Home Forums General Game Design Essential Mechanics in Rules

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  • #43306
    Mike
    Keymaster

    When looking at sets of rules, is there anything they must have to get you interested?

    #43307
    Angel Barracks
    Moderator

    Some sort of way to solo play, often this is a fog of war element where you can’t be sure if a unit will do anything or what you want.
    When solo playing, it is no good for me if every unit does as wanted, it then just becomes, make a plan and see who rolls highest.
    When units fail to do stuff, that requires ad-hoc plans to be made and to react to unforeseen events.
    I think a bit of uncertainty is good. (not just for solo play either)

    Ideally the basic mechanics can be picked up in the first two turns, with subtleties mastered later on.

    #43319
    Don Glewwe
    Participant

    …a fog of war element where you can’t be sure if a unit will do anything or what you want.

    Uncertainty (beyond just what the dice will do) demands response to unknown challenges = battlefield command, imo.

     

    Related to variability in performance (the ‘can they do it?’ issue) is inserting variablity in timing, ie: How long a unit gets to do something before other units (friend and/or foe) get a chance to react.  Examples of this would be variable movement rates and turn length.

    https://brawlfactory.net/

    #43320
    Nic Wright
    Participant

    I think this is already covered by AB’s post above, but certainly I prefer some sort of command friction. Whether that is rolling for command pips each turn, or rolling to activate each unit.

    As a preference, I’m also inclined towards more abstract mechanisms rather than minutiae (compare for example L’Art de la Guerre or even DBA, with WAB).

    http://irregularwars.blogspot.co.uk/

    #43322
    Angel Barracks
    Moderator

    Examples of this would be variable movement rates and turn length.

    I am familiar with variable move rates, at first the idea was abhorrent to me, then I understood why it was done!

    How does the turn length thing work?

    #43323
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Examples of this would be variable movement rates and turn length.

    I am familiar with variable move rates, at first the idea was abhorrent to me, then I understood why it was done! How does the turn length thing work?

     

    In Sam Mustafa’s ‘Might & Reason’ it works like this:

    Each turn is divided into ‘pulses’. A pulse is a ‘turn’ within that turn IYSWIM

    Players roll a D4 at the end of each pulse. If the number rolled is equal to or less than the current pulse number the turn ends.

    As you can see, no turn will last longer than 4 pulses, but may end before that.

    Add in the Initiative system and the entire game’s variable length (a game is assigned a basic length in turns, when that number is reached each player rolls two D6. If both players roll equal to or less than the current game turn, the game ends), and things can get interesting.

     

     

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #43327
    Don Glewwe
    Participant

     

    WTF ?

    https://brawlfactory.net/

    #43328
    Don Glewwe
    Participant

    In Sam Mustafa’s ‘Might & Reason’ it works like this…

    You complete me.

    I don’t know whether to be honored or repulsed… ; )
    okay…is it just me, or is the font thing going Skynet?

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 8 months ago by Mike.

    https://brawlfactory.net/

    #43329
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Mike! Mike! He’s broken it!

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #43332
    Mike
    Keymaster

    Mike! Mike! He’s broken it!

     

    So he has, I will mail to check it was him.
    The comments seem a bit odd?

     

    PS What on EARTH kind of tag is “rulesreqs”, below?

     

    rules requirements ?

    #43333
    Don Glewwe
    Participant

    Mike! Mike! He’s broken it!

     

    True as that may be, I’m still heading for my bunker* until this gets sorted out…

     

    *doubles as the wine cellar, so…

    https://brawlfactory.net/

    #43346
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    I was going to say there isn’t anything, but I do have a hankering for some pretence at scale – you know: how big a unit is supposed to be, what the ground scale might be etc. I am prepared to accept fudges on range/movement relationships and especially on time/turn issue, with the old ‘includes some dithering/command transmission’ face saving allowed. I like to be able to pretend that the writer at least thought about what he/she is modelling rather than just made it all up.

