Dev Blog #6: Calculator required?

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So we had a functional system, which let us roll lots of dice, and track lots of damage.

Some of our weapons could do almost 100 points of damage with a good roll, some units could double that. The units themselves had a lot of hit points.

Because we were coming from a system that used 20-sided dice and 12-sided dice, and we replaced it with a system that only used 10-sided dice, but we wanted to maintain the scale, which meant we were doing a lot of math. a weapon that did 4d20 damage in the old system, needed to reliably do up to 80 points of damage in the new, which meant either we roll EIGHT 10-sided dice, or we multiplied the result (it turns out we can roll 4 d10 twice, but we will get to that). Then, of course, we had to SUBTRACT that damage from the unit’s total hit points.

This was a little messy and slowed the game way down while players “did the math” for the damage result and tracked the hit points for their units. Play testers resorted to their smartphones and we even had a calculator in TTS.

I struggled for weeks to come up with a solution to this while retaining the “chunkiness” of the largest units. Do you use two 10-sided dice and make it a “percentile” where the value goes from 1-99? Do we reduce damage and hit points across the board? Adding four 10-sided dice results together was ok, multiplying just added that complexity of grade school math homework that was not (it was just arithmetic, not calculus, but still, it slowed things down). And we needed to maintain the probability and damage-per-second approximations we had. Ugh.

Ultimately, breaking things up into multiple dice rolls per attack was where we landed. If we had a damage multiplier like “3d10x3” it ended up being “this gun has 3 shots in its attack” and we roll once for each shot, then when it came time to apply damage, we rolled a 3d10 for each successful shot. That made the math homework manageable.

Record-keeping was another problem, not a big one, but a long-running list of declining hitpoints made for messy sheets of paper, which was fine, felt like maybe we could do something about that. Tabletop simulator had ways to track hitpoints directly on the record sheets, but eventually, we want to create a physical game, and I wanted to make it as simple as possible to keep track of these large numbers.

I found some excellent free score dials on Thingiverse, and while we can’t use them commercially, they gave me something to use in the physical playtests, and it worked a charm. Clicking the wheel for 20 points of damage was easy, tactile, and couldn’t accidentally be erased. We will have to create something like it for the physical game, but score dials are a common thing in board games. Even having multiple dials for multiple units wasn’t that big a deal, a typical battle was really only 4 units per side. Alternatively, folks could use scoring dice or even pen and paper. between breaking up the attacks and having different ways to keep records, I think we “fixed” the calculator problem. Maybe.

Continue on to #7!