Examples of Fiddly and/or Crunchy games?

edited November 2007 in Story Games
The thread attempting to define "fiddly" made me ponder the relationship between fiddly and crunchy.

Can you name good example games for the following categories?

1. A fiddly, crunchy game?
2. A fiddly, non-crunchy game?
3. A non-fiddly, crunchy game?
4. A non-fiddly, non-crunchy game?

chris

Comments

  • 1. Burning Wheel. The system is complex, and you really need a solid understanding/knowledge of the entirity of the rules to make the game fly. It is crunchy because it is a complex system with a lot of rules, a lot of drawn-out resolution mechanics (Fight!, Range and Cover, Duel of Wits, etc). It is also fiddly in my mind, because there are a lot of boxes to tick off for experience and wounds and you have artha which are 3 different types of points and you roll pools of dice and there's a lot of "tweaking" to the character creation process. This all feels "fiddly" to me.

    2. Don't Rest Your Head. There's a lot of different dice, and coin pools, and you roll handfuls of things at a time. You have multiple categories of checkboxes. At the same time... it's not a complex system and it doesn't ever feel like you're "slogging on". Everything is quick and resolved simply. There's just a lot of tactile and resource-tracking elements involved.

    2b. Unistat. It's a dead simple game. There are four rules. But you pick a collection of dice, and you are always deciding what combinations of dice to roll... All of the strategy and gameplay is tactile and involves mountains of dice. It's fiddly, while still being the farthest thing from crunchy I can think of.

    3. Unsure right now. I'll think about it.

    4. The Pool. It's simple, straightforward, and not super tactile. There aren't a lot of pools to keep track of, nor are there a lot of complex mechanics or sub-systems. Therefore, it is non-crunchy and non-fiddly.
  • 3. A non-fiddly, crunchy game?
    Go.
  • Interesting, I don't find Burning Wheel all that crunchy. Fiddly yes, as in lots of rules to fiddle with (life paths, duel of wits, scripting mechanics, beliefs and instintcs etc.), but not much crunch, as in number crunching. For crunchy, I think point build systems like Champions or games with lots of tables like Phoenix Command. The Riddle of Steel seems crunchier to me, but I haven't really played it. DnD 3.5 also seems crunchier to me with the skill branching and movement/attack rules and its definitely somewhat fiddly too.

    2. DRYH is pretty good here. Some fiddle, no real crunch. I think DitV fits here nicely, some fiddly with the raising and seeing, all the attributes, traits, relationships. Not much crunch. What about Mortal Coil and Carry here too?

    3. This one's hard. I'm thinking Phoenix Command here, but its been a long time since I saw it.

    4. PtA goes here. Not very fiddly or crunchy.
  • James,

    I think that BW is crunchy, and here is my refined case for why: You look at experience trackers, and also consider how many artha is required for an epiphany, and it dawns on you that BW's advancement is not a simple or immediate thing. There's a lot of long-term number "crunching" before you see a result.

    Contrast that with The Shadow of Yesterday's advancement, which I see as very immediate and obvious: you take XP when you earn it. You spend it when you want to. There's less structure, less process, less "then this, then this, then this."

    To me, The Shadow of Yesterday is not crunchy, but Burning Wheel is. Champions is more so, you're right.
  • edited November 2007
    Unisystem would have been my choice for 3. It's non-fiddly in that it doesn't have loads of stuff to keep track on, IMO and rolling the dice is pretty streightforward too.

    But looking at my Armageddon book: It's full of crunch. Sure, 90% of it is frontloaded to character creation and so on, but I'd still call it crunchy.

    As for non-fiddly, non-crunchy: Wushu. Or the Pool. The Window is pretty much too. Not much to keep track of, not much to manipulate, not much to sink your teeth in.
  • Posted By: joepubJames,

    I think that BW is crunchy, and here is my refined case for why: You look at experience trackers, and also consider how many artha is required for an epiphany, and it dawns on you that BW's advancement is not a simple or immediate thing. There's a lot of long-term number "crunching" before you see a result.

    Contrast that with The Shadow of Yesterday's advancement, which I see as very immediate and obvious: you take XP when you earn it. You spend it when you want to. There's less structure, less process, less "then this, then this, then this."

    To me, The Shadow of Yesterday is not crunchy, but Burning Wheel is. Champions is more so, you're right.
    Good point. When a game steps over the crunchy divide is a pretty subjective call in any event. And I tend to have a strange selective blindness when it comes to experience trackers. One of my personal benchmarks for crunch is "if a calculator is helpful, the game is crunchy."

