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Real Time Strategy games are different than (board) War games

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X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013



My personal experience is that a lot of factors can be copied and pasted from one to another platform.
(The board game will obviously take a lot more time when a resolution has to be determined.)

However, there are some factors that are completely different.

For example: vision mechanics.

Where I used an accuracy for a weapon damage (easy to calculate the weight).
In a RTS, vision (in combination with FoW) works completely different.

Has anyone of you lot, ever thought about this issue?
Not with vision, but other mechanics?
What about other games??

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
FoW difficult to emulate in ANY TableTop game

The real issue to remember is that "Fog of War" (FoW) is impossible to emulate in a TableTop game. In certain games that employ a Tablet PC or a Mobile Phone ... FoW IS possible because of the hidden nature of the device... I can properly HIDE enemies until they are within range or one of the player's own units.

But otherwise I don't SEE HOW you can implement FoW in a TableTop game. RTS or Turn-based, whatever... It's not possible!

If you have ideas to point me in the right direction... I would be very curious to know HOW you or anyone you know can IMPLEMENT "FoW" in a Board Game.

Not calling you out or anything. I don't see a method to implement it!


Note #1: BTW I am talking about TRUE FoW... Not some hack where you use common pieces on the board which discloses the LOCATION of the enemy but keeps the TYPE of enemy (his exact nature) hidden... That's a pure HACK and NOT a true FoW...!

Note #2: I am tempted to say that it's NOT possible for all TableTop games. Even with Tablet PCs and Mobile devices... It would be VERY complicated for sure. And that would be like 5% of the game that would take too much effort to put in place such that the importance of said feature (FoW) would require too much effort for the value that it adds to a TableTop experience.

But IDK, maybe there is some genius at work that has found a HACK how to do it relatively simple... Far be it me to decide that it's impossible...

Juzek's picture
Joined: 06/19/2017
I know of a designer friend

I know of a designer friend who has kind of a RTS version of checkers.

all the pieces are also sand timers, and uses the sand as a cool-down between when you can move them.

Not sure how it would play, or how expensive it would get, but it sure sounds cool!

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

There are things that computers can and cannot do, just like things tabletop games can and cannot do. Fog of War is definitely a hot topic in this area. A couple things to muddy the waters here.

  • Stratego: this is likely the closest "hack" that could come up against what questcc mentions in terms of tabletop FoW.
  • There are some games that hide planned movements from other players, and they are done simultaneously. Placement of soldiers ahead of time without an opponent knowing what it was had been done in BattleMasters back in the late '90s, for example. Players would put face-down tokens on the board, only flipping them face-up after both players were done. This way, placement of troops could not be influenced by what you saw your opponent doing during game setup.
  • There are a number of hidden-order games out there. The ones that come to mind that are currently on my shelf would be Screaming Eagles (a "Top Gun" fighter jet dogfight game) and the older Field Command, where players would write down their orders for a subset of their troops and reveal - and resolve - the movements simultaneously, and resolve conflicts in a RPS-style matchup whenever needed.
  • Joe Dever, author of the famous "Lone Wolf" gamebook series, experimented with a lot of head-to-head gamebooks for two players. One of the series I recall was "Black Baron vs. White Warlord." It was a dungeon maze duel game. You could play each game solo, but it was pretty magical to play head-to-head against someone, and you would call out page numbers to determine if your opponent was within your "line of sight." The pair of books was kind of a one-trick pony (the maze was the same every time you played, of course), but the mechanic was novel at the time.

  • TSR also released several gamebook pairs with science fiction, fantasy, and even comic book characters. I had all the books with the exception of the superhero line, myself.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
I'll eat my words... (LOL)

Indeed Stratego is the "best" implementation of Fog of War (FoW)! But it's as you have said a bit of a "hack". Because your oppositions position is KNOWN at ALL TIMES. The only thing is that you don't know each piece until you come in DIRECT contact with it.

And TBH I think TRUE FoW has got to do with NOT knowing where and when your enemy is coming from. Not only not knowing his unit type.

So indeed Stratego is the BEST "Hack" at FoW.

I guess to this we should ADD "Battleships"??? I mean, you don't ever know the location of the ships, just calling out positions and trying to get a detonation. You don't necessarily need to even know the "type" of ship that you've sunk. Like if it's the Gun Boat with 2 positions to attack, position #1 and #2 could be hits and then a TRY for position #3 results in a failure, the player can try before position #1 and see if it's a miss too... And then in that case only then do you know you've sunk the smallest ship (Gun Boat).

However some interesting game choices @Let-Off Studios...

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
One solution I had for a game

One solution I had for a game of mine in matter of fog of war was use a scouting mechanism.

Each unit must be scouted by another unit before beign attacked. So you know what you are fighting against, but you still need scouting units to detect the ennemy before attacking them. Else you are waisting combat units to scout ahead.

