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The Hoser Report #2

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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

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