Siloing vs. Point BuildsSeptember 6, 2007
If anyone wants a clear example of why I generally think point building games lead to unbalance, they can look at David Noonan’s bit on Siloing. Also relevant- the discussion about specialization in Vincent’s Poison’d thread.
Basically, the problem when points are universal is that instead of finding multiple strategies for success, players angle their character builds towards one trick ponies. In terms of actual play, there’s not a lot of “back and forth” or struggle- one trick ponies either dominate at their field or get dominated in another. The only way to get a close struggle is to mirror the build.
Hence why a lot of team based point build games, like many superhero games, involve a lot of fudging or a lot of anti-climatic fights. And if you’re going to fudge it, why bother with points anyway?
A lot of games keep from falling off this edge either by setting low hard caps (“Starting characters can only buy skills up to 3”) or splitting up types of points (Attribute points, skill points, freebie points, etc.)
Of course, this kind of thing only matters where different skills and stats function mechanically different. Stuff like Universalis or The Pool have all things work the same so piling on points in one area doesn’t really make you that much more effective – being “Strong x 3” is actually as powerful as being “Clumsy x 3” etc.