Incredibly Unsatisfying Mechanic

edited October 2009 in Game Design Help
In Blood Bowl, when you fail a roll your turn ends.

The game becomes a study in careful risk management. Every time you grab the dice you always have this level of dread tainting your excitement and expectations. It's like cognitive dissonance in a cup.

Why is this so unsatisfying? Could this tension actually help the game?
Any suggestions on how to hack this effect out of the game?


  • The version of BloodBowl I used to play didn't have that rule, and because of it the turn always also included a whole pile of fouls and random attacks done on the slight chance that they might remove a character from the game. This made the games a lot longer, but also made it so it was possible to play with snotlings and / or goblins because you could just throw them at the opponent in waves hoping to take someone down sooner or later.
  • edited October 2009
    I love that rule! It's there to make you prioritise your actions, to focus on less risky stuff first, and to limit turn lengths.

    That said, I've spent a lot of time thinking about Blood Bowl hacks.

    For example, instead of the normal turn order, give each player three to five "action" markers (I'm not sure on the right number here. Probably five.). Players take turns moving a single figure, and then placing an action marker on it. You can't move a figure again once it's got a marker. Once everyone has placed all their markers, pick them all up, and start again. This means that you can focus on a small number of figures for a focused play, or move a larger number of figures more slowly. You get the same prioritisation, but without the fear that blowing a single roll will ruin your whole play. Also, turns are even shorter. Downsides would be that once someone's knocked down, it's a big sacrifice to stand them up again (you might have to add another rule about free standups at a certain point).

    Another way might be to allow each player to only move seven figures per turn, and then give each player four or so "Blitz" tokens. They can spend a blitz token at any point during the opponent's turn to roll a d6, adding the number of figures the opponent has moved that turn. If they roll 7+, the opponent's turn ends early. This mechanic gives you the same impetus to prioritise your actions, and the same uncertainty - you might drop a pass and then lose your turn. It possibly adds too much randomness to the game. Gambling on an early turnover could give you a big advantage. You might have to fiddle with the roll to make it more predictable.

    Also, Dyson, I won my local league with Goblins, using that rule. Dodge + Stunty + Hope is a powerful combination.
  • I haven't played Blood Bowl, but I played Mordheim from Games Workshop, and there was a mechanic that my friend and I disliked so greatly, we designed our own game based off our miniatures. In Mordheim (and in some other games), you roll to see if your attack hits, you then have roll to see what damage is done and there was a third or fourth roll that I don't remember much about. Why the multiple rolls? What purpose does it serve to roll to see what die hit, then take those that hit and roll to see if they do damage. It seems to me that the purpose is to make the game seem more difficult that it really is. You increase the likelihood that nothing will happen on any given turn because you could hit, then do no damage. Or you could hit, do damage, but then on the last roll the damage is mostly unimportant (like a stun).
  • @mike: I think that's largely a lack of creativity rather than a cogent design ethos. I also heartily agree that that sounds like some bulllllshit.
  • It's the pretty much the same as in Warhammer Fantasy (I have never played 40k, but I suspect it's the same there as well). First you compare your and your enemy's weapon skill, which gives you the difficulty of the roll (to hit), out of that roll, the dice that are successes are rolled again (this time against a difficulty based on your strength and the enemy's toughness), to see if you land any wounds. And after that the enemy can still roll his Armour save and his successes negate your wounds.

    The whiff factor is craptastical.

    Still in WHF it sort of works, because you're dealing with large units, which means you try to start your attack with as many dice as possible, but that possibly thins your ranks and so on, there is a lot to consider tactically. And the tons of dice rolled sort of convey the chaos of two 20+ units of spearmen clashing (or whatever). Using the same process for a skirmish game is rather less elegant.
  • Posted By: Zac in Davis@mike: I think that's largely a lack of creativity rather than a cogent design ethos. I also heartily agree that that sounds like some bulllllshit.
    Actually, I suspect it was an accident in the core GW rules design that turned out to have unexpected benefits.

    Basically, GW's seemingly goofy multiroll combat system makes games last longer.

    This makes sense in the larger context of the miniatures gaming hobby, which tends to have a high ratio of Lonely Fun hours ( and spending).

    Yeah, I kow it's weird and seemingly paradoxical, but look at it this way:

    Let's say you've just paid $40 for a Mordheim warband. you've then spent an unknown amount of money on painting and modelling supplies. then however muuch you spent on the terrain.

    Now add-in your time spent on putting all of that together. Now add in the time it takes to set up your play space. How fast can your then break it down after the game is over?

    How fast do your really want the game to proceed?
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