Info and data for fans of the play-by-mail games Duel II, Forgotten Realms, and Hyborian War from Reality Simulations, Inc

The Hoser Report #15

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*The Hoser Report*
The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters
(c) 1988 Eudaemonic Enterprises
All rights reserved
#15 February 9, 1987
$2.00

*THE MANAGERS CORNER*


.. item two goes back to the issue of killing In the arena. I suspect that this is a matter of greater importance than we’ve been aware of. Obviously, a very serious concern is the attrition of players and the resulting thinning of both arenas and the variety of play. I can’t think of a single more demoralizing event than to have a favorite character, who you have nurtured with considerable time, energy, and money, suddenly snuffed out. it seems to me that this would be a prime factor in causing players, particularly newer players, to lose their appetite for the game and result in their dropping out. Sure, gladiatorial combat involved death but this, we must occasionally recall, is a game, not the real thing. I think however, it’s possible to strike a compromise based on the principle of “kill or be killed”. In practice it might work like this: in a kill situation, the computer would run a test by averaging the potential victim’s own kill level for the actual minutes of the fight, if this were below a certain number, say 5, the kill would fail, otherwise it would continue as previously. Nothing would stop blood feuds or those inclined to cut notches on their sword hilts. I think something along these lines would be very beneficial to the long term health of the game…. – Ed Fuchs

This issue goes back to Day One. Ed touches on several excellent points here. One being player attrition. The people who run the game want to keep you around a long time, thus we have the current system. What assumptions this makes about the average player I leave to you to ponder. I like the “kill or be killed” system. Those with sub .500 records would have to be very careful.

Another excellent point is that of losing your investment in a character. I would use this exact argument to advocate my own (narrow) perspective. Why not have a “free market” kill system? If you were about to win, and if you were trying to kill. you would have a 15% chance of success. Assuming everyone in the area on a given turn was trying to kill (very unlikely). this would lead to a maximum 7.57. mortality rate. Sure, the low end of the rankings would be a blood bath. But as your character climbed the rankings, Ed’s principle of Character investment would kick in. You would be very hesitant to risk your best characters by indiscriminate killing Managers inclined to cut notches on the sword would quickly incur the wrath and joint action of the bulk of managers. Managers marked as inordinately blood thirsty would quickly have their teams reduced to initiates. They would have great difficulty ever advancing characters. Checks and Balances.

Ed’s last point was the long term health of the game. This question has too many facets to tackle here. AD is suffering from the problems it was supposed to cure. A growing number of managers feel its to damn crowded (personally, I like it). Increased mortality would not solve these problems. It would however put off the day of reckoning until “the new game” is ready.


There goes the Pulitzer…


Dear Jeff: I have just received a copy of your Hoser Report from a friend and I saw that I was mentioned, along with a formula that I espoused in my second Duelmasters article. There were several serious errors made in your commentary.

First, you screwed up the formula something fierce. The correct formula is {Endurance = CN*WL + ST/10}. Thus, strength has very little to do with the equation, and constitution and will have the most. To increase endurance, increase the constitution if it is lower than will or increase will if it is lower than the constitution.

Second, you should be aware that I wrote the first article in Paper Mayhem #25 with several hundred fights worth of experience. Not only had I been playing the Fates and Townsend’s Guard, I was in the first Bloodgames and had a team of five AB’s in Malcorn. The article was written from my first entries into my game log about the game, which I keep on all review positions I hold. If you read it closely you’ll note several instances where I make comments about how stupid I was and the sort, which I added as hindsight into the article.

Third, I was insulted by your insinuation that the moderators of Duelmasters somehow pampered me along to get a better review for their game. Had this happened, I would be morally bound to quit their game and write a nasty piece about their interference for any of the outlets I have for PBM articles.

The equation in question was pried, not without much grumbling and squealing, from Ed Schoonover in a several hour phone conversation covering Duelmasters, Hyborian War and many other topics if you note in my article I say that the equation is a close approximation, not the actual formula they follow. There are many other variables, one being luck, added to their formula. Rest assured that you’ll never get the actual equation unless Ed defects and spills the beans I would not call it impossible for them to make subtle changes every so often to confuse any effort at breaking it.

I’d also like to point out a fact that few seem to notice while they are busy trying to break some of the game parameters. Armor seems to have little to do with the endurance use as I found out when I had Jim Townsend (my lunger and Duelmaster in #27) was (sic) placed in full plate in an accident (I wrote APA instead of APL). He lasted for three minutes at 10-10-10-L, 5-7-6-L-n-n and 10-10-10-L respectively before going down from exhaustion. Without armor he has not been able to break the four minute barrier at these levels, either. I believe that I know the reason, as I’ve been fiddling around with a combat program on my computer and have seen how the game looks to be put together. As a hint, note that fighters go out of desperate status at the end of a minute – Jim Townsend (Associate Editor – Paper Mayhem, President Pfodd Enterprises)

Well, you can probably imagine my chagrin at reading this letter. I called my source for this information (to compound the embarrassment, I now have to admit I don’t read Paper Mayhem) to confirm this. I asked the dumb Hoosier to read back the formula given in issue #26. And yes, it is CN * WL + 1/10 ST. While it appears similar to the formula I was supplied with, it isn’t. I clearly did not screen diligently. Had I read article, I might have also known that Jim was not a rookie manager. My apologies.

Looking at the formula, it will give numbers from 9.3 to as high as 443.1 (but usually around 150). Does this mean that some characters are capable of 47 times more attacks than others? That’s real approximate. The real question is whether or not it is useful. So long as you always use the same formula for all of your characters, it should give you an idea of how much endurance a new gladiator has (compared with your current stable).

As for the relationship between reviewer and moderator, let me clarify my statements. Perhaps some people came away from my comments with the impression that one hand is washing the other (as they say in Chicago). That is not what I said.

Anyone in business knows that some customers deserve more attention than others. Would you deny this? I didn’t think so. The extra effort is on the part of the moderator. Because of this some people have better access than others (even though they don’t seek it, or necessarily use it). I have no doubt that game reviewers do not desire special treatment. I find it unfortunate that these reviewers don’t review the game under a pseudonym. Such conditions would assure the type of review that the consumer deserves to see.

At the time I was at RSI, two review positions were underway. These players had questions on game mechanics. Do you think they got the mail-merge form letter from the “Customer Service Department”? What they got was a personal letter, with a name and signature at the bottom (the name usually being Paul W. Brown III, President, Reality Simulations). You can bet your longspear they had it before their next turn due date. And lastly, what do you think the chances of Average Joe Player having “a several hour phone conversation covering Duelmasters, Hyborian War and many other topics” with game designer Ed Schoonover are (not to mention getting an “approximate” equation)?

HOSE KNOWS
Questions & Answers

Q.: Why do fighters with a high wit (19+) have a greater chance of being killed then warriors with a lower wit?

A: There is nothing about high WT in and of itself that makes a character more vulnerable to dying. It is more likely what you are seeing is death due to a lack of hit points. Whenever you have a high attribute, something else (CN, WL) has to suffer.

Q: Did you notice the new envelope RSI sent out with our turn results this time? Could this mean they are finally ready to unveil the new game? I’ll believe it when I see it.

A: How could one miss it? At the risk of putting my size 11 Nikes in my mouth (again), I thought that Paper Mayhem said something about RSI buying someone elses game. Perhaps this is hinting at the new “Advanced Duelmasters”, or the Hyborian War rumored rewrite. Perhaps it is more vaporware (or the PBM equivalent). In any event, I share your sentiment.

Q: Got a question for the Hoser (finally). You may or may not have noticed my new PR, (name withheld). I’m having trouble running him. I run him like the DM guide says, but so far he’s 1-5-0. Stats are 11-11-12-17-9-7-17 and he has his advanced X in riposte. He has five descriptions under intelligence so his luck factor s/b OK. So far I’ve used an epee and a small off hand weapon. He gets most of his ripostes of OK, but everyone blocks his strikes (from rip.). Am I running him wrong? Or is he DA meat because of his speed? Help! He’s dragging my W/L down.

A: I don’t think that this character is DA meat because of his speed. It is lower than you would like to see for his style, but WT and DF of 34 compensate rather well. Advanced X inside of 6 fights backs this up.

In reviewing the strategies from the Handbook which you say you use, I see the author consistently advocates a low activity & offense, and opening parry tactic. With the program changes that weakened parry a new character shouldn’t be doing this (check the most recent Battle Report). Try to up your offense to the 3-5 range, activity to 5-? (allowing for endurance, which won’t be great), and drop the parry tactic in favor of riposte. You definitely want to end the fight in 3 minutes or less (at this point). Try a heavier damage weapon so your few hits count (LO or SS, the marginal increase in damage outweighs the marginal increase in weight). Unfortunately, learning and losing can form a nasty circle. But learning (and attack skills) will come. If your W/L is causing you to lose sleep, fill one of your team slots with a Dixie Cup to compensate.

Character Damage Ratings

For those managers who are primarily interested in guidelines to be used for character design, here is a summary of the data (n = 390) from Mike LaPlante’s database:

                         Little damage (n = 20)
           Average    Minimum    Maximum    Standard Deviation 
ST         9.0        4          12         2.3 
SZ         6.3        4          10         1.7 
ST+SZ      15         8          18         2.1

                       Average damage (n = 108)
           Average    Minimum    Maximum    Standard Deviation 
ST         11         3          15         2.4 
SZ         9.4        4          15         2.2 
ST+SZ      20         15         25         2.4

                         Good damage (n = 174)
           Average    Minimum    Maximum    Standard Deviation 
ST         12         3          21         3.0 
SZ         11         4          18         2.7 
ST+SZ      24         16         31         2.9

                         Great damage (n = 73)
           Average    Minimum    Maximum    Standard Deviation 
ST         14         8          21         3.0 
SZ         15         8          21         2.7 
ST+SZ      28         20         34         2.1

                       Tremendous damage (n = 13)
           Average    Minimum    Maximum    Standard Deviation 
ST         15         10         21         4.2 
SZ         18         14         21         1.8 
ST+SZ      33         29         39         2.8

                        Awesome damage (n = 2)
           Average    Minimum    Maximum    Standard Deviation 
ST         18         15         21         4.2 
SZ         19         18         19         0.7 
ST+SZ      37         34         39         3.5

Two of the basic premises on damage are that SZ is weighted more heavily than ST, and you begin with a particular rating and have a chance of getting the next highest rating.

The first premise is supported by empirical evidence, and also by standard deviations. Note that in every damage class the standard deviation for SZ is less than that for ST, exactly what we would expect to see. In Mike LaPlantes original database, approximately 3% of the characters did not fit the second observation. That is for the enact ST and SZ, there were characters representing three classes (i.e., average, good, and great).

About three years ago a change was made in the damage rules. Every character in the game was reviewed and some were promoted one class (I run one of these characters in AD). I am assuming that the small percentage of characters who don’t fit the mold are from that time. Given the low mortality rate, this is not unreasonable. In any event, their numbers are small and I threw them out of the database.

Another interesting note is the range of ST+SZ. It averages about 10. Looking at the data graphically, it jumps out at you. I had speculated in HR #12 that chances for increasing damage worked in a similar fashion to attribute increases (i.e., a d20). This was because there are 18 increments between 3 and 21, allowing a base chance of 15X and 5% increments to 100% (the next class). it appears that I was wrong, a d10 may work better.

The range is not perfect however. For the high damage classes it is short. This is probably because I used the actual character SZ, not the weighted SZ. For Average and Good damage, the range is broad. I am not sure if penalties for small SZ/ST would account for all of this or not.

What is most important is being able with reasonable certainty to avoid wimpy damage. If you are interested in trying to break it down further, send me a SASE (39c) and I’ll send you a copy of the database.

The Parry Lunge

Let me begin this by saying that this is perhaps my favorite style (next to lunging), so my normal opinionated viewpoint will be slightly more so. The game designer once wrote in the arena newsletters that this is the most balanced style. I believe it. A good parry lunger can assume almost any role that does not require decisiveness or responsiveness. Note. the key word “good “.

The roll-up: Strength should not be less than 9. Not only are there weapon considerations involved, but you must keep in mind damage and endurance. As far as an upper limit, try 15. Higher levels may work, my experience has been mixed. It sure is nice to be able to use a HL, but how many times do you actually face an opponent in plate?

I’ve always advocated low-con characters, so for a minimum try 3. Yes, there is a risk but you can usually raise it to a safe 5. Keep in mind at these low levels, you will have to compensate by adding to WL and/or ST. Preferably WL. If you are blessed with an ultra low CN character, travel lightly and invest the bonus wisely. For an upper limit I like 13. If you have more CN than this, think of making this character a different style (LUA, WST).

I would recommend the same range for SZ as for CN. Most people will tend toward TPS, AIM, PRP, or PST at the lower sites. I guess I would too, but that doesn’t mean that the very small parry-lunge wouldn’t work. If you proceed with a SZ of 6 or less, boost strength so the guy will have some punch. Once again, for the larger gladiators you’re better off looking at a different style. The very large parry-lunge will have lesser dodging ability and high initiative both of which degrade defense. If you’re not going to have good defense, might as well be a lunger.

WT, WL, and DF are the money stats. You can’t have too many points invested in any one. Your attack, parry, initiative, and riposte come from WT and DF. Emphasize WL (attack, parry, endurance, intangibles) and either of the other two. Minimum WL is 15. If you go much lower, the option of being a pseudo-lunger is much less attractive (exhaustion losses).

With DF you can go down to 11 and still use all good parry-lunge weapons excepting the EP (which I do not view as a good PLU weapon). As for minimum WT, I prefer 13 but you can go as low as 11 if you’re patient. Lastly there is SP. Whatever this attribute does for you, WT and DF do better. If you get 13 or higher, be thinking PST, STA, PRP, or possibly BAS.

Offensive Effort and Activity Level: Parry-lunge is really an offensive style wearing a very thin disguise. The lowest offensive effort I have found practical is 3. I’ve tried lower, the result is usually pretty ugly. Go as high as situation and endurance dictate. For activity, remember that mobility is key. I’ve gone as low as 3, but usually only after active minutes to rest. I feel overall defense suffers. Try 5 as the normal minimum. There is no maximum, but keep in mind at 8+ you will be very active. Change tactics from parry to riposte, dodge, or lunge (depending) at 8+.

Kill Desire and Targeting: At you discretion. Many managers feel that some styles hit certain areas better than others. If so, for the PLU target the abdomen.

Armor & Weapons: Will largely be dependent upon ST/CN, but favor light armor. Ringmail or less with a full helm makes a good combination. As for weapons, any sword or spear is fair game. The SC or LO are excellent choices. Try an off hand medium shield or shortsword. Carry one back-up weapon. I see people with as many as four (even in AD!), one has to wonder if they are going into a duel or a crusade. We seem to be in a phase of low breakage.

The first 5 fights: Fortunately, as a style the parry-lunge tends to learn parry and initiative. But parry will be weak at first. Do not rely on any defense for more than 1 minute at a time. Many managers advocate 10-10-L for the first 5 fights. This is very effective (especially against BAS), but learning is the pits. Try this strategy if challenged, raise stats.

Styles to avoid are LUA, BAS, SLA, and PST. Make an effort to go after BAS, AIM, and other PLU. Vs. TPS. PRP, WST, and STA your strategy will be dependent more on individual opponent. Exceptions will be lame characters of any style.

Don’t go higher than 5-6 vs. the PRP (you’ll be playing into his ability). Never use the parry tactic against a lunger or PLU who thinks he is a lunger. Parry and riposte strategies are effective against BAS, keep activity level up.

If you can get the person you want, go for skills. Try to open on defense, but don’t let the fight go longer than 3 minutes until you’ve got skills under you’re belt. The only reason you ever want to have longer fights than this is to avoid predictability. Try 3-6-P (despite what I said earlier), 3-8-R, 3-8-D. Almost anything goes on offense. In fact, some PLU are faster than many LUA.

Climbing the Rankings: As your skill totals grow, you can move away from the standard “parry then lunge like hell” mindset (but you don’t have to). In middle minutes, try dropping your defensive tactic. You’ll also find that 5-6 is a good alternative to 10-10-L. If you survive minute 1, the only character likely to do the 10-10-L on you are other PLU’s. Otherwise, have fun.

Odds & Ends

No sooner had I published HR # 14 than Fingal called to say that his Aimed Blow theories had impacted head-on with the real world. Oh well.

From now on please make checks payable to me, not the Hoser Report. My new bank seems to have a problem with this, and it may be a few weeks before I can select a new bank. Thanks in advance.

Here are the changes in weapon requirements that have been brought to my attention:

GA raised to SZ 7
ML raised to DF 7
LS lowered to SZ 5
MS lowered to DF 11

Please send requests (and SASEs) for character databases directly to Mike LaPlante. I have only ST/SZ/damage info at this time (accidentally trashed the rest). If you would like that, I will mail you a copy.

Due to increasing demands on my time, the Hoser Report will be published every fourth week (instead of every third) from now on.

Jeff Morgan

The Hoser Report #14

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*The Hoser Report*
The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters
(c) 1988 Eudaemonic Enterprises
All rights reserved
#14 January 19, 1987
$2.00

*THE MANAGERS CORNER*

Dear Jeff: I have given careful thought to your comments concerning character roll-ups. I must admit, (I) can find no flaw in your reasoning for character optimization by characteristic. It certainly seems like a logical means of optimizing skills at the earliest possible moment and skills implies viotories and victories implies playing for free – a worthy goal.

But, there are some of us who are not concerned with the financial rewards of a successful team as much as with the challenge of developing each character to the limit of their potential and amassing data on a particular fighting style.

Many times I have heard the term “scumming” used to describe the Total Parry style – and many complaints that the Total Parry style dominates arenas. I humbly suggest that it is the fault of the managers of that arena that they allow these turtles to plague them. Why? Because the Aimed Blow style is not a popular style – yet my experience is that they are generally more than a match for Total Parrys. I even had one Aimed Blow specialist carve up a Total Parry in plate armor with a full helm using an epee! On the other hand, the Aimed Blow specialist seems to be quite vulnerable to the more decisive styles – at least in the early going.

Two of your roll-up characters from the #10 Hoser Report have characteristics which allow the manager to create a reasonable Aimed Blow specialist: numbers 3 and 4.

Number 3: Gotcha, Aimed Blow specialist

ST:  (6)         11     0-15       EP/HA 
CN:  (9)          9     16-23      SC/SH 
SZ:  10                 24 +       LO/ME 
WT:  (11)        15 
WL:  (9)          9     Armor: ALE/APL 
SP:  (11)        11     Helm: Any 
DF   (14)        19     Training CN, then SKILLS

The Aimed Blow specialist is an offensive style, consequently, the offensive effort should be generally high, 8 – 10. Activity level is a matter of situation. I have used from 3 to 10 with good effect. Kill desire is also a matter of situation (and choice). I have used from 3 to 10, but have only registered kills during minutes with a low kill desire (as low as 3!).

Initially, Gotcha could be run as a lunger ( 10-10-10-L) using the weapons suggested above and attacking the legs. Or, he could be left to his own devices ( 10-6-6, 9-3-6) aiming anywhere. With a deftness of 19, he would have little trouble in finding chinks in any armor ( I have found that the Aimed Blow specialist goes for perceived weak spots regardless of the attack location specified).

Number 4 The Nerd, Aimed Blow specialist

ST:  (12)      13      0-15      EP/HA 
CN:  (9)       9       16-23      SC/SH 
SZ:  11                24 +       LO/ME 
WT:  (21)      21 
WL:  (4)       10      Armor: ALE/APL 
SP   (4)        5      Helm: Any 
DF:  (9)       15      Training: CN, then SKILLS

The Nerd will probably have low endurance and low carrying capacity, so blast out (10-10-10-L) as a lunger and watch them fly. Or out-scum the world all dolled up in the latest plate armor if you find that El Nerdo cannot win in the first minute. Fingal, manager of the Fiends, Arkers arena


A Schmuck’s Rebuttal

This is just a short rebuttal to “The Managers Corner” in HR # 12.

I ) Profanity is never called for.

2) I never said it was great to have my best warrior killed. I simply said I liked being in a deadly arena (especially when my two closest allies and myself combine for 53 kills).
3) I hope you like the face of indifference mixed with the slightest hint of disappointment, that’s what you would have seen. No use crying over spilled milk.