    Oh, another Fiddly Not Crunchy game would be Full Light Full Steam. Lots of stuff to fiddle with...script passing, thematic batteries, skills...Not very crunchy.
  • D&D seems like an obvious choice for #1.

    And I think Bullseye will end up as a pretty good candidate for #3, but we'll see.
  • Posted By: Chris Peterson1. A fiddly, crunchy game?
    Burning Wheel. It has lots of different mechanical bits moving at one time during both setup and actual play, each of which requires a fair amount of oversight to ensure that they work properly (i.e., as defined in the rule books).
    2. A fiddly, non-crunchy game?
    Marvel Universe RPG. This game has few moving parts during setup, though all of these parts require a great deal of oversight during actual play to ensure that they shake out as the text of the rule books says that they should.
    3. A non-fiddly, crunchy game?
    I can't really think of a good example, though I'm tempted to offer stuff like GURPS or HERO up that have many moving parts during the setup phase but that are governed by approximately two pages worth of rules during actual play.
    4. A non-fiddly, non-crunchy game?
    The Window. It has exactly ZERO bookkeeping during set-up and only one default thing (Health) that requires oversight/bookeeping during actual play.
  • edited November 2007
    I think the dividing line between crunchy and fiddly is that crunchy is complicated in a way that fits together. That doesn't mean that crunchiness fits together in a way that makes sense, but with a crunchy system if you ignore any bit of the crunch the rest falls apart. For example D&D grappling rules are crunch. Fiddly, to me, is a whole bunch of disconnected if/then statements that are dead simple by themselves but once you've got umpteen simple if/thens to take care of then your brain starts to hurt. For example, this: http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0034.html
  • Posted By: jdrakehI can't really think of a good example, though I'm tempted to offer stuff like GURPS or HERO up that have many moving parts during the setup phase but that are governed by approximately two pages worth of rules during actual play.
    Man, I must have been playing a different version of HERO, then. :)

    I'd honestly put BWr under #3, given that "fiddly" is pejorative to me, and I find BW to be unworthy of pejorative. Ergo...

    1. World of Synnibar. Tons of rules, and each rule takes a minimum of ten minutes to implement.

    2. FASA's old Dr. Who RPG. Actual play isn't all that complex, but deriving all the numbers you need involves lots of redundant effort. To invite flames, I'd probably put AD&D1e in here, too. Nothing too complex (save for maybe initiative), but lots of corner cases and rules scattered all over the place.

    3. BWr.

    4. FATE/SotC.
  • I can't speak to every category, but for fiddly and crunchy, I would point to Kenzer Co.s "Aces & Eights" game. The combat system can be timed out to fractions of a second, you have actual overlays to find out where your bullet/s struck, and there are tons of modifiers depending on distance, speed, how you are standing, the kind of firearm, etc.

    In addition, the rest of the game is really just a bunch of mini-games for different situations, which is where the fiddly bit comes from. In all honesty, Aces & Eights is really too much game for me, but I have no doubt I will be lifting some of the mini-games for use with other systems.

    I would point to "Cadwallon" RPG as a crunchy but non-fiddly game. It really is a miniatures game overlayed with a role-playing game. I suppose there are elements you could lift and move around, like the attitudes system (which I love, reminds me of Planescape) but I think it all goes together pretty well. Again, probably too much game for me.

    I'm not sure where something like "Beast Hunters" would fall into these categories, because all of the little fiddly bits really drive the storytelling aspect of the game, and therefore really aren't fiddly after all. But then again, I am still learning the game.

    ME
  • Posted By: buzz
    I'd honestly put BWr under #3, given that "fiddly" is pejorative to me, and I find BW to be unworthy of pejorative. Ergo...
    I guess I should make it clear that I don't use the term "fiddly" as a perjorative, merely as a simplified way of saying "too much stuff going on at once for me to keep track of in actual play" -- which obviously isn't a failing of the game but, rather, of my ability to keep track of a lot of stuff during actual play. I actually really, really, like BWr -- I just can't sort it all out in my head well enough to make it work at the table.
  • Posted By: jdrakehI guess I should make it clear that I don't use the term "fiddly" as a perjorative, merely as a simplified way of saying "too much stuff going on at once for me to keep track of in actual play" -- which obviously isn't a failing of the game but, rather, of my ability to keep track of a lot of stuff during actual play. I actually really, really, like BWr -- I just can't sort it all out in my head well enough to make it work at the table.
    I gotcha. I was only referring to my conception of fiddly; not trying to imply anything negative about your perspective.

