The issue here is how the point system is set up. Essentially, the point values are derived from the sum of a number of independent components. This makes it easy to calculate and isolate the effects of individual components, but does not take into the account the sum being greater than the parts, so to speak. The other method, having the components all influence each other, is substantially more complicated and is very difficult to calibrate correctly. Battletech's BV is such a system, and is hideously complicated and hard to use, while still having major issues in correctly balancing units.
Yeah, I can see how it would be a challenge to accurately value synergies while maintaining simplicity. I looked at BattleTech's BV system (and the previous, much weaker, CV system) from the point of view of how to break it, not how to make it more robust and accurate.
Your comment about BV being hideously complicated gives me a helpful reminder that not everyone loves math the way I do...I found the system rather handy and straightforward, not even any algebra, just arithmetic.
But speaking of B-Tech, why couldn't maneuverability represent a multiplier on firepower? This could be in addition to or in place of the base, flat values. Of course, maneuverability also interacts with durability...and durability with firepower...is a weapon in a 14-slot and armor in a 17-slot worth more than the reverse? Less? Should the entire location be checked for synergies? Should bracketing fire be valued higher with more eligible co-bracketers? Or with a nice even number over an odd one? Does this descent into minutiae have a bottom?
So, just brainstorming here:
It seems like a robust system should have a single guiding principle. A design philosophy. I assume some of you are familiar with the principle of "one tactic, multiple strategies." This principle states that the most effective people have just, only, exactly one
thing that they are trying to do, and multiple strategies to accomplish this.
The one tactic of Leviathans! is to put maximum hurt on the other guy. So the one tactic of its points system should be: represent a ship's ability to hurt other ships...and each part of the points system should be measured based on how well
it represents this.
In gameplay, one strategy is superior firepower. This one is fairly straightforward: bigger and better guns, and more of them, are worth more.
Another strategy is maneuver. Lower-type-number ships are more able to move to the weaker arcs (either fore and aft or damaged) of higher-type-number ships, and to present their undamaged or less-damaged broadsides, which means that they are more able to make their firepower count. Faster, more agile small ships are better able to accomplish this; and faster, more agile heavy ships better able to prevent it (anyone tried to dance a Brit DD against Pontbriand
lately? Or more to the point, three DDs against two Pontbriand
s?). Within a type, maneuver advantage goes to those who can better exploit won initiative and minimize effects of lost initiative. Other than player skill, the only things which affect this are speed and turn mode.
A third strategy is concentration of fire. If you nuke one of the other guy's ships several turns before he pops one of yours, you have a window of advantage. During this time you almost certainly have more firepower, which you can hopefully make count (again, skill is beyond the scope of a ship-measuring system). It might seem like a points system can't hack this one, but I think it would be best represented by looking at a ship's ability to resist damage and destruction. The tougher the ship, the less effective the other guy's concentration of fire strat will be.
There may be other major strats that I am missing besides these three; if there are, someone please tell me. However, as it is this leaves us with the same three main factors Wundergoat mentioned above (offense/mobility/defense).
Looking at it this way, though, I feel (and maybe you agree) that mobility and defense really only matter so far as they impact the ability to deliver and maintain offense. If that is so, then a system which does not acknowledge synergy is doomed to fail. And by fail I mean utterly-helpless-in-face-of-gamer (like B-Tech's old Combat Value), not moderately-vulnerable-against-minmaxing-munchkin (like BV).
So: my suggestions.
Each ship should have a mobility factor
. This should be a composite of ship type, speed, base EHBT (Enter Hexes Before Turn), number of steering gear pairs, and modified EHBT. The first and second steering gear pairs should be worth a bit more than the rest, since they add extra capabilities; the third (or later) steering gear only adds damage resistance for the first two and (maybe) affects modified EHBT, which should be handled separately. Likewise, dropping to zero modified EHBT adds two abilities, so should be worth more than other EHBT decreases. Modified EHBT should play a larger role in mobility factor than base EHBT, since a ship will tend to spend so much more of its playing time at that turn mode. There are any number (no pun intended) of ways to achieve this mathematically. This mobility factor
should be a multiplier on the ship's firepower.
Each ship should also have a durability factor
. While mobility represents both the ability to hit where your opponent is weakest and be hit where you're strongest, durability is being able to simply take
hits, and keep shooting. The durability factor would include BtK number, breach numbers, repair crew, armor, and miss slots, as well as exotic stuff such as screening crew (since it allows a ship to more easily lend durability to a squadron-mate) and chaff. It seems to me that the breach numbers for guns should be worth somewhat more than the breach numbers for other slots (double? 1.5x?). I know I always rejoice when an armor slot takes the hit...an argument could be made for tesla coils having the same increase since a hit on one affects the whole ship's effectiveness, but teslas are one thing that is consistently present across all designs so the argument for simplicity with them is pretty strong. Structural Integrity should be worth more, point-for-point, as it approaches and exceeds 22 (the minimum for a one-breach kill). This durability factor
would also be a multiplier on firepower. Ideally, these two factors could be added together first to set up one nice painless multiplication.
Lastly (well, second to lastly), each ship should have a base firepower
. This would be what all of the guns and whatnot are worth before the above multiplier(s). This would include guns and torpedoes, and since crew is already going to be a multiplier: surprise! Crew can potentially
be left out of base firepower. No guarantees, but possibilities look bright. I like Wundergoat's work with the weapons, pretty insightful. I don't have enough play experience to speak authoritatively, but in my opinion weapons should be valued somewhat proportionally to where they can shoot (both raw arc of fire and synergy with overlapping arcs), so fore/aft turret highest, then broadside turret, broadside non-turret, and fore/aft non-turret last; and that bracketing fire should be worth slightly more with more eligible partners (to account for battle damage, triples and 3-2s, etc.). But this degree of granularity (on bracketing) might amount to sandpapering the players....
Multiply the sum of your durability factor and mobility factor by your base firepower, and poof! Your final firepower total
, or Point Value if you prefer, should represent how much your ship can dish out, how deftly, and for how long.
It seems to me like half of the work for a tough, flexible points system has already bee done by the Catalyst team and people like Wundergoat. But IMHO, a philosophy shift is in order.
Randall, Worktroll, any of you Catalyst guys if you're reading this, please
: don't make a points system divorced from how the game is played.
Or any number of people will break that poor defenseless system to pieces, while others simply ignore the points system.