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The Hoser Report #13

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

*THE MANAGERS CORNER*


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOSE KNOWS
Questions and Answers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANALYZING A FIGHT RESULT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


EXCERPTS FROM THE DUELMASTERS HANDBOOK

Tactics
(Part 1 of 3)

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

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

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


Style versus Tactics Table


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


ws = Well suited s = Suited u = Unsuited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


ODDS & ENDS

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

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

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

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

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


15824 Terrace 2 Oak
Oak Forest, IL 60452-2971

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

Happy Holidays!

Jeff Morgan

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