Well, that’s about it. I thank you for your time. – Respectfully yours, Schmuck


HOSE KNOWS
Questions & Answers

Q: Any tips on the Aimed Blow fighter?

A: Many managers have written me to ask what the secret of the aimed blow style is. Had I known what it was earlier, I would have written about it. I believe I know now. Like most problems, once you see the answer you’re surprised at how easy it really is. I had a phone call from Fingal a few weeks ago, and he apparently has been having success fighting several aimed blow fighters. His reasoning (those of you with strikers might also find this interesting) is that this style has a wide range of weapons and tactics available. Therefore, he should be able to mimic most other styles. What is the most universally successful style? Treat yourself to a beer if you said lunging. He sets up his aimed blow fighters like lungers, and its working for him.

This really makes a lot of sense. The only problem I see is that most aimed blow fighters are not designed with endurance in mind. Fingal’s strategies use the maximum amount of endurance. If it doesn’t work for you in minute one, you’re in big trouble. On the other hand, this style has the lowest endurance cost. If you manage an aimed blow fighter, its certainly worth a try (the masochists who run this style have probably tried everything else).


NEX Updates

As promised, here are the characters sent to me thus far. This should keep you database junkies busy until March. We’ve seen quite a few of these now, and the enterprising manager should soon be able to work backwards (for the major styles) to style modifications and initial character percentages using techniques outlined in earlier issues. My own analysis for the intellectually lazy and/or confused will be coming in the near future. As you analyze these stats, take note of these factors:

1) The influence of stat raises. In some cases, they were raised after the expert status was reached. In others they do not affect a skill area until extremes are reached (15, 17, or higher; see tables on following pages), or at all.

2) Look at characters of the same style, but slightly different stats. For example if you are looking at attack skills for a parry-lunge look at the attributes that contribute to that skill area (ST/WT/WL/DF) if in doubt consult HR #2 & #3 or the Duelmasters Handbook. Then, look at the number of break points difference.

3) Look at warriors with very similar stats, but different styles. This will point out the different weights (skill area modifications) that the game designer has used.

4) Note there are two identical WST fighters. They are managed by the same individual, yet have different NEX. I called this manager to see if there was not a record keeping error involved. There apparently was not. This little item is another bit of evidence supporting the mysterious luck factor. Good luck.

ST     CN     SZ     WT     WL     SP     DF          Style          #1
11     11     6      11     15     19     11          SLA 
Exp. Decisiveness of roll-up

ST     CN     SZ     WT     WL     SP     DF          Style          #2
17     15/13  7      12/10  16/15  7      17/15       WST
NEX Attack = +4, WT to 11, DF to 17; NEX Parry = +5, WT to 11, DF to 17 

ST     CN     SZ     WT     WL     SP     DF          Style          #3
10     9      21     13     10     9      12          LUA 
NEX Initiative = +1

ST     CN     SZ     WT     WL     SP     DF          Style          #4
11/10  10     8      15     15     11     15          PRP
NEX Riposte = +2 

ST     CN     SZ     WT     WL     SP     DF          Style          #5
17/16  11/10  16     15/13  11/10  10/9   11/10       BAS
NEX Attack = +6, ST to 17, WT to 15, DF to 11; NEX Decisiveness = +8, WT to 15; NEX
Initiative = +4, WT to 15, DF to 11 

ST     CN     SZ     WT     WL     SP     DF          Style          #6
13     10     15     15     5      15     11          BAS
NEX Initiative = +2 

ST     CN     SZ     WT     WL     SP     DF          Style          #7
12/10  15/14  8      13/10  19/18  14/13  13/11       PST 

ST     CN     SZ     WT     WL     SP     DF          Style          #8
11     10     11     15/13  13     13     14/13       PST 

ST     CN     SZ     WT     WL     SP     DF          Style          #9
9      12     9      15     9      13     17          PRP 

ST     CN     SZ     WT     WL     SP     DF          Style          #10
9      3      15     11     12     17     17          SLA 
Exp. Initiative on roll-up

.
.
.
(up to #42, removed for brevity by Terrablood. I don't want to type them in.)

And if that is not Enough…

The following are all I have received to date for skills vs. attributes. Notice that this is not very complete. Compiling this information takes lots of time, even with many managers contributing. These figures were obtained using the Golden Rule of 4, if you have missed earlier issues. I have made a few guesses which are clearly shown, as are “semi-confirmed” results. For example, we can never know what an attribute of 3 does, since you can’t increase a stat to 3. However, there does appear to be a fair amount of symmetry present so when I see a result for a 21 1 assume that 3 has the same effect in the opposite direction. And, when reading these you include each bonus/penalty before it. So if you have a ST 17 you have a total bonus of 10%, or an additional 5% above ST 15.

Strength

      3     5     7    9    11   13   15   17   19   21 
Att.  -10?  -10?  -5   -5   0    0?   +5   +5   +10  +10 
Par.                   -5   0?   0?   +5   +5

Wit

      3     5     7    9    11   13   15   17   19   21 
Att.              -5?  -5   +5?  +5   +5   +5   +5   +5?
Dec.                                       +5
Dod.                             +5
Ini.                             +5
Par.                             0
Rip.                                  +5   +5

Will

      3     5     7    9    11   13   15   17   19   21 
Att.  -5?         -5   -5   0    0    +5   +5   +5   +5
Dec.
Par.                   -5   0?        +5   +5

Deftness

      3     5     7    9    11   13   15   17   19   21 
Att.                   -5   +5   +5
Ini.                                       +5
Par.                                       +5


Odds & Ends

Many people have asked about the questions that Ed Schoonover has offered to field. Sorry, I dropped the ball on this one. But I have now sent Ed 10 questions, so for those who have been asking, it shouldn’t be too much longer now.

Have you been looking for a better way to keep track of the accomplishments of your gladiators? If you run a few teams, you very quickly reach the point of having to search through several hundred pounds of paper to find what you want. What you really want is information, not wood pulp. To that end, Edward Fuchs has designed the Duelmasters Character Development Sheet. This nifty sheet allows one to track the lifetime achievements of each gladiator (20 fights per sheet), it is spacious and well laid (!). it may not contain everything you track, but if you made it a two-sided sheet you would need nothing else for record keeping. If you do hang on to old fights, this will very quickly reference each fight for you. It will be the last page of the next issue if you would like to make a (gasp!) photocopy of it. Also in the next issue: the latest encumbrance table, a look at damage using a 400 character database, managing the Parry Lunge (the first of ten articles on each style), and who knows what else.

The rash (statistically speaking) of errors that had been appearing in my turns have vanished as quickly as they cropped up. I am very happy to see this. To RSl’s credit, it had been many months (maybe a year) since the last input error on my turns. Unfortunately for RSI many other people have taken notice of problems, including Paper Mayhem. In a recent piece on customer service problems in the industry, RSI was mentioned prominently.

Speaking of Paper Mayhem, there was a review of the game back in issue 26 by Jim Townsend. In the review, he gives the following formula for endurance: E = (ST + CN) * WL/10. This reviewer supposedly just began playing, he described his new team in issue 25. That strikes me as a pretty big leap for a rookie manager to make. Whats the catch? This person is a GAME REVIEWER.

If you don’t think that PBM companies work at developing good relationships with these people, you’re NUTS. They of course want the most favorable reviews possible. If your game reviewer gets crushed like an insect because he didn’t have a few hundred fights experience to figure things out… My point is that this probably came from an RSI employee. It may not be exactly correct but close enough to help the guy along (then again, it could be it).

Let’s forget the source and look at the formula. It says that the relationship between ST and CN is 1:1. WL being equal, a character with a very high ST and low CN (say, 21 & 3) should have the same endurance as a character with 12 ST and 12 CN. The implication for character design is that you can offset low CN by adding to ST (for endurance). For attribute increases, it makes no difference which you raise if endurance is your concern. The real big news here is WL. Because it is a multiplier, adding 3 or 4 points here can have an enormous effect. If this is indeed the case, it would nicely explain why characters with 9 or less WL are always short winded. By the way I called Database La Plante with this. He didn’t like it.

And getting to databases, Mike has offered to share his with anyone who could make use of it. Just send me (or him, we both have hard copies) a SASE (39¢). It currently has about 400 characters (unidentified of course) in it. Mike has 200 more to add but has memory problems with his computer so I will be putting it all together. If you have access to a Macintosh you can send me a 3.5″ disk (400 or 800K) and I will return it with the file plus a few goodies.

The new Handbook is out for those of you interested. Have you noticed that some tables in the Handbook are slightly off? I’ve noticed it also. I started managing a 5 DF basher (heresy!) knowing I could use a ML. Surprise, that now requires 7 DF. Perhaps I’m being obtuse, but I don’t see how this particular change is an improvement in the game. The people I know who are dropping the game are not dropping because they know the weapon requirements.

It would seem that the powers that be have been up to a little monkey business. Of course they are fully within their rights to do so. One would hope that these same people would ask themselves if record keeping players (i.e. everyone) figuring out these requirements is the Worst Problem they had. Sometimes RSI makes no sense at all.

Of course you can count on seeing the changes in the Hoser Report, this will give me a little something to do for next time (by the way, the Handbook has caught some of them). This sudden change in what we all felt was a constant illustrates the value of a newsletter like this when everyone contributes. I would be most appreciative if you would drop me a card or call (NOT during football or basketball games!) when you see these things happen. Thanks.

Jeff Morgan

The Hoser Report #13

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*The Hoser Report*
The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters
(c) 1987 Eudaemonic Enterprises
All rights reserved
#13 December 8, 1987
$2.00

*THE MANAGERS CORNER*


CHANGES IN THE BONUS AWARDS
RSI takes a step in the right direction

As I’m sure you’re all aware of by now, RSI has announced it’s latest changes to the Duelmasters system, that is the bonus awards, or as my friends know them: Free turns. I’ll skip over the small print and minute details, and get right to the heart of the matter.

Although I haven’t been around along time like our favorite Hoser, Mike La Plante and numerous other experienced veterans, I feel that I can represent a view of these changes, and how they help the newer teams. Right away, I can hear numerous cries of “foul” coming from most of the veterans, especially those who run excessive number(s) of teams. These guys are worried that they won’t be able to “rape the system” any more with their impressive win-loss records. But aren’t these the same guys who are complaining to RSI that all of their arenas are dying? Have any of you ever considered why this phenomena is occurring? Beginning managers and semi-experienced ones alike have always had dreams of capturing top team, or one of the top warrior titles so that they would be able to enjoy their turns gratis. But when some wily veteran sits up on the top rank with his .700+ winning percentage while fighting 1 or 2 fighters a turn, it’s not too hard to figure out that it will end up costing him a fortune. Under the new system, discounts are based more on present achievements, making it much harder for everyone to rest on their laurels.

With unchartered and chartered teams, the new teams in the arena will finally have something to fight for. The opportunity to win these illustrious awards should help make the prospect of staying in DM more enticing to these rookies. Consequently, the arenas of Alistari should begin to repopulate and complaints of non-existent arenas should come to a gradual halt.

Sure the veterans at the top won’t be able to run their full fledge of half a dozen or more teams anymore, but with the increase in participants, isn’t it better to have ten people enjoying the game, rather than a single person getting bored of his ten teams? – Garth Werner

… I’ve been checking Mike La Plante’s formulas for ENC, HIT, etc. on my own computer and so far everything has agreed 100% with my roll-up statements. However, I agree with you that WL is understated in the formula he uses for END, I just can’t tell by how much.

One last thing… you gave me some advice on a replacement lunger I got … you said he would be good for maybe the first 5 fights, then DA him and hope for a better replacement. With this in mind I named him D.C. Warrior ( Dixie Cups. He is now 7-0-0, learns an average of 3 skills per fight and does better now then when he first started (he beat an 11-11-2 lunger last turn!). I almost sent D.C. to the DA on his first turn. Thanks for convincing me to give him a chance. – Mike Troxell, P.O. Box 545, So. Pittsburg,TN 37380

Glad to hear your subscription is paying off. Perhaps you should keep D.C. a few more turns!

Jeff just a quick reply to that moron who ask(ed) “Are the number of skills really worth sacrificing your attributes?”. Yes they are! For about a year and a half all I I did was to raise stats. (T)hat was a team in the low .400 and my highest warrior (was) in the champions. Now that I’ve changed to skills for all but two or three raises I have moved my average into the high .500 and a 11-2-0 duelmaster. – Patrick J. Myers, 107 S. I 2th St., Akron, PA 17501

If you have been playing for 18 months. moving your W/L that far upward is impressive. But did you consider the manager who asked that question may have been a rookie, as you once were? Please keep the insults where they belong, in the personal ads of your arena newsletter.

HOSE KNOWS
Questions and Answers

Q: I have a warrior who I think is pretty good. What do you think of him?

Initial          16   13   6    13   17   8    11
Present          17   13   6    13   17   9    12 
Desired          17   15   6    15   19   9    13

I intend to train CN, WT, and DP each two points from the initial stats. Do you think I should train those attributes first, or go all out for skills? How close is he to any experts?

A: I’d like to run a WST like this. Raising CN to 15 will make this guy a real brick, which is what you want with this style. Do it soon. As for WT and DF, I would not but that is your decision to live and die by. Since he is SZ 6 he’s bound to be good regardless (why don’t you wait until he has a few experts and then see what the raises do?). Learning should be good with a WT/WL of 13/17, make sure your fights last past minute 1. If you forego most of the attributes now you can plan on an AD invitation in about 25 fights. Once there, you can plan on adding about 5 points to each attribute.

The advantage of a 13 DF is that the MS becomes a weapon option. I have great respect for this weapon, especially for the little guy who doesn’t do much damage. Good choices at this point in time would be the BS or SC. As for being close to experts, perhaps you can determine that yourself after the update issue (HR # 14) comes out.

Q: If you really do dislike the AIM & SLA, why?

A: I don’t “dislike” any particular style. I have two goals in this game. The first is to have the highest possible W/L. The second is to have the highest possible number of kills. RSI now runs 40 or 50 Duelmasters games. I would bet a six-pack of my favorite beverage that the AIM and SLA are at or near the bottom of the style rankings in each of those arenas.

In the character design process, many people decide style first. I decide it last. What I have found is that it takes a very special gladiator to make it as an AIM or SLA. Such characters would be even more successful practicing a different style.

Q: I’ve been playing DM for more than a year now and would like to know how long DM has existed.

A: I don’t know the exact dates, but the playtesting began a year before I started playing. That would be in the spring of ’83. The turnaround between turns was very slow so there were not a large number of turns played. Regular turnaround did not begin until of August of ’84 (at which time the name “Gladiators” was dropped).

ANALYZING A FIGHT RESULT

The fight is a result of an interaction between two fighters (which can be described in the terms we’ve been using all along, percentages, points, etc.) and two strategies. As the skill percentages of your gladiators increase the text lines begin to tell you more about your fighter. More importantly they give you clues to what your opponent is doing. Consider the following:

Result = (Stats A + Strategy A) * (Stats B + Strategy B)

The multiplication is merely an operator of convenience. The exact nature of the interaction is determined by the flowchart of the combat program. I would like to point out that the computer that determines our results must use numbers and operators. The important part of the above equation is that “strategy” and “stats” are additive. We already know about stats. Using this model we can treat the effects of “strategy” (specifically offensive effort, activity
level, and tactics) in the same manner. Like any problem, you have Knowns and Unknowns.

Known: You have been keeping meticulous records of your learning, stat raises, and expert levels (right?), and you have your minute strategies. How close can you come to the opponents stats? The answer is usually “close enough”.

The SZ of your opponent is given. You know the minimum ST/WT/DF from the weapon(s) used (some wily managers carry back-ups they can’t possibly be “well suited to” as a ploy, look at what is in his hands). If he hits you often you know what kind of damage he does, setting an upper limit on ST. If you hit the guy several times before he reaches desperation, you’re looking at high CN. The number of skills he learns will give you an idea of how far above his WT minimum he is. Tires quickly, quits after little damage? Low WL. If he has frequent stat raises (especially consecutive raises to the same stat), he’s got a high WL. This type of character also gives himself away by when he quits. Remember the relationships between ST/CN/WL, use the formulas from the HR where possible. And, you may know his expert ratings if you’re lucky. That’s quite alot of information.

Now we need to jump right in and read a fight. I have selected a fight from the last Tourney because it shows the new managers what they can look forward to, it’s not too complex, and I won it. The fight:

Engwar of Hose Machine TPS 5′ 11″ ALE/F, BA SH, BA DA

Powinski of Skull Smashers PLU 5′ 7″ ALE/H, EP SH, SH SH DA

[Those in the stands shift their attention to the warriors.] {1} Engwar strikes downward with his battle axe! {2} Powinski makes it look easy as he gracefully dodges the blow. {3} Powinski allows his foe to over-extend himself. {4} Engwar makes a slashing attack with his shortsword! {5} Powinski deflects the attack with his shortsword. {6} Powinski sidesteps, trying to throw his opponent of balance. {7} Engwar slices up wickedly with the gleaming blade of his battle axe {8} Powinski deflects the attack with his shortsword. {9} Engwar smashed through the parry with his battle axe! {10} Powinski is struck on the left rib cage! {11} Engwar strikes downward with his battle axe! {12} Powinski twists impossibly away from the blow, amazing the spectators! {13} The arena quiets in respect of the masterful dueling. {14} Powinski bats his foe’s weapon aside leaving him open to attack! {15} The weapons lock together in a test of strength. {16} Powinski slashes with his epee! {17} Engwar parrys with his shortsword to make the attack unsuccessfull {18} Engwar allows his foe to overextend himself. {19} Engwar slashes with his battle axe!

[Minute 2. Engwar is dominating the contest!] {1} Powinski contorts his body inhumanly as he unbelievably dodges the blow! {2} Powinski bats his foe’s weapon aside leaving him open to attack! {3} From the stands a voice yells ‘Engwar, you stupid idiot!’ {4} Engwar rushes to his opponent’s weak side! {5} Engwar slices up wickedly with the gleaming blade of his battle axe! {6} Powinski deflects the attack with his shortsword. {7} Powinski bats his foe’s weapon aside leaving him open to attack! {8} Engwar rushes to his opponent’s weak side! {9} Engwar smashes at his opponent with his battle axe! {10} Powinski’s body is a blur of motion as he leaps away from the attack! {11} Powinski ducks under his oncoming foe, seizing the counterstrike! {12} Powinski slashes with his epee! {13} Engwar parrys with his shortsword to make the attack unsuccessful! {14} Engwar falls back, then leaps forward catching his foe off guard! {15} Engwar brings his battle axe hurtling down with devastating force! {16} Powinski yelps, as it takes his full strength to parry with his shortsword! {17} Powinski disengages his foe’s weapon arm and tries to steal the initiative! {18} Engwar leaps to his left! {19} Engwar brings his battle axe hurtling down with devastating force! {20} Powinski deflects the attack with his shortsword. {21} Powinski ducks under his oncoming foe, seizing the counterstrike!

[Minute 3. Engwar is showing how he won his honor!] {1} Powinski drives forward, epee stabbing repeatedly with his charge! {2} Engwar deflects the attack with his shortsword. {3} Engwar disengages his foe’s weapon arm and tries to steal the initiative! {4} Engwar defends to conserve his strength. {5} The warriors stand quietly and study each other. {6} There is a lull in the action, as both warriors pause to catch their breath. {7} Powinski blurs forward, epee stabbing suddenly with blinding speed! {8} Engwar deflects the blow with his battle axe. {9} Engwar feints an attack, freezing his opponents initiative! {10} Powinski thrusts with his epee! {11} Engwar deflects the attack with his shortsword. {12} Engwar bats his foe’s weapon aside leaving him open to attack! {13} Powinski slashes with his epee! {14} Engwar dodges left, avoiding the blow. {15} Engwar ducks under his onrushing foe, looking for the counterstrike! {16} The warriors stand quietly and study each other. {17} The trainers plainly show their displeasure! {18} Powinski slashes with his epee!

