Does Anyone Else Feel That Dice Rolls Completely Negate Strategy?

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#51 Posted by Fredchuckdave (5339 posts) -

Pretty good story here: http://forums.2kgames.com/showthread.php?150771-That-s-XCOM-That-s-bull-****

Including, amongst other things, this wondrous paragraph:

"More then half of the enemy troops have been killed, I'd lost only 1 assault to a friggin crysalid(sp) that nommed on him, and everyone else was in pretty decent shape. Then... a floater, barely in view range, took the luckiest God damn shot of all time at my 2nd assault IN HIGH COVER NO LESS and hit him, full damage roll, dead. This caused my rookie to panic. And oh man did he panic, he shot and critically injured my Heavy. This, in turn, caused my Sniper to panic, he turned and fired at my Support, who was sitting a block away (a floater jump jetted early and got a shot off, so I sent the support back to heal him), missed, but hit the... umm... it was either a fuel pump or a car... or both sitting behind him, exploded, Support and Sniper dead. So here I am... 4 men down, 1 bleeding out, and a panicked rookie. Hint: IT DIDN'T END WELL FOR ME."

#52 Edited by HerbieBug (4212 posts) -

@Brodehouse said:

YES. I angrily posted this after I missed three 85% shots and lost dudes. I want an _element_ of random chance but not too much. There needs to be an element because otherwise the game is just academic. If they have better numbers than you, you will not win. And since this is XCOM, they always give the enemy better numbers. But too much and it's not strategy, it's just finding ways to prepare for bullshit.

I've been using my saves as a bullshit safety net. :D

I don't mind so much if I do something stupid with full knowledge that it's a risky decision, and get fucked for it. Will not reload then. I don't mind losing a troop or two in an engagement as long as my bullshit flag doesn't get triggered. I WILL reload if my guys miss repeatedly on high percentage shots, get insta-killed (some leeway here), or team kill off a panic shot. Earlier this evening I had an assault sergeant panic on account of the car he was sitting next to exploded (this was the first time I had that happen), fire his shotgun and insta-teamkill a low health troop who was in partial cover a full half turn run distance away. Because fuck that. I play games to have fun. Being screwed over like that isn't fun. So reload.

edit- by 'insta-kill' I mean 100% KIA on the spot with no chance to stabilize.

#53 Posted by haggis (1677 posts) -

@Hungry said:

... From what most people are saying the random chance seems to mostly be due to how early I am in the game and I just don't have the gear yet to mitigate it (just like in the old X-COM, except in that one you could rush the tech really early). I like games where both sides are on equal footing when it comes to mechanics and capabilities, but I think how much things can swing with random chance is not good design. If I made a huge mistake and my dudes deserve to get killed and I get lucky by killing two dudes with two 20% chance to hit critical shots, that is not good to me.

I get what you're saying, but that is the nature of all games based on dice rolls, including turn-based strategy games (even games like Civilization) and RPGs. The lack of certainty in action is part of the fundamental design philosophy of those genres. I can understand being irritated with disproportionate swings (like I used to get irritated when a swordsman cut down my mechanized infantry in Civ 2), but if you're that opposed to chance playing such a significant role in the game, then I'm not sure what to tell you other than that you may simply never enjoy the genre as much as others of us do.

As the margin decreases between you and your enemies, you will find fewer of these swings--but they never go away. Because that potential for being screwed even when you're in a good position has the same source as the potential for digging out of what looks like an impossible situation by having a few good rolls. It's those moments that these games are designed for. In which case, the game may simply never fully appeal to you. And there's nothing particularly wrong with that. It's just the way it is.

#54 Posted by SomeJerk (3144 posts) -

The dice rolls in XCOM are decided the moment you return to base or enter a battlefield and modified in combat when you make a move, in order to prevent save-scumming. 50% chance to hit can be 100% chance to hit if you reload, but 0% chance to hit if you do another move before you take the shot. Dice rolls don't negate strategy.
 
