Wednesday, February 18, 2015

First Test Of New Grenade System

CaulynDarr was pretty busy last week, so we didn't get to have a test game until yesterday, when we finally tried out the new grenade system. How did it go?


The Fallen Force:
Heavier Knights backed by LMGs, and a lot of expendable infantry.
 The LaansArmie Force:
Medium Knights and Dragoons with less infantry, but more heavy firepower.
Yesterday's game was unusual, in that we didn't use identical forces (CaulynDarr badly wanted some more variety), so I threw together some new Fallen units and stats so that he had a Paladin-led force with loads of infantry, and two light machine guns in support. While I had the Legio-led force with a bit more high-end firepower.

Was it balanced? Who knows. We were just glad to play something different than a mirror match. :)

The goal of the game though was to test out the new grenade system. So we had 2 types of test grenade to start with: Frag, and Smoke.

The Good

1) The Initiative System Still Rocks

No complaints there. We started the attacking Fallen off at In 8, while my defending LaansKnights/Army started off at a 7. It worked pretty well. Though I think the defender still needs some extra defensive terrain in their DZ.

2) Grenadiers Make Casualty Allocation A LOT More Useful/Interesting.

In all previous test games, there weren't many times that rolling casualty allocation was all that interesting. If you rolled 2 successes, you got to remove the unit leader, but otherwise half the units didn't have special weapons to remove, so who cared if the nearest or furthest trooper died?

Now though, you can put those casualties on a Grenadier! Making the rolls, and your choice of victim, a heck of a lot more interesting. My Dragoons ran up behind a hill mid-table and pulled a couple of grenades to keep CD's huge brute squad out of its cover, but both Grenadiers got popped by a lucky allocation roll before they could throw!

The Bad

1) Waiting For Grenades To Go Off Screws The Attackers.

CaulynDarr liked the ideas of the grenade system well enough, but he didn't feel like having to wait a whole turn for them to go off made them very useful. As he pointed out, to get any extra cover from smoke, he would have to wait a turn (under fire) to have smoke do anything for him, and so he really wanted smoke grenades to go off sooner.

He also felt like throwing frags was similarly useless, as he felt like he had to think 2 turns ahead instead of one. He also wanted to just be able to throw them and 'do something' to the target, rather than have them mostly be about area denial, which he suggested be handled by another grenade type, like gas.

Unfortunately, we didn't have time to test my idea for a solution, which was to give the attacker free grenade throws before the game starts. That way there would be some smoke or frags on the table to go off at the beginning of the first shooting phase. Which I think would solve the issue of the attacker's throwing of grenades lagging a turn behind their movement choices.

As for Frags going off sooner, I'm hesitant to do that. Because then we get bogged down in blast templates in close-quarters, and grenades are already slowing the game down.

I'll have to think on it, but maybe we could allow a 'timed throw', where a model lets the grenade fuse burn for a bit before throwing it, so that it goes off as soon as it's placed. It's a common (in action movies at least) tactic, and it could require the thrower to pass a BS check, or have the grenade go off in his face.

But then I start worrying about too much complexity/randomness...

2) Scattering With A D10 Can Be Gamed

CaulynDarr wasn't sure that a D10 scatter test couldn't be gamed, so we started rolling D10 dice different ways. Within a very short period of time we had figured out that if you place a single die in your hand so that it's pointing parallel to your fingers, and slide your hand forward to "roll" the die off the end of them, it will come up close to the direction of your fingers roughly three-fourths of the time, will point the opposite way on about every 4th roll, and at a 90º angle to your fingers about every 10th roll. NOT good!

So that leaves us with using GW scatter dice (ick), going back to placing your blast template and having to roll to hit everyone underneath (better). Or taking a WHFB cannon-ish approach by placing the marker, and then rolling a D6/D10 for how much further away from the firing model it goes than the initial placement (maybe).

I favor trying the last option, because otherwise grenade placement will be just a little too predictable for good gameplay.


My only other observation is that we STILL have not actually gotten into melee in a test game. It could have happened in this game, but it went long, and CD had to leave before I could assault him.

If the game just too shooty to have Melee happen all that often? That would be realistic, I guess, but maybe that's not what we want?

Or maybe I need to expand my testing circle a bit. :)

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