Monday, July 12, 2010

Battle Royal ... and Swimming ...

Testing Now
In the background the simulator is running tests for "Beak." I've done several versions of Teeth so it wasn't clear to me how to (if at all) make "Beak" any different. Firstly, part of my vision for JAGS is that more distinction is better. It's better to have three different "striking martial arts" than two or one. It's better to have five different tracks of Fantasy Warrior ('Fighter') than four--and so on. Now, this can only be done when  the difference is actually mechanical (if a Beak simply looks different than Jaws it doesn't count).

I settled on the idea that when a sharp, hooked, beak attack scores a vital hit (4+) its damage-bonus doubles before damage is resolved. I looked up "Beak" in Google and determined that raptors have hooked beaks for tearing flesh--as that's what I was going for, I decided that being extra-deadly on a vital hit would work well enough. So: testing.

Battle Royal
I did not run any tests this weekend but E did. Specifically, he was doing a "battle royal" of all-vs-all for the various martial arts in JAGS (all the ones that have been simulated anyway). These are: Karate, JiuJitsu (also could be Jujitsu or Aikido), Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, and Boxing. Here's how they break down:

  • Karate. The hardest hitting art over all. It has poor blocks compared to some other arts. The strategy involves kicking at range and then punching if the attacker gets in close. We have a Karate character who is cross-trained in "Ground Fighting" to see how he did.
  • JiuJitsu. A Grappling art. It doesn't hit hard but blocks well and gives a special Throw maneuver as well as better grappling. There are two strategies: THROW-RELEASE-THROW and THROW-GRAB-MOUNT-STRIKE. The first one simply has the character get in and throw the target whenever it's his turn. The target will probably get up and hit back (or strike from the ground). In the second case the JiuJitsu guy will close, throw, then apply a mount and strike until the target is pulverized.
  • Kung Fu. Kung Fu gives a good block, a little extra damage with strikes, and they are at -2 to be blocked. This goes a long way towards circumventing target's defenses.
  • Tae Kwon Do. TKD hits slightly less hard than Karate but gets better blocks against kicks, and one "cheaper" (in terms of action points) kick per round. It doesn't block well.
  • Boxing. Boxing gives a powerful punch, an even more powerful 1x-per-round Cross, no kicks (no Medium Range attack) and a good-but-not-great block. It also makes you tougher. You get a few more damage points and higher Hurt Condition, and so on.
Our current feeling right now is that (a) all the arts should be basically equal (since they are all the same points) and (b) it's okay if, for example, grappling has a slight edge over striking but that goes the other way when the striker has a small amount of cross training.

Here's more or less what happened ...

Jujitsu: The Mount Wasn't Good Enough
The Throw-throw-throw Jiujitsu guy was winning way more than the Ground-'n-Pound Mount attack. We did some detailed debug and found out that Mount, as per the rules, simply wasn't bad enough for the person being pounded to make up for the efficiency of the throw-throw-throw attack. We added a -4 Damage Modifier and -2 Initiative reduction for the character on their back and it brought Jiujitsu's Ground-n-Pound game back (NOTE: the real test will be the submission hold game but we're not simulating that yet).

Boxing Sucked
It turns out having no medium range attack sucks when your opponents do. It also turns out that hitting almost as hard as Karate but having no grapple game sucks against a grappler. The difference wasn't bad about 38% Percent Of Victory against Karate and TKD's 50% but taking a 12% bath so you can be as cool as Rocky isn't part of our vision. The toughening aspects of Boxing didn't do enough and the "roll with blow" damage reduction didn't help enough either. Here are some thoughts:
  • Tougher. Boxing (at Level 3) right now gives +1 Damage Point. It'll probably give +2 or even, maybe, +3.
  • Footwork. Boxing pros are really, really hard to hit. Maybe Boxing gives you a -1 to be hit by punches? Or even a -1 to be hit by all strikes?
  • Better Roll-With-Punch. Right now the special move doesn't work too well but what if it was improved?
Kung Fu Needs Work
When we boosted Kung Fu's block from +1 above skill to the (now stellar) +2 above skill it was pretty much dead-on against the strikers (whose blocks didn't work well and boy could it block them). However to beat a grappler with strikes you have to wipe him out before he lands the mount--you have limited time. Kung Fu's lack of hard-hitting damage hurt it there. So we are considering what to do.
  • Counter-Strike. Coming up next will be testing a Kung Fu where, when you block an attack (maybe when you block by 3 or more) you get an immediate strike regardless of your comparative Initiative (or, maybe you have to be within 5 Init of the attacker?). This will make Kung Fu battles more flowing and should give a minor but significant bonus over the striking arts. I'd like to see Kung Fu, if it wins 55% against Boxing or Karate lose 45% against Jujitsu or Wrestling. Maybe we can make it come out like that.
  • Grapple Defense? Kung Fu has some funky stances and has a lot of leg-power. Maybe they are harder to take down than other striking arts? Remember: realism here is secondary to balance so all kinds of options are on the table.
Tae Kwon Do Is Surprisingly Balanced!
It's kind of a "kicking version" of Karate and, as such, we were pleased that it came off even despite having a lot of small differences. 

Next I'll do Swimming. HUH!?


  1. re: Kung Fu

    For what its worth, back in the day when I was doing Kung Fu, it seemed like all the basic techniques were block/follow-through, so the counterstrike seems a good option thematically.

  2. Yeah. I like it even if it wasn't done for balance reasons. Having the simulator available makes it possible for me to test things that I'd have been /afraid/ to do because they could be unpredictable.

    Now we can answer questions like "how much better is ALWAYS getting a counter strike vs only when you block by X+?" This is the kind of thing it's good to know before introducing to the game.