The game being in dire need of a polishing bugfixing patch does :/

#55 Posted by Fredchuckdave (5339 posts) -

@haggis: Civ's randomness has always been manageable: just bring more guys. If you're playing on a harder difficulty then the AI just plain cheats and researches, builds improvements, and builds military units 2-4 times as fast as you. Civ is fun for the buildup phase but after that it's pretty much decided if you're going to win or not.

#56 Posted by haggis (1677 posts) -

@Fredchuckdave said:

@haggis: Civ's randomness has always been manageable: just bring more guys. If you're playing on a harder difficulty then the AI just plain cheats and researches, builds improvements, and builds military units 2-4 times as fast as you. Civ is fun for the buildup phase but after that it's pretty much decided if you're going to win or not.

Sure, it's manageable. Just occasionally frustrating. And there's definitely some of that in XCOM. I just had a mission where every single one of my six squad members missed 65% or better shots. I ended up losing a squad member (a captain, too, which sucked), but I still managed to pull out a victory. The later Civ games never really dug themselves out of the endgame issues. I love them, but yes, they're more fun in the buildup. I hoped that Civ V would avoid the higher-difficulties-just-cheat problem, but it didn't. As much as I like that series, it needs a serious design overhaul. Not that I have any idea how they'd actually do that.

#57 Posted by Hungry (165 posts) -

I think people have been misunderstanding my original gripe when I created this thread, which in the OP I made it sound worse than it was. I felt like at the beginning of the game those ridiculous swings in luck were not only happening too often, but their detriments were too severe. Now that I have progressed as far as I have sometimes those sorts of catastrophies DO happen. I lost a Rookie and a Support became mortally wounded because of a panicked Heavy (thanks to a triple proc Intimidate) firing at a car and subsequently panicking both of those other two characters. I am fine wth these sorts of things happening. I just felt like in the beginning of the game that it was happening like every other mission. Now that I have gotten a better grasp on the game it is a somewhat rare event and the high percentage misses don't cost lives, so it is okay. My problem was when if you were in sight range of the enemy they would kill you instantly if you could not kill them which relied almost entirely on dice rolls thanks to their free movement upon discovery.

Either way, I think the game is fine now that I understand the game more. It is a good game and people should play it, but unlucky people like me should probably be ready to get stressed in the first couple of hours if they play Classic Ironman.

#58 Posted by The_Ruiner (1016 posts) -

No...I play a lot of D&D...

#59 Posted by Terramagi (1159 posts) -

After beating it, I can safely say there is only one thing that actually pissed me off, and it has to do with the final mission.

WHY THE FUCK DO YOUR SOLDIERS DIE IF YOU KILL THE ETHEREAL OVERLORD WHILE THEY'RE MIND CONTROLLED

That shit cost me a perfect game.

#60 Edited by dulmonkey (78 posts) -

The devs talked about making this play like a table top game. Any you who have played 40k know what it is to both love and hate your dice. As previously stated, the idea is to overcome uncertainty through good planning and strategy (being in the 'best' cover, firing from optimum range, etc.). Sometimes the best laid plans go tits up. If it bothers you, save before you move each turn.

#61 Posted by Rohok (553 posts) -

A lot of the systems and mechanics in XCOM remind me of most of the terrible systems and mechanics in Warhammer 40k. I almost feel like the two games are one in the same.

#62 Posted by Terramagi (1159 posts) -

@Rohok said:

A lot of the systems and mechanics in XCOM remind me of most of the terrible systems and mechanics in Warhammer 40k. I almost feel like the two games are one in the same.

Oh god dammit, now somebody is going to make a Warhammer 40k total conversion mod.

