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3DModelerMan

Balancing of sword/axe type weapons and explosives

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I'm doing a game set in midevil time, but there will be no magic. The weapons are going to be swords, maces, axes, spears, etc. And also crossbows/bows but with arrowtips made out of a metal that explodes when it contacts blood, the problem I'm having is that I want to balance the game between the two weapon types, melee, and ranged explosives. How can I keep the player from just running around blasting everyones heads off with the explosive crossbow? And actually switch between the weapons?

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Huge delay time and limited ammo. Expense.....

With huge delay time, it'll cause them to shoot as a start off and go in with melee or another weapon. Limited ammo makes it so they can't keep using it. Expense would force them to change when they can't afford it.

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Original post by 3DModelerMan
arrowtips made out of a metal that explodes when it contacts blood


If so it would have problems with armor especially if the exploding metal had worse strength and density than steel.

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Using a bow or crossbow could force you to walk, or maybe they're just hugely inaccurate when running. This would give the melee users a chance to catch up.

Or, give the melee users a speed burst ability, a net to slow down an archer, or something similar.

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When balancing between melee and ranged combat, obviously the ranged weapons have one advantage, being ranged, so melee has to be better in some other way. Here are some ideas for stats you could edit:
-damage (melee could do more damage)
-reload time (ranged could have longer reload times)
-use of cunsumable ammo (limited supply / cost)
-other attributes (perhaps ranged units have less hitpoints or aren't allowed to wear armor but melee units can, giving them extra survivability to make up for the first few shots that the ranger is going to get off while the melee unit is closing the distance)

If you think about how these weapons would actually be used, if you get in close with a sword, you could swing maybe once every second or faster, while in practice a crossbow could take half a minute to reload and you wouldn't be able to run while doing so. The implementation in the game doesn't have to be this extreme, but a moderate difference in reloading could make it balanced and add some realism.

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Original post by 3DModelerMan
I'm doing a game set in midevil time, but there will be no magic. The weapons are going to be swords, maces, axes, spears, etc. And also crossbows/bows but with arrowtips made out of a metal that explodes when it contacts blood, the problem I'm having is that I want to balance the game between the two weapon types, melee, and ranged explosives. How can I keep the player from just running around blasting everyones heads off with the explosive crossbow? And actually switch between the weapons?


Real crossbows (minus explosive heads) can do horrendous damage (as can a large bow) and you could have a splash of blood effect instead (the exploding arrow/bolt heads is a bit unrealistic as they usually more often tend to go off on your person prematurely).

Crossbows of any strength have to be drawn with either a crank or a lever (usually with a foot in a stirrup on the ground to hold it in place). They are thus quite slow.

Bows would make more sense because they are faster if now the damage is to be done by these explosive arrowheads...

Hand catapults might be the next divergence, as why bother with a shaft when you just chuck an explosive like a stone.... Grenades... Spar torpedoes ....

You could even put the explosive (big one)on an axehead/polearm and swing it and kaboom your armored opponent goes byebye (wherebye most fighters stop wearing the heavy cumbersome armor because it no longer protects you enough and go for more maneuverbility and ease of using those range weapons (basicly thats what happened when guns started being used in numbers).

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The reasons crossbows were popular were twofold.

The first, and most obvious reason, is that they take ten minutes to teach someone how to use them. That means you get a lot of soldiers very quickly -- and this was important in an age with no standing army.

The second is that they are actually more useful in siege warfare. Why? Well, you can take your time to aim. You can sit for half an hour waiting for the guard to stick his head over the parapet -- you can snipe.

So, why didn't everyone use them?

Two reasons.

First is that their rate of shot is low. Rates for xbows run at a couple a minute for small hand-spannable ones through to a shot every minute or 90 seconds for the giant winch system ones.

In 90 seconds, a warbow archer can put a *lot* of arrows into the air. On the other hand, they take a lot of training -- years of practice to build up the muscles and hand-eye co-ordination.

So why isn't everyone either a low-skilled xbowman or a high-skilled warbow operator?

A lot of this boils down to the fact that warfare has forms. It still has forms today -- look how we view people who bomb civilians or shoot prisoners.

In medieval times, warfare was also a formal affair; there were rules, and there were professional and non-professional participants. The professionals would turn up wearing full-on armour, they would be armed with close quarters weaponry. And their job was to act like the tanks of the battlefield. A steady, inexorable advance.

The peasantry can rain arrows down on them -- but only for as long as it takes them to close into combat. And at that point, your projectile weapons are too inaccurate. You can't shoot without risking hitting your own side.

And anyway, you don't necessarily want to kill those men. Archers, xbowmen... peasants with knives on sticks -- who cares. Shoot them.

