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Author Topic: [Anima Hunters] Playtest  (Read 2326 times)
Filip Luszczyk
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« on: March 03, 2006, 07:22:06 AM »

OK, I tested Anima Hunters a bit. As I see it, the system is:

-cool and elegant.
-fairly tactical (it could be more so, but I expect all the Kung Fu to add another tactical layer).
-very promising.
-totally unpractical beacuse of the dice thing.

Although it's only 6-8 dice per character/monster, I simply don't have enough d8s. With my friend we realised that to play the game comfortably, without having to worry about not having enough dice for uncommon situations, every player needs about 4-5 d8s and 4-5 d10s in each color, and GM needs probably 4-5 times more for monsters. That's about 30 dice per player and over 100 for GM, and I'm talking only about d8s and d10s. You could probably do with lesser numbers of dice, yet still...

Well, I don't have enough dice for DitV and I don't plan buying another bucket either. Anyway I can play comfortably in DitV thanks to the use of charts with numbers and tokens. I roll the dice, put tokens on proper numbers on the chart, re-roll the dice and so on. But in DitV it doesn't matter what kind of dice you've just rolled after it hits the table. I tried to do something similar for Anima Hunters and came with a chart like this:

_1____2____3___4_...
AMC_AMC_AMC_AMC...
AMC_AMC_AMC_AMC...
AMC_AMC_AMC_AMC...
AMC_AMC_AMC_AMC...

And then I'd rolled the dice, and I'd put tokens on the chart and I suddenly realised, that now I don't know what kind of dice each token stands for. Without 3-dimensional chart my approach would be difficult in practice ;)

In the end I had to note for every combatant which of my oddly coloured d8s stands for which type of dice, and which of d10s serves as a d8 and should be rerolled on 9-10 ;) A nuisance.

Hmmm... as I'm writing this I thought about something else. I could use tokens in three different colors and a chart like:

_____1_________2__________3___...
d8/d10/d12_d8/d10/d12_d8/d10/d12...
d8/d10/d12_d8/d10/d12_d8/d10/d12...
d8/d10/d12_d8/d10/d12_d8/d10/d12...

Now that should do ;) Still a bit unwieldy (the chart should be quite big, probably the size of A4 for each player and monster), but better than struggling with 200 dice on the table ;)

As for my other thoughts:

I think you should explain rules very clearly in final product, with lots of examples. Before I've red the example about aborting, I simply couldn't get how the whole combat works, and then there was this sudden "A-ha!". I see that I wasn't the only one to misread things here.

Getting damaged first seems to determine the rest of the fight most of the time. Maybe something akin to Chi Aura from WotG could help with this matter (like, every round you can ignore a certain amount of damage). Something like "guard meter" from console fighting games. Maybe it should diminish round after round.

Speed dice are fine, though it's another kind of dice to include in the mix.

Quote
I'm not convinced about the utility of facing rules in general.  For, say, a tank combat game, it gives a "tankish" feeling to actually have to drive around, but for people and creatures I just don't care that much.

I don't like facing at all, yet positioning is important. I think it should be decided whether the game uses hex map or square grid. If the latter, it should be stated whether vertical moving is possible and if it costs the same as moving diagonally (see the difference betwen tactical movement rules in 3rd edition of D&D and in 3.5). I also advice on putting some definite boundaries on the size of the battlefield. Highly maneuverable characters can, well, maneuver a lot and it could make using ranged weapons and "sniper duels" too good a choice.

What about D&D-style flanking or similar mechanic? It should encourage team tactics.

Quote
Maybe you need to find some way to make low dice more effective. Like you active actions remove high dice and Damage removes small dice. Damage will burn through dice pretty quickly, but at least they will DO something.

Maybe it should be possible to use your highest or lowest dice when aborting? Or an option of using one of your dice with the lowest result in addition to those from normal queue?

Quote
You have to take your highest applicable die to defend with (is this true?  Maybe you should be able to just take the blow?  Huh.)

I think it should be possible. Another tactical choice, although I don't envision it to be used very often.

I hope I was being clear about everything in this post - English is not my prime language and I don't have experience in using it for talking about game mechanics ;)
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2006, 07:55:32 AM »

Hey, Filip!  Awesome.  Thanks so much for testing.