Another idea was to use face down units or columbia block style of units. You know where the ennemy is, but you don't know what kind of units is in that location.

Fog of war is problematic for video game too. In Dai Senryaku 7, they used full fog of war. That means that you had to first chose your destination movement. Then while moving the unit, it will check or ennemy zone of control. If it hit a ZOC, it will stop there and get an ambush attack from the encountered unit. So it becomes very complex to implement, and the path to reach the destination is even more important.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011

I don't know how they implemented in the Video Game you gave as an example, but an EASY solution to this is ONCE you "detect" an Enemy, your unit STOPS moving... And then the player can decide now what to do: 1> Does he engage the unit by advancing deeper into enemy territory 2> Does he retreat knowing that that could be the start of even stronger enemies at that location.

The idea being that once you know where there is an enemy, there may be MORE of them than just the first one YOU detected.

The idea with the Scout ... I believe is that your Scout unit has longer range such that Detection is EASIER and QUICKER, effectively detecting the enemy before he/she detect you. So Scout units can be more EFFECTIVE than say one of your Tanks (lower range) or Ground Troops (even less range).

I don't think there should be "ambushing" unless a unit continues to move forwards INTO enemy territory. Then it's a bit of a "free-for-all" and yes in this case, you could run into more enemies just waiting deeper into their territory and of course "simulating" an AMBUSH.

However in my own version where you STOP once you detect an enemy... This should lower the odds of an ambush IF you DON'T proceed forwards and not take the bait for the "lonesome" unit that you detected.

Also Scouts could use their RANGE of detection to go beyond just that one enemy who seems defenseless.

I wanted to mention BAITING in Starcraft... Basically what you do is go INTO range for one unit... and then move back. This usually alerts your units and forces them to move FORWARDS putting them AT RISK of heavier or more specialized forms of attacks. This is the example of the Protoss High Templar. With Psyonic Storm, they can virtually decimate an entire army of troop and vehicles. But they are slow ...

Using their ability in a CLICK-N-BAIT strategy works very well too... Or using the Terran Tanks in Siege Mode gives them more RANGE and can affect units that may beyond the limit of normal Troops (for example).

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
FoW then

I can't recall the name of the game.
But I have seen a card game that uses FoW as following:

Players would have several decks for base construction and units.
There is a wall between the players. But the decks are visible to each player.

First they picked a number of cards from the base construction.
A couple of cards would be placed behind the wall.
Then a number of cards for units.
Again they would be placed behind the wall.

The remaining cards. IDK what would happen to them (discard or hold in hand).
But both players played at the same time.

Once done. The wall would be removed (a timer perhaps?)
And any resolution would take place.

Players also took notice of resource managment, if it changed.
The wall is placed back. And the players would pick cards again. According to resource managment.

Either way, the cards where so diverse. That choice could be made. Eventually a player would win by defeating the other player.

That is the best FoW that I have seen regarding RTS games in tabletop mode. That besides of Stratego.


I just thought of a battleships variant for soldiers and tanks. Where a hit might mean health loss and a new position for that piece if it still has health. Of course, only a limited movement on that piece.
The damage done is maximu, as long as the right weapon still exists for the right target.
If all anti tank projectiles are gone, then the tanks on the enemies side will take less damage :)
I can flesh that one out.


I wonder about the weight of vision in RTS in video games. Because on tabletop it was actually relatively easy.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
In board games, you need to

In board games, you need to make compromise for the fog of war according to the focus of your game. What is really important that should stay hidden to give the experience you are looking for.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
The video game version

Seeing as how body and weapon added up together create a good balance.

Vision is a new factor in this.
I already deducted that vision and the weapon have nothing to do with each other.

This because of several reasons:
- This is regarding something else than accuracy.
- Anything without a weapon has vision as well.
- Vision is shared. So it has no use to link it to a weapon.
- As long as an object is alive, it supplies with vision. Which places vision in a category that looks like a weapon. But is actually linked to the health.
- Vision acts like a weapon when the object can move around. In this regard, the weight of vision will not be increased when the movement speed is increased. After all, the movement speed will also increase the health.


After long debating. My first guess would be that vision will stand alongside movement.

This means that a movement of 0, will still have that default factor. Which will also act as default vision.
Increased movement speed increases the factor. So will increased vision be.
In other words. A tower with a lot of vision, will be just as weak as an unit that has a lot of movement speed.

There is one catch now. And that would be that longer ranged units. Need more vision. Either they get help. Or they get better vision themselves. Rendering them weaker in health as well.
This is the only way that long range will affect the body. But it is only by choice...

And thus, this is also appliable to board games now. With assuming "good" balance. Simply check if anything can actually see the target. While putting long range in place.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
The board game

Will not have fog of war. But the pieces will now have a check on vision and/or range. Before firing on the target.
On a side note. I could apply the rule that having an target behind objects. Or being on higher ground. Would mean that it cannot be targeted. (unless it attacks you first).

