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Old 01-10-2018, 07:04 AM   #11
tbeard1999
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Tyler, Texas
Default Re: TFT Defense

Quote:
Originally Posted by ak_aramis View Post
I'd say it's not- a deflection of as little as 1" at point of contact turns a solid thrust to a total miss. ... heavy weapons should require a heavy parry skill; with shields the shield skill.
I think we’re focusing on different things. I’m approaching the problem as a wargame designer - what I want is a reasonable result, and at the least cost in game friction. I think you want a mechanic that feels right and are willing to pay a higher price in game friction.

Neither approach is inherently superior to the other.

In my opinion new mechanics added to TFT should increase complexity as little as possible. Using a damage absorption mechanic is very low footprint because (a) it already exists; (b) it’s simple; and (c) it’s handled completely by ine player (I.e., it doesn’t require additional input or action from the other player). The downside is that it’s more abstracted than a parry roll and therefore more prone to weird results. And of course playtesting may show that it won’t get the job done at all.

For game speed reasons, I prefer a passive (i.e., it only requires one player’s input) mechanic if possible.

The defense mechanic I proposed at the start of this thread is also passive (it only involves the attacker), probably provides a better range of results, but requires a new subroutine.

The parry roll has been done in other systems so we know what we’re dealing with. I find that they slow combat down...often by a lot. Also, you get into some funky situations - can you parry a greatsword with a dagger for instance. Such issues can be handed, but require more friction.

As an aside, having shields absorb damage is obviously an abstraction. Shields should probably make one harder to hit. But the abstraction, in my opinion, is the better approach for TFT.
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Old 01-10-2018, 07:18 AM   #12
tbeard1999
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Tyler, Texas
Default Re: TFT Defense

As many know, I designed A Fistful of TOWs, a modern miniature wargame rules set. It’s been well-received over the last 18 years or so. The game is designed for fast play, yet I required sufficient “texture” to make it engaging. Like any wargame, additional rules could be stacked almost ad infinitum.

So I developed a test for new rule proposals - unless the new rule solves some HUGE problem, it must not slow the game down - what we called “increasing friction”. The more stuff a player has to do or remember, the more exceptions to a general rule, the more special rules, the greater the friction.

That’s a net calculation, so if the new rule reduces friction in some ways, it can increase it in other ways. A small amount of friction increase was allowed if we felt the new rule would significantly increase player enjoyment. We imposed the test pretty rigorously (even on my proposals), and it kept FFT fast playing and fun. And since FFT is being used by the Rand Corporation (seriously) I assume it’s a fair simulation.

We used the dreaded “Optional Rules” section for rules that failed the test but still had significant merit. But even there, we were selective.

I’d suggest some version of this test for TFT. An additional element of the test might be "Does This Rule 'Feel' Like TFT"?

Last edited by tbeard1999; 01-10-2018 at 10:58 AM.
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Old 01-10-2018, 08:33 AM   #13
larsdangly
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Default Re: TFT Defense

Honestly, TFT would be a stronger game if it adapted something like the mix of passive defense and protection rules from GURPS for armor and shields. This would make some people uncomfortable because it feels like you are sliding toward remaking GURPS, which no one wants. But there are a couple of technical details to how damage, protection, etc. worked in GURPS that are just better versions of the treatment in TFT, and they are not really any more complicated or slow. If I were in the captain's chair, that's what I would do. Melee is a combat engine; why wouldn't you want all the coolest, highest-verisimilitude pieces in it?
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Old 01-10-2018, 11:15 AM   #14
tbeard1999
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Tyler, Texas
Default Re: TFT Defense

Regarding adapting GURPS mechanics - I would avoid replicating the GURPS combat system for the simple reason that I do not like it as much as I like the TFT combat system. In particular, I'd avoid active parry rolls. These slow the game down too much in my opinion. And at the end of the day, that game and combat system already exists - GURPS.

If you agree that some sort of defense is in order, then I think it is in keeping with the TFT design philosophy to use a system that only requires one figure to do anything.

One simple solution would be the expert and master weapon talents, which require the enemy to roll 4 or 5 dice (or suffer a -3/-6 or -7 penalty to a 3d6 roll). The defensive modification is cooked into the attacker's adjDX roll.

A slightly more involved (but also more nuanced) approach is the Defense mechanic above. It would make high DX, but very lightly armored figures harder to hit. (I like it the most, despite its slight complexity because it targets and resolves a specific issue - the swashbuckler type character. I am fine with heavily armored figures whaling away on one another with no defense.) This ability could, but doesn't have to be, talent based.

The Parry/Riposte mechanic might work as well. (Allows a figure to parry X number of hits with a hand weapon, at a Y adjustment to DX). This ability could, but doesn't have to be, talent based.

