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    Ursus the Grim's Avatar

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    Default So, who's interested in helping me tune a Halo wargame?

    Well, I think I'm willing to consider the Estalian Mage complete enough, so I think I'm delving into a new project that I've been working on for a year or two now. In short, its a Halo war game. I began this project before Reach came out, so there are some things to add later, after I work out the nitty-gritty. Hopefully I didn't scare away people who don't know much about Halo, because I value everyone's suggestions and curiosities. Warning, this could be a long read.

    Basically, each player would get a certain amount of points to build an army with, using the races and ranks of the Halo universe. I plan on adding weapon and vehicle support later in the project. These points can be used to buy and upgrade units in the army. More powerful units (ie, a Hunter pair) would cost more than a weaker unit (ie, a single Grunt.) The units are unlikely to be balanced against each other, but the point is an overall balance between army by point system. Each unit type also has a special champion upgrade that can be purchased, but only one champion can be used in each battle. These champions are again, not necessarily balanced versus other champions, but are pretty powerful for their point costs. I was also considering allowing special, army wide perks that could be purchased with points as well, such as getting a better chance to act first, allowing for reinforcements, or some such.

    For simplicity, the system uses d6 so far.

    The players would roll to determine who goes first. They take turns moving one unit at a time. Units can be grouped together, but in that case they move at the slowest units pace. When units encounter one another, combat begins automatically. The units still move at their speed but can make an attack on their turn. Attacks are determined by an opposed d6 roll, with certain modifiers. A few units have a bonus to their defense roll, on account of reflexes. Ties are determined in the attacker's favor and a 6 is always a hit, in order to speed up combat. A succesfull attack deals the weapon's damage to the defending unit.

    Jackal (Kig-Yar)
    Base Cost: 3 points
    Base Speed: Slow (8 squares) (or fast (16 squares), foresaking shield)
    Base Health: 1 point plus 1 shield (Shield does not regenerate unless uninjured for two turns)
    Base Weapon: Plasma Pistol (-1 attack, 1 damage)
    Support Upgrade: Phalanx (Cost 4, Gets +1 Shield when adjacent to other Jackals)

    This is a very basic Jackal unit. Let me walk you through the information.
    Base Cost refers to how many points it takes to purchase and field a single Jackal.
    Base Speed refers to how far it moves on its turn. Each square is assumed to be five feet. Units are assumed to be hustling while in combat, so the speeds might seem a bit high. The Jackal can forfeit its shield in order to move faster.
    Base Health indicates that a single point of damage can kill the Jackal. However, Jackals (and certain other units) have a Shield that prevents one point of damage. By default, if the unit is not hit in the next turn, the shield regenerates. This does not apply to Jackals, and their Shield takes an extra turn to switch back on.
    Base weapon indicates what the unit starts with, and its combat values. Range values and penalties will be applied later. Weapon special effects will be fleshed out when I implement a more comprehensive system for them. The plasma pistol is slightly inaccurate, causing a -1 penalty on attack rolls, and deals one point of damage each turn. Note that if that sounds high for a single shot, this represents about six seconds of exchanged gunfire.
    Support Upgrade: For each Jackal unit, you can buy a support upgrade that increases its shield value when next to other Jackals. There are other types of upgrades (such as weapon and unit), but we'll work with those later.

    So with that explanation, here is a Grunt Minor.

    Grunt Minor
    Base Cost: 2 points
    Base Health: 1 point
    Base Attack: Plasma Pistol (-1 attack, +1 damage)
    Base Speed: Slow
    Unit Upgrade: Suicide ability (Cost 6, +2 attack for 2 damage to adjacent units and 1 damage to units within 15 feet, consumes unit when used)

    Lets pit 3 Jackals with Phalanx against 2 Suicide Grunts and 2 regular Grunts. Let's assume combat begins with everyone in range (same weapons) and the shields of the Jackals activated and adjacent. The player of the grunts is smart enough to concentrate his fire on each Jackal in turn.

