Monday, February 3, 2014

Mission Creation 103 - Fairness

The basic rules of making a mission fair are gone over in this post.1

So at this point you've included all the various elements that you need in order to make your mission strategic.  There are all sorts of choices that can be made to attain victory, you've limited the randomness of it, and variety is written throughout.  Now is where you start to review what you've made up, after you've drafted your ideas and put out those thoughts you've made and start to draw them in.  You may have made tons of choices in your mission and lots of different victory conditions but that doesn't mean that your game is fair by any means.  Lets see the best ways to make your mission have the same potential for both sides to win.

One of the easiest ways to find out just how one-sided your design is involves doing some theoretical calculating.  Similar to the idea of making sure that the various components of your game are actually viable towards winning the game, you need to make sure that both sides will have equal access to those goals.  If your mission has specific itineraries for one side based on their deployment zone or based on a particular terrain piece then if that is easier for one side to accomplish then you might need to do some tweaking.  However if both sides have an objective to accomplish that is to their advantage and there is another that is equally difficult for both players to achieve then you have balance.

Here's a handy tip for trying to designing a quality mission that is also fair.  Try and have an odd number of 'objectives' or goals, and don't confuse 'objectives' with hold this piece of ground.  Remember in the previous post objectives are actually plans that need to be fulfilled, whether its getting an oil tanker across the board or sabotaging some underground tunnels in a defense network of the Imperial Guard, these are true 'objectives'.  The reason to have an odd number of objectives though is it will not only make drawing the game nearly impossible (and if you write the rules right then there will be zero chance to tie unless both sides somehow get tabled at the same moment and that only applies to 40k, some games like Malifaux that doesn't even determine the winner) but it will also emphasize that concept of choice and force the players to choose between those different goals.

Another great way to check on how fair your mission is written is to simply test it out yourself.  I'd personally suggest that you determine the core of your mission if its very complex and throw that away temporarily, leaving very few objectives in.  Check with a couple of games and try a bunch of different ways to play the game and see how that goes.  After you're satisfied at that point then you can start incorporating those thematic parts of the game, the special terrain, and test that out more.  I should have mentioned this in the previous point b/c this is perhaps the most important part of designing your mission but make sure it sees play time.  Don't just write up your mission for an event or major battle and never give it a run before hand, that can easily end up with something that is one-sided and not at all what you intended.  Ways to get a game tested are simply to try playing with a friend, using 2 of your own armies (if you have multiple armies, or you can borrow a friends if need be), or if you aren't concerned about secrecy the internet is a great resource to get as many people playing as possible.  Ask them to break it and find the easiest ways to win and give you their results, and use those to fix it all.

Unfortunately this is probably the most boring part of mission creation because you're forced to get back on planet Terra and all those awesome ideas have to be set aside for more realistic rules and the fine tuning of the scenario's wording can be frustrating and tedious.  This is very logistical and can take a while depending on how much work you are going to put into it, but depending on how you are going to be using your mission in the future it will be well worth it in the future as you'll be able to re-use your balanced and personal missions time and time again.

That’s all that I have to say on making your mission fair to both sides, I think I'll do another post on balancing and invisible comp after the other 3 mission creation ideas are written about.  Hope you guys liked the post, and as always feel free to comment or critique.

As always this is Charging Carnifex, signing off.

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