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The Hoser Report #5

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THE HOSER REPORT

The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters

#5 June 23 1987

$2.00

THE MANAGERS CORNER


After the last issue I received some great information on skills,
attributes, and ratings. This information is on the PRP, but next turn
I will move on to the PLU. Each issue I will concentrate on a
different style, and will update as needed. Mike LaPlante supplies
the following (learning in chronological order):

 
                  ST   CN  SZ   WT    WL   SP   DF  Hand
Original:         12   14  12   12    8    13   15  R
Final:            12   14  12   12    9    13   15
Increases:        WL+ 1, riposte skills +2, expert riposte.
 
                  ST   CN  SZ   WT    WL   SP   DF  Hand
Original:         9    14   9   16    11   11   16  R
Final:            12   14  12   17    9    13   15
Increases:        WL+1, expert riposte.
 
                  ST   CN  SZ   WT    WL   SP   DF  Hand
Original:         9    11  13   14    11   10   16  A
Final:            9    11  13   15    11   11   15
Increases:        WT+1,SP+1,riposte skills +2, expert riposte.

HOSE KNOWS

Questions and Answers

Q: This business about the warriors “favorite weapon”…. Does this
“favorite weapon” change as a warriors attributes change?

A: Nice try. No, as far as I know, after favorites are determined
they never change.


Q: I was brought up on the notion that if someone is going to use an
offensive tactic such as lunge or decisiveness or any other offensive
tactic he better have a high offensive effort. Similarly, if you used a
defensive tactic, you should have a low offensive effort. To me, this
made sense. but is it possible that a fighter might fight better with
say a 2-7-7-D-N or 9-8-9-N-P? How about a 4-4-8-L-N?

A: Matching tactic to the pace of fighting makes sense to me too. On
the surface I can see no advantage to the above examples (well,
maybe in the last one). Using a high offensive effort makes one
swing more, perhaps with a better chance or hitting the target.


How would you write a program to do this? You might try to add a
bonus to the base chance of doing the activities in question. Say, X
percent per point of offensive effort. Using the same reasoning, you
would account for the effect of the parry tactic by using bonuses, or
modifiers to the computer generated die roll. Are there negative
modifiers? The Duelmasters rule book implies this.


If true, opposites should tend to cancel out. This would leave your
gladiator no better off, and taking undue risk. The last example
however may not be a bad strategy for a LUA caught in a long fight
(more than 1 minute). The idea being that you have a better chance
of making lunge criticals without a big END penalty associated with
high offensive levels. Lunge criticals are great because they not only
hit for damage, but knock opponents down (reducing overall defense
and giving you determination).


Q: I just got a SZ 3 character that I think is pretty good. His stats
are:

 
ST    CN   SZ   WT   WL    SP  DF
16    6    3    21   10    6   6

All my friends say he’d make an awesome TPS, but I’m afraid that
under the new rules he’d be totally destroyed. Personally, I was
going to make him a PST. As a TPS his stats would be:

 
ST    CN   SZ   WY   WL    SP  DF
18    12   3    21   14    6+2? 8+2?

As a PST his stats would be:

 
ST    CN   SZ   WT   WL    SP  DF
18    6    3    21   14    10  12

What do you think I should do with him?……..If I make him a TPS,
whats better: 11SP/11DF or 9SP/l3DF? … Also, do you think a PST
would need more con?

A: This is an awesome replacement character. I’d kill to get a
character like this. Whatever you do with this set-up, he’ll be good.


In your designs, you miss virtually every break point by using even
numbers (excepting WT, which you can’t alter until AD). He might as
well be {17, 12, 3, 21, 13, 5 or 7,7 or 9} or {17,6,3,21,13,9,11}.
Think about it. And think what you could do with the extra 2 or 3
points. As far as SP/DF combo, only 3 styles really need a SP greater
than 9: STA, PST, and PRP. Chose 9/13 if you go TPS. More CN? It
doesn’t add skills. WL, DF, and ST do. Raise CN two points later in
the arena, max out skills now.


Given the last program changes, ability to take damage in early fights
could be a problem. The effect this would have would be a rather
low and misleading W/L record. The chances of getting slain are still
very small, but you do hate to lose one like this (thats why I say
raise CN in early fights). Your concern about getting hit is valid; but
don’t let it keep you from taking good risks. This is what I would do
with that character:

 
ST   CN   SZ   WT   WL    SP  DF      PLU
20   6    3    21   15    6   13

The reason I “wasted” the ST point was for better END and ENC (CN is
low, and WL is not high). Based on my experience he will reach
advanced expert attack after learning one attack skill. A parry
expert in 4 or 5 parry skills. Think of the fun you’ll have brutalizing
more experiericed gladiators (and raping them for skills). In 20
fights he should have numerous expert ratings and an AD invite.


Q: Could you give us the arena numbers of some relatively new/not
experienced arenas?

A: RSI would be the best source for this information. Good luck.
Experienced managers typically play several teams (I am aware of
some playing 5 teams). Over the years they have spread out to
every arena. Whenever a new arena is announced, experienced
managers are drawn to it like sharks to a shipwreck. T advise you to:
a) keep patient, and b) keep reading the HOSER REPORT.

DUELMASTERS – A BASIC APPROACH

Over the last several weeks I’ve thought about a chart that would
reflect how the game program handles combat. The more I think
about it, the more I can see different interpretations. Kind of like
character design.


The way I view what is happening is easier to understand when
viewed in segments. FIRST, the program has to determine what
each gladiators modifiers are. They can be changed by wounds,
exhaustion, broken weapons, minute of fight, etc. SECOND, the
program needs to determine a concept I call “determination”. The
fighter with determination is the one who determines the action of
the fight, the one doing the driving (we won’t say what the other
fighter is doing). THIRD, the bulk of the program would be the
combat segment. FOURTH, the computer checks the status of each
fight to see if the fight should end (the part of the program where
the infamous “will roll” comes into play). At this point the fight
either recycled to the modifier section, or ended. Consider the
following:




Diamond 1: Decisiveness check, This is the point where STA, PST,
BAS, and other decisive fighters try to gain determination. Three
possible outcomes: T, they gain decisiveness; Y, you gain
decisiveness; N, no one gains decisiveness.


Diamond 2: Initiative overwhelm: Ultra-high initiative fighters can
take away determination before the other guy knew he had it.
Slower BAS and PLU can’t usually be a threat here. Two possible
outcomes; decisive fighter keeps determination or else loses it.


Diamond 3: Initiative check: If there is no decisive fighter, the
fighter with the highest initiative roll will gain determination. If
both gladiators are scumming, there may be no fighter making an
initiative roll.


Diamond 4: A attack (“A” denoting the gladiator with determination),
two outcomes.: Success, the attack is good; or miss the attack was
poor.


Diamond 5: B: responsiveness check. If you screw up against a
responsive fighter, this is where I think you would get zapped. If
you do get hit exit the combat loop to status. If the other guy fails to
hit, back to the attack diamond.


Diamond 6: B riposte check. Where aggressive fighters with low to
moderate inititives get in trouble with PRP. If the riposte hits, the
program procedes to status. If the riposte misses or fails, procede.


Diamond 7 B dodge check. At this point if fighter A hasn’t had the
attack turned back on him, the worst he can do is lose determination
(and this is not likely to happen if the other guy isn’t trying to take it
away). If the dodge fails the fight procedes to the next diamond, the
other outcome takes you to determination.


Diamond 8: B parry check. Two outcomes. If the parry worked
recycle to determination, if the parry did not work go to status.


This model may have a few problems (I’ll leave the fixing to the
readers), but a few items can be pointed out. There are many ways
an attack can go awry, many optiotis for the defender. People focus
too much on parry. By having a model of how the flow of the
program runs, you can better avoid trouble spots for your warrior,
and look to “short circuit” an opponents strength.


The main point of the last two issues is that Duelmasters is nothing
more than a specialized combat resolution program, along the lines of
other character combat games such as D&D, etc. Don’t give it more
credit tnan for what is actually going on. Most of us have a good feel
for what can happen when. Try putting it on paper. If you think it
looks good, send it in.

RSI AND CUSTOMER SERVICE

I’ve always wanted the HOSER REPORT to be in-depth and hard-hitting.
I think the in depth is progressing nicely. Now comes the hard-
hitting. Here are some of the comments I’ve recieved:


Let’s explore frustration, if you’ve played Duelmasters for a time, you’ve experienced it
for one reason or another, I went to discuss one form in particular and that is dealing
with the RSI management.


RSI – IRS: There must be a subconscious message in the choice of initials. I find that
dealing with either can be just as difficult. The reasons are different, but the effect is
the same.


What causes RSI to be so difficult? The problem is simple, it’s a “siege mentality”
company. Anytime a customer has a complaint management “clams up”. They hide
behind their large shields and absolutely refuse to listen, This is very typical of high IQ,
introverted, intellectual people. They simply aren’t customer or people oriented.


So what happens? They formed a Customer Service Department. They hired a nice guy
and he seemed to genuinely care abbut the problems, but he can’t really help. They have
saddled him with all of this responsibilty and, obvlously, tied his hands by not giving
him any real authority. It Is still a company controlled by the Production Department.
Any successfull service company put’s its emphasis into Customer Service because the
customer pays the bills. Personally, I like the guy and you couldn’t pay me enough to do
what he is doing. He’s got to be more frustrated than any of the rest of us. Since he’s
been there the answers, if you want to call them that, haven’t changed, so somebody is
telling him what to say. Customer Service exists in name only.


What can we do? We could quit playing the game; but I’m not ready to do that. I
remember a time when this game was FUN, EXCITING, and CHALLENGING. I remember a
spy report that had personality. I remember game enhancement announcements that
would have improved the game not reduced its quality as some of the recent changes have
done. I remember when the quality of the output was more important than the schedule.
I sincerely hope that somehow the game can regain the excellence it once had.


