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Old 08-07-2019, 11:33 PM   #1
middlearthenthusiast
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Default Middle Earth: Melee (TFT) or Man to Man (GURPS)

Hey!

I've been seeking to develop a Middle Earth skirmish game to play with my friends and see what it would be like for players to develop their own ME characters and battle it out on cool terrain. I bought a used copy of Man to Man and then discovered GURPS-Lite and put my favorite parts of both together to create a 'menu' of combat options for players and started making mock-up character profiles on index cards. I've even found some wooden hex bases that fit perfectly on the map. I've been gluing figures to them and highlighting the front three engagement edges with red marker to help resolve facing.

I've just discovered Melee/Wizard/The Fantasy Trip and am really curious to try it out, but am reluctant to spend the money. My play-test with MTM/GURPS-Lite felt really slow, my hits would rarely land, and my archer spent four turns shooting only to do two damage that ended up being negated by armor because his ST was only 8. Melee seems to be a lot more of what I'm looking for speed-wise, but I'm worried that:
1. Eliminating Defense rolls will make combat too deadly and fatal hits too random
2. The lack of options will make all of the characters feel too similar (I don't want a generic orc lackey two-shotting Aragorn)
3. The lack of options will make combat boring.

Basically what I want to know:
1. Have you found Melee or Man to Man to be more fun as a stand-alone combat game?
2. Did you miss the combat options from MTM when you played Melee?
3. Did MTM feel way too slow (in particular with ranged attacks taking up to 6 turns and defensive maneuvers making it hard for anyone to take damage)
4. Does either feel more Tolkien-esque to you?
5. Does Melee feel interesting enough for this setting on its own (granted that I added a few special abilities)?
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Old 08-08-2019, 01:45 AM   #2
HeatDeath
 
Join Date: May 2012
Default Re: Middle Earth: Melee (TFT) or Man to Man (GURPS)

Quote:
Originally Posted by middlearthenthusiast View Post
Hey!

I've been seeking to develop a Middle Earth skirmish game to play with my friends and see what it would be like for players to develop their own ME characters and battle it out on cool terrain. I bought a used copy of Man to Man and then discovered GURPS-Lite and put my favorite parts of both together to create a 'menu' of combat options for players and started making mock-up character profiles on index cards. I've even found some wooden hex bases that fit perfectly on the map. I've been gluing figures to them and highlighting the front three engagement edges with red marker to help resolve facing.

I've just discovered Melee/Wizard/The Fantasy Trip and am really curious to try it out, but am reluctant to spend the money. My play-test with MTM/GURPS-Lite felt really slow, my hits would rarely land, and my archer spent four turns shooting only to do two damage that ended up being negated by armor because his ST was only 8. Melee seems to be a lot more of what I'm looking for speed-wise, but I'm worried that:
1. Eliminating Defense rolls will make combat too deadly and fatal hits too random
2. The lack of options will make all of the characters feel too similar (I don't want a generic orc lackey two-shotting Aragorn)
3. The lack of options will make combat boring.

Basically what I want to know:
1. Have you found Melee or Man to Man to be more fun as a stand-alone combat game?
2. Did you miss the combat options from MTM when you played Melee?
3. Did MTM feel way too slow (in particular with ranged attacks taking up to 6 turns and defensive maneuvers making it hard for anyone to take damage)
4. Does either feel more Tolkien-esque to you?
5. Does Melee feel interesting enough for this setting on its own (granted that I added a few special abilities)?
1. I prefer Melee. MTM is basically Melee with a pile of simulation-y optional rules added to it, which is still reasonable for one to one duels but will bog down fast with squad-based scenarios.

2. Nope.

3. See 1.

4. Neither is remotely Tolkeinesque [nor Jacksonian for that matter]. No 87-year old veterans are coming out of either of those combat systems, no matter how much plot armor you give them. On the Tolkeinian side, no hours-long duels between radiant elf-Lords and immortal Balrogs. On the Jacksonian side, it's very difficult to construct a demigod of a Numenorean who can cut down a hundred orcs without at least one of them rolling a natural 3 and ruining the author's whole week. And even if you could build either of those, in either game, it would be a boring dicerolling exercise.