And there's the super simple option of letting figures reduce their DX and the DX of their opponents by up to X points. Some playtesting would be needed to determine the limits, but a first approximation might be that the adjustment can't exceed (say) 1/3 of your DX. This ability could, but doesn't have to be, talent based.

Any of these mechanics would be superior to a parry roll in my opinion, because they don't slow the game down as much. And they can produce reasonably accurate results as well.
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Old 01-10-2018, 11:42 AM   #15
Skarg
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: TFT Defense

IMO, I think you both have made good points:

I quite understand and mostly agree with Ty's principals of reducing "friction" and feeling-like-TFT, at least for non-optional rules for a new edition of TFT. I imagine we might have different ideas about how serious which issues are, and about which mechanics are satisfying or not.

I also quite agree with larsdangly that TFT would be a stronger game if it had better defense rules.

When our group stopped being satisfied with TFT combat after 5 or so years of steady play and started redesigning, some of the main issues we wanted to address were about defense:

* Competent highish-point-total fighters almost always hit.
* Also almost none of them could avoid being hit except by knocking out opponents first.
* The Defend option was very rarely useful to win a fight since it takes your whole turn and allows no attack. And it only adds 1 die regardless of who's defending with what.
* Armor was stacking (with shields, warrior/veteran, stone/iron flesh, etc) so high that many opponents weren't threats to many well-equipped people.
* We also noticed that the shield and left-hand weapon parry mechanics didn't seem to represent how they ought to work at all, and on their own (without other armor) were weak effects (though a welcome better-than-nothing for 1-handed weapon users) that couldn't entirely block any but the weakest attack, which felt inaccurate.

Then GURPS Man To Man appeared and handled most of what we wanted, only with elegance and playtesting. However, it took some years of play by analytical realism/detail-oriented type players before we got to that point.

I feel like there are probably some clever mechanics that could remain suitably fast, simple, and TFT-like, that would address the defense issues. Depending on what those end up being, and how much people really want the original Melee system, they could be advanced or optional rules. (Or, if something really great comes up, they could be the new official rules, and the original rules could be listed as an option... just an idea.)
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Old 01-10-2018, 12:32 PM   #16
Skarg
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: TFT Defense

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbeard1999 View Post
Regarding adapting GURPS mechanics - I would avoid replicating the GURPS combat system for the simple reason that I do not like it as much as I like the TFT combat system. In particular, I'd avoid active parry rolls. These slow the game down too much in my opinion. And at the end of the day, that game and combat system already exists - GURPS.
I like GURPS combat & defenses, and have played TFT with something similar but simpler added (and a version run by the GM, not a separate option for the player) and liked it, but think likely a fair fraction of TFT fans would agree with you.


Quote:
If you agree that some sort of defense is in order, then I think it is in keeping with the TFT design philosophy to use a system that only requires one figure to do anything.
TFT has some mechanics where figures struggle for an outcome (e.g. Dodge/Defend, attempting to enter HTH) but they can be resolved by one person without a reaction decision by the other player - there's just one event resolution.


Quote:
One simple solution would be the expert and master weapon talents, which require the enemy to roll 4 or 5 dice (or suffer a -3/-6 or -7 penalty to a 3d6 roll). The defensive modification is cooked into the attacker's adjDX roll.
Yes, though it only applies to people with those talents, and feels to me like you end up with tiers of combat mastery with chunky progression, like experts and masters are whole other sorts of fighters, and you either are one or the other or you aren't, because of the magnitude of the +1 die jump in an ability no one else has ... (except someone sacrificing all their attacking, or someone with the (almost never achieved anywhere in my TFT campaigns) Unarmed Combat V talent, requiring IQ 14, DX 16, and 11 talent/memory points, and be wearing cloth or lighter armor).


Quote:
A slightly more involved (but also more nuanced) approach is the Defense mechanic above. It would make high DX, but very lightly armored figures harder to hit. (I like it the most, despite its slight complexity because it targets and resolves a specific issue - the swashbuckler type character. I am fine with heavily armored figures whaling away on one another with no defense.) This ability could, but doesn't have to be, talent based.
(I haven't studied or tested that one yet.)


Quote:
The Parry/Riposte mechanic might work as well. (Allows a figure to parry X number of hits with a hand weapon, at a Y adjustment to DX). This ability could, but doesn't have to be, talent based.
The parry for a few points of armor system always seemed like it didn't work like what it's supposed to represent. It also doesn't do very well for low-armor fighters, and would increase the problem of higher-armor fighters being able to be nearly invulnerable to lighter weapons (unless there's some other fix for that issue).


