Monday, May 14, 2012

Stuff That Sucks In Flames Of War

The Burning Of The White House, Tom Freeman, 1814
SandWyrm here. Ok, I've been getting a lot of feedback that indicates I'm perceived as too much of a Flames of War fanboy. Probably because I tend to criticize 40K more often, since it's less professionally produced. So to show that I'm not uncritical,  I'll go through Battlefront's system and call out the stuff I DON'T like about the game. Some of this will be things I like in the context of WWII, but which I just don't think will work in our game.

Issue 1: Infantry Are Too Durable

This is something that's really frustrating in Flames, especially for new players. You learn to deal with it using Artillery and Flamethrowers, but I personally wish it was just a bit easier to kill them.

It might seem right now like I'm trying to make infantry invulnerable in M42, but just wait. They'll need all the help they can get! The Knights are going to be the very super-charged killing machines that 40K's Space Marines only are in Black Library books.

The Knights' guns will REALLY fire rocket-grenades that deny Gone-To-Ground. Their enhanced vision will let them see things that others can't (further through area terrain). Their armor will make them all-but-immune to small arms fire. Their toughness will ensure that even if you pierce their armor, they won't always go down. In close-combat, they will slay their lesser brethren ruthlessly! Their Ld will be 5 or 6, making them highly unlikely to run.

Balance-wise, I'm planning on adjusting things so that a fire team consisting of just 3-4 Knights will have a fair fight with a platoon of 20 or so dug-in Army troopers toting a couple of heavy weapons. The Knights won't need transports to keep them safe. Those rides will be for the Squires (40K Scouts) and their own supporting infantry. Because the vehicles will actually be easier to hit than the Knights.

To achieve this, we'll use a completely different to-hit system than either 40K or Flames. In 40K, the firer uses their BS to determine what they need to hit, with no modifiers. In Flames, the training level of the target unit determines your base. So for Vets, it's a 4+ before modifiers are applied.

But we'll be comparing BS to Ev to determine your base to hit. So both skill and target training will matter. In our system, if the stats start out even (depends on testing/balance), then Army-on-Army would be a 4+ base. But Knights will have a significantly higher BS. Probably by 2 points. So that starts them at a 2+ to hit before any modifiers are applied.  So shooting at an infantry unit that's GtG (ignored by weapon) and concealed would only be a 3+ to hit at short range. If the infantry is dug-in, they'll get a toughness boost. But that's really the only thing that will save them. Particularly if we let the Marines prioritize hits on the big guns when they fire.

Issue 2: The Reserve System Sucks

Big Time. We'll be closely following 40K's with a few tweaks here and there. The only thing I like about Flames' reserve system is how you roll for them. Beyond that, forget it!

Issue 3: Close Combat Is Too Simplistic

I'm going to try and strike a balance between the overdone detail of 40K and the ultra-simple Flames. Though I do intend to keep the idea of fighting a combat to completion all at once. Further details TBD.

Issue 4: The Missions Really Blow

There's 12 different mission scenarios in Flames, and all but 2-3 of them suck hard. Mostly because they incorporate all sorts of random crap. So we'll be updating 40K's missions with a new 'sudden death' objective system where if you hold any objective at the start of your turn, you win.

We'll also be looking at various ideas from the DLT missions pack to spruce things up a bit.

Issue 5: Vehicle Damage Is Too Simple

We simply need more detail than Alive, Bailed-Out, and Wrecked. What I'm thinking is that we'll have the following sequence:
  1. To-hit
  2. Armor-Pen
  3. Strength vs. Toughness
So you'll roll to hit, then try and penetrate the vehicle's armor (if any). Then it's a straight up Strength/Toughness comparison roll to kill it. If you don't kill it, you'll Shake it. Place a marker for each shaken result.
1 Shaken = Can't Move AND Fire (target can do one, but not both, during next turn)
2 Shaken = Can't Move OR Fire (stunned basically)
3+ Shaken = Bailed Out (Ld test to see if the vehicle's crew runs away)
We're not going to keep track of destroyed weapons and such, but this system should let us have some detail without the ongoing headaches and randomness of 40K.

Issue 6: Air Support Is Too Random

Again, I like how the roll is made to see if Air Support comes on, but that's it. So instead of rolling for number of aircraft and ranging in, we'll just plonk a single model down and shoot as normal with some bonuses and penalties. A bit like Mantic's aircraft rules, but a bit more detailed and less overpowered.

Issue 7: Artillery Is Too... Wonky

There are things I like about FoW's arty. Like needing spotters to fire. But except for mortars and like weapons, we'll be moving all of this off-table. Their ranging-in mechanic is too complex as well.

Issue 8: Buildings Are Too Complex

They don't suck like in 40K, but they're too complex overall. I want to make buildings only slightly more complex than moving and shooting through 40K ruins. Basically, you'll move slower, and need openings to shoot out of them, but you'll be more protected from enemy fire as well.


That's my short list. I hope is shows that I'm not just copying either 40K or Flames, but attempting to take and improve upon the best ideas of both. With a few ideas from Warpath and my own imagination thrown in. I like Flames because it solves a LOT of long-standing problems in 40K's system. But that doesn't mean that their mechanics can simply be lifted out of their game and dropped into 40K. Every piece still has to be examined, torn apart, and put back together in a way that works for 28mm Sci-Fi. Without alienating too much of the existing 40K player base.

And as always, I'm perfectly willing to re-factor anything that's later shown to not be working. Just because I've written something doesn't mean it's forever. :)

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