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The Hoser Report #11


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


Designing characters I won’t have to live with!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how I would design your characters:

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

Alan Yip

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

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

Donald Fasig Jr.

Questions and Answers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reprinted with permission of Mike LaPlante

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It would appear that there is much greater parity now.

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

Jeff Morgan

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