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Author Topic: Jugde Dredd Rules for 40k (SciFi) Skirmish?  (Read 6184 times)

Offline maxxon

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Re: Jugde Dredd Rules for 40k (SciFi) Skirmish?
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2014, 05:53:57 AM »
The big problem with gang skirmish campaign systems is the assumption that the gangs cash is only used to buy new guys and guns.

I think most campaign systems that let you feed your victories straight back into the game are fundamentally flawed. This means pretty much all of them.

Let's say you are a general conducting a military campaign, perhaps rooting out enemy strongholds on a jungle island.

You're doing swell, whupping the other guy left and right without any problems.

Then you ask the high command for reinforcements and maybe a naval bombardment for support. They should be eager to support such a successful general as you, right?

HECK NO!

The way they see it, they've already given you more than enough. They're going to pressure you to finish it faster or even TAKE AWAY some of your assets as you clearly don't really need them.

This is the reality of a relatively low level military campaign. And it's also an excellent balancing tool for a game. Yet you never see it in a game. Why?

Because it's a negative feedback loop. You're penalized for success, which may be realistic but it's not much fun (unless you're the type to enjoy punishment and challenge -- most people aren't). Most people are quite happy driving with training wheels all their life.

Destroying an enemy fuel depot means less enemy tanks with fuel -- it does NOT mean you get magically more tanks.
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Offline Momotaro

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Re: Jugde Dredd Rules for 40k (SciFi) Skirmish?
« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2014, 03:10:24 PM »
Two Hour Wargames campaigns are interesting.  In Nuts! (WWII) there's a small chance that you turn up for a scrap with a couple of fire teams, and a Tiger tank rolls on from the other side of the board.  Your mission objectives change somewhat drastically...

In their FNG game, your experienced guys start to lose Reputation (the one stat in the game) as they get close to going home - they just don't want to take chances any more.

All Things Zombie has/had a rule where if you're doing really badly against other human survivors, your own troops may choose to put a bullet your character and join the opposition  :o

Rally Round the King has a random table for each army - you get a core for your basic troop roster, and roll the rest randomly.

The GURPS WWII RPG made the point that even though you were starting as a heroic character, that was probably as good as it was going to get  The rules for injury, illness and mental trauma meant that your PC often ended the campaign on a LOWER points total.

I think people like playing with all their minis, and the thought that you can't field everything you've spent weeks painting, or that all your replacements start as mooks or your starting force is as good as it gets in a campaign are more for those who enjoy a narrative or "lifelike" game.   It certainly changes the way players treat their forces...

Offline Major_Gilbear

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Re: Jugde Dredd Rules for 40k (SciFi) Skirmish?
« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2014, 07:32:15 AM »
Not wishing to derail this too much further from Jan's original question, but there is another reason why you'd want to reward players for doing well in a campaign even if it's unrealistic; incentive.

Many players find it a slog to struggle through a series of linked games, stuck with choices which may not have been optimal (or decent choices which may have been worsened) along the way. If a game goes too far to one player, the losing player may be in a very difficult position to even carry on, let alone win the next game.

By rewarding players as they "win", it encourages them to husband their troops a bit more, and to take more calculated risks that often err on the side of damage mitigation.

Afterall, a game is supposed to be fun for both players, not just those who do well in a campaign. For some folks, they might be fine losing dismally, but many people I think prefer more contested games.

Many games try and get around this imbalance in a number of ways.

Necromunda gave the Underdog Bonus to the weaker team, and also washed gang income through a table that became less profitable as you got bigger/earned more. The Underdog bonus was too powerful IMO, and lead to a sort of economic inflation rather than real growth in terms of the "campaign economics". The income table was also a nuisance as it meant that there was little effort in earning more past a certain point, and it made sense to spend you efforts looking for better gear etc instead (which in real terms was waaay more powerful).

Deadzone works by costing all upgrades into point and you have to take the same points as your opponent - you can therefore take the more experienced guys and have fewer of them, or you can take rookies but have more of them. To me, this fails because there is no real "reward" - you can always take better troops than basic grunts in a straight one-off fight anyway, and I therefore feel that the system devalues your efforts. This goes double for factions with very low model counts that need the numbers more than they need the veterancy.

