Game combat system testing
This post has evolved because I was tired of speculating about what may or may not happen in a battle, and I wanted to check out the odds you would get for each system we had discussed while game testing. While I still think test-play is the best way to test out battles (especially because battles are always in the context of the game), this little program I wrote can help rule out quite a lot of bad combat systems for a game. It will save you the trouble of testing them in the very valuable game testing time.
Combat system program: checking out the odds
This tester is built using flash, and you can do a number of configurations. It is, of course, not exhaustive as this would take far too much time to program. However, the main features are:
- set the number of die and sides per die – you can’t mix dice
- set the bonus per unit and number of units – the bonus will be added to each unit individually and totaled not to all units collectively
- set any other bonuses (blanket bonus) – this is applied only once to each roll – not per unit
The results are out of one hundred and will show you the number of successful attacks (offence); defends (defence); draws and the voids (rolls that can’t work or are faulty). The last two numbers are the army bonuses for offence:defence. There is also data on the highest, lowest, and average roll attained.
The tick box will allow you to choose between a single roll scenario, where whoever wins kills all the opposing units, or the default (unticked) which will play battles out on a unit by unit basis. So the trailing player loses one unit, and then they both roll again and again, until all units on one side are gone. It will update the values each time a unit is lost.
You may also choose to have no units and just test the dice rolls. Just put zeros in the other boxes.
Extensive testing of combat systems
I have been testing with this program now for a while and have found two combinations that will probably work well with the game. Originally we used 1d6 plus the unit bonus, and this resulted in many battles that did not require any rolls. The difference between armies was large enough to have a clear winner in many battles.
… we decided that the use of the 1d6 + the bonus value worked fine, as stated in the previous post about combat systems. However in the initial rules only one unit could attack one unit at a time. We decided to change it so the bonus could be compounded, so two units would add both bonuses together to increase the possible roll. (quoted from the previous post)
I examined the problems:
- players were not needing to roll because the bonuses on the armies were too big, and differences between them were greater than six – players took advantage of this game-play weakness and built big armies to guarantee a win
- armies in cities were limited in numbers, while armies outside of cities weren’t
- whole armies would be destroyed in a single battle/roll
To combat this I have made the following changes:
- rolls will include either an 1d12 or 2d6 (I have yet to test this in game-play, but I am leaning towards 1d12)
- the size of an army will be limited by the largest city controlled by that player (this will balance out the city based versus non-city based armies)
- battles will destroy one unit at a time, as opposed to an entire army being destroyed in one go (I am not sure if this will work as it may slow down the game. I guess we’ll just have to test it!)
The combat system for Sovereign has been quite difficult to get right, and there are many potential solutions. I found some great answers on this forum at boardgame geek (Two armies face off – combat systems) – incidentally, I found this through Google analytics where they linked back to me!