Could you help me out with a board-game battle system I'm working on?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Trip, Aug 17, 2012.

  1. Trip

    Trip Member

    It's been changed 5 or 6 times already in the last two, three weeks, and my main concern at this point isn't balance but whether it could be playable at all. I mainly want not to cram the player's heads with numbers and constant check-ups on who does what to whom.

    It would be the battle system for a RTS-emulating board game I'm taking a whack at creating in my spare time.

    At this point it happens in three phases - Far, Medium and Close distance, starting with Far and moving through all three in turn. The units are also of three main types - Melee, Archer, Mage. Their current battle parameters are HP, Attack, Defence and the number of the turn they're allowed to take action. The last one refers almost exclusively to Mages, since I've decided they'd be too strong without a limitation like that. Each parameter except HP has 3 possible values depending on where the particular unit is fighting. (For some units all 3 might be the same, and for others they might diverge widely.)

    The battle starts with the players laying down a card face-down simultaneously. The number of cards they're allowed to lay down in a single turn is determined by a Leadership parameter, as is the total number of cards they're allowed to lay down during a phase (maximum of five). If a player chooses not to lay down a single card during a phase, the battle moves to the next phase.Any Archer or Mage placed before you've placed a single Melee unit is dubbed a "front-line" unit. Any of them placed after you have a Melee unit on the table are dubbed "rear-line" units. The first Melee unit you place is invariably a front-line unit. Other Melee units can be either front-line or rear-line, your choice.

    After you've placed your card(s) face-down, you turn them over and then, again simultaneously, choose actions for them. They can Attack, Defend, Wait or Change battle-lines. Only front-line melee units can Attack; Archers and Mages can attack from anywhere. Only rear-line units can defend, irrespective of type. If you wait, your unit is inactive until the next round of the phase. If you change battle-lines, you, um, change battle-lines. If a unit is being attacked while changing battle-lines from front to rear, it receives a "cover" from another front-line unit, which is a single free hit at the attacking enemy.

    The choice of attacking an enemy unit activates its "death-counter". It's usually equal to its HP and what it measures is the amount of turns after the current one that it would take to kill the critter.

    So if on turn 3 you attack a critter with HP = 7, it would take until turn 10 for it to be dead.

    If that critter is also attacking you, you compare both creatures' attack values. The positive difference is directly subtracted from the weaker critter's death-counter. Attack 5 vs. Attack 2 means three less turns for the Attack 5 critter to kill the Attack 2 critter. The stronger critter's death-counter is also running however, just without any penalties.

    If the critter is defending from your attack, you compare your attack to its defence. If Attack - Defence > 0, the difference is again subtracted from the weaker unit's death-counter, only this time divided by 2 (rounded down). If Defence - Attack > 0, the defending critter's death-counter is increased by the difference (no division).

    If you're being attacked by more than one enemy while attacking, the enemy Attack/your Defence comparison applies, only this time if the enemy's Attack is higher, the difference isn't divided by two. If you're being attacked by more than one enemy while defending, the difference is divided by two. If all attacks on a particular unit stop, its death-counter stops as well.


    You move on to the next turn of the phase where you check if any of your units have died, and then again you can lay down card(s) or not. At any moment when you choose the latter, you can't lay down any more cards during the current phase.

    When one side loses all its units in the current phase, the battle moves to the next one. The units which have survived could be placed directly face-up in the next phase although they won't be able to attack until turn 2. Or any number of them could be "retreated" and not used in the next phase.

    Apart from unit-cards you could use spells at any point in any phase as long as you have the resources to do it. Also you can plop you Leader unit (the guys/gals with the aforementioned Leadership parameter) on the battlefield without warning at any point, with the catch that you can't retreat it. (They're not so irreplaceable though, so you can basically afford the risk sometimes.)

    And that's basically it. No dice used unless a unit has a special ability that's tested with a 1d6 throw. I've tried to use numbers as small as possible and to take it very easy on the math in the resolve phase. The three phases help in the sense that a smaller number of units takes part in each so it's less stuff to remember as opposed to a single phase with a bigger number of units jostling for the player's attention. Also the three types of distance broaden the design space I'd say.

    So, what do you think?
  2. Fry

    Fry Well-Known Member

    My brain froze up trying to parse all of that. I suspect this means it's too complicated.