    All my BWr play has been one-shots, so I haven't had to deal with tracking tests for advancement. It doesn't seem to me be that fiddly, but I can't speak from experience. I do feel that aspects of BW like DoW and Fight! are pretty crunchy, but they don't strike me as fiddly.

    Anyway... :)
  • I think a good measurement of Fiddlyness is how many little +1/-1 thinks you have to add in when making a check to resolve an action. I haven't played BW but my sense is that there's quite a few of these, am I right?
  • Posted By: DazturI think a good measurement of Fiddlyness is how many little +1/-1 thinks you have to add in when making a check to resolve an action. I haven't played BW but my sense is that there's quite a few of these, am I right?
    Not IME. As a player, you're maybe FoRK-ing an additional die or two to your pool. As a GM, you're setting a base obstacle or adding a few steps to one according to whatever subsystem you're using (DoW, Fight!, etc).

    Absolutely nowhere even close to all the modifiers you track in, say, D&D.
  • edited November 2007
    Posted By: buzzPosted By: DazturI think a good measurement of Fiddlyness is how many little +1/-1 thinks you have to add in when making a check to resolve an action. I haven't played BW but my sense is that there's quite a few of these, am I right?
    Not IME. As a player, you're maybe FoRK-ing an additional die or two to your pool. As a GM, you're setting a base obstacle or adding a few steps to one according to whatever subsystem you're using (DoW, Fight!, etc).

    Absolutely nowhere even close to all the modifiers you track in, say, D&D.

    There are fewer total modifiers of like kind in BWr. There are, however, more varied kinds of modifiers. In D&D you'll ultimately have to track more additions and subtractions than you will in BWr but in BWr you have to track multipliers, additions, subtractions, and shades of color, each of which works very differently and can impact the other types of modifiers. For me, that's fiddly per the context that I already decribed. I think that D&D is also fiddly, but less so than BWr.
  • Posted By: noclueI think DitV fits here nicely, some fiddly with the raising and seeing, all the attributes, traits, relationships. Not much crunch.
    I think DitV has a fair amount of crunch to it. It's very much a numbers games. You have pool of resources and how you expend them can have a big effect on the conflict. When deciding what to raise with you have to consider what you want your opponent to counter with. This process can be optimized to conserve your resourses and waste theirs.
  • edited November 2007
    Posted By: WillHI think DitV has a fair amount of crunch to it. It's very much a numbers games. You have pool of resources and how you expend them can have a big effect on the conflict. When deciding what to raise with you have to consider what you want your opponent to counter with. This process can be optimized to conserve your resourses and waste theirs.
    Hey Will, I agree that there's resource management in DitV. I just don't equate that with crunch the way I do things like point build in chargen or looking up effects on multiple tables, or computing formula to determine move rates. The math in DitV is pretty easy. Its definitely fiddly in my book (all those things (i.e. resources) to keep track of, but I don't feel the crunch. And (it should go without saying but I'll say it), YMMV of course.
  • Will,

    I think the strategy in Dogs is how to arrange and bring in your Traits, knowing when you want to escalate and when you want to give. That's not a crunchy kind of strategy, because you're not trying to remember rules or combos. You're just trying to fiddle with the simple tools you have right in front of you.

    The Raise/See could be considered crunchy, but I don't think it's as crunchy as most games. There's a die trick you need to get used to, but every layer added onto that die trick is simple and intuitive to me.
  • Perhaps it's just crunchy for me. I put a lot of thought on which of the other persons dice I want them to use and how best to achieve that with my dice into each raise.
  • Posted By: jdrakehIn D&D you'll ultimately have to track more additions and subtractions than you will in BWr but in BWr you have to track multipliers, additions, subtractions, andshades of color, each of which works very differently and can impact the other types of modifiers.
    Sorry to come off like a BWr fanboy (honestly, I know I am), but I'm not grokking this. The only multiplier is the Speed mult, and that's pretty much solely used for comparison's sake, e.g., "The higher multiplier gets an advantage die". The only subtractions I can think of are for wounds (which are global), or maybe if you're sustaining a spell. As for shades, you just roll different colored dice, assuming your PC even has any grey dice.
  • Aren't there multipliers during character gen to determine how much of what you get to spend where? I could have sworn (from the two brief games that played in) that different life paths confered different multipliers and other modifications upon the number of points that you have available to spend on different aspects of your character.

