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Girsanov

Why so much randomness in Miniature Wargamming?

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I was checking out miniature war games recently, starting with probably the most popular : Warhammer 40k. There seems to be A LOT of dice rolling and luck factor in these game. Many of the games that I see involve people cursing at their bad luck or winning due to lucky rolls. Do "strategy" players actually enjoy having so much randomness? I always thought they like miniature wargaming due to the strategy, tactics and planning involved.

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Randomness can be used to approximate the results of deterministic systems with a reduction in record keeping. For example, let's say you want a unit to take about three hits before going down. One way would be to give the unit three hit points and every time you attacked it, reduce the hit points by one. Another way would be to give the unit a one in three chance of going down whenever it got hit. On average it would still take three hits to go down, but it wouldn't require keeping track of the hit points.

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Most tabletop games are extremely simplified to make gameplay move faster and I would recommend that if your making a computer game to make a bit deeper combat mechanics.

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The more dice that are used, then less luck is a major factor. Basic probability says that if you have a 1 in 6 chance of hitting an enemy, and you roll 6 dice, then on average you would expect to get 1 hit every roll (but you might get none or oyu might get more than 1). If, instead, you rolled 24 dice, then you would expect to get at least 1 hit and on average get 4 hits.

In these cases, you can still get lucky rolls and unlucky rolls, but you can factor in to your plans that you will get an average hit rate based on the probabilities.

In this way, these games can simulate more complex factors (wind, dust, the training of the troops, etc) without actually having to have the player calculate all of them. As these factors are highly variable, they use a variable device (dice) to simulate these variations.

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Quote:
Original post by Edtharan
In this way, these games can simulate more complex factors (wind, dust, the training of the troops, etc) without actually having to have the player calculate all of them. As these factors are highly variable, they use a variable device (dice) to simulate these variations.


Quote:
Original post by SiCrane
Randomness can be used to approximate the results of deterministic systems with a reduction in record keeping. For example, let's say you want a unit to take about three hits before going down. One way would be to give the unit three hit points and every time you attacked it, reduce the hit points by one. Another way would be to give the unit a one in three chance of going down whenever it got hit. On average it would still take three hits to go down, but it wouldn't require keeping track of the hit points.



Ah yes...should have thought of these.


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Original post by Kaze
Most tabletop games are extremely simplified to make gameplay move faster and I would recommend that if your making a computer game to make a bit deeper combat mechanics.


Please elaborate. What do you feel should be included in a computer game but was excluded for tabletop games? Thanks!

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Quote:
Original post by Edtharan
In this way, these games can simulate more complex factors (wind, dust, the training of the troops, etc) without actually having to have the player calculate all of them. As these factors are highly variable, they use a variable device (dice) to simulate these variations.
And don't forget that even the most perfect strategies can fail due to bad luck - communication or identification mixups, equipment failure, etc.

Sometimes, someone just gets obscenely lucky - in real life or in a game. Last time I played Risk, I lost 24 consecutive die-rolls, to be defeated by a single army [wink]

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Original post by Girsanov
Quote:
Original post by Kaze
Most tabletop games are extremely simplified to make gameplay move faster and I would recommend that if your making a computer game to make a bit deeper combat mechanics.


Please elaborate. What do you feel should be included in a computer game but was excluded for tabletop games? Thanks!


I cant really answer this without knowing what type of game you want to make but at the very least you shouldn't restrict yourself to the limitations of tabletop gaming given the trivial costs of basic math operation on a computer.

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Original post by Girsanov
Do "strategy" players actually enjoy having so much randomness? I always thought they like miniature wargaming due to the strategy, tactics and planning involved.


Risk management is a part of strategy.

Things always go wrong. A good strategy stacks the odds in your favour, and ensures that on balance, more things go right than wrong. It is also better able to adapt to potentially disastrous isolated failures.

