Author Topic: Disabling mutual surprise rule  (Read 2400 times)

Offline FSaved

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Disabling mutual surprise rule
« on: October 03, 2014, 07:26:47 am »
To me, authenticity isn't so much important as a proper game. And the mutual surprise rule is something I tolerate rather than enjoy. In a later version, would it be possible to have this rule as optional unless I overlooked an existing way to disable it?

Offline Arthanor

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Re: Disabling mutual surprise rule
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2014, 07:41:52 am »
Authenticity?

Your soldier sees the alien at the same time as the alien sees the soldier. One has to act first. It makes sense for it to be the one whose turn it is. Doing it the other way is different, sure, it lets you have priority on the aliens' turn, or them in your turn, but it is equally arbitrary. Or am I missing something?

Offline Harald_Gray

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Re: Disabling mutual surprise rule
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2014, 02:35:14 pm »
Well...

Say you're holed up somewhere and you know that anyone possibly coming in through the only entrance is an enemy. You've got your weapon aimed in that direction.

And you're surprised when an enemy shows up?

Offline Arthanor

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Re: Disabling mutual surprise rule
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2014, 05:06:27 pm »
Well, in that very case I think it does make sense for the enemy to shoot first. You don't know when they are coming, whereas they can set up their attack and they know you are there (presumably? Give the aliens some credit too, XCom has motion scanners, a bit of leeway can be used to represent something similar for aliens).

They could sneak up to the door, and fire while entering for example, which means you are under fire the very moment you become aware of an enemy being there. In general, the one who initiates the move should have the initiative of the fight and also fire first. They were prepared.

Of course, it doesn't work for ambushes, but.. don't stand in front of the door if you want to ambush an alien coming through? They he'll step out looking ahead and you can shoot it from the side.

Offline FSaved

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Re: Disabling mutual surprise rule
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2014, 08:19:02 pm »
Who should respond first should be covered by the Reactions stat, and without the mutual surprise rule this would be accurately reflected.
But the primary problem at least in the original game is one mutual surprise taints the non-mutual surprise of other units. Not sure if this is reflected in OpenXCom.
Then there's also the matter that a turn based system is an abstraction of real time and thus, certain benefits should be given to the player whose turn it isn't. That's what Reaction Fire is all about.

Offline Arthanor

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Re: Disabling mutual surprise rule
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2014, 09:05:33 pm »
I guess just following the normal reaction fire rules could work, but then just camping and waiting becomes really good.

Breaching an UFO? Just get in the first door and keep pressing "Next Turn". Assuming your breachers have decent reactions (>50), they will have 100% of their TUs, which puts them at an advantage over the alien who is patrolling his craft, walking about and spending TUs opening doors.

Taking a sectoid who has 63-78 reaction (according to UFOPaedia, pretty good reactions actually!), a soldier with just 50, sitting there, will beat a sectoid with less than 65-80% of its TUs (at 78-63 reactions, respectively; .65*78 = 50.7; .8*63=50.4).

Given that a sectoid has 62 TUs at most, at best it can spend 21 TUs (35% of 62, assuming it has also the best reactions a sectoid can have) and still fire first, which is 5 tiles of movement and much less if there are doors. For the worst sectoid (63 reactions, 54 time units -> 20% of 54 = ~11), it's not even 3 steps!

The mutual surprise rule both forces you to not sit there (aliens who find you tend to shoot first) and helps you breach UFOs (since you also get to shoot first on mutual surprise). Without it, you're looking at a much more defensive game at which the aliens are inherently bad because of their patrol behaviour.

But that's me.. I was curious as to why you wanted it. In all, I support as many options in OpenXCom as the coders want to put in. Switches for mutual surprises, user defined base sizes and numbers, everything.

Offline NoelBuddy

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Re: Disabling mutual surprise rule
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2014, 09:18:09 pm »
As long as it's optional I'm all for playing around with the mutual surprise mechanics.

 This thread gave me an idea, maybe in a mutual surprise scenario instead of just ignoring reaction fire it adds a bonus to the side who's turn it is when calculating reactions.

So when you open the door to the UFO it acts like you have an extra 50 to your reactions, this way really good reactions and well placed defenses can still react but the on-turn side would still have most of the benefit of mutual surprise.