I’ve heard rumors of a massive boycott for several turns. I don’t think that this is a
reasonable solution either. Think about the numerous failures of Hyborian War have
and probably will continue to cost RSI a great deal of money. It’s also probable that most
of that money was generated by Duelmasters. As a businessman, I don’t know of many
small companies that are over financed, so a boycott would hurt RSI’s financial standing,
and eventually, us. I believe this because most of the recent changes have been geared
toward cost reduction. Fourth class mail is cheaper than first class, but my turns are
suddenly taking two days longer to get to me; Shorter fights reduce processing time and
mail costs. I hate for a fight to be determined by a NON-EXISTENT crowd. The computer
generated spy report takes less time but is also useless and boring.


I propose a formal Association of Managers to present our views, complaints, and
suggestions to RSI. It would require some work and the involvement of as many of us as
possible, but we are getting nowhere as indivlduals.


Paul, I hope that, when you read this, you will accept it and understand that I am writing
this because I care about the game. Somebody has to impress RSI that your dwindling
customer base is RSI’s fault and it is mostly due to a lack of responsiveness to the
customer.


Jim Jarvis

(send diplomatic messages to Unknowns; arenas 3, 12, 21, AD)


Another manager writes: “Along the same lines, I have been really getting
excellent Customer Service from RSI. I don’t know if you have noticed but they do seem
to be getting better. Lately, I have been sending in questions on different aspects of
Duelmasters with each turn and they have, in each case, responded in two weeks. Not bad
considering the volume of mail they must process.


My latest experience? Several weeks ago I was late with my arena
17, so I sent it overnight mail to RSI’s street address. My turns were
misfiled, I missed the turn, lost the Duelmastership, and wasted $10
on express mail. About a week later I got a letter from the RSI
customer service rep explaining the error. RSI credited my account
for one turn plus $1.50 for the Duelmaster title which I lost by
default. Not bad. Almost covered the cost of the overnight letter!
The most recent error was a lost replacement character for arena 1
(who was DA meat). I wrote RSI about it, sent it with the next turn’s
strategy, a new replacement arrived before the turns did. Nice touch
(they could have waited and sent it with the arena 1 results).


It would be better if the errors never occured, but I think RSI is
getting better in this respect.

ODDS & ENDS

It would appear that I have created the potential for
misunderstanding and therefore issue this clarification: In HR #4, in
my Basic Approach column I said concerning information from RSI,
“Reliability of information from this source is suspect. Use with caution”. Did I
mean that the moderators are disseminating false information on the
game? NO!


What did I mean then? I can tell you from experience how often the
RSI phone rings from players not really needing information
essential to completing the turn, but rather wanting to gleen a hint or
tip that no other player has. The moderators would never get done if
they gave the time some people would take. Most players do not
engage in this, but there are habitual offenders sufficient in number
to make this a real concern.


In situations such as this, it is not at all inconceivable that an
employee could “take someone for a ride” in terms of hints. Also,
there is an image and mystique that RSI would like to create and
maintain tor the game, this must also be put in the balance. Enough.


An east coast manager known as Fingal sent in some ideas that are
worth repeating:



Interpreting the turn results: It would be as helpful to quantify the verbiage to get a
better idea of how one’s gladiator is doing – to better determine what the fighter’s
favorite weapon, tactics, etc. It would also be helpful to quantify the turn data – to
determine that if one’s opponent launches 10 attacks in a single minute that they
probably set their offensive value to ten for that minute, etc.


Weapons vs Armor: In the supplement to the rules, casual mention is made of the fact
that certain weapons fare better against particular armors. However, it is not clear
from reading the rules which weapons have bonuses or penalties against which armor or
defense. Further, it is not clear exactly what the armor choice represents – total
weight; weight of the armor; helm and shield; weight of armor and helm; etc.


Duelmasters is a game based on random numbers. When you try to
assign an exact number to opponents offensive levels it can be
misleading. Take two examples: a fight between two SLA, and a
flght between a SLA and a TPS. In the first example, if your SLA
overwhelms the opponent you can’t be sure how aggressive he was.
In the second case, the SLA will make large numbers of attacks
regardless of his offensive levels. Beware the pitfalls.


Try plotting the fights, get some graph paper and make a frequency
distribution chart. Over time a pattern will develop, whether or not
it will be useful will depend upon tracking the right things.


The question about weapons vs. armor effectiveness must have came
up 10 times since the last issue. That is another aspect of the game
that you have to learn by experience. But, since you read the HR, its
a good bet that you want to know NOW. Ok. Most of it is supposed to
be intuitive. I guess it fits in with being a realistic simulation. From
the grapevine these are the special situations I believe are, or may
eventually be, in the game (I don’t know if these are programmed or
not).


The LS is a weapon expressly designed to split ARM (and ACM to a
lesser extent). Less effective vs. APM and APA, use a HL, SS, or LO.
The SC is largely ineffecuve vs. ASM. The GS is supposed to be a
terrific tool to break items such as shields, broadswords, and TPS
heads. No weapon does more damage than the HL, but it suffers a
big initiative penalty (as does the GS). Very specialized tools. On the
other hand, no weapon has a greater damage variability than the MS.
For a quick bashing weapon try a MA or better a QS. I don’t think
that the maul suffers any speed penalties, and we all know how hard
it hits. The SS is supposed to be very quick handling, allowing one to
find the weak spots in plate. The SH is very nearly as good for
parrying as a ME at half the encumbrance. It hits for more damage
than an EP and is more survivable vs. heavy weapons. What a deal!
The BS is an excellent weapon for SLA. Hits hard, no initiative
penalties (probably no bonuses either, but the SLA is quick to start
with), the only real heavy armor alternative. The LG is very
cumbersome, the added parry costs you in dodging. In general, ALE
and APL are designed to soak up energy from concussion attacks.
Some of the force of the blow gets through. Pointed and edged
weapons tend to go through much better. So, APL is generlly a good
choice against a BAS. ARM, ASM, and ACM is very bad vs. opponents
that lunge.


I have been watching some of the armor set ups of some of the RSI
employees playing in AD, and I’ve noticed that ASM is very popular,
hmmm.


Have you noticed something about the game? Like, it seems
everyone is leaving? Last turn in AD 162 gladiators fought. In arena
17, 54 participated And, in arena 1 there were 44 present to fight.
Unfortunately, this seems to be the norm. Not only does declining
participation ruin the game for us, but RSI can’t be making decent
profits running an arena for only a handful of players.


Whats RSI to do? They could do nothing. They could advertise and
refill existing arenas with new players. Of course, there is a very
high a attrition rate as the virgin managers get eaten alive by the
experienced managers.


Declining arenas coupled with difficult entry for rookie managers
points to an elegant solution. I think pretty soon RSI will have to
begin combining arenas. New arenas will be off-limits to current
players until the rookies get a solid footing. Think of the level of
competition. Maybe more managers would have incentive to stay
until “the new game” is out if the regular arenas were like AD. And,
with our moderators profits boosted we can be assured that our
favorite game will continue to be run.


Jeff Morgan

The Hoser Report #4

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THE HOSER REPORT

The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters

#4 June 2 1987

$2.00

THE MANAGERS CORNER


The deluge of material on the PRP continues. The following
information was submitted by a manager who wishes to remain
anonymous. It relates selected attributes and number or skills
learned to the number of skills required to achieve expert status in
given skill areas. The value of this information is in character design.
Obviously, we all want our gladiators hitting expert levels at the
earliest opportunity. Good character design insures this.


Unfortunately, the manager did not say if attributes had been
increased after initial character design (which would make results
more difficult to interpret). If you send in this type of information,
please indicate what attributes were raised to the next odd number,
and when it was done (before or after?). The best information is
obtained from gladiators whose learning has not been “contaminated”
by attribute increases. Also, some attributes were not included (such
as ST & WL for attack and parry). However, I feel the information is
still excellent and will be of considerable value to readers.
Remember the following is for PRP fighters. This is a topic that
deserves, and will get, much attention in upcoming issues of the
HOSER REPORT. Stay tuned.

Exp Attack

Exp Initiative

Exp Parry

Exp Riposte

Gladiator

A

A

BAB

A

B

C

D

WT

1515

13

21

19

15

15

21

13

DF

15

16

1311

13

15

15

11

16

SP

13

1716

9

10

11

13

9

17

Skillsreq’d

4

528

8

2

0

8

0

Adv Exp Riposte

Gladiator

E

WT

13

DF

16

SP

17

Skills req’d

3


If there has ever been doubts in your mind as to what weapons are
well suited to which style, this chart submitted by Alan Yip should
answer your questions.

BASSTASLA

PST

LUAPLU

WST

TPS

AIM

PRP
BA^X

X

^

X

^

HA^X

^

^

^

^

^

MSXX

^

X

^

WFXX

X

WHXX

X

^

^

^

MAXX

^

^

^

SSX

XX

X

X

X

LOX

X

XX

X

X

X

X

BSX

X

X

X

X

X

X

EPX

X

XX

X

X

X

X

SHX

X

XX

X

X

X

X

DAX

^

^^

^

^

^

^

^

SCX

X

X^

X

X

X

X

X

SMXX

^

X^

^

^

X

^

^

MEXX

^

X^

^

^

X

^

^

LGXX

^

X^

^

^

X

^

^

GAXX

X

X

HLXX

^

^

^

MLXX

QSXX

X

X

X

X

LSX

XX

X

X

X

GSXX

X

X

X

Comments: Alan indicated that this list was not complete. I have
made some additions (the ^’s). If you see something we missed,
send it in. I do not certify this (or anything else) to be error free.
What do you expect for two bucks?


One manager wrote to suggest that the rankings should give the
styles of each warrior (great idea!). The idea would be to promote
less popular styles by awarding the title of “Style master” to the
highest ranked gladiator of each style. Even some of the initiates
would have a chance at gaining a title to defend (would they play for
free?). He also asks the following question: “A topic I’d like to see
discussed is how to rid the arena of wild eyed managers and their
sunning dogs who insist on going for the kill. Are you with
me????”


Killing is certainly a topic I spend alot of time thinking about. What
about you? Killing and related issues would make a great topic for
debate since we all have a stake in it. I’ll devote as much room to it
as needed to print your opinions. How about it guys?

HOSE KNOWS

Questions and Answers

Q: Does the program actually control skill learns, or is it the decision
of management?

