Log in
The time now is Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:12 pm
View unanswered posts
The Holy Grail and the Quest to find it

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Armies of Arcana Forum Index -> Armies of Arcana General Discussion
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Elvenblade
Site Admin


Joined: 02 Jun 2008
Posts: 863

PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:18 pm
Post subject: The Holy Grail and the Quest to find it
Reply with quote

'Balance' and 'Play Testing' - the Holy Grail and the Quest for wargamers (well fantasy ones at least)

These are 2 terms used repeatedly but rarely thought through.

Balance
–noun 1. a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc

To my mind there are 2 main levels of balance - unit vs unit balance and at a more meta level army vs army.

For the former there are points systems and formulae which do a reasonable approximation. The can't be perfect as a point spent on say 'ignore terrain - water' will be worth a lot more on a board covered in rivers, and be worth diddly in a dessert. Some points expenditure will be better spent against some opponents than others e.g. high str vs fixed armour (in AoA) is a waste unless you bring along something to give you a magical attack. Likewise high str against armourless barbarians is a waste. Whilsts these options are open to both players most of the time, the fact remains against one opponent a unit may be worth more than another depending on the opponents army and unit selection.
In other words, balance at this level is an approximation.

At the army list level, well, where to begin. I don't think I have ever seen a points system at this level. Historicals have background to fall back on, fantasy games with their football manager selection approachs do not. The list of valid units for an army will depend on the background of the army and your definition of what the army should represent. Dwarves are traditionally slower, more armoured armies. Placing cavalry in them is completely out of character for many backgrounds but thats not to say in other worlds it is quite ordinary.

So to AoA. Its a generic game, designed for use with any models and any background so any unit is OK, even dwarven longbowmen! In a similar vein an army of dark dwarves led by a necromancer or similar could easily be created and legitimately use death related spells. In other words, AoA is not a game where army list balance is enforced or enforcable at the game level - its peoples vision of their armies and accepted views on the races that dictates what is cheesy and what is not.
If there was an official world for AoA that was enforced like it is with WH then the army lists could be restricted but then who wants to told they can't take a dragon as its 'not in their list'


Playtesting
test
–noun 1. the means by which the presence, quality, or genuineness of anything is determined; a means of trial.

I tend to roll my eyes when the term 'playtesting' used. Why? is must be the most used term in fantasu gaming and yet people rarely do it and when they do they don't do it properly. They play a game see what happens and declare something broken or ok - WTF!
To test something requires a clear definition of the success criteria, the inputs and the outputs. A gut feel for how the test played out is ok but relying on gut feel usually means you haven't thought through what you want the results to be. Now a gut feel is useful for validating that your original intended outcome on paper is the same in practice but always requires a structured results set to support it.

With wargames there are so many varibales - the dice, the terrain, the units, tactics etc that a set of test cases to cover even a small change would be huge. Practicalities would limit the numbers of combinations tested but as the dice means even the same units on the same board with the same tactics won't end up with the same results, you would need to play every scenario mutliple times to get a good spread of results.

So, Playtesting? - Rarley happens, at least not thoroughly.


For any game, decide if the background is fixed (can be mutiple backgrounds) or will be generic. If generic then forget army balance as by definition anything goes be it units, magic or monsters. Go fixed then define your background and use that as the scope for play and for discussion otherwise its like 2 people comparing WW2 Waffen SS to Imperial Stormtroopers - both are the 'baddies' but what is allowable for one is different form the other.
-------------

_________________
So many people, so few lives......
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Warhound
Officer of the Watch


Joined: 02 Jun 2008
Posts: 799
Location: The Nick

PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 8:00 am
Post subject:
Reply with quote

A most succinct and well thought out post. I want to use it as my signiture but I fear it will be too long. I think in one fell swoop you've quashed 99% of the discussions on this board...

Might as well go home now.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Khazadson



Joined: 04 Jul 2008
Posts: 156
Location: Sydney

PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 8:50 am
Post subject:
Reply with quote

Yeah nice post. I have done a lot of thinking about balance and I think I have something to offer on the "army balance" front.

Both WFB and AoA have a system in place to help dictate army balance. It's called army composition. WFB uses a minimum number of core units, with maximum special, rare, character, lords sections. AoA has the core/elite rule, which is superficially similar to the system WFB used to use in 5th ed..

The current system is very simplistic, and admittedly quite effective. Probably the best simple approach you could have. That being said, if you spent a fair amount of time developing the system, you might get a bit more out of it.

Perhaps that is for another thread though.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Rocket-Toad
Master Pie Eater Extraodinaire


Joined: 02 Jun 2008
Posts: 1700
Location: London

PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 12:56 pm
Post subject:
Reply with quote

On a business front R+D (research and development) costs time and money.
Avalon Hill bookcase games used to spend a heavy budget on R+D, and it didn't help their bottom line when the time coincided with video games coming to the fore in the mid to late 90's.
So they went under.
They made cracking games though because of the amount of time spent in development and playtesting.

_________________
mawdslio wrote:
The Creature Creation Formula is the thing I dont like most about the system. I have never seen anyone think I need another unit of chaff on the table, lets point them up, the CCF tends to create all kind of supermonsters.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Obscader



Joined: 04 Jun 2008
Posts: 602
Location: North London A.K.A Skavenblight

PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:54 pm
Post subject:
Reply with quote

In hindsight, I don't think AOA can have effective fluff.

