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Author Topic: Avoiding Melee Yahtzee  (Read 2559 times)

Offline ithoriel

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Re: Avoiding Melee Yahtzee
« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2022, 02:49:08 PM »
A good game should contain enough certainty that my wins are entirely attributable to my own skill and enough chaos that my losses are entirely attributable to bad luck.

Unless it's multiplayer, where our losses are entirely the fault of my team mates.
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Offline SteveBurt

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Re: Avoiding Melee Yahtzee
« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2022, 10:39:54 AM »
Saga does a good job of making melee interesting. The combination of spending fatigue and Saga abilities (which maybe you want to use, or maybe save for another melee later in the turn) makes for interesting decisions.

Offline Major_Gilbear

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Re: Avoiding Melee Yahtzee
« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2022, 11:25:27 AM »
Interesting that some of you mention cards and triggering special effects.  I will admit, the use of cards in wargames is relatively foreign to me, but a lot of great games use the concept. 

-Malifaux
-Longstreet
-Soldiers of God

The only one I have any personal experience was Kobolds and Cobblestones which is more of a skirmish game.  The cards were used to build Poker hands to play against each other.  I was not 100% sold on the game design TBH. 

That might be something I will need to review and revisit again.  I typically default to dice as a reduction to barriers of entry.  However, most folks also have a 52 card standard poker deck of cards around too.     

To be clear, it's not that cards are specifically or inherently better than dice or anything. It's more that cards offer a few interesting considerations that you can take advantage of quite easily. Consider a standard Poker deck:

  • Four fixed sets of number outcomes ranging from 1-13 inclusive, plus Jokers if you wish to add them.
  • Four fixed suits.
  • Two fixed colours.
  • Possibility of Trump suit, with options for changing this via various means.
  • Possibility of drawing more than one card, and the interpreting the results in various ways.
  • Possibility of linking action results to specific numbers, colours, suits, card combos, etc.
  • Possibility of having a hand of cards (with possibly varying sizes) instead of or as well as a "blind draw".
  • Possibility of keeping results secret until a reveal, or having results open for players to each react.

Now, plenty of this could be done with dice; that is, if you move away from the "handful of plain D6" model that most wargames seem to follow. We live in an age where you can buy all sorts of polyhedral dice online, in lots of colours, relatively cheaply. Therefore, to me, the majority insistence of sticking with what are essentially regarded as "board game dice" these days is honestly a bit baffling.

Beyond that, there are now plenty of games that use customised dice which add symbols to faces and have different results distributions on different dice colours. I don't inherently mind this too much, especially for something like a board game which often has defined components in each set, but for a wargame which is often much more open-ended to each player, any dice used should be fairly readily-available and non-proprietary in my opinion.

I also find many people's reactions to different solutions interesting to observe:

  • Buckets of dice (averaging out though sheer number) vs a couple dice (potentially quite "swingy").
  • Modifiers for everything vs minimal amount of "maths".
  • Simplified gameplay vs extreme micro-management and specific model placement.
  • Decisive outcome of melee that's purposefully sought vs what happens at the end of the game when it's nearly over and models are close to each other.

Personally, I like having a mixture of random outcomes that I can modify or influence in some way, and that depending on specific and/or relative outcomes, different combat results can apply. I don't feel this is something that needs to be bound to combat size either - whether it's Warhammer Fantasy Battles with a hundred models involved in a combat, or Mordheim fisticuffs with just two models, the process of resolving should be similar as it's still one combat in each situation. Sure, modifiers and such factors for each would differ due to game scale, but the process of the thing doesn't have to be reinvented.

If you're interested in how Malifaux does things by the way, the rules for it are completely free:

https://www.wyrd-games.net/m3e-languages

A few more things on more general likes/dislikes in games, but which seem to often come up particularly in relation to melee;

  • I dislike having to roll butt-tons of dice again and again and again to resolve simple things that happen often. Re-rolls within these systems are even worse. I think that any time you're into a situation in a game where you're looking at rolling more than about eight dice, or are needing more than two separate rolls of dice to determine an outcome, needs to be carefully looked at and re-thought if at all possible.
  • I'm also not a big fan of charts, unless it's a single chart that can be reasonably memorised after a few games. Sure, it's easy to put a few charts on a reference page to look at when you need to, but that moment of disconnection from the game whilst you stop to look up the result is precisely what kills immersion and drama in the game for me.
  • Results where nothing happens, or where the fights take many turns to resolve. More common than you might think, and it often turns many an exciting game into a grind where the outcome of that fight in question ends up determining the rest of the game.

Offline jon_1066

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Re: Avoiding Melee Yahtzee
« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2022, 01:32:27 PM »
There are two things at play in my mind: the age old simulation vs game which then leads on to: if it is simulating anything what scale is the game at?

If the game is 1:1 skirmish then I can see the sense in putting decision making into the melee since 1 person/creature is going to be making decisions on what they are going to do.  Once you get to a large group up to a Battalion the whole acts based upon thousands of individual decisions, at that level things like training, experience, muscle memory are baked in and there is much less control for one person to influence the outcome once the commander orders charge.

