View Full Version : Asymmetric Balance Tips

2016-07-21, 06:21 PM
I am designing a game based off a number of books I enjoy but while creating the rules I have run into the dilemma of trying to realistically recreate a game to the fluff's given information but want to have things balanced. I am currently trying to run numbers to get things balanced numbers wise but want to hear how people feel about asymmetric balance. One rifle is better than the other in essentially all regards and one mecha is more maneuverable and faster than its contemporary with no downsides. How do people feel about clearly stronger choices being present in a game system?

2016-07-21, 06:47 PM
How do people feel about clearly stronger choices being present in a game system?

Unless there's something to offset the superiority of said choice (like costing a feat, more resources, higher requirements, etc.), you're basically rendering the inferior choice irrelevant. Also, it's not really balanced because one is clearly better.

Since cost of items tends to be pretty irrelevant unless resource management is a major aspect of the game, I would probably try to balance out superior performance by requiring the expenditure of character resources (e.g. you need to have a minimum STR of X or spend some resources gaining training in the weapon) or limiting its utility in combat (e.g. requiring a round of set up or having fewer shots before it can reload).

The key word in "asymmetrical balance" is still "balance". If you're not doing something to make the gun with better stats somehow inferior in other ways, you're not balancing. At that point, it's just "asymmetrical design".

(Also, my friend thought when seeing you talk about Asymmetrical Balance was something like Ogre (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogre_(game)) where one player has a single super powerful tank and the other player has a massive squadron of weaker tanks/vehicles; in general, when people talk about Asymmetrical Balance, they're referring to something like this, where the two sides are balanced in result but get there in *very* different ways)

Final Hyena
2016-07-22, 05:08 AM
Things like that are usually considered an improvement like gaining levels. Seeing as the examples you give are all items then there shouldn't be an issue balance wise assuming all your players acquire access to the better tier stuff at the same time (also the better stuff should be harder to acquire whether that be due to price or organisation ranking).

2016-07-22, 11:36 AM
There are a few ways this can work:

1) The items require proficiency of some kind. This can come from a class, purchased skill, or level. In D&D 5e, you can see this in the split between simple and martial weapons.

2) The weaker items are flavorful, mostly meant for NPCs, and not placed as an option for players in such a way that they might accidentally choose them over better items. They may need to use these items when they're all that's available, when making a prison break without their normal gear, or maybe right at the start before they have any money at all. Such items should be few and far between, since the players shouldn't care much about them. If there are tons of them, maybe only list a couple examples instead of all of them. In 5e D&D, you can see this in ring mail and hide armor.

3) The better items are more expensive or are otherwise not available until later in the game. If you're using money as the limiting factor, make sure money is actually scarce. In D&D 5e, treasure is doled out by the DM, so the DM can decide when the players will have access to things like plate armor.

4) The items cannot be purchased or selected as character options. You can see this in 5e D&D in magic items. A +1 weapon is strictly better than its nonmagical counterpart, but the DM decides if, how, and when such an item becomes available.