A: If your meaning is “does management control skills on an
individual basis”, the answer is no. Obviously, the game designer has
decided how skills should be learned (made decisions), and the
program is written to execute those decisions. There are many
factors that influence learning, including WT, WL, damage taken,
fight length, winning or losing, experience differential, luck, and
probably a few more that don’t come to mind right now. If you don’t
have a copy of the red rulebook (where these factors are mentioned),
you may want to get one.


Back in the days when the game was run on Kaypro 10’s, you could
actually watch this process on the screen for each fight (maybe you
still can on the new system, I don’t know). This was a very popular
item for RSI customers at tournament time, or for those visiting the
underground factory.


Each factor had a numerical value assigned, all values were summed.
The resulting number ranged from a low of perhaps 20, to 120 or
more. The computer then generated random number’s between 0
and 100 (it “rolled the dice”). If the “throw” was less than the
gladiator’s sum, then a skill was awarded. Then, 20 was subtracted
from the sum and the process repeated until a “roll” was missed. A
high WT fighter could have an initial sum of say, 90. If the first roll
came up 91 he gets hosed on his skills. I believe that in the event
that a fighter came up empty, he then got a “saving throw”, with a
50% chance of getting a single skill.


Q: How obvious will it be when I come across my favorite weapon?

A: Not very. In addition to a favorite weapon, each fighter is
assigned a favorite offensive effort, activity level, and tactic (there is
a chance that the favorite tactic will be no tactic at all). If you
happen to be using the “favorite” weapon and the other factors are
off, you can see how this confuses results.


When you are optimizing on the “favorites”, you should have a much
higher probability of pulling off “critical” actions (attack, parry,
dodge, riposte). Criticals are generally identified as the very long
sentences in your fights. Since the game in general gives you very
few specifics to go on, you have to zero in over the course of a large
number or fights. When you see good things happening alot, you’re
getting close. Try to vary as few factors as possible in any one
minute.


Upon invitation to AD, you are informed what the weapon is, along
with the tactic. In AD, you are always well suited to your favorite
weapon, though this is not always true in the regular arena. Also,
they tell you about what offense & activity are favorite (very low,
low, moderate, high, very high). If you have been playing for any
length of time (which will be the case if you get the AD invite) you
will know this anyway, so it is not that helpful. Favorites are
supposed to be reasonable for your style. This should give you a
starting point. Good luck, and don’t worry about it too much.


Q: Does a small, fast STA with a WH have a prayer against a fast
LUA of equal experience?

A: Usually, no. The STA normally will have an edge in decisiveness.
A big edge. This will allow him to get in the first couple of attacks
(which may or may not hit). Most LUA will have the CN and/or WL
to shrug this off because small fighters don’t deal extra damage in
most cases. Then the high initiative of the LUA takes over (decisive
fighters generally can’t control the fight for an entire minute),
leading to a perforated STA. Usually.


All of this is based on the assumption that you want to try and out-
quick the LUA. Most LUA come blasting out of the starting gates, but,
not all of them do. Some play a more moderate strategy to create
sustained attack and avoid sucking wind in minute two. Some
managers vary the strategy by opponent. Second guessing other
managers can be risky. That is why I always worry first about
running my fighter to do what he does best, instead of worrying too
much about what the other guy will do.


If the STA has any type of defense, he can very easily win by
waiting out the LUA. If in doubt, try it.


Q: When you say “natural”, does that mean before or after you add
the base 14 points of training?

A: AFTER you add your base 14.


Q: Do you have any suggestions on large fighters?

A: I feel that the satire philosophy of differentiating between
attributes applies to fighters regardless of SZ. Invest your points in
the “big payoff” attributes. The primary difference will be that the
choice of styles will be different. Large fighters are usually better
made into the more aggressive styles.


Q: I am under the influence that if a warrior is ambidextrous, all he
needs is the minimum deftness to use the same weapon in both
hands. I once had an ambidextrous lunger with 11 deftness and he
did just fine with two longswords.

A: What? Not a whole lot has ever been mentioned in the rules
about being ambidextrious, and I don’t recall RSI making public
statements about any benefits arising from this state.


In our fights there is never any indication for ambidextrious fighters
of what hand the primary weapon is carried in, or if this changes
between fights (such as to take advantage of a right or left handed
opponent. It certainly never changes during the fight. If I
remember correctly, there was supposed to be some minor bonus to
attack and parry (say, equivalent of one or two skills), and lower DF
requirements for using two identical weapons simultaneously.
Closely related is the “two handed bonus” that is supposed to arise
from not using an off-hand weapon or shield. Meaning, the program
assumed a fighter using a single handed weapon in both hands gets
extra power and quickness (sounds like another small attack bonus).


This may be another one of those areas where the game designer had
always intended for the game to have that feature, but it hadn’t
actually been programmed yet.


Q: If we’re your best fan do we get to receive the HOSER REPORT for
free???

A: Fat chance.

WHATS ON THE HORIZON

For those of you in AD, I’m sure that you have had an opportunity to
read the latest announcement from RSI “So what the Heck is the deal
with Advanced Duelmasters Anyway?!”. It raises a number of
questions concerning the future of this game, and I think that it
applies to all Duelmasters players even though it only seems to have
appeared in the AD newsletter (those of you not yet in AD might
want to get a copy from a friend or the moderators). I will not use
my limited space to reproduce it here, but for those who are not in
AD I will summarize what it said:


The AD audience is too small to pay for the programming costs
associated with the game. Since AD was to have been the foundation
for future games, the cost was to be spread out into the future
games. Now, Ed (the game designer) has devised a combat system
that will make Duelmasters obsolete. Any further improvements in
AD are therefore not justified on a cost basis, RSI will develop the
new system instead. Further AD improvements have “hit a brick
wall”. This decision was reached after 3 months of internal debate.


Its disturbing that RSI had had the information of a new system for
three months, yet was widely publicizing enhancements to AD and
the standard arenas. We’ve all read the official announcements, and
many of us had heard leaked rumors (don’t feel too bad guys, I was
sucked in myself). The rug has been pulled out from under us.
Again. If Duelmasters was not so enjoyable (addictive?) these
continued PR flaps would have killed RSI long ago. They might yet.


Why do I think that it pertains to all players? The differences
between the standard arenas and AD are: 1) some different lines of
text in the computer output, 2) some minor differences in attribute
increases, 3) fighters are well suited to their favorite weapons even
if they were not in the standard arenas, and 4) a diffetent point
range for each warrior class. For all outward appearances,
Duelmasters and Advanced Duelmasters is the same game (a rose by
any other name…). If you accept this, then the announcement
applies to ALL arenas and players.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m always in favor of a better game and RSI has
promised a better game. Having known the game designer
personally, I have every confidence and expectation the AD II (or
whatever you want to call it) will be awesome. But, RSI has not
earned much praise for on-time performance. Hyborian War was not
running on regular turnaround until more than two years after the
promised release date. How long will it be before the new
“Advanced Duelmasters” comes out? I hope you like the game as it is
today.


Maybe this announcement also will be soon forgotten by RSI? Well,
at least one lesson has been learned about promising release dates.
RSI didn’t give one. Personally, I don’t want to know until the new
game is ready for playtesting. I hate being strung along.


The unanswered questions? What about the Grand Tourney, is it
scrubbed?. What of the AD characters that mangers have invested 50
fights and hundreds of dollars in? Since AD as we know it will be
obsolete, doesn’t it follow that the system that produced them (i.e.,
the regular arenas) will be obsolete? Can they transfer into the new
system? Will the old game still be run? Will the current
Duelmasters customers be SOL (sure out of luck)?


I had contacted Paul Brown last week on a different subject, and this
was briefly mentioned. Paul realized that there were unanswered
questions, and called back later to leave a quite lengthy message on
my answering machine.


From what Paul had said, current Duelmasters players needn’t worry.
Duelmasters has always been a good product for RSI, and they will
continue to run and support it (standard arenas and AD apparently).
Characters still active when the new system is brought on line will be
able to transfer into it, much as gladiators now transfer from the
standard arenas to AD. It seems that the Grand Tourney is also still
on. The rest of his recorded message slips my mind now, but the
thrust of it was that there is no threatening news for current
Duelmasters customers.


Unfortunately, it looks like no new programming either.


What does it mean for us? Most importantly, it appears that we are
“locked into” the system we have now. Things could be worse, we
could have been stuck with the total dominance of scums. It would
appear that this announcement kills any further speculation on
program changes and the strategy implications.


Is there cause to be upset? I guess the bottom line is not really. I
certainly don’t think much of the promised improvements being
withdrawn (it stinks), and I wonder how long a stagnant game will
hold the interest of all the players. Perhaps there will be a number
of small low cost things that can be done? RSI made a business
decision, which they were well within their rights to make. Perhaps
it was the nature of the announcement. I’ve never heard of a new
product being launched in quite this way. I hope that the remade
Duelmasters is ready soon.

DUELMASTERS – A BASIC APPROACH

This is a tough column to write for someone who has played for so
long. Over the years you see almost everthing (or so you think), and
you take for granted your accumulated experience. You actually
forget why you do the things you do. Playing becomes habit. Yet,
there isn’t anyone out there who can’t learn a new trick, myself
included. It is my intent to start “from the ground up” and build a
framework in which to view this game, I am hoping that the
verteran players can draw something valuble out of this. As with
anything you read in the HOSER REPORT, feel free to send in your
comments, criticisms, or whatever (i.e. I need more material for HR
#6).


Chances are, you haven’t seen a game quite like Duelmasters before.
When you first began (or even now), didn’t you ever ask yourself
how DO they do it? I did. Duelmasters was my first exposure to PBM
games. I never even played Dungeons & Dragons until I was in
college (a deprived childhood, right?).


So, what do you do? The answer is to construct a model that
describes what is happening on your printouts. You have already
done it, whether you realize it or not. How? By accumulating
knowledge from various sources and drawing inferences. This allows
you to predict consequences of your actions. When results don’t fit
the model you modify the model and try again. More on it later.


Model building is really a form of problem solving, which is done by
qualitative or quantitative analysis. The game designer never
intended to give out numerical information on the game. This policy
has been continued by RSI. In other words, they don’t really give
you much to go on. Even the popularity was changed from a number
value to descriptive terms. Looks hopeless at first, don’t you think?