I'm going to ask that the moderators cut your post out of the Design thread and move it over to Actual Play.  Is that cool with you?

There seem to be two major problems that your test revealed.

1) Dice problems.  The game definitely requires a lot of dice, especially a lot of d8s.  In the final run, that might change to a lot of d10s and d6s, with 8s and 12s as rare exceptions.  But, that aside, there's a bigger deal, which is that you had the GM running multiple pools of dice.

Since I didn't want to get into the strangeness of the GMing the game, I just wrote up the combat notes with the anticipation of "we all make a guy and fight it out" testing.  So I never got into how a group works.  Groups have one die pool, which they all spend out of for both maneuver and combat.  For instance, here's an example group sort of power:

Quote
Pack-Summoning Howl
Activate: Maneuver 3+
Duration: Whole fight / until killed

Bring a Wolf token into play. Place it anywhere within (activation die value) of your character. You may use your wolf token to move and attack instead of your main character, although it doesn't have any weapons and can't use any of your powers except for Pack-Summoning Howl. If the wolf ever takes a wound, it dies, although you still take all damage from the blow.

When you are fighting multiple types of enemies (such as, I don't know, five wolves and a bear) you would need two opposing players, one for the bear and one for all five wolves.  (How do you get two opposing players?  Well, I'll get to that in a later post.)

(actually, here's an idea which will help pack monsters stay threatening with one GM -- each time you spend a die, they *all* move or *all* attack.  Food for thought.)

The secondary problem with the dice is that I have a couple of very poorly written powers (namely Broadsword and especially Vigor) that require more random extra dice than they ought to.

The second, and more important problem is the damage problem.  What I'm thinking about doing is simply having some damage absorption options in the powers -- things like "spend a maneuver die.  This die is set aside and all damage taken goes to this die first" and so on.  Or possibly totally reinventing the damage mechanic.

Okay, now I have some questions for you:

1) Which weapons and which powers were better than others?  You mention the bows as being powerful -- was the long bow or the short bow preferred?  Was Dive Roll an effective counter to long range maneuvers?  Are any of the powers too appealing, or too unappealing?

2) How long did fights last?  Did you play using the new rule I thought up earlier this thread -- that you go down when your last Anima die gets wounded?

3) How big were the fights, in terms of sides?  What sort of team tactics were useful, if any?

Oh, and:

What about D&D-style flanking or similar mechanic? It should encourage team tactics.

Getting damaged first seems to determine the rest of the fight most of the time. Maybe something akin to Chi Aura from WotG could help with this matter (like, every round you can ignore a certain amount of damage). Something like "guard meter" from console fighting games. Maybe it should diminish round after round.

These are both giving me excellent ideas for powers.

Thanks again!

yrs--
--Ben

P.S.  Don't worry about language, your writing came across just fine.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2006, 08:30:04 AM »

I think that's largely the tactics, although maneuvers are really useful in melee, too.
Yeah, see, that really threw me about your first example.

When you were at:

Now I have:
3C, 2A, 2M, 1C

And you have:
4M, 1C, 1C

It's your go, because you have the highest die showing.  You could choose to use your maneuver to get away, but let's say that you choose to activate your Flaming Strike ability.

Just to be clear ... that's the act of a not-very-smart person, right?  Because, by comparison, I can maneuver 4 away and force you to chase me, then tag you with 1C abort to the other 1C (rolling those two crap-dice together), yes?

Or am I still befuddled?  I'm not clear on when aborts let you reroll low dice.  When you get down to your chump-change, wouldn't you want to be aborting at every opportunity?
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2006, 08:49:37 AM »

Now I have:
3C, 2A, 2M, 1C

And you have:
4M, 1C, 1C

It's your go, because you have the highest die showing.  You could choose to use your maneuver to get away, but let's say that you choose to activate your Flaming Strike ability.

Just to be clear ... that's the act of a not-very-smart person, right?  Because, by comparison, I can maneuver 4 away and force you to chase me, then tag you with 1C abort to the other 1C (rolling those two crap-dice together), yes?

Or am I still befuddled?  I'm not clear on when aborts let you reroll low dice.  When you get down to your chump-change, wouldn't you want to be aborting at every opportunity?

