Initial Setup Question

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Initial Setup Question

Postby EdFadigan » Wed May 25, 2016 10:20 am

I'm prepping my Game Group for our first game of Mobile Frame Zero.

I anticipate having anywhere from 4 to 6 players. If we have six players, would you advise that we:

A) Use the 5 Player Starting Limits for 6 individuals. (1 Station - 3 to 4 Frames each Player)
or
B) Play as 3 "Teams", of 2 Players on each team, with the 3 Player limits. (2 Stations - 3 to 5 Frames for each Team)

Would either option break the break the starting Point System?

Speaking of …

We plan on playing the rules as written, for the first few games, but I can see TWO house rules coming up, rather quickly.

1) A "Heat" system

One of the unique resource slots to the Mech Battle games that we've been playing since the 80's, is the Heat Sink Cooldown/Shutdown dilemma. It was one of the "coolest" aspects of the game, as you continually needed to decide whether to press the attack, and risk overheating, or fall back, and let your weapons bleed off some heat. Has anyone considered expanding the game, to include a Cooling System? Or is this better handled abstractly within the rules as written?

2) Starting Company Tiebreakers

(Hint: If you think you might tie, be sure to bring a spare mobile frame to the game with you.)

Yeah … I can see this one being House Ruled on day ONE. There's no way that my group is gonna be so flexible as to add or delete frames from their companies based on ties for offense and defense. Then going back to recalculate scores? "Just delete a Frame? What's the big deal? Just grab another Frame … Here take this thing, and work it into your game plan."

NOPE.

If my group is going to embrace this game, it's going to need more startup predictability. Especially if I'm going to convince them to create their own Frames from toys, and bringing the loadouts for those Frames, before play begins. If a player if FORCED to add or delete Frames from his Company, it will become the SOLE reason, that his Company did not preform/win.

REGARDLESS.
"This game sucks … I would've won for sure, if I had fielded my Company as I'd designed it."

Proposed House Rule

If two players have a tied score for Defense at the initial setup, both players roll a six-sided die. The winning die roll player, subtracts ONE point to their initial score.
If two players have a tied score for Offense at the initial setup, both players roll a six-sided die. The losing die roll player, adds ONE point to their initial score.

Fielding the Companies then proceeds as normal.

Question:
Do you think this House Rule will break the Scoring System? Do games come down to One Point that often?


(Pictures and Battle Reports to follow)
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Re: Initial Setup Question

Postby VitorFaria » Wed May 25, 2016 10:44 am

Just have them field the frames with tied points, and have them toss a coin to decide who's winning among them.

Ex:

A 4 players game.

Both Rafael and André are using 3 fully loaded frames, each one with 30 points, they toss a coin and decide that André is winning.

The game start as such:

André(defense):30
Rafael:30
Vitor:25
Pedro(point attack):16


As the game progresses, each time there's a points tie, the player that was ahead first keeps his better position.

It always worked well in my group. But being fair, we aren't competitive at all and we couldn't care less about balance, really. That "This game sucks … I would've won for sure, if I had fielded my Company as I'd designed it." would never happen between us anyway. We just want to have a great time and if it means fudging the rules, Brikwars style, we're all for it.

As far as the "Heat" system goes, I personally don't like it. Mobile Frames aren't huge, hulking, slow and over-loaded mechs from Battletech. They're small, fairly light-weight, and as the name suggests, mobile.

And believe me, as the dice pool of your frames diminishes as they take damage, something that slows them further would just drag the game, in my opinion.
Last edited by VitorFaria on Wed May 25, 2016 11:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Initial Setup Question

Postby Mantisking » Wed May 25, 2016 10:54 am

EdFadigan wrote:I'm prepping my Game Group for our first game of Mobile Frame Zero.

I anticipate having anywhere from 4 to 6 players. If we have six players, would you advise that we:

A) Use the 5 Player Starting Limits for 6 individuals. (1 Station - 3 to 4 Frames each Player)

We went with 3 to 5 Frames per player plus one Station in our game at PAX East last year.

EdFadigan wrote:2) Starting Company Tiebreakers
(Hint: If you think you might tie, be sure to bring a spare mobile frame to the game with you.)

Yeah … I can see this one being House Ruled on day ONE. There's no way that my group is gonna be so flexible as to add or delete frames from their companies based on ties for offense and defense. Then going back to recalculate scores? "Just delete a Frame? What's the big deal? Just grab another Frame … Here take this thing, and work it into your game plan."

NOPE.

If my group is going to embrace this game, it's going to need more startup predictability. Especially if I'm going to convince them to create their own Frames from toys, and bringing the loadouts for those Frames, before play begins. If a player if FORCED to add or delete Frames from his Company, it will become the SOLE reason, that his Company did not preform/win.

