Saturday, October 15, 2011

Suppressive Fire

Giuseppe Rava. Red Devils.

Rafael Pava here. In a game where tactical movement and reactive turn sequences are so important, the ability to limit your enemy's actions and maneuver him to where you want him to stay is a big deal. To achieve that, we have decided that Suppressive Fire (SF) should be implemented in addition to the pinning system.

I decided to tackle some issues I see when I think about SF, and I'd like to see if we can come to an agreement on some parts. This is an expansion on our post on small arms shooting and the comments that followed it, as well as the mechanics from this post.

How a unit should be suppressed?

Watchwood wrote a comment in our post on small arms shooting that I'm firmly supporting as mechanics for the suppression. This takes into account the number of models still alive on a squad (smaller squads or squads who suffered casualties are easier to suppress), the number of hits (not wounds) they suffer, and because of that also if they are in cover or not, which matters when we are talking about SF.

As Watchwood said: "I think taking this route will be a bit heavy on the bookkeeping, and probably a bit overpowered too."

What I'd like to see is where every time an enemy squad scores at least as many hits on the defending squad as their are models, the defending squad must make a leadership test against Suppression (cannot move, but may fire normally) Every time this happens to the same squad in the same shooting phase, the followup tests are taken at a cumulative -1 penalty.[/quote]

The effects on SF should be defined, and these are a few options we have so far:

Eriochrome said: "SF should lock a unit in place while enabling them to shoot as if they had moved that turn."

This implies that units who have heavy weapons on their squad wouldn't be able to fire since they can't move and shoot in the same turn. This would be a big deal since suppressing a HWT would help the player A LOT on their assault phase, lessening the chances of their key units being SF by the HWT (who should have a greater chance locking an unit in place).

Watchwood said: "SF should lock a unit in place while enabling them to shoot as normal"

This alternative gives the chance for the HWT to do something, yet this does nothing to lower their effectiveness, making their suppression void. With this, all shooty units can shrug the effects of suppressive fire for they do nothing on them. Also, as k0rona pointed out, penalizing only 50% of units, the CC oriented, is not a good idea.

K0rona said: "SF should give negative modifiers to both moving and shooting"

This is something I'm more on board with. A penalty not to much as considering the unit as if it had moved but not giving them a free pass on SF. "In military science, Suppressive fire is a fire that degrades the performance of a target below the level needed to fulfill its mission." (Wikipedia, my source for all I do not know)

My idea of penalty is halving it all, both shooting and movement of the suppressed unit.

The shooting penalty would be that only half of the shots could be fired. So, if the squad have 8 soldiers equipped with assault rifles (2 shots each), they could only fire 8 shots instead of their usual 16. If they have a Lascannon (4 laser shots), they could only be able to shoot 2.This is to simulate the lack of opportunity to go out of cover and fire as well as not being able to aim or steady their shots.

For the movement penalty, they can take only a half movement action while suppressed, can't run, but still be able to assault. So, they cover less ground overall, yet if they already closed on their target on the previous turns, they would still be able to do their job.

Cumulative Suppressions on the same unit:

I see this going two ways:
  1. Either SF is not cumulative, and so there would be no reason to fire multiple times on a single unit other than if you failed the first time you tried;
  2. B. SF is cumulative and another modifier is given to an unit.
I think that B is more flavorful and brings more tactics into the game, pinning down an unit after a certain number of enemies squads firing at them is also beneficial to the defender, as it's less units shooting at their other squads.

I see no reason as why SF should not be cumulative other than preventing a larger army from locking down a smaller army by cumulatively SF their units. This can be avoided by giving the small army unit's a higher LD score as to make then harder to suppress/pin down or, in some special cases, giving them a special rule that prevents them from being pinned down by cumulative suppressions.

SF on a  unit that's SF'ing another unit:

Would it chance anything if squad X (player 1), who's suppressing squad Y (player 2), got suppressed by squad Z (player 2)?

I think not, since they already had their shooting action (in this scenario, P1 went first on the shooting phase), and would only receive the movement/running/assault penalties of SF.

Does firing at a suppressed unit gives you any extra bonuses, as for flanking, etc?

Even though this is one of the real uses of SF, I'm not too keen on extra bonuses when shooting a suppressed unit, as for they are already very penalized having their effectiveness lowered, but others might consider that they were suppressed not only to prevent them from being effective but also to increase the effectiveness of your units.

Can the effects of SF be shrugged off by an unit?

I think that only a small amount of units should have the chance to ignore/shrug off the effects of SF. Characters, elite squads and really tough units are some examples of units that could be immune or harder to suppress, but giving a chance for every unit to break free of suppression by rolling a die is not only counterproductive as well as time consuming.

Final Notes:
  • You would be able to tell if you'll suppress an unit just by measuring the resources you have on the table (units, weapons, etc).
  • Usually, larger units will suppress better than smaller ones.
  • Units with higher BS will be able to suppress squads more often even if they wield low STR weapons by sheer volume of hits.
  • Usually, smaller units will be more successive to SF
  • Units that have more shots (hello FRFSRF!) or heavier weapons (like H. Bolters) will have more chance to suppress an unit.
~Rafael "Balangaz" Paiva 

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