Some honest criticism

Discuss the mechanics of Dark Potential here.
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Some honest criticism

Post by Inger » Fri Mar 22, 2013 3:51 pm

:!:

I'm late to the party and figure it's probably way, way too late for feedback to make it into the game. But what can I say I only found out about Dark Potential when I saw the "store is closing" video. Definitely a bummer in that regard.

Anyway after reading through the rules (latest from the website - Version 0.1.5 Feb 25) I am left feeling like the game is kind of a bland rehash of 40k (just talking mechanics, not fluff). Not only that but the rules already feel dated compared to some of the mechanical innovations happening in other games. Let me list of some of the problems I see:

- Statline is Mv, Df, Ar, St, At, RA, CC, Pr, Mr, Wo, CP, Pt, Lm...doesn't that seem a BIT excessive? Let's face it, in 40k Strength, Attacks, and Initiative are really just around because plain fantasy Warhammer had them. Do you really need to build a system from the ground up that inherits this flaw? You still have Strength on weapons, which again just feels old and backwards. Don't you think it's time to evolve past needing a long series of rolls just to resolve a shooting attack?
- UGO-IGO. Come oooooon. Infinity has their AROs, Two Hour Wargames has Chain Reaction, even Song of Blades and Heroes has a unique initiative system. But you went for the most boring and tedious turn sequence. Nothing like sitting down for an hour while your opponent shoots you to pieces. I'm not saying "be unique just to be unique", but honestly did you consider any other mechanics besides reskinning an already bad ruleset?
- Forced action order. Why why why must a unit move and then shoot? Why can't they shoot and move? Again, just a tedious holdover from 40k. I know this is all harsh and likely to be shouted down and ignored, but honestly, did you even READ other rulesets?
- Exact same range bands regardless of weapon? Yeah because hitting with a shotgun at 25" is just as easy as a scoped rifle.
- Snuck some multiplication in there for Rate of Fire eh? Nothing like mixing math.
- Cannot shoot into close combat. A bad mechanic in 40k, but excusable since it was written in the 80s. No idea why a person would include it now. At least here you can voluntarily leave close combat (and suffer an attack of opportunity).
- Roll low to hit. How counterintuitive can you get? After all everyone is excited to roll 1s :|
- So to resolve shooting you have to roll Ranged Attack (two operations), calculate RoF (with multiplication), determine Wounds (more subtraction), and then phew, done the most basic, repeated action in the game. Oh except shooting into cover has a different resolution system for the last half.
- Overwatch is needlessly complex, and having "Combat Ready" as the close combat equivalent doesn't make things better.
- For Morale you are basically testing everytime you are shot, even if the attack has no effect. With the ancient UGO-IGO style, it seems like the second player would end up with a bunch of Broken units just because some bullets breezed by them. So bizarre to have Morale taken that often. These are supposed to be soldiers and not scared children right?
- Special rules, glad to see there is a bit long winded list that will continuously have to be checked. I mean no one ever complains about 40k having Tanks, Jump Jets, Jetbikes, Cavalry, etc. all split :|

So anyways, like I said probably too late for feedback. But I'm just baffled why a person would release a ruleset like this in 2013?! This reads like the first game a teenager who has just played 40k would write.

Good luck with the miniatures and general Dark Potential release. It's obviously not for me, but plenty of people care more about just moving some figures around as compared to an actual tactical, strategic, engaging game, so you should do fine. :?

EDIT: Added rules version I had worked from.
Last edited by Inger on Mon Apr 01, 2013 6:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Some honest criticism

Post by Inger » Tue Mar 26, 2013 11:31 am

No replies? :( I was hoping to get a discussion going or understand some of the design decisions made so far.

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Re: Some honest criticism

Post by miniwargaming » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:13 pm

Hey Inger,

I think the reason there are no replies is because these issues have been brought up already and dealt with. I do appreciate the feedback, however our playtesting is showing that the current ruleset is actually working quite well, with only minor tweaks needed to balance the units.