[Minute 4. Engwar’s skill at arms has him at an advantage in this fight!] {1} Engwar deflects the blow with his battle axe. {2} Engwar steps back, and then rushes forward In a counterstrike! {3} Engwar smashes at his opponent with his battle axe! {4} Powinski drops to his knees, avoiding the attack then leaping back up! {5} Powinski falls back, then leaps forward catching his foe off guard! {6} Powinski lunges wielding an epee! {7} Engwar contorts his body inhumanly as he unbelievably dodges the blow! {8} Engwar twists to the side, throwing his opponent off balance. {9} Engwar stabs powerfully upward with his shortsword! {10} Powinski is wounded in the chest! {11} It is a tremendous blow! {12} Powinski fights with the cunning of desperation! {13} Powinski is badly hurt and breathes heavily! {14} Powinski is stopped by Greywand’s legate! {15} Engwar has defeated his foe!

This is my convoluted thought process as I read a fight: In minute 1, Engwar gets clear determination and makes 4 attacks. One of these is a critical attack (line 7). Criticals have a way of getting through, and this one does for normal damage to the area targeted. Powinski executes 2 critical dodges (2, 12), and 2 normal parrys. Powinski begins 3 ripostes (3, 6, 14). One riposte was successful, and was blocked by a critical parry (17). Engwar then begins his own riposte sequence to end the minute. Note there was one comment (13) which is not important. There is one lock-up (15).

My own strategy was moderate with low activity with no tactics (I would love to share my turnsheet with you, but I must remain competitive in AD). He is PLU. If he had wanted determination he could have had it. Yet, he initiated not one attack. Offensive effort of maybe 3. The biggest due to what he is doing comes from the “riposte sequences”. A sequence normally will be 3 lines long (see lines 7-9, min. 4). Powinski’s are aborted ripostes. And there was a lock-up on one attempt. He’s holding back! Low activity level. Had he been around say 5, those ripostes would have launched. The one that did barely overcame my initiative. The fact that he did 2 critical dodges with an activity level of 3 speaks well for dodge percentage. My attack efficiency is only 1 in 4. Not much else is apparent after 1 minute.

My strategy in minute 2 is unchanged. Note lines (4, 8, 18). Obviously the opposing manager has made some type of change. Powinski made 5 riposte attempts (2, 7, 11, 17, 21), three of which aborted (4, 8, 18). One riposte was answered by a critical parry (13), riposte (14), and critical attack (15). Of 4 attacks, 3 were critical. None hit, which speaks highly of the opponent. We see the recent change to endurance cost for parry in line (16).

My conclusion is that Powinski is certainly using the parry tactic. My increased movement was one clue. Don’t be fooled by the increased number of ripostes (three of them didn’t launch, the other clue). Had I been using an aggressive strategy there would have been little way to know if his riposte was weak or if he held back. The astute manager will have noticed that the riposte sequence always follows the critical dodge.

In minute 3 Engwar goes scum mode to rest before the onslaught. Scumming now gives the opponent a chance to tip his hand, and burn endurance. The minute starts by Powinski completing his action from the previous minute (I assume that action had the probabilities associated with Powinski’s minute 2 strategy). Most of us can recognize the slowdown by lines (5, 6, 16, 17). Powinski initiates 4 attacks, one of which is critical (7). None hit.

A parry/dodge ratio of 3:1 should tell the other manager something, as should the fact that all of Engwar’s ripostes aborted. Powinski is still holding back. He either has great confidence in defense, or a problem. Have you guessed what it is? Knowing the number of initiative skills above advanced expert my fighter has, I am able to calibrate Powinski (each of his skill levels can be thus approximated, though not in this fight).

In the final minute Engwar shifts to an aggressive strategy (one many bashers would feel comfortable with). Had I done this earlier I would have easily had determination. But look what happened. He never had much of a chance to show me, but I suspect that he intended to get after his opponent. Perhaps an offensive effort of 6, with about the same activity. Had he gone much higher, he would have been in the drivers seat against a TPS.

The thing that draws my attention is how easily he quit. Combined with such a controlled strategy and low encumbrance, he is hurting for ST/WL (probably has average CN). Reviewing two previous fights confirms this, he has reached exhaustion in the 5th while in the slow burn mode. And, he raised ST to get good damage. Of course, the points have to go somewhere (WT/SP). I’ve seen him use a SH and raise DF to get the EP, piecing everything together gives me a pretty fair snapshot of this opponent. Not perfect, but good enough.

Pretty easy huh? Were you expecting a grand revelation? The point is, this should be easy. How many things can your opponent be doing? People seem to forget they’re dealing with a simple combat program. RSI is doing this for PROFIT. It is therefore in their interest to create an imagery of complexity around the product. Many managers therefore expect any explanation to be very intricate. What actually is going on may indeed be very intricate. But, a simple model works very well.


EXCERPTS FROM THE DUELMASTERS HANDBOOK

Tactics
(Part 1 of 3)

The following information, pertaining to the 5 available tactics in Duelmasters, has been obtained from the Duelmasters supplement and arena experimentation.

By using the various offensive and defensive tactics available to the particular fighting styles, you can significantly change the way a particular warrior fights. While this can be advantageous (when) used wisely, utilizing the wrong tactic against the wrong opponent can result in defeat by an inferior foe. As stated by RSI, the best advice on tactics is to use them sparingly. A warrior will always be giving up more of his total ability to focus on a particular tactic than he will gain in one area by using the tactic.

The following illustrates the tactics usable by style and is important in determining who and who not to fight.


Style versus Tactics Table


Fighting Style     BA     SL     LU     DE     PA     DO     RP     RS
BAS                ws     u      u      ws     u      u      u      u 
STA                s      s      s      ws     u      u      s      ws 
SLA                u      ws     u      u      u      u      u      u 
PST                u      u      u      ws     ws     u      s      ws 
LUA                u      u      ws     s      u      ws     s      u 
PLU                u      u      ws     u      we     ws     s      u 
WST                ws     ws     u      u      ws     u      s      u 
TPS                u      u      u      u      ws     s      s      s 
AIM                ws     ws     ws     u      ws     ws     u      u 
PRP                u      u      ws     u      ws     u      ws     u


ws = Well suited s = Suited u = Unsuited

By analyzing the above table and utilizing the Supplementary Rules, you can reasonably determine when and when not to use a particular tactic in fighting a known opponent. Listed below are some general guidelines in using tactics and more importantly, when not to use them.

Rule #1 : Never use a tactic that your fighting style is unsuited for.

Rule #2: Use tactics that are only suited, not well suited, sparingly.

Rule #3: Use tactics that your fighting style is well suited to only when you are fighting a known quantity or are reasonably sure the use of the tactic noticeably improves the natural abilities of your warrior.

Rule #4: Pay attention to the weapon you are using when modifying your fighter. Don’t use a tactic your weapon is unsuited for.

Note: The above table/rules apply to the norm ( i.e., some styles, reed fighters, will occasionally favor a tactic unsuited to his style). If you think your fighter is one of these exceptions, by all means, experiment.

Mike brings up some excellent points on tactics. The first being that overall performance is reduced by focusing. The second is that incorrect use or opponent type can be costly (most likely to happen when challenged or random match-ups). It would help greatly to know which skill areas are affected by tactic use, and what the actual percentages are. Since the percentage modifications are temporary, I can see no way (short of espionage and/or bribery of RSI employees) of deriving this information as can be done with skills & attributes.

Don’t let this discourage you however. It is easy to imagine scenarios where you must concentrate on one aspect for one, or several, minutes. What would you do in the following example?

You have a basher facing an offensive opponent whom you know to be much faster (via initiative or decisiveness). You know that he is also 7 or 8 skills above advanced expert in attack (140%). Your basher on the other hand is 2 skills past advanced expert in parry. He has learned 10 defensive skills and not yet hit expert. You have little riposte, but can carry a shield. Now suppose we knew the following:

                   AT     PA     DO     IN     RP     DE 
parry tactic      -10    +15    -5     -10     0      0 
dodge tactic      -10    -10    +15    -5     +5      0

Let’s say the opponent is a lunger. To open do you: (a) use normal bashing strategy, (b) try to use the parry tactic, or (c) try the dodge tactic?


ODDS & ENDS

I’ve went back to white paper for a couple of reasons. The first is that I don’t like to create an adversarial atmosphere That is, a few people pirating isn’t as bad as me assuming everyone is dishonest. Secondly, I will be able to send 5 page issues (when warranted) because this paper weighs less per page. And as you may have guessed, its cheaper.

RSI must have hired some new data entry people, judging by the recent sharp increase in turn errors. I would have sworn it had been a year since I had seen the last one (maybe 6 months). This gave me a chance to test the “Customer Service Department”. This apparently consists of some form letters (with your name mail-merged in). I wrote a second letter. Got another reply, and it wasn’t a form letter. Didn’t answer my question, but it was two paragraphs long (for whatever that is worth). RSI is fortunate to have such a good game.

I had a recent experience with another PBM company, Emprise Game Systems. I had requested rules for the game Warp Force Empires (strategic space scenario). Along with the rules was a survey form. I was too busy to return the survey (the best excuse I could come up with). Some time later they sent me a follow up survey, which was more of a humorous attempt to make you feel like a dog for not playing their game. I returned it, with several comments. Would you believe that the president of the company, Steve Gray, sent me a personal letter after recieving my response? He even recommended a competitors game to Mel if you are looking for a company to spend your hard earned dollars with, take a look at EGS (P.O. Box 9078-51, Van Nuys, CA 91409-9078). A company with that kind of attitude deserves a free plug (and they just got it).

What is this Eudaemonic Enterprises? The HOSER REPORT is just the first product of this business, which will be producing products for the Thinking Man. Another project which has been under way for Over a year is rapidly approaching the programming stage. An “official” announcement at this time would be premature, but I can say that it will of be of great interest to all of you (if you like a challenge that is).

Due to the time demands of the above mentioned project, and the fact I am moving, HR #14 will be delayed by three weeks to January 19. You and I both could use a break. After December 24th. please send mail to my new address:


15824 Terrace 2 Oak
Oak Forest, IL 60452-2971

In a letter recieved from a new manager, he told me with the HR he was now ready to take on the top teams in his arena. Perhaps a few words of wisdom to the newer managers are in order. You don’t necessarily become the #1 team by beating the teams above you. You get to #1 by winning more of your fights than anyone else. This means fighting people you know you can beat. Until you develop solid characters it’s wise to fight at or even below your own level (if it won’t hurt learning). Opponents may make ugly noises in the personal ads about your challenges, but that’s ok. You don’t have to live with that. What your opponent has to live with is that every time he looks at the rankings, your team is moving up.

Happy Holidays!

Jeff Morgan

The Hoser Report #12

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*The Hoser Report*
The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters
(c) 1987 Eudaemonic Enterprises
All rights reserved
#12 November 17, 1987
$2.00 

*THE MANAGERS CORNER*

Some time ago I recieved a letter from David Law with comments on the game and the HOSER REPORT. It offers a different point of view from the editor’s maximum W/L, kill-at-all-costs outlook. You might like it.

In HR #1, page 7, you made a comment about not giving every roll-up a chance… You said this wasn’t roleplaying. But Jeff, it is! I know alot of managers who don’t care whether they win or lose but really enjoy giving their characters personalities and playing them that way both in the arena and in the personal ads. To these managers it’s the interaction with other managers that makes the game fun. While I see nothing wrong with playing Duelmasters like it’s a game of poker, I myself couldn’t have any fun playing it that way…

There has been alot of info in the HR that has made it worth subscribing to… but I personally don’t take everything as gospel. As you have said, a manager needs the art of compromise I’ve also found what works in one arena doesn’t necessarily work in another. Alot expands on the “make-up of an arena (scum dominant, lungers galore or balanced)

What about killings? I know you brought up the subject a while back. Here are my thoughts on that subject. I personally am not a big fan of kills. Neither am I opposed to them. My feeling is I’m spending $11 a turn to try and improve & advance a fighter and make him a success. A respectable record, expert ratings, and respect from other managers for a well designed and well run character is what I enjoy. I know how upset I am if I lose a promising fighter so I really wouldn’t want to ruin someone elses goal or dream for their character. I’d rather give his character a good ass kicking than just go out and kill him. As for the schmuck who wrote in HR #6 about his best character getting killed and he thought it was great, all I can say is I’d love to have seen his face when he read that fight result. What a crock of shit! Yes, I know its a gladiatorial game and deaths happen. But the ancient Greeks and the early Romans didn’t kill for sport. It was skill and showmanship first. Only in the later years as the Roman empire was collapsing did they kill anything and everything that could be put in the arena.

Related to the wild eyed managers and their sunning dogs going for kills are the managers who enter an arena with 5 lungers or 3 lungers and two strikers or whatever and go out 10-10-10-L every fight and … brag how great and dominant they are. I personally don’t have any respect for managers like this. They show no skill or gamesmanship using those tactics. The funny thing is that after about 15 turns their fighters are either dead or sporting .500 records and the team is sinking fast. But they keep coming back with more lungers. Sigh!

One final note on killing. In the same issue (#6) Victor Melucci made a comment about spicing up the prose when someone does die. That would be great. Whether I kill or get killed it would be nice to read how the killer made a dramatic attack and the guy dying spouts blood or guts or his head rolls or something elegant. Like Vic said, more Erol Flynn like

In HR #8 Mark Nau makes some good points on size. I’ve always imagined DM much like todays pro boxing. You put a heavyweight in the ring against a flyweight and I’ll tell you who will win 9 out of 10 times. But DM isn’t like that. The little guy has all the benefits (at least, all of the latent benefits – ed). If the ring were large enough a great flyweight would beat a heavyweight due to speed, defense, dodge, selective attacks etc. I think DM should have progressively better defense the smaller you are and progressively better offense the bigger you are. Neither is really penalized but have their advantages. I agree there is a problem with the size requirements for weapons. It appears that everything is either SZ 3 or SZ 9 Perhaps the ME should be upped to SZ 7 or 9. GS, HL, LO, LS to SZ 12. Also the AIL to SZ 12. A better spread allowing for more distinction to SZ. Little guys get defensive bonuses but have to use whimpy weapons. Medium guys (get) decent Def/Off and good selection of weapons. Big guys get offensive bonus and killing weapons. Well?? I don’t think (the Hoser’s) idea of 72 points plus size is very sound because it’s a reaction(ary) change. Just because little guys have had an advantage for years is no reason to give big guys an equally or ( larger) advantage. There needs to be a balance allowing benefits to both sides as I’ve stated.

Editors comment: The change to initial character design I proposed may not be popular, but it’s the only one yet proposed that cleanly seperates SZ and potential ability.

HOSE KNOWS
Questions and Answers

Q: I have an AD overview that says my warrior favors a very low offensive effort and moderate activity level. It also says that he has an innate ability to use the decisiveness tactic to good effect. Does this make sense to use the decisiveness tactic with a very low offensive effort?

A: Normally, no. But, you can’t lose sight of the purpose that ”favorites” serve. When a warrior is being fought using his favorite strategy the probability of executing “critical” attacks goes up. Way up. Critical attacks give you special advantages. This doesn’t mean you should use them all of the time. Your low-moderate-decisive strategy will play into the hands of certain fighters/styles. For each fighter in your stable you’ve got to know when and where the favorite strategy can be used and what the alternative strategies are. That’s why we’re called managers.

Q: What is the thing about permanent injuries? I mean I have hit enough limbs in my fights (according to the red rulebook) to cause many such injuries, yet I’ve seen none, not even to me.

A: Permanent wounds were done by hand, as were attribute increases. Attribute increases got written into the learning program, permanent wounds didn’t. Since manual moderating was time consuming, it was dropped in November of 84.

Q: Are the number of skills really worth sacrificing your attributes?
A: If you want to reinvent the wheel, go ahead. Many many managers have been down that path. Spend 15 or so fights raising attributes, and see where it gets you. It gets you a $40 or $50 investment in a character that has limited potential. With good WT, 15 fights of learning skills gets you half way (or more) to AD.

Here is a rule of thumb you may find useful. If a character has a WT of 10 or less, he’s an excellent candidate for constant stat raises since he won’t learn much on average. Otherwise, try and keep a ratio to 4 fights of skills for every I attribute attempt.

Q: I was just wondering what size this lunger (17/9/11/21/9/4/13) would have to be to do great, instead of good, damage. And is the HL going to be a good weapon when going against TPS or AIM in APA/F? Would he be better going 10-10-L or 6-4-L against the opponent in the 1st minute.

A: Why are you worried about an attribute you can’t raise? Keep reading, a closer look at damage is further on. As for weapon selection, the HL is an excellent can opener. Your character should be very good with a HL, despite what your fight will say. Just remember not to use use it on anything less than APM. Lungers that can’t use the HL might try the SS, target LE or AM.

Against the opponents you mention, I would try the lower offense and activity levels. Your endurance will last longer, and you will be assured of determination (actually 4 sounds low, but if it works for you, hey?). If you’re not scoring hits with this strategy, raise the offensive effort as needed. Raising activity level doesn’t add to base attack percentage, which is what you want.

EXCERPTS FROM THE DUELMASTERS HANDBOOK
Reprinted with permission of Mike LaPlante

Damage (ST-SZ-CN)

Note: since luck plays a significant role here, I am currently unable to accurately predict the amount of damage your character will do based on his ST/SZ/CN. However, analysis does reveal that SZ is the most important factor In determining damage. Using my current database, the only characters that did little damage were SZ 6 or less and the only tremendous damage was done by a SZ 17 character. As SZ increases. the lowest amount of damage done for characters of the same SZ (is this a typo? – ed) also increased, irregardless of the other attributes involved. Example: A SZ 21 character with a 9 ST will do more damage than a SZ 9 character with a 21 ST. Luck seems only to raise the damage done by one class. The classes are; Little, Normal, Good, Great, and Tremendous. I have been told there is an Awesome class but this has not been confirmed in my database.

Hit Points ( 3.75 * CN + SZ + WL/2)

< 49.25         Very Frail 
49.25-55.0      Cannot take alot of punishment 
55.25-70.5      Normal 
> 71.0          Can take alot of damage

Note: There are no exceptions to the curve with the above formula. The limits for very frail and Can take alot of punishment are questionable, there was insufficient data to verify the curves at these points.

Hit points and damage are very nebulous areas. Duelmasters is not like D&D, where you can pick up the Players Handbook and look at a table to see the MS does 2d4. And, what is “good damage”? If good was 1d8 and great was 1d10, managers could make intelligent decisions on the marginal benefits and costs of training for damage.

Suppose that a tremendous damage basher with a HL can do a maximum of 20 points per hit. If so, Mike’s damage formula falls apart rather quickly (given the small spread between “frail” and “can take alot”, I see problems). As you can see, the hit points and damage abilities are dependent. If we can crack one of them, it sets the limits for the other. Let’s see what can be determined.

First, what subtracts hit points from your gladiator? It is the Total Damage the opponent does. Total damage – Weapon damage + Character damage + critical attack bonuses.

Since critical bonuses don’t happen often, Let’s ignore them. And, we’re SOL (sure out of luck) when it comes to finding out weapon damage. Mike Laplante has compiled a table of relative weights, but can you be sure that a ML swing equals 8 dagger attacks? I would rather know that a ML does 2d6+2. For some reason, the moderators don’t want us to know this. For character damage we can’t get the actual values, but we can figure out what our chances are of achieving a certain damage rating.

Let’s start with the assumption that character damage = ST + SZ. We may want to alter this later, perhaps to ST * SZ or ST * SZ/10. Remember, we are not yet bound by hit points. Hit points of damage are determined by damage class, not directly by any ST/SZ combination. I don’t think that CN figures in anywhere on how hard a gladiator hits, and I’ve never seen anything to support it.

There are multiple damage classes, of which you will fall into one with a percentage chance of getting into the next highest. Therefore two characters with identical ST/SZ don’t necessarily do the same damage. And, SZ is more important than ST, so characters with the same ST/SZ total don’t necessarily do the same damage.

Years ago when players first realized the advantage of being SZ 3 there was a great clamor for change (by those without small characters!). What the game designer did was to give bonus points for SZ above a certain level (15 or 17) and penalties for small SZ. So a 17 SZ was no longer regarded as 17, it may have been 20 or 21 for damage purposes (which would stretch the range of ST/SZ totals). And, SZ 4 was no longer worth 4 points. Obviously things didn’t change much, and there is a lesson there. Big damage is of limited value if your attack percentage is half of the opponents parry .

