Home Forums General Game Design Do your rules allow for double elimination in melee or assaul? Reply To: Do your rules allow for double elimination in melee or assaul?

Phil Dutré

Double elimination should definitely be a possibility, but it depends on the time scale of the rules. Suppose the turn is supposed to represent 1 hour, then it would be very strange not to have double elimination as the outcome of a melee combat. If the turn is supposed to represent 1 second, it might be different.

But anyhow, it has less to do with finding a justification of what “really” happens, but has more to do with the framework of rules design.

In many games (not only wargames, but also classic boardgames etc), there is an inherent structure that allows you to do something with a playing piece, then do some action with that playing piece (e.g. move your pawn in Monopoly, then act on the space you land on. The Game of Goose has the same structure). This is a very old gaming mechanic, predating wargames. But you can still see that same pattern in many modern games.

If you look at wargames rules from the 60’s, you see the same structure: I move a unit of toy soldiers, then they do something (shoot, melee). If you follow the mode of thought in which only your pieces do something, and the opponent’s pieces are “passive”, then it is also logical to think that only your pieces are capable of inflicting damage. This is the most obvious in the shooting phase. I shoot, you take damage, but you cannot shoot back.

But melee is a bit different, since when I fight you hand-to-hand, you should be able to kill me as well (after all, you are also stabbing me with a sword, right?). Thus, you have/had mechanisms such as an opposed die roll (both soldiers roll a D6, highest wins). This also explains why in many rules you have different mechanisms for shooting (only I can inflict damage), and melee (we both should be able to inflict damage). If you implement melee combat using opposed die rolls (as is very common), immediately there’s the question of what to do with a tie. A tie feels “unnatural” in this framework, and what you often see is that ties remain unresolved and you continue fighting next turn, OR both parties are killed OR you reroll the dice. But a tie remains a special situation for a mechanic in which a “winner” is supposed to emerge. Even if you do not use opposed die rolls, many games still have mechanisms that allows the opponent to strike back. The original Warhammer engine was designed that way (I am not familiar with the latest incarnations). If only the initiator of the melee would be able to inflict damage, that shifts emphasis in the game very much to being able to make contact first, something that does not always produce a balanced game.

Mutual damage is also linked to the concept of accumulating damage before a figure is killed. If a figure has 1 hit (as in most classic wargames), mutual damage is more common. If figures have multiple hit points (roleplaying games are at the extreme end of this), then it doesn’t matter that much. I inflict some damage (not killing you), then you inflict some damage (not killing me) and so on. Mutual damage within a single resolution mechanic is therefore not necessary to keep the game flowing. Of course, since single blows happen fast, a turn is supposed to represent a few seconds, and thus, alternating damage makes more sense if you want to find a rationale for it.

So, I wouldn’t worry too much about how to “explain” it – it should fit in the framework of the rules and the balance of the game. Invent your own favourite explanation later if you need one.

  • This reply was modified 3 years, 4 months ago by Phil Dutré.
  • This reply was modified 3 years, 4 months ago by Phil Dutré.

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