It sounds easy, but it's not. Actually, it's much easier to design a non-transparant / difficult-to-use / lots of modifiers / ... mechanic. The result is that the game slows down, and that players spend time just resolving combat, or shooting, or whatever. The fun activity in a miniature game is in manoeuvring troops, not resolving combat. The latter should be quick, elegant, and fun. Not tedious and time-consuming.
I recently read Horizon Wars (Osprey Games), a newly-published ruleset for 6mm science fiction games. Their shooting mechanic is what I would call very non-elegant.
Let me explain:
- Attacker adds the Armour value of the defender to the range to the target. This becomes the effective range.
- Attacker then rolls a number of D12.
- Defender then rolls a number of D12. If any D12 scores the same result as the attacker's dice, that specific attacker's die is cancelled.
- Attacker then puts remaining dice in groups, the sum of each group has to exceed the effective range to score a hit.
- Determining the effective range requires the attacking player asking a stat about the target to his opponent. This slows down the game. Some players might even consider changing targets depending on the Armour value of the target. By constantly having to ask this characteristic, the procedure becomes tedious. Furthermore, it says nothing yet about your chances to score hit.
- Rolling a number of D12 - fine. Nothing wrong with that.
- This is what irks me. The defender rolls a number of D12 himself, trying to match rolls from the attacker. This requires comparing a handful of dice on both sides to each other. The cancelling is not related to the actual number rolled on the die. A "1" is cancelled with equal probability as a "12". So, although the attacker might have rolled some high numbers, it doesn't mean much, because roughly speaking, any roll made by the attacker has 1/12 chance of getting cancelled per die rolled by the defender.
I understand what the idea is: more defending dice cancel on average more dice by the attacker. But comparing exact rolled die numbers is an unnecessary complication.
A better option would have been to reduce the *number* of dice rolled by the attacker. That would require some rebalancing of stats, but would make for a smoother mechanic.
- The attacker then has to group remaining dice into groups, each group exceeding the effective range. This is also weird. It requires a little puzzle to be solved by the attacker, because he wants to score as many hits as possible. Suppose the effective range is 10, and you roll a 6, 5, 3, 3, 2, 1. Then you should combine the 6 with a 3 and 1 (resulting in 10), and the 5 with the 3 and 2, also scoring 10, for a total of 2 hits. Natural reaction might be to add 6 to 5, resulting in 11, but then you only can total 1 hit, since the remaining numbers add up to 9. Perhaps a convoluted example, but why invent such a clunky mechanic? What's the added value? Why not simply add everything up, divide by effective range and rounding down? Much simpler.
Also, the specific mechanic as outlined above is not consistent. Armour value of the target is added to the range, the Defensive value results in a number of D12 to be thrown in order to cancel attacking dice. The stats of the defender influence the procedure in two very different ways. A good procedure should be designed in a uniform manner. Either adjust range, or adjust number of dice, or use die modifiers, or adjust die types, but don't use combinations of these various options!
A much better mechanic would have been to adjust the number of D12 rolled by the attacker, by subtracting Armour and Defensive values. That has the same effect: lowering the total on the dice rolled, while you can still compare the total sum against the unmodified range of the attacker, and seem how many hits you have scored.
Anyway, if players like these procedures, they should use them! It's not for me to tell how others should enjoy their games. But I do think many mechanics in wargames can be made more elegant, resulting in better designed games.