And it'll be totally fucking sweet

#63 Posted by BBAlpert (1373 posts) -

@bonesquad said:

As already hinted at, in any game with dice rolls (be it actual dice like Elder Sign or Summoner Wars, or implied rolls as in XCOM) the strategy is to mitigate the randomness of the dice. If I ever feel like I'm being overly screwed over by bad rolls, that always tells me I need to rethink my strategy:)

I've found that this is especially important in a game like Blood Bowl, where just about everything is some kind of dice roll. One of the most valuable things I'd learned about that game was to make sure you start each turn by doing as many of the guaranteed actions (like moving non-covered players) as possible before even attempting anything with a dice roll. Because even if an action has only a 1/36 chance of failure, it'll fuck you up all the same* when it eventually happens. And it will happen.

*Blood Bowl is the kind of game where things can quickly go real, real bad. For instance, you try to run an extra square past your normal movement range, you roll for that. If you fail that roll, your character trips over his own feet and falls over. At which point you roll to see if he hurt himself. If you fail that, you roll to see how badly he hurt himself. And if you fail even that roll, your star running back trips on his own shoelace, flips over, lands on his head, snaps his neck, and is instantly and permanently killed.

#64 Posted by dulmonkey (78 posts) -

@Rohok: XCOM uses a ruleset that is more infinity than anything else. You know what sucks? playing a tabletop game where you are in total cover and your opponent rolls a critical and kills your dude with no saving throw. I don't think I'll be able to split my time effectively between two games that are way too stressful.

#65 Posted by Fredchuckdave (5339 posts) -

@haggis said:

@Fredchuckdave said:

Sure, it's manageable. Just occasionally frustrating. And there's definitely some of that in XCOM. I just had a mission where every single one of my six squad members missed 65% or better shots. I ended up losing a squad member (a captain, too, which sucked), but I still managed to pull out a victory. The later Civ games never really dug themselves out of the endgame issues. I love them, but yes, they're more fun in the buildup. I hoped that Civ V would avoid the higher-difficulties-just-cheat problem, but it didn't. As much as I like that series, it needs a serious design overhaul. Not that I have any idea how they'd actually do that.

100% agreed on Civ, fun game, oversimplifies combat and there's not much point playing above "Prince" except to see how long it takes to die. However, in Civ if randomness screws you you can (almost) always just rebuild units, regroup for the next turn etc. Ultimately if you get completely doomed by luck it's probably in the first stages of the game and you're only out 1-2 hours. In X Com if your whole team dies in one panic chain (which is not as uncommon as you'd think) that's potentially 20 hours down the drain; if a game has a long devoted campaign it needs to have some certainty in your actions; more importanly you need to get better at it over time in such a way that the only chance of failure is if a mission is specifically designed to be difficult (and there's nothing wrong with every mission being progressively more difficult). One random shot from one enemy in any randomly generated mission always having the potential to kill your entire team is kind of ridiculous. I'm just taking a shot in the dark here but Impossible on Iron Man with the best possible player playing with the cheapest possible strategies is likely a 5% chance of success at best; that's not tuning or satisfying difficulty, that's just a goatfuck.

"MAN DOWN"

"OH NO LETS KILL EACH OTHER BEFORE HE CAN GET US"

"GOOD IDEA!"

#66 Posted by YoThatLimp (1880 posts) -

I think it is like this recent surge in rogue-like-likes (dark souls, FTL, xcom). Game is hard. Play to the best of your ability and live as long as possible.

#67 Posted by pyrodactyl (1884 posts) -

Use smoke grenade, high cover and supression as well as a good sniper rockets for tough ennemies.
Remember, cover is just a % penalty on ennemy aim that stacks with supression elevation and the smocke of a smoke grenade.

Overall, use more skill and you should be fine. As for impossible difficulty, read the name and descrption of that difficulty level and comme back to me.

#68 Posted by Commisar123 (1790 posts) -

I'd say no, I mean you do your best to prepare and sometimes it doesn't work out the way you want it too. If it worked out all the time, the game would be really easy and kinda stupid.

#69 Posted by haggis (1677 posts) -

@Fredchuckdave said:

... Ultimately if you get completely doomed by luck it's probably in the first stages of the game and you're only out 1-2 hours. In X Com if your whole team dies in one panic chain (which is not as uncommon as you'd think) that's potentially 20 hours down the drain; ..

