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Random Options: Good or Bad?

 Post subject: Random Options: Good or Bad?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:26 pm 
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Unctuous Toady
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In some miniature games (the whole first edition of 40K for instance) you have a lot of options that are random. There are certainly pros and cons to having random options as opposed to a point based or option system.

Do you think that random options, say in army/force construction, are good or bad?


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 4:43 pm 
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I think that random options for army construction is a big no-no, you never know what you're gonna get (maybe that's why they call it RANDOM :-o). It's OK for games like Necromunda, Mordheim and LOTR: Battle Companies, for for games like 40k? Nah.

However, I would'nt mind seeing random events that are encountered during a game, like ambushes or maybe even hazardous weather conditions that help or hinder your army. It makes a refeshing change, and it makes the game somewhat more RPG-like in gameplay.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 9:48 pm 
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That's a hard question. It depends on how it's approached. If the randomness produces fairly equal results in terms of game play, then I don't mind too much. But if, for instance, you paid for a squad of troops and could get wildly varying weapons (think 1-3 laspistol, 4-6 lascannon type stuff), then I'm opposed.

I do think it's possible to combine them, like necromunda did. The rare trade chart is random, but each item has a different cost to add to your gang rating, which helps keep balance.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 11:10 am 
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AnimusAtrum wrote:
I do think it's possible to combine them, like necromunda did. The rare trade chart is random, but each item has a different cost to add to your gang rating, which helps keep balance.
Yes, I liked this implementation as well.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 12:00 pm 
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Sure, random stuff works in Necromunda. But as Animus was just saying in another thread in the Sci-Fi section, most folks tend to like the more competative type games like 40K.

So can random options for units be successfully incorporated into games like 40K? Should they be? Are there any benefits to doing so if you were designing your own game? Or should random options be avoided like the plague?


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The game designers themselves know these values are not realistic and they do not intend them to replace or invalidate the fluff. So let's get on with our lives and not fixate over the cosmic ramifications of game mechanics which we already know are streamlined for larger forces at the expense of detail.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 12:06 pm 
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I seem to remember that both Orks and Chaos in 40K had a lot of randomness in their armies.

Chaos Champs with random powers and equipment.
Random Stats for Demon Princes.

Also the Orks had Mad Boyz, and Meks with random cr*p.

I think with some armies it adds a good amount of game flair if it fits in with the fluff.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 12:41 pm 
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As was mentioned above, random EVENTS *during* the game don't upset people, especially if they're presented in a game-"logical" way, qv. Madboyz...

However, tabletop wargamers don't like randomness for the sake of being random....which is why the original RT stuff gave way over the years, eventually removing ALL the randomness by the time of 2nd Ed....

Now, what kind of randomness *IS* acceptable? Something like this (which, I know, was basically introduced as a mission type by the current version) --- One picks a large, modular force with very few characters, mostly troops, and some support... and you only get to pick, say 10% of that point total to deploy at the beginning... dicing in subsequent turns for the "reinforcements" .... The idea being to simulate the fog of war and uncertainty of communication and supply and reinforcement.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 2:52 pm 
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mujadaddy wrote:
As was mentioned above, random EVENTS *during* the game don't upset people, especially if they're presented in a game-"logical" way, qv. Madboyz...


I didn't like the strategy cards in 40K 2E... I think it was a good idea, but it was poorly implemented IMO. There was just too much variation between the low power cards and the all mighty Virus Outbreak (which I believe GW officially told people to tear up into tiny pieces) and the yet-more-randomness of Special Issue. The tyranid random events were possibly even worse... the first "Jones is acting strangely..." event was fun, but when you had an IG army and about 5 guys just waiting to detonate it was a pain in the arse. Especially as Barbed Stranglers were harsh in 2E.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 3:24 pm 
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You're right===Strategy cards were either over-the-top or useless...

...the idea was not total tripe, but the execution was ;)

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2006 11:09 am 
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I absolutely hated the Strategy Cards in 2nd edition. To me, that is one of the reasons that 2nd edition continued the whole sale down going of 40K.

I saw strategy cards as stealing the most fun aspect of the game from the players... creating a backstory to your games. But many players loved the strategy cards and saw them as an indespensible part of the whole tactics of the game. These generally tended to be the unimaginative players who favor competition or strategy above all else (they and I differ on just what makes a game fun obviously).

3rd edition introduced the well defined scenarios which I think are a good thing. Now players who care nothing about the storyline can still play a variety of different types of battles with different tactical challenges through the scenarios. At the same time players running a campaign can pick and choose specific scenarios to play in the course of a campaign that match over all storyline. Kudos to the Games Workshop design team for integrating the scenarios into 40K. Especially since doing so eliminated the hideous Strategy Cards.

