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Scenario Play Balance ?

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Is there such a thing as balance in a historically based scenario? Should the objective be to create a situation where either side may win? Or, by recreating historical conditions, is the outcome already decided?

How do you scenario writers approach this situation?

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Sorry no one has answered you before now, Reno.

Balance is an elusive element in a scenario, by far the most unknown quantity you will have to define.

It is a gut thing that comes with practice and testing...LOTS of testing.

If there were one fault that most new designers commit, it is offering a scenario that has not been properly tested.

It is understandable, of course. You have worked hard on your masterpiece. You are proud of it. You see no problem with it (naturally you wouldn't...or you would fix it)

You can't wait for people to see it so "boom" you stick it out there. You may or may not regreat it.

Testers are the lifeblood of the success of a scenario. They are the linemen on the team that open the hole for a designer to score a touchdown. But that is another subject. :D

And that is one of the main ways to discover how to balance a scenario.

Now as to the details of your question...the first thing you have to do is ascertain, "What do I want to convey with this battle?"

Some battles can be balanced in the sense of either side winning PROVIDED both sides are played by humans (PBEM or online).

With CM, creating a balanced scenario for a win on either side is difficult. Why?

Because the AI (computer side) is not overly bold.

An example would help. In the scenario, A Second Job, The US engineers are one side of Vossenack. The Germans are at the other end, equal in strength and equidistant from the objectives.

Now you would think, "I can play either side and it will be challenging." No, that is not the case. Why?

Because it is a given that he who possesses the objectives has an advantage. The enemy has to come to him. He can set up ambushes, lie in wait and then kill him as he approaches.

Now a meeting engagement has become an attack-defend situation.

And since the computer moves its units more cautiously, I can rush the objectives as Germans or Americans, take them and then set up defensive positions. Nothing like tossing satchel charges out of a window on passing Germans to make your day! :D

So as I see it, you have to choose. Do I want the human player to take the Germans or the Allies?

Then you build your scenario accordingly.

Now you CAN make a meeting engagement. If you are the Americans you can put German units closer to the objectives so that both forces can arrive at the same time. Now you are fighting to get control, not keep control of the objectives.

And I've only covered one aspect of balance. I would write more but it might become tedious for you to read.

So let me briefly mention a few things to consider

1. How historical is this scenario to be and still be winnable (and challenging!)?

2. What type of scenario should it be? One player, two player, assault-defend or meeting engagement?

3. How can I be sure it is balanced? Outside testing...lots of it. Fine tuning is a MUST.

Just an idea to help achieve this mysterious enttity called balance.

Wild Bill

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Right on the nogen Bill. I know from experance. After spending a day making a scenario. You need anther five to test it, and thats with help of others.

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Thanks guys. I just remember how disappointed I used to be with board games and SPI when they would come out with historically based scenarios which were impossible for one side to win. It was as if all the designer wanted was to show you why the the loser lost !

Given the choice, I would rather have a bang up fictional situation where the outcome could go either way.

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Wild Bill Wilder:

.............And I've only covered one aspect of balance. I would write more but it might become tedious for you to read............Wild Bill<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I am interested in reading it. I can't imagine a glimpse into the scenario furnace of your mind to be tedious smile.gif

When possible, I prefer human to human historical scenarios. I have heard it said before that historical scenarios come from events where one side or the other felt they had the odds that would give them a victory in the first place. This then leads many historical battles to be unbalanced from the get go.

I PBEM'd Franko's "Hell of a Licking" scenario. It is inherently unbalanced I think, but yet I found it very balanced in how the victor was determined <I hate to say too much from a Spoiler aspect>.

My view of unbalanced historical scenarios is that if you do not lose as bad as the historical counterpart then you are on the victorious side of gaming balance. The flip side of that being, If you are playing the historical victor then not only must you win, but you must win at least in as convincing a manner as your historical counterpart. If you do not do so then you lose.....even though on the battlefield of our computer screen you may have been kicking a little butt.

I have never talked with Franko but this is what I think he has accomplished in his "Hell of a Licking" scenario. Almost all of the PBEM scenarios I play are of the equal forces meeting type of scenario. I really like Rune scenarios in that respect also. It is easy to find them because you are almost always told that is is a, "30 turn medium 1500 point meeting engagement designed for online or PBEM play, so go for it". When playing PBEM with folks the idea of having the chance to win is usually of paramount importance.

I have always wanted to play a rearguard type of scenario. A scenario where one side must hold for a time or slowly retreat, yet must exit enough units from the board to the rear to be able to accumulate enough points to be declared a victor. The sticky point being that a wholesale immediate retreat off of the board will not garner enough points for any victory. This would mean I think, that one must attack and/or destroy enough of the enemy first, before exiting the battlefield.

I would love to know which scenarios are thought of as "unbalanced" historical scenarios. These scenarios would have been tested to the point where it can be said that all things being more or less equal there is the possibility for either side to win in a head to head arena. For that reason then they could be considered balanced with each player having a chance to win.

So Wild Bill, would your "tedious" <supposed to be a smiley here but it won't stick> discourse on scenario design include anything more on how to make historically unbalanced battles winnable from either side in the gaming sense of the word?

I apologise if a lot of what I tried to say didn't make sense.

Regards,

Randl

p.s. hmmmpf...here's those smileys that wouldn't stick above, they're down here --> smile.gifsmile.gif

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Geesh, I just realized that I mentioned, Franko and Rune in a scenario based post while speaking directly to Wild Bill.........and I didn't even tell Wild Bill how great a scenario man he is also!!!!

I meant no disrespect. Sir you may lash me, smash me, kick me in the dirt, I deserve it.

--Randl smile.gif

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Wild Bill,

I'm sure I speak for many when I say that it would be FAR from tedious to read some more about scenario making and the thinking/designig behind them. You excerpt above was very interesting and made me appreciate the work the people put into these creations.

So, please write some more ..... though I might get flamed for distracting you from creating more scenarios ;)

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The real test for me Wild Bill is getting anyone to test it! :mad:

I test my Operations from both sides and fine tune where I can, but as you know, OTHER peoples opinions is what I need. And even when several chaps show interest and they ask me for the scenario...I hardly ever hear from them again...does this mean it sucked? LoL.

For example...my second to last Operation "Counterattack at Sarrebourg", 10 to 12 people wanted me to send it to them...fine I did so, only 1 ever responded. :(

Oh well...such is life.

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Thats the biggest problem I find as a scenario Designer. (Have made about 45 that are public and hundreds that arn't) Few of people who want to "Test" your scenario every say anthing. That is why I put together the Scenario Team I am part of. SO that I could get people who wanted to do it. But I may need new people. Most of them seem dead. One day they go all out... after that, Nota thing.

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