    Jackal 1 shoots at R. Grunt 1 and hits (2-1 vs 1), dealing one damage and killing it.
    S. Grunt 1 moves closer and shoots at Jackal 1 and misses. (1-1 vs 5)
    Jackal 2 shoots at R. Grunt 2 and misses (3-1 vs 3)
    S. Grunt 2 shoots at Jackal 1 and hits (6-1 vs 5), dealing 1 point to the shield. The Jackal has one point of shield left.
    Jackal 3 shoots at R. Grunt 2 and hits (6-1 vs 2), dealing 1 point and killing it.
    R. Grunt 1 is dead.
    R. Grunt 2 is dead.

    Jackal 1 shoots at S. Grunt 1 and misses (3-1 vs 6)
    S. Grunt 1 moves right up to the the jackal phalanx and activates Suicide. He hits all of them.(4+2 vs 1, 1+2 vs 2, 2+2 vs 1) Each Jackal takes 2 points of damage. This kills Jackal 1, and destroys the shield of Jackals 2 and 3.
    Jackal 2 shoots at S. Grunt 2 and misses (5-1 vs 5).
    S. Grunt 2 shoots at Jackal 2 and hits (6-1 vs 6), killing it.
    Jackal 3 shoots at S. Grunt 2 and hits (5-1 vs 4), killing it.

    Combat is designed to be relatively simple and swift(from what I've seen, that may be a 4 letter word in wargames). In the sample battle, a fight between 7 units was determined in two turns. This will naturally slow down with more expensive units and larger forces.

    However, I never got into any wargames past a few 20 v 20 D&D battles (which were fun and only taught me the meaning of optimization before learning what it meant.) So I could really use some feedback and ideas. I have about 21 pages of Units typed up, so I have quite a bit of raw material to mold here.
    Last edited by Ursus the Grim; 2011-07-04 at 07:21 PM.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Ursus the Grim's Avatar

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    Default Re: So, who's interested in helping me tune a Halo wargame?

    If at all relevant, I may have a chance to playtest it in about a week, but I'd really appreciate any thoughts before then.
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    Default Re: So, who's interested in helping me tune a Halo wargame?

    If you're going for simplicity, why two rolls per attack? I suggest d6 v. 3 or 4 for defense. The probabilities... don't quite match the opposed roll (which comes out to the same as 2d6>=7), but it's a lot simpler.

    Actually, 2d6 >= 7 is thematic, what with Halo's obsession with the number 7 and all.
    [hr]Alternating turns is likely to take more time than complete turns is, but it fits the pace of a gunfight. Have you considered organizing models into units, and having players alternate units? It's sort of a compromise between the two - "your turn now" is less often, and tactical decisions are made slightly less often, making the game faster, but you still alternate turns.

    If you're going for skirmish-level, units could be two hunters, two to five grunts with or without a leader, two or three elites, one to three Spartans with or without vehicle, four Marines, or the like.

    Units work well with the Risk-like resolution you have, too. Roll one die per firing figure, then one die per defending figure (up to the attacking dice). Compare highest to lowest in order.[hr]Speeds should be at most half what they are now. Assuming you're playing on a battlemat with 1" squares, 8 squares is a LOT of space.

    Slow - 3
    Normal - 4
    Quick - 5
    Fast - 6
    Rapid - 7

    The scale doesn't have to be set, either; a Jackal moving at, say, 5 and a Banshee moving at 7 (or even 8) obviously wouldn't be moving at the same scale, but it'll do for game mechanics - otherwise, you have aircraft coming in and going off the battlefield every turn (which may make for another interesting mechanic).
    Avatar some unholy combination of Winthur and Gato Muerto's ideas.

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  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Ursus the Grim's Avatar

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    Default Re: So, who's interested in helping me tune a Halo wargame?

    I apologize for somehow failing to respond to this until just under a month later.

    Quote Originally Posted by Siosilvar View Post
    If you're going for simplicity, why two rolls per attack? I suggest d6 v. 3 or 4 for defense. The probabilities... don't quite match the opposed roll (which comes out to the same as 2d6>=7), but it's a lot simpler.