Here is the prototype formula regarding vision now:

Body weight = health * (default + speed + extra_vision)

Where the default is depending on the health/damage ratio. In my board game, this has been 3 for ages.

Body = H(3+S+Vx)/5

There is a problem with this formula though.
We could assume that an object has no vision at all.
Meaning we would be allowed to put -3 in Vx...

I guess we have to separate Vx from S. And simply apply V.

Body = H(3+S)(3+V)/25

This way the default vision is 2 now.
Blind buildings will be cheaper now...

They used to be 60%, but now it is only 36%. Making them very durable.
The cheapest wall just went from 6 to 3.6 in costs, lol. But I will not do that. The size is 3.6 as well in that case.

I didn't know it was possible to do something like this. I can only hope to one day do a little hobby gathering again.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Battleship adjusted

I have been thinking about an alternative battleship.

One where you actually fight with ground units instead.

But this time, RPS is possible.
So, it can be fairly easy to design this game.
Each player will have 9 different units on the map.
3 infantry, 3 vehicles, 3 tanks. And obviously the 3 different weapons as well.

Infantry are 1x1, vehicles 2x2 and tanks 3x3.
The chances in finding an unit is obviously a factor of 1, 4 and 9.

These will be health multipliers.

Now to get RPS kicking in.
Anti infantry do 3-1-1 as damage.
Anti vehicle do 1-3-1 as damage.
Anti tank do 1-1-3 as damage.

The coresponding health will be:
Infantry 15
Vehicles 60
Tanks 135

The total damage that a player will do at the start is 15. Obviously the infantry will instantly die. But bigger targets simply need multiple rounds.

Loose one weapon. And an infantry target immediately will need 2 rounds (+100%).
Loose an anti tank weapon. And a tank will not need 9 rounds. But 11 rounds instead.

Is improvement possible on this idea?
Is it a bit too complex?
While there is RPS...the players can't really work with this. Unless you agree to place different army compositions.
For example, 9 tanks instead.
But the problem that I see here is that players will do a perfect mix of weapons. So 3 of each, every time.
Maybe an announcement of new placed units?? Saying which type is added. Players would be placing new units on the map. Everytime another one died. Or... Every X rounds.
Units cannot be placed on locations that are already hit. This way, it will end with infantry. And perhaps players will be using anti infantry weapons at the end. Just to keep that advantage over the other.

Tim Edwards
Joined: 07/30/2015
Wow! That's a fascinating

Wow! That's a fascinating idea!

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
I'm just picturing the units and there is a bit of "at-odds"

Like Each Soldier (Infantry) could be a "1", you have three (3) Infantry on the "board". They are placed TOGETHER like a "V". They occupy 3 spaces on the "board".

Next you could have three Jeeps (light duty) with a Machine Gun. These are "3" long (like a line).

Lastly you have three Tanks (heavy duty) with a Exploding shells. These are six "6" (2 x 3, or 3 x 2) (like a rectangle).

Now for the RPS-3:


When you declare an ATTACK, there are TWO (2) components:

1. The UNIT ATTACKING (example: Commandos Attacking)

2. The POSITION of the attack (what is the target location: B-12).

Because of the RPS, all you NEED to do to WIN is TOTALLY ANNIHILATE one of the three (3) categories!

It's a bit SIMPLER (than your concept)... But offers more challenge (than Battleship)...

What do you think @X3M??? Does this sound INTERESTING!!!

Note #1: I call MY VERSION "Desert Strike Commandos"! It's hard to see out there in the stormy desert...

Note #2: There is a key "strategy" in that because the TANKS are the biggest, destroying those would be the simplest solution to win the game. 6 x 3 = 18 positive HITS. Jeeps require 3 x 3 = 9 positive HITS. And lastly Soldiers only require 3 positive HITS!

Maybe if there was some kind of signaling mechanic when you shoot with the wrong unit (IDK - I can't think of anything thematic ATM).

Note #3: Getting with the THEME... When your opponent is successful in an attack, you say "STRIKE" (ergo. Desert STRIKE Commandos).

I'm still not happy with the "Hit-but-the-wrong unit" syndrome... I think the challenge would be to FIGURE OUT where the "Commandos" are in the Desert! Haha.

Note #4: The coverage is 18 total for TANKS, 9 total for JEEPS and 3 total for SOLDIERS. That's 30 positions for all units. Now if we want to make this 13 x 13 = 169 positions, 30 / 169 = 18% coverage. 82% un-chartered positions!

Traditional BATTLESHIP has 17 positions and 10 x 10 board. To accommodate for the same coverage (with 30 positions), we would require a 12 x 12 board (total of 144 positions). So a bit bigger ... but smaller than some on-line versions of the game!

30 / 144 = 20% covered and 80% un-chartered... Maybe this is BETTER!