Offline Arthanor

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Re: Disabling mutual surprise rule
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2014, 09:30:07 pm »
That is a really good idea :) Mutual Surprise granting a reactions bonus instead of outright breaking the mechanic would be neat. Set the bonus to 1000, you get the current rules. Set it to 0, you get rid of Mutual Surprise altogether. And everyone could find their sweet spot somewhere in the middle.

Very nice idea! :D

Offline Dioxine

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Re: Disabling mutual surprise rule
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2014, 02:29:55 am »
The mutual surprise rule is there to abstractly represent things that aren't present in the game - scouting and stealth, namely. You don't get immediately shot when coming out of the woods because the game assumes you were sneaking, or just leaned from behind the tree to sneak a peak. I think it was a stroke of genius to invent such a simple rule that abstracts so much (non-existent) tactical depth.

Naturally, you can disable it, but what then? Defenders always win, as there would be no way to storm anything without getting shot - which is maybe acceptable, but also no way to SCOUT without getting shot, since you can't sneak, you can't throw grenade through a window, you can't crawl through a ventilation shaft to attack from an unsuspected angle, you can't use terrain to your advantage. You just send a pointman forwards and he dies when the enemy sees him (unless he has godly reactions and moving 1 tile per turn). You just go through a few Rookies securing the LZ, then set up a siege. As with all sieges, it consists of machineguns to mow down anything that comes close, and heavy artillery to flatten the area. With mutual surprise rule, this is still an option (albeit more risky), but not the ONLY option. There is some balance between the defence and the offence. With what you're proposing, the focus would be heavily shifted towards defense. Which is kind of not in line with how special ops should work. We're moving back in time from World War III to World War I. Rush the enemy lines with cannon fodder, they die but the enemy positions become exposed and you can flatten them with heavy artillery barrages.

So, in a nutshell, if you remove mutual surprise, you'd need to add something in return to avoid the game being dumbed and dulled down. Namely, complex stealth & movement mechanics like in Silent Storm (or, to a lesser degree, in Jagged Alliance), including the option to lean from behind a cover and other scouting methods that do not require moving (binoculars sweep?). AND like it has been suggested, add a Reactions bonus to the active side because even all the stealth won't save another important aspect (combat option) of XCOM: fast paced, frenzied shootout. I AM ALL FOR IT, but who's gonna code all that? who? who? :)

And a final note, I understand you position well. You're a defensive type of player and you want your tactics to be more effective (and yeah, Mutual Surprise tends to ruin them... even if a grenade suddenly thrown from the bushes seems quite realistic to me). I am an offensive type of player and I'm often abusing Mutual Surprise to my advantage. Especially with alternate movement options. So we both have very diverging personal feelings about it. But I've tried to describe the problem with as much objectivism as possible.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2014, 02:37:38 am by Dioxine »

Offline FSaved

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Re: Disabling mutual surprise rule
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2014, 04:16:11 am »
These things would all be something to think about if shooting were the primary form of violence in X-Com. In reality though, if any of my soldiers are about to enter a crowded area, they are going to be carrying a zero-primed high explosive. Thus, attacking the doorway in the worst case the aliens will get blown up after my soldier gets shot, but the majority of the time either he will manage to throw the explosive and run the hell out, or just shoot the alien if they're unarmored and close enough.
With or without the mutual surprise rule you are a fool if you are defending and ending a turn with any of your soldiers outside of cover. Aliens have a longer sight range. On base defense are our soldiers out in the hallways? Or defending the rooms in the living quarters, sending explosives periodically to clear said hallways? Aliens can't understand this and have everything to lose from the mutual surprise rule, as they don't know how to exploit it. Alien bases also aren't pre-fortified like the way we design them. Furthermore if you carpet the map with mines that will account for half your kills, and removing the mutual surprise rule will not change that.
This presents the side issues of whether aliens need the brains to step around mines, and also whether they need to learn to use them (as will be mandatory if TFTD were implemented) and in general just use explosives a lot more and know where to put them. It definitely can't turn into World War I because explosives are just too powerful and they cannot be used during the passive turn. Once shots come from anywhere a (smart) human player totally destroys the area. But without the mutual surprise rule at least the aliens get a chance to shoot at the scouts.
But this is not about whether the game is better with our without the rule, but rather whether the same would be better if the rule could be changed.