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Re-adressing left-overs in balance

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X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013

This one keeps bugging me, even today.

For balance, I keep strict rules in designing.
One of the rules is that a set of units, with a given armor and damage type, will have a total worth of 36 points.
In other games, it might be 48 or even 60 points. It depends on the chaos that we like to have.

In case of 36 points. We can have 1 unit of 36 points.
Or 2 units of each 18 points. Or 3 units of each 12 points etc.

This means that a design of units that are each 7 points, will only yield a total of 35 points.
This 1 left-over is a small thorn.

A big imbalance example would be 8 points per unit. The total a player may use is then only 4x8 is 32. This player is missing out 4 points.
I guess, that mathematically speaking, this unit is 25% to weak in squad vs squad combat.

When switching from 36 to 48 or 60 points. An unit with 9 points will have trouble at other game types. I got a lot of 9 point units.


Solutions so far:
- The set of units, has a weaker or stronger version in them.
Sometimes, it is very hard to get this done correctly. And that is the biggest problem. This, this is the best solution so far.

- All the left-overs are used for those multitask units that have multiple types of damage. But... other game mechanics get in the way. This was the worst solution.

- The set of units can gain extra XP after completing the set. Now, "building" one of those units will actually be a free XP gain for the rest of them. No AP is needed for training on walls. And the XP spending can be done in the field. The catch however is that these XP have to be spend on the same unit.
Another down side to this is that other "balanced" units should benefit from the same. But this means that you could go for any type of unit. And train them like mad.
Which in its turn would actually nullify the "extra" effect that unbalanced units could benefit from.
And believe me, this solution looks good at first, but is a let down.


So, to cut the question short. What else could I do?

Joined: 08/30/2018
An idea inspired by Blood

An idea inspired by Blood Bowl's inducements is that leftover points could be used to purchase some sort of in game effect. So I'm not sure what your game involves, but for BB there are re-rolls you can purchase or allow you can do a foul without the risk of the referee kicking the player that performed the foul out of the game. There's also other players you can purchase in BB.

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
One-Shots, Customization

Never played Blood Bowl but I like the idea. It could provide one-and-done perks or bonuses for certain types of units, or maybe a 7-point unit could be upgraded with armour-piercing rounds or a sniper scope or a flash suppressor, something like that. A one-use health kit could be carried by a typical unit as opposed to exclusively field medics. Players can customize basic units to suit their own play style or strategy.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Thank you for your input.

It is a new idea. But how do I implement it?
When having my 5 tanks worth 7 each. 1 point remains of that squad which is left out. If I "build" the next tank of that squad, it will result in buying points like action points for that type of unit?
I didn't think of that yet. But it will be difficult to make it fair. Just like having XP spend on them. 1 point remains, so 1 point is saved up on the card of that unit type. When enough points are bought. The unit type can perform an extra action?

@let-off studios
I mentioned your suggestion, having as best solution the alternative units. Are you trying to say that there is no better solution?
Or are you trying to say that the last purchased unit of a type will not be that unit. But something that will make the overall squad better? Which would be XP or AP.


I think that I need to look at the problem in a different light.

A player spends up to 36 points on normal squads.
There are points left when a squad can only reach 35, 34, 33 etc. due to unit design.
The unspent points can also be spend on other units.
The smaller squad however has the "right to" get those last points invested to be completed.
The worse the design, the more points are missing. The better the alternative will be.

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

You mentioned yourself that you're trying to avoid the "chaos" of higher-point units by placing a ceiling of 36 points, based on your own rules. However, you're also complaining that there are points leftover (this is just an observation, not a critique). I mean, the only critique I'd offer to you personally is why create a system that eventually leads to "leftover points" and personal frustration for you? You're the designer, after all. Fortunately, there are a few ways to make changes.

A few options that come to mind would be:
- reduce your point allotment to 28.
- re-work your balancing system with a different point structure so there's less a chance of leftover points
- re-work your balancing system so the players are limited by number of units, not N units based on the number of points you can allot to them
- as mentioned previously, allow for one-use items and upgrades that aren't usable on their own but add effectiveness to a single unit or situation

I wouldn't recommend reducing the point values. That doesn't seem much fun for the player in terms of squad customization.