What I propose would be a better compromise is that bigger gangs get a bonus in terms of what size "points" they get (afterall, they are more powerful!), but still have to choose which cronies to send to confront the weaker gang. So in abstract terms, a gang that is 10%+ more veteran than another would get a 10% boost in forces that they can field. Those forces must be drawn from the gang though, and might not include the whole gang. That would provide a relative bonus for "doing well", but would also limit the advantage over weaker gangs. Afterall, a powerful and successful gang wouldn't regard a much weaker rival as enough of a threat to mobilise everyone. I would also say that any ganger that gets more than a certain amount of XP has an increasingly high chance of "graduating to management/retiring" or whatever outside your gang, and is removed from your roster. This stops gangs getting too top-heavy with over-skilled unkillable veterans.

Offline maxxon

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Re: Jugde Dredd Rules for 40k (SciFi) Skirmish?
« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2014, 08:13:01 AM »
What I propose would be a better compromise is that bigger gangs get a bonus in terms of what size "points" they get (afterall, they are more powerful!), but still have to choose which cronies to send to confront the weaker gang. So in abstract terms, a gang that is 10%+ more veteran than another would get a 10% boost in forces that they can field.

Sorry, I don't quite follow your logic.

So, a gang that is 100% more veteran gets 100% more points, i.e. double. And then proceeds to beat the underdog to pulp, netting more experience etc. to feed the vicious cycle.

How is this fun for the losing player?

It's like giving Tiger Woods free swings because after all, he's a better golfer than me.

Offline Major_Gilbear

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Re: Jugde Dredd Rules for 40k (SciFi) Skirmish?
« Reply #19 on: September 25, 2014, 10:24:02 AM »
Sorry, I don't quite follow your logic.

So, a gang that is 100% more veteran gets 100% more points, i.e. double. And then proceeds to beat the underdog to pulp, netting more experience etc. to feed the vicious cycle.

 ??? Not what I wrote!

If the difference between the gangs is at least 10% or more, then they get a small points advantage, something like a flat 10%. Thus they get to choose up to 110pts worth of models from their pool (which might be worth say 300pts) to go up against 100pts of the other gang. The veterancy (in terms of relative value) is still factored in.

That way, the difference is maybe up to 10% in favour of the "better" gang, but that's a cap that they cannot go beyond (and might have to leave some crew at home). Thus, it's an advantage, but it's not a kerb-stomping.

Compare it to a game like Necromunda where there could easily be a huge difference between gangs in a fight, and the only advantage that the underdog gets is a big XP bonus if they survive (which won't help make the game fun if they either (1) get pulped with serious injuries and deaths, or (2) run away as soon as two fighters are downed to cash in on the XP bonanza).

Deadzone just means that you field fewer and fewer models as they gain XP, and given the way the missions work, that's basically pointless for gangs like Enforcers or Asterians who usually don't field more than 5 fairly basic troops to start with. It balanced that way, yes, but totally un-fun and removes the incentive for actually trying to improve your gang.

Offline maxxon

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Re: Jugde Dredd Rules for 40k (SciFi) Skirmish?
« Reply #20 on: September 25, 2014, 11:48:42 AM »
??? Not what I wrote!

If the difference between the gangs is at least 10% or more, then they get a small points advantage, something like a flat 10%.

Okay, it seems I missed the great significance if the single plus sign in your text... mea culpa.

I'm not sure I agree this is the ticket, but at least it caps the winner's advantage somehow.

Offline Major_Gilbear

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Re: Jugde Dredd Rules for 40k (SciFi) Skirmish?
« Reply #21 on: September 25, 2014, 01:04:22 PM »
Okay, it seems I missed the great significance if the single plus sign in your text... mea culpa.

I'm not sure I agree this is the ticket, but at least it caps the winner's advantage somehow.
I don't think it's a perfect solution either, but I feel it helps to reward success without penalizing players with lower-rated gangs/forces too much.

Ultimately though, it's a fairly simple (i.e. rough) solution to a much more complex issue (being; how do you fairly measure the *exact* value of any upgrade or improvement, and then translate two wildly different forces into a reasonably fair game easily whilst still keeping it interesting for both players). I don't think that any better solutions would be much simpler, and certainly getting the correct balance is hard enough for a lot of games even without adding an experience system.

Anyway, we're long departed from the original topic now.  :?

Offline Doomsdave

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Re: Jugde Dredd Rules for 40k (SciFi) Skirmish?
« Reply #22 on: September 27, 2014, 02:27:04 PM »
Scurv:  Excellent points about balance.  I agree, in fact, I have come to avoid "balanced" points-cost style rules.  It's so much more fun to have scenarios that match the background or present an opportunity for last stand type endings. 
This is my boomstick!