We all know that Duelmasters is computer moderated. Computers
must work with numbers at the most basic level, then match
numerical results to the lines of text we see on the printout. A ray of
hope.


Before you can analyze information, you have to gather it. Where?


1) From your fights. You have very good control over 50% of what is
going on (via the turn sheet).


2) Your friends, especially if you can arrange fixed fights and
compare strategies used.


3) The HOSER REPORT. I had intended this publication to be a clearing
house for information, not 4 pages of me telling you how to manage
your stable. I have lots of good ideas and experience, but so do the
readers. One of the strengths of this game is that people with widely
differing opinions can be successful at the same time. If everyone
understands how to extract information and contributes, this could
very well be your “key to the bank”. Readers of the HOSER REPORT
manage a very large number of warriors. As a group we see more
fights in one turn cycle than the individual manger will see in years
of play. How much you get out will be proportional to how much you
put in.


4) Contact with RSI, and friends of RSI employees. Information
leaks through RSI like a sieve. Before joining RSI I had the luxury of
being able to personally visit with the game designer, we talked
about the game sometimes for an hour or more. Ed however is a
pretty crafty man. He gives you that kernel of truth, but plants it in
a pound of manure, The trick is to sift through the bull. Moral of the
story: Reliability of information from this source is suspect. Use
with caution.


5) Other games. When talking of Duelmasters, I often make
analogies to other games such as backgammon, poker, eucher, D&D,
and horse racing (among others).


When you try to figure this game out, there are a few pitfalls to
avoid. Specifically, keep it as simple as possible. The simplest model
that fits results is better than a complex one that gives about the
same fit. While Duelmasters is a wonderful game, don’t give it credit
for anymore than it is really doing. From some of the things people
ask you would think that RSI had created machine intelligence and
applied it to a PBM game.


What is Duelmasters? Basically, nothing more than a combat
resolution program. Think of D&D. Whenever you have an
encounter, there are several outcome possibilities, one of which is
combat. There is a procedure you go through to resolve this situation
that looks something like this:



Simplified, but essentially correct. With Duelmasters, there is only
one possibility, combat. The above system gives you a rough
guideline to compare Duelmasters to, which I will do next issue.

BONUS ISSUE!

Normally I stay with the 4 page format because I feel that it is
appropriate. This time however I was running late and didn’t have
time for editing. Also, there was quite a bit of material to print, so
here it is. My apologies if your issue came postage due. And….

NEW LOWER PRICE!

For this isssue you may have noticed that I lowered my price (see
front page – ha ha). It can’t go any lower! Sorry, I couldn’t resist,


Jeff Morgan

The Hoser Report #3

176 views
THE HOSER REPORT

The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters

#3 May 12 1987

$2.00

THE MANAGERS CORNER


The PRP must be a real popular style (maybe I’ve been missing something).
Lots of information has been sent in for publication. One of the best is the
following article from the manager of one of the higher rated PRP’s in AD.
This is the guy I turn to with questions on this style. I hope you find it
useful. If you are sending articles please send nothing longer than this,
unless you don’t mind it being edited and/or squashed.

BUILDING THE PERFECT BEAST, OR DESIGNING A GREAT PARRY-RIPOSTE


Ok, we have all had a chance to look at the new program changes, and ponder the meaning in terms
of what they will do to our established warriors, From what I have seen, it is my opinion that the
parry-riposte (PRP) style is going to benefit tremendously. Of course I admit I may be a little bit
biased due to favoritism to the style, so let me back up this claim.


Before you ever consider making a PRP, you have to consider how the style works. This style is
not an offensive style. Too many managers send their PRPs out at 8/9/10 lunge for the first two
minutes. If that is what you want, get a Pokei. The PRP style is an elegant defensive style that is
designed to make the most of your enemies mistakes. Very few parry-ripostes will do good
damage, they tend to use the slice and dice approach, which will build up lots of popularity. By the
time the tenth minute rolls around and the arenamaster starts checking his watch, if your PRP has
hit his opponent a half dozen times, and looked good doing it, you can guess who wins.. Another thing
to consider is only two styles conserve END better than a PRP, TPS and AIM. It is easy for a PRP
to be active for 10 minutes. This assumes you aren’t being knocked around the arena by that size
20 basher you used to laugh at.


Now lets look at stats. A PRP will live and die by his riposte ability. With the new changes
allowing a sustained offense to break apart a defense, the PRP’s ability to take away the offense
becomes very important. Wit and deftness are the two most important stats in this area. They
must be a minimum of 15 each in my opinion. You will also notice that this beefs up your attack
%. This is intentional. When you riposte your opponent, the idea is to hit him.


Despite the new changes in favor of big warriors, I will still advocate a small size. The reason is
that with a small size, your defensive skills are enhanced. This is a defensive style, remember?
The other reason is you need the points elsewhere. From the experiments I’ve done, I would
recommend between a 5 and an 11. This range seems to be the best trade off in terms of dodge and
absorbing damage.


Next is con. Face it guys, with the new changes, parry styles are going to get hit. So your PRP has
to take damage and bounce back. I would like to see him take normal damage, or be able to get it
with a stat raise. Think in terms of SZ and CN equaling 21. If your SZ Is 5, try a 15 if possible,
13 would be the lowest I’d start a SZ 5 with. If SZ is 11, try a 9 or 10. Notice that a smaller size
has a much better chance of getting good END. Once again, a small size bonus.


Strength comes next. The highest strength required to use PRP weapons is an 11. Start with a 9
or 10. Only a size 10 or 11 PRP will do good damage normally, and you need the points in other
areas, If you want to do damage, get a Pokei. There are plenty of PRP weapons you can use with a low
ST, and you will be able to raise it. Speed used to be a worthless stat. If your wit, will, and
deftness were high enough, your speed really didn’t matter. With the new changes concerning
sustained offense, that is changed. Your PRP has to be fast enough to get his riposte off. If your SZ
is low, your SP can be low due to your defensive bonuses. I would try to keep it between 8 and 11.
Any higher and you will take initiative away completely from your opponents. This is not a bad
thing after 20 fights, but do it against another parry style early on and you will be in trouble. A
riposte is quick return thrust off an opponent’s attack that hits before his defenses are up. Going
offensive against other parry styles is how you lose. Keeping your speed low prevents this.


Last comes will. So far you have spent about 70 points. Will is a stat that modifies everything,
defense, attack, stat raises, skill learns, etc, etc. Given a choice, I want a high a will as I can get.
But weighing the benefits of a high will vs. a high wit, for this style, I would rather pump wit up
two more points to a 17. This leaves 12 – 13 points for will. This stlll leaves your PRP with a
65% chance to raise stats once, and plenty of staying power.


With the above parameters, my best PRP will look like this:

ST

CN

SZ

WT

WL

SP

DF
10

15

5

17

13

9

15


You will start out very intelligent, possibly with good endurance, and have a good chance of
starting with an expert in riposte. You wlll have to raise ST once to get a normal carrying
capacity.


PRP weapons are as follows; ST 9 or less, SS,SH,EP,SC; ST 11, LO,LS. Never use a EP, SH, or
SC against any armor heavier than ring. Notice that there are very few weapons a PRP can use.
This makes it relatively easy to find your favorite weapon. When you find it, there is a big
difference in your fights.


When setting up your plot sheet, keep your PRP in light armor. Ring is good against offensive
styles, leather or padded against parry styles. Keep your offense down. I only go higher than a 5 if
I’m challenging a known quantity. With the new rule on calling a fight, you don’t really have to
worry about going 15 or 20 ininutes, so set your activity at a moderate level the first several
minutes, then slow down to a 3 maybe. Never go below a 2. I suspect alot of managers will be
upping the activity levels now, and I would not want to be caught with 1 activity. Kill desire is a
matter of personal choice. Just remeitber, a high kill desire, especially a 10, detracts from your
defense. Stay away from fast LUA, big BAS, and WST in your first 10 fights. Anyone else is pretty
much fair game. Especially go after the old slimers, the ones that are all con/will. Their
managers will probably try to make them fight rather than DA them, so there will be plenty of bad
attacks to riposte. It will be a turkey shoot for a few turns at least.


I hope that this article has given you some insights into what I consider a devastating style, when
run properly. Those of you who have fought Erin know what I mean. If you have any further
questIons on this style you can contact me thru the mail. Good luck, and good hunting. – Mark
Ferris, 663A W. 6th St., Tustin, CA 92680

I recieved a very interesting piece of information from RSI (Paul Brown &
Chuck Kraver). It is an addition to the SZ/height table last issue. Apparently
you will be able to increase SZ in AD.

SZ:

22

23

24

25

Height:

7’6″

7’9″

8′

8’3″

HOSE KNOWS

Questions and Answers

Q: Do you have any ideas on PST strategy?

A: I have always viewed the PST and the STA as similar to the PLU and
LUA, one gives up some of the attack ability for a more rounded character;
The STA was intended to be the most versatile style in the game (with the
possible exception of AIM). We know how that turned out!


Versatility means not only a wide choice of weaponry, but a reasonable
ability to use most offensive and defensive tactics. Successful use opens the
door to customizing strategies to opponents. For most styles, I feel that a
manager should find a workable “offense” strategy, and a similar strategy for
“defense”. Then, alternate minutes between the strategies favoring what
your fighter does best. With most styles you don’t normally fool around
outside the “optimum” offensive effort and activity level ranges.


In theory the STA (and the similar PST) should be able to utilize all the
weapons and all the tactics. Even though the fighter in question will still
have a favorite range, weapons and tactics options make straying outside
“normal limits” more viable. Thus a manager should have a much better
chance of developing a “customized” strategy to defeat a targeted opponent.
This idea may be thought of as “doing what it takes to beat a foe”, in contrast
to using the strategy of “doing what one does best”. I like the last idea best
instead of getting too fancy on the strategy sheet. Of course, your gladiators
strengths may not be effective vs. all opponents. Thus the value of
versatility (in theory anyway).


