New Erf Rules Overhaul

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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:13 pm

Harry1991 wrote:on issue 5) sorry i've played, admined and designed similar sorts of play by post war/strategy games and our turn rate was set at 1 turn every 2 days. We continued these games for months if not years in some cases. It just revolves around making the game simpler and transparent so everyone can take a hand in running the game without needed to go to an admin every 5 seconds.


And I heard of mythical Erfsims that had better turn-over rates too. However, in my time on these boards I actually saw NO such game.

The fact that the games you played managed to stay interesting and quickly paced speaks volumes as to the quality of their rules systems, but my contention is that in actual fact the Erfsims we run do not share that quality, that is, they are too slow.

Harry1991 wrote:On issues 1) and 3). The way to handle this IMO is to slash turn numbers dramatically. Say 10 turns for an heir, 5 for a warlord, 4 for a class D special, 3 for class C and 2 for class A/B and knights while stabbers,pikers, archers and scouts take 1 turn each. Having a level 5 city would then make it so an heir took 2 turns, a warlord took 1 turn and stabbers could be made at a rate of 5 per turn.


Yes.

Harry1991 wrote:I know it isn't canon to the comics but for game play purposes it makes it a lot better.


Yes, yes, and thrice yes.

Heck, here's what.

Give me 1 week, during which time I'll slice at the rules mercilessly (and prepare some software support for GMing). After which I'll show my modified rules, and GM my own campaign if there are any takers.

I plan to chuck "canon" consistency out the window if it makes for a better game. Drastically reducing build times makes for a better game imo, so that's in and canon be damned.

I also plan to allow you to downgrade unit stats, if you feel you'd better spend those points otherwise. That is, I'm effectively replacing unit templates by a set amount of points that you can distribute for stats and abilities. No longer is a Stabber a 6/4/4/4 unit with 4p for improvements, say, but a 30p unit that you can build as you like. I will keep rules on which units can get which specials though. No breath attack stabbers, sorry.

Minor tweaks (like Shocka actually having better than default spells) will also be implemented. I fear that the magic system will suffer some more major tweaks as a whole, though.

Upgrades will build faster (1 turn for everything, mine, farm, tower etc except roads), but are capped by controlling city level (except roads, of which you can have however many as you wish). Higher level allows more upgraded hexes.

And so on. I'll post that in a week.
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby Harry1991 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:42 pm

the foundation game i mentioned did have flaws, and events would sometimes crop up that needed to be resolved before we could post but given that turn reports were mostly cookie cutter (change a few numbers etc) we could do 5 turns a week without issue. All it takes is 10 minutes every 2 days if there is a turn template and spread sheet etc.

I would say i'll give you a hand but my internet is spotty at best (on my mobile right now) until nice mr virgin broadband man comes and installs my 50mb internet.

Also i wouldn't go clashing all the rules down, some of them are quite good like the idea of 'generic' units (stabbers). Maybe just remove customization from certain units and add a ranking system - the comic does mention 'advanced infantry' and 'basic infantry' after all - that confers bonuses.
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:50 pm

Harry1991 wrote:Also i wouldn't go clashing all the rules down, some of them are quite good like the idea of 'generic' units (stabbers). Maybe just remove customization from certain units and add a ranking system - the comic does mention 'advanced infantry' and 'basic infantry' after all - that confers bonuses.


Clashing all the rules down is not what I'm after. But customization is always good in my book, and the more the merrier.

To explain, let's say that currently a Stabber unit starts as a 6Hit, 4Attack, 4Defense, 4Move unit. With 4 more points, that can be spent on basic specials (usually such a special will cost 2 points), or improvements for stats: 3 extra Hits for every 2 points spent, 1 Attack for every 1 point spent etc. My idea is instead to make a Stabber a unit that is worth 18 points (or whatever number is needed to buy a unit with a Stabber's current starting stats, and leave 4 points for extras).

That way, you can make Stabbers that are slower but beefier, say, than the starting Stabber template as it stands now.