5. See 4. Melee is a beautiful little skirmish game. But it does not portray high fantasy. Like, at all. Think Braveheart. Think Game of Thrones. But neither Tolkein, nor Jackson. Just not in the cards.

Last edited by Andrew Hackard; 08-08-2019 at 05:33 AM. Reason: Don’t “junior mod.”
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:01 PM   #3
zot
 
Join Date: May 2018
Default Re: Middle Earth: Melee (TFT) or Man to Man (GURPS)

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeatDeath View Post
5. See 4. Melee is a beautiful little skirmish game. But it does not portray high fantasy. Like, at all. Think Braveheart. Think Game of Thrones. But neither Tolkein, nor Jackson. Just not in the cards.
I agree -- Melee is closer to sword and sorcery, like Conan, Red Sonja, and Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, although TFT magic is not.

[short digression on TFT magic...]
TFT's magic is not like ME or sword and sorcery magic. It's mostly low-power, small scale, and short duration (aside from permanent items and a few permanent spells), not cosmic power or world-ending summonings. By contrast, a TFT wizard with a lot of time and resources can accomplish very interesting things with "magic engineering". With some creativity and engineering, though, you can combine these relatively low power effects with mundane physics to produce very scary and powerful effects, like giant "cannons" powered by "gate accelerators" that can shoot rocks at terminal velocity.
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:38 PM   #4
middlearthenthusiast
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Default Re: Middle Earth: Melee (TFT) or Man to Man (GURPS)

1. Actually, I think this type of system is rather fitting for the Third Age of Middle Earth, as far as deadly low-powered combat goes. Certainly Aragorn is described as one of the most exceptional men in Middle Earth history, but his feats are not common for most of Middle Earth in Third Age, which is where I hope to set my scenarios. I guess I want combat to be able to feature amazing feats that are consistent with Tolkien if I introduce a character worthy of them, but I'd like scenarios to feature a good handful of rather ordinary folk who may have to face off against said exceptional characters (stock Melee characters seem to fit well with average Middle Earth warriors). I could easily see one of the exceptional characters being the Witch-King: a formidable warrior-wizard with a high ST, High dmg custom maul, average DX, Telekinesis, and a special ability that makes him vulnerable exclusively to certain types of attacks or magic.

2. I suppose I'm wondering what can be done to help show off the amazing defensive swordsmanship with someone exceptional like Aragorn in the Melee system. I admit that would definitely be a lot easier in GURPS/MTM (where high Sword skill = frequent hits on opponents & high parry stats), but I'd be curious to see if there was any way within (or in addition to) TFT RAW that Aragorn's mastery of defensive combat could be represented. One idea I have is to give him a special ability where he can make a dodge/defend maneuver in addition to an attack at will.

3. Does TFT have weapons skills like in GURPS? If so, how do they impact combat when it's based exclusively on DX?
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:52 PM   #5
Anthony
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Berkeley, CA
Default Re: Middle Earth: Melee (TFT) or Man to Man (GURPS)

Bear in mind where you are; you're going to get different responses on different forums. In any case, it really depends on what you're after; TFT is a generally simpler system than GURPS, and the lack of defense rolls somewhat flattens relative power levels, but it's not like Tolkien goes into a lot of detail about combat.
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:58 PM   #6
Chris Rice
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: London Uk, but originally from Scotland
Default Re: Middle Earth: Melee (TFT) or Man to Man (GURPS)

TFT Legacy Edition now has more Talents which can aid in Defence, but I haven't played enough with the new edition to evaluate them.

What I used to do, when we played a lot back in the day, was to use "comparative DX".

Simply put thus means that, under existing rules, if Aragon has adjDX 16 and the Orc has adjDX 10, Aragon will hit on 90% plus and the Orc will hit on 50%. So Aragorn's high DX isn't helping him as much as it should.