My ideas would be get who you want to fight, use a challenge strategy if
you’re up against a known opponent. As far as tactics, try them all.
Decisiveness and parry are the obvious choices, but try the offensive tactic
that matches weapon type. On defense, relying on the parry tactic for
extended periods of time is out (unless of course the PST has 15 or 20 parry
skills). Experiment with riposte and responsiveness. PST is not noted as a
mobile style, the dodge tactic is less attractive but may be useful.


Q: Any tips on BAS? Mine never gain initiative.

A: Why are you fighting faster opponents? Try decisiveness. Are you using
a slow weapon (HL, GS)? BAS have Very good options for weapons, try a QS
or a MA. Have you tried redudng weight? Test the new sustained attack
package on your favorite scum.


The style description of BAS suggests that the norm is a high aggressiveness,
with little movement. Maybe 10-4 or 6-3 or something like that. Using
everything helps greatly (especially if your BAS can end the fight quickly),
but most won’t have sufficient endurance remaining to continue the fight.
All or nothing. Not a very promising prospect when pitted against
inherently faster (or more skilled) opponents. If you’re caught in that
situation, try to parry. Not many people seem to realize that experienced
BAS get credible parry ability. An off-hand shield is highly recommended.
You’ll be hit but the idea is to survive the onslaught. By that time the
opponent should be exhausted (or at least slowed down to where your BAS
can handle the situation). Lots of interesting possibilities for the BAS now.


Q: Why is RSI so unresponsive to customer problems?

A: Obviously. I am not very close to the situation, but the subject has been
kicked around quite alot. I can offer my opinions, especially having been on
the other side of the fence.


RSI is running about 40 or so arenas every 10 business days. Thats a pretty
fair amount of work. I would imagine that most of the resources of RSI are
being used for Hyborian War (which I hear is a very good game). These
guys are busy, but that’s not a defense.


Personally I think they do a pretty good job. I expect my turns run on time,
and by an large they are. I expect accurate data input, and it is most of the
time. Only once has input error ever cost me a fight (I didn’t bother to
contest it). I don’t really ever have any questions or need to interact with
the moderators. Maybe I should expect more?


Players can make the situation better by realizing the difference between a
grievance and a gripe. Game results are the product of the factors of random
chance. “Bad luck” is not a good basis for a complaint. Error on the part of
the moderator is. Is that question you have so important that it requires an
instant answer?


That does not mean. there have not been problems. There have been. An
adversarial atmosphere has developed, and there is lots of ill-will out there.
However we all have a common reference point, that being we want to see
Duelmasters continue to improve & grow. It is the persisent problems that
are creatjng the impression of indifference. Much of the criticism is
deserved. Duelmasters players pay a premium price, and should get prompt
solutions. RSI is making efforts to serve us better, I’m sure everyone will be
watching the follow through.


Q: I’m a new manager, and some of your references (“unless the style is
AIM”, the odds are against AIM, STA, SLA, and the WST”) weren’t clear. Are
these generally poor long range styles, short term, or what?

A: What I was referring to was the overall effectiveness of each style.
Virtually any arena newsletter you can get your hands on will have these
styles ranked at the bottom of the style listing. The AIM and STK tend to
take lots of time (and money) to develop. Since you read the HOSER REPORT I
assume that you want to avoid fighters with 4-15 records. The SLA and
WST tend to have good early fights, but can’t compete on an advanced level.
Why? The parry tactic is the “natural” way to neutralize the slashing attack.
Little needs to be said about the dominance of party styles for the last 30 or
so months. The WST also suffers a very high END cost. Even though the
cards are stacked against them, there is always room for a good one.

PROGRAM CHANGES – ADVICE TO SCUMS

At first there was a question in my mind as to whether the mentioned
changes were just new text inserted in the program. After reviewing a few
dozen fights,there is no doubt in my mind that these are real changes. Will
they have a significant impact? I don’t think its going out on a limb to say
“yes”. In fact, I think that this will initiate an “arms race”, with the large
fighter (SZ 15 to 17) being the gladiator of choice. My advice to readers is to
start racing now. More program changes are rumored for May release.


Apparently fights running past 10 minutes (scum vs. scum) will be allowed
to continue. Many managers are heavily invested in scum, and they must
have been quite vocal. I don’t think that this concession will slow the
dropping W/L for scums.


If you are running parry styles, I offer these tips; Even if you can go several
minutes without a breach in the defense, END costs will add up. Trying to
hide behind a shield for more than 3 consecutive minutes (“scumming”) will
likely be unprofitable. Many TPS will have a fair amount of DEC skills,
you’re going to have to use them. Try to soften up your opponent in minutes
2 or 3, and think about ending the fight in minute 4 or 5.


Since the changes are aimed at reducing the END of scums, you may blunt
the effect by raising the stats affecting END (ST, CN, WL). Train skills for the
challenge and random match-ups, increase the attribute if you get
challenged. Why?


If you run a scum of any experience, there are probably managers who
“have your number”. They will be eager to test the new program changes at
your expense. This assumes that you will lose most of the times you are
challenged. Remember, getting pummeled and losing fights is not conducive
to learning skills. So write off the fight and get the attributes. Of course, if
you can challenge and get the people you want to fight your rival won’t get
the chance to nail you.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT – THE NEW RECRUIT (PART 2)

Last issue we looked at which attributes contribute to the physical capacities
of a gladiator. So, that leaves the “skill” areas to look at, the abilities we
want the new recruit to excel in. Now we can get a better idea of which
attributes are worth more than others, From here on I will often refer to
averages. “Average” is 12 on the 3 to 21 scale (84 points/7 attributes).


First, I think most managers will accept the proposition that large SZ is
liability. You may have success with large gladiators now, but I can’t see
that the basic cause of the disparity has been corrected. SZ should be
independent of the point total. Bottom line: I want a couple of big guys in
my stable, but only a couple, Unfortunately SZ is the only attribute one can’t
alter. Warriors with unacceptable SZ are automatic DA candidates.


Looking at CN, we see that it helps no skill area whatsover. Given the low
mortality rate
, you’re nuts if you add any points during initial design.
Example: Team average natural CN for current Hose Machine is 9.46 with a
W/L of .682, Not counting the highest 3 of 15, the average CN is 7.50. Four
and one half points under average, points that can be used elsewhere. The
downside?


1) HP will be low. Generally speaking, good warriors don’t get hit very
often.

2) END will suffer. This can be offset by adding to ST and/or WL.

3) ENC will be lower. Yes, but it is partially offset by adding to ST, and
heavy armor is of questionable effectiveness later.

4) Permanent wounds. Lots of talk here, but no action yet.

5) My warrior will die. Maybe so. Thats life in the food chain. Expect to
lose a few, but the ones who make it will take you far.


SP is the last attribute I feel can be neglected by most gladiators. The table
from HR#2 shows that speed contributes to everything but attack. Note the
“?” by doage and parry. My lowest SP characters are not lacking in either
skill area. In fact, my best TPS (Engwar in AD) has a natural SP of 5.
Compare your high SP characters to your low SP characters. How quickly
does each reach expert in parry or dodge? Has raising SP ever caused you to
reach expert in these skill areas?


The exceptions would be PST, STA, and PRP. These styles are heavily reliant
on decisiveness and riposte. I would say minimum SP of 11 for these styles,
maximum of 9 for all others. Many managers might disagree, that is their
perogative. I maintain that no character with 21 SP will ever be a dominant
character, Duelmaster or otherwise. Good maybe, but not truly great.


The first thing I look at on a new roll-up is these three attributes. Ideally
they will total 30 or less. Using this system, the best character I have to
date is a character with a 17. Since 12 * 3 is 36, that character recieved a
“bonus” of 36 – 17 – 19 points. Where should you put them?


WT is the most important attribute for any fighter that hopes to be viable in
the long run. High WT fighters tend to require less skills to reach expert
status. WT adds to every skill area. The question mark under decisevness is
to indicate that this only seems to be effected by a very high WT. WT may
also have some effect on END. It takes a very long time to reach AD on 1
skill per turn. Never accept less than a natural 11 (11 can become 15).


WL adds only 2 skills (attack and parry), but is important in many other
ways. When the computer decides to check for morale, that 21 WL keeps a
gladiator going for a long while. It increases END and HP. I actually had a
character raise to a 22 WL (in AD) and he reached expert in decisiveness. I
doubt that there are too many truly great characters with a WL of 10 or less.


DF is probably more of a priority than WL to some managers, but if your
man is small and fragile, WL should come first. Checking the chart, DF
increases attack, parry, dodge, and riposte. Weapon problems begin occuring
rather frequently with 10 or less DF. No fighter can have a DF too high.


ST will be fairly important for the same reason as WL, they cover your
deficiencies in CN. With a 9 you can use a good slashing weapon (SC) and a
good lunging weapon (SS). The lightest bashing weapon is the QS (11 ST). ST
will also be more important the smaller the fightet is. SZ seems to have a
much larger effect (positive or negative) on damage than ST does.


Now is when you should determine style. Usually it is clear before you add
any points that some stytes will be out of the question due to such factors as
SZ, damage, endurance, etc. That serves to narrow the field. Well designed
characters usually have a choice between two or three possibilities.

ODDS & ENDS

The backlog of material for publication continues, but don’t let that hold you
back. One of the things I feel is important to the HOSER REPORT and its
readers is exclusivity. You may have noticed announcements once again in
your arena newsletters, these will be probably be the last.


Do you suppose now that R&D on Hyborian War is complete Duelmasters
players will get a price roll-back?


I have heard that the 4th Grand Tournament will be held over the Labor Day
weekend. If you can only take one major trip this summer, this is the one.
Not only do you get a chance to gain experience while your rivals are idle,
but its a fun weekend. You meet other managers face to face, lots of politics.
My favorite part (next to killing someones entry) is the announcement of
each rounds pairings. Talk about suspense. Then comes the frantic rush to
cut deals for information (or mercy), and fill out your turnsheets in the
alloted time.