    I don’t need (actively don’t want) all the research in the book – worse yet in detailed rule mechanisms – but I do like to think that the reason a simple rule is framed the way it is, might be because it reflects the outcomes of the research rather than a straight wet fingered guess.

    Don’t mind a couple of pages of explanation about the thoughts, research, ideology behind the rules – but in a separate section that doesn’t interfere with the actual use of the rules in anger. (or joy).

     

    #43354
    Les Hammond
    Participant

    I prefer games to use the same certain mechanisms right across the rules, so no greatly varying method of determining hit, destruction etc,  from AP to HE to MG.

    6mm France 1940

    http://les1940.blogspot.co.uk/
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/386297688467965/

    #43644
    Phil Dutré
    Participant

    I tend to look at unit activation and C&C and turn sequence  – anything but the classic IGOUGO.

    Army lists and “shopping lists” don’t interest me at all. If the game seems to be build up around that, I am not interested.

    Tiny Tin Men Blog: http://snv-ttm.blogspot.com/
    Wargaming Mechanics Blog: http://wargaming-mechanics.blogspot.com/

    #43646
    Thuseld
    Participant

    I like game that allow for solo play. I also like uncertainty, which helps make solo play more fun. Will my units activate? Can they react? If they successfully react do I then get the initiative?

    #43671
    Altius
    Participant

    There are a number of things that I look for in terms of game mechanics, but I think what attracts me the most would be flexibility. I like rules that can allow for odd units, unique situations, the occasional eccentric general. Anything that allows you some variation from what is usual because not all battles are evenly matched. I’m aware that no rulebook can cover every situation and that too much flexibility can be an issue. But still, I like to be able to occasionally deviate from the norm.

    Where there is fire, we will carry gasoline

    #43679
    nheastvan
    Participant

    I like rules where there’s interaction between players during a turn. I make an exception for very fast games. For example, Neil Thomas’s One Hour Wargames has contained turns but the game is so fast it doesn’t really matter. I also occasionally play Warmachine/Hordes and find the wait times for smaller games fine, but once the model count gets up there, it crosses a line for me.

    So I guess I find having only short periods of inactivity for a participant to be essential.

    PS. Hello everyone! First post here on TWW!

    #43680
    Chris Pringle
    Participant

    Must have: Command & Control mechanisms that limit what you can do and that mean you can’t guarantee your troops will respond as you want. I hate automatic armies!

    Like: the beauty of the 2D6 bell curve.

    Like: saving throws, because they make the game more interactive and give more scope for cries of glee or dismay as applicable.

    Chris

    Bloody Big BATTLES!

    https://uk.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/BBB_wargames/info

    http://bloodybigbattles.blogspot.fr/

    #43681
    Chris Pringle
    Participant

    Oh and another thing: the mechanisms should support simultaneous multi-player play. I have sat in a 6-player game where only one player was allowed to activate a unit at a time. Obviously I spent 5/6 of my evening just watching. At a convention I made the mistake of joining another game that turned out to have 7 players – different rules, same problem – after 30 minutes of having nothing to do I left.

    Much better if the rules enable all the players on side A to do their thing all at once; side A finishes its go, then all the players on side B get to move. That way everyone gets 50% of the action.

    Chris

    #43682
    MartinR
    Participant

    I don’t have any strong preference, I’m interested to see how rules hang together as a whole rather than focussing on specific mechanisms. The one Hour Wargames rules were a revelation, on their own they are frankly a bit thin and retro, but combined with the army generator and scenario systems they produce a brilliant game. A real eye opener.

    Increasingly for me, simple is better and anything complex or slow (like complex interactive activation systems) is a turnoff.

    I suppose I prefer effects based designs grounded in some sort of operational reality, which can have very simple mechanisms indeed (DBA/HFG), rather than toy soldier type ‘bang you are dead’ games (TSATF et al) although I will play those too.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #43685
    Mike
    Keymaster

    PS. Hello everyone! First post here on TWW!

     

    Thanks for joining!