------------------------------------------------

Orky Event Cards
Okay, what about the card based system that was introduced in 1st edition for Orks? I think they were called Orky Event Cards. The ork player got a limited number of good cards, while their opponent drew a random event card every turn which could be good or bad (but generally funny either way).

-------------------------------------------------

Random Squad Weapons
What about the random tables in Rogue Trader for determining how your squads and champions were equiped? You know, where there was a D% roll to determine the basic weapon for a squad of troops. Imperial Guard (army) could have lasguns, autoguns, or boltguns. Space marines could have autoguns, boltguns, or shuriken catapults. Was that good or bad? If it was bad, could such a system be done better? Better than a point based system even?

-------------------------------------------------

Random Primary Abilities
In the current 40K rules few things are random. Most races can buy everything in their whole codex/army list at a fixed point cost and everything is always available. One example I can think of that deviates from this are the imperial guard's Sanctioned Psykers. They must roll on a random table to see what their psychic power will be. They could roll nothing (as in now power) or they could get a random power that might easily not fit into your army's battle plan.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 1:35 am 
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Truckler wrote:
Orky Event Cards
Okay, what about the card based system that was introduced in 1st edition for Orks? I think they were called Orky Event Cards. The ork player got a limited number of good cards, while their opponent drew a random event card every turn which could be good or bad (but generally funny either way).


These were bad because this is how they worked...and it wasn't funny from an ork players point of view.

For every mechanic in your army you could have one repair card which was drawn randomly and can fix only one specific thing like vehicle, heavy weapon, etc...

Now, the enemy player drew a random number of Orky Event cards to use at the beginning of each turn (those not used were discarded and a new batch was rolled for every turn) and each Orky Event card had two to four different things you could use the cards on.

There was basically no way to defend against that without going total cheese. So to survive, you would have to make an Evil Suns Ork army and hire out a Freebooters Mekboyz Mob just to get enough repair cards to go two turns. Assuming you got cards that would fix the items you actually have (Nothing is worse then getting a squig catapult repair card and not actually having one in your army)

I think the idea of having stuff break down and what not is cool, but the way they did it was really unfair.

Quote:

Random Squad Weapons
What about the random tables in Rogue Trader for determining how your squads and champions were equiped? You know, where there was a D% roll to determine the basic weapon for a squad of troops. Imperial Guard (army) could have lasguns, autoguns, or boltguns. Space marines could have autoguns, boltguns, or shuriken catapults. Was that good or bad? If it was bad, could such a system be done better? Better than a point based system even?


I didn't really care for this either. I want to be able to have the freedom to choose what my squad is equipped with. Sure I can think of tons of scenarios and situations where random equipment generation might be plausable. But in the end I want to choose it.

Now, effects on the weapons (especially after ork Mekboyz have fiddled with them) being randomized. I liked that. "Life is like an Ork Lascannon, you never know whatcha gonna get"

For added fun we never rolled for effects until we fired the weapon. My favorite was a Lascannon with a 3" diameter and following fire...however the range was only 4" ...pure orky genius.

McCragge

-------------------------------------------------

Random Primary Abilities
In the current 40K rules few things are random. Most races can buy everything in their whole codex/army list at a fixed point cost and everything is always available. One example I can think of that deviates from this are the imperial guard's Sanctioned Psykers. They must roll on a random table to see what their psychic power will be. They could roll nothing (as in now power) or they could get a random power that might easily not fit into your army's battle plan.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 5:47 am 
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Truckler wrote:
I absolutely hated the Strategy Cards in 2nd edition. To me, that is one of the reasons that 2nd edition continued the whole sale down going of 40K.

I saw strategy cards as stealing the most fun aspect of the game from the players... creating a backstory to your games. But many players loved the strategy cards and saw them as an indespensible part of the whole tactics of the game. These generally tended to be the unimaginative players who favor competition or strategy above all else (they and I differ on just what makes a game fun obviously).

3rd edition introduced the well defined scenarios which I think are a good thing. Now players who care nothing about the storyline can still play a variety of different types of battles with different tactical challenges through the scenarios. At the same time players running a campaign can pick and choose specific scenarios to play in the course of a campaign that match over all storyline. Kudos to the Games Workshop design team for integrating the scenarios into 40K. Especially since doing so eliminated the hideous Strategy Cards.


I think you have confused the strategy cards (Virus Outbreak, Special Issue, Strafing Run...) with the mision cards (Guerrila War, Assassination,...). There isn't anything in 3E or 4E that really matches up to the strategy cards of 2E. Though I didn't much like the mission cards either, because they either clashed with one another or were just horribly out of sorts for your army. I remember playing IG I would often have to just ignore my mission, because it awarded extra VPs for kills in combat.

Quote:
Orky Event Cards
Okay, what about the card based system that was introduced in 1st edition for Orks? I think they were called Orky Event Cards. The ork player got a limited number of good cards, while their opponent drew a random event card every turn which could be good or bad (but generally funny either way).