It's the act of a risk-taking person.  If I maneuver away, it'll exhaust your combat dice, but I won't be able to move back in to use mine.  Essentially, we'll just end the round there.  (assuming that we are both melee-range fighters.)  If I were foolish enough to close range with you, then yes, it would be great for you, 'cause you could abort to attack and I, left with only one die, would not be able to defend.

But since I have this awesome Flaming Strike power, by deciding to stay and use it I'm gambling for a wound.  Additionally, I'm essentially forcing you to abort-to-defense, which will get rid of your high combat dice in the same way that manuevering away would have.

It's a tough call.  For example purposes, the Flaming Strike is more elucidating, but both moves are arguably good.

In general, at the chump change level, you're better off aborting.  The only exceptions are "any maneuver" techniques and short steps to close or flee.

yrs--
--Ben
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TonyLB
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« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2006, 09:01:58 AM »

See, now I'm going to have to playtest this.  Like I have time for that.  You evil person!
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2006, 05:43:27 PM »

Purely Informational:

Tony's question is referring to my example in the Design thread, which this was split from.

yrs--
--Ben
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2006, 09:18:44 AM »

Quote
Hey, Filip!  Awesome.  Thanks so much for testing.

Well, not as much as you probably think. I've taken more like a taste of the game - still I don't think my test had been extensive enough. Some quick fights and general analysis, but that's all. Now that I've found a solution for the dice problem I'll probably try to play with things more when I'll find the time.

Quote
I'm going to ask that the moderators cut your post out of the Design thread and move it over to Actual Play.  Is that cool with you?

Well, as you prefer - I didn't consider my post to be as much Actual Play as, see above.

Anyway take my suggestions with a grain of salt - as I said it was more like "tasting the system" than full playtesting and I'm not sure if I didn't make any key mistakes ;)

Quote
Since I didn't want to get into the strangeness of the GMing the game, I just wrote up the combat notes with the anticipation of "we all make a guy and fight it out" testing.  So I never got into how a group works.

And that's what we did anyway - so maybe you got me a bit wrong? One on one fights only. Still, we had enough problems with the dice number to imagine what would it be for greater number of players and adversaries.

Group mechanics seem reasonable to me anyway. But what about multiple PC's fighting one group? Suddenly there's mechanical advantage in numbers on the outnumbered side.

Quote
1) Which weapons and which powers were better than others?  You mention the bows as being powerful -- was the long bow or the short bow preferred?

First of all, I somehow assumed that you can change weapon with free action. Now I'm not sure how correct that assumption was. So every character had one melee and one ranged weapon.

We weren't sure how exactly long bow works (you can attack with it only if you abort and use additional dice, right?) so we left it. Now it seems quite a good choice, since it turned out we generally tried to maneuver characters at some range (long bows range is definitely better) and we aborted often anyway, mostly attacking with 2-3 dice. One character had crossbow - but no real chance to use it occurred.

As for melee weapons, we ignored broadswords. 3d4 heft didn't sound to good - it's maximum of 4 anyway. So big f*** axes and staffs were used. It turned out that no one took real advantage of staff's 1d6 grace - when it came to melee, we usually had better results on our d8 and d10 anyway (since as I recall there had been a lot of abort-attacks like d10+d8+d6). This is something I'll talk in the general thread in a moment I think.

Quote
Was Dive Roll an effective counter to long range maneuvers?  Are any of the powers too appealing, or too unappealing?

This power we haven't tried. Actually as for the powers we've just picked them up in a rather random way and we didn't analyse their influence too much. I remember that flaming strike turned out to be quite powerfull though, at least once dealing a lot of damage in comparison with regular attacks. Still, we didn't focus on powers so it is by no means an accurate assessment, I think.

Quote
2) How long did fights last?  Did you play using the new rule I thought up earlier this thread -- that you go down when your last Anima die gets wounded?

Now that depends. With maneuver vs combat focused characters we could have, well, maneuver for a real long time, losing attacks but beings carefull not to get hit at the same time. We generally avoided melee and tried to shot the enemy. Which was difficult, because rarely there was an occasion for a clear shot (probably it would be different with long bows, especially with long bow vs short bow or crossbow). So it took rounds and rounds before someone landed a hit. When we tried melee, it took 3 rounds at most (with the character who landed first hit maintaining advantage to the end).

