Friday, October 12, 2012

Shooting, Cover Saves, and Damage

The Trenches, Andrew Howat
SandWyrm here. I apologize for the lack of updates, but it's been a pretty busy week. The wife and kids are sick, I had some minor surgery this morning that had to be prepared for, and Spag pulled me into a meeting Wednesday about next year's IndyOpen Grand Tournament. CaulynDarr has also been under the weather, so we didn't get to do any testing either.

I've been thinking though, on how to revise the shooting sequence in light of last week's testing and the failure of the 'toughness' modifiers for damage to be workable in-game. Here's the basic ideas that I've come up with...

First, a recap of where the system stands now, as of last-week' tests:

IV.      Shooting
a.     Area Terrain blocks LoS unless leader is within 12” of target.
b.     Units within or behind Area Terrain are counted as concealed.
                                               i.     +1 Evasion for concealed targets
                                             ii.     +1 Toughness for concealed targets
c.     Shooting Sequence
                                               i.     Roll To Hit
1.     BS vs. Ev
2.     +1 Ev for concealed
3.     +1 Ev for Gone To Ground
4.     +1 Ev for Long Range
5.     6 + 6 always hits
                                             ii.     Compare Shot Strength To Toughness (see chart)
1.     +1T for concealed
2.     +1T for GtG
                                            iii.     Defender Rolls Saves
1.     Rolls of 1 allow attacker to try and roll a 6 to allocate
2.     Defender allocates all other hits
                                            iv.     Defender removes dead models
d.     Shooting Suppression
                                               i.     Add up number of hits each unit receives from shooting
                                             ii.     Units receive 1 suppression marker if either...
1.     They have to roll at least one save
2.     They receive hits equal to 50% or more of their current strength.
                                            iii.     where n is the unit’s starting Nerve value
                                            iv.     Force Leaders
1.     Force Leaders add a +1 to the unit’s Ld value
2.     Leaders within the CR of a unit cannot be targeted individually

So the general idea was that we could use a toughness stat (versus weapon strength) to divide down the damage that a weapon could do to a particular target. So that you would, for instance, need 2 failed saves from a lasgun to kill a Laansknight. Infantry could then also get a toughness bonus for being concealed in area terrain, making them harder to kill when defending something.

We generated 2-3 systems worth of ideas for how to make this simple (of which the chart above is but one example), but none of them was really workable in-game. Heck, CaulynDarr and I couldn't even describe them coherently to each other without a spreadsheet. Not good!

So Let's break it down... What do we want out of this system?
  1. Every model needs a save of some kind at least 80% of the time. Even unarmored infantry.
  2. Unarmored Infantry need to be very durable when holding a position, but not on the move.
  3. Armored Infantry need to be durable on the move, but not be encouraged to hold a position.
  4. Some targets need to be tough enough to withstand more than one penetrating hit.
Giving every model an armor value solves number one, but that introduces problems. If we give every model an armor value and add 2-4 points for being in cover, you'll have Knights camping on objectives when they should be moving instead. That's what their armor is for.

You also can't combine the cover mechanic that keeps unarmored infantry alive with the mechanic that makes monsters harder to kill.

So... Let's try this idea:

Let's say that every model has a different ability to make use of cover. Unarmored infantry should be tops, while knights are less able to duck behind things. Then there's tanks, which shouldn't be able to hide very well at all. The BS vs. Evasion system handles this for to-hit rolls. But I think that we also need to add a save mechanic for being in cover too. You're not just hiding in those woods/jungle/whatever, you also have more stuff between you and the enemy to deflect shots.

(There's actually a historical precedent for this. The M16 had problems penetrating the heavy leaves of Vietnam jungles, while the heavier AK-47 round wouldn't be deflected as easily.)

So we'll have a stat that signifies how well a unit/model can hug the protection of the cover they're in. I spent some time working up the numbers for such a stat, but then I realized that I was just duplicating the same numbers that I was using for Evasion. So we'll keep it simple and base this save idea off of Evasion.

Basically then, your Evasion stat is an alternative armor value.

When you shoot at a unit, the strength of your shot would be compared to either the target's armor, or their evasion to determine their save. Whichever stat is higher is the one you use.

But... If you're concealed, your Evasion 'armor' would go up. Either by doubling, or by set amounts depending on what kind of terrain you're sitting in.

Let's say that a LaansGuard trooper is Ev3, Armor 0; and a LaansKnight is Ev 2, Armor 5.

If we say that being concealed and not having moved doubles your Evasion save, then a camping unit of LaansGuard would have an effective armor value of 6. Better even than the Knights. While if the Knights decided to camp, their evasion doubled would only give them an armor value of 4. Which would mean that they'd have no reason to hide behind anything. Sure, they'll duck and weave to avoid autocannon fire. But they won't stop and cower behind a wall. There's no point. Just keep moving and get into assault instead.
There could also be a +1 for things like ruins (or set values for woods, ruins, walls, houses, and whatnot). Certain weapons could also be better at penetrating cover at the expense of being lousy against armor, and vice-versa.

But in the end with this system, the unarmored infantry want to sit tight and move around only carefully. While the armored infantry want to run around more openly and get into assault. Which is, I think, what we want to have happen.

As for making certain monsters tougher. We can just do something similar to traditional wounds. Except that certain weapons would cause more than one point of damage as standard, and we wouldn't do any record keeping. You either kill the target or you don't.


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