But that's not really true, unless you're playing ironman mode, in which case you've specifically told the game to punish you mercilessly. Otherwise, just reload an earlier save.

There's no doubt in my mind that XCOM isn't going to appeal to everyone. But the game is quite accommodating when it comes to difficulty. It doesn't prevent in-mission saves. You can avoid this sort of thing if you want to, and I'm a bit confused why people don't do just that. Save before you go on a mission. If you fuck it up, reload. I mean, that's pretty standard. And the odds have never been that far off for me. Maybe I've just been lucky (though my dead soldiers might say otherwise). If you don't like the game on ironman, don't play it on ironman. I've actually been quite impressed with the range of difficulty options in this game. But the sort of problems you're describing can be completely avoided simply by availing yourself of the options offered by the game.

It's odd: at one level people complain quite frequently about how easy games have become. So, this game offers a difficulty mode that is incredibly difficult. And then people complain it's too difficult. You can say that's not "tuning or satisfying difficulty, that's just a goatfuck" but, well, some people like a goatfuck. Just because it's there doesn't mean you have to play that way.

#70 Posted by Vashyron (198 posts) -

@haggis said:

@Fredchuckdave said:

... Ultimately if you get completely doomed by luck it's probably in the first stages of the game and you're only out 1-2 hours. In X Com if your whole team dies in one panic chain (which is not as uncommon as you'd think) that's potentially 20 hours down the drain; ..

But that's not really true, unless you're playing ironman mode, in which case you've specifically told the game to punish you mercilessly. Otherwise, just reload an earlier save.

Oh, I can't do Ironman anymore. I'm completely broken on it now because everytime, EVERYTIME without fail, my entire team gets wiped out on the first mission in the second month on classic. We're talking, there is one alien left, and even with holo-targeting and flanking, no one can hit his ass and he systematically kills or critically injures every single squad member. And then half the world is pissed at me while I scramble to put something together to try to put a team together that isn't just rookies and a few squaddies and well...yeah...

#71 Edited by crusader8463 (14412 posts) -

As much as I love the idea of playing on Ironman mode, I think I'm done with it after putting close to 24 hours with the game. I had two games now where half way through I lose an entire squad of max level guys with great gear on completely random maps for no good reason. It was just as if the game said that it was tired of me doing so well and that it was going to kill all my guys and fuck me over and there was literally nothing I could do about it.

I spawned into a mission, moved one guy forward and 3 of those giant disc things, 2 mind control guys, 4 heavy floaters and 6 drones all spawn out of nowhere and rape me in 2-3 turns. The mind control guys took two of my guys right out of the gate and the rest got 1-2 shotted by the floating disks. There was literally nothing I could do. Most of my guys had 20%-30% hits despite being right on top of the bad guys with flanking in a couple instances, and the one or two units that had 85%-95% shots all wiffed every single one. I did not scratch them. Shit like that is not fun as it feels like you have no control over anything and the game just up and decided it was time to fuck you over and that was that. In the span of a few minutes my entire team of elite soldiers that I had just spent the last 10 hours working on are all dead and there was nothing I could have done to stop it.

#72 Posted by Jimbo (9774 posts) -

It's a case of getting the balance between luck and skill right, but it does annoy me when games start out with luck as pretty much the only determining factor. This usually happens because you have so few options early on that 'skill' is barely a factor at all. I'm thinking of early game Baldur's Gate for instance, where your characters have about 4HP and your only options are effectively 'attack' and 'load saved game'.

#73 Posted by SomeJerk (3144 posts) -
@crusader8463: Actual out of nowhere spawning, especially amongst your own troops, is a known bug that some people never run into.
 
And I myself might have a worst possible random seed of finding PSI capable soldiers, one out of ~50 so far. 
 
