Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Scurge of the Solo Wargamer Part 2 of N: Solo Skirmyth (Skirmish-Myth geddit?) First Playtest

Reflecting on my previous post in this series I drew up a simple set of rules. The goal of which was to eliminate the need for statlines, which while they exist are effectively invisible. My first attempt works as follows, a character has 3 stats, Attack, Speed and Resolve. The Resolve of a character is equal to their level, and the Attack and Speed when totalled are equal to their level. My hero, Sir Gildain Knight of the Green Sword, has Attack 7, Speed 3, Resolve 10 and is level 10, simple enough. Resolve is the number of hit points a character has, once Sir Gildain has taken 10 points of damage he is out of the game. Speed and Attack are converted into cards that go in the game deck. Sir Gildain gets 7 attack cards and 3 speed cards (or alternatively counters in a cup). When a speed card is drawn, Sir Gildain gets to move D6". When an attack card is drawn Sir Gildain gets to make an attack, or if he can't he can save the card for later.
Here's Sir Gildain and his cards, I just used playing cards with labels stuck to them. The top row say 'Sir Gildain Attack', the bottom row say 'Sir Gildain Speed' (maybe 'run' would make more sense).
Battles are fought between equally effective forces, just use their levels like a points system. For example -
The Heroes

Sir Gildain - Attack 7, Speed 3, Resolve 10, Level 10. Type - Warrior

Kora the Barbarian - Attack 5, Speed 5, Resolve 10, Level 10. Type - Warrior
Total Level - 20

The Orc Bandits (or Celts painted green)

Krug the Shaman - Attack 3, Speed 2, Resolve 5, Level 5. Type - Mage.
Boleg the Archer - Attack 4, Speed 1, Resolve 5, Level 5. Type - Ranger.
Bazgar the Berserker - Attack 0, Speed 5, Resolve 5, Level 5. Type - Warrior.
Agaz the Axe Orc - Attack 3, Speed 2, Resolve 5, Level 5. Type - Warrior.
Total Level - 20.

You'll notice each character has a type. Types are as follows:

Warrior - No ranged ability, hits in melee on a 4+.
Ranger - 5+ to hit at range or in melee.
Mage - 6+ to hit at range or in melee, magic user.

Once you have all your cards shuffle them with a single joker included, and draw the top card to begin playing. Here's a little playtest battle report, I'm not adding much flavour but simply listing the cards drawn at what happened so you get an idea of how things work -

The two sides face off against each other, on a rather barren plain...

A speed card is drawn for Kora and she charges 6" forwards, then the same is drawn again, she rolls a 4 but opts to only move 2", so she doesn't get too far ahead of her companion. 
The Krug the shaman draws an attack card and saves it, Agaz draws 2 attack cards and also opts to save them.
Sir Gildain draws 1 attack and saves it. He then draws a speed, rolls a 1, and steps forward. He then draws 4 successive attack cards and opts to save them all.
The Orc Berserker Bazgar draws a speed card and charges 5" towards Kora. The Shaman draws another attack and saves it.
Then the joker is drawn, returning all saved and used cards to the deck, it is shuffled and play begins again.

After the first bout of cards, the two forces are nearing each other, who will get first blood?
The Agaz charges Kora while the archer fires at her and and misses.
Sir Gildain saves an attack.
The archer fires at Kora again and rolls a 1, missing by miles.
Sir Gildain saves another attack.
The Orc shaman saves an attack and then runs up behind Agaz the axe Orc for protection. Agaz saves an attack.
Kora saves 2 attacks.
The archer fires at Kora again and misses, Boleg needs to get to the firing range more often!
Kora saves another attack.
Sir Gildain saves 4 successive attacks.
Kora saves another.
Kora draws a speed card and charges Agaz, if she makes it into base to base she'll get a free attack, and can use her other saved cards in the attack too! She makes it the distance and uses her speed card and all 4 attack cards together getting her a total of 5 attack dice. She could opt to go all out, meaning she rolls 1D6 and on a 4+ does maximum damage and on a 1-3 does no damage, or she can roll 1D6 for each card. 
Here we are, with cards and dice before the roll!