    Is the battle the main part of the game, or is there another layer? For example, Risk resolves combat with dice, but overall the game is really about troop deployment on the world map. If you're trying to make a better version of Risk, your battle system probably needs to be less complicated still!

    Anything that involves tracking lots and lots of different timers seems difficult to implement in meatspace.
    Trip likes this.
  3. ajfirecracker

    ajfirecracker Active Member

    Yes, this looks way too complicated. You might be able to get away with most of it if you've got really awesome physical peripherals (like the cards do a great job conveying all this or something). {I am good at holding lots of abstract stuff in my head and I had to re-read this and try to visualize several times before I got a decent idea what was going on; visuals might help a lot with this}

    I would remove death counters in favor of some form of pass/fail death, and if it's card-only I would remove multiple ranges (unless you provide a playmat with them laid out; this seems to overlap a lot with front-line vs back-line, as well as the retreat system; maybe you can combine all those in a good way?). I would try to focus on the characters as the source of army diversity (like maybe you start with one permanently outside the game and it just provides a constant change to your army stats/card flow; this requires a lot of balance testing). To make for dynamic play, I would try to find a victory condition other than annihilating your opponent's army, which promotes a decision of "do I focus on fighting the army or try to break through, leaving him with a lot of units but winning first".
    Trip likes this.
  4. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    The phase stuff is super confusing the way you stated it. There's also a whole bunch of objective stuff missing. Like, I assume the goal is for each player to kill the other player's army? But if refusing to play on the early phases forcibly skips the fight to a later phase, why would I ever use a strategy other than piling up stuff that likes to fight Close, and then forcing every engagement to skip to Close as fast as possible?

    Also appears to do the standard RTS thing where the most efficient possible way to fight is to pile up all your units into attacking a single enemy unit (killing it as fast as possible, which removes one of your opponent's attacks), rather than ever splitting things. If that's the case, then why bother forcing the player to set it up manually? Would be a lot simpler and easier if you just assume that will happen, total the attack strength on each side, and then skip half the phases you've got.

    There's a common complaint about board games that they can get too "fiddly"... which basically means there's too many little cards and pieces floating around to keep track of, and not enough high-level decisions going on that makes tracking all that stuff worthwhile. This game sounds like it has that problem in spades... I can almost guarantee you that given an initial setup, someone here could tell the mathematically correct way for it to play out. Which means some non-negligible percentage of your audience is going to figure that out as well, and the entire thing becomes a lengthy execution test. Whereas you could make something a lot simpler and more random, and it would actually be fun and fast-paced because having conditions change randomly each phase actually forces people to think about how to react to those conditions. Even though you'd think in the abstract that "random" elements would reduce strategy.
    Trip likes this.
  5. Trip

    Trip Member

    All right, apparently I've left out important stuff :)

    First, it would be a poor simulation of a RTS if it didn't have a strategic part. I does have a strategic map, albeit almost a token one. Still, it's needed to keep track of some things. The objective is accumulating victory points, not destroying the opponent's army. You receive victory points for gaining units/terrain improvements/techs and especially killing enemy units; so they're an important part of winning, but not the objective per se.

    The more relevant part is that each type of battle unit doubles up as an economic unit also, when it's placed in a city/terrain improvement, basically acting as a type of MtG land as long as it's there. So using just one type of unit (good close fighters) wouldn't be economically viable.

    Apart from that, there's the Leadership parameter. A theoretically average leader has Leadership = 2/2/2 in the early game, meaning 2 for each phase. Leadership is gained not very quickly and also at a price (mainly time). And 2/2/2 means that the Leader can have a maximum army number of 6 units and in each phase can use a maximum of 2. So, as I said, no crazy numbers of units to keep track of.

    As for the manual set-up, it's done that way to keep the opponent guessing what card might follow on your side and vice versa, and also to allow the players to take stock of the current situation and try to change it with another card instead of laying it out all at once and no turning back. Different unit types will combine in a different way and sometimes the pile-up on a single unit might not be the best choice. Mages for example usually hit more than one unit, so that's a factor as well, not to mention unit special skills.

    My intention is to have battles with a smaller number of units that combine in an interesting way, and also have no more than about 12-15 units per race.

