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The Hoser Report #9

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THE HOSER REPORT

The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters

#9 September 15, 1987

$2.00

THE MANAGERS CORNER


An important part of Duelmaster gaming is the challenge. I’m not going to debate the
issue of challenging up or down, but what style opponent to challenge. I have compiled
information from the past ten turns in my arena (*25) and it is very accurate, as I
know the fighting style of each warrior. The following table contains the result of every
duel, no matter how mismatched (they even out in the end).

 
        BAS     STA   SLA   PST   LUA   PLU   WST    TPS   AIM    PRP
BAS     0       7     2     3     19    4     10     9     0      3
STA     5       0     4     6     16    2     8      5     0      5
SLA     2       1     0     1     10    6     3      3     0      5
PST     12      6     0     0     9     5     4      8     1      7
LUA     8       17    1     7     0     4     13     13    0      10
PLU     4       1     3     7     18    0     5      3     1      8
WST     4       5     5     2     11    8     0      6     2      7
TPS     3       5     1     1     14    1     4      0     1      3
AIM     0       3     0     1     3     1     1      3     0      0
PRP     3       5     2     4     5     5     9      6     0      0

The table is read with the winner along the top and the loser along the side, thus the
matchup between the lunger and basher shows that the LUA has beaten the BAS 19 times
while the BAS has won only 8. It is fairly common knowledge that a lunger will usually
destroy a basher, but some of the other interesting matchups are:

 
BAS/PST         12-3
LUA/SLA         10-1
LUA/PLU         18-4
WST/BAS         10-4

Notice that the total parry style continues to trash bashers regardless of the rule
changes. Both TPS and lungers seem to dominate the arena (only the PRP fare well
against the LUA!?). Remember that since most of the warriors have less than 10 fights
that these stats reflect mainly initiate duels, and may not be the same for veterans. –
Brought to you by the manager of Shadows of Chaos, arena 25.


In HR #5 I offered a simple flowchart of how the Duelmasters
program might handle combat. An anonymous manager working on
his own program (on an Apple II) who does not wish to be identified
offers this version (I leave it to you to draw the flowchart):

 
1) SEPERATION - the warriors are physicolly separated, instead of in-close melee.
2) 1ST ACTION - determine who gets first action as warriors close.
3) ACTION - either an attck (Goto 4), a fient (Goto 8), or not act (Goto 10).
4) DEFENSE PLAN - the defender will dodge, parry, or just let it go.
5) RESULT - is the defender hit (Goto 6) or missed (Goto 10)?
6) DAMAGE - assess damage and result on abilities and next actions.
7) BRANCH DOWN - Goto 10 for evaluation.
8 ) FEINT EFFECT - was the opponent thrown off guard or was it ignored?
9) RESULT - assess penalties to defense and initiative.
10) EVALUATION - assess fatigue and evaluate ability to continue for both warriors.
11) NEXT ACTION - does the attacker go again (Goto 3), does the defender counter-strike
(switch roles and qoto 3), or do the warriors break away due to defense, strategy, etc.
(Goto 1)?

I like it. I think it will give very good results, and achieve them
using a simple model. Clear. Concise. Complexity, if desired, can be
added into the individual sub-routines. Perhaps I can get in on the
playtest?


Running pretty low on number-to-expert stats, here is what I have
on the STA:

 
              ST    CN   SZ   WT   WL   SP    DF   Hand
Original:     10    13   16   15    9   10    11   R
Final:        11    13   16   15    9   11    11
Increases:    NEX Riposte + 8, SP to 11
 
              ST    CN   SZ   WT   WL   SP    DF   Hand
Original      13    11   13   12   11   13    11   A
Final:        13    11   13   13   11   13    11
Increases:    NEX Decisiveness + 4, WT to 13

HOSE KNOWS

Questions and Answers

Q: How do you feel on Mr. Saltich’s statement that a lunger gets an
attack bonus for going 10-10-10-L? Why would kill desire have an
effect on this attack bonus if it does indeed exist?