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Re: Some honest criticism

Post by Inger » Mon Apr 01, 2013 12:02 pm

Hmm I tried to do a read through of the old forum posts but I didn't find a lot of answers to some of my questions. Just seems like some of the fundamental aspects of the game might need to be reconsidered. I guess if you are happy with the ruleset and how it's playing that's what matters :) Hopefully it's not just a "yes man" echo chamber with your playtesters though? I'd recommend trying to get the game out to blind playtests of non-40k people and see how it goes.

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Re: Some honest criticism

Post by HowlingWolf1337 » Mon Apr 01, 2013 2:25 pm

I find your critisisms very misplaced. Bashing valid working ideas and spewing that they have not researched enough gamesystems because you like to play it differently makes your post reflect more of you than the game. Saying that "people don't like playing ones" and then also saying that other things are just ripoffs from other gamesystems because they work, seems a bit contradictory to me.

Also if a few additions and multiplications is to hard for you then maybe the nicely charted version of 40K is better for you (even thouigh DP could still in the future (when the game is actually launched and a rulebook is finished) have those same charts ready).

I love the game; and if an entire community likes it, contributes to it that is great. Finding blind beta testers is hard, but we (if you actually seen all the videos and the posts) are not just yes echoërs.

Ps. How is your gamesystem going?
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Re: Some honest criticism

Post by Inger » Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:44 pm

Hey HowlingWolf, thanks for responding, but I wish you had taken some time to address my points in detail instead of a general "no!" :)
At the very least touching on these would be helpful: long statline, UGO-IGO, forced action order, same range bands, roll low to hit.

My original comments were based on the PDF rulebook available for download at the time, so maybe some of these features have been improved already?

Not sure what you meant when you misquoted me as saying "people don't like playing ones"...your first paragraph in general is confusing? I see no problem with designers using existing game mechanics, and I am against being unique for the sake of being unique, but I also don't think that Dark Potential has taken the BEST mechanics as it's foundation. My feeling from most GW community boards is that 40k isn't the best ruleset, and most people are still involved in the hobby because they like the miniatures or just haven't broken the 40k momentum to try other games. I had hoped Dark Potential would take a fresher approach, but instead I see a lot of parallels to 40k (a game that plays like it's 1980).

And you don't have to look down your nose at me about multiplication. I thought designers generally knew that mixing math in a tabletop game was a bad idea. Also that addition is easier than subtraction (which is why the vast majority of games use positive mods instead of subtracting to figure out targets).
I do prefer inline math to charts...just not multiplication, which I feel is rather jarring and bogs down the game.

Blind beta testers should be easier since you guys are producing your own miniature line. Offering a figure or two to anyone interested in helping would be an easy way to draw in the masses.

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Re: Some honest criticism

Post by sonofkitrinos » Mon Apr 01, 2013 7:48 pm

the game has a steep learning curve and is constant working. the UGO-IGO system is a great setup for a game with the complexity of DP. I think DP is geared towards the more mature audience and not the average gamer of GW etc, meaning players who are looking for a more challenging game.

There is nothing wrong with multipliers or a negative modifier system, as it is a system that works for the game.

Have you watched all of the play test videos? Once players know the game system, the battles a dynamic and fun. It also has a lot of versatility.
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Re: Some honest criticism

