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The Hoser Report #7


The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters

#7 August 4, 1987



For those of you interested in LUA (who isn’t?), here is the information I
have received to date on this style:

                 ST    CN     SZ     WT    WL    SP    DF    Hand
Original:        12    11     11     13    17    9     11    A
Final:           13    11     11     15    18    9     11
Increases:       NEX initiative +2 (occured before WT raise). NAD Initiative +3. WT to 15, 
                 NEX Attack+4, WT to 15
                 ST    CN     SZ     WT    WL    SP    DF    Hand
Original:        15    9      14     15    15    7     9     R
Final:           15    10     14     15    15    9     11
Increases:       NEX Attack +3, DF to 11
                 ST    CN     SZ     WT    WL    SP    DF    Hand
Original:        11    11     8      15    18    9     11    R
Final:           13    11     8      15    19    9     12
Increases:       NEX Initiative +5
                 ST    CN     SZ     WT    WL    SP    DF    Hand
Original:        12    6      9      15    21    8     13    R
Final:           12    7      9      15    21    8     13
Increases:       NEX Attack + 1, NEX Defense +5, NEX Initiative + 5 or 6 (learned 2 
                 Initiative same turn reached expert)
                 ST    CN     SZ     WT    WL    SP    DF    Hand
Original:        15    6      11     17    17    7     11    R
Final:           16    8      11     17    18    7     11
Increases:       NEX Attack + 1, NEX Decisiveness +4 or 5,NEX Defense +6,NEX initiative +5,
                 NEX Riposte +6
                 ST    CN     SZ     WT    WL    SP    DF    Hand
Original:        17    5      12     12    17    10    11    R
Final:           17    8      12     13    18    10    11
Increases:       NEX Attack +5,WT to 13, NEX Defense +9,WT to 13, NEX Initiative +6,WT to

What is interesting is to compare gladiators with the fewest differences, and
see what those differnces mean to the number of skills required to hit
expert. If you missed issue #6, NEX means “number of skills to expert”, NAD
means “number of skills to advanced expert”. Attributes raised that did not
affect the skill area in question, or did not reach the next breakpoint (odd
number) are not induded. By popular demand, an in depth look at the
relationship of skills to attributes appears later in the issue.

If you would like to contribute, I need the initial stats of your gladiator, plus
what his learning and raises are in the order in which they occurred. You
need not identify yourself or the gladiator
, and the gladiator does not
have to be currently active so long as your record keeping in clear. Next
issue we will run the stats for the BAS.

More reader inputs on “favorites”. A manager who reads his friend’s copy of
the HOSER REPORT (thanks alot – I know who it is and I’m going to double
charge his account) sent an interesting note regarding favorites. He said that
when one of his LUA got his AD invite, his favorite tactic was lunge and
dodge. Odd. Also, when his fighter went out with his “favorite” weapon, he
lost his next 3 fights. After switching back to the old weapon (LS), he won 3
of the next 4. I can believe that.

Jim Jarvis writes … “Now about the resurrections in AD, from what I’ve seen,
they should have happened. Many of the deaths occurred because of a
program error. The information on weapons & fighting tendencies was way
off. My lunger Mikos died because I tried to use those incorrect tactics &
tendencies. I was prepared to accept the death until I found this out.”

For those of you not yet in AD, the slain are being brought back (apparently
you have to request this). The program that generates the overview sheets
players received upon AD qualification had the “favorite” offense and
activity levels reversed. So if you had a fighter who liked “moderate
offense” and “very high activity”, it came back “moderate offense” and “very
low activity”. I guess this was quickly corrected, but not before…


Questions and Answers

Q: We … wonder whether or not any of the other PBM magazines have
enough in them about Duelmasters (our only PBM interest) to warrant
subscription. What is your opinion?