Note #5: I'm positive watching those Dune 2 videos is what made me come to that design! Desert, Freemen, Tanks ... Perfect Storm! Hehehe.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Simpler can be better

questccg wrote:
Like Each Soldier (Infantry) could be a "1", you have three (3) Infantry on the "board". They are placed TOGETHER like a "V". They occupy 3 spaces on the "board".

Next you could have three Jeeps (light duty) with a Machine Gun. These are "3" long (like a line).

Lastly you have three Tanks (heavy duty) with a Exploding shells. These are six "6" (2 x 3, or 3 x 2) (like a rectangle).

I have been thinking about different shapes as well.
If I have the health being equal to each position being hit. That would be interesting.
In order to have another RPS effect. How about having a hit cause the right choice of weapon to being able to fire again.
In a sense, if you hit a vehicle with a cannon. The right weapon has not be chosen. But a declaration of a dead infantry is also not cast. This means that a vehicle has been shot. The weapon may not fire again. But the next round, the player might use an anti vehicle weapon in order to search for the remains of that vehicle. In case of a 2x2. One of the corners is hit. Then there is a 50% chance to find another corner.
Tanks will be easier to be found this way, especially in case of a 3x3 occupation.
This way, there is some strategy in finding the right weapon and targets position.
1x1, 1x2, 1x3, 2x2, 2x3 and 3x3 are all possible sizes. Obviously, we can go higher. But I don't like "line" units with a ratio of bigger than 2:1 tbh.

questccg wrote:
Now for the RPS-3:


When you declare an ATTACK, there are TWO (2) components:

1. The UNIT ATTACKING (example: Commandos Attacking)

2. The POSITION of the attack (what is the target location: B-12).

Because of the RPS, all you NEED to do to WIN is TOTALLY ANNIHILATE one of the three (3) categories!

It's a bit SIMPLER (than your concept)... But offers more challenge (than Battleship)...

What do you think @X3M??? Does this sound INTERESTING!!!

It sure sounds interesting.
But what about that one vehicle that can easily defeat a tank? (I love those vehicles so much!)
On the other hand. If one of the 3 categories is gone. The game ends. I don't know if players like the game to end at roughly 2/3th remaining forces.

questccg wrote:
Note #1: I call MY VERSION "Desert Strike Commandos"! It's hard to see out there in the stormy desert...
Well, if there is a sandstorm that is. Another factor would be the hills the desert has to offer. :)

Note #2: There

questccg wrote:
is a key "strategy" in that because the TANKS are the biggest, destroying those would be the simplest solution to win the game. 6 x 3 = 18 positive HITS. Jeeps require 3 x 3 = 9 positive HITS. And lastly Soldiers only require 3 positive HITS!
I was troubled with tanks being easier to be destroyed as well. Henceforth I offerd more health to them at first.
But perhaps there are better solutions.

questccg wrote:
Maybe if there was some kind of signaling mechanic when you shoot with the wrong unit (IDK - I can't think of anything thematic ATM).

questccg wrote:
Note #4: The coverage is 18 total for TANKS, 9 total for JEEPS and 3 total for SOLDIERS. That's 30 positions for all units. Now if we want to make this 13 x 13 = 169 positions, 30 / 169 = 18% coverage. 82% un-chartered positions!

Traditional BATTLESHIP has 17 positions and 10 x 10 board. To accommodate for the same coverage (with 30 positions), we would require a 12 x 12 board (total of 144 positions). So a bit bigger ... but smaller than some on-line versions of the game!

I have seen games where you could fire multiple times. There is a game on the gameboy. Where you could fire 2 or 3 missiles. If certain ships where still alive. Although, these weapons where limited. Maybe something like that?

questccg wrote:
Note #5: I'm positive watching those Dune 2 videos is what made me come to that design! Desert, Freemen, Tanks ... Perfect Storm! Hehehe.
You are watching? Leave a comment if you saw something to your liking :)

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Multiple projectiles.

Looking back at how the gameboy version worked.

If a certain ship (unit) was still alive. You could use its special ability.

In case of the designs.
Each unit could do a special patron of firing projectiles if it is still alive.

Of course, this will be depleted after an usage of one. Maybe 2 or 3 times for other units.

A rifleman might be able to shoot in 2 completely different locations.
A grenadier might be able to shoot in a 2x2 grid (effective against 2x2 designs)
A rocket soldier might be able to shoot in a 3x3 grid. Or a star like formation with only 5 places to hit.

The other units can have something like this as well.
But if the unit is dead while the ability is not used yet. This ability is lost anyway.

Vehicles and tanks could get multiple charges.

What you get is a "hit". But a mention of what is hit, isn't nessesary. Only if something dies. It will be mentioned what died at that moment.
Meaning that if a hit is a hit, but not a dead target. A bigger target is in that place. And a special ability can be used now.

