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

The Hoser Report #1


The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters

#1 April 1 1987



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.


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

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.

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

Weapon Damage Table


Weapons vs. Character Stats
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.


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 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

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

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