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Inactive Forums => Burning Wheel => Topic started by: Eric J-D on February 14, 2006, 05:01:24 PM



Title: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Eric J-D on February 14, 2006, 05:01:24 PM
...and by "some folks" I of course mean me. <wink>

Over on the Harn Forum I have been engaged in an ongoing discussion about Burning Wheel's "Fight!" mechanics and the experience has prompted me to post some thoughts about why some people don't like combat in BW.  It goes without saying that this is highly speculative, so keep that in mind as you read.

Although I am new to Burning Wheel, I have been roleplaying for a long time (since the late 70s/early 80s when Runequest was in its heyday) so I have a good deal of familiarity with traditional systems. My experience so far with BW  is that for people with a lot of familiarity with traditional combat mechanics, BW can often present a considerable challenge and inspire some rather knee-jerk negative reactions.  Let me explain.

In many traditional roleplaying games (and Runequest and Harnmaster will stand in as representatives of traditional rpgs in this discussion), combat is modeled along the following familiar lines.  Initiative is determined in some way, the winner of initiative gets to declare her actions and then roll to determine the success of the actions, the opponent gets to make a defensive action, the effects of successful actions by the aggressor on the opposing player are determined, then the loser of initiative gets to declare and determine success and on and on it goes.  In short, this is the very familiar idea that the combat round is "an exchange of blows" between two opponents.

The assumption underlying this model is that in every combat exchange---barring extraordinary outcomes such as when the winner of initiative does so much damage to the opponent in a successful strike that it knocks the opponent unconscious and deprives her of her intended response action---all players are entitled to attempt at least one such exchange of blows and that, generally, very little stands in the way of a player making such an attempt in every round.

Indeed, this idea is probably so familiar to most of us that we come to think that it is the natural and inevitable way in which combat *ought* to be conducted and modeled.  It has become such a veritable shibboleth of most rpgs, that many come to think of it as a natural entitlement, the "birthright" of every player and character.

Needless to say, Burning Wheel does not gratify such an assumption as the game is built on a very different understanding of how combat should work and how it should be modeled. 

So if I have any complaints with Burning Wheel Revised it is this. (And Luke I hope you realize that this comes from a person who absolutely adores the game).  I only wish that it came with a disclaimer that was posted prominently at the head of the section on "Fight!" and read something like this:

"If you are a sentient being with any familiarity with roleplaying games, you probably recognize that most games have mechanics for modeling combat.  Burning Wheel is no different.  In many of the games you have played, you probably are familiar with the idea that combat involves "an exchange of blows" between opponents.  In most of these games, each combatant is practically guaranteed to be able to attempt at least one melee attack per combat round.  This notion of combat is perhaps so familiar to you that it hardly even needs stressing.  Its influence is perhaps so strong that you are thinking, "No duh! of course that is the way that combat works and that is the way it ought to work!" Be forewarned: Burning Wheel's "Fight!" mechanics are not built on this assumption.  You are not guaranteed your bare minimal single strike attempt in "Fight!"  You are not guaranteed that you will be able to accomplish any of the actions you intend in a single exchange in "Fight!"  "Fight!" does not care if you think this sucks and it will not tolerate your mealy-mouthed bullshit complaints that it has, as Jacob did to Esau, denied you your birthright.  "Fight!" also strongly advises that before you get indignant and start spouting inanities about how combat in Burning Wheel is "broken" because it does not preserve the fundamental right of every player (namely, the right to attempt at least one aggressive action in a round)...to repeat, "Fight!" that you consider the strong possibility that you are operating under the mistaken assumption that the model of combat with which you are most familiar is the ONLY or even MOST PREFERABLE way of modeling combat.  "Fight!" recommends that you come to grips with the fact that the enshrined notion of the "exchange of blows" is just another model, one that you may have good or bad reasons for preferring but that is a model nonetheless and not some cosmic constant like the speed of light.  Failure to heed the above disclaimer will cause us to impugn your good name and make all manner of jokes about your proclivities for porcine-buggery and such.  Thank you.  We hope you like "Fight!""

