Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Reworking Visibility/Concealment

I've spent the last couple of days trying to figure out how to make visibility/cover more straightforward in the game than it is right now. Finally, I think I have an answer that works.

The Current System

Currently, a unit's Awareness (Aw) defines how far it can see a model that is Concealed by terrain.

LaansGuard can see you if you're concealed 12" away, Knights can see you at 18", etc.

Rolling to hit is BS vs. the target's Evasion (Ev).

Your Awareness also defines the 'short' range of your weapons. So if you're more than 12" away from LaansGuard, the target gets +1 Ev.

Being on elevated ground doubles your awareness against lower targets ('Exposed').

Being Obscured by terrain gives you a +1 Ev, but you can still be seen at any distance.

Being Concealed gives you a +2 Ev instead, and being Hidden makes it a +3. But both require the firing unit/models to be within Aw range.

So the current system breaks down like this (from the latest Quick Reference Guide):

Confusing, no? I mean, it works, and it's fun once you grok it. But it's not all that easy to learn.

I had been thinking of doing this:

Which shows a clearer progression of visibility. But there's still non-linear effects. You either see a target, or you don't. But if you do see a concealed one, it's a +2 Ev for the target. Messy. Probably difficult to balance too.

So... time for a little creative destruction. :)

The New Visibility System

For a couple of days I tried to come up with a system where 'Cover' (Evasion bonuses) was conceptually separated from 'Visibility' (can the target be seen?). Only to finally give up on the idea due to its clunkiness.

Because in reality, cover IS visibility. The concepts don't need to be separated. They can't be. Instead they need to be even more tightly integrated in WarStrike than they have been up to this point. Rather than a binary yes/no of whether you can see a target or not, it needs to be more fluid.

So first we throw out 'Awareness' as a stat completely, and assume that you can target anyone you like within the range of your weapons. At least so long as they aren't 'blocked' by a structure wall, or the height of a hill. Instead they'll just get easier or harder to hit based on their visibility and distance.

Then we standardize visibility for all units. Typical infantry engagement range is about 900 feet on open ground. Which is 48" in WarStrike's range-scale. So that becomes our 'long' range. While the standard 'short' range becomes 24".

Soldiers can hit targets beyond this range, but it would be harder. So we make the next range bracket  96" (8 feet). That's longer than the corner-to-corner distance of a standard 4' x 6' table. So we don't need to worry about longer distances in a standard game.

Then we make each level of visibility half or double those ranges.

So if your target is 'Obscured' instead of 'Clear', your short range goes from 24" to 12", and your long range goes from 48" to 24". While if your target ran or shot, your short range would increase from 24" to 48" because they're now 'Exposed'.

Putting it all into a table, you get this:

It may look complicated, but all you have to do is figure out your short range, then double that range number for every visibility bracket down the line. Like the comparative table, it has a clear pattern that you can internalize for 90+% of all cases.

After a few games, you should only have to consult the table for extreme cases like an anti-tank gun firing through woods at a tank across the game table. But only because of the extremely low Ev of the tank, and the extremely long maximum range of the gun. For most troops/targets you wouldn't bother firing once the Ev modifiers reach +3. Because then you're needing two sixes in a row to hit.

Modifying Visibility:
  • Lone models, and those with the Stealth rule would get a -1 to their Visibility.
  • Gone-To-Ground status also lowers your visibility by one.
  • Shooting or Running adds a +1 to your Visibility.
  • Being on a hill gives you an extra 6" of visibility range for every full inch that you're elevated. This is always added AFTER you figure out your standard 'short' range.
  • Your visibility can be raised (for everyone) by 1 if a recon unit marks your position with tracers or smoke.
  • if you're targeted by a unit with 'Acute Senses' (Knights), then they will 'see' you at one level of visibility higher than you actually are.

Some Examples

These all use the stats from the latest unit cards. Though those stats will undoubtedly be adjusted for the new system. Note that I have more units shown than I have written examples for. So that we can discuss 'what if's" in the comments. :)

Example 1:

A unit of LaansGuard (A), wants to shoot at some enemy LaansGuard (B).

The target is concealed in the woods, so that's a -2 to their visibility. Unit A's 'short' range is therefore halved twice. From 24", to 12", then to 6".

Unit B is not within 6", so the next range bracket is double the first. Is Unit B within 12"? Yes it is. So B gets +1 to it's Evasion and it becomes BS6 vs. Ev7 (instead of BS6 vs. Ev6). Unit A therefore needs a 5+ to hit with it's shots.

Example 2:

Unit A wants to shoot at the Colseran (C) on the edge of the woods.

She's touching the edge of the woods, making her Obscured. So the short range of Unit A becomes 12". But, she's a single model. So she gets a -1 to her visibility, making her concealed, just like Unit B was.

It doesn't matter though. Unit A's short range for concealed shots is 6", and she's within that. So it's a straight BS6 vs. her unmodified Evasion of 7. Unit A will hit on 5's.

Example 3:

The Autocannon team (E) wants to shoot at Unit B. They're concealed, making the autocannon's short range 6". But the autocannon is on a 1" high hill, adding 6" to it's short range; for a total of 12". Unit B is outside of that though. So the to-hit test is BS5 vs. Ev6 + 1. The Autocannon needs 6's to hit.

But, if the recon drone (D) manages to first hit Unit B with some tracer rounds, it could raise their visibility by 1. Making the autocannon's shots hit on a 5+ instead.

Example 4:

The Autocannon team (E) wants to shoot at the tank (F).

Versus the autocannon team, the tank is concealed behind the woods. Making the autocannon's short range 6", plus the extra 6" for its elevation. But the tank is not within 12".

So we go to the next range band. It's double the 6" of the first, making it 12". Plus the elevation bonus of 6", making it 18" total.

The tank is just outside of 18" though. So it's in the +2 Ev band.

The to-hit test is thus BS5 vs. Ev2 + 2. The autocannon needs 3's to hit the tank.

Sorry Mr. Tank, it's kinda difficult for you to hide. :)

Example 5:

The Red Autocannon (J) wants to shoot at the green autocannon (E).

Unit E is an Exposed target, because unit J is 1" higher. So the red autocannon's short range is double the standard 24", plus an additional 6" for the 1" height difference (54" total). So the red autocannon will hit on 4's (BS5 vs. Ev5).

The return shots are not so easy. The red autocannon will be obscured because of it's greater height. Making the green autocannon's short range 12". The red autocannon isn't within 12", or the next band (24"). It's 27" range puts it in the +2 Ev band. Making the green autocannon hit on 6's (BS5 vs. Ev5 + 2).


We'll have to see how it holds up in testing, and a lot of stats will have to be adjusted. But this is a very 'clean' system conceptually. It solves some of the "I can see you with my eyes but I can't target you?" problems that have cropped up in testing, particularly in hill-to-hill shooting. If you can see the target, and you have the weapon range, you can shoot them. The shot might be next to impossible, but you'll always hit on a 6+6, as you do now.

This system is also pretty clean mathematically. So it should be easier to balance than the previous system, which had a bunch of logical conditions to contend with.


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