The second and third options I listed mean more work for you, and might likely cut back on options for the player.

The final option on that list seems to strike a balance between more-but-not-as-much work for you and added fun/customization for the player. That's why I'd support it.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
I guess you didn't understand

I guess you didn't understand the situation.

Units in my game can cost 1, 2, 3 etc. Points.

To keep the game balanced, a maximum per unit on the board is 36 per type. Meaning:

36 x 1 = 36
18 x 2 = 36
12 × 3 = 36
9 × 4 = 36
6 × 6 = 36 etc.

These are balanced. However, I am stuck to these points. Which supports your second option.
Having like units of 5 and 7 points each will lead to leftover points. Which shows a weakness in the long run if nothing supports them. But these designs are still on the wish list of some players.

One thing that you mentioned is having players a total points for all units combined. That too is used to a certain limit.

I still rather go with option 4 since it is recurring. More work from me. But if there is no new idea. Then I have to accept it.

That AP idea is a good one to work on. And I rework on the XP too. It worked to an extend. Maybe I can fine tune it. Like 3x XP for the difference. Previously 1x XP since that was a destruction rate.

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Big Picture

X3M wrote:
Having like units of 5 and 7 points each will lead to leftover points. Which shows a weakness in the long run if nothing supports them. But these designs are still on the wish list of some players.
I didn't understand that you had 1-, 2-, and 3-point units. My apologies in that regard. This does solve your problem I think, since by default a player can round out their 36 points with these filler units.

However a 1-point unit sound pretty useless, particularly in the face of a potential squad of 4 units, 9x their strength. Is it necessary to include them? Would a player actually deliberately choose one or more 1-point units (or even 2-pointers), knowing they're woefully ineffective against the more-likely chosen, stronger units? Or is this game more of a mad-dash for command points/locations, in which case Zerg-rushing is a potential strategy?

Based on what you describe, there's still a possibility of a finicky player having leftover points, even if you make all unit point values divisible evenly into 36. By including the perks, this would allow a player maximum customization, and practically eliminate the possibility of leftovers unless a player wants to give themselves a kind of handicap.

Here's a potential squad, based solely on points (since that's all I know about them):
1 x 18pts
1 x 9pts
1 x 6pts
3 points remaining

Make a hi-explosive grenade one of the perks (at 1 or 2 points each, I guess) and it adds an edge versus a larger mob of 4- and 6-point units. With one point more, I can add in larger magazines or armour-piercing ammo. This trio still has a snowball's chance of surviving. :)

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Yes. You are starting to

Yes. You are starting to understand the game set up.

Kekekeke zerg rush is certainly in there.

This is what an starting example army looks like:
36 x 1 light infantry.
12 x 3 bazooka men.
6 x 6 light tanks.
9 x 4 humm-vee.

Players build this in the start of first couple of rounds. Later on the units kinda attack in mixes or as pure one type.

Certain designs don't fit the 36 point value. Which could replace one of the 4 mentioned above.
However, 5x7 7x5 and then 2x19 has been used before, as example.
Since the room on one field is 36 as well. A mix for holding back opponents is often used. And for targeting certain opponents. A pure squad is used.

Tgose pure squads require pure designs. And balance following means that designs are like the 5x7 etc.

As another effort. There are these general units that have very default stats. And these could be used as filler by players as well.
Meaning that a 5x7 squad will allow for 37x1 liggt infantry. Even though this one infantry would only fit in the 5x7 squad.

This one infantry is not the same type. Nor would it have the speed etc that would fit the pure buisness.

What happened was that 5x6 +6 was created. And this 6 had better chances fitting in.

Eventually stuff like 3x8 +12 happened. Which made a ridiculous odd version of the 8 unit. Chances are then high that a proper design to fit the pure squad is impossible to keep things fair and square.


Infantry has the upper hand thus last year due to game rules.
But a player giving itself a handicap is something that only happens when I play. I know the game well enough to know that certain units will have their use.

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

So all units in a single squad are of the exact same type.

It took me so long to understand that... My apologies. You must have been terribly frustrated. :)

Sorry if I've not been helpful, and/or my suggestions haven't been useful.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Don't worry about it. The

Don't worry about it. The game is (too) complex to understand right of the bat.

