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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 3:38 pm 
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I was asked, while making posts that were primarily about fluff, to make some comments on the state of the rules. There really is no way for me to do this without taking matters into my own hands and investing myself.

As I have stressed in my other posts I am not accustomed to working for free, however, my interest and motivation in these works has proven to be hard to dismiss. Below is a lengthy review of rules material as it is presented in "Alpha Rules 0.1.2". This extends to only page twelve of the material as I feel I can cover most of the core issues with the system in that portion of the book. Had I unlimited time I'm certain I could spend days or weeks reworking things, that is simply not an option at this time.

The pillars of game design.

• Limit "down-time": Players should spend as little time as possible "waiting" for things to take place. Down-time disrupts a players sense of immersion and leads to players "fading" as the game becomes extended and they slowly lose interest.


• Immersion; It is important that a players drive to take part in the game is not only enhanced by fluff and the hobby side of this product but also by compelling game play. Their are MANY factors of player psychology that must be addressed. The most compelling of these is frequently their sense of "ownership". Fostering a sense of ownership in each player not only ensures the repeat customer but also allows many game dynamics to be avoided or curtailed.

I.E. : Players destroying one another's pieces creates at least some level of animosity between opponents. This is one of the most common reasons for arguments and the breakdown of player "etiquette" in war-games. By forcing a player to make a "Saving-throw" each time a model faces death it becomes the fault of the controller that his pieces die (when a save is failed) rather than the fault of the attacker (who forced the save in the first place). This is merely one example of how rules can be used to aid in the controlling of player psychology and ensuring a smooth and FUN experience.


• Reflexive or Intuitive rules: Players should, when comfortable with the bulk of your game design, be able to make an educated guess as to how an unfamiliar mechanic could work. Games that force players into a position of pure memorization/regurgitation offer an advantage to the "rules lawyer" while leaving the "fan" or "casual player" in the dust. Rules should always reflect on their applied nature.

I.E. : Firing a weapon capable of streaming a perpetual hail of lead (say a .50 Cal.) should offer some form of increased damage when compared to a pistol. Players would simply assume this and prefer, when faced with such a choice, to take a hit from the pistol rather than the large machine-gun. This is also often referred to as the "common-sense" approach to rules design. It may seem like an obvious statement but I assure you this is so frequently overlooked that many games can attribute their downfall to this premise alone.



With these things in mind I approach the rule set (pages 1-12). I would remind readers that the most common mistake of game designers (and something I myself am guilty of from time to time) is that what looks good on paper (something that works in theory) may not always work best in practice. Play testing and ONLY play testing, extensively, is the only real method for perfecting a system such as this.

Making any edit on proper wording at this point would be a total waste of time. Every section requires a great deal more clarity. Most of them, such as measurements, require a complete re-write with more attention given to reader comprehension and "flow". Please keep in mind that nearly all war-gaming products (and newspapers/magazines) are written at a 5th grade reading level. Put simply, make your material easy to digest.


1) It is immediately unclear if this game is to be played with small units of troops (ala Warmachine) or is intended for a greater scale (40k). Or perhaps the testing of the product is merely on a small scale that will be increased at some later date. I cannot stress how much this affects my decisions on design here. Because I rather enjoy small conflicts that invite complex tactics I will offer my opinion as though it were your intention for the game to be played with only 5-15 models (whenever possible).

2) When making an example, keep clarity at the forefront of your thoughts. The very first example is long winded to the point of obscurity. All examples should be short, sweet, and include only one variable.

_As per example 1 "Skill/Attribute rolls"_

Bob would like to fire his "Mega-throttler-9000" at an innocent squirrel. Bob has a Ranged Skill of 11 and the poor squirrel a defense of 2. Bob would need a result of 9 or less on 2D6 in order to hit the squirrel (11-2=9). Bob rolls a 5 on one dice and a 1 on the other dice for a total of 6 (5+1=6). With a target number of 9 this means bob has hit the poor defenseless squirrel and generated a margin of success of 3 (9-6=3). After cleaning the viscera off his face mask bob decides he needs a bigger target...perhaps a cow.....

3)When discussing LOS (the greatest generator of arguments in war-games) make sure to clarify what counts as a targetable portion of a model. I.E.: Can I shoot at the tip of his rocket launcher since it's the only visible portion of the model? LOS must be given a great deal of attention. Never assume the player has any knowledge whatsoever when it comes to this, even if it seems like common sense you still need to spell it out.

4)Squads, unit coherency, skirmish VS war: This entire section needs a rewrite. I'm not entirely sure what happened here.

5) Command points: Never make players do division, even easy division, ever. Players should never be asked to do math that goes beyond 1-20 (preferably 1-10) and never anything but addition or subtraction. I cannot stress enough how important this is. I cannot stress how important this is. I cannot stress how important this is.