A: Like you, Duelmasters is the only PBM that I have ever been involved
with. As you might have guessed, my knowledge of PBM magazines is
limited. There seems to be alot of financial instability among them. As far
as Duelmasters coverage, I am sure that Paul Brown is doing everything he
can to get favorable reviews and articles. However, I would doubt that they
appear on a regular basis. The best of the lot is probably PAPER MAYHEM. I
don’t have the address but am sure that RSI does. Or, check your local game

Q: I too have recieved an awesome roll-up.

ST    CN   SZ   WT   WL    SP   DF
8     4    10   13   14    6    15

This is what I plan on doing with him:

ST    CN   SZ   WT   WL    SP   DF
12    4    10   19   17    6    16

I figure ST, CN, SP, & DF can easily be raised for odd points. The question is
should I make him aTPS or a PLU? I think he’ll be a terror on the sands
either way. Do you think I should revise him? Perhaps ST 11 and DF 17?

A: I like your figuring. As far as style my personal preference is PLU (look
at what his been happening to the scums lately), although as you point out
either way this looks great. I would lean towards 17 DF normally.

The largest problem you will face in the early going is END. Also, the risk of
getting slain for this character will be about as high as possible (which I
don’t think is very high, but thats another story). Obviously the answer is to
raise CN 2 points as early as possible, then add 2 or even 3 more points again
in AD. Raise WL to the next even number (one of these issues I’ll get
around to explaining my reasoning). This character will get to AD fast if you
forget atttibute increases except as mentioned. If END problems persist,
raise ST, but resist this temptation if possible. Even with an 11, damage will
be good (maybe). Obviously ENC will be lousy, the LO or SC with a ME are
good weapon selections. You could sub a SH for the ME and divert 2 points
to armor at your discretion. Raise that CN early. Consider the following:

ST    CN   SZ   WT   WL    SP   DF
13    4    10   17   19    6    15

Learning should be very close to the above design, but ENC, END, and hit
points (the primary weak spots) will be somewhat better. Train as above.
Compare these to the PLU designs of last Issue. This set up is almost
identical to the last example in terms of attack and parry (switch 2 pts. from
WL to DF, 14 is equal to 13 because of the missed breakpoint of 15). Great
damage may be within reach. Looks good, eh?

Q: Regarding targeting an area, if my warrior is a right handed LUA with a
SS and SM, and my opponent is a right handed BAS with a MA and ME, I
would assume:

a) Targeting his RA would be awkward since its on the far side from my warriors right
hand – unless I’m riposting.

b) Targeting his LA is tough due to the shield.

c) Targeting his RL is awkward for the same reasons as the RA.

d) Targeting his LL seems best because its the closet to my warriors RH.

Is my thinking correct? Also, is the game program complicated enough to
take all of this into account? Finally, what guidelines do you follow
regarding targeting the various areas?

A: Your points are well taken. Whether or not the game is programmed to
take these things into account I don’t know. Ive never seen indications that
this is the case, but on my own turns I have used the same rationale you
have outlined. Since an opponent can protect either side as well by declaring
a protect location of “LE” or “AM”, I’m not sure if it will give you a large

Note the key word “large”. Many of your fights won’t be close. But in the
ones that are, you certainly want every possible advantage. I think of
targeting in similar terms as protect location. On the subject of protect
locations, the rulebook implies that your basic parry percentage applies to
the whole fighter. When you declare the protect location, you are trying to
protect this area “extra hard”. It does not say that you are foresaking
defense of all other areas. To me, this means that you may be adding the
equivalent of maybe 1, 2, or 3 skills to the defense of that area (or 5, 10, or
15 percent). Going back to your example, the ME applies to the whole
fighter, not just the LA.

Going back to attack, I think that yor attack percentage applies to the whole
target. Following the right-to-left, left-to-right guidelines may give you a
small bonus.

Another reason I believe that program likely does not handle these is the
back-up weapon. If you have a ME (or any other back up) “thrust into your
waistband” or similarly attached, it offers zero protection. The point I am
trying to make is that if the programming reflects all of these subtleties, you
would expect that occasionally an attack would bounce off of a back up
weapon/shield. They don’t.

