Obviously, the wide variety of weapons, Massacre scores and ratings for Attack and Defense mean that some bots are pretty wimpy and some are massively buff. It’s not much fun to match a jock with Massacre 8 and all 10 Stomachs full against someone playing Massacre 3 with a basic machine. To keep matches fair (and fun), use one of the following approaches.
The players agree beforehand what the Massacre scores of their jocks are, and how many Stomachs on their bots they’re allowed to fill. This provides for a fairly balanced game, at least in theory.
It also permits you to control the complexity of the game. If you’re just starting out, it’s tempting to get a whole mess of different weapons, crank Massacre up to 10 and go crazy shooting everything off at once. But that’s also the most complex way to play, and the very basics of the game — maneuver, timing and dice decision — tend to get obscured by the glut of options.
For your first game, it’s better to Either go medium Massacre and low Stomachs or low Massacre and medium Stomachs. The first option lets you get a sense of dice tactics as they exist independent of gear. The second lets you familiarize yourself with the basic gear before you try mind-blowing stuff like the onco-cannon. A game with Massacre 5, Stomachs 3 or Massacre 3, Stomachs 5 should be simple and sweet, while still providing plenty of different things to try.
As you get more familiar with the feel of the game, you can raise Massacre and Stomachs together, or just one. A high Massacre/low Stomachs game provides a real test of tactical skill, while a low Massacre/high Stomach game favors the builder who plans a strategy beforehand and sticks to it.
Alternately, you can simply dole out a number of points to each player, who can spend them on a one-for -one basis to either raise Massacre or fill Stomachs. Seven or eight points is good for a beginner: That way you can either have a Massacre 7 jock with loads of killer instinct but no hardware, or a Massacre 2 jock with a fairly tricked-out bot. Single measure matches are good for players who have different styles. Some people are better at the build phase of the game, designing well-balanced bots with killer combos. Others are better at making dice choices under pressure while the variables are constantly changing. Single measure matches let them compete on a more even field.
The Tournament Scenario
To play a tournament, you need several players who are all willing to stick with the same jock and the same bot through several battles. What you’re going to do is simulate a series of fights in which some bots get degraded while others live fat on stolen Devourables.
Begin by setting up the start match or matches. Everyone should begin at the same level, either on a Single or Twin Measure scale. (Hint: Start pretty low.) The difference is, their bots and jocks improve after each fight. Specifically, they get more or less popular with the fans. You measure this by keeping track of Fan Points.
You get a Fan Point every time you successfully perform a Grandstand, and every time you reduce another bot to zero Meats. Furthermore, the winner of the match gets a free Fan Point as well. However, you lose a Fan Point every time you get knocked down to zero Meats (though this can’t drop you below zero Fan Points).
Between matches, players can spend Fan Points on a one-for-one basis to either raise their Massacre level or to fill their bot’s Stomachs.
Example: Red starts out the tournament with Massacre 3 and three Devourables — an EMLE, a Twitchy Flinchpump and an Acid Spray. During his first round, he successfully does two grandstands with his Acid Spray, earning him a pair of Fan Points. However, he gets pounded down, losing the match, so he loses one of his Fan Points. Plus, the winner steals his Acid Spray. Before his next battle, he raises his Massacre to 4 by spending his Fan Point.
The next round, Red dominates! He does another grandstand, kills two opponents and wins the round. (He also takes a loser’s boom launcher.) This earns him four Fan Points — a grandstand point, two kill points and an extra one for winning. With four Fan points, he could raise his Massacre and buy some good gadgets… but feeling cocky, he decides to bank them and hope that, with five points after his next round, he can buy that awesome Bonespear Flinger.
In the next round he only makes one grandstand before being eliminated (and losing that sweet boom launcher). With no additional Fan Points, he’s in danger of whittling away everything he has. He decides to raise his Massacre score by 2 and get Hyperheal (which fills two Stomachs).
A grudge match tournamenT sets up a series of bracketed one-on-one fights. Most typically, only the winners advance until the last bot standing takes it all. Pretty simple.
This can be a little tricky if you have an odd number of fighters at a level, but handing out the occasional bye can take care of that pretty easily. It’s also possible to do a double elimination tournament, but I’m not going to bother explaining that here.
Alternately, you can just have a series of escalating gang fights — all comers pack into the arena and the last survivor wins that match. Next fight, everyone’s back. Lather, rinse and repeat a number of battles equal to the number of fighters, and a clear winner should arise from the last match.
(At this point you might argue that the Battle Royale setup is a death spiral for whoever does worst in the first fight, while practically guaranteeing that the first winner will be the final winner. After all, the guy who takes the first fight probably has some kills and the win point with which to amp up, right? Which in turn makes him more likely to win the next combat and amp further up, and so on. While true in theory, in practice this rarely happens, because the people he beat on in round one are typically out for blood the succeeding rounds.)