A: I feel that that strategy has always worked well for me. I
believe Dan said lungers as a style get the bonus, not that kill desire
directly increases your attack percentage. If there is an attack bonus
for kill desire (I can only hope) it perhaps arises from the notion that
not trying to kill means only making weapon contact, whereas when
you try to kill you actually try to push your weapon through the
opponent. This is speculation, you may want to ask the moderators


Q: What are the drawbacks of each special tactic? What are the real
advantages of each special tactic?

A: Each character can be thought of as a set of numbers in the
computer (or more accurately, in a data file). If you have HR #2,
these are listed in the article on character design. Briefly, they are
skills and capacities. I doubt that tactics would have any effect on
warrior capacities, with the possible exception of taxing endurance.


Where I think they come into play is in skill percentages. A reading
of the rulebook tells us that while using a tactic may boost some
performabce aspects of the fighter, the overall effectiveness is
reduced. This indicates that there are more penalties than bonuses.
However, if you are concerned about (for example) parry, losing 20%
of attack ability will not be a large concern. Using a tactic boosts the
appropriate area(s) by “x” number of skills while in use.


What you seem to want to know is specifics, so I’ll stick my neck out
(remember, I don’t play all of the tactics because of my team roster).
Lunge, bash, and slash most certainly boost initiative and attack. The
bash probably costs you heavily in dodge ability, maybe parry also.
Conversely, the lunge costs parry heavily but probably minor
penalties to dodge and riposte. The penalty for slashing would be in
responsiveness and riposte. The decisiveness tactic of course helps
dccisiveness, but I’m not sure about attack. It probably also helps
responsiveness, at the cost of riposte and initiative. On the defensive
side, the parry tactic boosts parry, but definitely inhibits riposte and
initiative, maybe attack. Dodge gives you the equivalent of added
defensive actions, the cost is probably in initiative and attack. The
riposte tactic boosts riposte and attack, hurts initiative, decisiveness,
and parry. I haven’t the slightest idea what responsiveness does.


Q: What are the key stat types for each style of warrior?

A: This question presumes style should be selected first. I select it
last. However, there will be style limitations based on stats. In
general, the AIM should have high WT and DF (15+, 17 preferrred).
If the SP is 11 or greater, consider STA, PST, or PRP. For high SZ,
think about BAS, LUA, or SLA. The BAS should also have a high ST,
that is less important for the SLA or LUA. In fact high SZ/low ST
makes a very good slashing combination. I would hesitate to make a
LUA with less than SZ 9, try PLU instead. Endurance burning styles
(particularly WST) should have as much WL as possible.


An easier rule of thumb is let the low-value stats (SZ, SP) point you
towards a group of swIes, then maximize high-value stats. Make the
character the style you’re most familiar with.


Q:Can any warrior “pretend” to be another style, with slightly
lowered effectiveness? Would you prefer a SLA vs. a TPS or would
you like your SLA to act like a slightly lesser LUA?

A: As I said in HR #2, the reason I prefer the PLU is that they can do
almost anything that does not require decisiveness. I see no reason
why experienced fighters can’t try these things. You might be
surprised how well a lunger can riposte, or how well a basher can
parry. Your ezample sounds like a great trick to pull. I recommend a
SC (a good lunging weapon). Remember, the parry tactic is supposed
to neutralize the slashing tactic but is vulnerable to the lunge.


Q: I have a TPS with 20 wins and 14 losses. ST 14, CN 10, SZ 9. WT
17, WL 9, SP 16, DF 15. WL has been improved twice, CN once, ST
once, SP once, DF once. He has 6 parry skills, 4 attack skills, 2
defense skills, 1 decisiveness, and 3 initiative skills. He is learning
very slowly. He is in the Champion class. Won 6 of his last 11 fights
& learned 7 skills. All of my other warriors are just beginning or are
Initiates. Do I want to send him to the DA or keep him around for
bloodfeuds? I am currently trying to improve WL if challenged,
SKILLS otherwise. Any suggestions, or am I just being impatient?