These sound crap from what McCragge says. As if there wasn't enough "comedy" playing an Ork army in the first place.

Quote:
Random Squad Weapons
What about the random tables in Rogue Trader for determining how your squads and champions were equiped? You know, where there was a D% roll to determine the basic weapon for a squad of troops. Imperial Guard (army) could have lasguns, autoguns, or boltguns. Space marines could have autoguns, boltguns, or shuriken catapults. Was that good or bad? If it was bad, could such a system be done better? Better than a point based system even?


This sounds awful... it basically throws any sense of WYSIWYG out of the window, unless you have the weapon options for every squad. And I can only imagine the difference between a squad of bolters and a squad of autoguns is quite big.

Quote:
Random Primary Abilities
In the current 40K rules few things are random. Most races can buy everything in their whole codex/army list at a fixed point cost and everything is always available. One example I can think of that deviates from this are the imperial guard's Sanctioned Psykers. They must roll on a random table to see what their psychic power will be. They could roll nothing (as in no power) or they could get a random power that might easily not fit into your army's battle plan.


IG Sanctioned Psykers roll their power in much the same way as Chaos players get their minor powers... a D6 random table with 1=nothing. This is about as far as randomness goes in 40K now. I would hardly say that the sanctioned psykers power might not fit into your battle plan... they are generally pathetic, and are never going to make or break the tactics of your army. I have seen battleplans that rely on getting a specific random minor power (namely a big cheesy daemonbomb list that relies on getting the Slaanesh minor power Siren)... but these are crap battle plans that are naturally very fragile.

The problem with randomness in general is that you get players who pin all their hopes on getting a specific option... they either get it and they have a powerful army that they are set to play, or they don't and their whole battle plan is ruined. If the randomness of the game is putting such a win-or-lose pressure on one roll then it is way too much... even if only a minority of people play this way. Of course a bit of randomness isn't always bad. I like the randomness of Necromunda, at least in most cases. There are occasions, like the territory table, that can throw up a pile of steaming crap or 5 cash-cows that can really set-up your gang for greatness or a struggle from the start. But it is rare that you end up at one of these extremes. And the randomness in such a game doesn't usually destroy all your plans with one dice roll. The randomness of skills and equipment tends to keep you on your toes a little more than in Mordheim where you get to choose... which is why I like Necromunda more than Mordheim (among other reasons).

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2006 2:23 am 
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the widowmaker wrote:
The problem with randomness in general is that you get players who pin all their hopes on getting a specific option... they either get it and they have a powerful army that they are set to play, or they don't and their whole battle plan is ruined. If the randomness of the game is putting such a win-or-lose pressure on one roll then it is way too much... even if only a minority of people play this way.


I don't really see this as a problem, but then I'm pretty picky about my opponents. I simply wouldn't play with someone like that.

What I don't like is random tables that have wildly varying levels of power or usefullness without some method of balancing. In the above example, if you had two opposing marine armies, one with autoguns and one with shuriken catapults, which do you think would win?

In general, I'd classify gamers into two categories. The older games, who came to miniatures from D&D-era role-playing games, tend to be more comfortable with random tables. Mainly, I think, because that's what they're used to, but also partly because comming from role-playing makes them more interested in a storyline. Younger gamers, who often started with wargaming, tend to be less in favor of randomness since they have a more win/loss orientation, especially compared to the older gamers.

Now if you're asking me what I like in a game, I tend not to mind a little randomness, providing it doesn't upset balance much, and doesn't restrict my choices.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 12:02 pm 
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I never liked strategy cards once I understood what they really were. Half of them have nothing to do with actual strategy, either. Bombing run, Reserves, Orbital Bombardment, Delayed, those were okay. But Look Out sir, Arrgh!, Saved!, Crack shot? What do they have to do with strategy? I used them in one game, and abandoned them afterwards, and I've never looked back.

I personally don't mind random events during a battle, as long as they have an equal chance of affecting my opponent, but I don't care for them before the battle. I don' t mind random mission cards, as they force you to look at different ways of using your force, and we usually put our armies together before drawing missions.

But apart from that, I don't like random army composition, or random equipment. Having the outcome of the entire battle determined by a single die roll on the final turn of the game is exciting. Having it happen before the game even starts is no fun.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 10:23 am 
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It is true that a lot of the randomness has been lost over the years with 40k. But some will be back if the rumors of random demons are true in the new Codex Chaos.

Although i have no idea why they would reduce their effectiveness in chaos marine armies only to remake the god-specific demons in a later demon codex... Of course I'd like it if they made an undivided demon plastic set with all the random options and wildly varying looks...

I never played 2nd edition, and i have not played cities of death, but aren't the stratagems very similar to the strategy cards? They seem to be a balanced re-envisioning of the basic idea.


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