Well, you get the idea.  I suppose I am just burned that a good number of otherwise intelligent people can't see that the "exchange of blows" model is just a model, nothing more or less.  I suppose I am also just spouting steam about the tendency of many of the above mentioned intelligent people to bandy about words like "broken" when what they really mean is, "I don't like BW because combat doesn't adhere to my more or less unexamined assumptions about how combat *ought* to work."  To which I can only say, "Yeah, well tough shit.  Don't play the game and don't insist that every game operate in exactly the same way and with exactly the same assumptions."

Okay, that's enough spleen for one evening.

Cheers,

Eric


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Eric J-D on February 14, 2006, 05:14:42 PM
Oh yeah, to be inserted in between the Jacob and Esau sentence and the one that follows:  (damn, I hate that editing has been turned off)

"Fight does not make any promises that any scripted intentions will become actualities in combat.  It also never promised you a rose garden."

Eric


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Arturo G. on February 15, 2006, 06:49:21 AM
Hi, Eric!

I understand your point, BW's combat is really different than the classical standards. Ok. But I would say it is different in a similar way as most games discussed in The Forge are different from the classical RPGs. Do you think reasonable to include a disclaimer at the beginning of every game, like PtA, MlwM, Sorcerer, etc.? Well, Sorcerer was written long ago, in a more chilly age, and I would say its text includes many bits of advise for gamers used to classical RPGs ;-)

First of all, take my words with a pinch of salt. I have not yet play-tested BW's positioning+fight+everything mechanics, and I would even say I also don't like it "enough" for my own reasons. But I'm sure it produces much more interesting, narrative and even realistic combat dynamics than the exchange of blows.

Let me use a simile. It is not fair to complain because you are used to play the typical old strategy video war-games, where each player has a turn with stopped-time to think and move every unit on a hex-grid, and then you discover Warcraft II, where everything moves in real time. Of course it is a little difficult to get used to it; in your first tries, if you are not clever and quick-thinking you will get no chance even to get prepared for your foes attack. But I cannot imagine the Warcraft designers begging your pardon for the new feature to those used to the old stopped-time turn-based war-games.

Ok, don't pay too much attention to my jokes. Seriously, I would suggest you to burn half-dozen fighting characters and play some spare fights to learn how to exploit it. Until you get a clear idea of the opposing effect of the combinations of different maneuvers and stances you will not enjoy a BW's fight. The learning curve is high, but I think it may compensate a lot.

Cheers,
Arturo



Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Luke on February 15, 2006, 07:10:24 AM
Eric, I hope you don't mind me saying that your post makes me smile.

-Luke


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Lance D. Allen on February 15, 2006, 10:13:14 AM
I don't often chime in here, but I'm currently playing in a Burning Wheel game (which is creating some smashingly good player and character dynamic changes.. For probably the first time since I was a beginning gamer playing with veterans, I'm not central to the driving plotline.) and this is a topic near and dear to me, so to speak, I'll break habit somewhat.

My reasons for disliking burning wheel combat are not the above. As a matter of fact, from what I've seen of it so far, I mostly like it. I'm totally cool with declaring an action, and suddenly realizing it was the wrong one (unless, like our first foray into the social combat mechanics, it was the wrong one because I didn't know better, having not had a chance to read the rules on the various social maneuvers and their interactions..) and getting nailed for it. The single breaking point in the combat mechanics I've got is the three rounds in advance scripting.

My reasons for disliking this are based on my actual combat experience. I've fought for three years now in the SCA, I've taken some level of martial arts, and served for 8 years in the military. The only thing I've seen where you "pre-script" your actions in advance like this is beginner level martial arts, which only works if your partner is working with you, rather than against you. Frankly, anyone who plans out their moves three moves in advance is going to die really quickly in the clash unless they're really, really good at predicting their enemy's choices.

Do I think the combat system is broken? Not at all. I simply don't like this one aspect. It's a matter of preference, and overall, what Burning Wheel experience I've had has been positive.


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Bankuei on February 15, 2006, 10:36:07 AM
Quote
The single breaking point in the combat mechanics I've got is the three rounds in advance scripting.