Another thing that this may achieve is allow Archon-like units.
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby Harry1991 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:53 pm

I understand, i just think that things like stabbers should be a constant for all players. IE no customization at all.

If people want powerful stabbers they should build magic items for them.
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:57 pm

But .. but ... zerglings! Zealots!

Anyway, yeah, item crafting. I plan to put my grubby mitts on that too, but only a minor tweak. If all casters can make magic items, then all can make items of all types. And I'll give Dollamancers a bonus for creating items, as in, they can do so cheaper.
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby Harry1991 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:19 pm

im not a very nice person :P i think all sides should be landed with similar units and players should have to think outside the box in order to win no just dump tonnes into the attack stat and use waves of suicide uber stabbers to overcome cities.
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:32 pm

Harry1991 wrote:im not a very nice person :P i think all sides should be landed with similar units and players should have to think outside the box in order to win no just dump tonnes into the attack stat and use waves of suicide uber stabbers to overcome cities.


Heh. But uber stabbers that focus just on attack aren't quite as powerful in this system. What makes zerglings annoying is that they can be cheaply built en-masse, whereas under these rules you can choose either one zergling, or one zealot, as opposed to one zealot vs. (roughly) three zerglings.

In particular, Attack and Defense pretty much cancel each other out. So the big thing to balance out is move. Fast Stabbers, or slow ones? A worthy decision imo.

To be honest, I'd like to fiddle with the combat system as well and make it more Heroes-y. OR, make it like Disciples, meaning I'd force a max 8 units per stack, and allow units to level according to some path. But I won't; much as I LOVE Disciples, it's not at all Erfworld like, and it's no good throwing out the canon for frivolous reasons. Trying to make a Disciples clone is a frivolous reason.

But Heroes OTOH ... the idea is like this: right now, Attack is damage that is buffered out by Defense. Functionally, Defense is Hits, at least for Combat purposes. My idea is to use difference between "Attack skill" and "Defense skill" of fighting stacks as a source for a nonlinear bonus to damage dealt, the way Heroes does it.

This is CRUCIALLY important to make that Special D unit, that takes 4 turns to build, actually stronger than the 40 Stabbers that you can build in those same turns (or the 8 Stabbers that cost the same in upkeep, for that matter).

In fact, Heroes of Might and Magic is a great place to look for inspiration. Another thing I really like from them is the Dwelling system. You can purchase units as they become available, you may purchase several unit types each turn, but higher level units become available less often than lower levelled ones. This naturally results in armies that contain hundreds of Pikers and only a handful of Angels, and both those groups will be roughly as important, battlewise, at the start of combat.
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:45 pm

Thinking further on the Heroes idea, I notice that since there are four base stats (and I intend to keep that, it's nice and easy), this leaves no room for a stat about actual combat damage that a unit deals!

But that's ok, I've got ideas. Here's one: weapon is something akin to a special ability. A unit may purchase for, say, 1 point, the ability Stabber (and weapon abilities would be mutually exclusive for the most part). It would cost 2 for Axe, say, but an Axe would do more damage. 4 points for Bow, which wouldn't do too much damage but would be ranged etc.

Rather than have "Stabber", "Piker", "Archer" infantry, you'd get for example 3 infantry classes. Design as you wish, as long as each one picks a weapon from among (example list) Sword (basic), Axe (huge offense, but->*), Bow, Pike (improves defense/first strike against Sword/Axe/Club infantry), Club (bonus to some special combat situations like Capture). And any other weapon I can think of that is significantly different from these others and seems reasonable to allow for low level units.

Higher level units (Knigths, Specials) gain access to other kinds of weapons, like magic staves and breath weapons etc.

*: if Sword has less damage than Axe, why would anyone pick Sword for Infantry? The trick is in costing less. This means the unit will gain 1 or 2 points just by choosing Sword instead of Axe, points that can be used to boost one of the stats. All else equal, a Sword Infantry may move faster than an Axe one, or the like.
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby Harry1991 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:48 pm

Personally I love the erf world comic but i don't think ANY of the rules apply to a gaming setting.