    As for the back-and-forth of the battle system, I've tried to keep in on the level of first-grade arithmetic and also to make it so each phase is resolved in no more than 7-8 turns. That's why there's a death counter, because it seemed a better way to track unit life expectency than raw HP and would also keep the numbers low.

    As for the battle formulas, they seem very simple to me. Bear in mind these are all parameters in the 0-10 range, approximately, so the math is elementary.

    a. When your unit attacks a unit that's attacking it:
    Higher Attack - Lower Attack = number of turns subtracted from the weaker unit's life expectancy.

    b. When your unit attacks a unit that's defending:
    (Higher Attack - Lower Defence)/2 = number of turns subtracted from the weaker unit's life expectancy.
    or
    Higher Defence - Lower Attack = number of turns added to the stronger unit's life expectancy.

    c. When your unit piles up on an attacking unit:
    Higher Attack - Lower Defence = number of turns subtracted from the weaker unit's life expectancy.
    or
    Higher Defence - Lower Attack = no benefit to the stronger unit, still 1 turn subtracted from its life expectancy.

    d. When your unit piles up on a defending unit:
    Same thing as b., only the second formula doesn't give benefit to the defender's life expectancy, but instead just nullifies the attacker's attack.

    It might still be bad of course, but it has some more context now at least :)
  6. ajfirecracker

    ajfirecracker Active Member

    So this is starting to sound a lot more like a full-blown miniatures wargame. At the very least, you have that much complexity.

    Think of it this way: you have some maximum amount of complexity that a normal player will endure before mentally checking out and playing some other game. How you spend that complexity is up to you as a game designer. If you want to spend it on unit degeneration rates, that's fine, but it means you can't spend as much elsewhere. (and degen is fairly complex to grasp/keep track of, so it eats a lot). Right now you've over-spent and we're telling you that each individual element is fairly straightforward, but as a group it's just way too complex.

    Resource/attribute systems:
    • Leadership in the first phase
    • Leadership in the second phase
    • Leadership in the third phase
    • Unit turns left before dying
    • Victory Points
    • Terrain bonuses to economy
    • Attacking/defending status
    • "Pile up" status
    • Far, Medium, and Close distance
    • Front-line vs Back-line status
    • Cover/retreating (is this two things?)
    • Spells
    • Multiple attacking/defending status
    • Melee units (with some special rules)
    • Mages (with special multi-hit rules) vs. Archers (with less special rules)
    • 12-15 units per race, each(?) with a special ability {so consider this either 1 point per race in the best case, or 12-15 extra bullet points per race in the worst}
    I don't even know how or if a lot of those overlap, despite each one being fairly straightforward.

    Edit: Oh, and unit movement too I think. I'm not sure how or if it works, but if you're holding specific objectives and stuff, you basically need unit movement.

    Edit 2: HEY TRIP
    Good, you're reading this. I don't think you have to go back to the drawing board 100% on everything, but you definitely need to think about where you've got complexity. Like, one way to reduce complexity would be to eliminate a lot of the multi-attacker, attacker bonus, pile in (whatever) and just have a simple attacker bonus (+1 attack or something) and all the units are the same, but each has a special ability, which is what makes it unique. Some of them can just be passive, and other can be abilities that the player chooses to use. This even opens up the Flash Duel-style intro mode, where you play without abilities, and then you add them in and the game gets much more complex.
    Trip and Fry like this.
  7. Trip

    Trip Member

    Well, explaining stuff with words usually makes it look more complicated than it is, because words are easy to get wrong, especially when English isn't your native language :) (Not to mention that I've been somewhat less than systematic I guess, heh.)I mean, MtG's basic rules are 30-something pages long and I got them in 15 minutes of actual play.

    In any case, back to the drawing board for me :)
  8. Trip

    Trip Member

    As for unit movement, at this point stuff works a bit differently.

    The strategic map is only 3x5 squares (3 squares high, 5 wide). In the four corners are four neutral cities. In the upper and lower centre are the players' "capitols". They are impregnable and as far as the opponent is concerned, your capitol doesn't exist, neither does his for you.