Realistic in terms of how you think during fighting?  Not really.  But if you look at the sort of chaos it causes in a fight, where people collide into each other, stumble, or have breaks between clashes, it tends to reproduce that chaos rather well.  Sometimes you screw up and leave yourself wide open.  Sometimes the guy jumps in and doesn't expect you to just grab him and toss him.

I think the hardest part is that folks try to consider the rules literally in the sense that their character actually "programs" and then acts, when really it's a pacing mechanism.

Chris


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Lamorak33 on February 15, 2006, 10:43:03 AM
Listen, I have nothing to contribute other than one of my favourite quotes of all times is one I nicked off my mate for my personal game,

Bad Guy to Hero: 'Your death is imminent in three moves, are you prepared to die?'

I now realise that the bad guy is straight out of BW! Classic! lol

Regards
Rob


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Valamir on February 15, 2006, 11:42:23 AM
My reasons for disliking this are based on my actual combat experience. I've fought for three years now in the SCA, I've taken some level of martial arts, and served for 8 years in the military. The only thing I've seen where you "pre-script" your actions in advance like this is beginner level martial arts, which only works if your partner is working with you, rather than against you. Frankly, anyone who plans out their moves three moves in advance is going to die really quickly in the clash unless they're really, really good at predicting their enemy's choices.

That's an interesting point, but actually I'm going to disagree.

Not that I think that in a real fight you preplan your moves...but rather I don't think that BW is really modeling that you do.  Whenever you design a model, there are two basic approaches you can take...you can model for cause, or you can model for effect.  If you model for cause you try to make the inputs to your model match as closely as you can the real inputs from reality with the assumption that if the inputs (cause) match, the output (effect) should be close.

Problem is there are generally infinitely more variables in reality than can be reasonably accounted for in a model (especially in a game model where playability is desired).  Therefor it is often the case that the output of a Design for Cause model gives wildly unrealistic results even though the inputs seem pretty reasonable.

In a Design for Effect model, on the other hand, the goal is to get the output of the model to resemble the output of reality.  HOW you get there is largely (not entirely, but largely) immaterial.  The chief advantage of a Design for Effect model is that you can get very reasonable output with a very slim model.

How does that apply to BW?  Well, while its true that you don't preplan your moves in advance in a fight it is also true that the move you choose to do now has a great effect on the move you are able to do next.  Your range of possible follow-up moves is a limited sub-set of the range of moves you know (Swashbuckler! made this the central feature of their combat system).

Rather than have a dozen different kinds of attacks, each with their own subset of possible follow-ups, in BW you script your moves.  It can be assumed then that the attack you scripted in move one is one that permits move 2 and 3 as part of its follow-up.  Choose a different move 2 and 3 and you can assume that you used a different attack in move one that permitted those moves as part of a follow-up without actually needing rules for a bunch of different attack and follow-up combinations.

Now granted this isn't exactly the way a real fight sequence develops (Design for Cause), but when you tack on the ability to abort a planned move I think the net result winds up being very much a reasonable portrayal of the end result (Design for Effect).  The move you chose to launch now will limit the move you can follow up with.  If you launch an attack that isn't easy to recover from defensively you are making a decision that has risk.  In BW you make that decision by not plotting a defense into your script.  Again not exactly the same input...but pretty reasonable on the output.



Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Lance D. Allen on February 15, 2006, 12:37:01 PM
See Ralph, I can follow with that, and I can see that it's there.

But what I don't see is how 3 volleys of pre-scripting is necessary to cause that effect.

I'm totally cool with pre-scripting one volley and seeing how it turns out. If I scripted a feint, expecting them to defend and they instead attack and my feint basically just goes away and I'm boned, I'm okay with that. What I'm less okay with is the fact that, in addition to the penalty for getting nailed which can be pretty nasty, I'm going to have an additional penalty if I want to change my subsequent actions because the results of the first volley negated my later choices.

I mean, sure.. It's going to happen that you're not going to always get what you want. Sometimes your intent is going to go out the window, and you're not going to get a chance to do anything. What I see as unrealistic from the side of me that cares about that, and overly harsh from the side that cares about that, is that any failure to guess the correct action is going to reduce your later chances of doing something in the combat, which already stand under the same chance of negation as the first.