Offline n815e

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Re: Jugde Dredd Rules for 40k (SciFi) Skirmish?
« Reply #23 on: September 28, 2014, 04:41:46 AM »
For a wonderful example of a narrative campaign (though not Dredd...), check out this thread:
http://leadadventureforum.com/index.php?topic=18462.0

Offline Major_Gilbear

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Re: Jugde Dredd Rules for 40k (SciFi) Skirmish?
« Reply #24 on: September 29, 2014, 10:40:28 AM »
Scurv, I take your point about relative balance and agree.

However, we all know why points (and "balance") are so popular - it allows pick-up games easily without too much preparation, and should ensure a reasonably-close game (hopefully). It also allows for abstraction - if two loyalist Space Marine forces are fighting each other outside a specially-contrived scenario, then you don't really "need" to explain it as it's not that sort of game.

Some people like these pick-up games more than others, and that's fair enough. If you have a small pool of regular players, scenarios might well be the better option. If you're short on time though and don't fancy playing your Blood Angels against your mate's Dark Angels again though, at least one of you will need an OPFOR army... And that can often end up getting rather expensive nowadays.

Campaign play that has the equivalent of "points" or "balance" built into it serves the same purpose; that is, participation without lots of up-front preparation and in-game mediation.

Offline maxxon

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Re: Jugde Dredd Rules for 40k (SciFi) Skirmish?
« Reply #25 on: September 30, 2014, 06:21:39 AM »
Or in games like car wars arena fights where you want a perfectly balanced match.

I played a LOT of Car Wars back in the day. Heck, I was a card carrying member of the AADA.

It does have a very good point system, but it has to be taken in context.

I think much of the critique against point systems stems from false premise, misundertanding about what the point system is supposed to provide and admittedly, poorly executed point system (almost all of them these days).

Let's examine Car Wars. The first thing you have to understand is that ultimately the game is a sports simulation. Autodueling is a sport and all the basic arena scenarios start with mirrored setups and same objectives for everyone. There is no need to balance attacker vs. defender because there is no attacker and no defender, everyone is the same.

Now the big thing almost everyone seems to misunderstand about point systems:

All Division 10 cars are not created equal. Quite the opposite, building the better car with the same budget is big part of the game (substitute "army list" for "car" in most other games).

As for the subcomponents: All $2000 guns are not equal either (substite "unit" or "option" in other games).  But each of them has a place in a well constructed point system. When some stuff becomes must-buy or never-buy, you have a badly balanced system. Admittedly, Car Wars didn't always manage this with all the expansions, newer hardware would often obsolete older stuff and consequently all the designs made with the older stuff. This wasn't a major issue, because eveyone was going to design new cars anyway and there was no other cost (e.g. buying new minis) involved.

But here's the kicker: Everyone has an equal chance to create the winning car. That's what the system provides.

How is this possible? How could a game from the 80's manage something that seems to elude all modern game designers?

Because the system is based on equality. Everyone has access to the same stuff, at the same prices.

No faction-specific special rules or limitations.

That's the real reason why it works. The moment you say Bill has to buy bikes while Carl gets cars you have just broken the system.

Incidentally, BattleTech was pretty much the same before they screwed it up with the clan stuff... and gee, with the clans came the clan bidding system because there was no longer any other way to balance the game...

But today you can't build a game like that. Oh no, a game has to have ten different factions, all with their own special rules because either the players are too stupid to try different tactics otherwise or the game is too poorly written to reward different tactics unless they are backed by special rules exceptions!

(Sorry, pet peeve of mine)

Offline Major_Gilbear

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Re: Jugde Dredd Rules for 40k (SciFi) Skirmish?
« Reply #26 on: September 30, 2014, 07:42:28 AM »
@ maxxon:

I think that list-building as it's own game is actually the main "game" of WHFB and 40k nowadays. Few will openly admit it, but I sense that waaay more energy goes into list-building than actual game-playing (or painting, or modelling) in those games.

One thing that I like(d) about Infinity when I started was akin to what you were saying about equality; every faction had equivalent troops, at a similar points level, and with the same or similar weapons.

So a Nomad Spektr was equivalent to a Yu Jing Ninja, who was equivalent to the PanO Croc Man, who was equivalent to the Haqq Tuareg for example.