If this patch takes care of the spawning and ignoring of LOS that puts me guys in trouble I'm going ironman for a second playthrough.
#74 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5339 posts) -

@haggis said:

It's odd: at one level people complain quite frequently about how easy games have become. So, this game offers a difficulty mode that is incredibly difficult. And then people complain it's too difficult. You can say that's not "tuning or satisfying difficulty, that's just a goatfuck" but, well, some people like a goatfuck. Just because it's there doesn't mean you have to play that way.

Oh no you misunderstand, I embrace difficulty fully. In fact I just reinstalled Heroes of Might and Magic V after like 2 years absence just to get my ass kicked again. I have a platinum trophy in Vanquish, Dark Souls, and Demon's Souls; and I've pretty much beaten at least one of the hardest games of every genre in the past 10 years. What I don't embrace is the sort of bullshit that Firaxis thinks of as difficult, i.e. the AI cheating in Civilization, the impossible dances on the harder difficulties of Pirates!, and various other things. From what I gather XCOM is supposed to be played on Ironman at least if you're adhering to the old game, and in that game it was possible to succeed after repeated failures and learning how to play more or less, in this its just a dice roll. There's isn't all that much depth in character customization and one of the classes seems to be out and out much better than the others (not to say they don't have situational uses, i.e. scouting, cannon fodder, and capturing) due to its ability to kill at a long distance and simultaneously stay alive due to not having to get in close.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWGfXaXlzoI

#75 Posted by Hunkulese (2648 posts) -

@crusader8463 said:

As much as I love the idea of playing on Ironman mode, I think I'm done with it after putting close to 24 hours with the game. I had two games now where half way through I lose an entire squad of max level guys with great gear on completely random maps for no good reason. It was just as if the game said that it was tired of me doing so well and that it was going to kill all my guys and fuck me over and there was literally nothing I could do about it.

I spawned into a mission, moved one guy forward and 3 of those giant disc things, 2 mind control guys, 4 heavy floaters and 6 drones all spawn out of nowhere and rape me in 2-3 turns. The mind control guys took two of my guys right out of the gate and the rest got 1-2 shotted by the floating disks. There was literally nothing I could do. Most of my guys had 20%-30% hits despite being right on top of the bad guys with flanking in a couple instances, and the one or two units that had 85%-95% shots all wiffed every single one. I did not scratch them. Shit like that is not fun as it feels like you have no control over anything and the game just up and decided it was time to fuck you over and that was that. In the span of a few minutes my entire team of elite soldiers that I had just spent the last 10 hours working on are all dead and there was nothing I could have done to stop it.

Always click on your snipers first and put them into overwatch before you move anyone and it'll help a lot with your type of problem.

#76 Posted by TheSouthernDandy (3787 posts) -

I like the random element. Maybe not so much when my sniper totally whifs and easy shot but hey man, battlefields are messy. Ain't no set rules in a firefight (I assume)

#77 Posted by haggis (1677 posts) -

@Fredchuckdave said:

What I don't embrace is the sort of bullshit that Firaxis thinks of as difficult, i.e. the AI cheating in Civilization, the impossible dances on the harder difficulties of Pirates!, and various other things. From what I gather XCOM is supposed to be played on Ironman at least if you're adhering to the old game, and in that game it was possible to succeed after repeated failures and learning how to play more or less, in this its just a dice roll. ...

Survival in the original UFO Enemy Unknown was by throwing out soldier after soldier as cannon fodder. It was all dice rolls, trial and error, and hoping for the right combination of luck. If anything, the new XCOM is less about dice rolls than the previous games, given the math behind the scenes. I don't buy this "it's supposed to be played on ironman" stuff. You're clearly not enjoying the game much playing it the way you are, so I don't see why you don't change the way you play it. It's not the game's fault, after all--what you're complaining about can be avoided. The problem seems to be that you don't want to change the difficulty. I don't see the dice rolls as cheating at all. But then there's nothing wrong with having a difficulty level that does cheat, if people want an extreme challenge. Like I said, some people want that. You beat the game when the AI was playing by the rules? So what--I beat the game even when the AI was allowed to cheat. I heard that incessantly during the Civ II era. Bragging rights.

