Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Time To Simplify

Been pretty busy this week, with holidays, birthdays, and all. But Farmpunk and I did get in a test game on Monday night. In contrast to our previous games, we ran into some serious problems. But they're good problems, as they're helping to clarify just what kind of game we're making and where the complexities should be.

Balance Issues

Previously, testers had praised the game for being simple and fun, but asked for some variety between the two forces. So I worked up some (uncalculated) stats, and turned the red Fallen army into an assault-centric force, while the green Republic army became the more shooty defensive force.

Which was cool until the bottom of turn 1, when green shot all of Red's worst threats off the table. Including both giant assault walkers (GW Hellbrute models). They'd have done it even without the AA tank, which was so overpowered that it wasn't even funny. Of course, it doesn't help that Str/Firepower tests require you to roll low on multiple dice, which is something that Farmpunk is pretty damned good at. :)

So we'll stick with mirror-forces while the game mechanics are still in flux. Force variety is cool, but it will have to wait until the mechanics are solid and we can try to assign some sort of point value to everything.

Tanks are also going to be put firmly on the back burner, as I'm more convinced than ever that this should be a game about infantry/walkers, and not armor.

Assault Tests

Farmpunk and I also did some Assault testing. The Swing -> Shoot -> Consolidate sequence worked well mechanically. But it didn't seem natural to Farmpunk, who's used to the 40K/Flames way of moving/consolidating before swinging. I can't say that I was very excited either. We didn't have time to change up the sequence, but I want to test some variations to see if they're more appealing.

Besides appeal, not moving before swinging really screws over assault-centric units. In our tests one unit of 8 shotguns easily beat off an attack by 18 pistol + CCW troops. Simply because they were able to back up, fire, and wear the larger unit down without allowing it to fully engage.

Complexity In the Wrong Places

Part of testing is figuring out which of your ideas are good, and which ones are bad. Well, I had some bad ones that need to go.

The Movement rules, as updated in the recent outline, are much too complex. Half-movement this, and extra-movement that, just brings the game to a screeching halt when what you really want to concentrate on is WHERE you are in relation to the enemy. It's the positioning, shooting, and suppression mechanics that are fun in this game. Because those are all about tactics. Remembering that unit X gets half-movement going up a hill is not fun. Realistic or not, it's a distraction from the fun stuff.

So, the Movement rules are going to radically simplify:

  1. You can't move At-The-Double through difficult terrain.
  2. You can move ATD from a hill onto the table, but not from the table onto a hill.
  3. Moving up a floor in a Ruin, or through a Building wall, is 1/2 movement.

That's it.

Conversely, I'm now thinking that the effects of WHERE you move could handle some more complexity. So I'll be looking at Eriochrome's idea on including bonuses for flanking units and setting up crossfires.

The other really bad thing that needs to go is the customized per-unit weapon stats. As the designer of the game even I couldn't remember anyone's stats and had to constantly look everything up. So back to standardized weapons and WS/BS stats pronto!


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