The ability of the riflemen sounds like the most useless one at first. But if you know, you need only 2 locations are left. The rifleman ability will be a cheap solution.


The submarine had the ability to see in a 2x2 grid. And later on a star like grid. But nothing would be destroyed.
We can have scouts for that. A scout would be able to see a XxX grid. But this place still has to be shot. If anything is there.

I think that the balance is completely different. Seeing as how RPS is now based on natural sizes of abilities instead of a mechanical RPS.
This reminds me of the projectiles of Unreal. Where certain weapons simply where more effective in the way how the projectiles moved. In contrary to other weapons against certain targets.
Still, in a sense, all weapons did the same amount of damage.


Certain units could have 2 abilities.
The Pitbull of C&C3 has 2 rockets and a mortar.
I could have a similar 2x2 design. Where the abilities are a rocket fire that has a 2x2 grid. And a mortar fire that has a star/cross like grid of 5.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Allowing players to select their own army?

I have been thinking about different designs.

But the fact that bigger sizes mean different chances on being found. And also a different health bar.

This makes things very complicated in the background of the design.

A 10x10 piece is certainly not equal to a 1x1 piece.

The chance in finding a 1x1 piece growns larger each round.
The average survivability of such a piece is certainly less than that of a 10x10 piece. So, a player could have 2, or 3 or even more of then.

Then again, if you have 100 of them, the chances don't matter anymore.

So, I need to calculate and then limit the player in its options.

The sizes can only be: 1x1, 1x2, 1x3, 2x2, 2x3 and 3x3. Any other size would spell trouble in the bigger picture. And having a battlegrid of less than 2^2 times the biggest piece size, will also spell imbalance.

The weight balance on the pieces compared to the grid size depend on the flow of the game. The playfield does shrink in size. And if the size shrinks to a situation where one of the players has the "health" equal to the remaining locations. Then the game is unbalanced in this regard.

I am naming this problem. Because a good designer will consider players, that abuse the design rules as well.

The fact that a 3x3 piece is found 3 times as fast, has not yet taken into consideration here.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Back to topic

it looks like that due to a change in field size and other effects. A balance can only be found if you force players the exact same army.

This will also be a reason for having imbalanced designs. Like a 1x1 soldier with a super weapon.

Either way. I rather go back to topic.

pelle's picture
Joined: 08/11/2008
The thing with FOW "hacks" is

The thing with FOW "hacks" is that it all comes down to what aspect(s) of FOW you think are important for your game, not that you have to do everything that your favorite digital RTS can do.

Also there are "hacks" that creates much denser fog of war than what Stratego (or most block wargames do).

The classic, going back to at least the 1960's or so, is the matchbox hack. You need one matchbox per location, preferably glued into one large matrix of matchboxes to mimic the shape of your map (if it has a grid). Players put a bead in a matchbox for every coordinate they have a unit in. If they notice that the other player also had a bead in that matchbox your units are in the same location.

There are various variations, and other hacks. There is an entire bgg guild dedicated to fog of war. You never get FOW equivalent to a RTS, but you can most likely find something that has what you need from FOW to make your game work.

Someone for a bgg design contest made a game where you had a block in every hex on the gameboard. Lots of them. like hundreds. I think he used small plastic cubes. Most were dummies of course. So there was no way to tell where units where. It is really that simple if you want to, and how much denser do you need your fog to be?

Most likely if the Stratego-way is not enough, there are simple tweaks that you can do, like allowing one block to represent an army that marks the location of an entire stack of block (hidden behind a screen off-map). Or just something simple like throwing in a few dummy blocks.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
The formula's for the "battleships"

Ok guys, behold. The mystery of the F*$@ed up balance.

For every new entity, the value of durability changes.

The durability of an entity depends on several factors:
-Playfield size
-Target size

From this, several factors can be calculated:
-The number of minimal misses required before a hit is issued. This depends on the target's size in accordance to the playfield size. It is literly playfield size divided by target size. Once hit, this is no longer an issue. All the misses prior take 50% chance prior.

A is also an error in judgement

-After the hit, in case of a bigger size. Multiple posibilities of misses are stil possible. Going left until it misses. Going right until it misses. Going up until it misses. Going down until it misses. There are 4 directions. The 4th one will not be taken into acocunt. Because then the target will have been destroyed.
So, 3 additional misses are still possible.
Some might be discarded if the target size equals to one of dimensions. And if there is a gap of 1, there is also a discard.
Every miss will take a 50% chance as well. Seeing as how a "destroyed" announcement will cancel the rest. (not sure if this part is correct yet)

So, a list of tests for extra durability reduction:
Going left possible?
Going right possible?
Going up possible?
Going down possible?