    #43725
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Since I am happy playing free kriegspiels, with hardly any rules at all, there is clearly no mechanic I consider indispensible.

    I do, however, heartily concur with Guy Farrish that I prefer game designers to have a concept of scale, and to base their rules on research in preference to mere prejudice or blind guesswork. And I love designer’s notes, but, yes, these should be a quite separate thing from the rules.

    All the best,

    John.

    #46222
    Phil Dutré
    Participant

    To come back to this discussion, what I really want in rules is interesting decision points for players.

    Combat resolution by itself usually does not involve any decisions. It’s merely working through dice rolls, tables, cards, whatever … without any input from the player. The mechanics can be fun or entertaining or yield surprising results, and that’s good, but by themselves, they don’t involve any decision making.

    Decision making *during the game* is usually at the level of when you want what troops to do what. That’s exactly why activation-driven rules (whether it’s with dice or cards) appeal to many players. They force you to think what’s more important to you, and what units should activate first before the turn switches. Classic IGO-UGO does not have this element of decision-making, and must depend on troop placement. Some games are constructed in such a way that after initial deployment, there are not many decisions left if all units can move every turn. Hence, IGO-UGO must allow for manouevring room in terms of movement distances to offer interesting games. SInce many gaming tables are smallish, this is difficult to achieve. Hence the popularity of activation-based turn sequences.

    Some games allow for decision making pre-game, in the form of selecting a force from army lists. Those do not appeal to me at all. I feel the decision-making element of the game should happen on the table, during the game, not beforehand.

    Tiny Tin Men Blog: http://snv-ttm.blogspot.com/
    Wargaming Mechanics Blog: http://wargaming-mechanics.blogspot.com/

    #46223
    Angel Barracks
    Moderator

    Good point, I like to have scenarios with major and minor victory conditions.
    Couple that with a campaign and it can be a big decision if to push for a major victory and risk losing more men to achieve it.
    Will the pay offs be worth the possible losses that could take ages to recover, or just go for the minor victory and bug out as quick as possible with minimal losses?
    Ignore the scenario if the chance to inflict some massive damage to the enemy shows itself?

    #46234
    Chris Pringle
    Participant

    To come back to this discussion, what I really want in rules is interesting decision points for players. […] Decision making *during the game* is usually at the level of when you want what troops to do what. That’s exactly why activation-driven rules (whether it’s with dice or cards) appeal to many players. They force you to think what’s more important to you, and what units should activate first before the turn switches. Classic IGO-UGO does not have this element of decision-making, and must depend on troop placement.

    A word in defence of IGO-UGO. I absolutely agree that a game should constantly generate interesting decision points. I don’t agree that IGO-UGO can’t provide this. Uncertainty is the key, a point made in a number of posts above.

    If moves are small and incremental, and if combat is drawn out and attritional, and if unit activation and actions relatively predictable, then yes, it can all become monotonous and tedious.

    But if movement distances are long enough, and combat swift and decisive enough, then IGO-UGO can give you a significantly different situation each turn; and if there is uncertainty over whether a unit will activate and how far it might move, then decisions become interesting. Does my assault on the right rely on all three of these divisions going in together? If so, what is the risk of one or even two of them lagging behind? Can I move a general to improve the odds? Does it matter which division I try to move first? You don’t need a card activation or initiative-trading system to generate such problems, IGO-UGO is just fine.

    Personally I find the simplicity of IGO-UGO to be a virtue, whereas sometimes with more complex systems (allocating initiative points or whatever) I have felt that the system was getting in the way of the game.

    Chris

    Bloody Big BATTLES!
    https://uk.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/BBB_wargames/info

    http://bloodybigbattles.blogspot.co.uk/

    #46238
    PatG
    Participant

    I have to agree with decision points and player involvement in all parts of a turn – not just the bit where they move and shoot their stuff. I ran an IgoUgo convention game where initiative was diced for every turn – of course one side got a run and the players on the other side were left doing nothing for far too long. Lesson Learned.

    Campaigns or a decent morale system to prevent fights to the last figure are also high on my list.