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Lance D. Allen on February 15, 2006, 12:42:38 PM
Ach, crap. Meant to append this to the previous post.

I'm leaving for Estrella War (the aforementioned SCA stuff) this afternoon, so I won't be around to continue this conversation, and I expect it may be dead when I return. I will certainly read it, and if anyone makes any good points, I'll consider them fairly. I don't really want to turn this into a debate, and I'm certainly not saying Burning Wheel sucks. I enjoy the game, there are just some aspects I dislike. I simply wanted to provide an alternate reason why people may dislike the Fight! rules, other than the frankly one-sided reasons put forth by Eric. It's not that I don't understand the rules, and certainly not that I'm married to some concept of combat from years of other games. I just don't like it because I feel it's unrealistic (which is important to me) and a little too harsh to be particularly fun due to one single aspect.


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Arturo G. on February 15, 2006, 03:00:27 PM

I agree with Ralph. That's exactly my feeling. But also I think that 3 volleys in advance may create a lot of uncertainty. And frustration when you discover your moves are wrong planned from the first volley. In a system where there are so many choices and combinations it is an added complication for the player. That's mainly what I didn't like in my first reading.
I surely need to playtest it to really know. I want to do what I said to Eric. Just give it a real full try before deciding.

But what do you think about that uncertainty? Do you like that level of it?
Moreover, is it part of the game interest? Does it try to simulate real combat chaos?

Arturo


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Valamir on February 15, 2006, 04:01:53 PM
Keeping in mind that the above is only my own interpretation and may be completely disavowed by Luke...isn't some of the concern of the randomness of plotting 3 moves alleviated by the ability to abort maneuvers?  And doesn't the penalty for aborting maneuvers decrease with character skill? or am I misremembering that?


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: rafial on February 15, 2006, 04:11:51 PM
Quote
isn't some of the concern of the randomness of plotting 3 moves alleviated by the ability to abort maneuvers?

I certainly think so.

Quote
And doesn't the penalty for aborting maneuvers decrease with character skill? or am I misremembering that?

Misremembering.  The penalty is always one action lost from a future volley for each action changed.  However if you have 6 actions, it hurt less to change one than if you only have 3, so high Reflexes *can* help.  As they should :)


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Eric J-D on February 15, 2006, 06:02:52 PM
Hey Arturo,

Were you under the impression that *I* don't like Burning Wheel's "Fight!" mechanics?!?  If so, I'll have to be sure to dial my irony meter down in the future.

I freaking love "Fight!"  I was just bitching about the people who can't seem to grasp that *perhaps* one reason they express initial dislike for or opposition to BW is that they have been brainwashed into believing that any combat system that departs from that hoary old chestnut called "the exchange of blows" must be "broken."

My recent experience over at the Harn Forum has convinced me that there are at least some people out there who can respond to lots of the other cool stuff in BW, but when it comes to combat its "Whoah there Tex!  You mean my guy might not actually be guaranteed to get in a strike if I fuck up the scripting?!?"

I agree that lots of other Forge games have broken the traditional mold by making everything that a player declares only Intent and by putting Fortune in the Middle to determine what actually happens.  Sorcerer was of course one of the first Forge games to do this, but remember all the go-arounds that Ron had with Jesse over some of these issues?  There is a classic thread on this that I would dig up if I weren't so lazy, but the jist of it was about the fact that in Sorcerer you can make all the declarations you want that your character A is going to do X before B does Y, but then the dice speak and they might tell you that B does Y first and that fucks up A's intended action entirely.

I'm preaching to the choir, here.  BW accomplishes the same thing in a very different way through scripting out volleys and resolving the positioning tests first (which in many cases can completely bollocks-up someone else's intended action).   I LOVE that about the system.  I think it is a good thing.  What irks me is that there are intelligent folks out there who insist on thinking that any system that permits such a thing must be "broken."

What are we to do with these cretins?!?  <smile>

Eric


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Eric J-D on February 15, 2006, 06:56:04 PM
Aargh!  I forgot to add this last point:

As I said, my only beef with the game is that I wish Luke had included some such disclaimer in the revised version of the rules in the hope that it might make the aforementioned offenders *hesitate* before they started making assinine complaints that the game is "broken."

