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Bored players, boring combat?


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#21 Kshatriya

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 08:19 AM

I found that having the random auto turret on the map was awesome. 

You mean a heavy bolter? Are you using errata damage or no? Mainly ask because core damage really makes big solos too easy to kill.



#22 Shambhalawar

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 03:58 PM

 

I found that having the random auto turret on the map was awesome. 

You mean a heavy bolter? Are you using errata damage or no? Mainly ask because core damage really makes big solos too easy to kill.

 

 

I believe I said it was two heavy bolters on a turret. After all that was said I went fishing for the damage and I think it was from the errata. Also I doubled the damage because there were two mounted guns. I think I fudged some of the last round of damage so as to let the carnifex live. The goal was to make them survive until a storm bird grabbed the KT, I also thought a later mission thread could be to kill the same carnifex (the one eye carnifex). But yes, 2 heavy blotters did a lot of damage,  more than I imagined.

 

I wish there was some way for me to understand what equipment one needs to be equal with x kind of beast.

 

Or could you tell me good sir, what do you think is an equal fight for a carnifex. We had an assault marine, tech, librarian, and apothecary. All pretty basic gear, someone had a flamer and someone had hellfire rounds. 



#23 Shambhalawar

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 04:00 PM

Couple of points:

 

A. Keep the experience varied. Not every combat should force the players to be creative. Sometimes it's nice for players to mow down enemies and just avoid getting hurt for the boss fight.

 

B. Prepare in advance what do you want to convey in an encounter, what the experience for the players/PCs should be. Write it down and read again before the encounter takes place. Just one or two lines.

 

C. Observe the player's psyche during the encounter and try to get across what you resolved to do. Doesn't always work but when it does, it's pretty good. If it doesn't work, take a brief pause during the encounter, just a minute. Leaf through a book or whatever while thinking what you can add to the moment to make things work out more smoothly.

 

Alex

 

Thanks! This is helpful and I would like to try it in my next combat. Can you give me an example so that I can better understand the approach? 



#24 Calgor Grim

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 06:08 PM

 

 

I found that having the random auto turret on the map was awesome. 

You mean a heavy bolter? Are you using errata damage or no? Mainly ask because core damage really makes big solos too easy to kill.

 

 

I believe I said it was two heavy bolters on a turret. After all that was said I went fishing for the damage and I think it was from the errata. Also I doubled the damage because there were two mounted guns. I think I fudged some of the last round of damage so as to let the carnifex live. The goal was to make them survive until a storm bird grabbed the KT, I also thought a later mission thread could be to kill the same carnifex (the one eye carnifex). But yes, 2 heavy blotters did a lot of damage,  more than I imagined.

 

I wish there was some way for me to understand what equipment one needs to be equal with x kind of beast.

 

Or could you tell me good sir, what do you think is an equal fight for a carnifex. We had an assault marine, tech, librarian, and apothecary. All pretty basic gear, someone had a flamer and someone had hellfire rounds. 

 

 

When taking on little things and troops you're usually looking at needing things like Bolters, shotguns, explosives or flamers, weapons which output a lot of shots and adequate damage or scattering to trim through masses of hostiles. Since bigger things like Las Cannons are too potent and dont really have enough of the tear through mob like qualities.

 

Elites tend to come in smaller groups and better equipped so for those you're looking at weapons with some reduced rate of fire but higher damage or pen like your plasma, power and missile weapons or some of your special issue ammunition which ups the pen/damage. These tend to give you a good rate of fire without sacrificing too much mobility.

 

Master choices tend to pack a lot of wounds and deliver massive damage output or are a pain to kill so thats when you look at Plasma Cannons, Las Cannons, the really painful stuff. Low RoF but when it hits then they feel the hit. Usually Master things are huge anyway so hard to miss them.

 

To be honest, ONE carnifex alone will struggle. Very few of anything in the 40k system can usually hold its own against a kill team. The only exceptions are things such as the really big daemons, tanks and only the nastiest of Tyranids and even then it sometimes doesn't last much longer. No, what you needed was more units around, Warrior beasts, gaunts etc. They are there as the meat shield and distraction. Overwhelming odds will force them to back off slowly lest they be swarmed making a fighting withdrawal till a heroic rescue.