And we didn't tried the rule you mention.

Quote
3) How big were the fights, in terms of sides?  What sort of team tactics were useful, if any?

We tried one on one fights, as I already mentioned.
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2006, 09:33:03 AM »

Excellent stuff.

Actually, I intend the present rules to be "Choose one weapon, choose one power," so you shouldn't all have melee and ranged, just one or the other (with bare hands as a melee backup, of course.)  Its also really good to know stuff like: the broadsword wasn't nearly as appealing as the axe.

I'm a little puzzled why you didn't just keep your highest attack rolls instead of aborting.  If you've got a 9 showing on a d10, there's very little chance that you'll improve your lot by rolling.

With the longbow, you must abort to use it, so you have to roll two or more dice.  You've got it right.

How many dice does your group tend to have per player?  The groups I play in usually have around 20-30 dice per player, or more, so I wasn't too worried about the loads of dice.  I could just be misleading myself, though.

yrs--
--Ben
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2006, 09:53:30 AM »

Quote
the broadsword wasn't nearly as appealing as the axe.

Not exactly. It wasn't appealing at all ;)

Quote
I'm a little puzzled why you didn't just keep your highest attack rolls instead of aborting.  If you've got a 9 showing on a d10, there's very little chance that you'll improve your lot by rolling.

Now, you got me puzzled ;) I suppose we kind of assumed, that the opponent is going to abort-defend anyway with an additional die to be on the safe side, and then tries to get out of range. Maybe that's because we played Exalted a lot lately and tried to use similar tactics? Dunno.

When I test it next time I'll try to be more aware of these kind of things ;)

Quote
How many dice does your group tend to have per player?  The groups I play in usually have around 20-30 dice per player, or more, so I wasn't too worried about the loads of dice.  I could just be misleading myself, though.

We play many games, but d20 and Exalted require the most dice. On average, everyone has at about 2-3 of every kind of dice, many, many more d6's and at least 10 d10's. Some of the players in my group don't have their own dice at all, and not everyone brings their own dice to every session. I myself amassed an impressing ^_^ 11 d20, around 30 d6's (including FUDGE dice), around 20 d10's and around 5-6 of every other kind of dice. And in Poland these are quite big numbers for someone who isn't dice collector, I think ;)

Most of people I know simply deal with one set of dice, two at most. With a lot greater numbers of d6's and sometimes around 5-10 d10's, if playing White-Wolf's games or roll&keep (the only really popular pool based mechanics in Poland).
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2006, 10:04:10 AM »

Hrm


Okay, let's look at this combat situation.

We're engaged in melee.

I have:
8C (d10), 7A (d8), 5M(d10), 5C(d8) and whatever else 

You have:
9C (d10), 6A (d8), 5M (d10), 4C and whatever else

Since your nine is the highest die showing on the table, it's your go.

Let's first look at the case where you just slide your nine forward to attack.  I have a choice, and isn't pretty.  I can fail to defend with my 8, lose my anima die, and take a hit to my maneuver, or I can abort, and roll my combat and Anima dice in a desperate hope of getting a 10 on the combat die (the anima die is hopeless -- I just have to use it because you need to use at least one extra die on an abort-action.)  Either way, I'm pretty much down for the count, unless I'm extremely lucky.  Plus, this sets you up to use your 6A as your follow-up attack, which will pretty much finish me.

Now, let's say that you took an abort-action and rolled.  Your chances of improving your roll only 1/10.  Furthermore, I can probably safely block you with my 8, without rolling, since the chances of you hitting me are only 1/5.  Then, provided you do actually miss, I'm set up to counter-attack with my 7A, and you don't have a great set of defensive options...

See how using the base value on your combat die is much more effective in this situation?

yrs--
--Ben
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2006, 07:17:30 AM »

Yes. But you assume high values on C or A dice. In the test we've seen such a situation maybe once or twice. We often had situations like 6,5,5,4,3,1 and similar medium results, and often I've seen highest values on M dice. Randomness of potential results changes a lot here and generates totally different tactical situations. And that's good. Thank's to this game is not stale and you can't depend on one and only tactic.

Anyway, it requires a little change of perspective to get used to this mechanic ;)
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