I'll have nothing bad said about "Fight!" in my presence.  "Fight!" is all that and a bag of chips.

Cheers,

Eric


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Lisa Padol on February 16, 2006, 09:26:44 AM
I dislike Fight 'cuz it's too cruchy for me. For Me.

As far as I can tell, it does what it's intended to do, and what it is intended to do is a worthy goal.

The system is not broken, as far as I can tell from a one hour demonstration. It is simply not for me.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Luke on February 16, 2006, 10:08:34 AM
Please don't debate whether or not Fight! is "realistic" in this post. (hint: it's not.) Eric's OP was an attempt at humor and irony. There's no need to defend or bandy. If you'd like add irony or humor, by all means. Otherwise, start a new thread.

-L


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Arturo G. on February 16, 2006, 11:42:30 AM

Ok Eric! I was taking you too seriously.

Quote
My recent experience over at the Harn Forum has convinced me that there are at least some people out there who can respond to lots of the other cool stuff in BW, but when it comes to combat its "Whoah there Tex!  You mean my guy might not actually be guaranteed to get in a strike if I fuck up the scripting?!?"

But have a look at this. This paragraph terrifies me. Because the duel of wits, the positioning, ... there are more mechanics in BW which follow the same concepts. Are these people liking for example the Duel of Wits, and not the Fight?

You know... I'm thinking I'm going to create a new group of players for an experiment. I will select all the folks around who I'm sure are completely swamped in the classical blow-interchange and I'm going to expose them to BW: First, to the duel of wits; second, to the fight. I will make some statistics on the reactions. If I find anyone who gets crazy about the first, but grumbles just a little on the second, I will take him apart of my normal players until mountains crumble to the see ;-)

Arturo



Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Eric J-D on February 16, 2006, 07:01:36 PM
Hey Arturo,

I admit I should have made it clearer that I was not to be included in the group of folks I was complaining about.  Having cut my "indie" teeth on Sorcerer, I am very familiar with and fond of systems that essentially say "everything you declare is intent; we'll roll the dice and then determine what really happens."  I love that.  Even when your own character is getting hosed, I think you can take some kind of pleasure in just how fucked-up combat gets in games like BW.  But maybe I'm just a masochist of some sort.

Anyway, to answer your question about "Duel of Wits":  the guy over at the Harn Forum who I had in mind while I was writting my little diatribe doesn't like "Duel of Wits" either.  Of course, I should point out that he has had the game for approximately a week and confesses he hasn't played it yet (not even trial combat to get used to scripting)  But he's pretty sure that BW is "broken" given his extensive non-playtesting of the game and detailed 1-week study of it  (WARNING! Sarcasm has reached dangerous levels, please move to the nearest exit, being sure to first attach your own oxygen mask before fitting one on your child.  Thank you.)

Hey, the game might not be his cup of tea, but from the sound of it he isn't too likely to drop his treasured preconceptions about what rpgs *should* be like before he gives it a go.

Alas...

Eric

P.S.  Thanks to Luke for dropping in on the Harn Forum and being such a good ambassador for the game.  That was classy.


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Arturo G. on February 17, 2006, 05:19:22 AM

I hate when people become so stubborn that they don't want even to give something a try, especially something other people like a lot and recommend. Most of the times they miss things they may surely like. It always happens with games, food and many other things.
Ooopps!! I was doing it not so long ago. Come on, I'm still doing it many times!! Learning to avoid pre-judging not only things, but also people, is a hard path I'm trying to learn to follow.

When I first read the scripting idea I was not liking it. In my full read of BW I realized it could be much nicer than I though. Anyway, I was sure I was going to give it a full try sooner or later (now I have more games in the queue).

Arturo


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: jchokey on February 19, 2006, 03:03:19 AM
My recent experience over at the Harn Forum has convinced me that there are at least some people out there who can respond to lots of the other cool stuff in BW, but when it comes to combat its "Whoah there Tex!  You mean my guy might not actually be guaranteed to get in a strike if I fuck up the scripting?!?"