    You have 4 strategic options on that map: stay in a city/capitol, move from a city/capitol to a city/capitol, intercept the enemy's movement and feint in order to avoid interception. They have a sort of rock/paper/scissors relationship:

    movement is generally better than staying in a city, interception beats movement by initiating a battle, feinting beats interception because it avoids it, though it increases the time-cost of your move.

    Each square that's unoccupied by a capitol/city has a time cost. You learn its time cost as you go over it en route to a city/capitol. It's decided by 1d6. 1s are rerolled so its time cost can be in the range of 2-6. You do that just once per square, not every time you pass over that square. (Or maybe it should be every time?) Some city improvements and certain faster-moving Leaders can lower that cost. Making units, researching techs, and building improvements also has a time cost, apart from any resource cost they also have. That cost is continually added to a timer that each player has. Both players' timers start at zero. The game ends when one of them reaches 200. Then victory points are calculated.

    These 200 time-points are divided into 8 stages: 0-10 ; 11-25 ; 26-45 ; 46-70 ; 71-100 ; 101-130 ; 131-165; 166-200
    I plan for some units/impovements/possibly other stuff to receive bonuses depending on how many stages they've "survived". As for resources, I plan for them to work like Lands in MtG. They don't accumulate from turn to turn, and there would be some sort of a mana burn for unused resources, though I don't want for that situation to occur often.

    Improvements are buildable around the cities you've taken (they're wide open at gamestart, no monsters guard them). It'd be easier to think of them as expansion sites actually. Each city has 4 possible sizes: 0, 1, 2 and 3. They start at zero and you upgrade them with resources. For each size a city gains it receives a square of influence (by your choice) where you can build improvements and an additional space for a unit inside the city itself. In turn, each improvement also has a unit capacity (usually rather small) and depending on the type or amount of units there it might give a different sort of benefit. You're allowed to overflow the capacity of an improvement, but for each additional unit you pay a respective upkeep.

    Without getting too deep into the number side of things (since it remains to be thought up/balanced), that's the rough outline of the strategic system. But the numbers themselves, like those of the battle system, should be in the 0-10, or maybe 0-15 range, so no heavy calculations here either.

    Also a thing about leaders: at this point Leaders are actually glorified battle units; each race would have a number of units with the Leader capability; you have the right of a single Leader at a time; and you can upgrade a unit to a Leader at any time, once a turn, in any city or your capitol, paying only a slight time cost. Whenever a new Leader is chosen, the previous one is downgraded to a unit. The process is infinitely reversible and repeatable, there's no cap on Leader-switches as long as they're one per turn.
  9. Trip

    Trip Member

    Well, it might happen that way in the end; I think the pile-up, multi-attacker stuff should definitely be simplified and I really want to have a battle of unit mechanics more than a battle of unit statistics. It's just that at this point I want to include them both in some way.

    Maybe I should just state that each additional attacker in the pile-up receives a +1 bonus to its attack and have everything be a comparison of attacks and remove the defence stat altogether. I'll make the defence action work another way, most probably simpler :)
  10. ajfirecracker

    ajfirecracker Active Member

    I am now 100% sure you are trolling. Now you just need to translate this into arcsystem language and you will be unstoppable. Let me help you:

  11. chucklyfun

    chucklyfun Member

    For another perspective, check out Race For The Galaxy. It has a great economy framework, hidden information, plays very quickly, and had a thread dedicated to it here on the FantasyStrike forums.

    I could see you taking that design and creating something very similar to the build / tech trees in a typical RTS.
  12. Trip

    Trip Member

    I seriously don't know what you're talking about. Not to mention more than a little bit offended.
  13. ajfirecracker

    ajfirecracker Active Member

    I seriously don't know what you're talking about. That was the point.

    I said "look, you've got too many systems going on" and gave you a list of like a dozen systems. I also made an argument about why too much complexity needs to be addressed (most players give up and move on to something else).

    Your response to this was to say "no, you don't really understand everything" and list another dozen systems in the game. This is indistinguishable from trolling.

    Also: lighten up, man. I've been trying to help you with this thing, and I'm pretty sure you can take a joke or two.

    Also also: being only 1 square away from an opponent's main area, which you can't interact with at all (and vice versa) sounds really frustrating
  14. Trip

    Trip Member

    Sorry if I overreacted.