REGARDLESS.
"This game sucks … I would've won for sure, if I had fielded my Company as I'd designed it."

In the game we played on Sunday, we had two players tied for Primary Attacker. One of them just chose to go last. That simple.

EdFadigan wrote:Proposed House Rule
If two players have a tied score for Defense at the initial setup, both players roll a six-sided die. The winning die roll player, subtracts ONE point to their initial score.
If two players have a tied score for Offense at the initial setup, both players roll a six-sided die. The losing die roll player, adds ONE point to their initial score.

Fielding the Companies then proceeds as normal.

Question: Do you think this House Rule will break the Scoring System? Do games come down to One Point that often?

A one point shift can be a big deal, especially when people are tied with the same amount of Points per Asset.
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Re: Initial Setup Question

Postby Blorf » Wed May 25, 2016 12:56 pm

EdFadigan wrote:If we have six players, would you advise that we...

Since it's your first game, I'd advise you break into two games of three players each if you can. It's better to be familiar with rules as written before stretching them, and both games will run smoother as everyone learns. For a 6-person game with all new players you might want to plan 4+ hours.

EdFadigan wrote:1) A "Heat" system

You probably don't want to enact a rule in a way that favors inaction. This will favor the defender. The primary attacker has a pretty difficult job already. If you do write this in, try to balance it so that pressing your luck gives you a better-than-standard chance to do damage (additional red dice when you take the risk or something similar). Avoid writing it so that pressing your luck breaks even and the price for not taking a risk is inaction (such as eliminating a white die unless you take the risk).

EdFadigan wrote:2) Starting Company Tiebreakers

I have to respectfully disagree with the above responses on resolving ties, with an important caveat. Only ties for the highest score need to be resolved. This is rules as written; no other ties need adjusted. This generally doesn't end up being a problem, as ties happen much more often at the lower end of the starting score. Ties for highest score mean players who are underbidding and working toward the position of defender. By forcing a player to add or remove a frame, it creates a greater separation between these players and more clearly defines their starting roles in the game. Accepting the tie and having two defenders likely makes the primary attacker's job nearly impossible. Said another way: you might eliminate a reason one player thinks they lost, but you are almost certainly creating a reason why a different player did.

If you have trouble with the time or process of calculating scores, you could let the commander's handbook do it for you.

Adding one point disregards asset values which are very important. And yes, games very frequently are decided by very few points.

For all other ties, just leave the scores as-is and roll off to decide initiative between those players. Having two primary attackers is fine; generally that means the defender's starting advantage is much greater.

All of that being said: Do what you like! Nobody here is going to tell you that how you like to play is wrong. If something fun happens, please come back and tell us about it! If it's a failure, please tell us anyway so that we can learn.

Good luck; looking forward to those battle reports!
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Re: Initial Setup Question

Postby VitorFaria » Wed May 25, 2016 1:25 pm

Blorf wrote:Accepting the tie and having two defenders likely makes the primary attacker's job nearly impossible. Said another way: you might eliminate a reason one player thinks they lost, but you are almost certainly creating a reason why a different player did.


Empirically, I don't see that happening. Had many games with that kind of setup and I don't see the primary attacker losing more, or worst. Each of the two defenders will know that the other has a great point advantage and will focus more on each other, giving the primary attacker a break, a break that can mean a great advantage in last few turns when the starting defenders would have suffered a lot of damage already.

One of the great things about MFZ games with more than 2 players is that they auto-balance nicely anyway, even if you screw up the PPA math at first, players will notice the point advantages and adjust their strategy naturally. Having a big advantage upfront most of the times just makes everyone else focus on attacking you, which can be overwhelming even if you're an experienced defender.
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Re: Initial Setup Question

Postby Blorf » Wed May 25, 2016 2:02 pm

VitorFaria wrote:Empirically, I don't see that happening. Had many games with that kind of setup and I don't see the primary attacker losing more, or worst. Each of the two defenders will know that the other has a great point advantage and will focus more on each other, giving the primary attacker a break, a break that can mean a great advantage in last few turns when the starting defenders would have suffered a lot of damage already.


It may depend who the players are. With my group it would make a big difference. You are even with your defender for point advantage but you both stand to lose to the strength advantage. So, the defenders would ally. This would last three turns or so; enough to assure that they have weathered the worst of it and one of them is the winner. They might spend the last two turns fighting each other to decide who wins. The effect of the other player(s) would mostly be of kingmaker, but a win wouldn't be possible. But my group is very strategic and will weigh the situation: To be assured no less than 2nd by alliance is a better outcome than possibly dropping to last.
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Re: Initial Setup Question

Postby EdFadigan » Wed May 25, 2016 2:09 pm

These are JUST the kind of responses for which I was hoping.

We'll play it as written, as suggested.