I believe that "some people" refers to me?  (I'm assuming so, since I was the person you primarily engaged with in that discussion).

If so, I think I should make clear that never voiced such an objection at all.  My complaints about "Fight!", were outlined at the beginning of my initial post on the subject "More thoughts on Burning Wheel..." (http://www.harnforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=6821)

Quote
My complaints fall into four main groups:  (1)  the complexity of the combat 'round', (2) some unusual aspects of how scripting can lead to annoying/silly results, (3) "Fight!" seems based on the assumption that all fights will be one-on-one-combats and doesn't really provide ready mechanisms for determining how to handle melees involving more than two combatants, and (4) the fact that scripting makes combat dependent on player abilities rather than character abilities.

A complaint about "not being guaranteed a strike" was nowhere in there.  In fact, I specifically wrote "Now, to be fair.... I do appreciate that it may be 'realistic' in the chaos of combat to have situations where someone plans a short series of actions that don't happen because their opponent outmanoeuvred them. (Thus losing other actions in the same volley as one fails to get the position one wants seems reasonable)."

Nor was such a complaint among the "unusual aspects of how scripting can lead to annoying/silly results" that I described in some detail later in that post and in subsequent posts.  Indeed, the specific example I focused on there was the fact that the scripting mechanics can lead to situations where the intent of the scripted acts can be completely perverted, so that the PCs scripted positioning moves for subsequent volleys must be changed in order to prevent the character from doing the exact *opposite* of what was the actual intent behind them they were scripted.

This is not to say, of course, that no-one out there has the objection you allude to above-- i.e. that one is not guaranteed a strike on one's opponent.  However, it was not one of my objections-- nor do I recall anyone else there raising it as an issue (except you, when you were arguing against it as a possible objection--- which I thought was a bit puzzling, since no-one had in fact made it).


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: jchokey on February 19, 2006, 03:43:38 AM

But have a look at this. This paragraph terrifies me. Because the duel of wits, the positioning, ... there are more mechanics in BW which follow the same concepts. Are these people liking for example the Duel of Wits, and not the Fight?

Well, again, if 'these people' is me, the answer is a resounding no.  In fact, in the thread on the Harnforum that Eric alluded to, I specifically noted that I didn't like Fight! or DoW (despite the fact that I loved almost everything else about BW almost instantly).  I also noted that may of the same things I disliked about Fight! were the same things I disliked about DoW.   Specifically, this included:  (1) the three-volley round, (2) the absence of explicit rules/examples on how to handle either DOW or Fight! with multiple participants, and (3) that the scripting mechanics in both DoW and Fight! seemed likely to make  player 'scripting skill' and ability to predict/outguess how one's fellow players a key determinant in which PC triumphs in such conflicts.


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: jchokey on February 19, 2006, 05:17:52 AM
Of course, I should point out that he has had the game for approximately a week and confesses he hasn't played it yet (not even trial combat to get used to scripting). But he's pretty sure that BW is "broken" given his extensive non-playtesting of the game and detailed 1-week study of it 

At the risk of sounding defensive, I must say that the suggestions that (1) I 'confessed' to the fact that I was new to the rules (as if it were some sort of grudging admission that was dragged out of me) and (2) that I had purported to have made a 'detailed study' of BW is both inaccurate and unfair.   I was quite clear and open about this in the opening paragraphs of my initial post:

Quote
Before I begin, though, I want to reiterate what I said in the prior thread: This is *NOT* a comprehensive or critical review of BW as a game system [...] It really just represents my immediately gut-level reaction to having read the BW rules through and a small amount of thinking about what they have to offer a Harniac and HM-user like me. [.....] I should give the following major caveat-- I have not yet actually tried *playing* the game using these mechanics... not even a simple 'practice' fight/duel. So, feel free to take this w/ a grain of salt. 