Then comes the wait for results. The first two rounds can take several hours
each. After the first elimination things speed up quite a bit. Then there are
the upset victories, the cinderella stories, usually a prominent death, and the
pain of elimination. If you still have warriors advancing, things get intense.
The chances of matching up with a cupcake are slim, chances are better that
you’ll match with the type of opponent that always gives you trouble. You
really feel great when you still have entries in the 6th, 7th, and 8th rounds.
And you’ve done a good job. My bet is the Mordant warriors will once again
be standing tall when the dust settles.


Some of the newer managers have asked me to clarify earlier references.
After this issues article on the new recruit, I will back-track to a basic game
philosophy that may give readers better insights on how to view this game.
Good luck.


Jeff Morgan

The Hoser Report #2

93 views
THE HOSER REPORT

The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters

#2 April 21 1987

$2.00

INTRODUCTION


Welcome to the 2nd HOSER REPORT. I greatly appreciate the mail many of you
have sent. I was able to personally respond to most of your letters earlier,
but as the volume of mail increases it is becoming harder for me to do so.
My apologies. For those of you sending detailed information on warriors and
problems, I will. write in such a way that will not tip off potential
adversaries in your respective arenas. It is my #1 goal to protect your
confidentiality.


Please keep the mail coming! From early response, it appears that I am
writing the kind of stuff you guys want to read. Since I have recieved much
more mattrial for publication than I have room for, don’t be disappointed if
something you sent doesn’t appear this time. It will have a higher priority
for the next issue so you are likely to see it sooner or later.


Administrative matters: Someone had suggested accounting slips so you will
be aware of what you have on account with me. Its a good idea, but for now
you’ll have to settle for something less (I’m just not sure what). As I get
time to figure something out I will. It was also brought to my attention that
my address is somewhat difficult to find. Pretty stupid on my part, the
address will appear on the envelopes for now. And lastly, I must admit I
rather enjoyed the looks I got from the teller at the bank when depositing
checks made out to “HOSER REPORT” (or variations thereof). It would probably
be best to make out checks to me in the future.

HOSE KNOWS

Questions and Answers

Q: What’s your favorite style, and why?

A: A hard choice, but I favor the PLU. 5 of my 15 gladiators are PLU. Why?
The PLU seems to be the most balanced of the ten styles. Many more
opponents you can challenge and beat. When your LUA runs out of gas,
defenses are limited to dodge, which is usually not that good until 20 or 30
fights (and it burns energy you can’t spare). The PLU can be fought like a
psuedo-LUA, or can pick up a shield and offer good defenses. A PLU can also
dodge. Initiative and riposte are generally very good. Even when my PLU’s
are in their “defense” minutes, they make good attacks at a low endurance
cost. Weapon options are also good. Learning is good when you can stretch
your fights out past 2 minutes. The only down side seems to be that
decisiveness is weak. What more could you ask for?


Q: How can I run a WST best, offensive effort, activity level, etc? I’ve got
one with great potential, but he tends to clomp around swinging like a wild
man with double-vision.

A: Why do you guys keep asking me about styles I don’t run? Actually, I
have started a WST, and am experiencing these problems. My initial
strategy was to go slow and parry in minute 1, then come out to end the
fight in minute 2. The idea was to make the fight go longer, and increase the
number of skills per turn. Unfortunately, the parry abilities of my WST
were not so hot. So, I tried 10-10-N. He clomped around swinging like a
wild man with double-vision. That’s no good either. Inasmuch as it was
against experienced scum, I may try it again. The root problem of
ineffective (or wild) attacks remains. I see two possible causes.


RSI has made references to offensive efforts/activity levels/kill desires
causing wild attacks if they don’t match your fighters favorite or
preferred levels
. Could this be? Based on my own experience, I would
say no. I have an experienced BAS who runs well at 10-10-10-B, and an
experienced TPS who takes opponents apart at 10-10-10-B. If you
subscribe to the above theory, then this shouldn’t happen. Who knows,
perhaps it is levels that don’t match the fighter.


More than likely however, it is lack of attack skills (which of course is a
function of lack of experience). I don’t know how many your fighter has
learned but when you get some under your belt, the clomping will be a
thing of the past. Think about this – it’s better to make wild attacks than to
have your opponent making the attacks, particularly when you have poor
defense. Try 10-3 or 6-3. Use the slash tactic vs. any opponent who isn’t a
scum. Or, the bash tactic with a bashing weapon vs. any opponent. Be sure
and test parry ability. If your opponent is exhausted he will be easier to hit.
Let me know how it works.


Q: What has RSI said about the HOSER REPORT?

A: I was considering about that for some time myself. Since over 2 years
had gone by since my departure, and RSI has claimed major program
changes, I felt that the time was appropriate to start a strategy newsletter.


I have been contacted by Paul Brown, it appears that RSI is supportive of
this (although they were not too wild about the name). I think the benefits to
themselves are recognized. A complimentary subscription was requested by;
and is sent to, RSI. Their desire to keep tabs on what is being published
about their primary product is certainly understandable.


It is not intended for the HOSER REPORT to be a vehicle to unfairly bash
anyone. I have received some questions and other items critical of the
moderator. Since I intend to print almost anything which has a factual
basis, it stemmed appropriate to extend RSI the opportunity to respond to
criticisms. So, you may even see statements from RSI appear in the HOSER
REPORT.


Q: Do you remember the time when I asked you how I should run my LUA
(name witheld)? Well, here is his total stats:

 
ST=12        DEC skills  2    Expert: INT, PAR
CN=12        ATT skills  2    Average skills/turn = 2.08
SZ=9         INT skills  7    Record (witheld)
WT=16        RIP skflls  3
WL=15        PAR skills  10
SP=13        DEF skills  3
DF=13


He has no problems against BAS and the likes, but always loses to LUA…. Do
you think he should try the parry tactic? I’m very reluctant to use it. He does
not dodge well against the other LUA, I’m not sure why. His 13 SP is pretty
quick in my opinion, but he never seems to get the initiative.

A: The first thing you should start doing is start challenging BAS. On the
parry tactic: 10 parry skills for a LUA is pretty damn strange considering
initiative or dodge is usually the dominant skill of this style. Between my 3
LUA (2 of which are in AD), I don’t think they have 10 parry skills between
them. The fact that he is only expert despite 10 skills plus attribute
increases (you didn’t tell me what the natural stats were you hoser!)
suggests that while his relative parry is good, on an absolute basis he doesn’t
have great parry ability. It is worth a try in this unusual case, use a good
lunging weapon that has some parry value (LO. SC, SH) with an off-hand
parry weapon (SH, DA, ME – SH preferred). Do not use the parry tactic in
your opening minute, or desperation.


Dodging – He only has 3 skills, and hasn’t hit expert (even with whatever
attribute increases were done). I’m not surprised that he can’t dodge. Even
for an experienced LUA, I feel the dodge tactic only functions to reduce (not
eliminate) the number of hits per minute. Not nearly as effective as a parry
defense, plus it costs endurance to dodge.


Initiative –
He doesn’t seem to have many initiative skills for the total
fights he has (of course not – he’s busy learning parry!). You
never said what his armor & weapons set up was. Try dropping weight to
the minimum to gain initiative (CN and WL are good so the chance of dying is
pretty miniscule), make liberal use of the lunge tactic.


Q: Do “tactics” really work?

A: To the best of my knowledge and experience, all tactics will have an
effect on your gladiator. Personally, I use all of the offensive and 2 of the
defensive tactics. I do not use riposte or responsiveness because I don’t
have the correct fighters, and I can’t remember which letter is which tactic
on the turn sheet.


The experience gained over time should answer your question. If not, get in
contact with someone you can trust, and arrange a series of “fixed” fights.
Use a “challenge” strategy, they use an “if challenged strategy. The only
thing that changes is that you (or they) switch or omit tactics.


Perceptive readers will recognize that over a series of fixed fights there will
be learning, which would confound results. This can be minimized by each
fighter raising attributes to the next even number. Or, raise CN since it has
no effect on skills. Remember, only raising to odd numbers can affect skills,
odd numbers represent break points (except in AD, which is a different
story). Alot of trouble to go to, I find it easier to believe that tactics work.

THE MANAGERS CORNER

The suggestion came in that a table be published relating weapon
effectiveness vs. armor. Not a bad idea, but room is lacking in this issue. It
is upcoming. Please feel free to send in your observations. Mike La Plante
did send in these additional notes on the tables which appeared in HR #1.

 
To use 2 EP requires 21DF, 17DF if AMB (ambidextrous).
To use 2 LO requires 17DF, 15DF if AMB.
To use 2 SC requires 17DF, 15DF if AMB..
To use 2 SH requires a 7 ST.


How many of you have problems relating SZ to the heights which appear at
the top of the fight? I can’t for the life of me figure out what the SZ of
someone 6′ 6″ is, being accustomed to the 3 to 21 scale. The above
mentioned manager sent in the following information, which was originally
compiled by Brian Stafford:

SZHeightSZHeight
SZHeightSZHeight
34’11”45’1″
55’3″65’4″
75’5″85’6″
95’7″105’8″
115’9″125’10”
135’11”146′
156’2″166’4″
176’6″186’8″
196’10”207′
217’2″

PROGRAM CHANGES – A FIRST LOOK

In the beginning of April RSI announced important program changes. I have
heard accounts from two people of scums being knocked around like so
many tennis balls, and of a scum vs. scum fight being called somewhere after
the 10th minute. After reviewing 13 of my personal fights I have seen 1
where the mentioned changes came into play. Here is how it looked (I
challenged):

Hose Worst(Hose Machine)

Tegeus Crontis (Those Who Rule)

19-3-0

26-31-0

5’4″

5’8″

ALE,F

N,N

SH,ME

LS

SH,DA

SS

TPS

PRP


MIN 1: TC CRIT ATT, HW deflects. TC out of control, TC CRIT ATT. HW deflects. TC CRIT Att,
HW deflects, HW flies backwards, TC ATT, HW PAR,
HW is forced back, HW twists, TC CRIT ATT,
HW PAR, TC slips past, HW hit LA, TC ATT, HW PAR, HW pivots, TC CRIT ATT


MIN 2: HW hit RL, HW knocked down, HW back up, TC ATT, (comment), HW deflects, TC
exhausted, TC CRIT ATT, HW deflects, TC slips past, HW hit CH, (comment). HW frantic, TC
ATT, HW PAR, TC ATT, HW CRIT PAR, clash, TC ATT, HW hit HE, (awesome blow), HW
winces, TC CRIT ATT, HW hit LA. HW knocked down, (comment)


MIN 3: HW hurt. HW motions, TC wins.