    See it like this: take the Basic Rules for MtG . Remove all the pictures and diagrams. Summarize them in text instead. Would it be any less frustrating to a first-time reader? My point being, maybe it's the lack of quality in my presentation (both in the words and in the lack of stuff like pics and diagrams that are completely indispensible for a board game)
    Leartes likes this.
  15. Leartes

    Leartes Well-Known Member

    Hopefully I'll come to analyzing your proposed system later.

    Just a quick reassurance here. I don't think the fighting system is overly complex in itself, I do think that it can include too many counters/pieces (deathcounters over several turns for every unit sounds bad ...).
    Also the game might take too long if over the course of the game there are several battles and armies moving simultaneously, planning and building infrastructure etc.
    Trip likes this.
  16. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    This seemed kind of mean to me. Maybe you meant it as a joke, but it doesn't read that way.
  17. Trip

    Trip Member

    Leartes, still, I've simplified the battle system even further since my description in the OP. And yeah, I'd really like for a session to be over in about an hour, not much more.

    As for those infamous death-counters, I don't mean them as a actual counters (like in MtG). Imagine Hit Points, only what they represent is the amount of turns until the unit is dead. (Only if it's being attacked though.) Sounds simple to me at least :)

    Also, thank you to everyone taking part here, I'm sure ajfirecracker ultimately means well too :)
  18. ajfirecracker

    ajfirecracker Active Member

    I do mean well. I'm just going to list everything I find complicated/confusing. This isn't mean to say that the game is terrible or anything, but that it looks like it's in more of a 'rough draft' state of the rules and you need to act like an editor or something to clean it up.

    Magic: the Gathering has a ton of stuff going on, but very little of it you have to remember naturally (like if a creature gets +1 when it attacks or something it will say "this guy gets +1 when he attacks"); your RTS has combat and resource systems plus a bunch of special rules for those systems (i.e. not dependent on unit), while M:tG mostly just has combat and resource systems. This is why I said it's more on the side of a full-blown miniatures wargame.

    I actually think using physical death counters makes a lot more sense than having mental ones - you don't want players to go "uhh, how much damage did this guy take 3 turns ago?"

    It also sounds like players need to keep track of and constantly add each other's time cost counters or whatever. The fact that you have to keep track of life totals in some fashion outside the game is one of the worst parts of M:tG. Maybe give people plastic counters or something? The time phases are also divided unevenly, which will make them harder to remember and more likely to be mis-applied. The time "cost" doesn't sound like a drawback... maybe this is a balance issue, but if I take a bunch of high-quality, expensive actions, it ends the game before my opponent can do anything else? That doesn't sound great.

    You also have to keep track of the capacity of your city's improvements, I think, or else you have upkeeps to pay? In... one of your many resource types?

    You also said something about researching tech as opposed to making units or building improvements. It sounds to me like there's another system we have yet to hear about.

    Are squares of influence represented with physical game objects, or just the improvements that you've added? If it's only improvements, it's going to add another memory test just to know how many units are allowed in the city/influence square.

    How do I remember which unit is my Leader (and my opponents') after we've both switched a few times?

    You have to keep in mind Victory Points as you play, because when the game gets up near 200 time-cost-counters those become the only thing that matters, and you don't want to accidentally end the game when you're behind.

    You have to keep in mind how each of your 12-15 units work, and how each of your opponent's 12-15 units work. You run into a behavioral problem here - people don't play card/board games the way they play videogames. A lot of people (not me, and not everyone) will sit down to a videogame and just start playing. Because the system keeps track of the rules for you, that's possible. In Starcraft, that means a lot of people only learn about a couple units at a time. In a card/board game, it's much more common to read the rules before you play - you have to know what you're doing in order to play. This results in seeing the whole menu of units all at once, right when you start.

    You have mana burn, so the player has to keep track of their resource total throughout a turn and (usually) make sure they spend it exactly. M:tG had this and got rid of it because it didn't add much to the game, and added "gotcha" moments for experienced players to catch inexperienced players, as well as some mental effort to track/learn. In MtG now, you mostly don't have to keep track of mana at all - you just tap your lands right when you play your spell.
    http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/mm/44

    This is either balance or just mechanics, not sure which:
    It sounds like feinting is always better than regular moving except for the time cost? If you're ahead in victory points/whatever you should always feint {unless you want a battle, but maybe still you should feint}, and if you're behind you should usually move (unless you have a way lower time cost counter). My issue here is that the option that avoids interaction is also the one that ends the game most quickly.