B=(Number of possible misses - 1)/2
B is also an error in judgement

Finally, the number of hits are taken into account. Which is simply:

C=size of the target

Evetually, we get A+B+C=average durability


For a 6x6 field.
We can have the following options:
1x1, 1x2, 1x3, 2x2, 2x3 and 3x3
For fun sake, let us throw in a 6x6 as well.

Let us assume, only 1 of the 7 will be placed in the field.
The results:
1x1:17.5+0.0+1 =18.5±17.5
1x2: 8.5+1.5+2 =12.0±10.0
1x3: 5.5+1.5+3 =10.0±7.0
2x2: 4.0+1.5+4 = 9.5±5.5
2x3: 2.5+1.5+6 =10.0±4.0
3x3: 1.5+1.5+9 =12.0±3.0
6x6:0.0+0.0+36 =36.0±0.0

Take note:
These value's change when the playfield changes.
Or multiple targets are added.

I am not sure yet, how to deal with adding multiple targets. I am using the 1x1 as reference in this. Having multiple of these should only result in a value that never exceeds the durability of 36.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Going entirely back to topic

While going back and forth between how a video game of RTS or a board game of a war game would look like.

I discovered that the H/D ratio needs to be combined with the game speed of the video game.

The H/D ratio determines how fast combat goes.
A ratio of 3 means 3 hits on average before the target dies. Let's say, 3 time frames.

The movement speed and attack range are closely linked to this H/D ratio.
A ratio of 3. will have weight added to the body of 33% for each point and 50% to the weapon for each point.
(Attack range weights a factor of square root of 2, higher than movement, I choose 1.5 as factor)

RTS games have usually a higher H/D ratio than board games. This would result in lower weight points for movement speed and attack range. Which means a higher movement speed and attack range in the game.

To retain the same movement speed. Time is slowed down.
This means a higher H/D ratio again...
The attack range stays the same.

So when I alter the game speed.
The movement speed can remain the same.
Attack range increases.
And unit durability grows exponentially.
The factor by game speed.
The same factor by slower rate of fire.

At first I wanted to change the H/D ratio. (A lot of rounding problems...I hate rounding)

But now I think I could actually just change the game speed to a lower setting in combination with a higher H/D ratio.
Where combat goes slower due to slower rate of fire.
Or better yet; decrease the damage while maintaining the rate of fire.
Range increases.
And speed remains the same.

So, changing the H/D ratio by a factor of 2:
Game speed has to be divided by 2, or the H/D ratio is increased by a factor 2 again.
The range weight factor decreases by a factor of 2.
Movement speed weight factor and thus movement speed, remains constant.

For my board game, I used a H/D ratio of 3.
The weight factors for the body are 33% per movement point.
The weight factors for the weapon are 50% per attack range point.

If I change the H/D ratio to 12.
I can choose:
The weight factors for the body are 33%/4 and for the weapon are 50%/4.
Or I want to keep the movement constant.
The weight factors for the body are 33% per movement point.
The weight factors for the weapon are 25% per attack range point.


I guess that the best way to look at this is the default unit, compared to a wall.

The factor that I like to use between the 2 is often that the default unit has a body that costs twice as much as that of the wall.
And a weapon that equals the body.

If a wall has a body of weight 1.
This means that the default unit has a weight of 4.

When altering the H/D ratio with a factor 4. While maintaining all other statistics.
The body value's drop to 1/4th.
The weapon value drops to 3/4th.
This means that the weight of the wall is 1/4th.
And the weight of the default unit is 2.

The factor between the 2 is not 4, but 8 now.
So, "slowing down" the game will make walls cheaper.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
I have written

A very basic formula. On which RTS games can base their balance formula.

It contains health, speed, damage, range and cooldown.

I would like to add charging (time for the weapon to fire a first time)

And of course the post above this one.

With that most basic formula. I want to inform some RTS designers. Especially the one who is trying to copy my board game.

It hasn't been the first time that a switch between "platforms" (cardgame, textbased, boardgame, video game) has cause trouble to the balances.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Wow... Someone is "copying" your RTS game???

Hello @X3M ... You found someone who is trying to copy your RTS Board Game? Can you tell us who this is in a Private Message?? Maybe I can help you in providing his/her direct e-mail so that you can contact them and ask for some kind of explanation...!

As an Administrator, my duty is to also protect the members from fraudsters and copy-cats too. That's why it take a minimum of 2 weeks to register a new user: there are policies in place to allow a candidate to pass or fail.

For example if the e-mail doesn't match the name or the person has not given a name (First & Last), I don't register the account. Depending on the user sometimes they write a BLANK e-mail. Those too don't usually get activated.

Sometimes people try several times with the same information as before. While I admire their tenacity, they still can't read and provide the minimum information required to register.

Anyhow if you need some information about this USER... I can PM it to you if you provide me with a Username. Cheers!

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
you read it wrong

He tries to copy my board game (real time turn based) in regards to stats of units. But is building a RTS (video) instead.
But those stats are:
- to fast for comfort.
- incorrect apllied.