A squad can be pure or a mix. As long as you don't have more the 36 points of one type and don't have more then 36 points per squad.

I don't care if a squad can't reach 36. But players do care if one type of units can't reach 36.

That would be the gist of it.


I will work with XP once more. Options are:
-Cheaper XP gain for that type of unit at the XP centres. An unit specific. Only once per round and it costs the remaining money or points.
-XP specific gained in the same way. But spend on an extra action for a squad of these units. Meaning they need a clear goal. I am thinking of having them pay extra cheap for 1 AP. An almost full squad will be able to do an extra AP for the cost of 1/3th or so in XP. I don't know yet.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
AP might be a brilliant idea.

I did a lot of testing and thinking. Here is the conclusion. (or else tldr)

Unit Statistic Cards that are insufficient to squad size will gain strategy points.

These strategy points are always given to this card, even if no unit is present in the game. This happens during the income phase.

The amount of strategy points per round depends on the maximum squad size and the squad size that this unit can gain.
If the max size is 36, 48 or 60. And the units cost 5 each. Then we have 1, 3 and 0 as points gained each round.

Strategy points can be spend on extra AP or XP. Only for that unit type.
Extra AP follows the other AP rules. Each point will allow 1 point of unit material to do 1 extra action that round. Meaning that you need5 points to have one unit of 5 do an extra action.

It sounds weird to faster gain, but I tested on balance. In the long run, the bigger difference is still at an disadvantage. But individual units can do a lot more now. There for strategy points.


Regarding XP. This had proven to be 3 times as fast then normal XP gain. And it seemed a bit too cheap too.
To battle this. Strategy points can be spend together with the same amount of resources. So that XP can be gained.


A 24 point tank in a 36 point game will gain enough strategy points to be 50% more effective in damage or movement. However, the durability is only 2/3th. Easy target.
And XP gain costs just as much resources as any other unit would gain. The difference is that this will go faster. Seeing as how placing new material and then spending AP on destroying it takes more time.

Burning up your resources on one particular type of units isn't that smart. But might prove useful and fun in end battle's. Also, seeing as how XP can be used for healing. Getting these strategy points might be very useful indeed.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013

Thank you guys!

I tested the new idea.
By math.
By rules.
By playing.

It all worked out. And we love it!

The freedom that I got feels like having been walking against a wall for years. Walking around felt troublesome. But now the wall is gone. It is an open spot. I can freely hop around now.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013

My original game is a satisfaction.

But another super simplified game (SSG) that suffered from the same decease. Might relive now.

There is only one tiny problem.
Maybe someone has an idea for this.


The super simplified game (SSG) makes use of the statistics being printed on the pieces themselves.

Regarding these new strategy points. They are linked to the Costs of pieces in the SSG, that are displayed on the pieces. But we need to keep track of the strategy points in order to make use of them.

In my original game, we have unit statistic cards (USC). On these, the strategy points are being kept track of. We noticed how we now have 3 to 6 USC per player on the table.
The tracking still needs work though. Right now, we have our mini white board serve this purpose. They where being used as miniature cheque's anyway.

I need something better for a game that DOESN'T make use of USC.

Perhaps an extra piece of that unit, with a whiteboard anyway? But I rather not. What I like to see is that players don't need to write things down.
Also, refraining of using dice or so to keep track would be a preference.

The costs that I am talking about are 4 to 12 or so? So we certainly will go above 12 points. I think to cap this at 24 or 25? Seeing as how I only allow 24 or 25 as a maximum per squad.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
I have discovered that the

I have discovered that the games are balanced when I pretend to have eg. 40 points. While the maximum squad is 36. 4 is the minimum strategy points in this example. This works well for the original game.


The simplyfied version allows every unit to perform 1 action. Move or shoot. The points here should allow for a maximum of 2 per round.


The important difference is that the original game allows for saving up the points. And perform more actions on the same squad to infinity. The default limit is 7 per round.

I think that having just a bit more strategy points would work well for both games. And would be more fair. But how much?

Something for me to ponder on.
The biggest problem is tracking of these points.

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