    Actually, 2d6 >= 7 is thematic, what with Halo's obsession with the number 7 and all.
    Hey, thats not a bad idea. A static number for defense (similar to AC) with different units having a higher defense would probably speed things up considerably while not sacrificing the effect of chance. Less rolls mean less math means less time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Siosilvar View Post
    <hr>Alternating turns is likely to take more time than complete turns is, but it fits the pace of a gunfight. Have you considered organizing models into units, and having players alternate units? It's sort of a compromise between the two - "your turn now" is less often, and tactical decisions are made slightly less often, making the game faster, but you still alternate turns.
    I've considered it, especially having received some info about how Warhammer works. My issue was, with alternating units, that a player could just form a giant warband to take advantage of the lack of action economy. But I just realized I could impose a point limit per unit group to avoid such a thing and force players to spread their forces out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Siosilvar View Post
    <hr>Speeds should be at most half what they are now. Assuming you're playing on a battlemat with 1" squares, 8 squares is a LOT of space.

    Slow - 3
    Normal - 4
    Quick - 5
    Fast - 6
    Rapid - [COLOR="Navy"]7

    The scale doesn't have to be set, either; a Jackal moving at, say, 5 and a Banshee moving at 7 (or even 8) obviously wouldn't be moving at the same scale, but it'll do for game mechanics - otherwise, you have aircraft coming in and going off the battlefield every turn (which may make for another interesting mechanic).
    I'm operating on a fairly large battlemap and haven't quite figured out my vehicle system yet, so I don't want to consider their speeds. But I suppose a more regulated speed could work. I was operating on D&D scale when I thought that up. That extra speed would be just enough without being overwhelming.
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  5. - Top - End - #5
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    Default Re: So, who's interested in helping me tune a Halo wargame?

    So these are the base, 'skeleton' starter units, for an idea of how they'd format and stack up .

    Spoiler
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    Elite
    Minor (Blue)
    {table=head]Parameter|Cost|Value
    Base Cost|
    90
    |
    Size (Cube)||
    2
    |
    Health||
    1 Health, 1 Shield
    |
    Defense||
    8
    |
    Weapon||
    Plasma Rifle (1 damage)
    |
    Speed||
    6
    |
    Upgrade||[/table]

    Brute
    Minor (Blue)
    {table=head]Parameter|Cost|Value
    Base Cost|
    50
    |
    Size (Cube)||
    2
    |
    Health||
    1 Health, 1 Non-Regenerating Shield
    |
    Defense||
    7
    |
    Weapon||
    Brute Spiker (1 damage)
    |
    Speed||
    5
    |
    Upgrade|||[/table]

    Jackal
    Minor
    {table=head]Parameter|Cost|Value
    Base Cost|
    45
    |
    Size (Cube)||
    1
    |
    Health||
    1 Health, 1 Slow Shield
    |
    Defense||
    7
    |
    Weapon||
    Plasma Pistol (-1 attack, 1 damage)
    |
    Speed||
    4, 6 with inactive shield
    |
    Upgrade|
    20
    |
    Phalanx: +1 Shield when adjacent to another unit.
    |[/table]

    Drone
    Minor (Green)
    {table=head]Parameter|Cost|Value
    Base Cost|
    30
    ||
    Size (Cube)||
    2
    |
    Health||
    1 Health
    |
    Defense||
    8
    |
    Weapon||
    Plasma Pistol (-1 attack, 1 damage)
    |
    Speed||
    4, up to 6 for 3 continuous turns
    |
    Upgrade|||[/table]

    Skirmisher
    Minor
    {table=head]Parameter|Cost|Value
    Base Cost|
    40
    |
    Size (Cube)||
    1
    |
    Health||
    1 Health
    |
    Defense||
    8
    |
    Weapon||
    Plasma Pistol (-1 attack, 1 damage)
    |
    Speed||
    6
    |
    Upgrade|
    20
    |
    Skirmageddon: +1 attack when banded with other Skirmishers.
    |[/table]

    Grunt
    Minor (Blue)
    {table=head]Parameter|Cost|Value
    Base Cost|
    25
    |
    Size (Cube)||
    1
    |
    Health||
    1 Health
    |
    Defense||
    7
    |
    Weapon||
    Plasma Pistol (-1 attack, 1 damage)
    |
    Speed||
    4
    |
    Upgrade|
    30
    |
    Suicide: All units within 2 squares. +2 attack. 4 damage adjacent, otherwise 2 damage. Consumes unit.
    |[/table]