Getting back to the task at hand, we want to know what damage we can expect with a new character or attribute increase. What needs to be done is to make the following table for every SZ:


ST   SZ+ST     Little     Ave     Good     Great     Trem     Awe
3    6         10/90      1/10    0        0         0        0
4    7         15/80      3/20    0        0         0        0
.
.
.
20   23        0          0       15/50    15/50     0        0
21   24        0          0       12/60    8/40      0        0

Why for every SZ? Firstly, your stuck with the SZ you have making it an independent variable. Secondly, as noticed a 12 ST/21 SZ is not always the same as a 21 ST/12 SZ, even though both total 33. Given a large enough database it may be feasible to correlate the percentages to the totals from each SZ table and work backwards to determine ST/SZ weighting.

What does the table mean? The columns are the damage classes. Since a character always ends up in ONE with a chance at the NEXT, only two columns will have positive values. The others will be zero. The numbers are the total number of characters in the database that have that damage class, the number after the slash is the percentage that that number represents. For example, a new roll-up with SZ 3 and ST 3 would have a 90% chance of getting “little” damage, with a 10% chance at the next highest class. Suppose that character raises ST to 4. He then has a 20% of getting average damage. Easy, eh?

One thing you may notice is that there are 18 increments of ST+SZ (in the example table, 6 to 24). The game system seems to work in increments of 5X. The number of increments multiplied by 5x is 90%. The significance could be that you have a base 10% chance for advancing to the next class, the higher the SZ/ST total, the higher the chance (up to 100%, or the next highest class).

Now comes the hard part, determining character hit points. We have to start by making assumptions on damage. For weapons, let’s say that they are roughly similar to corresponding D&D weapons. Most will do around 3 to 6 points damage, depending. Characters. We’re back at the problem of not knowing what “good” damage means. Since we defined total damage as weapon + character, you need to ask how hard can a character using an epee, dagger, or fist hit. Unless we’re talking AIM expert, the answer is not very hard (I’d say 4 pts. max). So for the average character using the average weapon, we’re in the neighborhood of 7 hit points damage per attack.

If you accept this average, then 49 points for frail is way high. There are characters that go desperate after being hit once. Desperation should be the key, because the will roll does not come into play until then (the WL roll, or morale check, complicates things quite a bit). Desperation seems to occur when the next hit will take you out. If the average fighter (CN=12) is desperate after 3 hits, out in 4, that suggests a total of 28 hit points.

If the individual managers wish to pursue this, best of luck to them. For those who don’t I can offer this: In my experience, I found the best way to handle hit points is not to worry about the number of them, but rather worry about the number of hits you can score. And, for character design purposes, just plan not to get hit.

THE TURNSHEET – ARMOR

The more I think about it, the more I realize that armor & weapon selection is a personal preference more than anything else. Therefore, I will pass along my impressions of each type and a table from the Handbook. I have made a few additions to the table which appear in bold type.

Helms. The old rule of thumb was helm weight * 3 to get armor equivalent. The steel cap is very good protection, and only costs you two points. This also seems to be a favorite among the RSI people who play, for whatever that is worth. The helm seems to be only a marginal improvement. The full helm will turn back many blows. Some say it is the equivalent of APA, but I don’t think so. But, it is the only helm I use. After all, it is the maximum head protection available, and it only sets you back four points. A full helm gives you the option of concentrating your defensive effort elsewhere.

ALE: This is not protection, but hit point reduction. Lousy vs. edged weapons. If you have a no-con gladiator who only gets hit once, this is the perfect armor. APL: A vast improvement over ALE, very good vs. bashing weapons but still weak vs. all edged weapons. Very good for the weight, good hit point reduction but not real protection. ARM: Offers fair protection against the slash and bash, poor vs. lunging attacks. Maximum armor for low CN characters. ASM: Excellent vs. slashing attacks, particularly the SC. Minimum armor for good lunge protection, fair vs. bashing attacks. ACM: Shares weakness of ARM vs. lunge, otherwise improvement over ASM. APM: This armor will almost completely shut down lunging attacks, only heavier bashing weapons will get through. APA: Maximum protection, maximum weight. Concentrate protect locations on AM and LE. Lungers only hope is the HL. Only serious threat is bashing weapons.

Weapon vs Armor Table


Weapon          ALE     APL     ARM     ASM     ACM     APM     APA
DA              -       -       -       P       P       I       I
EP              G       G       G       -       P       I       I
HA              G       G       -       P       I       I       I
SH              G       G       -       -       P       I       I
WH              -       -       G       -       -       R       R
LO              G       G       G       -       -       P       P
MA              G       G       -       -       -       G       G
SC              R       G       G       P       -       P       P
BA              G       G       G       -       G       -       -
BS              G       G       G       -       G       -       -
MS              G       -       -       G       G       -       -
SS              G       G       G       G       -       P       P
WF              G       G       G       G       -       P       P
QS              G       G       G       R       G       -       -
GA              G       G       G       G       G       G       G
GS              G       G       G       G       G       G       G
LS              G       G       R       G       R       P       P
HL              G       G       G       G       G       R       R
ML              G       G       G       G       R       R       R

I = Ineffective, P = Poor, E = Equal, G = Good, R =Recommended

ODDS & ENDS

Have you ever wanted to ask a question of the man who designed the game? I recieved a letter from Ed Schoonover in which he asked about doing an interview for the HR. He said even the tough questions would be fair game. What I would like to do is take 10 or 20 of your best questions for Ed to answer. So, this your chance.

After a lengthy explanation by RSI late last spring of why there would be no more changes to the game, we now have a new team ranking system. The basic effects will be to recognize current performance and to spread out the distribution of free plays. Those playing entire teams for free, and established stables, probably won’t be happy. But, from what I’ve seen thus far, it looks pretty good.

How does one declare avoids in AD? Before the change you simply wrote in the manager number (which corresponds to the place in the rankings). Now, there are two manager rankings and the potential for two ranking numbers. If I want to avoid you what do I write on the turn sheet? Perhaps your team name? Some managers are running warriors from 6 or more teams, that’s pretty cumbersome. One gets the feeling that this was not thought through very well.

Most of you who write want to see an article on how to interpret your fights. So, that will be the bulk of the next HR. The following issue I will be printing the updates and attribute vs. skills tables. If there is something you want to see, let me know about it.

Jeff Morgan

The Hoser Report #11

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*The Hoser Report*
The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters
(c) 1987 Eudaemonic Enterprises
All rights reserved
#11 October 27, 1987
$2.00

*THE MANAGERS CORNER*

Designing characters I won’t have to live with!

Using example #4, I’ll attempt to create a waste that should be a pretty good fighting machine for 4 or 5 minutes. His fights probably won’t go longer than that anyhow.

The roll-up:      ST 12,CN 9,SZ 11,WT 21,WL 4,SP 4,DF 9
My creation:      ST 17.CN 9,SZ 11,WT 21,WL 9,SP 4,DF 13

I designed him to maximize attack skills (WT/ST) and parry-dodge skills (WT/DF). The only stat raises should be once each of CN and WL, otherwise study skills exclusively. This set-up should make his entrance onto the arena sands in designer plate with a matching full helm. Weapon selections may be varied using SC/ME vs. light, MS/ME vs. medium, and BA two-handed vs heavy armors. Carry one back-up SC for those weapon breakage surprises. For strategy, use the following or something close.

Minute            1   2   3   4   5   6   D
Off.              3   3   8   8   5   5   1
Act.              4   3   3   3   2   2   4
Kill              3   3   4   8   5   5   1
Off. Tactic
Def. Tactic       P   P                   P

While I’m not thrilled with a 9 WL, I don’t believe it will be a major factor with this guy. Most fights will be over in 4 minutes or less. If his parry ability is exceptional, drop APA for ASM to save endurance. Other fun creations:

      ST   CN   SZ   WT   WL   SP   DF
#1    12   12   11   15   15   9    9   Lunger
      13   16   11   9    17   9    9   Lunger
#2    21   15   13   5    15   7    9    
Basher. 10-10-10 Dec. vs off. or 10-2-10 Bash vs parry styles, wear APA,
use ML.
      16   16   13   6    15   7    9    
Total Parry. Infuriate your enemies as you scum your way to victory,
APA/F with BS/ME.
#3    11   9    10   15   13   11   15   
Slasher. SC two handed- vs. light or BS two-handed vs. heavy armor.
Attack arms, protect arms. Don't use slash tactic til minute 2 or 3. 
Wear ALE/S, 10-6-4 good 1st minute

David E. Law, Jr., 724 Frances Ave., Petersburg, NJ 08270

Here’s how I would design your characters:

     ST   CN   SZ   WT   WL   SP   DF_
#1   11   13   11   15   16   9    9    He'd be a lunger
#2   17   12   13   9    15   9    9    Typical death lunger
#3   11   9    10   17   11   11   15   Parry-riposte
#4   14   9    11   21   10   4    15   TPS

Alan Yip

For what it’s worth, here’s what I’d do with your 4 roll-ups

     ST   CN   SZ   WT   WL   SP   DF
#1   11   13   11   15   16   9    9    Lunger
#2   19   13   13   8    13   9    9    Dixie Cup lunger
#3   9    9    10   15   15   12   14   Parry-riposte
#4   12   12   11   21   10   5    13   Scum - TP

Donald Fasig Jr.

*HOSE KNOWS *
Questions and Answers

Q: Has anyone ever made it back from the DA?

A: It does happen, but very rarely. If you try to win DA fights, you may get a free kill. You can always send the character back in next turn if you still want to get rid of him.

Q: An aside on the topic of a program and flowchart. A puzzle (to me) is the various lengths of the ‘minutes’. From a page to six lines. May be a very mundane reason for this I am sure.

A: This gets into the actual program mechanics, which is impossible for the player to discern. I would speculate that there is a maximum number of actions possible per minute equal to the number of segments per minute by which the game program reckons time. The action will be dependent upon the interaction of offense and activity levels. Using low numbers causes one to by-pass opportunities to act. Using high numbers means a high probability of acting in each segment, leading to many more lines of text per minute.

Q: After your warrior becomes extremely skilled (say he has achieved 4-5 advanced experts) is it advisable to continue using tactics? I heard that when you get that skilled, tactics don’t really help you, they just lower the overall ability of your warrior. What are your thoughts on the subject?

A: In a manner of speaking, you are correct. That is, tactics always lower the overall warrior effectiveness. Where is the advantage of using them? Less experienced warriors only tend to one thing well

(or few things well). The appropriate tactic can boost that ability. It degrades certain other skill areas, but if they are non-existent anyway (example – a bashers dodge ability) the performance loss is meaningless.

On the other hand, very experienced warriors can utilize less predominant skills to an effective degree (depending on opponent type). The loss in performance due to tactics is more pronounced (although it may not be critical), and the enhanced skill area may not need enhancing to start with.

The case for tactics is that you can’t do everything at once. By gaining every possible bonus to a select area you may be able to overwhelm your opponent in your selected minute. If you are trying to dodge, chances are you’re not too concerned about a 10X attack loss (or vice versa). if this is the case, tactics are most effective when you are playing the offensive and activity extremes and least effective for the moderate strategies.

Q: it is amazing how the sample roll-ups in HR #10 seemed to be familiar. Roll-ups #2 & #4 are the exact duplicates of two of my recent roll-ups. What an interesting fact…. What are the odds of having two of the same roll-up?

A: Astronomical, given the potential combinations of seven numbers between 0 and 21 whose sum is 70. But I too have noticed duplication of replacement characters, on two other occasions (both replacements were issued within days of each other). This suggests an intentional duplication or bias. or a program problem perhaps relating to the generation of random numbers. In any event, you’re going to get plenty of free advice on your replacements.

EXCERPTS FROM THE DUELMASTERS HANDBOOK
Reprinted with permission of Mike LaPlante

One of the areas that hasn’t been talked about yet is how attributes relate to the physical capacities of your gladiators. The author has taken the attributes of over 300 gladiators and found the best statistical fit between overview statements and actual attributes. Here are the preliminary results.

Encumbrance (ST * 1.5 + CN * .75)
< 20           		Can carry very little  
20.25 - 24.75  		Can carry little  
25.00 - 32.25           Normal  
32.50 - 37.00           Can carry good amount  
> 37           		Can carry tremendous amount

Note: Using this formula resulted in a 90% accuracy rate. The breakpoint between Good and Tremendous is questionable. In response to a question concerning Encumbrance, RSI stated “there are no specific numbers given for the relative amount of weight each warrior can carry. You can tell If your warrior is carrying too much if he seems slow or tires too quickly”.

No, the moderators gave the players no specific numbers, but how exactly does the computer tell if the warrior is carrying too much? It doesn’t use specific numbers? Hardly likely. Its one thing to maintain program secrecy, quite another to insult the intelligence of a paying customer asking a legitimate question of significant managerial importance.

What the moderator is telling us is that penalties do exist for being overweight, namely to initiative and endurance. How do we avoid these, knowing our characters ST and CN? What Mike has done here (and throughout his analysis) is relate attribute to overview comments. When my gladiators are suiting up for combat, the labels on the armor don’t read “tremendous amount”, or anything like it. What they do read is “2 points”, “4 points”, etc. Not weight in gold pieces or pounds (like D&D). They use points.

Do you suppose that it is merely a coincidence that ST and CN (and Mike’s formula) also use points? Lets take a closer look at the given ranges. On the high side, 37+ would be APA/F, with 15 points left over for weapons. I’d say that’s tremendous. On the low side, 20 points would be ARM/F with two good weapons and a medium shield to boot. In my book, that is slightly more than “very little”.

In general, I’ve noticed that the above equation tends to overstate the encumbrance of fighters with very high CN and very low ST (big time). I have been sending Mike my reject replacements with varied levels of ST and CN (favoring extremes). If you get a replacement you don’t want, why not play the extremes and send it to Mike? Until he can revise this equation, I recommend the following correction factor be added: (ST * 1.5 + CN ~ .75) – C, where C is a constant with a value from 5 to 10 points.

Endurance (ST + CN + WT/2 + WL)
12-36          Very little
37-40          Poor
41-45          Normal
46-50          Good
51 +           Great

Note: The above formula was the closest I could come to a fairly accurate indication of a characters Endurance. There were several large aberration in the curve that are presently unexplained. I’ve placed the curve such that exceptions to the above table fell on the high side.

What is the importance of tracking endurance inasmuch as it is difficult to control how much your gladiator uses (more so for aggressive fighters)? Since the gladiator needs at least good endurance to be viable in the long term let’s look at the formula.

Using my own characters which I have ran for years (and therefore have a feel for the limits of), I used this formula and found exactly where the aberrations are. High WT characters tend to have endurance greatly overstated. My two lowest endurance characters (both with 19 WT) ended up with point totals significantly higher than my best winded. The fit does tend to get better the lower the WT, to 13 points (I don’t have any characters with a lesser WT). This would strongly suggest that the influence of WT is not large.

ST, CN, and WL are weighted equally. This may be so, but I’ve never seen a character with a WL of 9 or less have a decent second wind. Even with a WL of 11 endurance tends to be a problem (unless we’re talking PRP or similar). if the WL is very low. no amount of ST/CN/WT will do much good (try it). This would suggest that the influence of WL is understated. Perhaps the real reason for this is that high WL characters just don’t quit fighting. but a heavier weighting is worth looking at. My own designs seem to be effective in offsetting low CN with extra points to ST. Given decent WL, they tend to last as long as characters with moderate ST and moderate CN.

One of the interesting little tidbits of information that used to flash across the computer screen at RSI was the endurance tallies of the fights as they progressed. For example, a lunger using 10-10-L burns 5 to 6 points per attack. Typically. a good endurance lunger can launch about 8 or 9 attacks before the first exhaustion statements appear in the printouts. This would give a total of around 50 points used. This corresponds very closely with the figure given in the Handbook. Interesting.

Almost ANY formula can be successfully used to estimate endurance, provided it includes the major influence factors. Simply devise your formula, and never change it. Then apply it to your experienced fighters (whose endurance you have a feel for) to calibrate the scale. Every time you get a new character, use the formula and compare the results to the characters you have. Simple, eh?

Next time we’ll take a look at what the Handbook has to say about hit points and damage.

THE TURNSHEET – ARMOR

Normally this is not the first area on the turnsheet which I do, but after the previous information on endurance and encumbrance it seems appropriate.

If we are to believe that penalties exist for being overweight, should we believe that bonuses exist for being under? Suppose you have a warrior that relies on initiative, and he gets matched against a similar opponent. The fight begins with the statements that are indented and read something like “weapons dash”, etc. What this is telling you is that as set up, both fighters have nearly identical initiative percentages. Tangent: By keeping records on how many skills above advanced expert your fighters are, you can “calibrate” opponents.

Next time you see this happen, try to challenge the same fighter next turn. Only this time drop 7 or 8 points of armor. You’ll blow him out of the water.

Moral of the story: When experimenting with weight, it is most advantageous to start light and work your way up. Personally, I’d rather divert the extra weight into a better off-hand weapon. Remember weight is armor ~ weapon(s).

Armor. You have two options (unlike weapons). What to wear on the front side of the turnsheet, and the back. Normal set, or fast set. Which armor offers the best cost/benefit level? I don’t know. But I do find it interesting that the people connected with RSI (directly or indirectly) seem to prefer ASM (and steel caps). I have recently begun using it myself, too early to tell how well it works. Normally I never go heavier than ARM, with APL preferred. I prefer to take nearly the protection and the bonus to initiative and (maybe) endurance. This tends to get me hit less, reducing the need for armor.

Nearly the protection? How many more times will APM allow you to get hit, compared with ARM (or ASM)? Depends alot on the opponent. In the standard arenas, heavy armor really does the job. In AD, it never ceases to amaze me how even a SZ 3 gladiator can go through APA like it was Kleenex.

Another thing to be considered is the “critical” factor, that being critical attacks. What do they do? A bash critical negates armor. A slash critical does extra hit points of damage (the latent effect is armor negation). A lunge critical puts you on the ground, reducing defense. In this case heavy armor would be preferred, because of a higher chance of turning a blow aside. Three possibilities. Two of them are bad. Make your own conclusion. Next issue a look at where each armor & helm type is best used.

ODDS & ENDS

I guess it was a mistake to run so many characters for design in the last HR. I thought all were DA candidates but some really good designs came back. If you sent something in, it will be printed. Thanks.

Mike LaPlante is not the only manager using a computer to analyze the game. Fingal wrote me to let me know he is capturing the expert statistics and then working backwards to determine the relative weight of each attribute. Fingal has “an IBM PC/XT and a IBM PC/AT… with access to more powerful systems should it become necessary”. Always good to hear from other Mac owners. He and Mike have begun exchanging data, can’t wait to see the results.

I have recieved more information on attribute increases that trigger skill increases. I would like to publish what I have in the next issue or two, right now the tables have lots of white space. Info on the attributes WT and ST would be appreciated, but I’ll accept anything. Unfortunately the training methods I use for my own stables has
precluded compiling very much information. Also, be looking for NEX updates soon.

Many managers have claimed that the most recent program changes have not addressed the “undefeatability” of fighters in the scum mode (a.k.a. TPS). I looked up the W/L of each style in AD to check this out. I selected AD because it is the home of the oldest and most wily slimers (managers or gladiators, take your pick). The first changes were announced in the turn 13 newsletter, but were implemented on turn 12. More changes went in around the end of March (turn 22). Turn 36 is the most recent.

          AIM     BAS     LUA     STA     PST     TPS     PLU     PRP     SLA     WST
Turn 11  .575    .277    .371    .478    .472    .666    .524    .648    .413    .424
 
Turn 22  .486    .368    .418    .486    .566    .617    .483    .481    .423    .456

Turn 36  .468    .482    .536    .463    .473    .535    .547    .529    .529    .472

Net      -.107   +.205  -.165   -.015   +.001   -.131   +.023   -.119   +.059   +.002

It would appear that there is much greater parity now.

I like your comments whether it’s a pat on the back or a kick in the butt. Don Fasig Jr. commented that HR #10 was ‘rambling and confused… 25% advertising”. Does that mean that the first 9 nine issues were NOT confused? In all seriousness, I had to get HR # 10 out before my Florida vacation or send it 10 days late. I opted for the rush job. As for the “advertising”, let it never be said that subscribers of this publication don’t get the Max for their money!

