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Thread: Thoughts about an open rule set for wargaming. Are you good at math?

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Thoughts about an open rule set for wargaming. Are you good at math?

    Hello together,

    my motivation:
    After 17 years of wargaming in different systems I came to the conclusion that none fits truely my demands. So why not make up rules by my own. Sounds simple but many other had the same idea and failed (somehow). So there are some questions i asked myself before starting to get into the rule stuff:

    1. What makes a good set of rules for wargaming?

    2. Why do so many self written rules fail?

    And i answered these questions the following:
    1.1. The game must be balanced.
    1.2. You need to be able to make different decissions that have an impact on your and the enemy strategy. (Imagine a game where you can only shoot. Sounds quite boring). -> Add more depth than just moving/shooting/melee
    1.3. Minimize Random effects (Luck) that impact the game in a massive way. (Imagne you have a One-Shot-Mega-weapon that works only on a 6+. But when it works, you win the game. So in 5 out of 6 games you loose because you spent a hell of points for this weapon and in 1 of 6 games you win without doing anything)
    1.4. The rules must be logical and somehow realistic. As realistic it can be when a flying Alien attacks a gigantic tank.

    2.1. The project started with a lot of motivation and when it becomes difficult the motivation disappears. -> Difficult questions first. Details later.
    2.2. The creator of the rules likes a special kind of army (mass/elite/flyers/...) or playstyle (melee/shooting/...). Therefore the rules are not balanced
    2.3. No one likes to learn a ton of new rules. -> Keep it simple

    So lets start with the most difficult part. Balanced units.
    To do so we have to make some assumtions. We have units with different stat lines that are able to deal damadge to the enemy units. At the moment I dont take into account whether these units are shooting or in melee. The just deal damadge to each other. I came up with the following preliminary stats (3 defensive stats / 3 offensive stats / Healthpoints):
    Visibilty: Defines how easy/hard it is for the enemy to hit you
    Armour: Selfexplaining
    Toughness: Selfexplaining

    Balistic/Melee Skill: Defines how easy/hard it is for your unit to hit the enemy
    Penetration: Selfexplaining
    Strength: Selfexplaining

    Now comes the realy tricky part. How do you compare these values and define by a dice roll whether you hit/penetrate/wound your enemy?
    How does it work the old GW style. You compre the values and if they are the same, you pass the test on a 4+. If your value is one higher than the enemy value you pass on a 3+. So that means if your value increases by 1 your probability to suceed the test increases by (3 out of 6 = 50%) (4 out of 6 = 66%) 16%. Correct? I dont think so. If you take 50% as your starting point your probability increased by 33% (the additional 1 out of the base 3). This is very important to understand my following thoughts.
    Now if your value is two higher than the enemy value you will pass the test on a 2+. If you take 50% as starting point that increased your probability by 66% (the additional 2 out of the base 3). But if you take the +1 value from the previous example as sarting point your probablity increased by 25% (the additional 1 out of the base 4).

    So if I increase one of the stat values by 1 I have to increase the point value of this unit. But how much? 33% (1st example) Or 25% (3rd Example). This effect gets even bigger with more difficult tests. If you pass your test on a 6+ (1 out of 6) and you improve it by 1 your probability doubled (2 out of 6). If you improve by another 1 your probability increased only by 50% (3 out of 6).

    How to get rid of this? Quite easy: The amount the probability increases has to be constant if the stat values increase.
    Example: You increase your Stat value by 1 -> your probability increases by 50% (base*1,5)
    You increase your stat value by 2 -> your probability increases by ... 125% ((base*1,5)*1,5) or (base* 1,5^2)
    you increase by 3 -> Probability increases by 237,5% (base*1,5^3)

    Sounds good. In theory. How is it possible to increase the probability of a dice roll in a constant way? Lets make an easy example and increase it by 100%.
    That means the first result is 1. The second result is 2, the third 4 and the fourth is 8.
    So I need one side of the dice with a 1.
    Another side with a 2
    two additional sides with a 3
    four additional sides with a 4
    In this example I would need an 8 sided dice.