As far as the guidelines I use, I try if possible to avoid being predictable.
If possible, I will always try to kill my opponent. To me, this usually means
targeting AB, CH, or HE. Note that the opponent can defend two “Vital” areas
at the same time (AB & CH by declaring BD). If you want to score a large
number of hits target the LE (as likely to kill an opponent as the vitals, again
the program doesn’t reflect much difference, I think it just counts hit points
of damage). When you knock an opponent down, his defenses are noticeably
reduced. I would only target the AM if you want the fight over quickly (vs.
any opponent you are unsure about being able to beat).Hitting the AM
frequently will make the opponent drop his weapon. That will almost
always bring an end to the fight.


If my mail is any indication of what Duelmasters players want, they want
more detailed information on the game in general, learning in specific. I am
not very optimistic that much will be made available. One of the original
ideas in the game was that the enjoyment came from learning. As any
rookie manager will testify, this game adds new meaning to the expression
“School of Hard Knocks”.

But, why face that kind of learning curve? Isn’t everyone you know trying
to decipher the game? Lots of luck. Given the nature of the turn report, I
doubt that the main combat program will ever be broken down. A few
people might come up with a good model that approximates it. Some
individuals and groups are attempting to develop games from the ground up.
Developing our own game is alot of work just to satisfy a lust for blood &
death. Lets look at an easier way instead.

I attribute the bulk of my success to what I do on the character roll up sheet.
Given an excellent initial design (read “high skill levels/percentages”),
mistakes made on the strategy sheet become less critical because of skill
superiority vs. “peers”. This means a greater variety of options. A greater
variety of opponents which you can challenge and beat. And that means a
high W/L.

Back to character design again. I can’t control what the program code does.
I can control character design. Knowing the relationship of skills to
attributes is the most important part of this process. Fortunately, RSI has
provided every player with the tools neccessary to solve the puzzle. No
need to keep you in suspense. If you have already discovered this give
yourself a pat on the back and have a beer. If not, you have not been asking
yourself the right questions.

Have you ever noticed that after being declared “expert” (in anything), it
always takes four additional skills to reach “advanced expert” unless
an attribute affecting that skill area is raised to the next breakpoint?

This is the Golden Rule of Four. The reference point from which to
base all observations.

What does this mean? Lets suppose we have our young recruit steadily
winning, and learning attack stills. One fight, he learns a single attack skill,
and is declared expert. Our rookie has but a 12 WT and naturally we can’t
tolerate 1 skill per turn, especially when our rivals are averaging 2. Next
turn we attempt to raise WT to 13, and succeed. The next outing shows the
raise payed off. We killed our opponent and learned 5 skills, 3 of which are
attack (I LIKE this gladiator). And lo and behold, an advanced expert! Now
we decide increased damage is important for the upcoming blood feud, and
attempt a ST raise to 17. We succeed. No extra damage, but now we
achieved another expert (parry).

So what is going on? Of course, hitting the WT and ST breakpoints added the
equivalent of 1 skill (5%) in attack and parry respectively. And who knows
where else? We will in a short while.

By all accounts, expert ratings are based on an absolute scale (the
Duelmasters Handbook postulates actual percentages). So, a parry expert
BAS has exactly the same base percentage as a parry expert who
happens to be TPS. Therefore, advanced ratings are based on an absolute
scale so the distance between the two remains constant. In fact this is what
we observe (4 skills, or 20% difference), unless you have done stat raises.

Then, it is simply a matter of plotting what you observe. If you have read
HR #2. the table will be similar to those. This is the table I have constructed
for WT.

WT Breakpoints vs Skill Areas

       ATK       DEC         DEF        INI         PAR      RIP
11>13  +1                    +1         +1
15>17            +1                                          +1

That is how you relate skill to attributes. What the table says is that a WT
raise to 13 will add 1 skill equivalent to attack, defense, and initiative. It
probably does more, but I have yet to observe it. Notice everything is +. All
the observations are on the high side of median. If you have ever had a roll
up sheet for a low WT character, you know that the intelligence descriptions
are negative in tone. It suggests penalties. There is an important
implication here which will figure importantly in succeeding installments.