As for characterizing me as having stated BW as a whole was "broken," well, that also is inaccurate... and again, rather unfair.  As you know (since you posted on it), I devoted an entire thread to discussing how BW's basic mechanics were, simple, elegant, and likely to produce a very exciting style of play.  (I believe I even described them as "brilliant"). The fact that, in another thread, I mentioned that I did not feel the same instanteous enthusiasm for Fight! and DoW (but rather quite the opposite)-- and that I gave examples specific things about them that I found undesirable and potentially problematic if they seemed to be a factor in practice as well as in theory-  means that I do have some reservations, frustration, (and ongoing perplexity) about two submechanics of the game for resolving specific types of conflict.   It does not mean that I am "pretty sure" that BW is a defective system overall.

As a side note, for those who may be curious, this evening, I did finally get a chance play out two isolated practice combats to test out how the rules, scripting, etc. work in actual practice. The results were mixed--- the first went very quickly, neatly, and dramatically, basically because both characters were scripted to just get close and start hacking approach (oh yeah, and there was minimal armor)--  basically, the old 'trading blows' approach. The second proved to be a much longer (slightly tedious) affair (both participants had heavy armor and swords and did a lot more positioning strategization play).  In that longer combat, I could see that some of those things that I though I would might dislike based on the rules alone *are* factors in actual play as well.  Maybe not as frequently or as egregiously as I feared.... but I'm still not ruling out trying out some house variants-- to see if I can make Fight! and DoW more to my taste. 


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Durgil on February 19, 2006, 05:34:18 AM
Hi Jim, I know that it looks like you're being singled out for just voicing your opinion, but I wouldn't sweat it.  I know there have been others with the similar objections to the same parts of the game as you.  A few have decided that there's no rectifying the rules with there own style of play, but a lot of people have tried out the system as is after learning more about and have ended up being a strong supporter of the game.  The concerns you have about multiple participants in the Fight! and DoW I know I remember being hammered out on several occasions, just do a search over on the BW Forum (http://www.burningwheel.org/forum).


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: jchokey on February 19, 2006, 05:55:46 AM
Hi Jim, I know that it looks like you're being singled out for just voicing your opinion, but I wouldn't sweat it.

No sweat here. 
The concerns you have about multiple participants in the Fight! and DoW I know I remember being hammered out on several occasions, just do a search over on the BW Forum (http://www.burningwheel.org/forum).

Yeah, I've seen some of those threads and they do provide some guidance on mechanisms for handling that.  That'll be my next thing to test out.   Still, it does seem to me that it would have been nice to have some specific discussion-- and examples-- of that in the actual rulebooks.  (I guess that's for in third edition...)


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Eric J-D on February 19, 2006, 05:57:59 PM
Hi Jim,

Since you seem to feel the need to defend yourself, let me take a minute to respond to some of what you wrote.

Quote
As for characterizing me as having stated BW as a whole was "broken," well, that also is inaccurate...

If you go back and reread my post, you'll see that I never claimed that you thought the whole system was broken.  Your repeated claims that "Fight!" as written "perverts" the intent of the player if the player fails the initial positioning test, however, strongly suggests that you see "Fight!" as broken.

My post (again which you really ought to read carefully) suggests that everything I say about why *some* people dislike "Fight!" is *speculative*.  That is, I make it very clear that I don't know for sure that this is why some people dislike "Fight!"; it is an exercise in speculation.

So your claims that you never objected to "not being able to get in a blow" are absolutely a non-issue since I never claimed that you did.  Your issues about the way "Fight!" allows for the possibility that the player's overall intent might get pooched, however, seems to fall quite clearly in line with some rather traditional expectations for rpgs.  The fact is, though, that BW doesn't adhere to this approach and in fact contains quite explicit mechanics that work against this approach.  That it does so is only a problem if you believe that all rpgs *ought* to model things in the same way and ought to be built on the same assumptions.  BW has a different set of modeling priorities, priorities that you seem to feel are--at least on some level--problematic (that is, you appeared to hold this position at the time you wrote your initial review of "Fight!" and "Duel of Wits"; you may have modified your position somewhat since then seeing as you have now actually *played* it).