    An increasement of 100% was too much in my opinion. So I tried something less. Maybe 50%
    That means the first result is 1. The second is 1,5; the third is 2,25; the fourth is 3,375. Unfortunately a dice has only complete sides. But you can multiply all values to get a whole number. For example by 8
    So i come to 8; 12; 18; 27
    eight sides of the dice have a 1
    four sides have a 2
    six sides have a 3
    nine sides have a 4
    In this example i would need a dice with 27 sides. :/

    After very much trying and a lot of excel files with macros I came to the following solution:
    The increasement is 26,4%
    And I do not start with a whole number but with 3,1 and round to the next whole number.
    This leads to the following numbers:
    3,1 ; 3,92 ; 4,95 ; 6,26 ; 7,91 ; 10,00 ; 12,64 ; 15,98 ; 20,20
    3 ; 4 ; 5 ; 6 ; 8 ; 10 ;13 ; 16 ; 20
    That means three sides with a 1
    one side with a 2
    one side with a 3
    one side with a 4
    two sides with a 5
    two sides with a 6
    three sides with a 7
    three sides with a 8
    four sides with a 9
    In total a 20 sided dice.

    So what I have now is a possibility to calculate a point value for a stat. For example a unit with strength 2 costs me 1,264^2 = 1,6 points. And a unit with strength 5 costs me 1,264^5 = 3,2 points. To pass the test i have to roll under or equal to the strength value. So i get two units with strength 2 or one unit with strength 5. The probability of the two units is two times 4 (three sides with 1 and one side with 2). The probability of the single unit is also 8 (three sides with 1, one side with 2, one side with 3, one side with 4 and two sides with 5).



    --- tomorrow will follow more ---

  2. #2

    Re: Thoughts about an open rule set for wargiming. Are you good at math?

    Just a reminder: You can't copyright a game mechanic. You can patent the things to do it, but mechanics are fair game. Anyone can use a d20 to roll to hit, for example. That's why GW made patented scatter dice.

    As for your design, the points are the easy part. They also come at the end of the design process.

    Not trying to be negative, just giving some pointers from someone who's been where you are more than once.
    Want a better way to fight fantasy battles? Try Conqueror: Fields of Victory!

    Do you like Star Wars but hate the prequels? Ever wish someone came up with a decent story about how a decadent galactic commonwealth descended into chaos and civil war? Look no further.

    A proud player of 2nd edition 40k.

  3. #3
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    Re: Thoughts about an open rule set for wargiming. Are you good at math?

    I agree with the Commissar. Points are one of the last things that need to be done, they're semi-independent of the mechanics and easiest thing to adjust (as nothing depends on them, so you don't have to change the rules if the points change).

    But first off, you need to take a step back.

    Having no answer for your first question is a very bad sign.

    As for #2, you left out a huge one. Player interest, and keeping it. Part of this is setting, tone and character. A lot of it is, as you say yourself, keeping it simple (your 2.3 conclusion) as well as appealing for players. You pretty much violate that idea with a chainsaw- the main resolution mechanic needs to be straightforward, not a mess of macros, weird dice, and probabilities.

    came up with the following preliminary stats (3 defensive stats / 3 offensive stats / Healthpoints):
    Visibilty: Defines how easy/hard it is for the enemy to hit you
    Armour: Selfexplaining
    Toughness: Selfexplaining

    Balistic/Melee Skill: Defines how easy/hard it is for your unit to hit the enemy
    Penetration: Selfexplaining
    Strength: Selfexplaining
    First, you've got 4 offensive stats. (Ballistic & Melee is two).

    Second, and more importantly, you've kind of brushed off the explanation of 4 stats without thought. Try to explain why you even have those stats in the first place, and not just 1 that bundles attack strength with penetration and armor and toughness, and eliminates a chunk of the pointless dice rolling. Or as you put in 1.3, minimize random effects.

    Third, you've got nothing that follows on 1.2, it's move/shoot/melee all the way down.


    Fourth is fairly trivial, but 'visibility' is a terrible term for what you're describing. Dodge or evasion are better.


    Really, though a big part of your premise is flawed- 1.1 the game must be balanced is... trivially proven untrue. The most successful game systems aren't carrying on because they're balanced. There are a lot of factors you aren't even considering that keep them alive. Since your aim is to make up a ruleset that meets your demands, you're also going to have a lot of trouble with your 2.2, where the creator bias is going to be a problem for balance.