And there's the roll, a devastating one!
Kora does damage for every 4+ rolled because she is a warrior type. Damage would normally be 1 point per successful die, however since Kora's level is double that of the character she is attacking, she does 2 damage per successful die. Had Sir Gildain been in base contact with the Orc too, she would have done 1 extra damage per successful die. But as it stands with 4 successes, and 2 damage per success, she does a total of 8 damage. The Orcs resolve of 5 is no match and he is killed. Kora immediately draws a speed card and charges after the shaman but comes just short.
Bazgar the berserker draws a speed card but only charges 1" towards Kora... maybe he's afraid?
Sir Gildain draws 2 successive speed cards and manages 8 inches of movement.
Bazgar draws another speed card and makes it into contact with Kora, but only rolls a 2 when using his free attack failing to damage her.
Boleg the archer draws an attack card, with Kora in contact with Bazgar he cannot shoot her, so he opts to attack the rather slow, Sir Gildain. He manages a 5 and does 1 point of damage.
Kora draws an attack card, rolls a 6 and slams Bazgar for 2 damage.
The Joker is drawn.
After the second joker, Sir Gildain is still slowly moving forwards under fire while Kora faces off against the berserker.
The Orc berserker tired of fighting Kora attempts a charge on Sir Gildain, he makes it in but rolls a 1 on his attack, his poorly maintained axe bounces off of the Knight's pristine armour. Boleg takes a shot at the now exposed Kora and fails to hit.
Kora charges the shaman and fails in her attack, she then wheels round and charges Bazgar but misses him too. Sir Gildain opts to save his attack card. Kora then attacks the berserker and misses.
Sir Gildain attacks using his saved card also, he chooses not to go all out, needing only a single success to score enough damage to kill the berserker, he rolls a double 2, failing on both dice and doing nothing. He then draws a speed card which he opts to ignore.
Kora bounces off of the berserker, leaving him in Sir Gildain's hands and again charges the shaman, but again she misses.
Boleg saves his attack card, since both his targets are in melee combat with his friends. The shaman opts to back off from Kora giving the archer something to shoot at, and luckily for him, forcing Kora to save the attack card she draws next.
Boleg shoots at Kora, using both his attack cards, and scores 1 hit resulting in 1 damage.
Kora saves another attack card and Sir Gildain saves another 2.
The shaman saves an attack too, but then the joker is drawn.

Bazgar charges Kora and manages 1 damage. The shaman saves an attack card.
Sir Gildain saves an attack card and then draws a speed, enabling him to attack Bazgar with two dice!

He rolls a 2 and a 6, scoring him 3 points of damage (2 for being double the level of Bazgar and an extra one since Bazgar is also in contact with Kora), the berserker is killed. Kora then charges the archer and the shaman and misses both free attacks,
Boleg the archer saves an attack card.
Sir Gildain saves two attack cards.
Boleg draws another attack and uses his saved card too, he rolls a 5 and a 2, scoring 1 point of damage on Kora.
Krug the shaman draws another attack card and opts to cast a spell, if he succeeds he will do 5 damage to Sir Gildain, if he fails to cast the spell will backfire doing 5 damage to himself. He rolls a 4 and two 2s, with no successes (6+), the spell backfires and he is killed.

To speed things up, Kora and Sir Gildain then chase the archer down and finish the Orcs off by killing him.
I'm using D10s to keep track of resolve. If you use the dice to keep track of remaining hit points rather than damage done it means you only have to look up a stat the first time a character is damaged.

The game as it stands plays incredibly quickly, although to speed things up I do want to develop a morale system games where you fight to the last man often turn into a boring, going through the motions type game rather than being interesting or dynamic towards their latter half. I also noticed the importance of speed over attack. Kora although her attack was lower managed to kill 2 Orcs to Sir Gildain's 1 who spent most of his time playing catch-up (maybe his armour was too heavy). This isn't a problem with the balance of speed vs attack, it just means that Sir Gildain has to be played in a certain way. He may take a while to get to the fight, but once he's there, he's pretty devastating.

The card mechanic works perfectly, the only chore being having to make the cards. I think in the end I will opt for counters drawn from a cup, but until then it works fine. What I like most about the card mechanic is it builds in character quality without any additional characteristics. The higher level a character, the more cards they have, the more likely they are to get cards before the joker is drawn! This is why opted for a card per point of stat rather than the stat on a single card. Sure it means more cards or counters, but it gives you something extra for your troubles. Something strange I did notice was that I no longer looked at characters as a line of stats because I couldn't see their stats, but I felt the characters. That may seem like a strange sentence and it is, because I've never experienced that in a game.

Although the game doesn't currently have a solo mechanic built in I have left space for it, by which I mean that when a card is drawn it's a really simple decision for an AI to make since your decisions are so restricted. For a speed card warriors are most likely to charge the nearest enemy, and rangers and mages are most likely going to use them to keep their distance. AI controlled Rangers and warriors will always use their attack cards as they appear, saving them only if they can't use them, since mathematically it makes no difference. Mages will be more likely to hold on to their attack cards so they can cast spells but I devised a simple system for that while playing. The magic system which is 3 lines in the current rules allows any spell you can imagine and is fully reversible, meaning you will come up with horribly cunning spells for the AI to cast on your own characters more on that another time.

The rules even have room for a full leveling up system, which in it's first iteration is as follows -
1 XP per enemy character your character killed.
1 XP per objective achieved by your character.
Pick up an number of D6s equal to the total XP gathered by your character and roll them.
The character levels up 1 level per 4+ rolled.
The new levels can be used on either attack or defence in any way you choose!

For example here's what I actually rolled after the fight -
Kora killed 2 enemies and so gets 2 dice, she rolled a 5 and a 6 taking her up to level 12. She opts to put 1 level into speed and the other into attack.
Sir Gildain killed 1 enemy, and luckily rolls a 4. He opts to put it into speed (for obvious reasons).

The leveling up system fits because of the card system, it's easy to include any number of stats because you can add any number of cards to the deck, you're not limited by the dice used, a stat can be more than 1-6 or 1-20 or even, if you're crazy 1-100.

That was a long one, but thanks for sticking with it and thanks for stopping by!

No comments:

Post a Comment