Variances: Only leader models generate command points. This is both realistic and saves you a great deal of math and down time. This would be analogs to a teacher in the classroom. With only ten students the teacher is able to spend a great deal of time tutoring each student. With 30 or more students the teacher loses effectiveness and cannot spend time so closely with each student.

6) Forcing models to move into command range, strictly from the perspective of warriors on the battlefield, serves nothing. A trooper could be pinned down in cover outside command range. Not only is he at the disadvantage of being without command while pinned, but he is also separated from the herd and a much easier kill. Mechanics should be second nature, make players WANT to make this compulsory move rather than requiring it. If this is some form of "control" in order to prevent the abuse of a yet unseen rule I would suggest the deletion/editing of that rule.

7) There should be more examples of what Difficult terrain is exactly.

8) Climbing should be akin to difficult terrain. Try scaling a wall (even a pre-built climbing wall) at running or jogging speed. I would point to earlier posts of mine that speak to the involvement of systems with each other. By allowing easier climbing you are also increasing the value of firearms (as sniper roosts are that much easier to reach). This kind of comparison CANNOT be overlooked and must be applied to everything you do! Every system, all of them, are connected.

9)Movement as per your current system gives incredible advantage to firearms. Additionally, high movement models are at an advantage in situations where "kiteing" is possible. I would carefully review this system. To stress this I would point to 40k, where movement has been normalised for this very reason. Their ARE ways to make variable movement values work. It would be ideal to modify your movement system to prevent these kinds of abuses or at the very least ensure that you're not "walking on egg-shells" when designing factions/units due to fear of movement abuse.

11) Stop forcing your players to do so much math! This is doing more harm than good, your just extending turn length and increasing down-time. Except for in the case of incredibly short range weapons you'll soon find that your range system has a huge number of redundancies. Longer range weapons simply never need to have their ranges calculated past a certain point because the board just inst that big. Firing from the center of the board means only calculating ranges up to 24 inches.

An easier approach

"Mega-throttler-9000" Range Short-9 Long-24 Extreme-36
Short range is no penalty, long range is -1, extreme range is -3.

You could even extend this to more variables if you wished without forcing players to do math. This seems to be overkill to me but you could get most of your variables in with -Point-Blank/Short/Medium/Long/Extreme.

13) Your "action clumping" appears to slow the game down more than allowing each model its own action would. I strongly suggest changing this, thought at its core, the system simply isn't strong enough to support that either. Your rules should reflect EITHER mass actions (40k) or individual tactics (skirmish). As per your current system the mishmash of rules is going to make for messy, lengthy, and slow games. I feel a more single minded and CLEAR direction is needed in order to make these design choices.

14)A perfect example of "neither here nor their" is your method of determining hits. While a MODEIFIED version of this could be used for making unit actions viable in a war-scale game it has no value in a skirmish game that should be offering actions to each model rather than clumping. As per most of the rules it seems your attempting to make shortcuts (to create less down-time) without defining why those shortcuts are being made.

15) Squad/bonuses/cover. These cover descriptions need some love. This method of bonuses, assuming we are using the "all-out-war" approach, should be more carefully controlled. If we assume all models are identically equipped, have identical stats, and all fire at the same enemy unit, were fine. Let us however place even a small variable into the mix, one member has a different kind of weapon, or a different Ranged skill. Suddenly were presented with some interesting issues. Other major issues with this include firearms and their Rate OF Fire. Is it clear where I'm going with this? Your solution to the immediate issue of clone troopers firing on their target is good, but creates more problems than it solves when we include even the most common variable.

16) Clearly you don't intend for the entire mortar team (loader, gunner, mule) to offer a bonus to hit when firing the weapon. Or at the very least, 15 people standing around one mortar should not increase the chance of it hitting yeah? The fellow loading it shouldn't give a bonus to hit, however, at the moment he does. Also, you're asking players to do division again, big "no no" on that.

17)A more realistic Mortar damage system would be a "kill" zone and "injury" zone. This is how they are actually classified in real life. Mortars do roughly the same (effective) damage at 1 foot from the blast as they do at 10 feet, with their injury zone say from 10-30 feet. I would suggest avoiding the "center of template = nuke" mechanic. This is of course ONLY an opinion but try to keep in mind, the more believable the world, the more immersed the player. Mechanics should reflect, as much as they can, this premise of "plausible" you have been holding to.

18) Your using a single D6 system to resolve damage. This brings us back to a design fundamental that should never be ignored. If you're dealing with values of 1-10 then you should be able to, just as easily, decrease the amount of math players must deal with and use values of 1-5. In summation, if a single D6 works for damage, then it should work for rolling to-hit etc as well.