    Big thing- before you keep delving into the rule stuff, what kind of game are you looking to make? Ancient battles, fantasy, modern, scifi? Those have different demands and expectations. 'Generic' or 'Universal' rulesets are generally received poorly. And even within subsets, you've got big decisions to make. Big unit shaking magic like warhammer fantasy 7th? Or relatively minor effects (or none at all?) These are all things that need to be decided before mathing out probabilities.
    Last edited by Voss; 14-09-2017 at 06:42.
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  4. #4
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    Re: Thoughts about an open rule set for wargaming. Are you good at math?

    To the OP.
    Here is the starting point for developing a new rule set IMO.

    If you want to write a war game rule set, you have to specify what type of warfare you want to cover first.
    And define the scale and scope of the game play as accurately as you can .

    EG a Ancient mass battle game is going to have a completely different rule set to space fighter combat game.

    In general.
    Good war games are simple simulation of actual types of combat.Bad war game are over complicated simulations of actual types combat.
    (Although game complexity is down to personal preference, over complication in the written rules is always bad.)

    Also when you abstract to make the game playable, make sure its just the resolution that is abstracted not the results!

    If you give me some basic concepts of the game play , scale and scope you want to end up with.I can discuss some ideas with you if you like?
    Complexity is an illusion caused by lack of clear thinking.

  5. #5
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    Re: Thoughts about an open rule set for wargiming. Are you good at math?

    Quote Originally Posted by Voss View Post
    As for #2, you left out a huge one. Player interest, and keeping it.
    Yeah, I'll just echo that.

    I've made like 3 different rules sets now, as well as fiddling with stuff like campaign systems to incorporate hex-based strategy into Magic the Gathering duels, etc... None of it matters if people can't share your enthusiasm. If other people don't care to play, then it doesn't matter.

    I've played my own games twice, and I've played a homebrew Sister of Battle codex once (total ground-up redesign for 5th ed. 40k, based on my own collection). I genuinely enjoyed myself, and I think my opponents did too. But there were obvious playtesting issues that needed to be ironed out, and no one was really committed to giving it a second go.
    Quote Originally Posted by Herzlos View Post
    If the Catachan Arm Monster became codex legal I'd have a full army
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  6. #6

    Re: Thoughts about an open rule set for wargiming. Are you good at math?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scaryscarymushroom View Post
    Yeah, I'll just echo that.

    I've made like 3 different rules sets now, as well as fiddling with stuff like campaign systems to incorporate hex-based strategy into Magic the Gathering duels, etc... None of it matters if people can't share your enthusiasm. If other people don't care to play, then it doesn't matter.

    I've played my own games twice, and I've played a homebrew Sister of Battle codex once (total ground-up redesign for 5th ed. 40k, based on my own collection). I genuinely enjoyed myself, and I think my opponents did too. But there were obvious playtesting issues that needed to be ironed out, and no one was really committed to giving it a second go.
    To put it another way, what does YOUR game bring to the table that the countless other variants haven't?

    What is the "killer app" that makes the design work?

    At the risk of being even more shamelessly self-promoting than usual, that was a key consideration in building my own design. Why bother? Why not just go with some home-brewed optional rules for the GW source material?

    In the case of 40k, that's exactly what I did. I liked 2nd ed enough that with a few mods, I can keep playing it.

    But after looking at the fantasy side, I figured I'd made enough improvements to justify a separate rules set. It hasn't sold super-well, but I blame that on the non-existent fluff, lame cover design and lack of support material. Oh, and I've never actually run a demo of the thing.

    Building a new game takes a ton of work. It is not to be undertaken lightly, so if you're going to do it, go all in.

    Finally, don't expect anyone else to do the heavy lifting for you. People may say they support the idea, but it isn't their game. It's yours. Own it.
    Want a better way to fight fantasy battles? Try Conqueror: Fields of Victory!

    Do you like Star Wars but hate the prequels? Ever wish someone came up with a decent story about how a decadent galactic commonwealth descended into chaos and civil war? Look no further.

    A proud player of 2nd edition 40k.

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