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Naturally limiting army size/movement

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Daggaz
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I have a hex game of territory domination using armies. Players build villages, which in turn can produce troops, and they move the troops around on the map to invade and claim territory. There are four hex types with associated resources and movement costs. There is a worker placement system which limits the amount of troops a village can produce in a single turn (so 4 workers = 4 troops) and which governs resource production.

The players build some troops, pay an activation cost for movement points, and spend those points moving across the map. If they enter a new hex, there may be a small battle with NPC units which can give rewards needed to upgrade. As more villages are founded, the player collects more and more resources. A single resource governs all player actions, although actions (including building certain units) cost additional resource-types.

My problem is that towards the end of the game when the players are established, they have large resource production which is necessary for the game to proceed normally. HOWEVER. It is currently possible for a player to halt all other actions for a round (we assume his position is strongly defended at this point), and spend each turn building troops in a single location. The next round, he can move this entire army using the next turns resources. Alternatively, a player could build smaller armies (normal play), and have them converge into one mega army, and then move this around.

This breaks the game.

I have a running mechanic in the game which says that if you can pay for more than one of the same type of action in the same tile, you may do so in the same turn. So you can build units up to the worker placement value in the same turn (here I limited it because having a mega army pop into existence is dumb thematically and bad for game-play, but its still tied to an existing mechanic so not totally arbitrary), and you can move multiple units by paying 1 activation resource for each unit at the same time (move 5 guys, pay 5 activations).

Now, I can do a number of things, but I really don't like arbitrary limitations in games and would like to avoid them as much as possible. "You may not have an army larger than X" is not as good as "Having an army larger than X is going to be prohibitively costly because Y." So for example, I could say that if your army is larger than X, then you automatically clear the tile of NPC encounters (losing a number of potential bonus resources in the process). This solves the problem of steam-rolling early encounters, but still gains the player the tile. And it does not solve the problem of PvP, which is the core of the game. I could also put some kind of total-turn limit on the individual town production of units, but I cant see how to do this organically and it requires additional state-tracking which would be very time consuming in such a unit-heavy game. It also puts a hard limit on units, such that a player cannot skip units now in order to build some later, which I want very much to be unrestricted so long as it is not abused. Finally, I would like to avoid phasing of the action rounds (where you separate and restrict the player actions into distinct phases... this should be a sandbox as much as possible).

Any ideas? Much appreciated.

PS: I'm not 100% sold on my movement system, but it does have a lot of advantages that I like and I can mesh it with a number of other mechanics..

let-off studios
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Feed the Soldiers

Daggaz wrote:
"You may not have an army larger than X" is not as good as "Having an army larger than X is going to be prohibitively costly because Y."
One way you may be able to suitably address this is by requiring soldiers be fed. When food is produced, it can either be used to feed soldier(s) or added to one's production resources. At the beginning or start of a turn, players must reduce troop count to the number of troops they're able to feed.

Depending on the particulars of combat and units, this may encourage players to invest in smaller armies that have more powerful units, instead of Zerg Rush-sized mobs that course the map.

This does not promote a hard limit of troops, but it does provide for a ceiling related to the player's other developments in game. It may also provide for a narrative structure: in the beginning of the game, food is diverted to production, while late game production slows and it's all about training and feeding the military.

You would need to be careful about allowing players to throw a bunch of food at their massive army, and then letting them die off after a key battle. The game may allow for players to summon a fighting horde for at least a short time, but it's not necessarily sustainable. Players would need to assemble their force, then act quickly before the resource drain becomes too much to sustain.

How would this affect other aspects of the game? I can't judge at this point, and you would know best. But to me it seems like some interesting possibilities are present.

Daggaz
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Yeah, troop upkeep was a

Yeah, troop upkeep was a mechanic I started with originally, but then moved away from eventually. It has two problems, one is tedious state-tracking (how many troops do you have every round), the other is that it necessitates a high resource level that becomes absurd if you wipe your units out, such that either you can replace the entire army without batting an eye, or in the case that you require a second resource for the unit production, you are left with an overabundance of resource A that can either not be spent, or can be used to spam something else.

Ultimately tho, this doesnt really solve my problem because I WANT the players to have lots of troops (they have to defend multiple positions), and the player then will always be free to converge those troops in a single army; upkeep wont stop that.

X3M
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I work with a maximum per hexagon.

See subject.

Might work for your game as well.

Daggaz
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As in how many can be moved

As in how many can be moved into a hex? This is definitely one of the more interesting solutions I have been toying with. Doubly so because you can tie it to the game mechanics : mountain trails cannot accommodate as many troops as an open field; small groups of NPC enemy units will flee if they detect a massive army approaching (see OP), etc..