Further more, he was one of my board gamers. I know him personally.
Knowing him, this game of his too will die in a week or 2.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Oh okay... I misread. Someone trying to make a "conversion"

No worries, I thought someone was "stealing" your concept. No this is just a friend (fellow gamer) who is trying out your "Board Game" stats to see if he can apply those in the context of a Video Game... No worries, I understood... This was not some "misappropriation", it was simply an attempt of seeing if your work in the Board Game could be re-usable...

No problemo.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
As an aside

I don't have a RTS board game in my list of products/projects. Maybe I'd be interested in Developing your game further ... depending on your interest.

One thing is that I work on "High-Level" designs even though I do flesh-out details. But my designs take time to "mature". I know often you are perplexed about fine-details about "units", "stats", "weapons", "FoW", etc.

Maybe I'd be interested in more general terms the "concept"... And then fiddle around with SOME details ... But proceeding in a much more GENERAL direction.

Like I said early... I'm not interested in "copying" the idea. But if you would be interested in sharing your progress up to now, maybe we can come to some kind of agreement (at some point in time). There is no way I am going to "steal" your idea. But like I said before, I'm not sure what state the concept is...

I must admit that I am a bit curious too... I didn't plan on working on a RTS game. From my own understanding and to avoid "chaos" the game needs to have a turn-based component to keep the game SANE (It's not about who rolls the dice fastest and make the most critical decisions in the least amount of time, etc.)

Like I said, IF you have something I can review, I would take a look. Presumably it's a DUNE RTS Board Game, right? From what I know about StarCraft I and II, I have some VAGUE ideas about what the Video Game RTS looks like. But a Board Game, I'm not sure. In my mind, there would need to be three (3) types of Sand Timers: 30s, 60s and 120s. And the game needs to revolve around these timers. That's as CLOSE to Real-Time as possible in a Board Game. Anything more that three (3) timers... would also cause too much chaos and confusion(?!)

Even though 30s is short... It can allow for one maybe two strategic decisions in that time. Above (in duration) would be 60s and 120s... The first would be general turn flow/housekeeping and the last would be battles (micro battles). At least this is what I have just thinking about the concept.

IF you want to share progress with your thoughts, please let me know. I am more than willing to compare notes (as above those are all my thoughts so far -- in regards to RTS games). We could discuss on discord (if you prefer...) Just let me know! Cheers.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
A bit more ... Because I hope to interest you ...

In the case of the 30s timer, this would be the Build-Order timer. You have 30s to decide what units/structures you build in 30s. This to me sounds reasonable... Having that amount of time to review and decide seems okay.

For the 60s timer, this would be Production timer. You basically need to WAIT 60s for the timer to complete. Everything you build takes 60s. How does this sound reasonable??? Well some form of Bazooka man take 60s but for 3 of them. Versus 1 Hover Tank may take the same amount of time. And upgrades to existing facilities also take 60s ... But you are (for example) only allowed to upgrade ONE (1) facility at a time and there are resource costs involved (actually everything takes resources... but you figure that out AFTER the timer is done).

Lastly for the 120s timer, this would be for a turn-based battle. I know your concept is more "free" (Real-Time) ... But in my thoughts on the matter, it would be more of a Quasi-Real-Time/Turn-Based type of process.

Maybe it too can trigger events each 30s given when your Build-Order completes, you can ALSO "direct" your forces for battle... Something like that... Anyhow. This are enough of my OWN ideas on the Subject Matter. IF you feel like sharing, please figure out the "best" channel and we can talk things over "SLOWLY". Cheers @X3M!

Note #1: Maybe you can VARY the use of the 30s timer. For example, if Player #1 decides he wants to MOVE his troops, he can use the 30s timer this turn to freely move troops. But if those troops are not a threat to any of Player #2 units, he can decide to use the 30s timer to build more units and to upgrade one of his facilities...

Something along the lines like that. Not completely REAL-TIME... But some kind of alternating "at-the-same-time" type of game play. With the option of doing things each player's OWN way (not needing to be identical all the time either...)

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
We got rid of timers a long time ago

It is honestly a lot of fidling.
Not just that, but the rest of the board game we played as well.
We never got a prototype for the version without tracker cards too.

We simply have options in the form of Actions and Re-Actions in combination with Event Cards.
It is mostly turn based. But once the player in turn is done saying its move. All other players may react.

Players can suddenly pitch in at other moments with an Event Card.


All of the above is nesesary to look a bit like RTS. But the RTS as video game is way better to handle. Henceforth the attempt. I wonder how far he will get though, he is doing this alone.

The original game has rounds that take even up to 20 minutes. And a normal game might take weeks.

My "public" version was a set goal to get the absolute minimum. But then... life. And still, life.

Through my Youtube activity. I met some more RTS designers. I offered them advice. But I do realize, that my advice has to become as simple as possible. Without steering them all in the same direction.

