Strike is how much damage they do in combat, and Vitality is how much damage they can take before they're destroyed. Vitality is restored back to full at the end of your turn (I don't want to have players fiddling around with damage/hit counters, ideally). Defender chooses among attacked Monsters which Monster takes damage.
- Currently implemented in my prototype
- It works!
- Fairly intuitive, not complicated (which is good for this weight of game imo)
- Two values allow Monsters to be variable in their Attack/Defense power. Some monsters can Attack to whittle down enemies and still survive.
- Seems sort of bland
- Not so many interesting decisions (stay away from big monsters, can be near little ones).
- Obviously an MTG rip-off
- Certainly isn't unique

The Crest System:
This is the new proposed system I've started to like. It's an augmented RPS system as mentioned in my other post. Each Monster has a number of Crests of 5 Types: Disciplined, Guerilla, Wild, Ordinary, and Magic. I.E Infantry Regiment has 2 Disciplined Crests, Watchdogs have 1 Disciplined and 1 Wild Crest, Wizard has 3 Magic Crests, etc. Disciplined, Guerilla and Wild work in an RPS system, where D < G < W < D. This is called Advantage, where Disciplined has Advantage against Wild, and has Disadvantage against Guerilla. In Combat, Crests are destroyed 1 for 1, except when a Crest has Advantage on another. Crests with Advantage break Crests they have Advantage against before Crests without Advantage are broken.

So a 2D vs 1W, 1O Monster goes as follows: The Disciplined Crests have Advantage against the Wild Crest, so first Wild Crest is broken. No other Crests have Advantage. So it's now 2D vs 1O. Crests break each other 1 for 1, and now the 2D monster is still alive with 1 D Crest remaining, and the 1W, 1O monster is destroyed. (I'm not sure if I want to have monsters be destroyed when they have no Crests remaining, or if I want them to be destroyed when they would have a Crest broken but have none left.) Crests rejuvenate at the end of the turn, like Vitality would.

In this system, Magic has advantage on Ordinary. Ordinary has no Advantage or Disadvantage against Guerilla, Disciplined, or Wild. Magic doesn't interact with those, either.
Pros of this system:
- I think it's fairly unique, to my knowledge
- Positioning is a major aspect of this game, and this increases that. You want your Monsters with Guerilla Crests within Range of enemies with Discipline Crests, but away from those with Wild Crests, etc.
- Provides more variety in the sorts of Monsters I can design.
- I think it's a little more thematic, which is a plus for me.
- More complex, less intuitive
- Attack and Health are intertwined, so there are no Monsters with lots of defense but little Attack anymore. Also a Monster that takes damage now deals less damage as well.

Hopefully I've made that clear. Basically, which of these options do you think will help my game stand out more and make it more tactically intriguing? Is this RPS+ system just some gimmick? Let me know if you have any questions or if this makes no sense (in which case that might tell me something about the idea, lol). Sorry for the long post! I appreciate any feedback you can give me.

Best and thanks,

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Tracking, Questions

If you're ideally avoiding using tokens and such for this, how do you plan to track when a creature has lost a Crest?

Can you allow Crests to be restored by the end of a round, much like you describe your current combat system (as you describe it, the "MtG ripoff")?

If everything is restored at the end of a/the round, then it doesn't seem to require tracking, restores the health and damage, and may still provide the variety you're seeking - though avoidance is still an issue due to this combat method being deterministic.


Are there any random variables or player influenced variables you can include that will make combat a bit less predictable and a little more dramatic/surprising?

Is there anything that can increase a player's effectiveness as the game progresses? Are stronger/more-well-rounded monsters available for summoning later in the game?

dnddmdb's picture
Joined: 01/06/2009
Non-random combat

Thank you for the feedback!

The Crests would return at the end of the round, like "Vitality" does in the other system.

As for randomness, I was really trying to opt out of a combat system that uses random variables. But as for surprising player variables, the way Monsters move and Attack is based on the cards your opponent has in their hand. So that is an unknown. So you don't know if they have the cards needed to actually Attack you or not. Or maybe they'll choose to spend their next action playing a Monster instead of moving current ones. But once a Monster actually attacks another, the outcome is basically determined. You know the combat outcome between two monsters at any given time, but you don't know if your opponent will actually Attack your monster when they have other things to do, or maybe they don't even have the ability to.

And no, there's nothing stopping you from playing stronger monsters early on, but the way the game works is that strong monsters have requirements they must meet each turn or die. As the game goes on the board will fill up with monsters and space starts to run out, as opposed to the big monsters making an appearance, necessarily.

Hopefully that answers your questions. Sorry for being vague.


Paul Ott
Joined: 01/22/2018
It's tough to say without

It's tough to say without knowing more of the game, but either could work. I often think about chess and the main difference between the pieces is the direction they move/attack.

From what you've written, Strike/Vitality does seem like it may be less interesting. Is it possible to supplement the Strike or Vitality with positional bonuses or penalties? Maybe a certain terrain causes one to go up or down? Or maybe certain units can give a bonus to other units if nearby? Or maybe an enemy unit can cause a penalty?

The crests is definitely more interesting, and as you have them written I think I'd prefer it over the Strike/Vitality.

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