You say you want customization? that a class D unit should be stronger then the units that could have been popped in its place?

Well to the first point, customization isn't always good. It slows games down because admins suddenly have to remember stats for each sides units and considering that all sides are on the same level technologically there can't really be that much of a difference between 'side A stabber' and 'side B stabber' without it being ridicules, after all during medieval times all kingdoms in western europe pretty much used to same basic units.

To that end i would propose each side only have 1 'special' unit and the rest are generic. Then each side has 'stabbers, pikers, archers, scouts, warlords and a special unit' which, if you look at it, makes having natural allies useful as you suddenly have a wider variety to choose from (where as right now they just cost money for no real use).

To the second point. It all depends on style of play. During WW2 the Russians showed that mass infantry charges could halt/slow/drive back a superior enemy force so why should it be that 'better stats' = 'best thing' why can't it depend on a players ability to use terrain features and planning rather then having X-number of awesome units which trumps 'Y number of standard units'.
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:56 pm

Harry1991 wrote:Well to the first point, customization isn't always good. It slows games down because admins suddenly have to remember stats for each sides


That's a risk I'm willing to take, and I base that on forum history. The most popular thread of games here was "The Battle for <>" kind of games, which allowed full customization. In itself, this didn't give any of the GMs for that category, myself included, any difficulty.

Harry1991 wrote:there can't really be that much of a difference between 'side A stabber' and 'side B stabber' without it being ridicules, after all during medieval times all kingdoms in western europe pretty much used to same basic units.


Aww come on. There's a huge difference between Viking warriors and Saxon ones, or Spartans and Persians etc. It may look like dudes hitting each other with dangerous objects, but look closely and you'll see differences at play. The Greeks, for example, favoured heavily armoured Infantry with long reach (spears), whereas many neighbouring people used more lightweight tactics.

Harry1991 wrote:To the second point. It all depends on style of play. During WW2 the Russians showed that mass infantry charges could halt/slow/drive back a superior enemy force so why should it be that 'better stats' = 'best thing' why can't it depend on a players ability to use terrain features and planning rather then having X-number of awesome units which trumps 'Y number of standard units'.


Having awesome units is not supposed to be a trump card. Archers can knock out Dwagons, after all. The thing is that in these rules, the balance is very one-sided, in favour of lower levels. I'd like high-level units to either be roughly equal in a pitched battle to some equivalent mass in low level units (amount sustainable by same upkeep is such a measure).

Because, if we are to look at history, the Russians won in WW2 not because infantry charges are inherently superior to tanks (they aren't), but because they had a much larger demographic and industrial base than Germany. Which allowed them to build way more tanks of their own, and that's why they won. Not because it was one City producing Dwagons vs. one City producing Stabbers. More like One city producing Dwagons vs. Four Cities producing Gryphons.
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby Harry1991 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:12 pm

yes there was a difference between vikings and saxons, but if you look at it closely it was technology and strategy which worked in a real time environment.

In erf world it doesn't matter who can run the fastest, you can only move when on turn so light fast units are at a disadvantage. If you attack the enemy with light units that have 12 move yeah you can do damage and retreat but he on his turn will then catch you and kill you. Effectively you need units with the 'fast' special to pull off 'skirmish raids.

Lets look at 2 period units. Spartan warriors and Roman Legionaries. You could say they both performed the same function. Warfare. Both had different tactics though, and equipment. Spartans had spears and most legions fought with swords and javelins. Spartans were better trained but there were probably more legionaries so if it came down to a battle the Spartans would lose if they weren't smart.

Apply this to erfworlds combat system.

