Roguelike combat rules

Leonard linked to You Only Live Once. I have not tried it, despite the only about an hour of gameplay label; I want to call attention to one element of the blurb.

Extremely tactical combat. There is no randomness in combat. You always hit and always do full damage. This means that careful placement is the difference between success and failure.

I can’t decide whether this is a terrible idea or complete freaking genius. (I assume it applies to the monsters as well.)

Responses to “Roguelike combat rules”

  1. madmanatw

    It’s either. In a roguelike, is there enough else that you can do to gain or lose advantage? Most don’t really have cover, or flanking bonuses, or etc etc. I love zero randomness games- I really should give Diplomacy a shot- but most RPGs I’m not sure how well it fits. Depending on what you do, the choice between a high endcap but high variance weapon and one with a smaller range but lower high end is an interesting choice, and it vanishes if you always do full damage. Stuff like that.

    1. madmanatw

      (I’ll note that I didn’t read the blurb before posting. I’ll read it tomorrow- I’m on my way to bed.)

    2. Zack Weinberg

      Yeah. And I don’t think you could fit things like cover into a roguelike without spoiling the interface… You might be able to mess around with weapon effectiveness versus different monsters, but that probably just leads to characters walking around carrying five zillion weapons, rather like Nobbs in Men at Arms. And Nethack’s entire luck mechanic goes right out the window in a zero randomness context.

      It may work for You Only Live Once just because it’s so short and simple; I have the impression there isn’t much of an equipment optimization game in there. I should actually try playing it.

  2. fadethecat

    Bang! Howdy works like that; you always hit (unless someone’s played a specific card on you), you do damage proportional to how much health you have yet based on your unit’s particular bonuses or penalties against another unit… It’s very tactical, which is probably why I’m lousy at it. But with tick-based combat, it really is good to avoid the frustration of carefully setting up an attack or defense and then failing because of the luck of the dice.

    1. Zack Weinberg

      Right, and—despite what I said to madmanatw above—this is why I think it might be a really good move in a roguelike. What kind of equipment optimization and/or unit improvement does B!H have?

      1. fadethecat

        Fairly minimal. You get to choose one of one to six higher-powered Big Shots, and anywhere from two to four units depending on the scenario out of 4-8 (depending on how many you’ve unlocked and what town you’re in), and that’s all your unit selection. Units can pick up bonuses randomly generated across the map in-game to improve in one aspect for that scenario (until they die and respawn), and you can bring up to three cards in that let you use special effects or give out those bonuses deliberately… But the strategy is all in how you use the units you chose, and maybe the cards, on a given combination of map and scenario and how the other players are acting.

        While it’s quite strategic, it’s maybe more on the wargame than roguelike side of things: it’s all about out-manuevering the other players while working towards various goals. (Each scenario has a set goal that’s worth the most points, but you also get points for damage done and bonuses picked up, so you can lose at the main goal and still win the scenario if you’re tricky.)