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Payment for a choice; Paradox

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X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013

Somehow I didn't do this right.
It never felt right.
Maybe that is why my Attribute movement didn't work well.

Thinking of either scrapping it, or solving it.

These are the 3 situations that I want to balance:

1 - A tank has 2 weapons.
Normally both weapons can fire and are added up in weight points.
But a cheaper version would have only 1 of the 2 weapons fire, not both. The choice is by the player.
The cheapest choice is added for 1/3th to the total weight.
I am sure you understand that 2 weapons with equal properties are a NOGO in this.

2 - A tank has 1 weapon, but when firing, the body properties change. Like if it has 2 bodies.
Normally the bodies are added up according to 1/3th for the cheapest.
Again, I am sure you understand that having 2 exact same bodies is a NOGO in this.
With the bodies, this is more frequent.

3 - A tank that can transform. Like if it is 2 units.
Normally both designs are equal in weight to prevent discussion.
In the game, you can transform an unit for the cost of an action point.
Of course, I am sure you understand that having 2 exact the same units is a NOGO in this.



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

So you are trying to compare the three situations to one another, in terms of balance? I have a handful of questions for you, and particularly the last question is just for you as a designer.

What's the difference between the two weapons fired by the tank in scenario 1?

Also, what's the reason transformation should/needs to take place? How much does terrain or environmental factors play in the usefulness of the transformation tactic?

Beyond numbers and calculations, what seems the most satisfying choice for players to make? What seems the most fun? Do you want to make the most-fun choice more expensive?

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Lets begin with the first

Lets begin with the first issue then. That would be 1 and 1 alone. Which immediately answers the last question.

The tank that has 2 weapons.
The player chooses during combat, the best weapon.

Other tanks have 1 weapon or shoot with both. The tank with the choice is supposed to be cheaper than the tank that shoots with both. But more expensive than the tanks that have one weapon.

It is kinda like this:
Tank A has anti infantry.
Tank B has anti armor.
Tank C has both.
Tank D has both, but uses only 1 at a time.

Tank D is the issue here. But also the fun choice. You are dealing with an opponent that has both infantry and armor. D is cheaper than C. And then relatively more effective, if the RPS is wide enought.

Units with a choice are more versatile. Harder to hunt down.


With the transformation. The best example would be a mobile artillery that becomes immobile and thus has more armor and firepower. By moving to a hard to access spot, it is easier when the cannon is not fire ready. Once transformed, you could consider the tank as a defence structure.

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

I'd suggest that if you haven't already, hold a few playtests where the only available tank units are C and D. Make your own observations, and gather feedback from the players about how things went.

If they had a good time and made interesting decisions with only those two units available, then scrap tanks A and B. Focus on maximizing the effectiveness and balance of the two units as opposed to a host of units that may or may not be utilized effectively - and could be considered tactically useless if in a real-world military force.

"Just because the choice is available doesn't mean you *should* ever make that choice." No (sensible) military would be able to justify the budget and production otherwise.

Joined: 01/27/2017
Construction rules

It may be easier to devise the rules used to construct units. This is where a lot of the goofiness of Mechwarrior came into play.

The tank unit would have a number of components:

Life support

In this hypothetical tank, you need one crew to maneuver the tank and one crew to fire each weapon. Each weapon has its fixed cost, but so does each crew member (they need a spot to sit that's climate-controlled enough not to kill them), which can ripple through the rest of the design (need a bigger engine, might spread a given amount of armor thinner, etc.).

Conceptually, the simplest way to build a choice unit is to skimp on crew (Mechwarrior did it through heat sinks). More complicated would be the mobile artillery case, but it would still come down to essential components that can only do one thing per turn (the vehicle structure can be mobile with tracks engaged or immobile with stabilizers engaged). Such a "transforming" component would be cheaper than a luxury component that can do both simultaneously (as found on a tank).

Note that mobile artillery guns are a heck of a lot bigger than tank guns, reflecting the kind of trade-offs inherent in their designs.

