Friday, March 11, 2011

DP, ADP, and Power Field

I was traveling the last 2 weeks so I didn't do my normal testing. Here's where we are:

  1. I'm still doing Resisted Effect Attacks (like "stun beam" that combines a stun/daze effect with an IMP attack.
  2. I realized that if I got this wrong, re-testing was going to be painful. What was I worried about? Well: Damage Points. Let me explain.
The Problem With DP
In our original 50-50 Herds (each attacker was 50% offense and 50% of one of a few kinds of defense) the DP guy did as well as everyone else (he won around 50% of the time)--but those battles were bloody. At the upper range most battles went only one to three strikes. We wanted an "ideal" battle to last 2-4 Rounds. But we were not very sophisticated then--so we did the math and came up with the following:

  • Armor: 1pt Armor for 1 AP
  • DP: 2.5 DP for 1 AP
  • Force Field: 1.5 Force Field for 1 AP
And so it went. The armor and Force Field numbers held up well--but in the new herds, re-designed so that most battles took 3 Rounds, DP was a loser. In fact, mixing Armor and DP was for suckers. Now, most off the Herd warriors did, in fact, mix Armor and DP if they had armor. A few had nothing but DP and they were getting slaughtered.

So we hit on a plan: if you had NO ARMOR (and no force field) you could get DP at 4:1. It seemed rational--after all, we didn't want the pure DP guys to get slaughtered and at 4:1 they were okay--reasonable. Of course the mixed guys still got the 2.5 DP for 1 AP and still got the shaft.

But I wasn't too concerned: for one thing, I considered the Herd Builds (about 2/3rds Def, 1/3rd offense) to be overly conservative. If they lost more than the more "character like" test characters I could look past that. Secondly, a lot of our combined builds (size, the GATs, etc.) were doing okay and while we didn't "price out" the DP exactly (we just tested the gestalt of powers and factored it for 50-60% chance of victory) the numbers seemed more or less in line with what I expected (that is: Fast Company power-sets didn't wind up with "half their points spent on DP" or anything weird like that).

But I was, still, worried. I just wasn't real clear on what to do.

Then It Hit Me
When I was testing the Resisted Attack powers the number of DP the target has is crucial to how well it can resist the effect. Our herd characters all had extra DP and our test characters? Two of them had no extra DP--the All Force Field and All Armor guys--and you know what? They did suffer for it when the guys with Resisted Attacks fought each other--but for builds where the designer had spent a lot on DP? The Herd was pretty vulnerable to those attacks (but not the 4:1 Full DP guys--they were largely immune).

If I were a PC who spent my valuable Archetype Points on DP and I got hit by a stun beam ... and I didn't have enough to really make a difference? I'd be pissed.

The Spreadsheet
Having spreadsheets is something that the 14-year-old game designer in me would've loved. With some modifications I was able to do testing for each of the three DP like things (DP, Ablative DP, and Power Field). My conclusions?

The balance point--where both the Herds and the Test characters get a multiplier? It's around like this:
  • DP: 4 DP for 1 AP
  • ADP: 6 ADP for 1 AP
  • Power Field: 5 PF for 1 AP
This is significantly higher than we were doing it at. What's more--using these numbers? It brought down the win-percentage for the test characters from around 60% down to ... around 50%. Much better!

But Then There's The Other Thing
So I made the changes to the herds and said "According to this I should vend DP, ADP, and PF much more cheaply than I have been. Furthermore: attack-values (nicely) stay the same since they were factored for a 60% POV and now they "just" win at 50% for a balanced attacker.

So win-win.

But there was a possible issue: what if the GATs (which were done at different times) got put out of alignment? The Generic Archetype Abilities are now the foundation for JAGS Archetypes and if they were out of balance (if their DP allotments were too low) then I had a lot of re-testing to do. A horrible amount.

So I took the 32 AP Herd (that's "four GAT levels") and threw random mixes of GATs at them. Here are the results:

The average POV for various versions of Built and defenses? 47%

A few other random choices (including 4x Hard-Style Martial Arts): a perfect 50%

And one of each of the attacks with some of the specifics? Other than Power Field and Sword kind of sucking? A 47% POV for the group of 4 is almost exactly where I'd want it.

It was also nice to see that these combinations were pretty darn balanced. I wasn't trying to pick good ones or bad ones--I was just trying to mix attacks and defenses in what I thought were reasonable ratios.

So that's were we are right now.


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