Don't get me wrong. I understand this approach lowers your effective stat range which in turn lowers your total number of +/- applications. I'm with you on this 100%. My point is that players should be offered a single system for all actions. As an example, players asked to roll below a certain number when making checks should not then be asked to roll ABOVE that number for other checks. Things should be simple, intuitive, and consistent.

19) Your first two statements in "Multiple Combats" are, at the surface, completely contradictory. On a side note, never bother with a verbal explanation (your immediately following explanation) when an image can create a far more meaningful example.

Split my attacks between the two or allocate my attacks as I see fit?

20) What is the reasoning behind introducing a compulsory -1 to strength when REACHING but not exceeding a target number in melee. Again I would ask if their is some other mechanic in the background that this has some role in or if it was introduced arbitrarily. It seems, from my observations, to carry no weight.

Placing some control over the maximum number of hits able to be inflicted in melee should be completed with the actual MATH involved in the action. In other words, we should not be asking players to multiply anything by anything to ensure they don't get "too many" hits. Instead the result should be implicit to the actual values being used (as per 40k melee). On a side note this creates issues once again when we stray into variables (not all the same model etc).

21) Their are a variety of small, but important, wording errors throughout this work. Players that are being asked to expend time and energy to play test for you should have an equal amount of work invested in them. I would suggest your next play test copy be far more robust and THUROUGHLY checked for semantic errors before it is placed in their hands. An example follows, the number of interpretations for this should be glaring, especially when taken in the context of other rule material it inherits.

"Fighting over Linear Obstacles"

If a model has enough movement to get into base contact with an enemy model, but their is a Linear Obstacle in the way, simply place the model on the other side of the Linear Obstacle and count them as being in base contact.

I made it to page 12. I feel that at this point I've covered many of the points I wished to adress when I read through these rules the first time. I'm certain thiers more I could say or something I have missed.

Unfortunately, this could take another 10-15 pages of material. I feel like the work presented here should convey my thoughts on the bulk of what is presented without my being forced to completely rework anything massive. Yes, I'm intentionally avoiding other material such as overwatch and stealth markers. Thiers simply so much that needs to be fixed on the most fundamental level that doing any work on them would be a fruitless investment of time. A final decision on statistics, what dice should be used and how, where modifiers will come from and how "controls" can be placed on clear abuses leaves far too many questions to bother with broader subjects like the aformentioned Overwatch etc..

This system needs a Minimum of 1 month (realistically 3-4 months) of non-stop work with no less than 3-4 games a night by in-house play testers before it should be re-released as a testable material. This review is based more on dealing with the development of the system than the actual rules. I feel VERY strongly that if the development system for this game can be corrected then the rules will naturally begin to fall in line with something players can more easily interpret and enjoy.

Thanks for your time and energy.

E


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:39 am 
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Great and inciteful review! I agree with many points. Here are a few that I don't or am not sure on.


11. I agree with this point, except the part about range. It is really no trouble to figure out which range band a target is in. Compare this to your "Battle-tech-y" range idea. Three numbers to look up or memorize, instead of one. This adds to stat card looking up and such. Either way works okay in the end, I prefer DP.



No 12?


13. Not sure how having squad members do the same action at the same time slows the game down. A more detailed explanination or example would help me here.


16. You make a great point. But you could argue that each crewmember contributing the team would help make sure that the ordinance gets to where you want it in a timely manner. Squad bonus seems fine here. Obviously when it gets to the theoretical army of spotters n' loaders it gets outa hand. Don't see how that would damage the game if there is no such thing as artillery pieces crewed by that many people.


All in all, I agree that the game is crude and splotchy at best, and I agree on that amount of time and workload needed to get this even into beta. This game isn't hopeless though. As it has been said many times, this game has great potential.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:11 pm 
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@kienata: I tip my hat to you good sir, for you are a scholar and a gentleman. ^_^

After reading through your review, I believe you touched on many things that I've said in the past, but unfortunately my points have been flattened by statements of "it makes the game go faster to clump actions" rather than resolving things individually...

Let me give my biggest example...

Me playing out 1 turn of 40k at 1500 points = 10-15 minutes

Me playing out 1 turn of Warmachine at 35 points = <10 minutes

Me playing out 1 turn of Infinity at 150 points = <5 minutes (Even with AROs)


Again, thanks for doing this review, perhaps Matt will take it to heart, and I find it odd that the people who shot me down haven't stepped up to put a bullet through each of your wings. ^_^

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:14 pm 
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I think someone's a bit of a drama queen :P


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:16 pm 
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I sense someone is trying to bring out my inner troll. =P

And please be sure to stay on topic Chief, pointed one-liner insults directed at other forum members are not permissable, please be sure to read the forum rules or else you might find yourself receiving a warning from the Inquisition. ;)

On topic:

