Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Truth and Beauty II

Read this blog from the first post up or it won't make any sense.

I'm still trying to figure out the implications of yesterday's revelation (in the meantime I'm running tests to get the values for a bunch of other 'configurations' that we think will be valuable for certain character/game types (that's another post). Here's what I think may result from the observation that it's perfectly balanced to have a Level +1 of an attack added to a Level +1 of another attack and still be balanced.

Different Kinds of Extra Attacks
My first thought as I work through this is that there are several different "kinds" of attacks a character may be interested in. They will be handled differently. Let's enumerate them.

  • Multiple Standard Attacks. The first kind is entirely unlike attacks (super strength + plasma vision) which fall into the "standard" category (fire as often as you can, every Round, for a standard REA cost). In this case both attacks are theoretically to be brought from "the ground up" (remember that the "Level 1" 8 AP investment yields more damage per AP than each +1 Level--look at the chart from the last post). Our theory is that to encourage this you should only pay 1 AP per each additional attack after pay full points for your most expensive. NOTE: one of the reasons we're so positive on this is that generally the character must choose one or the other (as they both cost REA and the amount of REA is limited)--so having more choices (especially if they all do similar kinds of damage) doesn't make the character that much better, just slightly (pleasantly) more versatile. 
  • Standard Attack With a Unusual 'Chaser.' In this case we have a character with a Level 1 attack of some kind (Power Blast) and possibly several +1 Level (8 AP) investments. They then, as we saw in the last post, buy some additional +1 Levels of the same basic kind of attack but a different Rate of Fire. So the example is Power Blast (standard) of 3 levels (for 24 AP) with 2 extra levels (16 AP) of 2-Round-Charge-Up (so every 3 rounds they can fire a "mega blast"). It turns out this is balanced. We can, it seems, treat this entire attack as a standard attack despite the fact that the "mega blast" has a non-standard rate of fire.
  • Resisted Attack Back-Up. One model I haven't gone into much is the Resisted Attack Back Up. This is a case where the character has a standard attack of some kind (super strength?) and then purchases a Resisted Attack (sleep ray) as a back-up to be used on targets where the normal attack isn't being all that effective (such as against characters who are too armored to hurt with the super strength but might still be effected by a sleep ray). This model is suspect: if you can get the sleep ray for +1 AP, who wouldn't? Also: if the profile of how these attacks take down opponents is very different would the ability to get one for +1 AP mean everyone had to in order to be able to properly face a range of opponents?
  • Backup Power Attack. In this configuration I have a high-cost Standard Attack (super strength) and then want to pay 1 AP for a charge-up "mega blast." The 'mega blast' is limited so that its damage output is MUCH higher but the cost is the same (or lower) than the standard attack. This model is suspect: if anyone can have a high-damage attack for 1 AP, however it is limited, it becomes very, very advantageous to do so.
What To Do?
I think that the first two are provably fine and reasonably balanced, the second needs some thinking, and the third needs a rule that prohibits it. What might this look like?
Resisted Attack Back-Up: We don't want to force everyone with a sleep-ray to buy it up from scratch along with a normal attack. Some (quick) analysis shows that it's more efficient to put all your points into one or the other. On the other hand, 1 AP is too cheap because it becomes an 'opportunity cost' not to have the Resisted Attack ("I'd have beaten him if I only had invested 1 AP in a sleep ray!). Maybe for those kinds of attacks we can have a minimum cost of something non-trivial like 2 or 4 AP?
Back Up Power Attack: We are already tagging powers that have unusual Rates of Fire so that we can have special rules for them. The most likely thing is that those just won't get the 1 AP treatment: if you want a 'mega blast' you buy +1 Level (8 AP) or maybe half that (4 AP) and add it to whatever attack you already have.
We need to carefully monitor how these rules would create characters and look for unintended side effects.


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