Main Menu

GameTalk: Critical Hits!

Started by bayonetbrant, December 29, 2014, 11:43:14 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


The key to surviving this site is to not say something which ends up as someone's tag line - Steelgrave

"their citizens (all of them counted as such) glorified their mythology of 'rights'...and lost track of their duties. No nation, so constituted, can endure." Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers

Jack Nastyface

Just getting back to this one, now...
I think critical hits are one of key features of any serious game that attempts to model combat involving individual ships, planes, vehicles or soldiers.  As much as I hate suffering a critical hit, history provides us with many examples where a single shot (or salvo) caused a series of unfortunate (or fortunate...depending upon your point of view) series of events.  The hunt for the Bismark included two such examples:  the magazine hit on the Hood, and the rudder hit on the Bismark;  Operation Gothic Serpent (aka Battle for Mogadishu aka Blackhawk Down) featured two such events.
Overall, I think the decision to include critical hits in a game needs to be viewed from at least three perspectives:  probability, severity, and "engagement".
Probability is fairly straight-forward:  what is the chance that any given hit will cause a critical hit to a unit?  In an ideal world, this would include an assessment of the "battle-hardness" of a unit and the potential (and type of) damage caused by the weapon inflicting the hit.  In the game world, this is almost always the result of some kind of rarely-occurring event on your probability generator of choice (ie: a roll of "00" on percentile dice; draw two "malfunction" cards in a row, etc).
Severity refers of course to the amount of damage suffered due to a critical hit.  By definition, I think it only makes sense to include damage that can somehow effect the performance or reliability of the affected unit, or affect future gameplay.  Things like "fuel tank hit", "gun damage" or "Rabbit's Foot - roll any result, again" are all valid results.  Although I personally dislike critical hits like "magazine explosion" there is no doubt that such things do happen, so perhaps they do have a roll in a game, even if they only serve to bring the game to an end more abruptly.  In games where damage is recorded via hit points, critical damage is often reflected with damage multiplier.  Fine...I get the math, but I still prefer my critical hits to be "system"-based.
Finally, engagement is what I used to refer to player enjoyment.  I know a number of players who insist on taking out the "explosion" damage card from the Wings of War damage deck.  Yet others will accept that player characters in an RPG can roll a crit hit, but "monsters" cannot.  For me, I cannot imagine playing an "individual units" game without some kind of critical hit.  Even with they are improbable, they still feel realistic.  And that's part of what I look for in my gaming.   
Now, the problem is, how to divide five Afghans from three mules and have two Englishmen left over.


I'd add that a 'critical hit' isn't, to me anyway, necessarily just a hit on a unit. A critical hit could be any number of near impossible rolls. Think of the historical Battle of Midway - if you've not read Miracle at Midway, you should - to see how many things happened at just the right moment (and there were a LOT of them) that gave the Americans advantage. I'd liken that to highly unlikely search rolls made several times in a row, with near perfect timing.

Such 'impossible' rolls can change a game as much, if not more so, than just a 'critical hit' to a unit.


As long as they don't happen too often, critical hits are a must for me. Nothing like pulling that 'Critical Hit - Left Warp Engine Explodes' damage card in (my version) of Star Fleet Battles. :)
"My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplace of existence."
-Sherlock Holmes

"You know, just once I'd like to meet an alien menace that wasn't immune to bullets."
-Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart

"There's a horror movie called Alien? That's really offensive. No wonder everyone keeps invading you!"
-The Doctor

"Before Man goes to the stars he should learn how to live on Earth."
-Clifford D. Simak


Critical Hits are like finding a $20 bill on the ground when you're out walking the dog.
Puts a smile on my face every time  :)
When the going gets weird
the weird turn pro


The key to surviving this site is to not say something which ends up as someone's tag line - Steelgrave

"their citizens (all of them counted as such) glorified their mythology of 'rights'...and lost track of their duties. No nation, so constituted, can endure." Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers



"Like we need an excuse to drink to anything..." - Banzai_Cat
"I like to think of it not as an excuse but more like Pavlovian Response." - Sir Slash

"At our ages, they all look like jailbait." - mirth

"If we had lines here that would have crossed all of them. For the 1,077,986th time." - Gusington

"Government is so expensive that it should at least be entertaining." - airboy

"As long as there's bacon, everything will be all right." - Toonces


Critical hit in an operational game could be Panic or complete moral breakdown of the unit. Causing it to not only to take a hit but also be out of the players control for a set amount of turns and it has to retreat one hex per turn for how ever long it's going to be out of the players control. Or it disbands for a set amount of turns and is then put back on the map well behind the front line at half strength.

Mad Russian

If the game has room for the variety of possible results then I believe critical hits are a part of that.

Some games simply the process and don't really get into where a hit takes place. If the system takes into account where the hit takes place then I think you almost have to factor in critical hits since all hits on a vehicle, aircraft, ship are not equal in damage potential.

Good Hunting.

The most expensive thing in the world is free time.