They all occupy the same points slot (give or take a couple of points), come a basic assault rifle as standard equipment, all have Thermo-Optic Camo, and all have a similar statline.
In fact, their minor differences and their value to their parent faction, are what make them stand out more. Some might have an option for laying mines as an upgrade, some might have a slightly better shooting stat, some might have a targeter, and some might be better in melee.
None of these things makes a huge difference when the models are paired off against each other on the table, but as part of the overall "style" of their faction, these add up to a bigger whole.

Another advantage of each faction have a very similar equivalent to each others' models is that when you play against an unfamiliar faction, you know more or less what to expect. If I see my opponent reveal a Ninja, I know that it's similar to my Spektr, even if I've not really played against Yu Jing before. Sure, there are a few surprise skills or kit items form time to time, but it's not like other games where somebody plops a model onto the table and you have a total WTF moment.

Nowadays though, too many games insist on have unique weapons and skills for each faction, which not only makes it very hard to balance, but it also makes it tricky to expand any forces without devolving into lots of clunky rules add-ons.

Another thing which I liked about Infinity was that it has two points systems. Regular points as usual, but also a second smaller pool of "Support Weapon Cost" points. This is to "fund" weapons and skills that are especially powerful, or even options that are unusual for a faction.

Thus, something like a big sniper rifle or a heavy machine gun which have a big impact on small-scale skirmish game cost a fair few SWC points in addition to costing regular points.

Some skills, which come with specialist equipment and can be used aggressively (like Engineer with demo charges or Hacker with a hacking device) also cost a little SWC, but much less so than the big weapons mentioned.

If you want an unusual choice, like wanting a very low-ranking grunt to be your leader, you also pay a few SWC for the privilege.

Very occasionally, choosing an obvious leader model will increase your SWC pool a little, but then you do paint a bullseye on who your leader is!

________________________________________________________

I guess what I'm trying to get here is that there are other systems or mechanisms where a pick-up game is possible, using mismatched forces, and still have it balanced.

To continue the Infinity example above, you could maybe pitch a 200pt force with 6 SWC against a 300pt force with 2 SWC, and I feel it could be balanced. But then you have to balance two points systems, which is where I feel having "equal or equivalent" models helps, although I know it's not always possible or even desirable.

Offline Jan

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Re: Jugde Dredd Rules for 40k (SciFi) Skirmish?
« Reply #27 on: September 30, 2014, 06:18:43 PM »
Special Faction rules and no same Pool give a game and their Factions more Charakter and identity. Some players like this a lot, i think.
The Orc Faction has the meele  / crazy stuff and the other faction has the high tech shooty stuff for example. It would go wrong with the fluff, if the orc faction could choose the high tech stuff, too. So this is the big plus. Sure balancing is more difficult between factions.

Pulp Alley.
IHMN.
AE Bounty (?).

All are modern examples for "same pool" type of game. In this systems you have to balance the abilitys, cause no one wants abilitys/skills you choose everytime or never, though everyone could take/use them.

Cheers
« Last Edit: September 30, 2014, 06:23:07 PM by Jan »
X-Wing | Oak & Iron | Old West & Sci-Fi Skirmish (WiP)

Offline maxxon

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Re: Jugde Dredd Rules for 40k (SciFi) Skirmish?
« Reply #28 on: October 01, 2014, 06:04:10 AM »
IHMN.
...
All are modern examples for "same pool" type of game.

None of those are "big time" games, but let's ignore that.

Let's examine IHMN. The game has full build rules, you can build anything from guns to characters. Well, almost anything, powers and talents have to be bought off a list...

Yet what are the most popular IHMN supplements? Ready-made factions! Some with their own special rules that can't quite be re-created with the free build rules... mind boggles! People are given total freedom to do whatever they want, yet they crave someone to tell them what they should do??? Are they sheep or men?

(Yes, there were sheet cars for Car Wars and sheet mechs for BattleTech, but it's not quite the same thing)

Let's address this flavor thing:

Nothing in a common pool system prevents you from building an "orky" or "tau" or whatever list if that's what you want. (Arguably the new unbound/ally rules have turned 40K into a common pool system, but let's not go there now).

So what's the benefit of preventing orks from being good at shooting?

Introducing mandatory weak points. Essentially this is the basis of the Rock-Paper-Scissors school of game design. Each beats one and loses to one, so the system is balanced, right? Sort of... except the problem with RPS design is that rock vs. rock is a really boring match, nevermind that real wars are typically fought between roughly equal opponents (at least the interesting ones).

What is the thing people fear about common pool systems?

Everything turning out the same, i.e. a dominant design emerging and everyone taking the same thing.

In other words, people fear the system is badly designed.