A: If there is a luck factor assigned to individual fighters, we can
guess what factor was assigned here. Its tough to learn when losing,
and harder yet when you’re busy raising attributes. You’ve spent a
minimum of 6 fights (out of 34) raising attributes. Given an original
WL of 7 I’d bet `the figure is 15 fights and wouldn’t be surprised if it
was 20, leaving maybe 15 for skills. That would mean he is
averaging around 1 skill per turn. With a 17 natural WT.


His individual W/L is a respectable .588. If your team W/L is lower
than .588 keep him around, but forget about more attributes! You
need skills. Badly. I’m sure that most every other gladiator in the
Champion class has more than 16 skills (if not, I’m setting up a team
in your arena). You’ll probably have to challenge low to win, which
of course will not help your learning. If the learning average does
not pick up and the W/L keeps dropping, can him before he damages
the team W/L.


One final consideration. With a high WT and a high SP, this fighter
will have a relatively high decisiveness. Coupled with a poor
endurance this will mean trouble (unless of course you challenge
LUA, BAS, and the like; do you really want to do that?). Remember,
TPS will learn decisiveness skills.

UPDATES

For those of you charting attribute increases vs. skills (HR #7), I can
report that increasing ST from 10 to 11 will NOT effect attack
percentage. Since I know that extremes in strength can cause
increases in the attack and parry percentages (I have seen gladiators
increase to 15 and 17 to get expert attack), it appears that there is a
“dead spot” in the table.


For those of you interested in quick lungers, the following design
should be informative:

 
              ST  CN    SZ  WT   WL   SP   DF
Original:     10  14    10  19   11   9    11
Final:        11  14    10  19   11   9    11
Increases:    NEX Initiative +3 skills

THE CHALLENGE SYSTEM

One of the suggestions received was for an explanation of the
challenge system. It appears that the only thing many managers
know about it is that they never get the people they want.
Its actually quite simple. What I am about to describe is the manual
method we used to use years ago. Of course the computer handles
this tedidus chore now, but I believe there have been very few
changes to the actual method. If not totaUy accurate, it should give
you a better insight as to what you’re up against. First, turnsheeets
were sorted by challenge type, as below.

 
DARK ARENA	BLOODFEUDS	TV CHALLENGE	NORMAL CHALLENGE	RANDOM

Note that the priority of challenge decreases as you move to the
right. Dark Arena is an automatic challenge (assuming no moderator
error of course). These people are the first out of the “available”
pool.


Next, bloodfeuds have to be determined. The reason that there are
only two sheets in the diagram is that hardly anyone ever dies
(makes sense, huh?). The total number of sheets were counted, and a
random number generated via die rolling. The number corresponded
to an indivudual strategy sheet, which was then removed (what I’m
saying in my verbose fashion is that everyone has an equal chance of
getting pulled). A check is made to see if the challenged warrior is in
the available pool. The only reasons a warrior would not be in the
pool is that he is either not playing, DA, or already challenged and
removed. Assuming the challenged warrior is availablee the
connection is automatic unless he is trying to avoid. There is a 20%
chance of avoiding a bloodfeud, 80% chance of avoiding any other
challenge type.


Lets assume that your opponent did avoid your bloodfeud. The first
challenge is then crossed off. It used to be that the avoid on the
opponents sheet was also crossed off, but now they are not expended
(no longer neccessary to double-avoid). If your second challenge is a
normal challenge your sheet goes into the normal challenge pile, the
opponents sheet goes to its respective pile. Of course, you can always
double-challenge. If you had done that, the second bloodfeud
challenge would have to be determined as the first was. If successful
(the odds of missing a double-bloodrued challenge are 25:1 against),
both fighters are removed from the pool. This process continues
until all bloodfeuds have been determined.