 

Good example I had was five marines versus a Bloodthirster. Now even one of Khorne's finest will have a hard time versus a kitted up team so to counter that, lob in some Bloodletters. That way they can easily keep the party occupied who must direct their fire on the smaller things lest be overwhelmed. For Tyranids as well you have it even easier, more gaunts out of nowhere!


Edited by Calgor Grim, 03 April 2014 - 06:10 PM.

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#25 Kshatriya

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 06:21 PM

 

Or could you tell me good sir, what do you think is an equal fight for a carnifex. We had an assault marine, tech, librarian, and apothecary. All pretty basic gear, someone had a flamer and someone had hellfire rounds. 

 

Hellfire bolter/flamer, lascannon, krak missiles, meltagun, Librarian channeling through his force weapon or Pushing certain powers.



#26 Visitor Q

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 03:00 AM

As a corollary to what Calgor Grim said bare in mind that putting in extra enemies strengthens all the enemies in the group.

 

So if said Bloodthirster had a Enemy Points Value of 100 and the Bloodthirsters had a EPV of 30 the total strength wouldn't be 130 but something more like 200.

 

I have noticed this is particularly true of hordes.  PCs will often be getting their turn in before a horde.  If they are only facing one large horde then they can often put down enough pain to cripple if not outright destroy it.  However if you pit them against several hordes of equal total value it will be a far more dangerous proposition.

 

If you put in an encounter with Hordes Vehicles Elites and Masters this will be really quite difficult for the PCs.  The KT great strength is its flexibility.  By giving the enemy a mixture of resources you are suddenly giving them that same felxibility.

 

This is partially because there is a maximum damage bonus a horde can do which is reached once it goes over Mag 20.

 

For me combats can be split into two kinds. 

 

Combats I know the PCs will win.  These are there for plot reasons, or because it would make sense. 

 

For example if the PCs are striding across a battle field it would make sense that they would encounter some enemy opposition even if said opposition is just a platoon of Fuedal World militia.  Such encounters help to remind the PCs that against most foes i nthe Galaxy they will triumph. 

 

Or for example say they are rescuing a Bishop from the clutches of some xenos worshipping cultists the actual rescue might not be the climax of the scenario however it would make sense for the PCs to fight the guards even though the combat might be over in a couple of rounds.

 

These combats you don't need to think too much about.  Just allow the PCs to slice through the enemy and if necessary have remaining enemies flee.

 

Combats there to challenege the PCs.  These I think should be 'crafted' in advance and be soemthing of an event.  Consider terrain, motivations reinforcements.  Really work out what will work and what tactics the enemies will use.  In particular striking that fine line between tough horrible and unbeatable should be considered.



#27 musungu

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 03:29 AM

And then there are those rare combats the PCs cannot win; when completing the objective is possible, but staying to mow down a full Chaos SM war-band is ill-advised, at least. This should be crafted carefully too, because these situations are mostly focussed on the roleplaying potential.


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#28 Calgor Grim

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 04:29 AM

I agree with Visitor Q and Musungu. I actually have four tiers of combat myself:

Easy - Low level grunts, scattered hoards of fire warriors or token elites. Mostly added to delay a party and usually a walkover

Challenging - Designed to rough them up a bit, cause some damage like a squad of tau crisis suits but not necessarily lethal.

Dangerous - Situations where the party are outnumbered and outgunned but a skilled group could still win but this is one that it may be prudent to avoid due to resource expenditure. So a few disciplined groups of fire warriors, crisis teams, drones and Kroot.

Suicidal - Impossible odds. Truly impossible where there is no chance of victory and the team either avoids it or has to withdraw from it in some way. Multiple broadside suits, disciplined crisis teams, well placed fire warriors and pathfinders, hammerhead skimmer.