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Sandman's beat me to it. It's all about risk versus reward. Knowing the exact outcome of your actions can suck a lot of the risk out of the outcome - and as a result, you're not likely to make moves that may not have the best result. Whereas, in a more random scenario, you might have by far the upper hand, but your actions still carry an inherent risk of something going wrong. Better yet, you might be acting against the odds, and come through significantly better than would have been expected. These potential, more unpredictable outcomes are what keep the game interesting, and prevent things become a stagnant repeat of tried and tested methodologies.

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Risk management is one thing. Being unable to lower the fumble probability below 5% is another thing.

Why approximate things by a dice throw ? If you want to approximate things, use 3.5 as an average result. Why have a 10% hit chance at X meters ? Have 10% the damages. That is how it would work on the real world anyway.

Sure in the real life things can go lucky, but is that interesting as a game mechanics ? Is it interesting that a player with a superior strategy can lose ?

I'll tell you the true reason for dices in miniature wargamming : it gives the losing side something to put the blame on. The games that don't have randomness are less popular for this reason : it clearly shows who did use the best strategy. I also suspect that randomness is convenient to hide balance problems.

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Original post by Yvanhoe
Why approximate things by a dice throw ? If you want to approximate things, use 3.5 as an average result. Why have a 10% hit chance at X meters ? Have 10% the damages. That is how it would work on the real world anyway.

a) In the real world you either get hit by a bullet or your don't. If someone fires at you with a 10% chance to hit you, you don't magically get hit by 10% of a bullet.
b) As already mentioned, using fixed values with fractional results requires more bookkeeping.

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As said, the dice are an easy way to factor in a massive number of things without needing to factor them in.


Consider simulating this real world event from my Grandfather's military career during the Second World War.

He drove a Sherman tank on the Western Front, and at one point he and the rest of his tank group were attempting to out flank a German gun at extreme range. They had to drive up over a ridge as fast as they can, then throw the tank into neutral on the downward slope (As they apparently could roll faster down the cobbled road than they could drive.) The first two tanks went down and made it safely below the small hill between them and the enemies, and were missed by the German gun. My grandfather in the third tank rolled down the hill, the first two had been more toward the left, he was more on the right. He struck two heavy anti-tank mines, one after the other on different tracks. These mines were designed to take out tanks with the highest probability of setting off their ammo stores.

My grandfather's tank rolled to the bottom of the hill, smoldering and without tracks or transmission. The crew popped hatch to catch some air, but were fine other than a loud ringing in their ears.


Now, explain to me how best to model that the entire group of 5 tank crews survived, with only one tank heavily damaged but recoverable.

Do you want to sit there for 20 minutes calculating angles, plotting courses, tracking positions of mines, and computing structural failures caused by an explosion?

Or would you rather throw a handful of dice, pull a few aside to account for tanks driving through a light mine field, and a few more for the skill of the German gunners?


Even in a computer game, you'll want (have) to pick things on random chance, rather than actually calculate things out fully. The modeling of a tank running over a land mine is likely best simplified a great deal, and assigning damage chances to different parts based on where the contact with the mine was. The difference between my grandfather's tank popping its turret by exploding its own ammunition stores, and the crew walking out of it alive was very slim.

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I should also point out, that the more dice you roll, the more predictable the end result tends to be - roll 10 dice with a half chance of hitting, and you'll generally find a broad spread of results. Roll 1000 dice with half a chance of hitting, and you're probably going to find that somewhere between 45 and 55% of them did hit. Of course, this isn't necessarily the case, since it is indeed random.

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Quote:
Original post by Girsanov
I was checking out miniature war games recently, starting with probably the most popular : Warhammer 40k.

There seems to be A LOT of dice rolling and luck factor in these game. Many of the games that I see involve people cursing at their bad luck or winning due to lucky rolls.

Warhammer is popular because it's aimed at children. And as with most games for children, it's more fun if you bias it towards luck rather than skill because then it stops the weaker player from losing all the time and refusing to play again.

Other wargaming systems do not take the 'bucket of dice' approach but they never had the marketing power of Games Workshop and so are now pretty much gone from the market.

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