    Spartan-III
    Rookie
    {table=head]Parameter|Cost|Value
    Base Cost|
    85
    |
    Size (Cube)||
    1
    |
    Health||
    2 Health
    |
    Defense||
    8
    |
    Weapon||
    Designated Marksman Rifle (+1 attack, 1 damage)
    |
    Speed||
    6
    |
    Upgrade|
    50
    |
    Photoreactive Panels:33% chance for enemies to ignore until damaged.
    |[/table]

    Engineer
    Unprocessed
    {table=head]Parameter|Cost|Value
    Base Cost|
    40
    |
    Size (Cube)||
    1
    |
    Health||
    2 Shield
    |
    Defense||
    6
    |
    Weapon||
    None
    |
    Speed||
    5, Flight
    |
    Upgrade|
    50
    |
    Biorepairs I: Attempt to heal unit with 1/6 success.
    |[/table]

    Spartan-II
    Rookie
    {table=head]Parameter|Cost|Value
    Base Cost|
    90
    |
    Size (Cube)||
    2
    |
    Health||
    2 Health, 1 Shield
    |
    Defense||
    7
    |
    Weapon||
    Assault Rifle (1 damage)
    |
    Speed||
    6
    |
    Upgrade|||[/table]

    Marine
    Private
    {table=head]Parameter|Cost|Value
    Base Cost|
    30
    |
    Size (Cube)||
    1
    |
    Health||
    1 Health
    |
    Defense||
    7
    |
    Weapon||
    Assault Rifle (1 damage)
    |
    Speed||
    5
    |
    Upgrade|||[/table]

    Hunter
    Young
    {table=head]Parameter|Cost|Value
    Base Cost|
    75 each, purchase as pairs
    |
    Size (Cube)||
    3
    |
    Health||
    3 Health
    |
    Defense||
    6
    |
    Weapon||
    Assault Blast Cannon (-1 attack, 2 damage and 1 to adjacent targets)
    |
    Speed||
    5
    |
    Upgrade|
    15
    |
    Alloy Shield: +1 Defense.
    |[/table]
    Last edited by Ursus the Grim; 2011-10-09 at 04:24 PM.
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  6. - Top - End - #6
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    Default Re: So, who's interested in helping me tune a Halo wargame?

    A bit of math, because I noticed that there's no reason at all to take three Marines when you could take two Spartan-IIIs and get better... everything, except potential maximum damage (average is still better, though).

    This turned into a balancing fest, but the numbers you see on that sheet are no more valid than any other numbers that might be bandied about. I'll see what I can do about getting some playtest results; I'm busy this weekend so it'll likely have to wait until next week.
    Last edited by Siosilvar; 2011-09-15 at 07:31 PM.
    Avatar some unholy combination of Winthur and Gato Muerto's ideas.

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  7. - Top - End - #7
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    Ursus the Grim's Avatar

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    Default Re: So, who's interested in helping me tune a Halo wargame?

    Sio, you are a god. Within your portfolio, I would expect to find Statistics, Logic, and Computing. Your favored weapon is an Abacus of Godly Win, but generally your mind is sharp enough to cut through the heavens.

    Your analysis will be a huge help. I'm going to shower and come back, sit down, and see where you got them from.

    Edit: Okay, I think I see where most of the numbers are coming from. I suppose I definitely overpriced the shields. I figured it would be more of a factor in more drawn out games. Whereas a hunter gets hit once and goes into another fight with one less, a spartan would have the advantage of getting that one hp back. I also underpriced the bigger units because I suspected that the loss of action economy would balance out their toughness.

    Edit Edit: If you think its ready for playtest, I might be able to find some numbercrunching volunteers in PbP. A series of one v one squad battles would be fairly easy to run, no?
    Last edited by Ursus the Grim; 2011-09-15 at 08:02 PM.
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    Default Re: So, who's interested in helping me tune a Halo wargame?

    I just had a first playtest with the new numbers.

    4 Hunters versus 12 Grunts, 2 Drones
    Spoiler
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    First run was 4 Hunters with Alloy Shields against 12 base Grunts and 2 Drones. Total expenditure of 360. The Hunters wiped out the Grunts en masse, due to the splash damage still being enough to kill a grunt on a miss. The initial hunter to grunt/drone ratio was .28. About the mid point, that was up to .4. However, the dice turned in the Grunts favor, and they swiftly hammered the last two Hunters. The Alloy Shield prevented 2 attacks that would otherwise have been hits out of 16 total attacks from the Grunts.

