Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fixing Alpha Strike Part 2

This is a more thought out update to Fixing Alpha Strike (Part 1) I shot from the hip a few weeks ago.

Forget everything I said, well, enough of it to look at this with a new mindset.  This is a new proposal, with a bit more design math (and thought) and a lot less math and die rolls.

Each Alpha Strike, or BattleForce (which I'm far more interested in) turn is 30 seconds, or 3 BattleTech turns.  As damage is averaged out in the conversions, it makes sense to average their damage output as well, instead of the all-or-nothing approach that exists now.

This chart is used *instead* of the normal to-hit roll.  All the modifiers for things like terrain and target movement, and skill are added together, which is compared to your attack factor, and the damage done is what you look up on this chart (created using standard deviations).

The times you see a number, like "3+".  These results mean you do get to roll a 1d6, and when you exceed the number you do 1 damage.  This can be assumed to be 0 if you want, but some very weak units could get stuck doing 0 damage forever, which is kinda unfair IMO.

So, no dice rolls... at all.... well, you get your crit rolls, but over 3 turns the damage of a unit, against the same unit, is typically very similar.   But people love die rolls, and there should be a bit of a surprise.  So, lets add one.  Roll 1d6 when you attack, if you roll even, you add 1 to your to-hit number, odds subtract 1.  If you roll a 1, you subtract 2, if you roll a 6, you add 2.  There, some variety (if you want it, as I consider it optional)!  If your modified roll is under 2, you do full damage, if over 12, you do no damage.

Hopefully I didn't lose too many folks with the reduction from 2d6 to 1d6, but just think, now you can have 4 colors on your 4 mechs, target 1 baddie, and roll 4 colored dice and quickly determine how you did!  No more bell curves, which shouldn't be very apparent at the larger scale anyway.

What this does is gradually wear units down, just like BattleTech.  Right now many units are simply destroyed in a single shot, and most units only take a few before dying.  It doesn't really "feel" like BattleTech.  If you removed the miniatures and 2d6 rolls you'd be hard pressed to identify it as BattleTech.

Also, one more thing.  This lets you *split* fire.  Target 3 units, pick the highest to-hit number, and split your damage as you like (round down) to those 3 units.

Introduce these into BattleForce and you get a lance, with say 3+4+2+5 attack at medium range.  Look at the to-hit number for the enemy *lance*, and use the 14 attack factor column and allocate your damage as you like.  Optionally if your damage modifier roll was even, the enemy allocates the damage, if odd the attacker.

So with this method, the amount of time it takes to fight out 30 elements, each of 4 mechs, is very comparable to the time it takes you to slug out 12 mechs.

Also, on a BattleForce scale, special ammunition is eliminated (I think it shouldn't be used at any scale actually).  This means the AC #/#/#, SRM #/#/#, LRM #/#/#, and IF # factors can all be ignored, though perhaps an M #/#/# should be added to indicate how many attack factors are missiles, for Anti-Missile systems.

This of course means lots of special damage type things need to be addressed.

If anybody wants to do some quick scenarios by setting up a map at both houses, and using PBEM, let me know and we can give it a shot.

I think I like this though, thoughts?


  1. I must admit I'd like to see a reduced-variance chart that keeps the standard die rolls. 2d6 with more of a central bias. It does mean you need a three-dimensional chart, or a family of them: to-hit, attack factor, and die roll.

    1. I tried, seriously, but it doesn't really work. Thing is, you are *averaging* 3 turns of combat into 1. PLUS, you have to take into account the hit modifiers. If you have a huge variance in the resolution, it simply isn't an appropriate mirror for 3 turns of combat.

      Over 3 turns, the key isn't to "roll good" or "roll bad" as they will average out, but it is to out maneuver your opponent to consistently get better positioning. In BattleTech, die rolls simply don't matter that much either way over multiple turns due to averages, and some superb maneuver doesn't win games to justify a huge variable that rolling die would mirror.

      Watching the hundreds of dice that get rolled every turn make me wonder how much fun there is in that aspect of the game anyway, and using this process could allow you a much larger battlefield with much more consistent results that rely on maneuver and strategy over getting a "lucky head shot" or whatever.

      I did give the d6 variable though as an option :)