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Are Iron Domes a Good Game Mechanic?

Stagger Lee

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The Iron Dome is a simple national project that gives your nation a flat 50% chance at blocking missiles fired at it. This coin flip of randomness can be depressingly infuriating when your Iron Dome fails to block 7 missiles in a row, or sadistically satisfying when you manage to land 8 out of 9 of your missiles. I witnessed both of these situations during the most recent global war, and neither of them feel like a fulfilling experience to me.

 

Statistically, the Iron Dome can be reworded as "negate 50% of incoming missile damage." It's quite boring when you think about it, devoting an entire national project for the sole purpose of blocking half of the damage incoming on your nation during a war. True randomness has never seemed like a fun game mechanic to me. Yes, games require an element of randomness in them in order to be dynamic and fun. Having the opportunity to succeed despite all odds or face bitter defeat when victory was in your grasp is nearly essential to compelling game-play, but having a coin toss determine one of the most damaging aspects of a war feels like you've been cheated of a potentially compelling aspect of war.

 

I believe that with a small change in game mechanics, the Iron Dome can go from a boring buy-and-forget project to a fundamental aspect of war in Politics and War. In order to make this change, we merely need to include the idea of fluctuating success odds. I believe that by increasing the rate of success of the Iron Dome as land in a city decreases, a better experience will be had by both sides of the conflict.

 

Randomness can provide more compelling and challenging gameplay. Adams & Dormans in Game Mechanics: Advanced Game Theory explain this by saying, "There are two situations in which adding randomness is a useful design strategy:...to force players to improvise, and...help counter dominant strategies."

 

Currently, the dominant strategy with a missile is to always aim for the city with the highest infrastructure level. This will deal the most monetary damage in the long-run, and therefore is the only thing that realistically needs to be taken into account when firing missiles. This has created a war mechanic in which every player in the game does the same thing over and over, which is needlessly repetitive.

 

As an example proposal, let's say that the Iron Dome now linearly scales in its effectiveness with land size, with 500 land yielding a 70% chance of blocking a missile (lower land = less area to block = higher theoretical chance of success), and something on the upper end, like 5,000 land yielding a 30% chance of blocking a missile. These land values are the caps on each end, where lowering land below 500 and raising land above 5,000 will not further change blocking odds. This adds an entirely new dynamic to game-play, forcing improvisation and changing every player's strategy.

 

Instead of mindlessly firing a missile at a 2,500 infrastructure city because it's the highest your opponent has, maybe now their 2,000 infrastructure city has far more land, yielding a higher chance of success. While it might not do more monetary damage, the higher success chance may cause a player to target the 2,000 city in the interest of a guaranteed hit, instead of the riskier 2,500 infrastructure city.

 

I don't claim that these values are rock solid numbers that I would be comfortable changing the game to, but by making the fundamental mechanic change to what I have outlined, I believe that game-play would greatly benefit and missiles in war would be a far more engaging experience. Instead of the mindless "click the largest number" strategy, players would have to make a personal calculation on risk versus reward, and potentially even build their nations accordingly.

 

While I haven't addressed the Vital Defence System, I hope that it's clear that I would also argue for a similar change to be made for it as well. Let me know what you think and if there are downsides to this that you think throw a wrench in the entire idea, or some other suggestions for how to fix the Iron Dome.

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This is an interesting (and well thought out and written) idea. Thank you for sharing.

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Very interesting indeed. There issue I see with this is that as nations grow larger, land pretty much has to scale with it. You just can't build a 2000+ infra city on 500 land efficiently. And nations with a large population are the type of countries most likely to be investing resources into defensive systems.

 

Perhaps instead of land, population density?

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Very interesting indeed. There issue I see with this is that as nations grow larger, land pretty much has to scale with it. You just can't build a 2000+ infra city on 500 land efficiently. And nations with a large population are the type of countries most likely to be investing resources into defensive systems. Perhaps instead of land, population density?

 

Missile damage is already increased (potentially) with a high population density.

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I think your suggestion would have the opposite effect of what you are looking for, which is more randomness outside of firing missiles.

 

Right now the Iron Dome encourages people exploring other avenues to do damage to an opponent, of varying expenses and success rates. You have to weigh cost/benefit of firing missiles at people with domes.

 

If all missiles had a guaranteed success rate, however, and the damage were only mitigated by a dome, then you would be able to reliably count on your missiles to always do a consistent amount of damage, and it makes the cost/benefit analysis much simpler: do you want to always do X amount of damage or do you not.

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Right now the Iron Dome encourages people exploring other avenues to do damage to an opponent, of varying expenses and success rates. You have to weigh cost/benefit of firing missiles at people with domes.

 

If all missiles had a guaranteed success rate, however, and the damage were only mitigated by a dome, then you would be able to reliably count on your missiles to always do a consistent amount of damage, and it makes the cost/benefit analysis much simpler: do you want to always do X amount of damage or do you not.

All missiles do have a guaranteed success rate, 50%. My proposal is changing the success rate based on city land.

 

Right now the Iron Dome is essentially "negate 50% of missile damage." You can't get much more simple than that. I'm trying to understand your argument but to me it sounds like you think I'm arguing for what the Iron Dome already does.

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All missiles do have a guaranteed success rate, 50%. My proposal is changing the success rate based on city land.

 

Right now the Iron Dome is essentially "negate 50% of missile damage." You can't get much more simple than that. I'm trying to understand your argument but to me it sounds like you think I'm arguing for what the Iron Dome already does.

No, its not a guaranteed success rate, because you could launch 5 missiles at a target and have none of them hit. There is no guarantee of success there. That makes people consider working in other types of attacks, that could be better uses of MAP's and resources, instead of just launching missiles.

 

However, if all missiles were guaranteed to succeed, just at a lower rate, people could decide that they will launch missiles whenever they can, and accept diminished damages as a tradeoff for not having to use any other resources outside of the missiles themselves to damage the opponent. Sure, there may be more damaging uses of MAP's, but it makes it far too easy and far too damaging to just lob missiles without any thought in war.

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No, its not a guaranteed success rate, because you could launch 5 missiles at a target and have none of them hit. There is no guarantee of success there. That makes people consider working in other types of attacks, that could be better uses of MAP's and resources, instead of just launching missiles.

 

However, if all missiles were guaranteed to succeed, just at a lower rate, people could decide that they will launch missiles whenever they can, and accept diminished damages as a tradeoff for not having to use any other resources outside of the missiles themselves to damage the opponent. Sure, there may be more damaging uses of MAP's, but it makes it far too easy and far too damaging to just lob missiles without any thought in war.

50% is the guaranteed success rate. The definition of the Iron Dome in game is: Iron Dome is a national project that gives you a 50% chance of shooting down enemy missiles. That is by definition a 50% success rate. Over time, 50% of all of your missile strikes will get through. That's how probability works. It's like saying if you flip a thousand coins, 5 of them in a row might be heads, but over 1000 of them you're going to be pretty close to having 500 be heads and 500 be tails.

 

Nothing in my proposal "guarantees" missiles to succeed, and this: "However, if all missiles were guaranteed to succeed, just at a lower rate" doesn't make sense.

 

Honestly from everything you've said I can't figure out how you're arguing against what I proposed, everything sounds like you're arguing in favor of my point, not against it, I'm sorry.

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