You don't even need to publish the construction rules if players only get to choose from a menu of unit types, and you can always tweak the costs in response to playtesting.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
@ let-off studios We did

@ let-off studios
We did experiment a bit already. Henceforth the Paradox. Because my cousin ( who else? ) thought of an unit that chooses between 2 exact the same weapons.

Tank A and B are both pure tanks. They are mathematically and game-wise the best options to choose from.
But some players rather have the so called "juggernaut" effect. The tank that has both weapons is thus C.

Then there is the faction of players that also want the "juggernaut", but cheaper. The last group, is asking me for tank D.

All 4 have their advantages in the game. It is just that D is "unfair". Because I don't see the way of "calculating" it fair. Especially when it chooses between 1 cannon or 1 bullet.

A, B and C are "perfect".
D is the issue.

Also, my cousin and that faction are always in war.
Trying to remain neutral here :D
If I succeed, my cousin will accept and bash them anyway.
But I fear that I have to scrap the choice units.



Some players design the units themselves for the fun of it.
So, this game too has strict rules to them.
It is a bit more complicated than Mechwarrior.
But the problem begins in the basics.
Simply looking at 2 different types of weapons and knowing that making weird choices will cause a problem.

So, in order to make the game balanced. I need to tweak the costs by tweaking how things are calculated.

All choice issue's where hard on me in the past. This one seems different.
I think I need to use a lot of math again to figure it out. But perhaps a simple train of thought might help me as well.

What I have learned from the experiments is that I am often in the right direction. But there are cases where the choice makes NO sense at all. And those nonsense choices make it hard to keep the sense choices existing.

When it goes wrong is when the choices themselves are unbalanced. This means that choice X costs 1 while choice Y costs 10. It is very rare or even non existent that choice X wins the day.

When it goes "right" is when the choices cost exactly the same. This means that choice X and Y both cost 10.
But even then, we need to be careful.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
My cousin is helping too

Which means in summary:
That we made a leap in progress.
But to prevent TLDR. I summarize where we are at.

The choice of weapon is depending on if there is a choice at all.

If a player switches from one weapon to the other; the advantage should be shown.
If in either direction, no advantage is shown; there is no choice.

If both directions show an advantage over the other weapon; this advantage needs to be put into weight.

Smaller advantages will give smaller weights.
No advantage will give no weight.


Some math

I don't know yet how to tell the exact difference. But the first basics are here.

These weapons are equal in worth:
6 * tier 1 (machine gun)
3 * tier 2 (mortar)
2 * tier 3 (dual lesser cannon)
1 * tier 6 (cannon)

1 * tier 1 (rifle)
1 * tier 2 (grenade)
1 * tier 3 (lesser cannon)

Something tells me that I need to look at the differences of both factors.
Going from projectiles to the exact same amount of projectiles is a NOGO.
Going form tier to the exact same tier is a NOGO.

square root([difference in projectiles] * [difference in tier])
compared to
square root([max in projectiles] * [max in tier])

The result for machine gun and cannon would be:
square root(5 * tier 5) = 5
square root(6 * tier 6) = 6
The advantage is 5/6 in both directions.
5/6th is added to the total costs.
Or half of this, but I need to work now. More of this later.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Statistics not to be touched?

While I am still debating on how to determine the weight of choices.

There are statistics that I surely should not touch.

Please consider the following choice:

6 bullets with an accuracy of 1/6th.
1 bullet with an accuracy of 6/6th.

There is no difference in cost for these.
Nor is there a difference in RPS this time.
Only the number of bullets * accuracy.

In the past I considered the use of all those multi-shot weapons with different accuracies. And it was depending on the opponents health and behaviour.

Also, a multi-shot with low accuracy had a chance on doing a lot of damage by accident. So these where all good for an 'all or nothing' moment. Of course, a hit-n-run was also in the options for these units.

It is almost as if I should put a penalty on those designs, by players that are not able to choose what their unit will be doing exactly.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
I better put it to a stop

let-off studios wrote:
"Just because the choice is available doesn't mean you *should* ever make that choice." No (sensible) military would be able to justify the budget and production otherwise.

