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Do the Math, or Have the Math Done to You

Do the Math, or Have the Math Done to You

I’ve spoken a bit on the podcast about how RPGs can really target my neurotic tendancies. I stress alot about how they’re best enjoyed. An area where I particularly struggle involves a game’s battle system and the number crunching behind it.

It’s often unclear how deep you should dive into the cold, hard, quantitative reality behind what vigor, vitality, or luck mean as your little pixelated friends throw hands with skeletons. To some extent, I imagine this is very deliberate. I’ll bet game designers want you to just “feel” the value of the points you’ve placed in strength as you watch the damage counter tick higher. But for some other skills, like vigor, vitality, or luck, this doesn’t really work so well.

Of course you can easily track down these numbers. You can have your fantasy world’s algebraic foundations laid bare, if you’re willing to look. This usually takes the form of some archaic looking, dusty ascii tome on GameFaqs. But that’s where the trouble starts for me. I want to play the game well. But I also want to play the game the designers set out to build for me.

Board games and card games are an interesting juxtaposition. The rules and RNG mechanismms are almost always made clear from the start. Now most people don’t actually sit down and do the math, but the option is there. But board games are usually, compared to a JRPG battle system, quite simple. We’re playing Final Fantasy VI right now, and you would have needed a big-ass jewel case to fit a manual with something like this in it:

An example that’s on my mind right now is the earring set from Final Fantasy VI. Some items show you the effect on your stats as you highlight them in the menu, but the earrings just offer a promise: “Raises magic damage - More powerful if paired”.

Earrings - No clues in the numbers

Conversely, the Hyper Wrist relic gives some numerical feedback to quantify its description: “Raises Vigor”

Hyper Wrist - This clearly raises vigor, but what is vigor?

So… what to do? I can hit the internet and find out with a quickness that each earring gives a stackable 25% damage increase to magic attacks. Nice, right? But for those of you that try to avoid peaking behind the curtain, what do you do? Do you just equip the item and trust the description? Or do you take to the field like a Magitek scientist and test out damage dealt with and without the relic equipped? Someone does this, otherwise we wouldn’t have anything like the guide I linked earlier.

Anyways, how do you guys deal with the hidden RPG numbers?

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