Henceforth me trying to get a basic formula that would help them all.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
No board games for me now

One more thing. I am not going back to designing or working on my board game.
I don't have the time for it. Working on an idea takes as much time as working on my homework or making a 30 minute video (which takes 2 hours too.)

Due to covid, my schedule at work has become a bit chaotic. And more demanding too.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Salvo Damage

What RTS games have more than board games. Are the practical balances reached by testing.

A RTS game is easier to test. Since you can simply play the game very fast. And adjust accordingly. So a design of an unit will have a starting point by theory. But is practically balanced to the designers and community taste.

A board game only has this feature amongst play testers. But has to be balanced first by a firm theory.


Whilest not having much time for my own games. I am pondering on a more correct way to begin balancing RTS through theory instead of practise.

The main reason for this is that there are a couple of RTS designers out there. Who's public is a bit to small. A bad start will often lead to a fast loss of attention.

The most important balance theory is one of weapons.

I am busy trying to design a proper way to determine the weight of weaponry once again.

Why I had this idea is because I play a certain game a lot. And that game has a unique way of salvo fire.

Some designs are really cool. You will soon understand what I am getting at.

What is a salvo fire?
A basic example would be a tank shooting 6 rockets. It shoots the rockets one by one. Then needs an awfully long time to reload.
During the salvo?
The first one already hit a target, while the 4th or so is being fired.

An advanced example?
In a game that I play a lot (AoW3: Global Conflict) There is this simple infantry unit called the Assault.
Now, what does its weapon look like?
It can throw a grenade and then shoots 5 times with its rifle. Before throwing its grenade again.
Each time when it shoots its rifle, this too is a salvo of 5 bullets. There is actually a chance of the assault dying during one of these salvo's. Nullifying that little bit of damage.

It kinda looks like this:

-Picking grenade animation
250 ms
-Grenade gets thrown
1 second
-salvo 1 bullet 1
100 ms
-salvo 1 bullet 2
100 ms
-salvo 1 bullet 3
100 ms
-salvo 1 bullet 4
100 ms
-salvo 1 bullet 5
500 ms
-salvo 2, which takes a full second including cool down
-salvo 3, which takes a full second including cool down
-salvo 4, which takes a full second including cool down
-salvo 5, which takes only 750 ms including cool down and taking grenade animation
-Back to the grenade, without the charging this time.

The big Q here is. How much does this damage weight in comparison to all damage at once?
What if the little salvo's are 1 burst as well?


To have a better understanding. I have been breaking my head over the past 2 weeks. Knowing I can't rely on anyone for the math this time. It is too complex...

Each weapon contains a cool down and some even a charging property (taking grenade and then throwing it)

But to understand the problem at least:
Try to consider the weight of the following weapons. All doing a total of 3 damage through the entire set of 3 seconds. Before restarting:


Picture the enemy having 3 health. Obviously W-300 is better than W-030, which is better than W-003.
So W-300 should cost the most.

W-111 and W-003 yield the same results. But if there are enemies with 5 health. 111-111 is better than 003-003.
Not only that, but 3 weapons of W-111 will kill of 2 units with health 3 before 3 weapons of 003 can do so.

The ones with the 0, 1 and 2 in them are the weirdest of the bunch.

So I thought. Let me quantumize the problem. And only observe how W-100, W-010 and W-001 would relate to each other.

100 + 010 + 001 should equal in weight to 1 of 111. Correct?
Now, here is the problem. I don't know how to solve this!!!
Whatever W-100 costs more over W-010. W-001 would have the lineair discount over W-010.

Because having 3 of 010 should equal 1 of 030. That would mean that 030 would equal to 111. I can have peace with that.

Here is another problem.
100 + 010 + 001 should equal 1000 + 0100 + 0010 + 0001.
Because W-111 and W-1111 are the same damage patern.
111-111-111-111 and 1111-1111-1111 do the exact same damage. So they must cost the exact same.

Meaning that the lenght of the set is very important to the distribution of the weight of each individual part.

Ok, enough bumbo jumbo. The summary would be. Changing the output of a salvo. Not by damage. But simply by bullet times within a salvo. Can already change the balance of the game.

While my board game is balanced by practical means in this regard. And of course theory. The theory itself is limited to having no use for salvo's.
I can't use a salvo fire in my board game. I only have charging and cooldown. And both are already rare.

Either way, I hope to find something interesting. Which would benefit my board game. As any other RTS designer.

Joined: 04/08/2012
Check out

Check out RedTide: The Ground War on facebook.

I have been following this designer since Early December 2019.
He uses sand timers for cooldowns during combat and to replenish resources per turn. Its a rts board game. Tanks and infantry.

Tons of video demo play, an unboxing and other playtesting videos solo and co-op with his 2 friends on several different occuations.


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