Jeff Morgan

The Hoser Report #10

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THE HOSER REPORT

The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters
&copy 1987 Eudaemonic Enterprises
#10 October 6, 1987

$2.00

THE MANAGERS CORNER


The Not-So Perfect Warrior
(Gee Honey, not Leftovers Again)



I think everyone is in agreement as to what makes the super warrior, the future
Duelmaster and Tower Guardian. However, that is like knowing (believing) that the
Jaguar XKE hs the ultimate car; most people end up driving $5,000 imports. What do we
do with the vast majority of the downright awful roll-ups?


The usual response is the DARK ARENA…. and for those “must win at all cost” types,
that is probably the only answer. But I started playing Duelmasters because I liked the
concept and for the brief amount of time I’m reading the fight results, I’m in a dark
smelly underground catacomb, sharpening my sword or gritting my teeth as a teammate
sets a broken bone. It goes against the feel of the game to DA every below average player!


When I recieved my first team roll-ups, I also got a “terrific” roil-up guide (golly TWO
whole pages!!) which offered such insights as “…. consider the type of character LARGE
and STRONG or SMALL and FAST….. attributes will affect your characters ability to
fight…..ability to carry weapons and armor….”, Blah-de-blah.


“Big help!”, I thought. But wait a minute, lets look at those statements in connection
with the statistics and the fighting styles. The first is ok if all you want is a basher or a
wall of steeler, and the second makes a great parry riposte or total parry (old rules).
But what about LARGE and FAST or STRONG and SMALL?


I think that all too often, we get into a “tunnel vision” mode of character roll-up. Just
got to get that wit/will combo or he’s no good syndrome. Why not look at the character
and see what can be enhanced rather than forcing a fit. Small ST? Only need a 5 for the
EP or SH. And if 12 is an average score (84/7) then you have 7 points to go elsewhere…
like WT or DF. And then pick the style that will take advantage of the low ST (PRP
maybe?). He won’t ever knock anyone down or bash through a shield, but he just might
be able to put his little sword into his opponents eye with the speed of a striking snake!


One final thought, an example of what I’ve been rambling about. My first Duelmaster,
was destined for the DA after his first fight (yep I’m one of those w-a-a-c types). Here
are his stats:

 
ST     CN     SZ     WT    WL    SP     DF         Basher 16-6-0
11     7(I)   14     17    9     17(1)  12(1)

He won 14 of the 16 fights in the first minute, the other two in the second minute. He
lost two of the 6 fights in the first minute, the other 4 in anywhere from 2-7 minutes.
Gave him just enough ST to handle a decent weapon and the rest to WT so he’d out-learn
his opponents fight for fight.


I hope this has stirred the old feelings of excitement and challenge in character design.
The arenas need more unusual character types out there. Send any comments to: Mark
LaPlante, 2969 Delaware crossing, Virginia Beach, VA, 23456.

HOSE KNOWS

Questions and Answers

Q: You mention, in #6, about a luck number (0, or 5, or 10, or 15)
being part of character generation. I wasn’t sure if you meant that
the number was computer generated, or assigned by the operator.
Also, do you know if it can be changed later?

A: The number is computer generated. I do not know if it changes,
my guess would be that it doesn’t. If my guess that it adds 0,1, 2, or
3 skills to each skill area is correct, then a change in this number
could be detected. If it decreased, you may notice a character
achieve the same expert (or adv. exp.) status twice.


Q: Do certain styles tend to learn at different rates (all else being
equal)?

A: All else being equal, there is no difference in learning rates
between styles. Note the key phrase “all else being equal”. As you
know, some styles tend to have longer fights than others. Fight
length is the most important factor in learning that the manager can
(usually) control.


Q: Is a 9 SP lunger who lust recieved his expert rating in initiative
just as fast as a SP 11 lunger recieving the same (all other relative
attributes being identical)? What I’m asking is this: Does an
attribute such as SP really make a warrior faster, or does it make
related skills such as riposte and inltiatlve easier to learn, and thus
being able to get more skills in those areas or getting to advance
expert faster?

A: What?! I think you may be comparing apples to oranges. Starting
at the top I assume you’re defining “fast” in terms of initiative since
we’re talking lungers. Yes, the SP 9 lunger is currently as fast as
the SP 11 lunger since they both reached the same level at the same
time (the maximum potential of each may be different).
Remember, SP is just one factor that influences initiative. Suppose
the SP 9 lunger next turn learns another initiative skill, while the SP
11 gets no skills. They are no longer equally fast, SP 9 lunger is
faster (by one skill).


SP will make a warrior faster, but so will SZ, WT, and style. The only
thing that make skills easier to learn is WT (and maybe WL).


Q: You mentioned that WL should be increased to an even number.
Why?

A: Because, if you increase to an odd number. you may hit a break
point. Gladiators can learn up to 20 skills in each area (used to be
more before the program was fixed), unless the gladiator in question
has been raising attributes. If you have a very experienced fighter
in AD, you probably have already noticed this. The more attributes
you raise, the less skills are possible.

When Gladiators became Duelmasters (getting back to ancient history
now) it was Ed’s (the game designer) intention that a gladiator could
overcome his 20 skill “maximum” by raising attributes after
reaching 20. However, raise before 20 and it just counts as normal
skill value
(which is why raises sometimes trigger expert ratings).
When I was working at RSI I asked Chuck Kraver about this on many
occasions, and the learning program was to be programmed to do
this.


Example: Two identical lungers, 11 WT. Lunger A never raises
attributes. Eventually lunger A tops out at 20 attack skills. and is
100% better than originally (20 * 5). Lunger B raises WT to 13. then.
tops out at 19 skills. Since raising to 13 is equivalent to 1 attack
skill, lunger B is 100% better (19 * 5 + 1 attribute increase). What is.
the difference? Lunger A can still go to 13, and will be 105% better.
Lunger B has already “wasted” that increase. Note that B may be
able to get to WT 15, or raise ST, WL, or DF. But so can A. And A will
always be 5% better in attack.


I don’t know if this actually got programmed, we’ve all heard about
enhancements that never came about. Keep in mind you can go for
years in real time before a gladiator can accumulate 20 skills in a
single area. Is being “perfect” worth the wait?

HOW DOES IT ALL FIT IN?

Since the beginning I have written about the learning system and
character design. I could probably deal with the fine points of skills
for another 10 issues, and still have more to say. A well designed
character with a good number of skills can get by with almost
anything on the strategy sheet. Yet the ability to read fights and
the strategy sheet have been neglected. Next issue we’ll shift gears
and take a closer look at these factors.


Lets start at the very beginning, with the replacement roll-up. How
exactly are the initial skill levels determined?


First, we must have a place to begin. Lets assume for now that the
character is a total zero. Zero attack %, riposte %, everything. How
does the roll-up program transform this into a new gladiator?
Consider the following:


0 + (style modifications) + (attribute modifications) = new gladiator


Zero is our arbitrary starting point. We may wish to go back and
change it to fit observed facts, but it does seem a logical place to
begin.


Style modifications. As you may have guessed, each style has
certain bonuses and penalties. For example, the PRP gets a
substantial boost to riposte %. The TPs gets a parry boost. While
much of this is intuitive, we do not know for certain what declaring a
particular style does to a roll-up. However, by setting it up in terms
of an equation, we can solve for it when we know the other values.


Attribute modifications. This we have the ability to learn by using
the Golden Rule of 4 so thoughtfully provided by RSI (see HR #7).
Imagine having a table for each attribute. Essentially, this is what
the roll-up program has. It looks at each attribute, determines the
effect on each skill area, and presto. By using the Golden Rule of 4
we can reproduce the information the roll-up program has. Consider
the following hypothetical tables for WT:

 
 
      3     5    7    9    11   13    15   17    19   21 
ATh   +5%   +5%  +5%  +5%  +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%
DEC   +5%   +5%  +5%                       +5%   +5%  +5%
DEF   +5%   +5%  +5%  +5%       +5%   +5%  +5%   +5%  45%
INI   +5%   +5%  +5%  +5%       +5%   +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%
PAR   +5%   +5%  +5%  +5%             +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%
RIP                        +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%
 
 
      3     5    7    9    11   13    15   17    19   21 
ATK   -10%  -5%  -5%  -5%  +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%   +5% +10%
DEC   -5%   -5%  -5%                  +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%
DEF   -5%   -5%       -5%       +5%   +5%        +5%  +5%
INI   -5%   -5%  -5%  -5%  +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%
PAR   -5%   -5%  -5%  -5%             +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%
RIP                        +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%

Which do you think is more workable? Lets suppose that we are
interested in maximizing the attack percentage of a new basher. The
natural WT is 9. Using the first table, the contribution of a 9 WT
would be 20% (4 skills). Now, assume we dump 6 attribute points to
WT. The contribution would rise to 35%. For WT alone. Don’t forget
that ST, WL, and DF will add to attack (because everything is a plus
in this model!). And, the fact that he is a basher should give him
another attack bonus. So, using the upper table it is quite possible to
have even an average basher with an initial attack percentage of
say, 150%. Sounds a tad high to me.


That brings us to a minor obstacle, that of knowing “how much”
percent is right. I think the computer would have a difficult time
dealing with negative or zero percentages. Also, we see rookies
obviously proficient at certain skills (indeed, some are rated expert
before their first combat), and therefore greater than zero. But given
a value of 5% per skill, with the potential of learning 20 skills this
means we will be dealing with percentages of greater than 100%.
This sounds like nonsense, but there are a number of schemes that
would allow such a thing.


Suppose the most perfect character concievable could have a parry
percentage of 300%. A given PST could have a numerical percent of
150%. But this would be only half of potential, each time the
program went to check if a parry was successful, he would have to
roll a 150 on a d300. In otherwords, only a 50/50 chance. This
explanation has problems, I’ll let the reader think it through.


Another possibility draws from the idea that certain offensive tactics
cancel defensive tactics (and vice versa). Imagine that certain skill
areas cancel other areas (like parry and dodge cancel attack). Any
percentage “over” 100 would subtract from one or more
corresponding percentages of your opponent. A close reading of the
red rulebook supports this, as did some of the old “Ed’s Ramblings”
columns that used to be in the arena newsletter.


There is a solution more elegant yet, if you are working on your own
man-on-man combat game, give me a call. The thing to remember is
that this game has random number generation (probability) at the
core. Now, getting back on track…


For lack of a better place to start, lets look at the Duelmasters
Handbook.
It puts the value of an expert rating at 80%, with the
advanced expert being 100%. One could make an arguement for an
expert being 100% (it is such a nice even number, more appealing
than 80). But we’ll use 80 and 100, which can be changed later if
need be. Therefore. most roll-ups should not begin above 80%
because most fighters do not have expert ratings before the first
fight. Also, when we hit expert we can subtract from 80 to get the
initial percentage.


Looking at the second table, we see important differences. First,
there are negative bonuses for WT below 11. This is an arbitrary
line drawn by the editor, it seems to be the minimum WT, ST, WL,
and DF of a workable character (check roll-up sheets if you don’t
agree). As you can see 9 is a penalty, but less of a penalty than 7
This means raising to 9 is a bonus by virtue of being a smaller
penalty (got that?). Another thing to notice is the inclusion of “dead
spots” in the table, where hitting the next odd number does nothing
to some skills (it takes extreme WT, SZ, or whatever to affect certain
skills). The last difference is that the progression of penalties and
bonuses isn’t necessarily 1 skill per breakpoint.


The basher using this table would have an attack% of -5% at a 9 WT.
Things look better by allocating the maximum 6 points, the WT
contribution becomes +15%. Add bonuses for ST, WL, DF, and style
and I think we’re in the ballpark.


To summarize. these tables can be constructed using the Golden Rule
of 4 and making a few assumptions. Of course, a single manager
could play for a lifetime before compiling this information. A good
size coalition could do it in a few years. Subscribers to this
publication could do it in a few months (hint hint).


Once you have a table, and using NEX statistics you’ve seen in the
HOSER REPORT, the style modifications can be determined. If the luck
factor does exist it could complicate this somewhat. This in turn
allows you to design the best possible character from a given
replacement. PRP with maximum riposte. TPS with maximum parry.
BAS with maximum attack. Whatever you need in the competitive
environment. Having done this, its time to consider how to read
your fights, and the finer points of the strategy sheet. Next issue.

HAVE YOU BEEN STEALING THE HOSER REPORT?

If you plead guilty to the above, now is the time to banish the guilt
forever by ordering your own subscription!


* Think of the CONVENIENCE of having the HOSER REPORT sent to you
without delay!


* Think of the PRESTIGE of telling your friends that you have your
own subscription!


* Think of the EDITOR. By expanded support of this publication you
can rest easy knowing that the HOSER REPORT will continue to grow in
quantity and quality.


* Think the OLD DAYS when the moderator was your only source
of information.


Isn’t it worth it?

ODDS & ENDS

Ok, quite a few of you wanted to have a few roll-up characters to
hone your sklls on. The following are actual replacements which I
have recieved recently. Pick any, pick all. Design your best
character, and if you wish tell us how you would outfit and manage
him in his early outings. Try to keep the length of your brilliance to
under one page,. If there is a good response we can do it again.

 
 
     ST   CN   SZ   WT   WL   SP   DF  
#1   7    13   11   9    12   9    9
#2   16   12   13   4    9    7    9
#3   6    9    10   11   9    11   14
#4   12   9    11   21   4    4    9

It has been brought to my attention, by several people, that there
are more bootleg copies of the HOSER REPORT than medium shields in a
total parry locker room. I am glad to know that so many more
people read the HR than I thought. On the other hand, it is not really
fair to the readers who actually pay for their copy, and somewhat of
an insult. If this newsletter isn’t worth the cover price to you, then
don’t read it. Now I can certainly understand the situations where
you have a roommate, brother, etc. who plays the game and you
share a copy. But people are making multiple copies, and copies of
copies. A line must be drawn.


Unless you are color blind, you have noticed my new twist: the HOSER
REPORT in living color. While it certainly is pretty, that is not my
primary motivation for introducing color. The color HOSER REPORT will
be very difficult to photo-copy, which should scuttle the pirates in
short order. Rest assured by next issue I will have the time to
perfect the non-copyable issue. Enough said.


Another change you may have noticed is on the front page. I will
have more to say about this next issue, and an announcement will be
coming soon after that will be of great interest to readers.


The Grand Tourney is now history. I participated in the mail-in
(which is somewhat embarrassing after all of the shameless hyping I
did about the face-to-face tourney), it seems to have gone very
smoothly and RSI deserves praise for a job of enormous proportions
well done.


Don’t feel bad if you came out of the Tourney with a poor W/L.
Given the format, you have to make it to round 6 just to reach .500.
RSI distributed a Tourney newsletter to all players, if you keep a
database on opponents it would be a good idea to make note of how
they did.


I had promised excerpts from the Duelmasters Handbook, but the
latest revision arrived (too late for deadline), making the old one
obsolete. I have given it a quick read, it looks excellent, much new
information (thanks largely to HR subscribers). Rumor has it that the
author will be making use of the same new printing techniques as
the HOSER REPORT.



Jeff Morgan

The Hoser Report #9

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THE HOSER REPORT

The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters

#9 September 15, 1987

$2.00

THE MANAGERS CORNER


An important part of Duelmaster gaming is the challenge. I’m not going to debate the
issue of challenging up or down, but what style opponent to challenge. I have compiled
information from the past ten turns in my arena (*25) and it is very accurate, as I
know the fighting style of each warrior. The following table contains the result of every
duel, no matter how mismatched (they even out in the end).

 
        BAS     STA   SLA   PST   LUA   PLU   WST    TPS   AIM    PRP
BAS     0       7     2     3     19    4     10     9     0      3
STA     5       0     4     6     16    2     8      5     0      5
SLA     2       1     0     1     10    6     3      3     0      5
PST     12      6     0     0     9     5     4      8     1      7
LUA     8       17    1     7     0     4     13     13    0      10
PLU     4       1     3     7     18    0     5      3     1      8
WST     4       5     5     2     11    8     0      6     2      7
TPS     3       5     1     1     14    1     4      0     1      3
AIM     0       3     0     1     3     1     1      3     0      0
PRP     3       5     2     4     5     5     9      6     0      0

The table is read with the winner along the top and the loser along the side, thus the
matchup between the lunger and basher shows that the LUA has beaten the BAS 19 times
while the BAS has won only 8. It is fairly common knowledge that a lunger will usually
destroy a basher, but some of the other interesting matchups are:

 
BAS/PST         12-3
LUA/SLA         10-1
LUA/PLU         18-4
WST/BAS         10-4

Notice that the total parry style continues to trash bashers regardless of the rule
changes. Both TPS and lungers seem to dominate the arena (only the PRP fare well
against the LUA!?). Remember that since most of the warriors have less than 10 fights
that these stats reflect mainly initiate duels, and may not be the same for veterans. –
Brought to you by the manager of Shadows of Chaos, arena 25.


In HR #5 I offered a simple flowchart of how the Duelmasters
program might handle combat. An anonymous manager working on
his own program (on an Apple II) who does not wish to be identified
offers this version (I leave it to you to draw the flowchart):

 
1) SEPERATION - the warriors are physicolly separated, instead of in-close melee.
2) 1ST ACTION - determine who gets first action as warriors close.
3) ACTION - either an attck (Goto 4), a fient (Goto 8), or not act (Goto 10).
4) DEFENSE PLAN - the defender will dodge, parry, or just let it go.
5) RESULT - is the defender hit (Goto 6) or missed (Goto 10)?
6) DAMAGE - assess damage and result on abilities and next actions.
7) BRANCH DOWN - Goto 10 for evaluation.
8 ) FEINT EFFECT - was the opponent thrown off guard or was it ignored?
9) RESULT - assess penalties to defense and initiative.
10) EVALUATION - assess fatigue and evaluate ability to continue for both warriors.
11) NEXT ACTION - does the attacker go again (Goto 3), does the defender counter-strike
(switch roles and qoto 3), or do the warriors break away due to defense, strategy, etc.
(Goto 1)?

I like it. I think it will give very good results, and achieve them
using a simple model. Clear. Concise. Complexity, if desired, can be
added into the individual sub-routines. Perhaps I can get in on the
playtest?


Running pretty low on number-to-expert stats, here is what I have
on the STA:

 
              ST    CN   SZ   WT   WL   SP    DF   Hand
Original:     10    13   16   15    9   10    11   R
Final:        11    13   16   15    9   11    11
Increases:    NEX Riposte + 8, SP to 11
 
              ST    CN   SZ   WT   WL   SP    DF   Hand
Original      13    11   13   12   11   13    11   A
Final:        13    11   13   13   11   13    11
Increases:    NEX Decisiveness + 4, WT to 13

HOSE KNOWS

Questions and Answers

Q: How do you feel on Mr. Saltich’s statement that a lunger gets an
attack bonus for going 10-10-10-L? Why would kill desire have an
effect on this attack bonus if it does indeed exist?

A: I feel that that strategy has always worked well for me. I
believe Dan said lungers as a style get the bonus, not that kill desire
directly increases your attack percentage. If there is an attack bonus
for kill desire (I can only hope) it perhaps arises from the notion that
not trying to kill means only making weapon contact, whereas when
you try to kill you actually try to push your weapon through the
opponent. This is speculation, you may want to ask the moderators


Q: What are the drawbacks of each special tactic? What are the real
advantages of each special tactic?

A: Each character can be thought of as a set of numbers in the
computer (or more accurately, in a data file). If you have HR #2,
these are listed in the article on character design. Briefly, they are
skills and capacities. I doubt that tactics would have any effect on
warrior capacities, with the possible exception of taxing endurance.


Where I think they come into play is in skill percentages. A reading
of the rulebook tells us that while using a tactic may boost some
performabce aspects of the fighter, the overall effectiveness is
reduced. This indicates that there are more penalties than bonuses.
However, if you are concerned about (for example) parry, losing 20%
of attack ability will not be a large concern. Using a tactic boosts the
appropriate area(s) by “x” number of skills while in use.