The new changes are underlined (my strategy in minute I was 1-1-P). The
main effect was to be an endurance cost to absorb energy by parrying. Hose
Worst has tons of endurance, so it doesn’t appear to have been a factor.
What hurt was the “slipped past parry”, but thats old news. Clearly more
information is needed, changes will continue to get coverage as they develop.
By the way, if any of you would like to develop a coherent shorthand system
for detailing fights, I’ll be glad to use it.


Lastly, using my usual good discretion, I think its time to leak news from an
unidentified source about “…the release of a number of changes to the game
….under wraps for the last couple months … to address the reasons people
have dropped out.” Whatever happens (next month?), I’m sure its nothing
but good news for RSI customers. Remember, you read it in the HOSER REPORT
first!

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT – THE NEW RECRUIT (PART 1)

Last issue I began to talk about character development and its importance,
and offered some guidelines on “stable cleaning”. With recent program
changes, now is an excellent time to think about rebuilding with an eye to
the future. So now that you’ve made liberal use of the DA and have those
replacements in hand, lets focus on which you should keep, and how they
should be set. The importance of being very picky about your new recruits
cannot be emphasized enough. There is no rule that says you have to give
every recruit a chance!
At least not yet. More often than not, this would
be a chance to lower your team W/L.


At this point something should be said about all the articles one sees in
arena newsletters about the “perfect” character. I don’t think that it would
be too hard to convince most of you that character design is a study in the
art of compromise, and that a “perfect” character does not exist in the
presence of constraints. I have seen a few articles that seem to be on track,
but most have a built in flaw that might be referred to as the “law of
averages”. What I mean is that most show characters that have no really
low stats (except for SZ, everything else is between 11 and 15). I would
argue that this type of character is going to be “incredibly average”, and
have no outstanding strengths to take advantage of. This is the kind of
gladiator that ends up with a 15-14 record. Above .500 to be sure, but if
you have a stable full of this type you’ll be forever in the middle of the pack.
Only the #1 team plays free.


In a nutshell, the Hoser theory of character design is based on the belief that
some attributes are worth much less than others. By “neglecting” some
attribute initially, points can be transferred to attributes which do more for
you. Loopholes in the game design have existed since day 1, and been taken
taken advantage of since day 2. RSI may tighten some loopholes with
program changes (changes to SZ being the prime example), but the idea is
still a good one to build your team around. The $64 question is which
attributes are “worthless”?


At this point, you should all have your original roll up rules. Even an
experienced manager can still make use of them. Lets get down to business.
Get a sheet of paper, and down the left side write down each attribute.
Across the top, write each skill area (if you’re a non-conformist you can do it
the other way around). Reading the roll up rules, make a mark at the
intersection (cell) of skills and attributes. The marks are “y” for yes, “n” for
no. and “?” for maybe. When you get done, you should have something that
looks like this:

 
     ATT  DEC  DOD  INIT  PAR  RIP       DAM  HP   END  ENC
ST   Y    N    N    N     Y    N         Y    N    Y    Y
CN   N    N    N    N     N    N         N    Y    Y    Y
SZ   N    N    Y    Y     N    N         Y    ?    N    N
WT   Y    Y?   Y    Y     Y    Y         N    N    Y?   N
WL   Y?   N    N    N     Y?   N         N    Y?   Y    N
SP   N    Y    Y?   Y     Y?   Y         N    N    N    N
DF   Y    N    Y    Y?    Y    Y         N    N    N    N


More abbreviations: ATT- Attack skills, DEC- Desciveness, DOD- Defensive
actions, INIT- Initiative routines, PAR- Parry, RIP- Riposte, DAM- Damage,
HP- Hit points, END- Endurance, ENC- Encumbrance. Note that some cells
have a “y” and a “?”. I won’t have room to explain my reasoning in this
issue, but keep it in mind.


Skill have been seperated from the “capacities” (for lack of a better term) to
illustrate a point. In general, it’s much better in initial design to maximize
skills at the expense of capacities. Why? Lets look at each capacity.


DAM: Say you’ve just got a “tremendous” or “awesome” damage warrior (a
BAS or similar brute). What good is it to hit hard when you can’t hit
anyone? To emphasize capacities, you must neglect skills (such as ATT). The
hypothetical BAS (he could be any style really) probably won’t be able to hit
any parry style warrior (TPS, PST, PRP, PLU) using a ME and parry tactic.
Think about it. The upcoming changes? Its anyone’s guess how much things
will really change, or when it will happen. I’ll believe it when I see it in
my fights. Getting back to styles, we’ve just eliminated 1/2 or maybe 2/3 of
the available opponents in your arena. Whats left? LUA? With a BAS? Not
likely. SLA? A 50/50 proposition at best. As is other warriors of the same
style (BAS in this case). That leaves STA, WST, and AIM. How many of these
are active in your arena? What is your chance of getting one every turn?
The point is as long as you can start a fighter with good damage you should
be ok. ST & SZ determine DAM.


HP: Its handy (but not necessary) to have a good amount, but I can see
little value in having excessive HP. Most every character I’ve ever seen
designed to “take damage” does just that – stands around and takes damage!
Hoping that your opponent runs out of END before you run out of HP is not a
promising strategy. CN, WL, and extreme SZ determine HP.


END: No skimping here. You need good endurance at a minimum, and an
excess is not at all bad. ST. CN, & WL are the prime determinants of END.
WT also has a small effect. If any of you attended tournaments, remember
the display on the computer screen that gave endurance totals for fighters
“A” and B”? It appeared that the effect was to “recharge” END points when
“resting” (i.e., parrying). And, all other things being equal, a higher WT
gladiator may indeed have a lower END cost per attack. The relationship is
not easy to discern, and there is little that you can do about it. So forget
about the WT effect for now.


ENC: Being able to carry APA and heavy weapons can be advantageous
early. As many of you have no doubt noticed, character abilities begin to out
strip armor protection. This is especially true in AD, were even small
warriors using average weapons can blow through APA like kleenex. If you
are taking care of END and can do at least good DAM, chances are you’ll have
adequate ENC. ST & CN determine ENC.


Once again we are out of space and time. I hope the above ideas have
provided you with food for thought. Please don’t hesitate with any
questions, comments, or criticisms on anything in the HOSER REPORT, or having
to do with the game. In the next issue look for character design to continue,
along with analysis of any new program changes. With some luck and letter
scrunching, more of your observations will also appear (including some
really good stuff on the PRP from an anonymous manager).


Jeff Morgan

The Hoser Report #1

64 views
THE HOSER REPORT

The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters

#1 April 1 1987

$2.00

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the first issue of the HOSER REPORT. I am glad that there are
people out there that share my interest in this type of newsletter. I hope
that we can get off to a fast start here, with a large number of contributers.
And of course, I hope that you will find this a valuable tool in getting ahead
of the pack in your respective arenas.


First, some preliminaries. When you send in an item for publication,
please indicate whether or not you want your name (personal/team/whatever)
withheld. Material submitted will not be returned.


You’ll find that I use abbreviations quite a bit. Get used to them. Those
in the rules are used, plus a few of my own:

Aimed BlowAIMParry StrikePST
Bashing AttackBASTotal ParryTPS
Striking AttackSTALunging AttackLUA
Parry LungePLUParry RipostePRP
Slashing AttackSLAWall of SteelWST


I’ll probably make up more as I go, each will be noted at the first occurance.


An apology: Due to the fact that I have time pressure from a full time job
and other activities, this issue was delayed. I will be more prompt in the
future. Someone had suggested to me in a letter that a bi-weekly Hoser
Report may be a somewhat ambitious goal to start with. After reconsideration,
I agree. The Hoser Report will appear every 3rd week for the time being,
with the next issue slated for the 21st of April.

HOSE KNOWS

Questions and Answers

Many of you wrote with questions I feel will be of general interest. So, they
are paraphrased here. Feel free to submit as many as you like.


Q – Are you associated with RSI at all?

A – No. My association with RSI ended over two years ago. You can rest
assured that this is an independent publication and will not (usually)
be preaching the part line. My role now is the same as yours – a paying
customer. As much as I want to get the most for my money, both in terms
of character performance, and customer service.


Q – How will the billing work?

A – Payment may be made by cash, money order, or check. You may keep
a balance, or “pay as you go” at your option. I will not send issues
out without prepayment.


Q – How many have been sent out? Can I get back issues?

A – Anyone that misses an issue can order back issues at the regular
price.


Q – How much editorial control will be exercised?

A – I will edit for spelling (I’m very picky about those things) and
length. Articles of up to 2 pages will be accepted. I will publish items
that are relevant to gaming in general. I will not publish anything that
may be construed as libel against any party (the arena personal ads should
be used for this purpose).


Q – How about some tips on the Parry Riposte?

A – Send him to the DA (dark arena). Seriously, this style has always
given me problems. My first PRP was very poorly designed, and I decided
that this style had about the same chance as AIM fighters.


However, with the advent of the parry tactic a large number of managers
were successful in advancing small, quick learning PRP fighters to AD
(Advanced Duelmasters). Seeing what they can do when they get in the 70+
skills range is real scary. So, I changed my opinion. Unfortunately, none
of my recent replacement characters have been suitable. So, I have little
experience managing this style. Look for an upcoming article on the PRP
style written by the manager of one of the highest ranked PRP in AD.


I have a large number of ideas I will be trying soon, and will save most of
the rest for when we get around to character design. For right now, I would
say look for a replacement with low CN and SZ (of course). Minimum SP
should be a “natural” 11. By natural, I mean the “base” before you add
points. 13 or 15 is of course better. I am not sure if a 17 SP is good,
because it will cost elsewhere. WT should be highest, but can be as low as
13 if the WL is 17+. At WT = 13, the LO can be used and learning will be
quick if the fighter wins. The PRP actually has a good range of weapons to
choose from.