The guys in plate armour are ransomable. You want to capture them alive (and preferably reasonably well). They're professional soldiers -- you're not *supposed* to kill them. Henry killing the prisoners at Agincourt (whatever his reasons) was viewed in the same sort of way as killing prisoners today is seen. It wasn't just brutal, it wasn't DONE to kill nobles. If he'd not been a king (and therefore without an eartly lord), his lord could have disowned him for that sort of behaviour.

And, in addition to this, he sacrificed a lot of money doing that. Several thousand prisoners at several thousand pounds each. Henry sacrificed possibly a MILLION pounds killing those prisoners. Now to put this into context, the costs of fighting the 100 years war totaled maybe 8-10 million across the century.

So the game of war is (almost always) to capture them -- and take their lands and money.

And if you're a peasant with a crossbow and you kill your lord's rival, your lord is not going to be best pleased, because you can't ransom a dead body. On the other hand, peasants who capture someone important get a share of the monies. Probably a pretty small share -- but it could be the equivalent of years of their incomes...

So if you give the players explosive metal weapons[1], these will be handled by the peasantry. They're not *honourable* weapons, so nobles won't touch them. The historical precedent here is why firearms were used by lower ranks, while higher ones retained swords -- because swords and other close combat weapons were honourable. You can fight someone until they surrender. At which point you and he head off the field to the nearest alehouse and negotiate his ransom.

When firearms arrived, they were grubby, dishonourable weapons. Of course you give those to the lower orders.

And there's a secondary (and actually more important) scoring mechanism; while players can throw these new "superweapons" around, they have to know their place. Nobles can't use them, and peasantry can't use them to kill nobles without loosing their side the ransoms.

The point of having them then is to shoot other peasants, but if you're someone who is shooting peasants, you aren't getting vast wealth from ransoming people.






[1] I'm not going to question the physics of this, because I can't think of a way this could sensibly work. But one of the rules of speculative fiction is supposed to be that you're allowed one impossibility :-)

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I'm wondering why arrows have to explode anyway, but hey :-)

Since that metal explodes in contact with blood, it is not unreasonable to assume that touching it causes ill effects, or it may be volatile and inhalation may cause an ill effect. Thus, using one of those explosive bows might for example make you lose 1/4 of your health or have a reduced regeneration for the next 5 minutes (or both), which again gives someone using melee an advantage if he can close in. Add to that high price and maybe random blow-up in your pocket if you're unlucky (chances increasing the more of it you carry), and there's your balance.

Another often used (and realistic, btw.) balancing factor is that rangers normally cannot wear any significant armour, which means once they get into a melee, they're dead.
This is for example how the French won the Hundred Years' War. After Agincourt, there was the (sometimes still quoted today) urban legend of how superior longbows are against everything else, when in fact that battle had been decided for the English by favourable terrain and extreme stupidity on the side of French noble men. Sure enough, if you're standing on a hill and your enemy down in the marsh is too busy killing their own men to instead of engaging in battle, then you have an easy time raining down arrows on them, but that isn't really surprising. It doesn't mean a terrible lot on the superiority of your bows.
Later, in and after Orléans and Patay, the French had learned. The English, so certain of the superior power of their archers, came with a huge bulk of longbowmen, and the French simply rode through them with their cavalry once, then came back and killed anyone who was still standing, and that was pretty much the end of the battle.

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Yeah, you aren't going to be fighting other humans though. They're going to be like evil super predator things. I guess the exlosive arrows are kinda unneeded. But what kind of explosives would people have in midevil times?

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Original post by samoth
Another often used (and realistic, btw.) balancing factor is that rangers normally cannot wear any significant armour, which means once they get into a melee, they're dead.


Not really realistic. In medieval Europe it was usually the norm, but in Asia the best bowmen were often the ones wearing the best armour. Same for the Ancient eras such as old Egypt and that.

Many people have this odd idea that archers are cheap. "Oh, they're just men with bits of wood, how can that be more expensive than metal armour? Metal was rare in the olden days!"

Well first off metal wasn't nearly as rare as some scholars make it out to be. Cheap swords were actually fairly common. Most men carried a fairly large 'utility' knife. One that was useful for both a simple weapon and a tool. What was rare was Good quality metals.

Second, archers cost a fair bit to equip. Longbows are more than just a bit of wood. They're a very expensive bit of woodworking. Also where an armoured footman can keep fighting all day with the weapons and armour he bought, archers have the problem of they're shooting a lot of what they've paid good money for. Archers were often paid a higher wage because their expenses were often higher than other foot troops.


The problem with using a ranged weapon is that you eventually run out of ammunition. Even today soldiers are trained in hand to hand combat and how to use a bayonet. They're never suppose to need to know how to fight like that, but when they're out of ammo you still want them to have some means to defend themselves.

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