Variable Victory Conditions

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Bill Hupp
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Variable Victory Conditions

Postby Bill Hupp » Wed May 16, 2018 6:33 pm

Could non-tournament victory conditions be variable? 1/3rd points make sense, but real battles had all types of results in terms of at what point the losing side gives up. Grand Triumph uses half the points for victory (with the demoralization of commands at 1/3 coming into play too.)

Variable victory conditions:

Roll two D6, one red one white. Roll after second casualty taken (or maybe at some other point.) Red plus, white Minus.. Net difference adds or subtracts to VC. Roll a 6 red and a 1 white, means now you need 21 points to win. White 6, red 1 now you need 11 points to win.

Would not knowing the 16 point break point impact the tactics chosen and make the game play more historic? (This type of logic could apply to other games too.)

I am also thinking about this in light of possible campaign games (ones that would be more than 1 day long.)

Bill
Bill Hupp
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David Kuijt
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Re: Variable Victory Conditions

Postby David Kuijt » Thu May 17, 2018 1:56 am

Everyone is welcome to experiment with whatever thing they want to experiment with, and more power to them!

With that said, if you want my feedback as a game designer, I wouldn't recommend this particular idea. Why? Inserting a truly random factor like that is only good if it adds to the fun. Now don't get me wrong, some people like games of pure chance, and inserting more chance into games of skill. To others, reducing the element of skill just adds an element of frustration, and I will tell you that computer games without any learning curve (i.e., largely based upon luck) are never successful. But everyone has their own image of the right balance of skill and luck.

However, consider this. When is the system you describe system significantly different from the base system? At the extremes. Will the players enjoy the game more, on average, at the extremes? No, I don't think so. If I'm playing a tight game and I lose my second stand and the two dice are rolled and suddenly I'm screwed, is that going to be fun? No. Or if my opponent is suddenly screwed, does that increase my sense of fulfillment at beating him? No. And on the flip side, suppose suddenly the game will go way longer -- is that going to be increasing fun? Sometimes yes, if the game is really tight -- but in most games there is a tipping point, and once you reach the tipping point your whole army goes down the toilet, and the only real question is how long it takes before someone hits the flush. If you're losing and the game isn't close it can be nearly impossible to come back. Stretching out the game (making it longer, requiring another stand or two or three to die) isn't increasing the fun. If you watch players who are losing games that aren't close, you'll see that many times what they want to do is to play again, not to keep playing a game where the only real question is how long it's going to take.

As for the historical question, in pre-gunpowder battles the actual casualty count before one army broke was usually much, much smaller than modern casual players think -- 5%, more or less. All the rest of the casualties happened in the pursuit. So the threshold for the army buggering off was not really widely variable, and increasing the variability doesn't seem to increase how historical battles are.

One note about Grand Triumph (with the threshold at 1/2) -- recall that GT has commands become demoralized. That changes the mechanics of the game quite a bit, with commands pursuing a broken command to attempt to crush it before the enemy does the same to you on the far flank (which happened all the time, historically). The combination of demoralization of individual commands and routing and the smaller timeslice of a turn all required a slightly different threshold to play out correctly. It wasn't a random choice, and shouldn't be considered support (by itself) for going to 1/2 casualties in the base game. The two games play quite differently, for many reasons.

But again, not trying to be a nay-sayer -- everyone is welcome to experiment with anything they like. If you ask me if it would improve the game (historicity-wise or game-play-wise), I'd smile and shake my head, though.
DK

Rod
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Re: Variable Victory Conditions

Postby Rod » Thu May 17, 2018 6:11 am

Bill raises an interesting point that the general knowing exactly when an army will break could and does impact the play slightly. Similar to issue of the bird's eye view. I am not going to risk attacking that elite infantry, when killing that horde over there is easier and enough points to win.

Wargamers already have a bird's eye view of the battlefield with much better knowledge of what is going on than would have existed in real life. In Triumph, the random PIP generation somewhat counter acts the all seeing general. i.e. I see that my right and left flank need help, but I only rolled one bleeping PIP! So in effect it doesn't matter that I have perfect knowledge, I don't have perfect control.