A red dwagon with low leadership bonus and no terrain modifier compared to twelve stabbers with a high leadership bonus and a good terrain modifier. Dwagon probably still well, kills 5 or six stabbers, but eventually sheer weight of numbers consume him. Lets give the same scenario but with just basic un-led unmodified unboosted stabbers. The dwagon probably wins. By having it be more about strategic thinking then 'custom units' we give more possibilities not less.
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:21 pm

Harry1991 wrote:In erf world it doesn't matter who can run the fastest, you can only move when on turn so light fast units are at a disadvantage. If you attack the enemy with light units that have 12 move yeah you can do damage and retreat but he on his turn will then catch you and kill you. Effectively you need units with the 'fast' special to pull off 'skirmish raids.


Heh. You're thinking inside the box now. Who says Fast units must fight slower ones? Don't use your agile sprinters to defend your town. Use them to harass a slow enemy, make them unsure which of their resource points you plan to raid, that kind of thing. Speed allows you, if you're careful, to choose when to battle, except when you defend your own town, or besiege the opponent's.

Harry1991 wrote:Lets look at 2 period units. Spartan warriors and Roman Legionaries. You could say they both performed the same function. Warfare. Both had different tactics though, and equipment. Spartans had spears and most legions fought with swords and javelins. Spartans were better trained but there were probably more legionaries so if it came down to a battle the Spartans would lose if they weren't smart.


So ... what? You seem to think unit customization is an opposite of tactics. Look, I want a system where I may have Legionnaires, and Spartans, and they be of different stats. Players will then supply their own tactics.

Harry1991 wrote:A red dwagon with low leadership bonus and no terrain modifier compared to twelve stabbers with a high leadership bonus and a good terrain modifier. Dwagon probably still well, kills 5 or six stabbers, but eventually sheer weight of numbers consume him. Lets give the same scenario but with just basic un-led unmodified unboosted stabbers. The dwagon probably wins. By having it be more about strategic thinking then 'custom units' we give more possibilities not less.


Under current rules, the Red Dwagon would be lucky to kill 5 Stabbers- and I'm talking an equal fight, both sides having the same bonuses or lack thereof. But disregard that. Why is unit customization anathema to you?
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:22 pm

And to say "we have more possibilities by focusing on 'strategic thinking' rather than unit customization" is bizzare.

Without unit customization, we have all sides with the same units, playing a variant of chess. Strategically rich.

With customization, we have sides needing to choose a certain style of play and thinking about playing to the strengths of that style, long term. Strategically richer.
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby Harry1991 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:34 pm

Not the case. Logistically harder is the term you want.

Your intention seems to be that giving players free-reign to make their own stats makes things better in the long run. No it makes things more complicated. 'stabbers' represent a good offensive infantry. 'pikers' represent a good defensive infantry. But 2 sides using these units shouldn't have wildly different stats for them. After-all a human can only move so fast, hence mounts.

by allowing players such freedom you decrease the use of things like mounts other then as a flyer to remove terrain penalties.

Imagine it, a world with 20 sides each with slightly different stabbers. Pikers. Archers and Scouts. Already your up to 80 different unit stats to remember. Add into that warlords, casters, specials, wild units etc and suddenly you need a large amount of time to run just a few battles.

Your idea of weapon choices would make things more manageable. having say 3 variants for each ('sword stabber', 'spear stabber' and 'axe stabber') for example gives players choices but doesn't create an administrative nightmare.

I'm simply trying to simplify the game to make it quicker to play. Also one of your stated intentions.
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:44 pm

Harry1991 wrote:Not the case. Logistically harder is the term you want.

Your intention seems to be that giving players free-reign to make their own stats makes things better in the long run. No it makes things more complicated. 'stabbers' represent a good offensive infantry. 'pikers' represent a good defensive infantry. But 2 sides using these units shouldn't have wildly different stats for them. After-all a human can only move so fast, hence mounts.


Three things to that:

1. The logistics of unit stats is not a problem. I speak from experience.
2. To begin with, Erfworld is a fantasy world. What if I want Pixie Stabbers, or a race of Ogres?
3. The amount of customization for a Stabber is minuscule at the moment, and I plan to keep it in a similar region. What I plan to change is replace unit templates by stat/ability points, to be allocated at will.