Under "comparative DX" the difference between the combatants is 6 (or +3/-3). Taking 10 as the middle score, Aragorn gets +3 or adjDX 13 and the Orc gets -3 or adjDX 7.

This means Aragon still has a very high hit % but the Orcs hit percentage is much lower.
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Old 08-08-2019, 04:23 PM   #7
Skarg
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Middle Earth: Melee (TFT) or Man to Man (GURPS)

1. Have you found Melee or Man to Man to be more fun as a stand-alone combat game?
"More fun" is subjective. I find Man to Man / GURPS more fun for me, but I only started playing it after playing TFT combat heavily for six years and becoming unhappy with the limits of TFT (which GURPS addressed all of).

It took years of playing and enjoying TFT to become sensitive to those, limits, however.


2. Did you miss the combat options from MTM when you played Melee?
Yes.


3. Did MTM feel way too slow (in particular with ranged attacks taking up to 6 turns and defensive maneuvers making it hard for anyone to take damage)
No. But experience matters. After years of TFT, I'd memorized it and it was second nature. MTM was then easy to learn. Then after some months running GURPS, GURPS became almost as fast as TFT for me.

However in some cases, like someone tries to reload, aim and fire a crossbow while a bunch of other figures are fighting each other with swords and spears, yeah, it may feel like the archers have a lot of real-time between shots, but I'm ok with that.


4. Does either feel more Tolkien-esque to you?
No, TFT is just much simpler. I think you're right-on when thinking that the lack of defenses is an issue for hero survival in some circumstances, but if you have good players with strong characters and the terrain/situation allows ways to avoid getting swarmed or shot, then it can be possible to survive a lot of action in TFT.


5. Does Melee feel interesting enough for this setting on its own (granted that I added a few special abilities)?
I'd want to add a bit... like the rest of the rules found in In The Labyrinth, or inventing extra things, but in a pinch, Melee could be enough.
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Old 08-08-2019, 04:26 PM   #8
middlearthenthusiast
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Default Re: Middle Earth: Melee (TFT) or Man to Man (GURPS)

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Originally Posted by Skarg View Post
[B]
5. Does Melee feel interesting enough for this setting on its own (granted that I added a few special abilities)?
I'd want to add a bit... like the rest of the rules found in In The Labyrinth, or inventing extra things, but in a pinch, Melee could be enough.
Does TFT have anything comparable to Weapon Skills like you would commonly use in GURPS combat? If so, what exactly do they do since hits in TFT are based on DX?
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Old 08-08-2019, 04:30 PM   #9
zot
 
Join Date: May 2018
Default Re: Middle Earth: Melee (TFT) or Man to Man (GURPS)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Rice View Post
What I used to do, when we played a lot back in the day, was to use "comparative DX".

Simply put thus means that, under existing rules, if Aragon has adjDX 16 and the Orc has adjDX 10, Aragon will hit on 90% plus and the Orc will hit on 50%. So Aragorn's high DX isn't helping him as much as it should.

Under "comparative DX" the difference between the combatants is 6 (or +3/-3). Taking 10 as the middle score, Aragorn gets +3 or adjDX 13 and the Orc gets -3 or adjDX 7.

This means Aragon still has a very high hit % but the Orcs hit percentage is much lower.
When you had an odd difference, did you put the larger half of the points above or below 10?
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Old 08-08-2019, 04:34 PM   #10
zot
 
Join Date: May 2018
Default Re: Middle Earth: Melee (TFT) or Man to Man (GURPS)

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Originally Posted by middlearthenthusiast View Post
Does TFT have anything comparable to Weapon Skills like you would commonly use in GURPS combat? If so, what exactly do they do since hits in TFT are based on DX?
In the Labyrinth has expert and master weapon skills that add some tactical options but they have prerequisites that limit the ST of a 40-point character to 13 so master great sword wielders are VERY rare if they exist at all (depends on how many 43 point characters are walking around).
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