Saturday, July 31, 2010

Still More Size

Some investigation shows the following:

  1. Because of the way "Level 1" works the first 8 AP points spent on dealing damage result in more damage than each 8 AP thereafter. For PEN STR (a short range punch-like attack that does PEN damage) the numbers test at 13 PEN for Level 1 and +7 PEN for each 8 AP thereafter. When applying that to Armed Size the first 8 AP level of Size would do, maybe, 6-9 PEN and then add +4 PEN thereafter. Doing this helped Armed Size (what I'm testing right now) greatly. But not greatly enough.
  2. The FULL ARMOR + Armed Size wins about 75% vs. 40% for the others. This includes the partial armor/partial DP build. This means that "Armor isn't simply too cheap"--the build with a little armor and a little DP gets beaten like everything else. It's the big investment in armor that really pays off.
  3. As suggested previously, the 30% offense/70% defense builds of the normalized herds seems ill-equipped to deal with heavy armor and extra DP but does well against everything else.
  4. Doubling the Size DP for the FULL DP character did help--but not enough.
E's Build
Some discussion led us to the conclusion that a character with "half their points in Defense" and "half their points in size" as a Low Damage build was probably not a "common build" (even if, when that defense was FULL ARMOR it was shaping up to be very effective). We decided that a more likely build was: 8 AP in size (that's, roughly, 4 AP in damage and 4 AP in DP) followed by a 4 AP weapon and 4 AP of some defense (such as Armor, Force Field, more DP, etc.)

This "common build" was 50% offense and 50% defense. I tested it with FULL ARMOR against the 16 AP Normalized Herd and it won a (much better) 66%. This is not good but it is better than 75% by a large margin: it's potentially just a "good build."

Next Steps
I plan to test that build: 8 AP Size, 4 AP in a Sword, and 4 AP in either FULL ARMOR, ARMOR+DP, FORCE FIELD, or FULL DP. If the spread of these is around 50% then we're golden.

Thoughts on FULL ARMOR
Clearly putting half your AP into armor and nothing into DP is a reasonable strategy from a statistical perspective. If that's the case against virtually any range of opponents then that's a problem: it's not good for gaming for there to be a single best-always defense. There are some possibilities and some thoughts.

  • Poison / Ignore Armor. There are attacks (Poison Gas Cloud) that ignore armor. These mess up FULL ARMOR badly as it lacks the DP to defend itself. On the other hand, FULL ARMOR + Poison Gas Cloud does better against traditional attacks than FULL DP + Poison Gas Cloud so as long as you aren't facing Poison Gas Cloud FA is still a good way to go. Worse: these attacks are almost unquestionably exotic. Almost no game I have ever played in features Resisted Attacks as often as normal ones.
  • FULL ARMOR Wasn't That Good In The 50/50 Herd Test. The current "cost" for armor is based on its tested performance in the original 50-50 herds. Those were fast, brutal battles where the heavy attacks would tend to overwhelm most defenses anyway--but the fact remains that in some battles it's simply not that good. The current 30%-offense Normalized herds tend to overvalue heavy investments in armor in the way any given game might not.
  • Egg-shell Syndrome. We think there will be a "blow-through" problem for FULL ARMOR PCs: in any battle where the damage being dealt can penetrate the armor reliably they won't have a cushion and will go down quickly. The question that remains is: how much damage is needed to do this and is it even true that when that much damage is being done FULL ARMOR will actually fare worse than, say FULL DP or Mixed (in fact Mixed DP&ARMOR may be the big loser since it doesn't get the extra DP that Full DP does and doesn't get the benefit of all that armor either). Finally, if FULL ARMOR even does fare worse against heavier attacks, how much heavier must these be? Who fires them? Are there characters that are 75%-offense? Do "boss characters" throw those attacks heavily? Does an easily purchased "charge-up attack" qualify? We don't know yet.
What Could We Do?
Right now 4 AP buys 4/10 Armor--the equivalent of chain mail. The fact that 8 AP ("one level") can buy a broadsword + chain mail has "beautiful" implications for our costing system (even if, in fact, most Fantasy characters would not likely be paying AP for swords and armor). I really, really want to keep these numbers and, in fact, all our testing has been based on this.

So what could we do?

  1. Not sell "raw armor." We could sell Armor + DP in all/almost all cases. In fact that's not far off from what we're doing now. This makes it hard to simply get FULL ARMOR combined with 50%-offense (Note, however, that the FULL ARMOR + 25% DP + 25% Offense character did very well against the Normalized Herd and this would still be quite possible). The problem here is with gear. I refuse to sell a "bullet proof vest" that "comes with" DP. It doesn't make much sense.
  2. Give out less armor after Level 1. We could reverse the Attack Theory and give fewer armor points as more armor is purchased. This would reduce armor's value at the upper point levels. Although this might require some re-testing it probably wouldn't require much. The problem is that every ability that grants armor would have to be couched in those terms and I'm not sure how well that would work: There are likely to be some abilities that grant armor that just have "one level."
  3. Increase the amount of DP/Force Field/Etc. You get "per point." This sounds like a no-brainer but note that FULL Armor + DP in the Size Test is faring better than Force Field + DP right now or even HALF ARMOR + DP (Mixed). Giving FULL ARMOR even more DP won't necessarily fix that. Another big issue too is that this will change a lot of the testing we did (although, again, maybe not by too much).
Thoughts So Far
I'm going to test the spread of defenses as stated above and see what I think. Then we'll do some testing to see if slightly higher attacks than 30% can actually exploit the low DP that FULL Armor grants. If it can then I think we're golden right now.


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