Jay103
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Not positive I understand

Not positive I understand correctly, so I'll restate:

Hexes can produce soldiers up to a reasonable limit per turn (limited by worker count). Large armies are fine. But you don't want a hex to create many soldiers at once. There's an extra rule that you can do the same thing more than once on a turn. With that rule, someone with a lot of resources can train a huge army in one spot all at once by doing 5+5+5+5+5, and then move them all at once similarly.

It sounds like the "extra action" rule is the issue..? Or do you just want to avoid ANY way for a user to make an army of size X?

If the latter, please give some guidance as to what a normal amount of production is per hex, and how big an army you think is okay.

X3M
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Daggaz wrote:As in how many

Daggaz wrote:
As in how many can be moved into a hex? This is definitely one of the more interesting solutions I have been toying with. Doubly so because you can tie it to the game mechanics : mountain trails cannot accommodate as many troops as an open field; small groups of NPC enemy units will flee if they detect a massive army approaching (see OP), etc..

Exactly.

However, if you have 1 action per unit. You need a way to keep track of this.
I "exhaust" all of them.

Also, if multiple squads move through the same chokepoint by having a higher speed. This can hardly be tracked as room for just one squad.
I simply discarded that fact since a higher speed is supposed to be better.

I did a lot with different spaces for units in the past. Lets just say that I know what NOT to do. Try to keep it as simple as possible.

Daggaz
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Jay103, I dont want the

Jay103, I dont want the player to be able to put too many units into one hex (and move them in unison especially) as any game of averages will be overwhelmed if you allow 'n' to be too high. In other words, you can only balance the game of people throwing dice to hit each other, within a limited range of the number of dice involved.

X3M, oh man no, no different speeds. KISS is the name of the game when it comes to game-design for me. All of my units have the same movement speed, and the same movement range (pay 1 resource, gain 6 movement points to be spent traversing the map). This was done so that players could combine units and move them without head-aches. Not sure what you mean by exhausting 1 action per unit.. I dont have problems with chokepoints, the player only gets one action per turn, so only one battle-group can move at a time.

Jay103
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The idea of tile limitations

The idea of tile limitations seems like a good one. Any given tile that is not a village can only hold X people, and X could be different for different terrain types (preferably noted in small type ON the terrain tile, since it's important and immediate).

X3M
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It is good to have only one

It is good to have only one action per round.

How many pieces/groups did you have in mind?

Daggaz
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Im looking at a max of six,

Im looking at a max of six, it makes it easier to balance the game especially for the start up. Downside is it makes it harder to construct multi-unit armies which I had hoped would be an interesting thing, but playtesting shows me that battles get really tedious if you start having too many more dice than this anyhow.

I was kind of hoping to see some interesting new takes on the solution tho, hence the post. Maybe some method of controlling movement itself which keeps army size down, I dont know. I like emergent systems rather than hard rules.

But I have to admit, just setting a size limit solves SO many problems at once.

FrankM
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Commanders

You can have commander units that let you stack more than the minimum number of normal units. Maybe up to four units can self-organize. You need to add a Major unit to organize up to six units (not counting itself). A Colonel can organize up to eight units (not counting itself). A General can organize up to ten units (not counting itself).

You can make creating and upgrading these commander units a royal pain in the neck to limit their population on the board. Not sure where Majors might come from, but you can stipulate that the higher ranks can only come from commander unit upgrades.

One nice consequence of this setup is that the stack of units don't need to all be in the same hex to be "organized" together and move in sync (this only makes sense if you have some kind of adjacent-hex effects, or you let units converge from different origins and team up in battle).

X3M
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You also could simply put a

You also could simply put a limit to movement.
If your maximum per hexagon is 6. Movement and placement could be less than 6 due to terrain effects. Henceforth, you need multiple turns to get all 6 on the other side.

I did something similar in my original game, and it worked well. It also works for climbing, if you have that in your game.

***

Right now, I am (re)designing something with 36 points/hexagon with my basic infantry being worth 6 points.
There is also terrain that blocks 50% and 100%.

But why would I track like that? My reason is that units can block other units in my game. If you have some fast units, if the opponent doesn't pay attention. You could move around one of his squads and lock him in.

It is even possible to have 2 or more players in the same hexagon.

gxnpt
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limiting methods

stacking limits (number of units per hex)

maintenance cost for existing units (feed the troops)

movement limits for units and build limits per hex (each turn)

(In my Singularity games I use maintenance and movement but no stack limits or build limits - but also use written orders and simultaneous actions for movement.)

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