So I would be put off by a mass battle game with fancy card play and decisions to make in melee - it feels too gamey to me.  It needs to be resolved quickly with minimal mental effort for the effects obtained.  So I also don't want a long winded WHFB combat resolution with the result of 2 goblins being killed from twenty dice rolls.  This is why I like the Rampant engine - one set of dice rolled, pick out hits and simple maths.  The melee is resolved quickly and you can get on with luring his knights into a bog with your peasants.

Offline Easy E

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Re: Avoiding Melee Yahtzee
« Reply #19 on: December 01, 2022, 03:22:15 PM »
Excellent discussion all and very interesting to see all of our various preferences when it comes to this topic.  It cements my personal belief that as an amateur game designer and playing games for two decades, I still have no idea what other people want to play!

   
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Offline Elbows

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Re: Avoiding Melee Yahtzee
« Reply #20 on: December 01, 2022, 07:07:31 PM »
I’ve started to reply to this thread about four times, but always end up typing way too much…so apologies as this will probably occur yet again.

I’ve designed many games which include melee combat, but in each game the melee combat is at a different level.

In Shoot N’ Skedaddle, melee combat is a secondary consideration as the bulk of the game is maneuver, and shooting each other with sixguns.  Melee combat is handled by players rolling Strength tests simultaneously then rolling to wound, etc.  Pretty bog standard.

In Caverns, Crypts, & Catacombs the entire game is driven by action dice…spending dice to move or spending dice to perform basic attacks, or…spending dice to combine them to perform advanced attacks your character has learned by unlocking treasure/reward cards.  So slightly more in depth, but secondary to the cooperative teamwork you’ll need to beat creatures/baddies.

In Merciless, melee combat is instrumental as it’s a fantasy skirmish game.  There is more depth to the melee combat simply because it’s a core component.  Using a three tiered system (fail, partial success, success) means you can have a number of outcomes, with attacks generating combat cards – the combat cards having various attack results, including: stunning, wounding, destroying your opponents weapon/shield/armour, etc.  Weapons and skills can have a big influence, with models being able to set a defensive status (whereby the attack simultaneously on partial successes), or counterattack or flee if their opponent rolls a failure, etc.  Counterattacks can then be…counterattacked so that occasionally you have a 5-6-7 dice roll off going back and forth until someone decides to run, or scores a success.  Your choice of weapon dictates a lot of additional considerations …so all combined it makes for a hectic, quick, violent, fun melee combat.  Stunning enemies grants you a bonus on your follow up (or lets you depart the fight without penalty), while outnumbering your opponent grants you bonuses as well, etc.   Lots of depth.

In Scrapheap (Merciless’ sci-fi-post-apocalyptic-gang sibling), the system is the same, but models have vastly different weapons including power gauntlets, cybernetic limbs, laser whips, etc.  But the depth is still there. 

In Famine, Sword, & Fire melee combat is a big deal because the game is ImagiNations style ancient rank-n-flank.  Units fight simultaneously, with units attempting to stack the most dice in their favour.   If two equal units are fighting eachother, it will be a slap-fight…and it’s means you’re doing it wrong.  You want to flank, outnumber, double, attack broken units, charge, etc.  All these options that add dice to your pool so that you’re rolling more than your opponent, etc.

For FSF I took the token concept from games like Battlegroup and apply it to the units.  So if you score one or more hits on an enemy unit, you draw tokens – some are concealed, some are revealed.  It’s not just “kill their models” (as you remove whole bases, with units consisting of 1-10 bases), but you can break their formations, kill their commanders, waver them, inspire them, force them to make a loyalty or command test, etc.  So there’s a bit of depth and chance there.  Units can generate ad hoc “heroes” during the fight which can assist the units, etc.

FSF also allows for players to create their units using a big list of traits – these traits obviously change the combat interaction.  Example: Unit A performs an action to enter Shield Wall…gaining a bonus to armour and a bonus against missile attacks.  Unit B charges Unit A and successfully puts a hit on Unit A.  They draw the “Break Formation” token, so Unit A becomes open order and loses its Shield Wall bonuses, etc.   FSF also have secret unit commanders drawn from decks of cards – meaning your opponent won’t know the qualities or traits that your unit commander adds to your units.

In short, it all varies tremendously depending on the style of game I’m trying to write.  I always start from the goal of “What do players enjoy?”   I’m not writing simulation games for button-counters and history geeks…I’m writing Hollywood-esque games for people to enjoy pushing minis around.  I find players generally enjoy a lot of things:

-Interactivity (reactions or simultaneous combat)
-Dice pools (to a very limited extent, no 60-dice Warhammer nonsense here)
-A larger range of outcomes vs. “wound” or “kill”.
-Drawing cards
-Drawing tokens
-Almost always having a chance (everyone likes to see a meagre underdog slay a huge champion by sheer chance on occasion)

I just try to design around things my friends and I enjoy (and I try to take note when we’re playing other games and systems, what “felt good” to me when I was playing – what steps or mechanics did I look forward to?).


