Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Tough Decisions

Last night I played through a few games of Throwdown using the new scenario system I've been working on. Here are some photos of the setup:

Here you can see how the layout is made up of large and small tiles. The small tiles include a point which may be the deployment zone, the objective zone, or sub objective zones. When you arrange the scenery you don't know what each one will be to ensure fairness.

The idea is that the areas outside the board are some kind of impassable terrain... Blocked off streets or canyon walls etc. This style of layout is inspired by video games and the frequent posts about how the Mass Effect game on Dropship Horizon.

There are a few problems that became apparent on my test runs though. The first is bottlenecks... I think the game worked much much better when played on a 16" square with dense terrain. This is because of the multiple pathways. The bottlenecks created by this sort of layout are probably quite realistic, but they are kind of boring to play with the rules I have written so far. To go back to the video game analogy, I had built a *single player* level, as opposed to a well designed multi-player level, which allows more freedom of route. Single player levels in video games are reliant on scripted events to keep them interesting, and this is complex to simulate in a game like this which is intended for fast solo play.

The more I ran the game through different scenarios, the more I began to get the sneaking suspicion that I'd designed something that was very "clever" but wasn't enough "fun".
The mechanics are pretty slick IMO, but I had a better time playing TRWNN, which is simultaneously simple and messy.

I'm now in the difficult position of realising that the rules I have taken this far have succeeded in most of the goals I set out to achieve, but at the expense of enjoyment. That elusive fun spark that are even more important to a solo player, as the camaraderie and competition of a live opponent are absent.

I think that combing player and enemy actions into a single deck of cards works fine for head to head play, but in a solo situation a better solution would be to have dice based mechanics, the player controls his models as he wishes, and the game engine determines the enemy actions.

This could be done with cards in several novel ways, but in the end, dice and charts are probably best. The Department rules look like they have done an admirable job with this concept, and on paper at least I like the look of them better than THW systems.

So it's not looking good for Throwdown as it currently exists. On the bright side, there are plenty of terrific rules systems out there for everyone to enjoy while I have yet another hack at this beast.

Pew Pew!
Check this out too.. I bought a Laser Fuchs linear beam laser for checking LOS... I find it to be well worth the money spent. It's awesome!

Well, tonight, I'm going to try out the Department. I need to think about something else! Hopefully a report will follow.


  1. I think the idea of "narrow2 terrain for solo playing like those computer games is terrific, you just need to work a bit more on this point. I suspect one problem you're having is other games interference and perhaps you should stop reading new rulesets (I know, I know... I couldn't do that) until you finish Throwdown.

    "...The Department rules look like they have done an admirable job with this concept, and on paper at least I like the look of them better than THW systems." - Please, write a review of The Department ASAP. I'm waiting for your review to order it or not :)
    I'm very intrigued about how it compares to THW games as THW for me is unique and the best out there so far for solo gaming.

    1. Thanks Javier! sadly, there's no other game interference, just disappointing playtests :(

      The Department review is next!

  2. Love the layout idea, been playing with ideas like that for indoor/underground layouts. Espeically the sub zone ideas.

    What size tiles? Or just what ever feels right?

    1. The large tiles are 8x4", the small ones are 2x4". There are 4 of each, which make some decent looking layouts.

      I think this setup would work best with blinds for the enemy forces so you don't know where they are exactly. The scenarios I played with the positions known didn't work so well.

    2. I'd think reproducing the fog of war/unknown enemy positions would be one of the difficult things about this. But there are ways...

      Great looking terrain, anyway! Wow.

  3. Sounds intriguing. Enjoy the creative-design element of your goal, and have a lot of fun as you do it...is my motto. Plus, please paint up a couple of figures for us to ogle at too!

    1. Thanks Jay, your motto is a good one. Im almost ready to paint, just need some fine sand and putty!

  4. when I looked at that, one thing came immediately to mind. Warhammer Quest. Now before you groan, I really liked thier system for dungeon layout, which is kinda what you are doing here with the impassable thing.

    they used decks of cards but charts would work. One deck(or chart) is the primary objective. You could do a primary objective, and a secondary objective. May be like this:

    d6 roll:
    1 (1)Primary & (0)Secondary
    2-3 (1)Primary & (1)Secondary
    4-5 (1)Primary & (2)Secondary
    6 (1)Primary & (3)Secondary

    You get extra experience for secondaries or extra loot or something.
    The primary objective is a specific setup. (rescue the hostage, grab the weapons cache, whatever).

    Mix the primary card in with the deck of the rest of the tile cards. Then the rest of your mats are like the hallway and room cards. Have a premade card for the tile size, and the layout.(set it up and take a top down photo for the cards). then you can detail encounter areas, search areas, unknown areas. you could then assign charts to each type. i.e. an encounter chart, a search chart, 'looks funny' chart. that way each time that card came up it woud e different. Resolve the fight. clear the tile, search and move to the next one.

    This would build suspense in and excitement cause you never know if the primary card is the 3rd card(alway lay two non objective tile cards on top) or the last card. and you never know the encounter types even if you know the card layout.

    You could alternately do encounter counters, that have random encounters on the back. place them on the mat when you spot or engage, turn them over to see what they are. that would be fun.

    Sorry that was so long. I just love doing what you are doing right now.

    1. Im a fan of whq too. Going this way becomes more of an exploration game than a shootout, but thats not neccesarily a bad thing. I have extensive rules for board generation that I didnt post here.

      I think a system of mystery objectives would suit this terrain best. Im reminded more of Dead Rising than Mass Effect, as the corridor fights in ME were the dulllest ones from memory.

  5. love the look of the mats and the new basing of the shacks BTW.

  6. I also quite like "The Department" and find it a much more straightforward than THW games...

  7. Keep your chin up on Throwdown, you're our only hope.

    Looking forard to your Department review as well!

    1. Ill come up with something Mik.. It just might be completely different to what Ive done so far :) no matter what, it will be for 3-10 minis per side and have rules for diving through the air firing two pistols though. It will almost certainly use a modified random draw activation system too.

  8. Good to see you back Spacejacker. I hope you work out the kinks with Throwdown. Have you thopuht about a separate encounter/random events deck?

    1. Way back I did, but it's not meant to be that sort of game. I need to take a step back and re-evaluate what I want out of this.

  9. Think the idea of the layout is interesting, but as you say it's either very scenario specific, like trying to force entry or something, or solo play, we're the position of enemies isn't known.

    Be interested to see what you come up with though.

  10. Sad to hear, that you are not satisfied with your own rules.

    [quote]So it's not looking good for Throwdown as it currently exists. On the bright side, there are plenty of terrific rules systems out there for everyone to enjoy while I have yet another hack at this beast[/quote]

    Which is you favorite for Scifi solo gaming?

    1. Thw's star army is pretty good, and I really like street violence by Foundry. Sadly, there arent any out there that quite suit me, which is what drove me to try my own rules.

      I beleive that the Ganesha games rules (song of etc) are excellent and could be very easily modified into a solid solo game.

  11. might it simply be your playing to many games with a more critical eye then a gamer?

    How about letting a couple of others have a go and see what they think?

    Anyone happy to help?

    cough cough*


  12. +1 volunteer for play testing / evaluation role :)