Turn-Based Tactics: a Battle System
We're building a fairly simple game featuring turn-based battles with fantasy units. This is the skeleton of the battle system I've devised – I'd love any feedback or comments anyone has to help me improve it.
The game is a turn-based tactics game where you start with a small warband of rookie units, then fight battles with them. Doing well in battles can improve your units, and give you money to expand your warband or improve the equipment of your existing units. It will be a single player game.
Battles take place on fairly small square-based maps (top-down), probably under 20×20 tiles. Your warband will start with about 3-5 members and probably max out around 10, so battles shouldn't be massively long affairs. You win by eliminating the enemy.
Battle System Goals
- Be simple & easy to understand at first
- But have emergent complexity
- Have an element of chance, but not be ruled by it
- Be fun to play through each battle (tactical choices + challenge)
- Be rewarding to build up your warband over time (strategic choices)
Each unit is a fantasy-themed warrior with the following stats:
- Speed: squares moved per turn (avg 5)
- Health: Damage taken before being removed from battle (avg 20)
- Strength: Ability with melee weapons (avg 5)
- Agility: Ability with ranged weapons (avg 5)
- Armor: Depends on equipment
Units can also have skills though most will start as rookies with no skills. Skills will give new abilities and are the main vehicle for 'emergent complexity' where combinations of skills will yield new & interesting tactics.
Units' battle power will largely depend on their equipment, particularly as rookies. This can be upgraded between battles. Units will be of a certain type/class that will dictate their skill choices (eg infantry / archer / scout / cavalry).
Each turn a unit can move and then attack. Range of melee weapons is adjacent; for ranged weapons it is adjacent + diagonally. When you move into a square next to an enemy (their 'zone of control') your move ends (though you can still attack them), meaning you can't run through to target the weaker/wounded enemy at the back.
When you make a melee attack you add your strength to the strength of your weapon and roll a 1d10:
10: critical hit
If you hit you add the roll value (3-10) to your attack strength to get a damage total. The target's armour value is then subtracted from this to get the actual damage sustained. A critical hit means the target's armour value is halved for this attack. Also some weapon types have some special rules, explained below.
Ranged weapons work the same way except you add your agility to the weapon strength, and the enemy can only counter-attack if they are also using a ranged weapon.
If a unit survives an attack they immediately attack the unit that attacked them, using all the normal attack rules. Each unit can only make one counter attack per turn, no matter how many times they are attacked that turn. A unit with only a melee weapon cannot counterattack when attacked by a ranged weapon. A unit with a ranged weapon attacked by a melee unit counterattacks with their knife rather than their ranged weapon.
All equipment is of a certain type with basic rules governing it; within each type there are actual items of varying cost & power (eg of type sword: short sword, long sword, fine broadsword, etc)
- None: +0 to armour; no penalties.
- Leather: +1-3 armour; no penalties.
- Chain: +4-6 armour; slight penalty to speed and medium penalty to agility
- Plate: +7-10 armour; medium penalty to speed and high penalty to agility
- Shield: +1-4 bonus to armour; bonus doubled vs 1st attack sustained each turn (shield block)
- Knife: free for all units (eg ranged units), allows basic melee attack with +0 strength
- Sword: versatile melee weapon; +strength based on quality of sword (eg short sword: +1, long sword: +2, etc); allows 'parry' which adds strength to armour vs 1st attack sustained each turn (vs melee only)
- Axe: offensive melee weapon; +strength based on quality but higher than comparable swords (double?); bonus vs shields (bonus halved?)
- Spear: defensive melee weapon; +strength based on quality, similar power as comparable swords; bonus to +strength when counter-attacking; allows 'first-strike' when attacked which lets you deliver your counter-attack before the enemy makes their attack
- 2-handed sword/axe: same special rule as 1-handed version but higher strength (eg +4); can't use shield
- Bow: Ranged attack (uses agility; can attack diagonally; melee units can't counterattack); can't use shield
The main goal here is allowing a fairly complex 'emergent' set of tactics from a simple enough system. Things that allow this are the choices of weapon types vs different targets; positioning during battles being important (ganging up is best, but difficult due to zones of control). Your first battle would feature pretty much all of the above.
Later you would add some more complexity with the 'skills' units gain as they level up. For example a scout type of unit could choose 'Evade' which lets them ignore the first zone of control they walk into each turn, and so on.
We're currently putting all this into our game prototype to play around with it; we'll feed back on what we think works in the future. Oh and if you've gotten this far, you must be some sort of hardcore turn-based strategy / RPG nerd, so give us some suggestions we could use to make the battle system better!