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Offline FramFramson

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Re: Avoiding Melee Yahtzee
« Reply #21 on: December 01, 2022, 07:23:14 PM »
I don't have a lot to add here, but I would chime in and say that systems which use opposed rolls (often with some player selection) has been a good solution which incorporates both luck and decision-making, and that use of varying polyhedrals for different skill/power levels helps to cut down on dicesplosions.


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Offline ithoriel

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Re: Avoiding Melee Yahtzee
« Reply #22 on: December 01, 2022, 08:30:25 PM »
Excellent discussion all and very interesting to see all of our various preferences when it comes to this topic.  It cements my personal belief that as an amateur game designer and playing games for two decades, I still have no idea what other people want to play!

The truth is that the players don't know what they want to play either, until they play it.

Take my aformentioned current passion for Strength and Honour. I started off being,"2mm figures in blobby formations and one unit is a whole legion AND it's grid based, Hah, not for me!" but the more I saw, the more I read and eventually getting a chance to play it and I was hooked.

 

Offline Elbows

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Re: Avoiding Melee Yahtzee
« Reply #23 on: December 01, 2022, 09:12:58 PM »
I think that's always a decision every designer will struggle with - do you make a game you enjoy and want to play with your friends, or do you research what "sells"?  I just make games I enjoy and want to play - then if other people happen to enjoy it, bonus.

However, I don't make a living selling games, lol.

Offline vodkafan

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Re: Avoiding Melee Yahtzee
« Reply #24 on: December 02, 2022, 02:03:38 AM »
A very interesting topic you have started here Mr E. I certainly see your point about melee- I have experienced that feeling a couple of times during games that the outcome was going to be a forgone conclusion- but feel I am only an "intermediate" wargamer and don't have enough experience of different systems to comment much.
It's been great to read all these answers and possible solutions.
Having said all that, the Ancients rules I have played most of is DBA and plenty of times inferior troops have upset the applecart and defeated superior troops. Enough times to always make DBA interesting for me.
About cards, I am quite familiar with them through boardgames and do like some of the mechanics. You should certainly look at them again.
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Offline Easy E

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Re: Avoiding Melee Yahtzee
« Reply #25 on: December 02, 2022, 03:24:28 PM »
I think that's always a decision every designer will struggle with - do you make a game you enjoy and want to play with your friends, or do you research what "sells"?  I just make games I enjoy and want to play - then if other people happen to enjoy it, bonus.

However, I don't make a living selling games, lol.

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Offline Ninefingers

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Re: Avoiding Melee Yahtzee
« Reply #26 on: December 05, 2022, 07:14:44 AM »
I don't have a lot to add here, but I would chime in and say that systems which use opposed rolls (often with some player selection) has been a good solution which incorporates both luck and decision-making, and that use of varying polyhedrals for different skill/power levels helps to cut down on dicesplosions.

Burrows and Badgers does this brilliantly.

Offline Dentatus

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Re: Avoiding Melee Yahtzee
« Reply #27 on: December 05, 2022, 07:59:57 PM »
This is very interesting thread. Thanks, Easy E.
I'm always trying to avoid that 'grind-n-lag'. And overly complicated mechanics that bump me out of the action. 

As an amateur game-designer, I just want systems that get my toy soldiers on the table and go on adventures with my friends.   

Offline ced1106

  • Mad Scientist
  • Posts: 678
Re: Avoiding Melee Yahtzee
« Reply #28 on: December 05, 2022, 08:08:28 PM »
To be clear, it's not that cards are specifically or inherently better than dice or anything. It's more that cards offer a few interesting considerations that you can take advantage of quite easily. Consider a standard Poker deck:

  • Four fixed sets of number outcomes ranging from 1-13 inclusive, plus Jokers if you wish to add them.
  • Four fixed suits.
  • Two fixed colours.
  • Possibility of Trump suit, with options for changing this via various means.
  • Possibility of drawing more than one card, and the interpreting the results in various ways.
  • Possibility of linking action results to specific numbers, colours, suits, card combos, etc.
  • Possibility of having a hand of cards (with possibly varying sizes) instead of or as well as a "blind draw".
  • Possibility of keeping results secret until a reveal, or having results open for players to each react.

I think, more importantly, that cards can remove the abstraction inherent with numbers, because you can write more on a card than you can a six-sided die. I really like the *idea* of Ender (?) KS that each weapon has its own cards, so you build a deck that reflects your equipment, not just have the usual combat stat. Obviously, this sort of thematic use of cards works better for miniature skirmish games, although I wouldn't be surprised if you could use a mass combat game with specific cards, particularly if you redesign the mass combat to be as communication-inefficient and imperfect information that reflects the confusion that actual war entails. That said, cards (eg. "command cards") often have a player issue of "why can't I at least try to do XYZ", that dice-based games do not (eg. player tries to make a lucky roll of the dice).

And, then, there're the Lost Worlds "one on one" combat books! Anyone remember them? (:
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Offline Elbows

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Re: Avoiding Melee Yahtzee
« Reply #29 on: December 05, 2022, 08:46:48 PM »
I could do a whole damn thesis as to why I like using cards in games... :D

 

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