Harry1991 wrote:Imagine it, a world with 20 sides each with slightly different stabbers. Pikers. Archers and Scouts. Already your up to 80 different unit stats to remember. Add into that warlords, casters, specials, wild units etc and suddenly you need a large amount of time to run just a few battles.


Nope. Just to remove the little rust on my Actionscript skills. Or any database scripting.


Harry1991 wrote:I'm simply trying to simplify the game to make it quicker to play. Also one of your stated intentions.


I know, and it's a valid philosophy. We had another very popular series of games here, "Erfworld Empires" (both this series, and TBfX were started by LTDave, who deserves props for his game systems) in which units were all exactly alike, except for speed. Infantry moved 2 hexes per turn, cavalry 3, fliers 4.

It's perfectly workable, and certainly the only kind of larger Erfsim that survived long enough to actually reach a conclusion.

That said, I'm a contradictory being. I like customization, a lot. So I'm willing to prepare for what you think will be an administrative nightmare if I get to see the Badger division fight off the Jellyfish from Hell.
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby Harry1991 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:52 pm

I understand your philosophy and agree it can work and be cool but I'm a pragmatist. I believe people want their games to be simple, not requiring a full technical manual to even get started. People lose interest or are put off entirely when things are overly complex. Customization is great to a degree but allowing total customization just scares people.

ALSO erfworld seems inclined towards human sides with things like orges being natural allies. Unit stats for them would be creatable and cookie cutter. Maximum number of units would be in the region of 20-30, easy to manage even without coding anything. Not all of us are good with databasing and coding :P

MY experience tells me unit stat logistics are a problem. Players will find any loop hole they can to make units more powerful - best not to give them a loop hole. First one i can seen is making all my units 'ranged' and giving them uber offensive skills. Couple this with a leadership bonus and defensive modifier. I get first strike against the enemy from my walls and don't have to have defense since they need to bash down my walls - which is hard since i can just destroy their siege by picking it as my target.
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:05 pm

Harry1991 wrote:MY experience tells me unit stat logistics are a problem. Players will find any loop hole they can to make units more powerful - best not to give them a loop hole.


THAT is not logistics. But THAT is the problem with customization. The fact that, despite the freedom, there's only a few designs that are actually worth choosing.

It's a very tough problem to solve. None of TBfX games managed to solve it alas. I had a crack at that myself, and I think that another iteration would get rid of an oversight in my version of the customization rules, but that's for another time.

These Erfsims attempt to solve the problem by disallowing total customization, opting to restrict it in some way: unit templates. It's an idea worth pursuing, imo. And once you allow templates, there's no logistic argument against allowing unit templates to be replaced by stat/ab points. Infantry gets 18, Knights get 50, distribute them wisely. Each side distributes them differently, but then again each side would have produced slightly different units from templates anyway.

On the topic of Erf sides being mostly humanoid, it doesn't appear Twolls are nat allies, but rather own units; also, bats- here's a low level, non-humanoid infantry.

On the more pressing matter of ranged berserkers and other hacks, this is an older issue that is fixable in several ways. Right now, I'm thinking ammo cap. Heroes of Might and Magic also may offer a suggestion: limit the number of times a special ability/weapon may be picked by a side. Contradictory to customization? Not necessarily. My goal is to allow varied designs, not allow freedom only to see it collapse in the same design being used by everybody. If restricting choice results in more variety so be it.

EDIT: on the topic of defense, that's another gripe of mine but it's not one that seemed obviously broken: garrison units. It's really cheap to pop/maintain loads of defenders, way more than the units needed to attack said city. Not good in the long run.

I hate garrison units.

I loathe the auto-heal rule too. That's my oldest gripe with Erfworld actually.
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby Harry1991 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:18 pm

I don't need multiple instances of the ranged hack. If i just give my pikers a crossbow and ranged, making their attack stat as higher as i can then why would i need all my other units to have the same? similar with ammunition. Say they can only fire five times in a row, I can still kill the enemies siege units as they approach the city so in essence i am unconquerable.