    Have you read this?:
    http://www.sirlin.net/blog/2010/7/31/starcrafts-essence-in-card-form.html

    A lot of the issues I've raised you can solve with more peripherals, but they still add some level of mental complexity even if you remove the memory test. Adding a ton more peripherals also adds a substantial monetary cost to the game as well.

    Plus maybe a bunch of the combat/range mechanics are confusing depending on where they're at now.

    Sirlin, from Fortress Ameritrash interview:
    ChumpChange and Trip like this.
  19. Trip

    Trip Member

    Yep, I've read both the article and the interview. The latter is what still makes me uneasy about the three-range battle system, but it will stay unless I can think of something better.
    Now for the other stuff.

    First of all, of course it's all a rough draft. 6-7 reconceptions isn't nearly enough. That's why I asked if it would be playable at all, not if it's supremely awesome :)

    Secondly, about keeping track of stuff. Maybe I'm overestimating potential players? It has always seemed to me easy to keep track of a couple of values (time point/victory points in this case) with a pen and a piece of paper. I can't imagine how keeping track of your life total in MtG would be one of the"worst" things about it. It starts at only 20 after all. I mean, Hit Points in Yomi start at 80/90/100 and you do have to keep track of them, don't you? :)

    I'm more inclined to agree with you about the time-phases, but I might have forgotten to mention that each phase also represents a cap on the time-cost you're allowed to pay per turn. In the 0-10 phase you can't use more than 10 time points per turn. In the 11-25, you can't use more than 15. And so on. (Though I might think about cutting the numbers in half or something...) Still, keeping a mechanical count on a piece of paper would seem to me a pretty non-taxing action, compared to much of the stuff going in on in a lot of board games. "So I have 120 time points now, and used 13 more in this turn. Writing down 133. Done."

    As for keeping track of improvements and resources, I plan for it to be as easy as looking down in a game of MtG and seeing how many Lands you've got. Improvements themselves are put down on the strategic map, so you always know you have one and where it is. As for improvement capacity, it's written down on the improvement card itself, so again, no need to remember anything. Also your improvements are your squares of influence.

    The feinting thing would be a matter of balance, yes. First, there will be precious few rewards for racing through time phases through movement. I mean, paying a time-cost for buildings/units is a viable thing to do. On the other hand, paying for movement is a necessary evil. Also, when you decide to Feint, interaction stops only between your Leader and your opponent's. Interaction between your opponent's Leader and your cities, which are a plump prize, doesn't stop. A city without a Leader in it is not a very tough nut to crack, so every time a Leader moves (and Feinting is a type of movement) he exposes his unoccupied cities to attack. I'll probably think of one or two other balancing mechanisms too.

    As for not knowing what your Leader is after a few switches, I can think of easy ways to keep track of that: just put the card representing your Leader on the leftmost side of your hand and it's done. As for how your opponent's going to keep track of that - he's not supposed to be able to, until he attacks. Then you reveal your Leader even if you decide not to use it.

    About keeping track of what your units are capable of, well, stuff is going to be written on the cards, I suppose. Seems to work for MtG, Yomi and other CCGs.

    As for the battle system:

    As of an hour or so ago I've done away with death counters and the defence attribute. Now every unit in the game has a base damage of 1.

    Difference in attacks serves as a one-time subtraction from a unit's hit points. Pile-ups happen by increasing the attack of the second/third/fourth unit in the pile by 1 and again doing the basic comparison.

    If it's favorable for the victim, the second/third/fourth attacker just does its basic damage of 1.

    Defence works by adding 1 to the unit's hit points and subtracting 1 from its attack for each turn it's defending. These modifiers will work until the end of the phase.

    And about keeping track of what happens during a comba phase, I've scaled down the maximum number of participants to 4 from each side. My idea from the very beginning has been to make this number a tough number to reach. Generally, a Leader will not be able to use 4 units in each of the three phases. A player will have to decide in which phase to distribute the leadership points his Leaders gain, so stuff will be small-scale mostly. Each phase will generally end around turn 5 or 6.