Post by kaalu » Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:49 am

i deff agree with some of your points like that move and shoot actions cant be interchanged seems bad but overall as a player coming into DP basically 100% new to miniature gaming (i read the 40k rulebook but never played) i think its fine. the learning curve is harsh and i need the rulebook with me whenever i play but i am catching on quick and the math does not bother me much at all. as for the special rules i for one dont need to look at them more then once or twice a game because i memorize them after one or two uses. i agree that overwatch is complex but if it was not it would be super op so id saw it works alright as is. idk what u looked at as far as range but i see them as pretty fair, particularly seeing as a sniper has double the range of a pistol or shotgun. moral seems fair enough seeing as it is an Apocalypse and people are scared shitless unless they are led well (AKA commander rule), heck it makes for a pretty good strategy. i think the new fog of war rule i have heard talked about should take care of the "it seems like the second player would end up with a bunch of Broken units just because some bullets breezed by them" problem. the moral checks seem good actually because it makes breaking a very real danger and chews through command points if you are not careful, adding another layer of strategy. to your comment that this game is more about rolling dice than strategy i have to say that is totally untrue, from army comp to troop placement this game more than satisfies MY want for strategy combat but then i have never played any other table top war game so my experience is non-existent however i am more than satisfied with the game thus far and am really looking forward to new factions and finished rules. (i like the idea about a free miniature or two but thats just cuz i want free stuff :lol: it does seem like a good idea tho to bring new people into the game when they are hard pressed money wise)

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Re: Some honest criticism

Post by Cow » Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:40 am

Inger wrote:
- Statline is Mv, Df, Ar, St, At, RA, CC, Pr, Mr, Wo, CP, Pt, Lm...doesn't that seem a BIT excessive?
Valid
Well when you put it that way. But still, they all seem to serve a useful purpose.

- UGO-IGO. Come oooooon.
Disagree
This will make the game go so much slower and confusing, end of story. Wait, is UGO-IGO the one unit-by-unit action? Sometimes I hear people say UGO-IGO is My Turn, Your Turn style.

- Forced action order. Why why why must a unit move and then shoot?
Valid
I'd argue that it adds more thinky-ness, but I wouldn't argue very strongly.

- Exact same range bands regardless of weapon?
Disagree
What? Reread the rules, range band lengths depend on each weapon's range stat.

- Snuck some multiplication in there for Rate of Fire eh?
Valid
We're wargamers, you can give us complex rules, we'll figure it out.
But I am aware that smoother gameplay is beneficial for players to not get bored.


- Cannot shoot into close combat.
Agree
Yep, why not, right? But what mechanics works that resolve this?

- Roll low to hit. How counterintuitive can you get?
Disagree
I like big numbers as much as the next guy, but it is actually quite intuitive. As long as you like refering to WH, the main thing I hate about those rules is the stat 4 gives a 3+ roll. Get a minus one penalty? So it makes it 2+ now, or what? That bit always gets me. Many rpgs use "roll-low" mechanic so you can see that stat 40 means 40% chance of success.

- So to resolve shooting you have to roll Ranged Attack (two operations), calculate RoF (with multiplication), determine Wounds (more subtraction), and then phew, done the most basic, repeated action in the game.
Valid
Ya man, it's a lot. I'd still go with my statement as before though.

- Overwatch is needlessly complex, and having "Combat Ready" as the close combat equivalent doesn't make things better.
Agree
I'll take your word for it. Not sure what part is complex though, haven't read it in a while.

- For Morale you are basically testing everytime you are shot, even if the attack has no effect.
Disagree
I'm pretty sure you still have to hit with Margin of Success 0, but I could be wrong. This means bullets bouncing off body armour and all around causes the morale test. This adds a layer of strategy to the game. CP burn!

- Special rules, glad to see there is a bit long winded list that will continuously have to be checked.
Valid
Ya, I bet having a Quick Reference sheet wouldn't be bad. I think only some of the Special rules are a little bit convoluted.
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Re: Some honest criticism

Post by Inger » Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:15 pm

Awesome reply Cow, much appreciated that you took the time to dig into my points a bit more.

Also sonofkitrinos, I have no problem with negative mods or multiplication in general, I just think it's a bit of needless complexity that could be revisited. Sticking to positive mods only is a good rule of thumb from every design doc and forum I've ever read.

Turn style
I think there might be some confusion on the turn structure. My understanding from the rulebook and some of the playtest videos is each player does their WHOLE turn with ALL units before the next player gets to act (I call that UGO-IGO, not sure if that's the official term anymore). Is whole turn by whole turn no longer the case? Is it unit-by-unit activation?
I generally prefer quicker activations to keep players involved, instead of the passive approach of 40k where you finish your long turn, then sit down and let your army get shot to pieces without a chance to react.