I would argue that the randomness of when the army broke that you suggest would not greatly impact my play style much since the goal is still to drive more casualties into the enemy than you take to get him to break first. Your system still rewards that strategy. It just mean I might attack that Elite Foot because it is worth more points, it simply encourages a shift in play style.

Still alternative victory conditions are an interesting point for scenarios. In the recent game we played (Hastings) the Normans lose if Harold holds the field for example. This impacts them in that they have to attack, the English can simply camp in the hill. Without that change to the VC, it would be tough to recreate that battle.

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David Kuijt
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Re: Variable Victory Conditions

Postby David Kuijt » Thu May 17, 2018 10:14 am

Rod wrote:Still alternative victory conditions are an interesting point for scenarios. In the recent game we played (Hastings) the Normans lose if Harold holds the field for example. This impacts them in that they have to attack, the English can simply camp in the hill. Without that change to the VC, it would be tough to recreate that battle.


Right. That's a good example of a special scenario rule that forces historical behavior.
DK

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Bill Hupp
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Re: Variable Victory Conditions

Postby Bill Hupp » Thu May 17, 2018 4:04 pm

DK and Rod,

Thanks for your thoughts. Of course I agree that points aren't casualties, just an abstraction, at best a measure of broken units.

It definietly adds more uncertainty. And more chaos in a game is fun for some and not for others. In a game system where the reference is always made to rolling 1s vs 6s being an explanation of victory or defeat (just play again) it doesn't seem like it is very far off the system as designed.

From a game design stand point, its more about how the gamer rethinks how they would plan and execute their plan. My hypothesis is that a 50% variation in the victory conditions might positively influence a player to behave in a way much like specific historic victory conditions which would vary by the historical situation (like a campaign.)

Would it take out any cheese (e.g. sniping indivdual units, taking a camp)? That and if it was more fun would be how I would judge the experiment.

Bill
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David Schlanger
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Re: Variable Victory Conditions

Postby David Schlanger » Thu May 17, 2018 8:31 pm

I think it would petrify the players who already play scared.

DS

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David Kuijt
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Re: Variable Victory Conditions

Postby David Kuijt » Thu May 17, 2018 8:34 pm

Bill Hupp wrote:Would it take out any cheese (e.g. sniping indivdual units, taking a camp)? That and if it was more fun would be how I would judge the experiment.


Sounds great!

(Although I'm a smidge confused by your cheese examples -- there are lots of examples in history of a battle turning on the loss of a camp. Since when is historical results cheese? Cheese (in my vernacular) is the opposite -- manipulating game rules in a bizarre and unhistorical way to get an advantage. Same thing for killing a unit -- that means destruction of 5-8% of a total army. That ain't cheese, that's just fighting!)
DK

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David Kuijt
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Re: Variable Victory Conditions

Postby David Kuijt » Thu May 17, 2018 8:34 pm

David Schlanger wrote:I think it would petrify the players who already play scared.

DS


True dat!
DK

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David Schlanger
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Re: Variable Victory Conditions

Postby David Schlanger » Thu May 17, 2018 8:43 pm

David Kuijt wrote:
David Schlanger wrote:I think it would petrify the players who already play scared.

DS


True dat!


Which would promote more conservative play and slow things down I suspect.

DS

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David Kuijt
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Re: Variable Victory Conditions

Postby David Kuijt » Thu May 17, 2018 9:32 pm

David Schlanger wrote:Which would promote more conservative play and slow things down I suspect.


Or worse. That's what it might do (slow things down) if the breakpoint remained hidden from the players until breaking happened. The original suggestion was that the breakpoint becomes visible at some point (second casualty or some other defined point). If you suddenly discover your new breakpoint is 21, players would change their tactics immediately vis-a-vis if they suddenly found their breakpoint was 11. And I know some players who would basically quit and want to start another game if that happened, because it would feel unfair and arbitrary to them. Especially if their opponent's breakpoint was much higher.
DK


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