The world is every fantasy creature ever battling it out on whatever landscape you wish! Like GW's Medusa V campaign, i.e. everyone just so happens to come to X planet and fight and then go away and stuff!, it's not going to work in any credible way.

The best fluff I can think of is that its set in some goddessly/godly realm where powerful deities control the fates of all these races they create on the whims of their fancy.

Anyway, I keep going on and off the openness of the system. Ultimately its surely better to fill the niche of 'anything goes with opponents consent' rather than lingering somewhere in between the above and trying to create a ridiculously diverse and credible fantasy world.

_________________
How does power corrupt our hearts so surely?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Zinkala



Joined: 13 Jun 2008
Posts: 473

PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 1:14 pm
Post subject:
Reply with quote

Nice post, Elvenblade. Very Happy My holy grail in gaming is to find a game with decent balance, adaptability and fun. Ultimately I think Obscader is right. It might not be perfect but I much prefer the open, anything goes aspect of AoA to having strict rules that must be followed to the letter. I like creativity and seeing how people use a wide variety of models. I've always done my own mini histories/background for anything my group was doing if it was necessary. Too often the armies we were using didn't really have any reason to be fighting in the official fluff. I never did like people that told me I couldn't play the game I wanted because it didn't match the accepted fluff or history. It's a game!!! Do what's fun for you.

_________________
AoA resources and files old and new.

Only registered users can see links on this forum!
Register or Login on forum!

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Rocket-Toad
Master Pie Eater Extraodinaire


Joined: 02 Jun 2008
Posts: 1700
Location: London

PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:07 pm
Post subject:
Reply with quote

The two key aspects for me that define AoA are;1) that you can take, pretty much, whatever you want to take or to be more accurate, you can have a themed army with plenty of variation in it, but you can garnish it how you like by adding in monsters to your army with an unequalled freedom of choice.
2) The speed of the gameplay with a LOT of models on the pitch.

Poor old warhammer slows down to a crawl once you start filling up the table with models. It becomes tiresome just to get through a magic phase let alone take into account the magic items that have to dealt with in the combat phase.

The speed of gameplay is a huge factor for me.

The two supporting features of AoA that also lend me to liking it a lot as a system are the level of balance between the lists as set down by Thane, they do make for a lot of evenly contested battles, and the other feature is the spell lists... they lend a flavour to the armies without, by and large, being overpowering.


It is true that playtesting should always be rigorous and wherever possible, exhaustive, but how often is that actually going to happen outside of a professional testing environment... that is to say it's unlikely to occur where people have to live their lives, work, sleep, commute, communicate with their partners etc

However, for all that, ground can be covered and ideas can be tested and their relative merits weighed up more or less accurately as long as the participants are 'very' familiar with the system, so they are aware of the subtle alterations (or ripples in the force if you like) caused by alterations and permutations.

_________________
mawdslio wrote:
The Creature Creation Formula is the thing I dont like most about the system. I have never seen anyone think I need another unit of chaff on the table, lets point them up, the CCF tends to create all kind of supermonsters.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
magokiron



Joined: 15 Jun 2008
Posts: 317
Location: México

PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 5:34 am
Post subject:
Reply with quote

Nice post EB, and man YOU'RE RIGHT!

iirc LA ARMADA published a set of rules for "wargames writers" some time ago, and one of the main concern was precisely playtesting.

They set 30 games as a minimum to check the basic engine, and more for particular "fine tunning".

Once upon a time... I used to play 1 or 2 AoA games each week, but REAL LIFE (tm) has prevented that for a while.

I think that's the reason people still sticks with GW games, after all, they are played everywere, and FAQs are publishes pretty much in a daily basis over lots of forums (and eventually in GW site).

But for so small a community we have over AoA, that seems like a daydream.

Best wishes.

_________________
One sword keeps one enemy away.
Fame of knowing how to use it keeps one hundred enemies away.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Obscader



Joined: 04 Jun 2008
Posts: 602
Location: North London A.K.A Skavenblight

PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 6:51 pm
Post subject:
Reply with quote

Obscader wrote:
In hindsight, I don't think AOA can have effective fluff.

The world is every fantasy creature ever battling it out on whatever landscape you wish! Like GW's Medusa V campaign, i.e. everyone just so happens to come to X planet and fight and then go away and stuff!, it's not going to work in any credible way...
Anyway, I keep going on and off the openness of the system. Ultimately its surely better to fill the niche of 'anything goes with opponents consent' rather than lingering somewhere in between the above and trying to create a ridiculously diverse and credible fantasy world.


Since reading Vadak's contributions to AOA's back story, and seeing the world take shape, I'm starting to choke on the words of old-Obscader!

Some people like a backstory, and having one there won't hurt the system one bit.

_________________
How does power corrupt our hearts so surely?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Armies of Arcana Forum Index -> Armies of Arcana General Discussion All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum



Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group
Guild Wars Alliance theme by Daniel of Gaming Exe
Guild Wars™ is a trademark of NCsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Abuse - Report Abuse - TOS & Privacy.
Powered by forumup.com free forum, create your free forum! Created by Hyarbor & Qooqoa

Page generation time: 0.162