    As for players being allowed not to put any cards during a phase: now that will mean that this player has automatically lost the phase. If you lose two or three phases of a battle, that means you've lost the battle, irrespective of the number of victory points you've gained through killing units. Killing units help victory points, but battles won will have immediate positive strategic consequences (I've yet to decide what exactly).
  20. ajfirecracker

    ajfirecracker Active Member

    When I say 'rough draft' I mean that I don't think this is workable or playable as-is, but as you polish it you might make a really awesome game (which is playable).
    Trip likes this.
  21. ajfirecracker

    ajfirecracker Active Member

    That's easily the worst part of Yomi, imo. Maybe I'm biased somehow, but I think Magic is mostly awesome with only a few obvious big problems and a few obvious small problems. Having to keep track of your life total is one of the obvious small problems.

    Again, my point has always been "Wow, each system seems like it would work pretty well. There are a ton of systems, though." Keeping track of the time thing is fine if it's one of very few things, but if we forget the first part of my turn by the end or we forget to write it down until the next turn, I might be considering so much stuff that I don't remember what my time usage was {and there's enough going on that forgetting seems reasonably likely}.

    You said you could build an improvement in your square of influence... I thought it was optional, not mandatory. So that helps a bit, but again depends on having lots of peripherals.

    My concern was "Oh, I see that I happen to be ahead. I'll just use up the last 30 time counters unstoppably moving my guys around this turn. GG" or similar. My concern was not "I'll feint every turn right from the start" although if that's a good strategy you have basically the same criticism (and I expect default-to-feinting should be reasonably good unless you have pretty low time-caps). {the first one is a little balance plus a lot of actual mechanics issues, while the second one is almost purely balance, but can only be influenced by changing your mechanics}

    It's also not very easy to learn better strategy if the reason you lost might be something along the lines of "30 turns ago, you wasted a bunch of time counters performing relatively unimportant actions". This might be fine, but it's something to be aware of before you get to the point where you can't go back and risk realizing you can't balance the game in a way that facilitates learning.

    If you can only switch your Leader once per turn it basically has to be public information, or at least something you commit to. Also, people are going to lose track of their Leader very easily if it's just a relative card position. (Maybe the Leader unit has a little platform to stand on or something; this is more peripherals though)

    I still do not understand the combat or cards work as a whole. I'm not really sure how combat works at all at this point, and I'm not really sure how cards work.

    Better test than asking a bunch of internet dwellers: Go find someone completely new and entice them to play your game. Tell them up-front that it's in development, and offer food beer if necessary.
    Trip likes this.
  22. Trip

    Trip Member

    I think I'll have to get them really drunk in order to consider it at all :D
  23. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    Since I think noone ever did explain it... he was making fun of ArcSystemWorks (makers of the fighting games GGXX and BlazBlue), who have a habit of attaching random extra words that make no sense to many of their gameplay systems.

    e.g. "Roman Cancel" instead of just "Cancel" or "Distortion Drive" instead of "Super".

    It is a common meme around here to convert confusing text into ASW-style text, which leaves the text equally confusing, but makes it sound really cool.

    I also think that this is a red herring. (Although I would agree with you about word choice issues and/or non-native language issues, which are kind of a seperate topic.)

    Ultimately a game requires other people to play it, and those people only know how if you teach them. If you can't find a simple way to explain/teach the game, then the game will ultimately fail even if it's awesome. And we're a bunch of guys who actually think game design is cool, and play a million different games. So even if it is complex, if you can't explain it in a way that we can understand, that should really be indicative that there's an issue...


    Lastly, reading through all your descriptions, I highly recommend you go read up on the board game REX.
    http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/104363/rex-final-days-of-an-empire

    It is a pretty awesome RTS-style board game with a suprising amount of complexity that manages to stay very fast-paced. Worth checking out how they managed to add a lot of the similar strategic concerns you seem to be going far, but with far fewer moving parts.
  24. Trip

    Trip Member

    The issue with not being able to explain is mostly the lack of experience (mine) and tools (diagrams/pictures, etc.). Basically, the same thing you're saying, it can be a great game that noone plays if you don't teach people to play it.

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