What you seem to want to know is specifics, so I’ll stick my neck out
(remember, I don’t play all of the tactics because of my team roster).
Lunge, bash, and slash most certainly boost initiative and attack. The
bash probably costs you heavily in dodge ability, maybe parry also.
Conversely, the lunge costs parry heavily but probably minor
penalties to dodge and riposte. The penalty for slashing would be in
responsiveness and riposte. The decisiveness tactic of course helps
dccisiveness, but I’m not sure about attack. It probably also helps
responsiveness, at the cost of riposte and initiative. On the defensive
side, the parry tactic boosts parry, but definitely inhibits riposte and
initiative, maybe attack. Dodge gives you the equivalent of added
defensive actions, the cost is probably in initiative and attack. The
riposte tactic boosts riposte and attack, hurts initiative, decisiveness,
and parry. I haven’t the slightest idea what responsiveness does.


Q: What are the key stat types for each style of warrior?

A: This question presumes style should be selected first. I select it
last. However, there will be style limitations based on stats. In
general, the AIM should have high WT and DF (15+, 17 preferrred).
If the SP is 11 or greater, consider STA, PST, or PRP. For high SZ,
think about BAS, LUA, or SLA. The BAS should also have a high ST,
that is less important for the SLA or LUA. In fact high SZ/low ST
makes a very good slashing combination. I would hesitate to make a
LUA with less than SZ 9, try PLU instead. Endurance burning styles
(particularly WST) should have as much WL as possible.


An easier rule of thumb is let the low-value stats (SZ, SP) point you
towards a group of swIes, then maximize high-value stats. Make the
character the style you’re most familiar with.


Q:Can any warrior “pretend” to be another style, with slightly
lowered effectiveness? Would you prefer a SLA vs. a TPS or would
you like your SLA to act like a slightly lesser LUA?

A: As I said in HR #2, the reason I prefer the PLU is that they can do
almost anything that does not require decisiveness. I see no reason
why experienced fighters can’t try these things. You might be
surprised how well a lunger can riposte, or how well a basher can
parry. Your ezample sounds like a great trick to pull. I recommend a
SC (a good lunging weapon). Remember, the parry tactic is supposed
to neutralize the slashing tactic but is vulnerable to the lunge.


Q: I have a TPS with 20 wins and 14 losses. ST 14, CN 10, SZ 9. WT
17, WL 9, SP 16, DF 15. WL has been improved twice, CN once, ST
once, SP once, DF once. He has 6 parry skills, 4 attack skills, 2
defense skills, 1 decisiveness, and 3 initiative skills. He is learning
very slowly. He is in the Champion class. Won 6 of his last 11 fights
& learned 7 skills. All of my other warriors are just beginning or are
Initiates. Do I want to send him to the DA or keep him around for
bloodfeuds? I am currently trying to improve WL if challenged,
SKILLS otherwise. Any suggestions, or am I just being impatient?

A: If there is a luck factor assigned to individual fighters, we can
guess what factor was assigned here. Its tough to learn when losing,
and harder yet when you’re busy raising attributes. You’ve spent a
minimum of 6 fights (out of 34) raising attributes. Given an original
WL of 7 I’d bet `the figure is 15 fights and wouldn’t be surprised if it
was 20, leaving maybe 15 for skills. That would mean he is
averaging around 1 skill per turn. With a 17 natural WT.


His individual W/L is a respectable .588. If your team W/L is lower
than .588 keep him around, but forget about more attributes! You
need skills. Badly. I’m sure that most every other gladiator in the
Champion class has more than 16 skills (if not, I’m setting up a team
in your arena). You’ll probably have to challenge low to win, which
of course will not help your learning. If the learning average does
not pick up and the W/L keeps dropping, can him before he damages
the team W/L.


One final consideration. With a high WT and a high SP, this fighter
will have a relatively high decisiveness. Coupled with a poor
endurance this will mean trouble (unless of course you challenge
LUA, BAS, and the like; do you really want to do that?). Remember,
TPS will learn decisiveness skills.

UPDATES

For those of you charting attribute increases vs. skills (HR #7), I can
report that increasing ST from 10 to 11 will NOT effect attack
percentage. Since I know that extremes in strength can cause
increases in the attack and parry percentages (I have seen gladiators
increase to 15 and 17 to get expert attack), it appears that there is a
“dead spot” in the table.


For those of you interested in quick lungers, the following design
should be informative:

 
              ST  CN    SZ  WT   WL   SP   DF
Original:     10  14    10  19   11   9    11
Final:        11  14    10  19   11   9    11
Increases:    NEX Initiative +3 skills

THE CHALLENGE SYSTEM

One of the suggestions received was for an explanation of the
challenge system. It appears that the only thing many managers
know about it is that they never get the people they want.
Its actually quite simple. What I am about to describe is the manual
method we used to use years ago. Of course the computer handles
this tedidus chore now, but I believe there have been very few
changes to the actual method. If not totaUy accurate, it should give
you a better insight as to what you’re up against. First, turnsheeets
were sorted by challenge type, as below.

 
DARK ARENA	BLOODFEUDS	TV CHALLENGE	NORMAL CHALLENGE	RANDOM

Note that the priority of challenge decreases as you move to the
right. Dark Arena is an automatic challenge (assuming no moderator
error of course). These people are the first out of the “available”
pool.


Next, bloodfeuds have to be determined. The reason that there are
only two sheets in the diagram is that hardly anyone ever dies
(makes sense, huh?). The total number of sheets were counted, and a
random number generated via die rolling. The number corresponded
to an indivudual strategy sheet, which was then removed (what I’m
saying in my verbose fashion is that everyone has an equal chance of
getting pulled). A check is made to see if the challenged warrior is in
the available pool. The only reasons a warrior would not be in the
pool is that he is either not playing, DA, or already challenged and
removed. Assuming the challenged warrior is availablee the
connection is automatic unless he is trying to avoid. There is a 20%
chance of avoiding a bloodfeud, 80% chance of avoiding any other
challenge type.


Lets assume that your opponent did avoid your bloodfeud. The first
challenge is then crossed off. It used to be that the avoid on the
opponents sheet was also crossed off, but now they are not expended
(no longer neccessary to double-avoid). If your second challenge is a
normal challenge your sheet goes into the normal challenge pile, the
opponents sheet goes to its respective pile. Of course, you can always
double-challenge. If you had done that, the second bloodfeud
challenge would have to be determined as the first was. If successful
(the odds of missing a double-bloodrued challenge are 25:1 against),
both fighters are removed from the pool. This process continues
until all bloodfeuds have been determined.


The process is repeated for Tournament Victor challenges. Since the
number of DA and bloodfeuds will be small, you can see the
enormous (I’ll say it again – enormous) advantage of this challenge
type. In effect. you cut to the front of the line. Take it from
someone who had 3 Tournament Victors at the last Tourney, you
almost always get who you want. Conversely, the chances of a
hostile manager getting a challenge on you are slim. About the only
thing that can mess you up is if the fighter you challenged is not in
the pool.


This challenge type can really make life miserable for your
opponents (if you like to feud). They’ll have to use an avoid against
you almost every turn. Which of course means they only have one
left. If you have two powerfull friends… By the way. there Ejit be
T.V. challeirgers ,`now that we’ve had a Tourney. This status will be
good for 6 months or until the next Tourney, whichever comes first
(32 months have elapsed since the last Tourney).


Now the normal challenges are determined, using the same
procedure as the above cases. If you get who you want, both fighters
are removed from the pool. If you use both challenges and come up
empty, your turnsheet goes into the random match-up pile. The bulk
of turnsheets are in the normal challenge pile, meaning you could be
in a long line. Many things can happen. Your fighter can get
challenged out by someone else. The fighter you want may have got
his challenge through, or been removed by someone else. Or not
even playing that turn. And Or course, he may be avoiding you.


Lastly, remaining fighters are “randomly” matched. The computer
won’t let you get anyone farther away in the rankings than one class.
In the old days remaining turnsheets were thrown into the air, and
how they landed was how they were matched (we eventually went
to the paper bag method, all those sheets were a pain to pick up).
Conceivably, the arena champ could draw the lowest ranked fighter.
It made for some interesting fights.


Is it to your ad+antage to challenge? If there are people available
whom you can beat, my opinion is yes. If you can make a good
challenge, it lets you dictate the terms. Why wouldntt you want this?
Some people never challenge and do fairly well, its a personal
decision. Looking at my own AD team performance, the breakdown
looks like this (through 33 turns):

 
          When Challening      When Challenged          Random
Wins      33                   30                       31
Losses    18                   18                       23
Kills     3                    0                        2
Slain     0                    1                        1
W/L       .647                 .625                     .574

The .625 was a surprise (I thought it would be much lower), but then
again I also make good use of the “if challenged” option on the turn
sheet. Your own percentages may surprise you.

ODDS & ENDS

Questions and Answers

By the time you read this both Tourneys will be over. If you would
like to write about your Tourney experience, I’d be glad to print it.
A manager wrote me asking if I could obtain a copy of the
Duelmasters Handbook for him, he is in an alliance against the
author. I asked Mike about this, he said no problem, Its available to
anyone regardless of arena politics. Just like the HOSER REPORT. If I
was that worried about “giving away secrets”, it wouldn’t be
published. Besides, there is no “ultimate secret” or position in the
game. Well, except for the size 3 TPS.


By the way, response from HOSER REPORT readers has been little short
or overwhelming. Mike has gathered so much info that yet another
revision will be out soon. Therefore, I’m holding back somewhat
from reprinting anything. It may be quickly outdated, and I’m plain
out of room this issue.


There has been increasing talk of a boycott, from LA, Phoenix, and
Georgia. LA or Phoenix would be the logical place for it to begin,
thats where the highest concentrations of managers are. I personally
don’t think it will come about, because no individual has stepped
forward to organize (those of you itching for action don’t expect me
to organize it).


I have not confirmed it, but have heard that there are almost 50
Hyborian games in progress. Significance? RSI’s cash flow is not as
heavily dependent on Duelmasters as it once was. Therefore for a
boycott to get managements’ attention, it will have to involve a fairly
large number of managers.


Has anybody seen the rules for the new “Advanced Duelmasters” RSI
was telling us about? It has been a while now.


Next issue will contain excerpts from the Handbook, 3 replacement
characters for readers to design, perhaps a wrap-up on skills, some
excellent letters that got here just a day late, and whatever else you
send me. Good luck on the sands.



Jeff Morgan

The Hoser Report #8

59 views
THE HOSER REPORT

The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters

#8 August 25 1987

$2.00

THE MANAGERS CORNER


To the Hoser


I’m sick of it. What I’m referring to, of course, is the complete dominant advantage of low size
warriors. I’ve had the misfortune of receiving among my 40+ roll-ups, an average warrior size
of almost 13.5. The lowest size I’ve ever laid eyes on was a 6. He was killed first turn. So you
see, I’ve never had the good luck to be able to take advantage of the system error that lets little
people win.


It’s true that the new rules have helped out Big Bashers and hindered Little Scum, but only barely.
Another problem that goes unanswered by this solution however, are the size 5 lungers and size 9
bashers that are now terrorizing around. Their small size does not hinder their attack ability, but
instead makes them faster and more endurane. They do less damage per blow, but land twice as
many blows and learn faster too. They take less damage, but never give the opponent a chance to
swing. The only thing that is to the disadvantage of these warriors is a higher mortality rate (big
(deal) Upon reaching AD however, this disadvantage disappears. ARRRRGH!!


I’m telling you this because I’m hoping you will write, in the Hoser Report, an article attacking
this problem and maybe incite people who are also sick of it to write to RSI and tell them to do
something. I have a few suggestions – maybe you have more.


1: TALLER WARRIORS HAVE A REACH ADVANTAGE, i.e. decisiveness bonus.

2: LET WARRIORS KILL EACH OTHER MORE, I know you’re in favor.

3: FIGURE SIZE INTO THE ABILITY TO TAKE DAMAGE AND CARRY WEIGHT MORE THAN IT IS. Big guys, as
it is now, can still be frail with a 9 con, 19 size. Bullshit.

4: RAISE THE SIZE LIMIT ON SOME WEAPONS. LS takes a 9 size, halberd takes the same. Why? How
`bout that large shield? Not too large, is it? Evidently not, if a size 3 warrior has no trouble
hefting it around in front of enemy attacks.


Surely, the right balance of these and other ideas will make a size point just as valuble as any
other. That’s fair isn’t it? – Mark Nau

I think the solution is very simple, and does not involve a great deal of
modifications to the game. Instead modify the characters which exist as
datafiles and can be easily edited.


How? A change in character design rules. Size would not count as part of
your 84 point allowance. The allowance would be reduced to 72 points
(84/7), plus whatever size may be. Thus, every new character would
have the same number of points to build attributes and thererore skill areas.
The root cause of the old bias would be gone. A new bias? Yes. But, that is
the way of the real world, and Duelmasters is advertised as “realistic”. I
think the pitch was something like `the most intense and realistic`. Where’s
the beef?


The older characters? As with scum, many managers are heavily invested in
small characters and owe their success to It. Any type of point
reapportionment would be too political to be implemented. That doesn’t
mean that it shbuldn’t be done. Instead of taking from the runts, give to the
big guys. In theory. every point below 12 (average) is a bonus point the
small fighter recieved. So, give the manager of the big guy a bonus point for
every point he has above 12 (points that under the current system are a
liability) for allocation. A size 15 character would get 3 points. A size 21
character would get 9 points (kind of scary, eh?). No more than 6 to any one
attribute, nothing above 21; just like character design. Just like character
design.


Even if this were to be done instantly, you wouldn’t see the effects quickly.
The current small fighters have had (in many cases) years to take advantage
of the loophole.


This issue features a mans style, the BAS. Here is what I have received:

 
              ST    CN   SZ    WT    WL   SP   DF  Hand
Original:     16    10   16    13    10   9    10  ?
Final:        17    11   16    15    11   10   11
Increases:    NEX Attack +5,ST to 17, WT to 15, DF to 11
 
              ST    CN   SZ    WT    WL   SP   DF  Hand
Original:     14    11   14    14    11   8    12  L
Final:        15    11   14    15    11   9    13
Increases:    NEX Attack +6, ST to 15, DF to 13, WT to 15
 
              ST    CN   SZ    WT    WL   SP   DF  Hand
Original:     11    10   15    14    12   11   11  R
Final:        11    11   15    15    12   11   11
Increases:    NEX Initiative +1, WT to 15
 
              ST    CN   SZ    WT    WL   SP   DF  Hand
Original:     11    6    14    17    9    16   11  R
Final:        11    7    14    17    9    17   11
Increases:    NEX Attack +4, NEX Decisiveness +4, NEX Initiative +2
 
              ST    CN   SZ    WT    WL   SP   DF  Hand
Original:     19    11   14    11    11   6    12  R
Final:        19    12   14    13    12   7    13
Increases     NEX Attack +7,WT to 13, DF to 13, NEX Dec +10, SP to 7, NEX
              Initiative +4,WT to I3.SP to 7, NEX Parry +8, DF to 13
 

HOSE KNOWS

Questions and Answers

Q: What is the exact meaning of achieving an expert or advanced expert
rating in some skill? For instance, say a warrior has an advanced expert
rating in initiative on his 12th skill. Suppose another warrior got his AE
rating in initiative on his 6th skill. Are they equally skilled? If yes, what if
they both gain 3 more initiative skills, are they still equally skilled?

A: The meaning of expert and advanced expert is that the gladiator has
reached an arbitrary level (initiative percentage) that triggers the computer
to print notification on the bottom of the turnsheet.


In answer to your hypothetical situation, the warriors are equally skilled
when declared AE (if they reached on the same turn). What this means is
that they were very far from equal when they began their careers. And,
given a limit of 20 skills per skill area, it means that the one which required
6 skills to reach will max out at a higher level (6 skills higher). Again, the
huge importance of well designed characters. Well designed characters
reach expert in less skills. They finish higher. Everything else being equal,
they will always be superior to warriors with an equal number or fights but
lesser beginning skill level.

If they from that point gain 3 more initiative skills each, they are still equal
since the value of a skill is constant. It is also possible that the fighter that
required 12 initiative skills to reach could have learned them all before the
other fighter learned 1 initiative skill. Not too much mystery who will be
faster. How much faster? Treat yourseff to a beer if you said 6.


Q: I just got the following replacement character. What would you do with
him?

 
 ST     CN     SZ     WT     WL      SP      DF
 5      12     9      9      6       13      16


I made him a PRP with ST 9, CN 12, SZ 9, WT 15, WL 9, SP 13, DF 17. What
do you think?

A: I don’t think I would keep him. But if I did, your design appears to
make the most out of him.


Q: …Also, since you claim to be the “expert” on PLU, why does this guy only
have a 2-5-1 record:


ST CN SZ WT WL SP DF
11 11(12) 5 16(17) 16 11 14


His fights went something like this:

l) Lost to WST, 4 more fights

2) Killed a PRP, 1 attack skill

3) Trashed on the bloodfeud by a PLU w/3 more fights, CN increase

4) Butchered by TPS, 3 parry skills

5) Butchered an incompetent STA, 1 parry skill

6) RSI screwed up and lost to a BAS. 1 decise skill

7) Butchered by a PST. WT increase

8) Butchered by a LUA, his 1st fight, 1 initiative skill


In the 1st, 4th, and 8th fights he fought in “classic” PLU style (parry first 3-4
min. then rip loose and lunge), in 2nd and 3rd fights he fought like a LUA.
He hasn’t gotten an expert in anything & I’m getting very depressed. His
favorite weapon is the LO fought 8-5-1O-L or around there.


A: From the looks of it you should have lost 3 of those fights (1,3, and 6),
so think of him as 2-2-1. Essentially, you started out with a 81 point roll-up.
The WT, WL, and DF breakpoints are missed. Might as well be 15, 15, and
13. But there is nothing seriously wrong with the character, he looks solid.


With a 17 WT the skills will come if your fights are longer than 1 minute
(and you win). Don’t fight like a lunger unless you are doing a stat raise
(which is independent of fight length). It looks like his favorite learn is
parry (not uncommon for a PLU), so while your primary defense (parry)
may be shaky now, it should improve quickly. I think that lots of managers
use a defensive minute for a PLU that looks like a TPS. Don’t. Think in
terms of a lunger, never less than moderate activity level, and never less
than a low offensive effort. The parry tactic works fine with activity levels
up to 7 (from my experience). If the activity level is any higher, you are
usually getting the initiative (because high activity level increases base
initiative percent). If you are attempting to defend (low offensive effort) at
this time your attacks recieve no bonus (from high offensive effort) and the
whole situation is very inefficient. Avoid it.


Q: What effect does kill desire have on decisiveness?

A: I’m not sure. The rules say that a low kill desire makes a gladiator
“tentative”, which doesn’t sound like the desired effect. A high kill desire
may make one “less controlled” and “lower overall defenses”. I think the
part about lower defenses is very true, but other effects are unclear or
minor in magnitude. A better question may be what effect does decisiveness
have on kill desire.


Since lungers are getting the most kills (as a style), there probably isn’t a
link worth worrying about.


Q: What effect does activity level have on decisiveness?

A: It appears to me that higher activity levels do increase decisiveness.
However, I would be careful about using an activity level appropriate to the
gladiator in question.

A NEW FEATURE

I thought that after eight issues of my ranting, assaultive style the average
manager would appreciate a fresh point of view. So, you get to be subjected
to the ravings of the one and only Dan Saltich, the Mr. Baseball of
Duelmasters. In as much as he owes me several large pizzas, I think you
may be seeing more of his ideas in the future.

HOW TO NOT MAKE FRIENDS BUT INFLUENCE PEOPLE, OR WINNING

THROUGH INTIMIDATION

BY

DAN SALTICH

(Mr. Duelmasters)

I suppose that before I start this article I should at last establish some credibility. I have been
playing Duelmasters since the very beginning (yes, I remember Gladiators). I have, during my
stint in this gome, done everything humanly possible regarding the game, including running every
style multiple times, graduated over a dozen warriors to AD, and even had a warrior win his first
22 fights. That isn’t bragging, I just want everyone to at least believe some of what I am going say.


Why am I writing this article? Well besides the fact that I admit to some friendship with the
Ultimate Hoser himself (which mostly ends up being alot of added costs on my phone bill), I also
wish to pass on some info that I believe in very strongly.


