12 October 2011

GameTalk - Critical Hits

Another great GameTalk idea from Jack Nastyface. Heck, if I could get him to come up with another 8-10 or so, I could outsource this weekly feature for the rest of the year and call it a day!

Critical hits - Many games include a special critical hits table to reflect the infamous "golden bb" phenomena. Other games eschew critical hits and use a non-specific damage model. What say your readers about critical hits? Also...can "critical hits" be used for large scale (operational) wargames, and if so, what might they be?

Your thoughts below!

By: Brant


Guardian said...

Off-hand, I generally like the idea of critical hits at the engagement/tactical level. Strange things can and do happen in combat. A near-future super-soldier equipped with active camouflage, multi-spectral sensors, a "smart" gun firing guided projectiles, and carbon nanotube body armor could still fall to a lucky, well-placed poke with a Stone Age spear.

At higher levels, I think critical hits and such become more problematic. I used to play a LOT of the Civilization series of games and, being the technophile that I am, would try to modernize my military forces as quickly as possible. As a result, my modern, combined arms armor, infantry, and aviation units would sometimes go up against Bronze Age warriors arms with swords, shields, and the like. Much to my surprise, they would occasionally lose! OK, I can see how clever tactics and luck on the part of the part of Roman legionnaires might bring down *one* of my Apaches. But a whole battalion of them?! I think not.

Anonymous said...

I've often incorporated such "critical hit" mechanisms in my games, mostly operational-level COIN ones. A roll on the Mission Table that scores high or low will have something extra good or extra bad happen, but nothing completely catastrophic for either side.

In a game I did on Somalia, a critical hit on a UN unit confined all UN units to base for the rest of the turn, and a critical hit on a Bandit unit gave them extra VP and a new unit. Going further for collateral damage, a game I've done on a hypothetical 3rd Lebanon War has a draw from a "Cascading Effects" deck when excess firepower is applied. Effects are generally mild, though.

besilarius said...

Although it pains me to be at the mercy of the cubed war gods, it seems to me that critical hits are both realistic, and necessary to reflect happenstance in real combat.
Just off the top of my head, how about the lucky hit ont he Bismarck's Fire Control station at the beginning of her last fight. The two british battleships took no real damage from German fire (although Rodney had to spend a few months in Brooklyn Navy Yard because the muzzle blast of her 16" rifles lowered the foredeck by up to 23 inches in spots).
The round that Kirishima hit South Dakota could have been very damaging, but it's armored cap apparently came off and it tumbled before striking the barbette. In effect a critical hit that turned out to be almost a dud.
And, of course, the one bomb that hit Akagi at the Battleof Midway, penetrated onto the hangar deck and set off fires that became uncontrollable. All hail to Dick Best who pulled it off under incredible circumstances. But even so, one bomb hit should not normally have accomplished so much.
Finally, how would you put into a game something like the South Dakota losing electrical power at the first shot during the night battle of Guadalcanal?
In the space of seconds one of the most powerful and dangerous ships in the world was reduced to being the biggest self-propelled target sled in the world.
Gamers would howl at any of these events occurring in a game, but they all actually happened.

Anonymous said...

I admittedly like critical hits they 1) add a sense of good luck / bad luck to a game, 2) create an exiting opportunity / risk for catastrophic results, and 3) can add to the historical flavour of a particular melieu or theatre.
As Belisaurus wrote, countless examples of "(un)lucky shots" occur in history. Reflecting on gaming experiences, I actually have a vivid memory of those games where critical hits / failures featured prominently (3x damage in Melee; malfunction cards in Gunslinger; BiP in B-17 QoTS). Compare that vis-a-vis games where no critical hits occured and it occurs to me that critical hits, when dealt out rarely, have contibuted to some truly memorable gaming experiences.

Yours in gaming,
Jack Nastyface

Anonymous said...

what would the 'critical hit' at the operational level be? nuuking the command post? there's absolutely the situation of "for want of a nail" that plays into all battles, but 1. how wide do wyou wnat to draw that arc (how many different 'what ifs' in your table) and 2. how frequently will they occur and what scope of effect do they have on the battlefield?
finally - what's the realism/re-recreation factor? can I realistically replicate what happened historically without a lot of exceptions or other rules wackiness?