    #46374
    Les Hammond
    Participant

    Does the real world have complex initiative and command activation systems? You could argue that it does but until someone invents an elegant way of representing it I’ll stick to units activating randomly in a kind of IGOUGO but with very small stages.

    6mm France 1940

    http://les1940.blogspot.co.uk/
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/386297688467965/

    #46377
    Dan Kennedy
    Participant

    I play very few games that aren’t part of some kind of campaign, so solid rules for that are a pre-requisite for me.

    Beyond that all I really ask of rules nowadays is that they stick as faithfully to the ‘commanders view’. That is to say, if I’m commanding a brigade or an individual aeroplane, I’m faced with the decision points that are appropriate to that ‘command level’.

    I’m open minded about most mechanics, and lately I’ve been playing a lot of old hex and counter board games with some fairly dated rules and systems and finding that they don’t really bother me, so long as I get a good feel for the ‘role’ they put the player in (big love for Air and Armor over here!).

    #46386
    PatG
    Participant

    Real life is a never ending stack of interrupts. 😉

    There’s at least one non-Magic game that uses that same mechanic

    #46387
    Mike
    Keymaster

    two blue mana says there is not.

    #46580
    Kaptain Kobold
    Participant

    Not sure whether all of these count as ‘mechanics’, but things I look for in a game are:

    (i) Limited, and preferably no, game specific devices or equipment eg special card decks or dice, special flying stands, bases with game information built into them.

    (ii) Limited ability to activate or move troops or, if everything does move, a turn sequence which makes which units activate when an unpredictable thing.

    (iii) All information on-table. I like solo gaming, so games with ‘hidden’ information don’t appeal. It also makes the game easier to teach to others, since the new player isn’t holding information they can’t reveal to others.

    (iv) Everything explained! A classic example is rules which say ‘Flank Attack +2’ without defining  under what conditions a ‘Flank attack’ occurs.  Added to this is avoiding the old ‘Anything not covered should just be agreed by the players in a civilised fashion” comment, which I always take to mean ‘There are things about how the game should be played which are inside my head, but I can’t be bothered including them, so I’ll leave you to work them out for yourself’.

    (v) An extension of the above – tight rules. If I play Game X, I should be able to go anywhere in the world and sit down with another player of Game X and be able to play it without us having to agree house rules or interpretations.

    None of these are deal-breakers, of course – I like the Neil Thomas rules, which generally break Rules (ii) and (iv), and I love Maurice, despite it breaking Rule (i). But I’m more likely to invest time and effort in a game which has made an attempt to meet my exacting standards 🙂

     

     

     

    #46619
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    Sorry Kaptain K but I find rules that strive too hard to meet case IV can be really annoying. I take your point about defining salient criteria – eg ‘Flank Attacks’ but when rules define EVERYTHING they drive me mad- eg

    ‘This set of rules uses dice to generate random numbers in some situations where the element of uncertainty is required to be factored into a calculation. In these rules the term ‘dice’ refers to regular cuboids marked with the positive integers one through six. The number showing uppermost when the dice have been thrown and come to rest again is the number to be used in any relevant calculations. If the die does not land squarely with one surface resting flat to the tabletop (or dice box or similar container provided for the purpose of bringing the dice securely to a halt) then the die shall be deemed to be ‘cocked’ and the number so generated (even if it appears that the number uppermost would have remained uppermost if the die had continued in its movement to land flat) is invalid and the die must be rerolled in an appropriate manner to obtain a clear number.’ And on and on and on.

    Also the catch all about agreeing a means of deciding disputes makes perfect sense. No set of rules however well written survives first contact with a user who does not know the writer and wants to win.

    House rules and interpretations rarely result from mistakes in writing but rather derive from the reader wanting something else to have been written, despite the clear evidence of what the writer intended.

    Poor old Phil Barker spent years trying to chase his tail to clear up ‘loopholes’ that the players generally didn’t want closing and existed mostly in the minds of people who wanted another set of rules from the ones written.

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