Variable Turn Sequence

  • Can't recall if I brought it up before, but this is an idea I've been kicking around for a while... I actually posted a couple book length threads on the subject at the A&Aorg website and over at the Larry Boards, but no one ever really replied. Alas. In any case, I think the concept is fairly simple and was wondering whether you guys think its viable? It's basically intended as an alternative to pre-placement bidding, and to provide a basic gameplay element in determining "who plays who" for a given match. The whole goal here is to use variability and starting income adjustment, as a different method to achieving overall game "balance" by de-emphasizing scripted first round battles, and instead emphasizing first round purchases. The shift here is in large part psychological, because its really addressing the perception of imbalance/or disadvantage at the outset (e.g. that the game is "broken" absent a bid to balance the game), by just going with an approach that makes prognosticating about balance before the match begins too variable to even bother with. So instead players just play based on the conditions out of round 1, instead of grumbling about the starting unit set-up and such. If all that makes sense. Anyhow...

    Basic idea is this:

    Before the match begins, there is a single roll to determine the turn order sequence for the game.

    After the turn order sequence is determined, an ascending bonus to starting income is used to achieve balance by sides, with the player-nations going later in the sequence receiving larger bonuses to compensate.

    *Options for a restricted opening (non-combat/purchase) during the first round, on boards where that makes sense for balance.

    So just using AA50 1941 as an example... (it works well since its a six nation board, with an alternating turn sequence.) The Standard Sequence OOB, goes:
    Germany, Russia, Japan, Britain, Italy, China/USA.

    Here we keep the same fixed order, but introduce variation by determining where the sequence starts.

    Roll 1d6

    1 = Germany, Russia, Japan, Britain, Italy, China/USA
    2 = Russia, Japan, Britain, Italy, China/USA, Germany
    3 = Japan, Britain, Italy, China/USA, Germany, Russia
    4 = Britain, Italy, China/USA, Germany, Russia, Japan
    5 = Italy, China/USA, Germany, Russia, Japan, Britain
    6 = China/USA, Germany, Russia, Japan, Britain, Italy

    Yet another option, to further increase variation, would be a second roll or coin flip to determine whether the turn order sequence is standard or reversed. So for example...

    Roll 1-3: Standard sequence
    Roll 4-6: Reverse sequence

    Imagine we start a new match of AA50 1941. The first roll to establish the sequence for this match is a 4, British start. The second roll is also a 4, meaning the selected sequence is reversed (i.e. the turn order goes backwards).

    Now instead of... Britain, Italy, China/USA, Germany, Russia, Japan.
    You would have... Britain, Japan, Russia, Germany, China/USA, Italy

    Its the same start position for the sequence, but the sequence itself goes backwards. You could do the same for any of the 6 possible start positions for AA50. For other boards things work much the same, you just use re-rolls, or 2d6 with rerolls, or different sided dice to accommodate maps with different numbers of player-nations/or player-nation blocks.

    When I do this on the actual board for AA50 I put all the game roundels in a circle 1-6, so its basically rolling to determine who begins the sequence, and then again to determine whether that sequence progresses clockwise or counter-clockwise. After the sequence for the match is determined I arrange the roundels in a straight line for easy reference for that match. The second part of the system is starting income adjustment, and the specific adjustments will differ depending on the gamemap, but the core concept works (at least in principle) for most standard A&A boards. Essentially the idea is to take the major TUV swings/losses out of the first round, and put them into the midgame, which is accomplished by upping the starting cash for everyone, apportioned based on where the nation falls in the sequence for that game.

    I'm curious whether something like this might be feasible in TripleA? I mean like within a single gamefile, instead of having to create a dozen xmls and doing all the preliminary rolling/set-up outside the game. Also just curious if anyone thinks the idea has merit? Since I've received so little feedback on the idea over the years, despite thinking its pretty awesome to myself hehe

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    @Black_Elk Now I preface this by saying I am no expert on the engine... but the real issue I think is that most of what you are suggesting hits a massive road block by virtue of the fact that the turn order is controlled by fixed settings within the XML that are not easily changed. And by my rudimentary understanding on the topic, it would appear to me that introducing this in a clean manor would require new code to be implemented and be engine breaking. ie. requiring a compatibility breaking release.

    Now given what Rolf was able to achieve in this area with Feudal Japan... I imagine that this could be possible with a couple of user actions which would fire at the beginning of a game and then a series of triggers... but I have no skill in the area with which to provide you with a specific course of action to get to your goal.

    Otherwise I like what you are saying.

  • Yeah my initial thought was that most of what you'd need to do this can be handled in the edit mode, basically by skipping phases until you arrive at the appropriate start and then editing PUs as necessary before play begins (only for the standard turn sequence of course, since I don't know of a way to reverse the turn order short of editing the xml), but that all seemed rather cumbersome and less elegant than one might hope for ready adoption.

    The main reason I'm interested in the concept, is because I think most A&A games (and especially v3) could work within this framework, even if it follows a rather different model than the traditional one. Usually these games are scripted out of the first round, with little variation beyond the outcomes of the initial battles to distinguish one match from another, (at least among players of comparable skill, employing the common "winning" strategies). I suppose that's part of the appeal for some, but its also fairly limiting, since that kind of design really front loads things onto the first round. In the extreme case, players might even call an entire match just based on the results of a critical first turn battle going south (their chances of winning now hopeless, quitting outright, cursing the dice etc). Rather than trying to mitigate TUV swings by changing the way the combat dice work (LL), or by modifying the starting unit set up such that those battles become foregone conclusions (pre-placement Bids), I like the idea of an alternative that keeps the same basic boxed unit set-up, but which introduces balance and some novelty in other ways, like on the purchasing side.

    Obviously even this kind of variable start scheme could be dissected to death, with game breakers teased out for each of the dozen possible starting scenarios. But at least you'd have that many more opportunities to play things out before getting too comfortable with it. It seemed intriguing to me.

    What got me onto this kick in the first place was the realization that you can get pretty close to a balanced v3 game, simply by having China go first in the turn order. Or similarly that v5 was pretty well balanced by having the US go first in the turn order with a restricted opening (ala Russia in Classic). But once you start tinkering with it, I honestly think just about any official board can support any nation going first, provided there is a sufficient starting income adjustment to offset the likely TUV swings in the first round combats. I don't know, I haven't had a huge success in convincing others to try it, but then again I've only really explored this stuff on the table top. TripleA reaches a lot more players, hence the Q hehe

  • its yet another interesting possible "function" these real time strategy games could have! A variable turn order would be even more relative and generic and clearly not a historical theme/setting that this games maps and mods are about. I think you still have a good idea for an interesting and challenging type of mod so I made a post.

    My only idea so far for this game was a "learning ai" based on any map where past game moves are recorded and the ai refers to a "number of times capitol captured" file per faction to help it decide on direction of attack type of idea. I could then even add another "number of times territory captured" file and then use a percent chance for the ai factions using the higher statistic to choose which territories and capitols to attack etc. etc. .

    Interesting you brought up this topic since redrum and the ai devs use a "variable/random" ai when deciding purchases (which also uses a percentage factor which I believe is based on cost efficiency)!

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