Monday, March 2, 2015

Determinations From Saturday's Tests

Disney's "Big Hero 6"
CaulynDarr and I did some more testing last Saturday to try out the most recent shooting changes. But we also spent a lot of time discussing how Melee should actually work, and how some of the future vehicle rules might take shape.

All models © Games Workshop
All models © Games Workshop or Mantic Games
We used pretty much the same forces as last time. Minus one support weapon each, and a few less Paladins on the Fallen side. But I did work up some stats for the Fallen "Warcophagus" (using a GW Hellbrute model) to spice things up a little.


The speed boosts given to the Knights worked really well, and made the game far more interesting. Combined with the simplified "You just can't run in difficult terrain" change to the movement rules, we felt like Movement is good to go.

  1. We really, really need to come up with a good way to allow squads to split during a game (such as to hug cover behind 2 obstacles 4" apart. If Flames can do it, so can we. Probably with an Initiative penalty of some kind. Not the highest priority change, but it's on the list.


With the weapon stats re-calibrated to use 8" range bands instead of 6" ones, and the outright elimination of range modifiers and WS + Accuracy math, we agreed that shooting felt right again.

Aside from a couple of needed stat tweaks, the real problem has become a lack of certain weapon capabilities for some squads. Knights, for instance, need at least one plasma gun in each squad so that they have an answer to heavy armor threats like Paladins, and what turned out to be an unstoppable Warcophagus seizing an objective.

But this isn't a shooting rules issue so much as it is a list/balance issue. So the fact that lists/balance has now come to the forefront is heartening. It means we're pretty much done with the major shooting design work and are making good progress!

  1. Hard Cover should only affect armor or toughness, not the target's evasion.
  2. Having a Go-To-Ground order worked just fine.
  3. Range modifiers aren't really needed.
  4. Certain units should get the ability to pay 1 or 2 Initiative points to get a re-roll or a BS bonus.
  5. The Warcophagus' tandem slag cannon should be called a "Mangler Cannon", because CaulynDarr just kept calling it that by mistake. :)
  6. If you start a phase at Initiative 10, you should have to roll a LD check to avoid losing 1-2 points of initiative. CaulynDarr called it the "I'm bored and am getting distracted." rule. As any squad hiding somewhere away from the action wouldn't be able to remain at maximum attention for very long.
  7. Teams need the number of hits that they take from flame/blast template attacks defined. One doesn't really represent things well.
  8. Knights really should get to fire at least one shot at full range on the move.
  9. Flame weapon range should only be measured to the small end of the teardrop template. You would then just rotate the large end any way you want.


Neither of us even thought about using them during the game, so they're going to need some work. Having to think a turn ahead to use them may just be too much in what is otherwise a pretty fast-paced game.

So smoke may just become more like how 40K tank smoke worked in 5th. Something you either apply to yourself once a game to get more cover, or something you chuck right at an enemy to force them to move. Grenades may become simple melee bonuses/penalties to melee assaults, etc. Have some more thinking to do on these, but whatever they do needs to be more immediate and easy.


I knew that since it hadn't been tested properly, melee was going to have to change significantly once we did get into it, and I wasn't wrong in this. When we sat down and really thought it through in various scenarios, we discovered that the reason we weren't having more Melee combats was because it was just too easy to avoid (and most troops want to). Nothing was really forcing you to throw bodies in front of a melee badass if he did get close.

So we came up with a broad outline of how to fix melee, which is going to require moving a lot of existing rules around in the book.

Ahem (cracks knuckles)...

First, we would switch the main game phases from:
Starting -> Movement -> Shooting -> Melee
To this instead:
 Starting -> Movement -> Assault -> Combat.
The Starting & Movement Phases would remain the same, but before anyone starts shooting, we'd have a new phase (Assault) where models within 4" of each other would consolidate into combat. Then both ranged and melee combat would be worked out together in the Combat Phase.

The Assault Phase would work like this:
  1. Each unit is selected in reverse-initiative order (as per the current Shooting Phase).
  2. If the selected unit has one or more models within 4" of an enemy model, then they MUST move those models into engagement (base to base contact) with whatever enemy models they're within 4" of.
  3. The unit being engaged would then have to move any of THEIR models within 4" of the engaging models into engagement. Unless they're defending a wall/obstacle, in which case they only have to move up to their side of the obstruction (unless they want to move up further).
  4. Then finally, the selected unit would again see if (due to the enemy's consolidations) any of their models are now within 4" of an enemy model. If so, they're moved up into engagement.
  5. Some models might have a higher or lower "reach" than 4", but that would be the standard.
After every unit has consolidated, then it will be time to go on to the Combat Phase. Where you'll select each unit as you do now in the Shooting Phase, but engaged models will fight, while unengaged ones will shoot. Hits and pens being tracked to reduce Initiative as normal.

That will require making the Shooting Phase simpler overall, probably by moving more of its rules (Visibility, for instance) into either a basic section before the turn rules, or an advanced section that would come afterward.

When you come around to the Movement Phase again, you'll be free to move wherever as normal, but if you break contact with a unit you're engaged with, you'll lose 1-2 points of initiative. If you're not faster than the troops you're breaking away from, or don't have a suitable distraction ready, they'll probably just chase and re-engage you anyway. We could make that even more deadly be saying any model contacted by an enemy after breaking away would be auto-killed. :)

Moving the rules sections around will take more time (sigh...), but Melee has to work. So we don't have much choice.

Talking About Vehicles

Once we'd made up our minds on where to take Melee, we had some time left, so we threw around some ideas on how vehicles might work. Vehicles are NOT a priority for our first release, but we do need to start thinking about them.

1) Vehicles should be a collection of multiple independent sections (Hull, Treads/Legs, Turret, Arms, etc.), each with their own armor/toughness.

2) Each section of a vehicle might even have its own initiative.

3) You can shoot at the vehicle, and hit a random section, or take a BS penalty to target a specific section.

4) Chain reactions into other sections should be a possibility when a section is destroyed.

5) To get a proper sense of lumbering movement, where they can't quite zero in on fast-moving models close to them, turret weapons should be rotated in the movement phase. Which would allow higher Initiative units to run out of their main weapon's firing arc (if they're close enough), and allow the tank to scare units into not going down certain paths. Cupola guns or 'fast turrets' would be able to be pointed in the combat phase when shooting.

6) When moving, standard wheeled vehicles wouldn't be able to turn within the radius of a 5" blast template.

7) Tracked vehicles would be allowed a free turn-in-place before moving forward, but would have to stay outside of the template after that.

8) Quad-Legged mechs would work much like tanks, but would be far less likely to bog on difficult terrain.

9) Humanoid Mechs would move much like normal infantry, but their facing would matter when firing their weapons.

10) Most vehicles would build up 'speed', and their movement would simply be 'acceleration' that they could apply to go faster, or slow down. Slamming on the breaks would be an option with an initiative cost tied to it.

11) Skimmers really should have some kind of inertia rule. Where they can turn direction and thrust, but unless they spend thrust to cancel it, some or all of their previous movement will follow through from their previous turn. Causing them to float sideways in addition to forward/back.

And that's it.

I won't know the impact on the schedule of the phase changes talked about here until I get them outlined, but it will have an impact.


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