    Likewise, shades introduce extra sets of dice into the rules, rather than relying on one set of dice to resolve all actions (honestly, that in an of itself is pretty fiddly in my eyes). But don't shades also play into tracking injury and exhaustion? I recall them splitting what would otherwise be a basic exercise in subtraction into a confusing (for the folks I played with anyhow) multi-faceted explosion of math?

    I fully admit that my recollection may be fuzzy (or that the guy who was running the game may have been doing so incorrectly) as I haven't played any BW since early this year, though I'm pretty certain that most of the elements that I mention are there in one form or another and several are also exception-based, IIRC.
  • Posted By: jdrakehAren't there multipliers during character gen to determine how much of what you get to spend where?
    Not that I know of. The lifepaths provide you with skill, resource, and trait points that get spent during chargen. Just plain addition and then subtraction.
    Posted By: jdrakehLikewise, shades introduce extra sets of dice into the rules, rather than relying on one set of dice to resolve all actions (honestly, that in an of itself is pretty fiddly in my eyes).
    Enh. I think it's kind of a nifty way to represent a wide ability range without resorting to big fistfuls of dice. Admittedly, it was a little confusing to a newbie when I ran a one-shot recently, but simply rolling a different colored set of dice helped.
    Posted By: jdrakehBut don't shadesalsoplay into tracking injury and exhaustion?
    They can figure into determining a PC's wound tolerances, but once those are set, you're just making comparisons. E.g., if a PC has a grey Mortal Wound, a black shade injury isn't going to kill them.

    I don't mean to jump on ya, James. I would never deny that BW is pretty crunchy; it definitely has a learning curve. But I've found that curve more of a hurdle than actual in-play fiddly-ness. That it's, IMO, simultaneously crunchy and decidedly un-fiddly is one of the reasons I like it so much.
  • Posted By: WillHPerhaps it's just crunchy for me. I put a lot of thought on which of the other persons dice I want them to use and how best to achieve that with my dice into each raise.
    Maybe. I think its probably more a difference in how we define crunchy. What you describe definitely looks to me like resource management and strategic planning. But, when I think crunchy I pretty much assume the game requires "number crunching" with complicated maths.
  • #3 strikes me as a process-heavy/decision-light type of game. GURPS and HERO, stuff in that category. Getting the math all worked out (the crunch) is a lengthy process each time you have to do it, but in the course of developing that math there aren't a lot of decision points (the fiddly). So, any game where a fight might look like...

    Combat skill + weapon modifier + position bonus - opponent defense - opponent armor - opponent cover + d20

    ... is crunchy (seven pieces of math, which only changes as you change your situation) but not fiddly (no hero points, no weapon choices, no skill choices, no spells, no exceptional cases, no experience tracking before/during/after). In the above and totally fictitious example, the only "choices" might come down to what position the attacker takes and what kind of cover the opponent can find.

    Exalted-without-charms would be a #3 game. It's the resource-and-exceptions management element that moves it to #1.

    p.
  • My answers are non-pejorative, since the range of games I like falls in both crunchy and non-crunchy, fiddly and non-fiddly. I don't mean anything negative with these examplesl; I made sure to put examples of games I like in each group. Also, they vary a lot in crunchiness and fiddliness even among a single category.

    1. A fiddly, crunchy game?
    Shadowrun, D&D, M&M, Burning Empires, TORG, Ars Magica

    2. A fiddly, non-crunchy game?
    Nine Worlds, DitV, SotC, Theatrix

    3. A non-fiddly, crunchy game?
    Hero, Silver Age Sentinels, GURPS, Hollow Earth Expedition

    4. A non-fiddly, non-crunchy game?
    Wushu, Over The Edge, Risus, Primetime Adventures, Everway, Land of Og... :-)
  • Posted By: Paul BCombat skill + weapon modifier + position bonus - opponent defense - opponent armor - opponent cover + d20
    Crunchy!!!!!
  • edited November 2007
    Posted By: buzzI don't mean to jump on ya, James
    I know. Fiddly is a pretty subjective term, as it is. I'm just happy with the knowledge that many people whom I know personally agree with me on this issue (i.e., it's nice knowing that I'm not an island) ;-)
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