Action order
I'm not sure how having to go a certain way (move then shoot) adds more "thinky-ness"? I could see that making sense for a US War of Independence era game with rank-and-file troops and muskets, but in a fast and fluid skirmish game it feels like each unit should be able to go in whatever order they want.

Range bands
That was my mistake, I skimmed page 14 and saw the set Distance to Target and modifiers without realizing it was giving a specific example for a range. Now I see that the range varies by weapon, so, hooray!

Shoot into close combat
Just adding a penalty to hit in close combat, or having a miss automatically hit the nearest unit (even if they are friendly) or something. I just don't like units being "stuck" in close combat. I know they can leave (and have a free attack against them ala D&D attack of opportunity) which is a nice option at least.

Roll low success
Yes 7-BS=to-hit in 40k is counterintuitive as well. Some games achieve roll high = success and high stats = good by having the stats be a modifier to the dice roll. There are so many different rolling styles, I just personally am not a fan of rolling low is good. Although in this case as long as that is consistent (ie: you NEVER want to roll high) then it probably works fine once you're used to it.

As I said at the start, overall the game just feels like a rehash of 40k. Heck you could probably just reskin the 2nd edition rules and have a pretty similar game. Skirmish games written from the ground up are such a great opportunity to use new, fresh ideas. From what I've read and seen though it seems like Dark Potential is instead getting into familiar ruts. If the target audience are 40k people that's all well and good...except why wouldn't people just play 40k Kill Teams? What makes people want to buy and invest in DP? I mean if you look at the success of something like Infinity or Warmachine it's because they went a new route for mechanics.

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Re: Some honest criticism

Post by Sabet » Sat Apr 06, 2013 6:58 am

Quick point out - UGO-IGO typically refers to unit of one player, follower by unit of next player, etc. What you're referring to is My turn, Your Turn.

But other than that I'm going to stay out of this discussion. I'm happy with the core game mechanics, and I'll leave it to those who are able to test them out to choose what they should be.
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Re: Some honest criticism

Post by Inger » Tue Apr 09, 2013 3:04 pm

I guess we've read different sources, as UGO-IGO has always meant "whole turn" to me, whereas "Alternating Activation" means model by model. I thought it originated in times of simpler boardgames like Monopoly where each player has their whole turn first.

Either way, doesn't matter a ton :)

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Re: Some honest criticism

Post by miniwargaming » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:58 pm

Inger is correct - UGO-IGO is the standard way.

The reason Dark Potential is not an Alternating Activation game is because I personally don't like Alternating Activations. I find that it is hard to keep track of, and scales horribly as the game gets larger.

I do agree that in theory it is more balanced, but in practice it is just annoying.

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Re: Some honest criticism

Post by Sabet » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:20 pm

And you also get the problems of unbalanced army unit sizes. As in, one army has 5 units and the other has 9 (random numbers for random numbers sake)
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Re: Some honest criticism

Post by Inger » Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:18 pm

Well, not alternating activations then, but at least some kind of different, skirmish-specific approach beyond full turns? I had listed a couple of different initiative systems (Infinity, Chain Reaction, Song of Blades and Heroes), so there are definitely other options out there.

I can understand UGO-IGO for mass battle games (and even then...barely), but I rarely see it in skirmish games because you want to have each individual unit react quickly and give a faster pace to the game.

From the playtest videos it looks like you are already tracking Command Points beside each unit. Would 1 more token for marking who has activated make it too messy? Sort of the straw that broke the camel's back?

And yes, odd numbered activations can be tougher. But it's not too bad to just say "When I go to activate do I outnumber the enemy 2:1? Then I'll move 2 units and he moves 1."

Or have two sets of colored beads, one bead per unit, same color for each player, and draw them from a bag. Then if someone has a 9-5 unit split they just get more activations, but they are staggered randomly.

For some reason I thought you had alternating activations in an earlier video of DP. Was that the case or has it always been UGO-IGO?

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