Friday, February 20, 2015

Weapon Ranges & Controlling The Field

One of the original design goals for WarStrike has been to increase the average range of weapons over that of 40K, but now I'm beginning to wonder if that's a good idea or not. Why? Read on.

Most of my thinking about weapon ranges has concentrated on the distance between the deployment zones. If you go with a standard 40K deployment zone of 12", then that leaves 24" between the zones on a 6'x4' table. Which is the maximum range of the majority of 40K's Rapid-Fire weapons.

Fair enough, but I figured that if we went with 6" or 9" deployment zones for most of our missions, then we could have a standard of 36" for the range of our assault rifles. Which makes sense until you get a few turns into the game.

By then, as Stelek has pointed out before (in his better posts), the goal of the game is to control the center of the table.

Units with a range of 24" can only control the center though. Leaving a good 12" to either side of the table that units can use to try and outflank them. Controlling the center with 24" range weapons also won't let you directly fire on the enemy units that are controlling objectives in the corners. So you're forced to move toward one objective or the other if you want to threaten them.

But a 36" range infantry rifle would allow units in the center to control nearly the entire field, and a 42" weapon could cover all but the furthest corners. No need to move once you're parked in mid-field.

40K has longer-ranged weapons than 24", but these are usually heavy weapons that can't move and fire. They also put out a smaller number of higher-quality shots. Most infantry weapons are 24" or less, and almost all assault weapons are 12" or less to keep the threat bubble of those units within 24" of where they started moving.

There's also the issue of units defending objectives. With a 24" rifle range, they're not going to have much fire overlap, and they can't quite reach the center without moving away from the objective. but if those troops had 36"+ weapons, then they'd be able to hit the center of the table with overlapping fields of fire.

Suddenly it's clear to me why (despite our to-hit modifiers), we haven't seen much in the way of successful flanking movements in our test games. Because unless you're hiding behind something, troops in the center can always hit/suppress you.

Which... makes me think that we should go back to weapon ranges that are much closer to the 40K standard. Because those, in a tactical play sense, just fit the standard 6'x4' table better.

That brings up my second big concern...

Since going to the floating initiative system, we've been allowing running units of all types to fire, since they lose a point of initiative for running (-2 for heavy weapons). But that means that even if we move to a standard 24" range for rifle-like weapons, a unit of standard human infantry can run 12" and fire another 24", giving them that tactics-breaking 36" range that I talked about above. So unless we're going to get hyper-aggressive with the range/cover/visibility modifiers (something that didn't test so well), we'll have to also adopt a more 40K-like set of movement restrictions for our weapons.

Or play on wider/longer tables, but that's not really a realistic option.


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