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Randomness in Force Generation

 Post subject: Randomness in Force Generation
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 11:03 am 
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Unctuous Toady
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Is randomness for generating forces/characters/units/armies a good thing for miniature games? Older miniature games, like Rogue Trader for example, used random tables to generate characters and units. Is this a good thing for a game? I don't think its too common these days in many games, point systems and other choice based options have replaced randomized units.

But is randomness of this kind valuable? Does it have a place in games? Would you put it into a game you were creating? Or how about add randomness rules to a game that you enjoyed, but didn't have randomness?


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Venator wrote:
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: Tue Jul 10, 2007 12:02 pm 
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Master of Arms
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randomly determining what part of a pre-picked force gets used (as in some of the necromunda and BFG scenarios) is good, makes for interesting tactical challenges. But doing it another way i think you'd run into availability problems.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 12:30 pm 
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Sergeant
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I good good and bad points about a random generation of forces. On the good side it would help keep the game fresh, meaning that it would be different forces on the table each time.
To me this is a challenge of my tactical abilities and helps keep the game interesting to me.
On the down side, to shiver85's point. Who has all the available units sitting on a shelf.
Then you have the armies that have the best equipment points can buy going up against weaker armies or inexperienced armies.
Then the codex will change and there is a mad dash to refit the army with the new better equipment replacing the now weaker units.

One thing that I liked about the old Avalon Hill games was that some of your units could only come into play if you meet certain conditions on the battlefield. Say capture a certain point, lose so many points or on certain turns units would become available.

With games like 40K for example were you have to purchase all the units it would be very expensive to set up a random system. although it would help make the game more interesting to me.

I don't play 40K but I enjoy Necromunda. I watch 40K games all the time since they are usually going on at the same time as Necromunda. But I have never felt a need to try it out. Yet...

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 12:38 pm 
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Unctuous Toady
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shiver85 wrote:
randomly determining what part of a pre-picked force gets used (as in some of the necromunda and BFG scenarios) is good, makes for interesting tactical challenges. But doing it another way i think you'd run into availability problems.


Yes, you certainly need some randomness just to mix things up a bit. That's the whole point of dice in these game and whatnot. The random scenarios in Necromunda or the random members who stand guard mainly just interjects a little bit of variety into games and serves to perhaps penalize unbalanced or over specialization. The current 40K rules do the same thing with the different missions and alpha, gamma, omega thing.

But what about completely random forces? As in you and your mates are going to play a one off game, or even a whole campaign, and your forces are entirely generated randomly?

Is this concept/methodology dead in the world of 28mm sci-fi skirmish games, as the current products would have us believe? Or does it, or could it, live on??


Truckler (Roll D6 for tagline (see table below))

1 "Your squad of space marines is armed with autoguns."
2 "*shakes dice* Come on, papa needs his Void Grenades!"
3 "Randomize this!"
4 "Roll the bones!"
5 "McCragge is Mad"
6 No tagline

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Venator wrote:
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: Tue Jul 10, 2007 12:54 pm 
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Cadet
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I must admit, as much as I like RT, I do ignore the random equipment charts. This may be down to some GW WYSIWYG DNA still in my system.

But I think it has more to do with model availability. Although I do have lots of shuriken catapults lying around :wink:

As for profiles etc, yeah why not. And a random force generator would be useful as well. It is one of the many things that makes this game different (and better) than the uber-super powerful 2nd Ed (My least favourite) and the crushingly boring 3rd & 4th Eds :yamoron

My 2pence worth

Glen

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:26 pm 
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i like the idea of playing a mini campaign with random forces. but the random results would have to give you a bit of choice. like the monster table results in WHQ


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 2:30 pm 
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Unctuous Toady
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Yeah, in Rogue Trader I think the random tables for force creation are um, interesting. But for regular gaming they are problematic. A large part of this hobby is collecting and assembling models. What happens when you are forced to use models that you don't have?

I find the more open-ended unit/force creation systems of more recent years as a great way to go. I love the system for building gangs in Necromunda. I have a lot of fun playing early games in a campaign where gang's don't have much in the way of skills or stat increases. It comes down to what gang members and weapons that everyone chose, along with their ability to maneuver and utilize those forces on the table top that matters. The fact that the house gangs all start out identical, with identical equipment options, makes the games really balanced and intense. None of this, "Well your codex is just cheesier than mine" stuff. Now of course the House Weapon Lists just ruin all this dynamism and fun, but that is a separate rant. :)

Anyway, I like the systems were players get to choose from lots of balanced options to make WYSIWYG forces. But these can often lead to more traditionally competative games and campaigns. The current 40K rules are a prime example of this.

I had for a long time basically considered the random tables from the old rules as by-gone relics from an older age. I sort of felt like they were outmoded and weren't that useful. I mean who doesn't like planning out a great conversion, assembling the bits and putting it all together to be rewarded with a unique miniature with maybe some nice weapon or ability combos in the rules?

But I think that the random tables for forces have a different goal in mind. They strive to make games that are fun, but where players aren't quite so invested and personally attached to their armies. Say that you and your friends wanted to play a fun and friendly little campaign focusing on the territorial dispute between to imperial governors. You would create random tables to see what kinds of forces each army brought to any given engagement. I'm not saying that I would want to play every game (not even most games) of 40K this way, but I think it could be interesting for a campaign.

Then players wouldn't be thinking, "How is MY force going to crush my opponents?" They would be thinking about how this particular group of guardsmen or PDF troopers was going to behave in a given battle. By making the forces random you sort of drive a wedge between the game and the players and their egos and desires to have THEIR force win. Hopefully that separation lets players get more into the roles of each side rather than playing their own min/maxed armies to win. Heck, since the forces are random, players could even switch armies after each battle, thus allowing each player to control one side for half the battles.


Truckler

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Venator wrote:
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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