The process is repeated for Tournament Victor challenges. Since the
number of DA and bloodfeuds will be small, you can see the
enormous (I’ll say it again – enormous) advantage of this challenge
type. In effect. you cut to the front of the line. Take it from
someone who had 3 Tournament Victors at the last Tourney, you
almost always get who you want. Conversely, the chances of a
hostile manager getting a challenge on you are slim. About the only
thing that can mess you up is if the fighter you challenged is not in
the pool.


This challenge type can really make life miserable for your
opponents (if you like to feud). They’ll have to use an avoid against
you almost every turn. Which of course means they only have one
left. If you have two powerfull friends… By the way. there Ejit be
T.V. challeirgers ,`now that we’ve had a Tourney. This status will be
good for 6 months or until the next Tourney, whichever comes first
(32 months have elapsed since the last Tourney).


Now the normal challenges are determined, using the same
procedure as the above cases. If you get who you want, both fighters
are removed from the pool. If you use both challenges and come up
empty, your turnsheet goes into the random match-up pile. The bulk
of turnsheets are in the normal challenge pile, meaning you could be
in a long line. Many things can happen. Your fighter can get
challenged out by someone else. The fighter you want may have got
his challenge through, or been removed by someone else. Or not
even playing that turn. And Or course, he may be avoiding you.


Lastly, remaining fighters are “randomly” matched. The computer
won’t let you get anyone farther away in the rankings than one class.
In the old days remaining turnsheets were thrown into the air, and
how they landed was how they were matched (we eventually went
to the paper bag method, all those sheets were a pain to pick up).
Conceivably, the arena champ could draw the lowest ranked fighter.
It made for some interesting fights.


Is it to your ad+antage to challenge? If there are people available
whom you can beat, my opinion is yes. If you can make a good
challenge, it lets you dictate the terms. Why wouldntt you want this?
Some people never challenge and do fairly well, its a personal
decision. Looking at my own AD team performance, the breakdown
looks like this (through 33 turns):

 
          When Challening      When Challenged          Random
Wins      33                   30                       31
Losses    18                   18                       23
Kills     3                    0                        2
Slain     0                    1                        1
W/L       .647                 .625                     .574

The .625 was a surprise (I thought it would be much lower), but then
again I also make good use of the “if challenged” option on the turn
sheet. Your own percentages may surprise you.

ODDS & ENDS

Questions and Answers

By the time you read this both Tourneys will be over. If you would
like to write about your Tourney experience, I’d be glad to print it.
A manager wrote me asking if I could obtain a copy of the
Duelmasters Handbook for him, he is in an alliance against the
author. I asked Mike about this, he said no problem, Its available to
anyone regardless of arena politics. Just like the HOSER REPORT. If I
was that worried about “giving away secrets”, it wouldn’t be
published. Besides, there is no “ultimate secret” or position in the
game. Well, except for the size 3 TPS.


By the way, response from HOSER REPORT readers has been little short
or overwhelming. Mike has gathered so much info that yet another
revision will be out soon. Therefore, I’m holding back somewhat
from reprinting anything. It may be quickly outdated, and I’m plain
out of room this issue.


There has been increasing talk of a boycott, from LA, Phoenix, and
Georgia. LA or Phoenix would be the logical place for it to begin,
thats where the highest concentrations of managers are. I personally
don’t think it will come about, because no individual has stepped
forward to organize (those of you itching for action don’t expect me
to organize it).


I have not confirmed it, but have heard that there are almost 50
Hyborian games in progress. Significance? RSI’s cash flow is not as
heavily dependent on Duelmasters as it once was. Therefore for a
boycott to get managements’ attention, it will have to involve a fairly
large number of managers.


Has anybody seen the rules for the new “Advanced Duelmasters” RSI
was telling us about? It has been a while now.


Next issue will contain excerpts from the Handbook, 3 replacement
characters for readers to design, perhaps a wrap-up on skills, some
excellent letters that got here just a day late, and whatever else you
send me. Good luck on the sands.



Jeff Morgan

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