I'll let you know, how it went, and what my players think of the game.

(They BETTER like it. I've already invested $15 in Mixels)
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Re: Initial Setup Question

Postby VitorFaria » Wed May 25, 2016 2:35 pm

Blorf wrote:It may depend who the players are. With my group it would make a big difference. You are even with your defender for point advantage but you both stand to lose to the strength advantage. So, the defenders would ally. This would last three turns or so; enough to assure that they have weathered the worst of it and one of them is the winner. They might spend the last two turns fighting each other to decide who wins. The effect of the other player(s) would mostly be of kingmaker, but a win wouldn't be possible. But my group is very strategic and will weigh the situation: To be assured no less than 2nd by alliance is a better outcome than possibly dropping to last.


That sort of thinking makes sense, but from experience such an alliance would be much more in the interest of the actual defender, and would be disrupted really fast by some frame destruction.

A huge advantage of the actual defender is the initial fielding. The "second defender" has a great PPA, yes, but if he/she is forced to field frames on crappy positions and little/no cover, he/she might be an easy target for the attackers, that may prefer focus on this player instead of the actual defender early on.

In fact, I've won more than one game like this (as the attacker), even in 3 players games. Strike the "second defender" first, make he/she lose one or two frames on the first couple turns, see how well he/she can ally with the defender from now on.

This is one of the few (and yes, there's more) magical situations when, as an attacker, increasing the defender advantage is good. If the clock is ticking close to zero and one of the players have a clear advantage, everyone is simply forced to jump on his/her neck on the couple last turns.

In fact, forcing people to ally with you/stopping them from allying with each other is a great deal of the fun in this game, but not always the resolving factor, load-out differences and difference in striking strategy can also change this equation.
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Re: Initial Setup Question

Postby Blorf » Wed May 25, 2016 3:12 pm

I'll admit my opposition is theoretical; I've never played this scenario. The rule seems so specifically written for the effect it gives that I have to assume it was very intentional.

VitorFaria wrote:A huge advantage of the actual defender is the initial fielding. The "second defender" has a great PPA, yes, but if he/she is forced to field frames on crappy positions and little/no cover, he/she might be an easy target for the attackers, that may prefer focus on this player instead of the actual defender early on.


It's a solid point. If you deny the "second defender" any part of that deployment advantage, then I would rather play rules as written and add or subtract a frame. Knowing I'm not truly playing defender means I wouldn't want the strength deficit that comes with that position. Conversely, if my strategy was to be defender, I would prefer to distance myself from the other players and decrease their score and deployment advantage. But both of those are preferences, and a rule shouldn't be put in place just because it prevents a player from doing something stupid.

I'd still recommend the OP plays rules as written for a first game, so that everyone sees and understands how these tactical positions interact. If you understand how the game works and then want to relax rules such as this, then absolutely go for it.
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Re: Initial Setup Question

Postby VitorFaria » Wed May 25, 2016 3:29 pm

Blorf wrote:I'll admit my opposition is theoretical; I've never played this scenario. The rule seems so specifically written for the effect it gives that I have to assume it was very intentional.


One thing to notice is that my games are usually fairly small scale (each players with 3-5 frames), I have no idea how it would play out in a game with 7+ frames per player as I have played very few of those.

Once again, I would love to hear something from Joshua about that.

EdFadigan wrote:These are JUST the kind of responses for which I was hoping.

We'll play it as written, as suggested.

I'll let you know, how it went, and what my players think of the game.

(They BETTER like it. I've already invested $15 in Mixels)


Money spent on Mixels is money well spent!

Good luck on your intro game and welcome to the hangar!
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Re: Initial Setup Question

Postby Blorf » Wed May 25, 2016 3:38 pm

Another thought; allowing a tie in a 2-player game would have disastrous effects on its dynamic.
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Re: Initial Setup Question

Postby EvilGod » Wed May 25, 2016 3:58 pm

one possible solution, which my group discussed last game, is that the tied defenders could also get the option to remove or add one or more systems to their existing frames. This should cost/gain them one or two ppa and is easier to plan in advance. We still played rules as written and the defender who lost the role-off grudgingly decided to add a frame with four systems, making him the primary attacker in our 5 player game.
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Re: Initial Setup Question

Postby Blorf » Wed May 25, 2016 4:16 pm

EvilGod wrote:one possible solution, which my group discussed last game, is that the tied defenders could also get the option to remove or add one or more systems to their existing frames.


I've seen this other places, too. I think it's intentionally written as "frame" and not "system" to prevent a player from gaining a significant tactical advantage by random draw only. The winner of the draw decides to drop one system and gains a big advantage against the loser of the draw—they have almost identically powered forces, but one has a decently sized score advantage. It sucks to be on the receiving end of that size disadvantage just by chance.
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