    The Grunts were spaced sufficiently to minimize casualties from the Hunter's Splash Damage. Had they been clustered, I could see the Hunters having done much better. There were 2 Grunts and 2 Drones alive at the end. I realized that better speed doesn't do you much good at this point. Without range or environmental factors, distance doesn't have much of a point. If I work it right, it could make certain units good "reinforcements" kept in an accessible location to dispatch to where they're needed most.

    With the results of this battle, I suspect the Hunters will dominate the mid-team, because the Grunt's advantage over the sheer dominance of the Hunters was their action economy.

    Fast and Loose Stats
    I later reproduced this scenario after calculating to hit chances and damage ranges per turn. I found that the Grunts could kill the Hunters by turn 3 with average chances to hit, it mostly depended on 'initiative order', ie if the Hunters could kill the Grunts before they got to act that turn. If the Grunts fail to take the Hunters down fast, they end up losing their damage potential and the last hunter stays in. I think it took until Turn 5 for the last Hunter to kill the last Grunt. Of course, theoretically, the Grunts could secure the win during turn 2, if each attack hit. The Hunters could not do the same.


    4 Hunters versus 4 Brutes, 2 Spartan-IIs
    Spoiler
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    I called this one. This was 4 Brutes and 2 Spartan-IIs against the same team of Hunters. The Brutes could survive the Hunter Splash Damage, but direct hits were still a kill. It came down to one Brute and two Spartan-IIs against 2 Hunters. I started thinking that the Spartan-IIs would have the edge thanks to their net health of 3, but at that point, there weren't enough guns left to fire at the Hunters. Things would likely have gone faster if the Hunters had focused on the Spartan-IIs first. I realized I'd have to be clear in the Shield Description. It implies hit, but it should also take into account non-hit damage that is dealt, such as Splash Damage. I believe there were two hits in this one negated by the Alloy Shields, out of 8 total attacks against the Hunters. 2 Hunters remained standing.


    4 Brutes, 2 Spartan-IIs versus 12 Grunts, 2 Drones
    Spoiler
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    Really had no guesses heading into this one. I expected to see the shields finally matter though, now that the Hunter Auto-Hits were out of play. . . but now that I did this one, I feel dirty. Each side suffered 2 deaths early on, and what the Plasma Pistols lacked in attack bonus, they made up in numbers. As the last brute went down, I could tell what was going to happen. Numerous attacks quickly took out the last Spartans. The last turn included a string of seven attacks with only one miss to wipe out the Spartans in a single turn. Final count. 9 Surviving Grunts and 2 Drones.


    Moral of the story? Don't mess with Grunt Packs.
    Last edited by Ursus the Grim; 2011-10-09 at 10:36 PM.
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  9. - Top - End - #9
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    Default Re: So, who's interested in helping me tune a Halo wargame?

    Had a second playtest, with an actual person!

    He brought 12 Marines. I brought 4 Hunters again.

    He DOMINATED. Only lost 5 marines. The Alloy Shields (interesting, the combined cost was roughly equal to two marines) prevented some hits, but again, there were just too many of them.

    We came to the conclusion that, not surprisingly, smaller groups of high-cost units would need to capitalize on speed, mobility, range, and environmental factors to work well. But I haven't implemented mechanics for those yet.

    Testing this hypothesis, we tried again, with a maximum range on each unit's attacks to minimize focused fire, and a Regeneration Area that healed each unit in it by one Health at the end of their turn. Obviously a tilt towards the Hunters. Things were a bit more even, and it came down to 3 Marines versus one Hunter. After failing to wipe him in one turn, he was down to two marines, then one, at which point it was obvious he couldn't win, due to the 1 health regeneration and the splash damage of the hunter. He complained about the "auto damage", and I decided I'd implement a miss mechanic so that the splash was determined as if it were two squares back for purposes of damage. This would still deal instant damage if he was, say, adjacent to a wall, but wouldn't ruin smaller units entirely.
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