Game Mechanic For Hire

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Combat, 9.4.09

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Time to duke it out!  Combat is another staple of many games.  From the dice fest that is Risk to the calculated move/countermove of chess, combat takes many different forms in gaming.  Lets throw down some ways combat can be done…

-Dice.  Combat is determined by opponents rolling dice.  There are many, MANY iterations of this one alone, some of which I covered in my very first article.  Another way dice are used in combat is by placing symbols on combat dice that have different effects/results.  This approach has been popular lately, appearing in titles ranging from Doom to Memoir ’44.  The gist is this:  the dice you roll have different symbols on each face.  Different symbols have different effects on combat, from hitting the opposing force to forcing you to discard an ammo token.  God Dice takes this and turns it on its ear a bit; the symbols on the dice are used to match up different combinations on your character to determine what attack you use that round.

-Cards.  Players use cards with numerical values to determine combat results.  This is another common one.  Typically, each player plays a card and the high card wins the battle (or adds the card’s value to the unit’s base combat value).  Cosmic Encounter is probably one of the best representations of this.  Essentially, a player attacks an opposing planet with 1-4 ships and both attacker and defender play cards from their hand and add it to the number of attacking (or defending) units with high number winning outright.  But what if the cards represented ammunition?  Take a wild west style game where each player had a gun with different ‘stats’; ammo, firepower, accuracy, range, etc.  Each player also has a ‘bullet deck’ that she can draw from to load into her gun.  Each card in the bullet deck would have an shot strength, accuracy modifier and so forth.  Players would either ‘load’ their gun with as many cards equal to her gun’s ammo limit, creating an ‘ammo deck’ and shuffles them up.  Each time they fire, the top card of their ammo deck is flipped over to determine how good the shot is.  Once the ammo deck is empty, that player must reload by taking extra time/actions/etc.

-Capture.  Players determine combat results by moving two pieces onto the same space.  This one is probably among the simplest of all, with the attacker often being the automatic winner; chess utilizes this.  Stratego turns it around a bit by giving each piece a ‘combat ranking’, with higher ranked pieces automatically beating lower ranked pieces and the attacker winning a tie.  You could turn this into a ‘siege’ style mechanic by having capture still work this way, but requiring multiple units to capture a space/opposing unit.  Take a fantasy siege game where units represent armies, siegecraft and supply trains; each unit also has a ‘combat rank’ as in Stratego.  Players are trying to capture X cities from opponents by placing say, between three and five of their units in said opposing cities.  If armies encounter each other outside of cities, a battle ensues much like Stratego, but where combat rank can be altered by card play.  That sounds kind of fun…

Those took the fight out of me; I surrender.


Keep on designing, yo!



Written by krinklechip

September 4, 2009 at 5:51 pm

2 Responses

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  1. “Take a fantasy siege game where units represent armies, siegecraft and supply trains; each unit also has a ‘combat rank’ as in Stratego. Players are trying to capture X cities from opponents by placing say, between three and five of their units in said opposing cities.”

    Nice idea, but wouldn’t the relevant factor be the number of turns they’ve occupied the city, rather than the number of armies?

    James Hutchings

    September 4, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    • Good point, James. It could play as either, methinks. While siege is starving out a city to force surrender, it could also be ‘street to street fighting’ for control of the city.

      With the number of turns way, counters could be placed on a city as the siege starts equal to its ‘holdout’ value. Each turn, a counter would be removed for every army in the same space as the city (representing more possible ways to bring down the walls with more troops, supplies being even more choked, etc). When all counters are removed from a city, the siege is successful.

      With the way I listed, it could represent the necessary number of forces to breach the walls and take the city completely by force.



      September 5, 2009 at 1:48 am

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