RPS wise, it would be (slightly) cheaper to have the choice than the actually multi firing unit.

But the post before this one shows other options that are nonsense as well. Accuracy versus "rate of fire". Henceforth your quote for reasoning.

When I think about it, the double weapon unit is already an answer to those who can't make the choice and want simpler tactics.

I better stop with searching for an answer this time.


I wonder what I should tell those 2 that wanted this in the game?

Joined: 12/18/2018
Did you consider to balance

Did you consider to balance Tank D with other restrictions? You could rule that this Tank must choose which kind of ammunition (anti–tank or anti–inf) it reloads, so that you have to think about what each Tank shall do in the next round. Or you could make this Tank a tank–hunter which can only Fire in an 90 degree angle to its front.

Perhaps these options are helpful.

Kind regards

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Ammunition hmmm... loading, please wait...

Does make sense here.

Lot's of bullets with low accuracy would cost lots of ammunition.
Using a different weapon would also cost different ammunition. Balance would require half ammunition for each weapon with 2 weapons.

Alas, there is no ammunition in this game.


But you did give me an idea regarding the use of Action Points.

Old mechanic
It costs an Action Point to transform.
Units that can transform will change at least 2 statistics. Or are simply double.
Players already had 2 USC slots when they used an unit that could transform. So transforming into an equal unit would simply mean using 2 USC slots.
Units that can transform will have 2 times the exact same costs.

Expanding on Action Points, new mechanic
So why not an extra Action Point to use a secondary weapon? This weapon could be only 50% of the costs. But added to the primary weapon.
So, a multi weapon tank for less money.
A third weapon could cost 33%. A fourth 25% etc.
The starting/average AP per player per round is 7.

I think I should allow transform to be used simultaneously with another action. Best to use it as an addition action.

Fun Facts!!!!

1 - Tanks with 2 or 3 barrels of the same kind can be cheaper as well.
Simply in the difference of either being allowed to shoot with all. Or only 1 or 2.

2 - Taking risks.
Having this super orbital laser being used for 4 action points for 4 times the damage. Yet the target might not be killed. With 5 times it could have. It would be a waste of Action Points by a bad decision.
Also, other units/structures could make use of this, like a barrage from MRLS.

3 - There are now 2 variations of Tank D.
Tank Da that uses the cannon as main weapon.
Tank Db that uses the machine gun as main weapon.

4 - Super weapons with higher "cool down".
Have now a more valid way of existing.

5 - A Sam Site can now cover in high armor. And by transforming and "barrage" can it decide to take down air.


Thank you, you have driven me in a great direction.
Not only do I prevent imbalance in other area's.
I even had a great idea for another old problem.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Checking my current design

Action Points for transformations
Example, siege tank into siege mode.
I tweaked the rules a bit. Are these clear?

- 0 or 1 AP; Transform
o Any unit or structure that can switch between 2 or more forms, may do so.
o If the transformation is permanent, it costs no AP. And the player is forced to do something else in the same time with another squad.
o Players check if the transformation is allowed in either case.
o The transformation is done after all the reactions are completed or awaiting.
o The transformed unit or structure may immediately do another action after the transformation. The AP for transformation is added to the other action.

The secondary and tertiary players may also transform. But as you can see, I added the word awaiting. Because if 2 players use transform at the same time. They need to go back and forth.

Expanding on Action Points
They are rarer to begin with.
I am not going to mention any of this in the AP list. Because it would be confusing.
These type of units will only be explained in their USC.

Not clear on balance just yet?
This occurred:
Tank A has as primary weapon 300 and secondary 200.
Tank B has as primary weapon 200 and secondary 300.
The costs are 400 versus 350.
Tank B will be preferred if the player is constantly going to use those 2 AP.
Fun fact 3 is apparently a problem?
Maybe... I need to test this.
Besides of being cheaper, tank B will be weaker in general.
So, I don't know how the others think about this one.
What do you think?

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