Sunday, February 8, 2015

Making Grenades More Interesting To Use

Grenade Painting, Layne Rowe 
Grenades are one of those weapons that are absolutely essential to modern warfare at the scale that we're simulating, yet when modeled realistically they also tend to bring the flow and action of a game to a screeching halt. Which is why 3rd Edition 40K ditched the ability to throw them, and just let them affect a unit's assault abilities and initiative. A shortcut that left a lot of us 2nd Edition players annoyed, but which at least kept the game from getting bogged down by every unit throwing out small blasts each turn.

So the question is: Can we simulate the tactical advantages of grenades more realistically without the downsides of scattering small blasts everywhere? I have some ideas...

Idea 1: We Limit The Number Available

Tokens to use as grenade counters. Easy to place on a card, a stat sheet, or next to a unit.
Grenades would be an upgrade item, or something that you would choose from a mission-specific list before the battle. Or, maybe we make using them dependent on a LD roll. Pass on both dice and you can throw 2, pass one just one die and throw 1.

Idea 2: Movement Affects Their Range

If a unit Holds, and doesn't move, they can throw grenades a full 16 inches. But if they're Advancing, they can only throw them 8". Units running At The Double would be able to throw them 4", or maybe not at all.

Idea 3: They Don't Scatter Or Explode Right Away

This is my most 'out there' idea, but I'm thinking that grenades thrown in one Shooting Phase wouldn't actually roll for scatter and explode until the beginning of the next Shooting Phase. You'd simply place a counter for them, give everyone a chance to react during the movement phase, and then they'd go off. Note that Grenades fired from a launcher would still go off right away.

Imagine the above scenario. The green troops are being threatened by a big horde of close-combat bad guys. So they throw two grenades out during the shooting phase. Now the red units have a choice. They can ignore the grenades (the Paladin would be pretty much immune), or they can avoid them and go around the rock instead, giving the green units more time to shoot. Of course nobody yet knows where those grenades will scatter to.

Or how about using a grenade to blind or flush out a unit or heavy weapon that's hiding behind cover?   The heavy weapon can move (reducing its initiative), or it can stay and hope that the grenade scatters to the other side of the sandbags, which would shield them from harm.

Used this way, grenades stop being all about the blast itself, and more about the choices that they force on your enemy. Chances are that maybe 5-7 grenades might be thrown during a battle, but because most players would avoid them, you wouldn't actually have to go through the process of placing templates and rolling armor/kill rolls for most of them. Especially with smoke grenades, which wouldn't actually hurt anyone directly.

As a result, grenades become a movement blocker (or facilitator). Making them a lot more interesting and less tedious than simply being a short-range blast weapon.

How Would They Scatter?

One of the nice things about D10 dice is that they have a built-in arrow that could be used to show the direction of a scatter. The only downside is that rolling a single D10 would give a very linear scatter from 0-9, instead of the curved 2D6 scatter of 40K, where long scatters are exceptional.

We could subtract the firer's BS from the scatter distance, but then we'd have to leave a die or something on each marker so we can remember what to deduct. It would be much faster just to roll a straight scatter, or maybe take the lesser scatter of two D10 dice rolled together.


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