Well what is this mystical secret? It mostly adds up to being some things that all people know,
some things that people might not know, and some things I don’t think anyone knows. What it all
basically comes down to is my strategy for taking top team and staying there.


To start, lets assume you’ve recieved your characters and have designed each in a reasonable way
(I know, a big assumption for some people). My sample team has: 2 LUA, 1 PLU, 1 TPS, and 1
PST. Now for the first five fights I will treat my PLU as a LUA because he wont have sufficient
defense ability to do any diffrent. Now I have 3 LUA that will fight 10-10-10-L for the first two
minutes in their first five fights. Why? Well nothing (with a few mutated exceptions) is faster
than a stripped down (light or no armor) lunger going 10-10-10-L. And for my first pearl of
wisdom I will tell you that at 10-10-10-L a lunger gets an attack bonus for using that particular
strategy. Also, the LUA have no defense to speak of and if you wait around you’re going to get
wasted. LUA’s are there to attack, so do it; and if you run out of endurance well most LUA will get
the fight over before that because you will be fighting beginning characters and in the beginning
offense has a big advantage over defense.


Now the first thing my TPS is going to do is pick up a SH and a ME. Reasons? Simple, lightweight
and yet the best parrying combination around. My TPS (in following with my beliefs) is not going
to be a scum, but don’t be stupid; we have to use the parry tactic at least in the first couple of
minutes to stop those hordes of offensive characters. But lets come out in the late rounds and
attack; not only does parrying cost END, but coming out increases our chances of winning against
another TPS who may be scummier than us.


For simplicities sake, lets treat our PST like our TPS because beginning PST tend to resemble TPS
but lack some of the defense and aren’t usually well suited to high offensiveness. As a general rule
I agree with Hoserus Maximus on fighting strategies for the different styles, but what I have said
here may be a few exceptions.


There, now we have some basic strategies for our first turn. These strategies will, for the most
part, hold up for the first 5 turns. But we come to a part now that separates the men from the
boys (or the 15-3s from the 10-8’s).


Challenges! The first golden rule is that if your warrior is not challenging someone, you’re hosing
it big time!! Why would you not ever, if that was possible, fight on your own terms? After your
first turn, at minimum you’ll know what 5 other fighters look like, so right there are 5 potential
challenges. Now its time to get completely heartless (this is where i’m going to catch flak). But if
you beat a warrior, why on God’s earth not challenge him again? If he is stupid enough not to avoid
you or alter his strategy he deserves to be beaten again. This strategy can also be effective if you
barely lose to fighter and have things you can alter. This is why I also suggest you avoid people
you fought last. A popular misconception is that avoiding is saying you’re afraid, all it says to me
is that I want to fight who I want when I want.


In conjunction with challenging let me say something about killing, I’m all for deaths in the game
but you have to look at them as to how they will effect your W/L record. Hopefully the editor won’t
delete this, but don’t always try to kill. The worst thing you can do is kill a new warrior on an
experienced team because he now owns your warrior for the next 4 turns. However, on the flip
side of that, one of the best things you can do is kill a warrior one a new or worthless team. Also
try not to get into large feuds with more than one team, its all fun writing the personal ads and all
but the bottom line is that you want winning warriors. Save the taunting and teasing for when
your warriors become ultra-powerfull and fear no one (HA HA).


A couple of more tidbits on challenging and then I’ll go on (I could have written the whole article on
challenging alone). Remember, those 1-7 warriors are there for a reason. The more fights your
opponent has over you the better your skill learns will be. This is called the Thelonius Loner
syndrome named after a great scholar (but not warrior) in Mordent.


Also, remember as you rise to the top look around and see who your competition is and try to take
advantage of their weaknesses (if any). This only goes toward increasing your chances to take top
team. And once you have top team never feel obliged to give anyone a fight they want, continue to
use challenging strategies that max out your tallies in the W column.


In closing I want to make a few statements that are not relative to the previous article. First, a
couple of corrections on info Ive read in the HOSER REPORT. (1) Stat increases in AD go as
follows: 1st is at full chance, 2nd is at 1/2 chance, 3rd is at full chance, and 4th is at 1/2chance.
From there it is the same and I have this on very good authority. (2) Don’t go to the tourney
expecting to garner valuble info from the computer screen, you will be sadly surprised. I have
seen the on-screen output and there is nothing there of any use. Well I have more secrets but one
does have to protect ones own interests and besides its time for:

RAG ON RSI

Well, no not really, but I would like to ask everyone a question. Are they happy with the decision
to shelve the obvious problem of AD when these are the managers favorite warriors and have had
large amounts of money put into them? RSI seems to be of the opinion that as long as the
turnsheets are being submitted there is no immediate problem. As patrons of the game we really
have only one weapon and that is our business that we give RSI. I want to throw out a suggestion
that has already been discusssd between other managers. Don’t everybody get scared but the word
is boycott. At this time I don’t want to organize anything I just want to get input from other
managers. The idea was a one turn hold out to signify unity and the extent of the unhappiness
among managers.


Your inputs, suggestions, or critiques are welcomed.


Dan Saltich
A1 Melniboneanon Maraudars
A4 Princes of Amber

ODDS & ENDS

Alan Yip asked about developing manager mailing lists for style specialties.
He didn’t even tell me it was ok to release his address. Hmmmmm. I am not
going to organize any list myself, but will publish manager names and
addresses unless the manager requests otherwise.


Good news from Mike LaPlante. Due to popular demand the Duelmasters
Handbook
will be made available. Mike is selling them at cost, about $10
for 30+ pages. Updates will be available at a nominal cost (the Handbook is
spiral bound to make replacements/additions easy). I have spoken with
several managers (one of whom sent Mike 80 overviews), the Handbook is
getting high marks from all.


Mike’s overview database has swelled to over 230 characters. The more the
merrier. He could especially use overviews that have lots of extremes (3-7,
17-21). Next time you have to send a replacement to the DA, why not design
him with extremes and send the overview to Mike? I have just recieved the
last Handbook updates, you’ll be seeing selected items probably beginning
next issue. I think you’ll like it.


Did you know that you may fight a new recruit on the same turn you submit
the roll-up? Apparently some people were under the impression that you
had to recieve the overview before fighting. Not so. On the strategy sheet,
write “new” for the ID#.


I’ve been thinking more about disarming tactics. Sometimes the fight
doesn’t end when a gladiator drops a weapon. Given that possibility, I would
rather remove the opponents primary weapon than the off-hand one
(usually a shield). Given that 90% of the gladiators are right handed, this
means targeting right-to-right.


Time to begin working on the Tourney strategies. As you expect, I highly
recommend training skills. Reasons? You have absolutely no idea of who
you will get each round. There are a large number or fighters that can teach
you alot, particularly in the later rounds. If you need attributes, raise them
in the first 2 rounds while there are still cupcakes in the field.


Its too bad that the mail Tourney couldn’t be spread over a period of time.
Since it will all be run at once (apparently), you won’t get the suspense of
waiting for the pairings after each round.


The strategy sheet for the mail-in Tourney allows you to use a back-side
strategy for up to 5 styles. Not quite as good as knowing who your next
opponent is, but helpful.


My opinion of heavy armor (ASM and above) has never been very favorable,
but one of my recent AD fights might change my mind. My stable has been
after a certain character for quite some time. In response to my recent
challenges, the slasher in question increased armor from ALE/L to APA/F,
and weapons from SC/SH to SC/SC, ME. It worked for him. My great damage
lunger hit 9 times and couldn’t end the fight. Heavy armor has its place,
even in AD. Of course, the next turn I used a HL and crushed him like an
insect (he was very foolish to drop his avoids). The HL is a great option for
high ST lungers. You lose some initiative, but if your opponent is in plate
(particularly with multiple back-up weapons) it should’nt matter. He’s
dragging around an anchor.


Want to get your HOSER REPORT faster? Place your Zip-4 code on your next
letter to me. You can bet I won’t look it up for you. I understand it can take
a full day off of delivery. Mine is 1093.


Did this just happen to me, or are all arenas now being shipped without
newsletters?



Jeff Morgan

The Hoser Report #7

54 views
THE HOSER REPORT

The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters

#7 August 4, 1987

$2.00

THE MANAGERS CORNER


For those of you interested in LUA (who isn’t?), here is the information I
have received to date on this style:

 
                 ST    CN     SZ     WT    WL    SP    DF    Hand
Original:        12    11     11     13    17    9     11    A
Final:           13    11     11     15    18    9     11
Increases:       NEX initiative +2 (occured before WT raise). NAD Initiative +3. WT to 15, 
                 NEX Attack+4, WT to 15
 
                 ST    CN     SZ     WT    WL    SP    DF    Hand
Original:        15    9      14     15    15    7     9     R
Final:           15    10     14     15    15    9     11
Increases:       NEX Attack +3, DF to 11
 
                 ST    CN     SZ     WT    WL    SP    DF    Hand
Original:        11    11     8      15    18    9     11    R
Final:           13    11     8      15    19    9     12
Increases:       NEX Initiative +5
 
                 ST    CN     SZ     WT    WL    SP    DF    Hand
Original:        12    6      9      15    21    8     13    R
Final:           12    7      9      15    21    8     13
Increases:       NEX Attack + 1, NEX Defense +5, NEX Initiative + 5 or 6 (learned 2 
                 Initiative same turn reached expert)
 
                 ST    CN     SZ     WT    WL    SP    DF    Hand
Original:        15    6      11     17    17    7     11    R
Final:           16    8      11     17    18    7     11
Increases:       NEX Attack + 1, NEX Decisiveness +4 or 5,NEX Defense +6,NEX initiative +5,
                 NEX Riposte +6
 
                 ST    CN     SZ     WT    WL    SP    DF    Hand
Original:        17    5      12     12    17    10    11    R
Final:           17    8      12     13    18    10    11
Increases:       NEX Attack +5,WT to 13, NEX Defense +9,WT to 13, NEX Initiative +6,WT to
                 13

What is interesting is to compare gladiators with the fewest differences, and
see what those differnces mean to the number of skills required to hit
expert. If you missed issue #6, NEX means “number of skills to expert”, NAD
means “number of skills to advanced expert”. Attributes raised that did not
affect the skill area in question, or did not reach the next breakpoint (odd
number) are not induded. By popular demand, an in depth look at the
relationship of skills to attributes appears later in the issue.


If you would like to contribute, I need the initial stats of your gladiator, plus
what his learning and raises are in the order in which they occurred. You
need not identify yourself or the gladiator
, and the gladiator does not
have to be currently active so long as your record keeping in clear. Next
issue we will run the stats for the BAS.


More reader inputs on “favorites”. A manager who reads his friend’s copy of
the HOSER REPORT (thanks alot – I know who it is and I’m going to double
charge his account) sent an interesting note regarding favorites. He said that
when one of his LUA got his AD invite, his favorite tactic was lunge and
dodge. Odd. Also, when his fighter went out with his “favorite” weapon, he
lost his next 3 fights. After switching back to the old weapon (LS), he won 3
of the next 4. I can believe that.


Jim Jarvis writes … “Now about the resurrections in AD, from what I’ve seen,
they should have happened. Many of the deaths occurred because of a
program error. The information on weapons & fighting tendencies was way
off. My lunger Mikos died because I tried to use those incorrect tactics &
tendencies. I was prepared to accept the death until I found this out.”


For those of you not yet in AD, the slain are being brought back (apparently
you have to request this). The program that generates the overview sheets
players received upon AD qualification had the “favorite” offense and
activity levels reversed. So if you had a fighter who liked “moderate
offense” and “very high activity”, it came back “moderate offense” and “very
low activity”. I guess this was quickly corrected, but not before…

HOSE KNOWS

Questions and Answers

Q: We … wonder whether or not any of the other PBM magazines have
enough in them about Duelmasters (our only PBM interest) to warrant
subscription. What is your opinion?

A: Like you, Duelmasters is the only PBM that I have ever been involved
with. As you might have guessed, my knowledge of PBM magazines is
limited. There seems to be alot of financial instability among them. As far
as Duelmasters coverage, I am sure that Paul Brown is doing everything he
can to get favorable reviews and articles. However, I would doubt that they
appear on a regular basis. The best of the lot is probably PAPER MAYHEM. I
don’t have the address but am sure that RSI does. Or, check your local game
shop.


Q: I too have recieved an awesome roll-up.

 
ST    CN   SZ   WT   WL    SP   DF
8     4    10   13   14    6    15

This is what I plan on doing with him:

 
ST    CN   SZ   WT   WL    SP   DF
12    4    10   19   17    6    16

I figure ST, CN, SP, & DF can easily be raised for odd points. The question is
should I make him aTPS or a PLU? I think he’ll be a terror on the sands
either way. Do you think I should revise him? Perhaps ST 11 and DF 17?

A: I like your figuring. As far as style my personal preference is PLU (look
at what his been happening to the scums lately), although as you point out
either way this looks great. I would lean towards 17 DF normally.


The largest problem you will face in the early going is END. Also, the risk of
getting slain for this character will be about as high as possible (which I
don’t think is very high, but thats another story). Obviously the answer is to
raise CN 2 points as early as possible, then add 2 or even 3 more points again
in AD. Raise WL to the next even number (one of these issues I’ll get
around to explaining my reasoning). This character will get to AD fast if you
forget atttibute increases except as mentioned. If END problems persist,
raise ST, but resist this temptation if possible. Even with an 11, damage will
be good (maybe). Obviously ENC will be lousy, the LO or SC with a ME are
good weapon selections. You could sub a SH for the ME and divert 2 points
to armor at your discretion. Raise that CN early. Consider the following:

 
ST    CN   SZ   WT   WL    SP   DF
13    4    10   17   19    6    15

Learning should be very close to the above design, but ENC, END, and hit
points (the primary weak spots) will be somewhat better. Train as above.
Compare these to the PLU designs of last Issue. This set up is almost
identical to the last example in terms of attack and parry (switch 2 pts. from
WL to DF, 14 is equal to 13 because of the missed breakpoint of 15). Great
damage may be within reach. Looks good, eh?


Q: Regarding targeting an area, if my warrior is a right handed LUA with a
SS and SM, and my opponent is a right handed BAS with a MA and ME, I
would assume:


a) Targeting his RA would be awkward since its on the far side from my warriors right
hand – unless I’m riposting.


b) Targeting his LA is tough due to the shield.


c) Targeting his RL is awkward for the same reasons as the RA.


d) Targeting his LL seems best because its the closet to my warriors RH.


Is my thinking correct? Also, is the game program complicated enough to
take all of this into account? Finally, what guidelines do you follow
regarding targeting the various areas?

A: Your points are well taken. Whether or not the game is programmed to
take these things into account I don’t know. Ive never seen indications that
this is the case, but on my own turns I have used the same rationale you
have outlined. Since an opponent can protect either side as well by declaring
a protect location of “LE” or “AM”, I’m not sure if it will give you a large
edge.


Note the key word “large”. Many of your fights won’t be close. But in the
ones that are, you certainly want every possible advantage. I think of
targeting in similar terms as protect location. On the subject of protect
locations, the rulebook implies that your basic parry percentage applies to
the whole fighter. When you declare the protect location, you are trying to
protect this area “extra hard”. It does not say that you are foresaking
defense of all other areas. To me, this means that you may be adding the
equivalent of maybe 1, 2, or 3 skills to the defense of that area (or 5, 10, or
15 percent). Going back to your example, the ME applies to the whole
fighter, not just the LA.


Going back to attack, I think that yor attack percentage applies to the whole
target. Following the right-to-left, left-to-right guidelines may give you a
small bonus.


Another reason I believe that program likely does not handle these is the
back-up weapon. If you have a ME (or any other back up) “thrust into your
waistband” or similarly attached, it offers zero protection. The point I am
trying to make is that if the programming reflects all of these subtleties, you
would expect that occasionally an attack would bounce off of a back up
weapon/shield. They don’t.


As far as the guidelines I use, I try if possible to avoid being predictable.
If possible, I will always try to kill my opponent. To me, this usually means
targeting AB, CH, or HE. Note that the opponent can defend two “Vital” areas
at the same time (AB & CH by declaring BD). If you want to score a large
number of hits target the LE (as likely to kill an opponent as the vitals, again
the program doesn’t reflect much difference, I think it just counts hit points
of damage). When you knock an opponent down, his defenses are noticeably
reduced. I would only target the AM if you want the fight over quickly (vs.
any opponent you are unsure about being able to beat).Hitting the AM
frequently will make the opponent drop his weapon. That will almost
always bring an end to the fight.

RELATING SKILLS & ATTRIBUTES – THE GOLDEN RULE OF FOUR

If my mail is any indication of what Duelmasters players want, they want
more detailed information on the game in general, learning in specific. I am
not very optimistic that much will be made available. One of the original
ideas in the game was that the enjoyment came from learning. As any
rookie manager will testify, this game adds new meaning to the expression
“School of Hard Knocks”.


But, why face that kind of learning curve? Isn’t everyone you know trying
to decipher the game? Lots of luck. Given the nature of the turn report, I
doubt that the main combat program will ever be broken down. A few
people might come up with a good model that approximates it. Some
individuals and groups are attempting to develop games from the ground up.
Developing our own game is alot of work just to satisfy a lust for blood &
death. Lets look at an easier way instead.


I attribute the bulk of my success to what I do on the character roll up sheet.
Given an excellent initial design (read “high skill levels/percentages”),
mistakes made on the strategy sheet become less critical because of skill
superiority vs. “peers”. This means a greater variety of options. A greater
variety of opponents which you can challenge and beat. And that means a
high W/L.


Back to character design again. I can’t control what the program code does.
I can control character design. Knowing the relationship of skills to
attributes is the most important part of this process. Fortunately, RSI has
provided every player with the tools neccessary to solve the puzzle. No
need to keep you in suspense. If you have already discovered this give
yourself a pat on the back and have a beer. If not, you have not been asking
yourself the right questions.


Have you ever noticed that after being declared “expert” (in anything), it
always takes four additional skills to reach “advanced expert” unless
an attribute affecting that skill area is raised to the next breakpoint?

This is the Golden Rule of Four. The reference point from which to
base all observations.


What does this mean? Lets suppose we have our young recruit steadily
winning, and learning attack stills. One fight, he learns a single attack skill,
and is declared expert. Our rookie has but a 12 WT and naturally we can’t
tolerate 1 skill per turn, especially when our rivals are averaging 2. Next
turn we attempt to raise WT to 13, and succeed. The next outing shows the
raise payed off. We killed our opponent and learned 5 skills, 3 of which are
attack (I LIKE this gladiator). And lo and behold, an advanced expert! Now
we decide increased damage is important for the upcoming blood feud, and
attempt a ST raise to 17. We succeed. No extra damage, but now we
achieved another expert (parry).


So what is going on? Of course, hitting the WT and ST breakpoints added the
equivalent of 1 skill (5%) in attack and parry respectively. And who knows
where else? We will in a short while.


By all accounts, expert ratings are based on an absolute scale (the
Duelmasters Handbook postulates actual percentages). So, a parry expert
BAS has exactly the same base percentage as a parry expert who
happens to be TPS. Therefore, advanced ratings are based on an absolute
scale so the distance between the two remains constant. In fact this is what
we observe (4 skills, or 20% difference), unless you have done stat raises.


Then, it is simply a matter of plotting what you observe. If you have read
HR #2. the table will be similar to those. This is the table I have constructed
for WT.



WT Breakpoints vs Skill Areas

 
       ATK       DEC         DEF        INI         PAR      RIP
 
3>5
5>7
7>9
9>11
11>13  +1                    +1         +1
13>15
15>17            +1                                          +1
17>19
19>21


That is how you relate skill to attributes. What the table says is that a WT
raise to 13 will add 1 skill equivalent to attack, defense, and initiative. It
probably does more, but I have yet to observe it. Notice everything is +. All
the observations are on the high side of median. If you have ever had a roll
up sheet for a low WT character, you know that the intelligence descriptions
are negative in tone. It suggests penalties. There is an important
implication here which will figure importantly in succeeding installments.


How do I do it? Simple. Lets look at the ideal case. Suppose you are
interested in the 21 WT breakpoint. Start with a fighter whose WT is 19 or
20 already and who has never raised stats (except to even numbers, or any
CN). You wait until your gladiator is expert in all 6 areas but not yet
advanced expert in any (remember, this is the ideal case). Do the WT raise
to 21. Then go back to skills and nothing but skills. Count how many skills
(x) are needed to hit advanced expert in each area. 4 – x – skill value of the
attribute in question. Get the idea?