Also Q, love that EPV concept. Might do some number crunching to see if I can work out a calculator. :-)

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#29 Visitor Q

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 06:44 AM


Suicidal - Impossible odds. Truly impossible where there is no chance of victory and the team either avoids it or has to withdraw from it in some way. Multiple broadside suits, disciplined crisis teams, well placed fire warriors and pathfinders, hammerhead skimmer.

Also Q, love that EPV concept. Might do some number crunching to see if I can work out a calculator. :-)

 

Or are willing to die for some greater cause...these are space marines after all!

 

BTW I would have such a calculator focus on how combinations of enemies get better when paired together rather than providing a straight points cost ala TT.  This just because it can be very diffficult to assign a straight value to enemies in RPGs as it is often dependant on the situation.



#30 Kshatriya

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 09:45 AM

 However if you pit them against several hordes of equal total value it will be a far more dangerous proposition.

 

Biggest issue here is multiple hordes frequently make a fight a boring, slow slogfest.



#31 Calgor Grim

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 10:00 AM

Isn't that what most tyranid/ork invasions are anyway?

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#32 Gurkhal

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Posted 04 April 2014 - 05:00 PM

Isn't that what most tyranid/ork invasions are anyway?

 

For the Imperial main forces yes, but the Kill Team might not necessarily be sent do the IG and PDF's job of horde slugmatches and thus the encounters can be more varied.



#33 Visitor Q

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 01:10 PM

 

 However if you pit them against several hordes of equal total value it will be a far more dangerous proposition.

 

Biggest issue here is multiple hordes frequently make a fight a boring, slow slogfest.

 

 

Agreed.  I've found it is important to pepper the horde with individuals, such as banner bearers, champions, special weapon users and so on.  They might not have better stats than their fellows but they add personality to the horde and also if killed can give the GM an excuse for the horde to flee if the combat is getting boring.


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#34 Harpazo

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Posted 13 April 2014 - 10:19 PM

I recently threw five marines against a Bloodthirster and a dozen bloodletters. With so many wounds that could easily get into a load of rolls really fast.

 

The key I found for keeping combat interesting was to keep it amusing. For example:

"Ok, you have a greater daemon of Khorne, not looking overly amused. He seems to be aiming at...*GM rolls a dice*...you! *points at victim*
"Oh joy!"

"Yeah...tough luck with that."

"You don't like me do you? You have been throwing things at me all day."

"You're a librarian. He hates everything you stand for. Do you really think he WONT want to kick seven shades of...out of you?"

"Good point."
*At which point a collective mock and laugh occurred as it dawned on him*

 

In the end the player made a dodge away from a brutal charge of the daemon. Now technically the rules stop there and the charge was missed but for fun, I said he kept going...

"Ok, you narrowly dodge a daemon, however considering this thing is moving like a freight train, it won't be stopping soon. You watch as a creature with all the agility and reflexes of a brick on legs goes hurtling forward..." *GM rolls a 1D5* "...and smashes a good 3 bloodletters out the way. *quickly rolls some more random numbers* Two of those won't be getting back up again. Congratulations, the dozen bloodletters are now down to 10."

"Wahey, daemon of Khorne is incompetent enough to kill his own side!"

 

Bit of an extreme example I'll admit, but a bit of light humour and just generally enjoying when things go wrong or spectacularly right allows the players to make things feel a bit less "samey".

 

A second good example was when I was a player we were also up against a Khornate daemon. It basically went to take a swing at me and I went to Parry. Now we actually House Rule that Parry should be somewhat of an opposed skill since only a pass to parry versus possibly a dozen DoS on the "To Hit" roll seems imbalanced. So basically the thing went to cleave my Librarian character in half with his axe. I opted to parry. Perhaps not wise considering the GM rolls 05 to hit against his WS99. My parry roll however results in a 01. 01 to 05 is in our books and probably somewhere in core, such a glorious success that you get the pass irrespective of DoS and under that circumstance, the GM just made my day:

"You manage to swing your force sword up into the air in the path of the great blade. With a deafening crash, his massive axe slams down upon your blade, the sparks fly as the metals collide. However your sword remains unbroken, you buckle a little at the strain due to the immense force he brought down. By the will of the Emperor, you're still standing." At which point half the group were just like "Duuuuuuuude"...and that was before I managed a counter attack doing something like 63 damage :)