And I didn't find any of the dances in Pirates! impossible :)

#78 Posted by haggis (1677 posts) -

@Vashyron: The new Ironman is not how the original game felt. The original was brutal, but nothing quite like ironman in the new XCOM. I played with it a bit and dropped it after a few missions. I actually like to enjoy games.

#79 Posted by OldGuy (1513 posts) -

@haggis said:

@Vashyron: The new Ironman is not how the original game felt. The original was brutal, but nothing quite like ironman in the new XCOM. I played with it a bit and dropped it after a few missions. I actually like to enjoy games.

Ironman is not (AFAIK - whilst I live near(ish) Firaxis I don't have Psi powers so I can't read their minds) "adhering to the original" (this I can say with complete certainty as I've just spent the better part of the last month replaying it). Classic Difficulty: yes, Ironman: no. Heck, the original did not have an Ironman mode (and, yes, you could save anywhere - even in battle).

#80 Posted by Fredchuckdave (5339 posts) -

@haggis: Okay not impossible just a gigantic pain in the ass; regardless they're unilaterally poor at tuning difficulty at least since Gettysburg and Waterloo 15 years ago. Extreme challenge is overcome by skill, not luck, if it is luck based it ceases to be challenge and instead becomes a test of how boring of a person you are more or less; how much you like the movie Groundhog Day. Watch the Vanquish vid, that's a challenge but it's about 90% skill, and just a tiny miniscule percentage of people actually have the skill to pull it off; and doing so is fucking invigorating. Beating FTL on normal is just "yay the game decided to let me win this time" or "yay I didn't pick a stealth ship."

This: http://www.celestialheavens.com/viewpage.php?id=586 Is the hardest level known to any Strategy game, period. But it's still not random; might take you 100 tries sure but each time you do it you're getting substantially better at the game, you're not getting luckier. When you beat it it's not because you have a superbly high boredom threshold, you beat it because you learned, you improved yourself, and that's the whole point of challenge and difficulty. Firaxis is good at making fun, accessible strategy games but that's it.

#81 Posted by Vashyron (198 posts) -

@OldGuy said:

@haggis said:

@Vashyron: The new Ironman is not how the original game felt. The original was brutal, but nothing quite like ironman in the new XCOM. I played with it a bit and dropped it after a few missions. I actually like to enjoy games.

Ironman is not (AFAIK - whilst I live near(ish) Firaxis I don't have Psi powers so I can't read their minds) "adhering to the original" (this I can say with complete certainty as I've just spent the better part of the last month replaying it). Classic Difficulty: yes, Ironman: no. Heck, the original did not have an Ironman mode (and, yes, you could save anywhere - even in battle).

Oh, I agree whole heartedly. The appeal of Classic Ironman is a about pride and triumph, I think. Very much the appeal of the original was the difficulty of the game and overcoming it. It's sort of the same idea going into Ironman mode with that sense of finality to everything since you can't rewind time so to speak and if you beat it, you can say that you beat X-Com on Classic Ironman.

Is it in the spirit of the original game, no probably not. It's just taking that original idea a step farther and making it more of a challenge.

Or I'm completely off base.

#82 Posted by Freki (104 posts) -

The cover system could certainly had been better and some terrain breaks too easily - but over all I like it..

No doubt it sucks to get wounded that in real life could not have been hit, but I've also hit some aliens that I shouldn't be able to hit so at least it seems like it's the same for both sides..

I certainly wouldn't mind seeing an update, but it looks like it's deeply rooted in the game, so probable not easily fixed..

In any case I love the game and can live with it, just as I can live with occationally missing 76% shots.. the tension and risk of death or injury is part f what makes it great..

#83 Posted by benspyda (2030 posts) -

It does a good job of making you feel like you are never in complete control, just like a real battlefield I presume. It adds tension to every action and I am very much enjoying it because of that aspect.

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