I agree with my previous post, the game needs refinement, but thankfully it's still only Alpha, if Matt takes note of the things discussed he will be able to mold this into a fine skirmish game. ^_^

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 6:44 pm 
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Matt hinted at forthcoming rules updates in today's DP update. Hopefully he has had the time to really mull over everything that's been said in this forum. Lots of thought has been put in by lots of people.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:54 pm 
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Hmm... I can't seem to locate this update you're talking about. =/

A link would be most appreciated. ^_^

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:48 am 
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGNor0iNaXg&feature=g-u-u&context=G2d0478eFUAAAAAAAYAA

Link as requested...Discussion of playtesting starts at like 0:20.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:29 pm 
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Another amazing write up of the current flaws in the system. I only wish I had the knowledge you have or the capability to express myself in a similar fashion.

That said, there are a few things that I would like to point out. Please note these aren't in any particular order.

I agree with having no Division. Addition and Subtraction would be the best, but the current ranges system is alright. It isn't the best but since the game focuses on cover combat then it is unlikely that shooting down the board will be viable.

13) I think it is supposed to be a squad based skirmish game. Each squad would be similar to our special ops, such as the SEALs or the Rangers. If that was the case, then the rules to treat each squad as an individual makes sense. I personally like the idea if it can be implemented properly. As you have pointed out, the current rules don't clarify everything.

5) On regenerating Command Points, it should just be a number on the card or a flat number. Might make the card a bit bulkier but it would be easier in the end.

17) I think that using a template similar to the Warmachine AOE template could be viable if we combine it with your idea of a dead zone. It could be that, just using the warmachine template as an example, the entire template is what is hit. What is under AOE 3 is dead if it wounds, no saves. AOE 4 allows for a save and AOE 5 allows for a save +2. Just an idea I thought of.

6) it should be reworded that a movement a model makes must be towards coherency up to its movement stat. I think that would solve the problem you have with it. A little rewording but it would prevent a model that is pinned from being forced to move.

16) This goes with my idea of small squads. If you are not allowed to arbitrarily increase a squad size, then the squad bonus would be fine. A loader, a gunner, and a spotter all help with a motar crew and without one of them then the squad would not preform as well.

19) If you think about it, its even worse than what you thought. My biggest problem with it right now is that a squad can only preform 1 action. Lets say half my models are in melee (I also think the melee range should be increased if you're going to have a lot of terrain for ease of model placement) and the other half is not. Do I only get to make a melee attack or do I only get to make a range attack? That is just one problem I have with the action portion.

Overall I am glad this is still in alpha and that he is play testing the rules. If we give it time, hopefully a lot of the issues will be ironed out before Beta is released. Otherwise I hope there is an email account dedicated to issues discovered during game play.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:33 pm 
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For your melee example, all models must attempt to move into melee, then all may make melee attacks.
Alternatively, all may retreat, risking the free strikes, then attempt a ranged attack.

It was pretty clear on that point at least, or at least I thought so...


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:05 pm 
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Chief wrote:
For your melee example, all models must attempt to move into melee, then all may make melee attacks.
Alternatively, all may retreat, risking the free strikes, then attempt a ranged attack.

It was pretty clear on that point at least, or at least I thought so...


I've played both Warmachine and Warhammer and have found that Warmachine fixes this problem some. Think of it this way, if your troops are in an alley wide enough for 2 abreast and can see enemies through the window they'd shoot the enemy. If at the same time the front 2 people of the squad is in melee with another enemy, then we run into a problem. Assuming a 5 man squad, that means during your turn either only 2 men attack in melee or 3 men shoot or the front 2 risk free strikes(basically die) to try to get 2 more shots in.

It is a very specific example but I've run into problems with high terrain games into getting all my models into melee. Even if 1 person gets into melee, you can shut down a squad since its been shown that squads function best when there is 4-5 members in it.

My solution would be to combine the two into an attack action. A model can make either a melee or ranged attack during the turn. This prevents shutting down models for one turn. But that is my two bits, I personally just feel its dumb to have people in a tight nit squad do nothing during the turn.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:26 pm 
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@BobofDoom: This is why I believe DP should move towards a more Warmachine-esque rules set.

With that said, many people have said it slows down the game and the game is supposed to be fast, but honestly, once you get it all down it's pretty quick, and DP doesn't have all the +1 for Charging, +10 for being Uber, -20 for OMGBacon, etc. stuff that WarmaHordes does, so in all honesty would it really hurt if a squad activated all at once and each individual model acted - individually - just like a normal human being? I mean you can always have Order: Combined Fire/Fire for Effect etc. to give a bonus for all models in the unit pooling their shoots to bring down a X'Lanthos Reaver (Yes, I just named the X'Lanthos Hardsuit/Mech)

Edit: Apologies for the wall o' text.

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