ON TEMPLATES

well yes but with you deciding on the stats as an admin you balance them and remove the '1 or 2' points difference i mentioned. Players don't get to customize the templates. They either have 'sword stabber', 'spear stabber', 'axe stabber' etc. It would then be the 'special' unit per side that was custom since giving them a points total and saying you get to make one unit that compliments your side design works better then giving them free reign (they'll do some weird things if you give them freedom will players).

It helps focus them to a strategy rather then letting then create a bunch of units then decide one - after all what player won't have a flying mount unit if they can customize all their choices to include at least one flying? shouldn't it be more important for them to go out and capture flying beats?
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:30 pm

Harry1991 wrote:I don't need multiple instances of the ranged hack. If i just give my pikers a crossbow and ranged, making their attack stat as higher as i can then why would i need all my other units to have the same? similar with ammunition. Say they can only fire five times in a row, I can still kill the enemies siege units as they approach the city so in essence i am unconquerable.


For starters, you'd need to pick. Either Piker, or Archer. Can't choose both weapons.

Next, the amount of times you can shoot is important, especially if the damage you deal is not that great (actually ranged damage is the most important thing). The enemy can close the distance then (and if Heroes is any indication, will). In just about any game where ranged units appear, they are very useful, but they are rarely one shot, one kill. They need other unit kinds to complement them. Customization yay!

So probably an even better way to handle ranged is to simulate what all other TBSs do: make ranged attacks do less base damage, and allow melee to close in, which we'll simulate by first strike applying only for a few (one? two?) combat rounds.*<- see next post.

Harry1991 wrote:It helps focus them to a strategy rather then letting then create a bunch of units then decide one - after all what player won't have a flying mount unit if they can customize all their choices to include at least one flying? shouldn't it be more important for them to go out and capture flying beats?


I doubt even in the freest of customization rules that players designed sides haphazardly. I think everyone knew what they were after. But to answer that question, no. I don't want to force players to rely on capturing wild beasts. If they want to play a different kind of strategy, I'm all for it.
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Re: New Erf Rules Overhaul

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:42 pm

The thing is, in many TBSs, units actually move. This allows tactics like protecting some fragile but strong ranged units, or flanking, or whatever.

It would be horrible to simulate, for one because it would need players to provide input for any combat round. So we won't do that.

Disciples had a very nice system where a stack has two rows. Front is where beefier melee units go, and they can attack adjacent enemies. The back row was for the more fragile Archers and Casters, which could target any enemy unit. (Nothing stopped you from putting melee in the back and casters in front, but that was stupid). Combat is usually over in two rounds, because Disciples Casters are fierce, and melee units pack a nice punch themselves. Archer units were the best counter to casters, btw, resulting in a nice Rock-Paper-Scissors.

But we'll not do Disciples, and we'll not do movement. So probably I'll have ranged units have first strike against non-ranged for just one combat round. Example:

If I have a stack of Pikers attacking some Archers, first the Archers hit, then if some Pikers survive they get to damage the Archers, then battle between the two stacks continues as if both were melee, with Archers acting as weaker Stabbers. Let's say I send another stack of Pikers to attack the Archers, and this time the Archers will not have first strike (they were busy shooting at the first Piker stack, you see).

So my Pikers closed in in one combat round. But maybe there should be a way for the enemy to increase that; suppose they have a stack of Pikers screening the Archers. Then either I maneuver my Pikers around theirs (or maybe I need units with higher Move to do that- see where move may come in handy?), but that means they'll need two rounds to close in. If I send another stack against the Archers though, they'd close in to the Archers immediately (their Piker screen was busy with my other stack). This needs some more thought (how big should the screen be to be effective? I shouldn't be able to delay 16 Pikers with just one Stabber), but should be doable.

And so on. But this is not a problem of customization, it's a problem of the battle system trying to simulate troop movement without actually containing it.
The whole point of this is lost if you keep it a secret.
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BLANDCorporatio
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