September 8, 2013

Hari Ragat: Discouraging Alpha Strikes

I was reading the review of 13th Age when I realized that Hari Ragat/Vivid has a potential problem in the combat mechanics: it encourages the ‘alpha strike.’

An alpha strike is when the players use their greatest powers on the very first round of combat, hoping to deal the opponent/s the greatest damage and so seize the advantage in the inevitable war of attrition. Makes good tactical sense, but weak drama. I mean, would you watch Godzilla if Godzilla falls to the first missile strike? Heck no!

Right now, the Vivid mechanics make the characters most powerful at the very beginning of combat, before anyone’s lost any Guts/Bala or spent any Anito Dice. In 13th Age, by contrast, the Escalation Die goes up in value from round to round, effectively making the PCs most powerful when the combat drags out. May not make as much tactical sense, but makes for much, much better drama. Guess which side I’m on.

So, how to get the benefit of increasing drama in Vivid/Hari Ragat, without a total rework of the rules? I’m thinking of a ‘valve’ rule, with a widening ‘valve’ for use of Anito Dice and Bala as combat goes on longer or when the heroes take damage or setbacks. I’m also recalling the Animecha game of Dennis Ching, where we pilots all had a Fury stat that increased whenever we or our mecha took damage.

Hm. Got it, I think. From now on, the limit on Anito Dice spending is equal to the current round number; 1 on the first round, 2 on the second, 3 on the third, and so on, with an additional +2 if you’re down to only 1 Bala. What do you think?

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