Quote:
And there's the super simple option of letting figures reduce their DX and the DX of their opponents by up to X points. Some playtesting would be needed to determine the limits, but a first approximation might be that the adjustment can't exceed (say) 1/3 of your DX. This ability could, but doesn't have to be, talent based.
I like this one well enough. Versions of it have often been proposed on the TFT email list over the years and tried by various players. I prefer it to the ones that add dice for mastery talents and to ones that add armor, because it has the "right" effect of using your ability to avoid getting hit altogether (with a trade-off to your own), it allows low-grain adjustments, it allows people to fight aggressively or defensively, it provides another use for high DX, and lacks the things I (and for the first one, you and others) dislike about the others mentioned above.
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Old 01-10-2018, 12:46 PM   #17
tbeard1999
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Tyler, Texas
Default Re: TFT Defense

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skarg View Post
I like this one well enough. Versions of it have often been proposed on the TFT email list over the years and tried by various players. I prefer it to the ones that add dice for mastery talents and to ones that add armor, because it has the "right" effect of using your ability to avoid getting hit altogether (with a trade-off to your own), it allows low-grain adjustments, it allows people to fight aggressively or defensively, it provides another use for high DX, and lacks the things I (and for the first one, you and others) dislike about the others mentioned above.
I think it’s my favorite of the proposed mechanics. It is dead simple - literally a couple of sentences to be added. Here’s a proposed rule which will replace the Defend option (unless you tie it to a talent - Fencing perhaps):

A figure using a hand weapon that he has the talent for may reduce his DX by 1 to X, announced in reverse initiative order after movement. This reduction also applies to the DX of anyone attacking that figure with a hand weapon (or bare hands). It cannot be used in HTH combat or against missile/thrown weapons. Someone with UC1+ can take this option barre handed.

The big question will be how the modifier should be capped. And I kinda like tying it to a talent like Fencing. That preserves the basic Defense option. And it allows some variation - for instance, should it be useable with haftred (ax/mace) weapons?

Last edited by tbeard1999; 01-10-2018 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 01-10-2018, 12:57 PM   #18
larsdangly
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Default Re: TFT Defense

There are a lot of good solutions here. The Fencing talent, Two Weapons and high Unarmed Combat talents provide models of ways that advanced skills can translate into stronger defense without giving up your ability to attack. Any of those could be developed or (my preference) generalized into core parts of the rules that anyone can try. GIURPS also provides some really good mechanical ideas that I believe could be lifted from that context and adapted to TFT without fundamentally changing or slowing it down. In the end this is a designer choice, and if we don't like what he does we can keep our house rules rolling along.
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Old 01-12-2018, 07:34 AM   #19
tbeard1999
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Tyler, Texas
Default Re: TFT Defense

OK, some crazy talk follows. It may be a great insight, or it may be the cough syrup talking.

As we know, a common complaint with TFT combat is that figures pretty easily get to a point where they effectively automatically hit. The solution has been to come up with some way to make it harder to hit - parry rolls, harder DX rolls, defensive modifiers, etc.

The problem with all of these systems is that they make the combat turns last longer.

What if we made two simple changes to TFT instead:

1. Resolve combat in initiative order, not DX order. This eliminates a key advantage of high DX - going first. (Or assess damage simultaneously at the end of the turn. I don’t like that as much).

2. Make rolls of 13-16 automatic misses (17 and 18 treated like they are now). This gives a 74% maximum success chance of success. High DX figures can distinguish themselves by trying aimed shots.

The result is that combat becomes a lot less predictable. There’s now a solid chance of missing and a lot of uncertainty in combat due to the unpredictable order. However, this would only have a very modest impact on the amount of time a combat turn takes.

As far as my own goal of enabling swashbucklers, I’d stay with the parry/riposte rule that lets figures with the Fencing talent stop hits (2 maybe) by taking an adjDX penalty (2 maybe). This advantage does to 1 hit stopped if wearing leather and 0 if wearing anything heavier (though I’d allow something like mithril chain to be treated as leather).

After all, a swashbuckler’s main combat disadvantage is no armor. Give them a way to more or less take *some* armor (though not as much as a normal warrior) and the problem is solved.

I know all this sounds crazy, but I kinda have a feeling it would work.

Or maybe the cough syrup thinks that.
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Old 01-12-2018, 12:43 PM   #20
Chris Goodwin
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Hillsboro, Oregon, USA
Default Re: TFT Defense

For a parry, I might adapt the Block maneuver from Champions/Hero. It costs you your attack for the turn. You essentially have to roll to hit their attack, and have to succeed by more than the amount they hit you by. If you do, you've parried their attack successfully, and also set yourself to go before them next turn. Potentially, if you already go before them, you can wait for them to attack, then combine a parry-riposte, in which you can block their attack and follow it up in the same turn with an attack of your own.

The same mechanic might be used for a dodge. You make an adjDX roll; if you succeed by more than their attack roll they miss. (Optionally you can follow up the dodge with disengaging at no penalty.)

Edited to add: These would make it more than just "I hit," "No you didn't." It would give some additional tactical options without being an "I win" button.
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