How do I do it? Simple. Lets look at the ideal case. Suppose you are
interested in the 21 WT breakpoint. Start with a fighter whose WT is 19 or
20 already and who has never raised stats (except to even numbers, or any
CN). You wait until your gladiator is expert in all 6 areas but not yet
advanced expert in any (remember, this is the ideal case). Do the WT raise
to 21. Then go back to skills and nothing but skills. Count how many skills
(x) are needed to hit advanced expert in each area. 4 – x – skill value of the
attribute in question. Get the idea?

In the real world it wouldn’t be that easy. For one thing, how many fighters
are that evenly skilled? Probably none. It may take several warriors to
fully evaluate a single increase. There are benefits in sharing (hint hint).

If you have been doing this long enough, you’ll complete the table. If you
are like me and raise attributes rarely, this could take forever. But imagine
the character you could design if you had a complete table for each attribute.

The tools are there.


A new reader asked me about setting up a forum of Duelmasters managers
on Compuserve. I don’t have a modem and don’t use Compuserve (Cash-we-
serve). But that doesn’t mean that its not a good idea, so I’ll run this
manager’s message.

Anyone having a subscription (or access) to Compuserve, please send me a
note by email. I would like to try to arrange a regular (weekly) online
conference (either in the gaming forum or by CB). My Compuserve ID# is
72407,3246. – Garr Groin Ripper, Manager of Dragonguard

Mike LaPlante and his number-smashing program appear to be on the verge
of a real breakthrough on his stat tables. What he needs is more raw data
(initial roll-up sheets). Also, if you have documented learns, stat increases,
etc., he could use those. I sent him about a dozen of my old roll up sheets
(names and ID’s removed of course), but I’m sure he would love to have
more. You can send them to me to forward, or diredly to Mike at 2969
Delaware Crossing, Va Beach, VA. 23456 or call (804) 468-0643.

Whats in it for you? Firstly, Mike is forwarding all results of his efforts to
me, which will of course appear in the HOSER REPORT. Imagine how nice it
would be to optimize your next recruit to exactly the role you have in
mind. No more wasted time and money on characters destined to
mediocrity, Picture your team W/L moving above .600. A strong AD stable.
Remember, the HOSER REPORT is in limited circulation, not just every manager
will have access to this. I knew I could appeal to your greed. And, if you
have a good information base, perhaps you can negotiate with Mike for your
own copy of the Duelmasters Handbook. Why don’t you pick up the phone

Well, its almost Tournament time, registration has begun. Time to think
about your Tourney roster. If you have any gladiators “on the fence” of the
DA, its time to give them the shove.

This is an excellent opportunity to bring up a promising young rookie.
You’re going to get a minimum of 2 fights. In 2 days. Maybe many more.
These fights will not appear on your record either. A great deception. I’ll
wager that not too many of the new managers in AD realize that some of the
Mordant and Osksi warriors have 30 or more fights than their record shows.
Talk about learning the hard way…

Better yet, your opponents may not participate. Won’t they be in for a big
surprise on the next turn! Another huge benefit is the challenge priority for
Tournament Victors. It is almost as good as a blood feud challenge. When
you make a Tournament Victor challenge, it gives you the first opportunity
at who you want. If they are not avoiding you, you got ’em (they have the
normal chance of success if they are avoiding). Before any non-TV challenge
is determined (including your targets!). One opponent, no waiting. Of course
there is one catch. You have to avoid elimination for 10 rounds. I think
your chances of that are improved by one simple fact: The more
experienced Mordant/Osksi and Phoenix managers (and maybe many LA
managers) will be in the face-to-face Tourney. That leaves the mail Tourney
for everyone else (you can’t register in both).

For those of you going, you’re in for a great time. For those not going, try to
make the mail Tourney. Its worth it.

Jeff Morgan

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