Now, I think it is fine for you to prefer systems that model combat or take an approach to declared intent that are more traditional and thus quite different from BW.  That's fine!  Go and enjoy.  But when you begin using language about how BW "perverts" this and "perverts" that, you can't seriously imagine that no one is going to challenge that characterization, especially as it is shot through-and-through with a set of assumptions that *you* have brought to the game but *the game* has never promised you.  To complain about a game that never makes the promises that appear to underly your complaints is to complain that vanilla is not chocolate.

On the other hand, it is gratifying to hear that you have gone ahead and at least tried the game as written (i.e. without automatically instituting houserules).  I think that ought to be the approach that we take to games.  It is certainly the approach I took to Harnmaster when I first played it.  Games can only really be evaluated well through actual play.  Glad to hear that it didn't fail you as "egregiously" as you feared in your non-playtest evaluation of the game.  But even if it did, who cares?  So it isn't your cup of tea?  No one here really feels that you are under any obligation to love the game.  My objection was that your evaluation was based on 1) a set of fears about the kind of results "Fight!" could produce that did not seem to recognize a very subjective set of assumptions and modeling expectations at work; and 2) a set of fears that were not the product of "actual play" experiences but were instead the result of a reading of the rules with the problems of #1 in operation.

If you feel you've been misused, I apologize but I confess that you are hardly in a position to make such claims seeing as how you rather regularly misread others.

Cheers,

Eric

Cheers,

Eric


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Storn on March 25, 2006, 02:40:50 PM
Quote
My reasons for disliking this are based on my actual combat experience. I've fought for three years now in the SCA, I've taken some level of martial arts, and served for 8 years in the military. The only thing I've seen where you "pre-script" your actions in advance like this is beginner level martial arts,

I think I understand where you are coming from,  But it is just my perspective, but I look at the scripting in BW as the PLAYER directing the action.  The PC doesn't know he is going to block, thrust, grab, block.  She might know he is going to block as he closes, but that is about it and then follow up with an opportunity that presents itself.

But roleplaying is about drama, not pure simulation. 

Each player (including the GM) is like a movie director, moving their catspaws around in reaction to the story.  BW just gives some structure to that, almost shot by shot structure.  Something I'm fairly comfortable with because I have a bit of sequential art background.  Fight coreography comes pretty easily to me now.

Now, my two players rejected BW for being too crunchy, despite both of them being very into combat and tactics and stuff.  Our test fight went on forever because we had some pretty normal level folks duking it out with clubs.  They wanted the fight to be real and using their own characters and to have it "really be happening at the table"... so they wanted something nonlethal.... it was.  It eventually stopped due to exhastion on both Player and PC fronts... and well, I've seen bar fights do exactly that. 

If I had gotten stronger feedback, I would probably be running BW now.  But I didn't feel like strong arming my players.  They went back to Hero.  I went back to Savage Worlds.


Title: Re: Why Some Folks Dislike Fight!
Post by: Lance D. Allen on March 25, 2006, 10:09:33 PM
For what it's worth, we've been playing Burning Wheel with a small rules modification.. We declare actions 1 volley at a time. If we have more than 3 actions, we still have to declare ahead of time which volley(s) are getting the extra actions.

The last session, we ended up going up against a troll, or some similar critter. We kept going at it, but it kept making it's armor saves, so most of our hits were doing no damage. (I later found out that the GM mis-read it and was rolling an extra die every time..) The very last volley, I declared, I think, a great strike. My character was stupidly brave for even being in the fight at all, because he'd not had time to get his armor on before the fight happened, but he'd managed to guess right every volley pretty much, and avoid being hit. Anyhow, the troll also declared a strike.. Crap. The other character in the fight had a hellacious Faith score, and rolled for.. a minor miracle? I don't remember. Some miracle; He wanted the troll's armor rating to be negated for this one round. I rolled very well for my strike.. Unfortunately, the troll didn't roll too shabby, too. We crippled each other; I gashed it for a traumatic wound, and it spilled my brains for a traumatic wound as well. I had some really lucky (and artha-fueled, as I remember) medical and faith rolls, so I'll recover without any serious debilitations, given enough time. The troll wasn't so lucky.

My point, besides to share a pretty cool fight, is to illustrate that, even rolled back somewhat, the blind volley declaration can still be really, really nasty.