If ST is high, WL can be somewhat lower and extra points can go to DF.
Given that the minimum SP requirement is met, I prefer higher DF to higher
SP. Train skills. Remember, new parry style fighters are the most
affected by the recent program changes (allowing one to strike through the
parry), and the new changes announced in the latest arena newsletters (which
I’ll mention later).


The changes mean they are going to get hit more frequently. Armor will not
be the answer in most cases. Challenges & avoids must be used wisely until
the fighter has built some defense. Remember, there is a great increase in
survivability after completing the 5th fight. If you can get him past
that event…


When it comes to fighting the PRP, I do have quite a bit of experience
(mostly unpleasant). If one has been giving you trouble, you have several
options. The easiest is to send your TPS after him. A very fast LUA
or PLU can overwhelm. If you think you have more initiative skills than he has
riposte, go for it. Unfortunately, if you’re not fast enough (and not using
the afterburners) your fighter will get carved up pretty bad. Decisive
fighters (BAS,PST,STA) seem to have an edge over the PRP. Or, if you have
a better PRP, give him a lesson in humility. The important thing is to try
to kill your rival’s PRP before the 5th fight. While even then it’s damn near
impossible to get a kill, you may be able to hang enough losses on the fighter
that the rival manager will send him DA.

WEAPON BASICS
The following information was compiled by Scott Procter, updated and
submitted by Mike La Plante. I make no claims as to accuracy. Caveat
Emptor
.

Weapon Damage Table

LO6MS8QS7
SH3BA9LS6
BS7SM1GS10
SC6ME2GA7
EP4LG5HL10
SS6HA3ML10
MA7DA2WH6
FI1WF6

Weapons vs. Character Stats
WeaponSTSZWTDFWeaponSTSZWTDF
SH53113SS9377
BS11399BA15799
SC931111SM5355
LO1131311ME9355
EP531515LG11355
WH13377GS159911
MA13355QS1191111
WF13355ML15955
MS133913LS11999
HA5377HL179911
DA33??GA135911
A warrior using his favorite weapon receives an attack bonus approximately
equal to 3 attack skills. A warrior’s favorite weapon is always well suited
to his style but not necessarily to him. A warrior using his favorite
weapon will peel off more critical hits than normal.


My Comments: RSI has never released this information, so the table must be
a subjective ranking. I don’t agree that a ML does as much damage as a HL.
Perhaps the EP is over rated. And a few other things. But the point is,
this is very good record keeping on the part of Mike & Scott. The weapons
vs. stats table is very accurate. It goes to show that quantitative
information can be extracted from the game. In as much as a computer works
with numbers (and only then can assign “results”), more of the game can be
treated in this way.


While the weapon damage information is useful in weapon selection, it
would have even more meaning if someone can devise an approximation for
warrior hit points.

RSI ANNOUNCES PROGRAM CHANGES


If you haven’t heard, you can read about the details in your next arena
newsletter. RSI is attempting to respond in a responsible manner to
customer complaints. Whether or not I can get more kills remains to be
seen! The fact that an imbalance existed was acknowledged. Also, this was
announced before implementation. That last parry modification came
as a (unpleasant) surprise to most of us. Many people suspect that it wasn’t
much of a surprise for those tuned into the local grapevine. Announcement
when implementation is imminent is a much better policy. I hope the
glasnost continues.


Briefly, the changes are to address dominance of warriors (usually TPS)
using snail strategies. Mentioned are:


a) Bonuses for SZ.

b) Higher endurance cost for parrying. Especially when using “large”
parry weapons. Sounds like a LG to me.

c) A successful parry is considered “absorbed energy” (probably some
percentage of the time) and cost endurance to ward off.


What do I think? Big bashers could make quite a comeback, if the LUA and
PLU leave them alone. I wonder if this will help slashers also? Now is
the time to begin thinking about which of your scum to send DA. If they
have a good record, keep them until the first turn in which you see
changes, then rebuild your stable.


Rookie gladiators that rely on parry for too many minutes are going to get
hit, maybe alot. This will likely be real tough on AIM gladiators, as well
as TPS, PST, and PRP. PLU, STA, and WST have better offense and shouldn’t
be hurt too bad. If you manage a fighter of these styles and defend in
opening minutes, be sure your desperation is aggressive!


Remember, a fighter can only be killed when he is about to lose. Fighters
that win don’t have to worry about dying (and this has implications for
character design). However, without a change in the low mortality
rate, I don’t look for too many more midgets being stopped from reaching
full development (as the saying goes: twice nothing is still…). You
just won’t see many 25-2 scums.


SZ bonuses are great! As we all know, points allocated to SZ are a liability
beyond 9 or 10. I’d wager you would have to look pretty far down the AD
rankings to find someone SZ 14 or above. With any luck, SZ won’t count in
your 84 point initial design. Instead, the player gets 72 points, plus
whatever size is. Simple. Elegant. There was a mention in the arena
newsletter of being “fair”.


Here’s what the Hoser says to that: Being small has been a built in
advantage since day 1. Every point of SZ you don’t have
is a point you can put where it matters, in WT, WL, and DF. SZ 3
fighters get maximum advantage, 9 extra points (average SZ = 12). Some
of these small SZ guys have been raping the system for years.
I’m not too worried about being “fair” to the fighter that as amassed
such an edge for so long. I’m sure this topic will be good for much more
discussion when we see the changes actually implemented.


CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT – THE KEY TO WINNING


Character development is probably THE most important concept to learn
about this game. Everything starts with a good character. Good team
management dictates that you are always replacing lost characters with
good characters. Good characters have a larger number of opponents they
can challenge and beat. You become #1 as a team not necessarily by going
after the #1 team, but by winning all of your fights. An excellent character
wins most of the time even when the strategy is “less than ideal”. This
concept is larger and more subtle than it appears and takes along time to
lay out. So lets get started.


Since most of us have a full stable, someone must go. How do you select who
goes? By record is one way, but I’ve seen some impressive gladiators that
started out 0-3, or worse (a few of my own included). If this is your main
criteria, here are a few guidelines:


1) Don’t include fights where your opponent has more than a 5 fight
experience edge. A fighter with 3 fights should lose to a fighter with
8 fights, all other things being equal.


2) When your gladiator gets in the 15 to 20 fight range, discount fights
vs. opponents with 10 or greater experience differences.


3) If broken weapons have been a factor in losses, discount those fights.


4) Discount fights where you have made gross management mistakes (such as
trying to make a LUA parry), or there have been data input errors that cost
you a victory.


5) If a fighter has a large number of bloodfeud losses, only count each as
a half loss. Bloodfeuds are grossly unfair to the killer in that he is
“owned” by the bloodfeuding team for 4 turns (remember, you only have a
20% change to avoid a bloodfeud). Your opponent should be able to come up
with someone out of remaining roster that can beat you every time.


Advancement potential is a better way to judge when to get rid of a fighter.
At this point a distinction should be made between the type of gladiator
you want to advance to AD, and the “utility” type. The utility fighter comes
into your stable for one reason – to win as many fights as possible in a
short number of turns, then go to the DA. At one time these were referred
to as “Dixie Cup” warriors, because they were disposable. They either won,
or lost with a very fair chance of dying (then you get 4 more bloodfeud wins).
It’s easy to figure out when to get rid of the utility fighter, and usually
decided during initial design. Less easy is the character you thought had
potential, but has not really contributed to the team W/L (win/loss
percentage).


Back to advancement potential. First, only consider fighters whose personal
W/L is lower than your team W/L. When all of your fighters have a higher
W/L than your team W/L, your team W/L will be moving upwards most every
turn. Pretty obvious, but alot of managers don’t seem to be aware of this
simple relationship.


You should be keeping track of a few things: total number of fights
(tournament fights don’t show on the individual record – a very large
consideration in issuing challenges in AD!), number and types of skills
learned, and number of turns attribute increases were attempted. This is
the formula I use:



{Total # of skills learned}

{Total # of fights} – {Total # of fights attribute increase attempted}

The resulting number is the true average of skills per turn. If it is less than
1, DA is automatic. Too many managers believe in giving every fighter a
chance to advance. The reasons are many, but the most common is liking a
fighter. This isn’t roleplaying guys! Think of replacements in terms of
poker. If you draw cards (stats) you don’t like, discard immediately and
hope for a better draw next time. It’s one thing to experiment, but don’t
allow a poor character to lower your team W/L.


Perhaps given a chance to develop every fighter could AD. But a poor
character is going to be every bit as inferior to his peers in AD as in
the regular arena. Where is the gain?


Take a long, hard look at any character averaging between 1 and 1.5 skills
per turn. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, get rid of him. Why?
There seems to be a definite upper limit on skills. Any manager running a
character in the AD top 20 will confirm this. After 70 or 80 skills, learning
slows rapidly. Just to each 80 skills requires 53 turns at 1.5 per
turn. Two week turnaround sets an upper limit of 26 turns per year. In
other words, that gladiator will take 2 years and 2 weeks to reach that
point. I’ll let you figure out how much money that represents.


If the skills per turn is between 1.5 and 2, still look hard. If the fighter
has reached expert areas after only a few skills in that area, he is
probably worth keeping. I wouldn’t judge faults as critically as with the
previous case. Over 2 skills per turn would be very difficult to get rid
of (unless the style is AIM!).


Learning is so important to advancing. To win your stable as a whole must
learn. Fighters that don’t learn are good in early fights, but get
left behind quickly. For example, a 0-0-0 BAS may pummel a 0-0-0 PST
in their first fight. If the BAS is learning an average of 1 skill per
turn (pretty average for a BAS) and PST 3 (not unheard of) per turn, guess
who will win after they meet again in 5 or 10 turns? Another simple fact
that people seem to overlook.


If you’re still stuck, consider the fighting style. The odds are against
AIM, STA, SLA, and the WST. There are some good ones out there, but not
many. Now that the DA decision has been made, you can look forward to the
“perfect” replacement character. But since you’ll never get him, next
issue I’ll throw a few ideas out on character design. Sometimes called
“making the most of what you got”.


I hope you have enjoyed the first HOSER REPORT. Best of luck in the arena!


Jeff Morgan