 

Basically, abridged version of the above:

Make some special shots and lucky rolls (01-05/righteous fury) feel truly epic, sod the rulebook for five minutes and just say that their pinpoint accuracy and success get them that perfect shot and make those catastrophic fails (96-00) that little more amusing or disruptive to just let them enjoy their glory and be wary of their failures. The backfired grenades, the weapon test which fails so badly they lose their weapon grip. Fate smiles on some and shadows fall on others...is it in the rules or the fluff? Not always. Does it make for a good laugh though? Hell yes! Try watching an assault marine spending two turns getting across a gunfight battlefield to recover his sword which got knocked out of his hand when he fluffed a WS test ;)

This is good stuff ^

When I DMed DnD 3.5 sessions I loathed the critical failure and critical success system (I'm loving the ideas of degrees of success and failure with layers of poor choices/poor dice roles before you blow yourself up with your weapon/grenade) but one thing I did enjoy was translating the damage from the dice to narrative display. So hypothetically, when an arrow chinks into a goblin for two damage and he has six health, I can say, "Oh yeah, that arrow sliced into his forearm and caused him a decent wound, but he's still combat ready and hungry for the fight." Versus a greatsword that slapped an orc for 15 of his 17 health I can instead say, "You swung your sword with such devastating effect that you slashed him from shoulder to hip across his chest and he slumps backwards with a wheeze, barely able to focus from the pain. He raises his sword and insults you indiscriminately." That put the dice rolls into something they could visualize and it allowed them to have a gauge for how damaged everyone was without me needing to say, "15 points of damage... ok so you need 2 more points to kill this guy."

Or in the case of when a gunslinger pulled up his musket and criticaled an already damaged, intimidated, and fleeing goblin as he scrambled up the side of a house and taunted them like a coward from a roof... He turned him into a bloody mist and what is left of him slumped to the roof, showering the ground beneath him.

That kind of thing rewards their amazing rolls and gets my party really motivated, or properly afraid, of what's ahead of them.

So I would suggest, in order to spice things up, take narrative liberties that keep in line with the rule system to describe to them their actions and their effects. That pulls people into the game and gets them past the abstraction of dice rolls and number crunching.

I would also -highly- suggest using a battle grid of some kind. That takes the tactics and makes it like a game of chess, instead of a word picture in their heads.

Have you ever seen how absolutely intent on a chess board chess players can get? They can spend hours playing a game and analyzing different moves.

That's what I suggest you try to bring to the game to get people engaged. Let them count up the steps it takes for them to cross open ground and ask themselves how fast they have to be running to clear the distance, so they can work out how many rounds they have to withstand sniper fire.

Or let them anguish as the Orks round the corner and spread out in battle array thirty feet in front of them. Let the terror dawn on them as a squig loaded with dynamite charges at them and gets within two meters of their position, watch as they realize they would have to turn and full retreat in order to evade the squig's run distance next turn. These are things that you can describe to them with narrative, but putting it down objectively and letting them physically interact with their character's positions, potentials, and plights is hugely engaging. I often time will see my players take their time on other people's turns to plan and map out routes, attack positions, and ability ranges to see their best options.

But that's something that appeals to the strategy game-minded players. If your players would get bogged down in the details or don't care much for the grid style play, then it might just hinder them. It's something to consider though.

Also, one pain with battle maps is drawing and redrawing them, as well as distances. When your sniper wants to take out a flying daemon 150m off, with a map toting one square inch as one square meter, you would need 150 inches, at least, to demonstrate that physically in one dimension. That's ridiculous. So using them is probably best for situational (why is this red-lined), close quarters combat or else you're going to have a battle grid the size of your floor.


Edited by Harpazo, 13 April 2014 - 10:23 PM.


#35 Kshatriya

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 05:26 PM

Isn't that what most tyranid/ork invasions are anyway?

Sure, but that doesn't make it fun to play in a turn-by-turn RPG, even if it's pretty interesting when playing the TT war-game.


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