In the real world it wouldn’t be that easy. For one thing, how many fighters
are that evenly skilled? Probably none. It may take several warriors to
fully evaluate a single increase. There are benefits in sharing (hint hint).


If you have been doing this long enough, you’ll complete the table. If you
are like me and raise attributes rarely, this could take forever. But imagine
the character you could design if you had a complete table for each attribute.


The tools are there.

ODDS & ENDS

A new reader asked me about setting up a forum of Duelmasters managers
on Compuserve. I don’t have a modem and don’t use Compuserve (Cash-we-
serve). But that doesn’t mean that its not a good idea, so I’ll run this
manager’s message.


Anyone having a subscription (or access) to Compuserve, please send me a
note by email. I would like to try to arrange a regular (weekly) online
conference (either in the gaming forum or by CB). My Compuserve ID# is
72407,3246. – Garr Groin Ripper, Manager of Dragonguard


Mike LaPlante and his number-smashing program appear to be on the verge
of a real breakthrough on his stat tables. What he needs is more raw data
(initial roll-up sheets). Also, if you have documented learns, stat increases,
etc., he could use those. I sent him about a dozen of my old roll up sheets
(names and ID’s removed of course), but I’m sure he would love to have
more. You can send them to me to forward, or diredly to Mike at 2969
Delaware Crossing, Va Beach, VA. 23456 or call (804) 468-0643.


Whats in it for you? Firstly, Mike is forwarding all results of his efforts to
me, which will of course appear in the HOSER REPORT. Imagine how nice it
would be to optimize your next recruit to exactly the role you have in
mind. No more wasted time and money on characters destined to
mediocrity, Picture your team W/L moving above .600. A strong AD stable.
Remember, the HOSER REPORT is in limited circulation, not just every manager
will have access to this. I knew I could appeal to your greed. And, if you
have a good information base, perhaps you can negotiate with Mike for your
own copy of the Duelmasters Handbook. Why don’t you pick up the phone
now?


Well, its almost Tournament time, registration has begun. Time to think
about your Tourney roster. If you have any gladiators “on the fence” of the
DA, its time to give them the shove.


This is an excellent opportunity to bring up a promising young rookie.
You’re going to get a minimum of 2 fights. In 2 days. Maybe many more.
These fights will not appear on your record either. A great deception. I’ll
wager that not too many of the new managers in AD realize that some of the
Mordant and Osksi warriors have 30 or more fights than their record shows.
Talk about learning the hard way…


Better yet, your opponents may not participate. Won’t they be in for a big
surprise on the next turn! Another huge benefit is the challenge priority for
Tournament Victors. It is almost as good as a blood feud challenge. When
you make a Tournament Victor challenge, it gives you the first opportunity
at who you want. If they are not avoiding you, you got ’em (they have the
normal chance of success if they are avoiding). Before any non-TV challenge
is determined (including your targets!). One opponent, no waiting. Of course
there is one catch. You have to avoid elimination for 10 rounds. I think
your chances of that are improved by one simple fact: The more
experienced Mordant/Osksi and Phoenix managers (and maybe many LA
managers) will be in the face-to-face Tourney. That leaves the mail Tourney
for everyone else (you can’t register in both).


For those of you going, you’re in for a great time. For those not going, try to
make the mail Tourney. Its worth it.


Jeff Morgan

The Hoser Report #6

50 views
THE HOSER REPORT

The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters

#6 July 14, 1987

$2.00

THE MANAGERS CORNER


A few issues ago a weapons table appeared in which I made some additions
such as giving a ME to a LUA, etc. I goofed. A LUA can be well suited to a
ME, in the off-hand. In the rush to get that issue out, I was less than careful
in my entries. and tended to forget that this was a primary hand chart. To
set the record straight, here is an excellent table I have received for this
information from the Duelmasters Handbook, compliments Mike La Plante:

BASSTASLA

PST

LUAPLU

WST

TPS

AIM

PRP
BAMW

W

WU

U

W

U

U

U

HAUW

W

WU

U

W

U

W

W

MSWW

U

MU

U

W

U

U

U

WFWW

U

MU

U

W

U

U

U

WHWW

U

WU

U

U

M

W

U

MAWW

U

MU

U

U

M

W

U

SSUW

U

WW

W

U

W

W

W

LOUW

W

WW

W

U

W

W

W

BSMW

W

WU

W

W

W

M

W

EPUW

W

WW

W

U

W

W

W

SHUW

W

WW

W

U

W

W

W

DAUW

W

WW

W

W

U

W

U

SCUW

W

WM

W

W

W

W

W

GAWW

W

UU

U

W

U

U

U

HLWW

U

WM

M

U

U

W

U

MLWW

U

UU

U

U

U

U

U

QSWW

U

WU

U

W

W

W

U

LSUW

U

WW

W

U

W

W

W

GSWW

M

WU

U

W

W

W

U

FIMU

U

UU

U

U

U

W

U

W = Well suited, M = Marginal, U – Unorthodox, underlined cells are uncertain.

Enough of that. On to fighting styles. Some people have suggested that the
famed `luck factor’ might make trying to relate style, initial attributes, and
skills to expert unreliable. Maybe so. I’ve got some interesting thoughts on
the luck factor later in the newsletter.


However, during character design I still think it would be useful to know
what attributes to dump those last points into to maximize a specific skill
area. We’ve seen lots of PRP figures, here are some for the PLU (next issue
we’ll look at some LUA).

 
                  ST     CN     SZ       WT     WL    SP     DF     Hand
Original:         15     7      10       15     16    6      15     R
Final:            15     7      10       15     16    6      15
Increases:        Parry + 8 or 9 (skills) = expert (learned two same fight declared expert)
 
                  ST     CN     SZ       WT     WL    SP     DF     Hand
Original:         11     11     10       19     9     11     13     L
Final:            12     11     10       19     13    11     13
Increases:        Attack +6 = expert, initiative +7 = expert, Parry +9 = expert
 
                  ST     CN     SZ       WT     WL    SP     DF     Hand
Original:         11     9      10       17     15    5      17     R
Final:            12     11     10       17     16    5      17
Increases:        Attack +2 = expert, Defense +8 = expert, Initiative +4 = expert, 
                  Parry + 9 = expert
 
                  ST     CN     SZ       WT     WL    SP     DF     Hand
Original:         11     17     9        11     13    15     10     R
Final:            13     19     9        13     15    16     11
Increases:        Attack +9, WT,WL,DF + 1 = expert, Defense + 13, WT,DF +1 = expert,
                  Initiative +6, WT + 1 = expert, Parry + 12, WT,WL,DF + 1 = expert
 
                  ST     CN     SZ       WT     WL    SP     DF     Hand
Original:         14     5      6        17     17    6      19     R
Final:            14     7      6        17     18    6      19
Increases:        Attack + 3 = advanced expert, initiative + 5 = expert, Parry +7 = expert,
                  Riposte + 7 = expert

HOSE KNOWS

Questions and Answers

Q: In issue #3, Mark Ferris referred to a 13 WL equaling to a 65% chance to
raise a stat the first time. How about some further information on the
relationship between WL and the % chance to raise stats the first time,
second time, third, etc.

A: The common wisdom holds that stat raises are based on a d20. Since WL
is approximately 3-20, every point or it adds 5% (100/20) to your base
chance the first time. If successful, the next raise has about 1/2 the
chance of happening. Say your gladiator has a 19 WL. If you attempt to
raise SP (for example) for the first time, you have a 95% chance for success
(19 * 5). The next time you make the attempt, your chance is half of that, or
47.5% (its probably safe to round to the nearest 5%). The third attempt is at
half of that, or, (rounding up) 25%. Failed attempts change nothing.


In AD, the first 3 raises are treated as the first. Using the above example,
you have a 95% chance for EACH of the first 3 raises (remember, misses
won’t affect the odds). Then, the 4th raise is treated at 1/2, the 5th at 1/4,
etc. As you can see, with a 10 WL you only have an initial (and best) chance
of 50% per attribute. Another good reason why there will never be a
dominant character with a WL of less than 10 (I’ll catch some flak for that
statement I’m sure). Lastly, the game designer had (at one time) the intent
that a character would always have a 10 or 15% minimum chance of success.


Q: You’re supposed to have a better chance to learn skills against a more
experienced warrior, if you win, if it’s a long fight, etc. My experience has
been very mixed in this regard. Your comments please on this. Also, how
many skills per attempt would a particular WT level expect to learn?

A: It sounds like you’re already aware of the factors that increase learning.
The thing to remember, not only in regards to learning but performing any
other action, is that this is a game based on chance. There are no guarantees
of doing, anything, including getting x number of skills per fight. Your
character blows a die roll inside the computer, and you’re hosed regardless
of how good you think he is. Lots of managers grumble about program bugs,
the moderators, etc. when luck goes against them. They would be better off
writing the fight off as bad luck and moving on.


As far as determining skills per turn based on WT alone, forget it. I have a
BAS with a 13 WT (13 WL) that can pull down 5 skills per turn. On the other
hand, I have a LUA with a 17 WT (17 WL) that is lucky to get 3 per turn.
The best thing I can tell you here is the more WT the better. Sorry.


Q: I just received a replacement character. His stats are:

 
ST    CN   SZ    WT    WL    SP    DF
10    20   12    8     5     7     8


I’m new to Duelmasters and am not sure if this roll up has potential or not…
I was thinking of making him a LUA with:

 
ST    CN   SZ    WT    WL    SP    DF
13    20   12    13    11    7     8 (raise to 9 1st fight)


I realize that he would probably be slow and uncoordinated but with CN 20
and ST 13 he could probably take any punishment thrown at him and still
wear down his opponent. What do you think?

A: I never worry too much about the uncoordinated statement. My first
reaction was DA, but that LUA you have doesn’t look that bad. I don’t feel
that this is a long term tharacter. With that in mind, an 11 WT would be
sufficient. Use the extra points to get DF as high as possible (11 if you switch
a point from ST also). He should win maybe 5 of his first 7. Then send him
DA and hope for a better replacement. This should help your W/L quite a
bit if you have a new team.


Q: Do you have any advice on LUA? I’ve had 5 killed. Usually around fight
6. The death rate seems fairly high for the offensive styles.

A: I don’t think that the death rate is very high for anyone. However,
offensive styles tend to use up their END rather quickly, reaching exhaustion
in the first 2 or 3 minutes. When you’re exhausted only 3 things can
happen and all of them are bad. Hopefully the 5 you lost were all 6-0 or
close. This is ideal because not only do you get that tremendous boost to the
W/L, but you get to own someone for 4 turns via the blood feud (you should
have someone on your roster who can get at least 3 wins out of it).


In general, use mid to high offenive effort (for attack percentages) with mid
level activity (to conserve END as best possible) vs. defensive fighters. Its
safe to assume that you will always have determination via initiative.
Against aggressive fighters, don’t hold back anything. Vs. aggressive
opponents the fight will almost always be over in two minutes (usually less)
so END is not a big concern. Even if he you can dodge well, its not your
strength. Use light armor (ALE, F), and try a LO if you can use it. The ENC is
1/2 that of the LS, but you don’t have to hit a given opponent twice as much
to end the fight. If you like to take chances, you can forget a back up
weapon (keeping ENC down).

THE DUELMASTERS HANDBOOK & THE LUCK FACTOR

Last week a very interesting item came across my desk, the Duelmasters
handbook by Mike La Plante. Its a pretty slick little rag, 30 pages spiral
bound. Well thought out, well put together. Unfortunately, at this time it is
apparently not being sold and is only in limited distribution. The contents
include: Stats Vs. skills & capabilities, formulas for damage, hit points,
endurance, encumbrance, coordination, intelligence, weapons table with
damage ratings, weapons vs. stats & style, recommended set ups and
strategies for each style, and more. With updates and more to come..


The Duelmasters Handbook is the best attempt I have seen to date to
quantify the game. I’m sure that most of us are familiar with games like
D&D where the player can go to various tables to get a numerical value for
such things as hit points, encumbrance, etc. As we all know, in Duelmasters
RSI is sitting on this type of information like a mother hen.


This handbook contains tons of tables and practical information (linear
regression is used to derive much of it). The formulas are likely not the
exact formulas in use by the moderators, but are very workable. I don’t
neccesarily agree with everything in it, but it will give all players new
insights into the game (with any luck the authors can be persuaded to sell
it). It has been put together over the last 3 years by several managers and
apparantly sources close to RSI employees (leaks are not uncommon, I
understand lots of sensitive Hyborian info is floating around the LA area).
The authors have given me permission to use items from the Duelmasters
Handbook
in the HR. Stay tuned.


Among the many things that give food for thought is the idea of the “luck
factor” (LUF). This is to be distinguished from the infamous “will roll” which
is akin to the D&D morale check. The LUF is used to explain many things as
we all know. In fact, it seems to come into play everywhere (at least,
everyhere something odd needs explaining!). Lets take a closer look at the
luck factor.


Now, one of the game premises is that as a warrior is trained (learns skills) it
increases ones mastery or probabillty of performing certain actions. The
common wisdom holds that learning a skill (say attack, my favorite) adds “x”
percent to ones base chance of hitting the opponent.


If you have this luck factor popping up everywhere, or if this factor was a
large percent of the act in question, the result would be an unpredictable
game. In other words, if the program goes through an elaborate procedure
of taking your base attack percent and modifying it (for weapon, tactic,
offensive effort, encumbrance, exhaustion, attack location, and anything else
which may effect the outcome), then adds a 50% chance of “luck”, what value
is the modified skill level in the first place? When a gladiator who has
learned 20 skills fights one that has learned only 10, we are all pretty sure
of the outcome. Fighters from the bottom of the rankings do not regularly
defeat those at the top. The luck factor can’t be that large.


Let me digress for a moment to one of my last visits to RSI’s underground
factory. I was watching the programmer Chuck Kraver input several
replacement characters (one of which was mine). As I have said in the past,
if you ever get a chance to visit RSI or go to the Tourney, watching the
computer screen as things are happening is a must. Getting back to the
story, the character overview program was doing its thing. Checking to see
that the point total was equal to 84. Checking to see if this was in fact a
legitimate replacement (we’ve all heard about the counterfiets – I heard of
one manager who actually had the nerve to submit an entire team of SZ 3
characters!). Then, the number 5, 10, or 15 was assigned to each of the new
characters.


I asked Chuck what the significance of this was. He replied that it was a
rating or evaluation devised by the game designer to measure the soundness
of a character design. It sounded bogus to me, but at the time it was clear
that I would not get a straight answer and it didn’t strike me as important.
It was forgotten. Until a few days ago.


After receiving the Handbook I called the authors (my next phone bill will
have a 10 kill desire) and the ensuing conversation turned to skills and the
“luck factor”. Mike and Mark La Plante said that each fighter had a bonus or
up to 3 skills during roll up, making comparison of simflar (even identical)
fighter difficult. And, the LUF was randomly assigned to each character,
being 5, 10, or 15 (0 is also possible). If I had not personally seen the roll up
program in action, I would have likely dismissed this. But, I had seen it on
RSI’s computer screen. I contacted a few other managers who don’t
communicate with each other, and got the same account. Hmmm.


Divide 5, 10, and 15 by 1, 2, and 3, and you get 5 each time. This is a
number that has been referred to as the percentage value of a single skill by
many people. Managers of very experienced fighters will verify that the
upper limit of learning in any one area is about 20 skills (less if attributes
affecting the skill in question have been raised before the 20th skill). 20 * 5
= 100. As in 100 percent. It fits too nicely.


Does this mean that if a character has learned 20 attack skills he has a 100%
chance of making a successful attack (i.e., never makes a “wide” or “wild”
attack). Not likely. Why? It would mean that a rookie fighter (or one that
has never learned an attack skill) would have a 0% chance of making a
successful attack. That is clearly not the case. Obviously every (or most
every) fighter starts above 0%. Which implies that you can exceed 100% (if
the above assumptions hold).


Also, it appears that the luck factor is no larger than 15%. This seems not too
large as to throw results, yet large enough to explain the odd things we
notice from turn to turn.


Now on to the number to expert (NEX) or more rarely number to advanced
expert (NAD) case. Suppose that you have two new characters with identical
stats, and the same fighting style. In the absence of the LUF you would
expect that each would require the same number of skills to reach expert
status in a given area. If the LUF as described above opetates here, there
could be a variance of up to 3 skills in the NEX (similar to a confidence band
in linear regression excepting it is not plus or minus). To illustrate lets plot
WT vs. NEX attack for the case of no luck factor (A) and luck factor (B)
assuming all other factors are equal.


(Really cheesy graph here)


The point I am trying to make is that ST, WL, DF, and style being equal,
every odd point of WT should reduce the NEX for attack skills. But how
much?
Also you dont know what LUF will be assigned to the new recruit.
However, if you get off your duff and send your NEX info in for publication
(anonymously if you prefer – plain brown wrappers are ok), eventually the
influence of each stat on each skill area will be clear as will the influence of
each style. Then when you hit the first expert, you compare the actual to
predicted and you know what the LUF for that fighter is. It should be an
across the board type of thing. I’m out of room. More on this next time.

FEELS GREAT! LESS KILLING

FEELS GREAT! LESS KILLING

In HR #4 I invited managers to voice their opinions on the issue of killing in
the arenas. Here is a sampling of the responses so far.


I have had my best warrior killed, 3 A. E. and 1 exp. in 21 fights. I realize that I am in a deadly
arena (two teams are just about to reach 20 kills each In 40 turns; they’re both in the top 5 so
they know what they are doing) and personally I like it. It gives our arena character. It takes
skill to kill and I believe credit should be given where credit is due. High kill desires are supposed
to make a warrior less in control. This is a definate advantage to his opponent. If the opponent
loses or dies, this just shows how much better the first fighter is. Again, I can’t stress this
enough, it takes skill to kill and I believe credit should be given where credit is due.


Many people wouldn’t buy that story, so here’s what I tell them to put them in their places. This is
Duelmasters! Let’s face it, in a gladiatorial combat game, death is, as it should be, part of the
game. Do you think the ancient Romans used rubber weapons? Like it or not, each manager must
be wllling to deal with death. – Alan Yip


… As to the wild eyed managers and their sunning dogs going for the kill, also add their screaming
canaries. Editor you will not believe this but there is even a team on the Isle. The Hose Machine
that goes for the kill. Yes. True.


The data `seems’ to show that few arrive on the Isle with a lot of kills, although the figures can lie,
(You) would have to factor in the large number of TPS. (It) would seem that RSI promotes kills to
stir up ‘fuzzin and feuding’. That is Ok. (There is) intimidation. Discourage challenges. Means
more of your own work………Kills might be fun, although I would rather try to figure out how to best
a warrior who has beaten mine 10 times. That is a matter of taste. IS IT A PLUS? All things
equal, who will win? The warrior with a 7 kill or a 1 kill? I don’t know, I’d suspect the 1 kill.
If we must have kills why not give them more class. Something besides “Hosefoe wails and drops
dead”. Something elegant. More Erol Flynn like. More dashing. An occasional “Runs him
through”. – Victor Melucci

ODDS & ENDS

Among some of the suggestions recieved recently was a suggestion to go to a
longer format (maybe 7 or 8 pages). Since such a move would increase my
costs significantly, this would involve a price increase. Another manager
suggested generating sample replacement characters in each HR and inviting
managers to design the character and explain their reasoning.


I’m waiting for your input.


It looks like, the “computer” Spy Report is gone. Not to many managers liked
the compu-spy. I’m surprised it generated such strong opinions. Too bad for
RSI, I’m sure it increased their productivity. From experience. I can tell you
that writing a good report day after day for multiple arenas burns you out.
Its very difflcult to keep up on things such as alliances, feuds, and what not.


One astute manager noticed that in issue #5 1 raised my price back to the old
level. Yes yes, fluctuating market conditions.


A new definition for frustrating: Frustrating is when you learn the “favorite”
offense and activity of one of your most promising gladiators, and he goes on
a 4 fight losing streak when you implement the “favorites”.


Jeff Morgan