Except it's happening with faction systems too, wittness the never-ending discussions about which are the top tier armies right now, the popularity of net lists etc.

I never saw "the best car" emerge in all my time playing Car Wars. Sure, there were good things to take and bad design choices, but I never saw someone always take the exact same car like you would do with a Drago-wing or Helldrake-spam or whatever the hot thing is these days...

Personally, I don't understand the infatuation with special rules. To me, having special rules means the basic game design is boring and the designer is trying to cover that up by introducing all these exceptions.

I think a good game has to be playable, interesting and tactically rewarding with just the basic rules. No extra crap tacked on.

Same with gambling. IMHO if you need to have money at stake to make the game interesting, it's not a very interesting game.

To close off, consider sports.

Basically all sports feature equal teams, using similar equipment, trying to do the same thing. Sometimes they alternate in a sort of attacker/defender way, but you don't have only one team getting innings.

If that's a hugely boring premise, then no one watches sports, right?
Does that mean all sports matches play out the same way? Does that mean there is only one best tactic in football and everyone plays the same way?


Offline Major_Gilbear

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Re: Jugde Dredd Rules for 40k (SciFi) Skirmish?
« Reply #29 on: October 01, 2014, 08:19:54 AM »
I agree that having a common "pool" is not the problem. I also don't mind the occasional rule that applies to a faction or army that cannot be had by another, but I'd prefer such things to be occasional, and not an integral part of the design. Where they are integral, it usually turns out to make that faction really limited/limiting in the long run.

maxxon makes a good point about the Rock-Paper-Scissors game design - I personally hate it when a faction is supposed to be one of those things. If a faction has a modest bias towards one, but can fulfil all three, then that's fair and should make for a good balanced game.

A good example is Warmachine, where some builds are very strong natural counters to one type of enemy list, but fold readily to other lists. I noticed that since the streamlining in the second edition, these armies seem to be more common than before, and rather than producing a close match they instead produce a very frustrating and dull game - either because they are too closely-matched or because one clearly trounces the other.

I also agree that special rules and abilities should not cover for a boring game design. I feel that this is actually the real failing of Deadzone for me - the game rules are inherently dull and really only work "well" when the units have stats in a very narrow range band. The game then compensates for this with loads of special rules, many of which are similar but kept separate so that they can "stack" with each other. Warmachine on the other hand has a very fun base set of mechanics, and thus even games using just the starter boxes are surprisingly entertaining.

However, common pool type games can still represent lots of nuances easily and still be balanced. Even in 40k, the key differences between an Ork and a Space Marine are just a few tweaks in the basic trooper statline. Assuming the base game mechanics are solid and fun, there is really no reason to differentiate much further than that - a big chunky gun like a bolter or a shoota can easily be as high or low tech as you want, and the same gun can otherwise serve both troops equally well (and in fact, historically, Orks and Space Marines used to have the same gun in earlier incarnations of 40k).

In terms of games like AE:Bounty, you have to define the races of all your troops. Each race has some differences; choosing the race that best suits an Ork would instantly change how that force plays against another faction with a different race selection. In terms of equipment, a lot comes down to the explanation and visual representation of the rule rather than the rule itself - a monomolecular blade can just as easily be a huge Ork warlord's favourite choppa as it can be a finely-wrought Imperial Guard commander's family heirloom power-sabre depending on how you explain it.

Even in Infinity, which I explained earlier has a very high degree of equivalence between different factions' troops, still manages to feel unique based on what choices are available, and on certain minor statline differences. It only takes small tweaks and choices here and there to produce this effect too.

If you set out a rough template for a force to be composed by, and then let players pick and choose to suit the fluff and their models, you'll find that in the vast majority of cases you will get the end result you want without having to force it.

So you could say to players, "you must choose Ork or Gretchin races when making a greenskins army", and then let them choose what they want within that. If Ork stats are such that high-volume-fire guns and big close combat weapons are more useful than sniper rifles and energy pistols, then that's how most players will build anyway.

Plus, common pool list building does have the advantage that all players know what everything is - there are no surprises because you didn't realise that Weapon X has a special rule that makes your Armour Y totally useless (and you didn't realise because the rules for Weapon X only come in a book that you don't own).

For me, this sort of nonsense is actually one of the biggest turn-offs of games designed around lots of faction-only special rules and equipment. Add in list secrecy, and that's one of my biggest dislikes of the GW games in general (and one reason why a lot of players insist of WYSIWYG miniature representation - which I also really hate except in general terms).

 

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