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"FoF / TW Defense mechanic development" Topic

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Zelekendel Inactive Member14 Sep 2012 10:32 a.m. PST

I've been trying to discuss this for several days without success on the AAG boards without success, so let's try it here. I'm reposting parts of my post there.

I'm developing a WH40k variation of Tomorrow's War, and during the process I started to think about the defense pool, where the base defense is equal to the number of defenders, ie. targets or the attacker's firepower, whichever is lower. Base firepower is equal to the attacker's numbers + any support weapon dice.

First off, the reasons for wanting to change this are various:

a) It creates a situation where a squad of 10 attackers firing as one against a 4-man fireteam is wildly more effective than two teams of 5 attackers firing from different angles (which might or might not be advantageous, but as a rule coming under fire from multiple angles is a lot more dangerous than coming under fire from one angle)

b) It puts into question the tactical wisdom of coalition troops using 4-man fireteams or 2-man specialist teams compared to the big mobs of the opfor

c) I'm just not sold on the idea that a 4-man fire team is more vulnerable to incoming fire, whether direct, indirect, explosive etc. than a big mob of fighters. As it stands a big mob is a lot less likely to take casualties from IEDs, airstrikes etc. than a small team, and I find that to be the opposite of reality.

Now, I understand there is an element of "opposed firing" where your own fire suppresses the attackers a bit, but there are several problems:

1) the system doesn't give penalties for being attacked multiple times to defense.
2) the opposed firing mechanic doesn't take support weapons into account
3) the opposed firing mechanic doesn't work against AFVs, airstrikes, IEDs etc.

In my rules here I've added a few modifers to this effect: the outgunning modifier, and the "coming under fire a second time" modifier.

Another option would be to have a fixed base defense value for infantry, similar to vehicles, which could of course be lowered if the incoming firepower is lower as well. This might be more balanced scenario wise, but again this wouldn't help with issue a) where a big mob does dramatically more damage than two medium sized ones firing from different angles.

With all this said, the purpose of this post is to try and discuss what would be the best mechanic for defense from a playing standpoint. Realism can be taken into account of course, but what would work best in terms of making the game flow best?

How can I normalize the attack/defense pools for both sides with a more linear curve of expected casualties with increasing squad size? Should I go back to the "single die defense that sets the attack DC" that I had before (that was in Stargrunt II too) or perhaps adopt a "saving throw" mechanism where your base defense is the number of hits inflicted (to which modifiers are added)?

Thanks for any interest and comments you might have!

Wartopia Inactive Member14 Sep 2012 10:56 a.m. PST

When we were playing TW we modded it so larger groups were more vulnerable. If you search the archive you should be able to find the discussion here on TMP.

Several of us feel the same way you do but in spite of his trying to patch the game with the defense dice limit the author insists that it's easier to engage a small stealthy team than a large, clustered mob. Thus the lack of discussion on the official forum. They're simply not going to consider something so heretical.

I once toyed with an opposed die roll approach and, as you've identified, you run into also sorts of strange statistical anomalies. I went back to a hit/save/kill system using d6 and it's a lot easier to understand, more intuitive, and faster. It takes into account weapon hit probability, target signature, and weapon vs protection factors with profound contrasts (eg MG vs infantry in open means slaughter, vs infantry in building means suppression but few kills…but a tank round can kill infantry in cover if they've given away their position by moving or firing).

Hessian Dog Inactive Member14 Sep 2012 10:59 a.m. PST


I haven`t played that much, but my understanding was that attack die were capped at 10 and any minuses were taken from that, as is the defence cap as mentioned above, with minuses coming from that total?

Don`t know if that helps?

Hessie dawg

Wargamer5714 Sep 2012 11:23 a.m. PST

@Zelekendiel: Have you played the rules yet as they stand?

Lion in the Stars14 Sep 2012 11:55 a.m. PST

Part of the reasoning behind the defense die rule is that an infantry unit's defense is based on how much fire it is putting downrange, not just how well it is hiding/using cover.

Larger groups are capable of covering more angles with more fire.

Smaller groups have fewer pairs of eyes looking for threats and fewer guns to suppress said threats.

Zelekendel Inactive Member14 Sep 2012 11:55 a.m. PST

Oh yes, we've played many a game (over 20 now I think?) with the rules as they stand and the scenarios provide fun and exciting games.

And no, unfortunately for me, that doesn't mean I would just "leave well enough alone" for my 40k house rule development. I will continue to play the rules as they stand with the modern gaming group as the others are the organizers, but as for games I'd organize myself, they'd be my rules.

And Wartopia, I took part in that discussion a long time ago, I just didn't know if it was kosher to necro that old thread up…

Do you think the AAG players are dogmatic then about the mechanisms? That's always a bit of a shame, I never believed in any "one true inviolated ruleset".

And Dawg, I'm aware of the caps.

Lion, that reasoning is all well and good, and I recognized that in my text (at least I thought I did? Maybe I wasn't clear enough?).

Ah, here is what I said again:

Now, I understand there is an element of "opposed firing" where your own fire suppresses the attackers a bit, but there are several problems:

1) the system doesn't give penalties for being attacked multiple times to defense.
2) the opposed firing mechanic doesn't take support weapons into account
3) the opposed firing mechanic doesn't work against AFVs, airstrikes, IEDs etc.

And what I said before about two separate 5-man teams being very ineffective firing at a 5-man target whereas a 10-man mob is dramatically effective, that is the main issue I have and unfortunately the "counterfire" idea fails to represent the threat of multiple different units firing on you. In fact, the target unit gets to react twice against two separate units, and just once against the big mob!

Dynaman878914 Sep 2012 12:08 p.m. PST

For multiple fire teams shooting at one target. Allow them to combine attacks just as if they were one big group. Cap each individual team at 10 dice rather then the whole group. Give an extra D (or subtract one from defense) for firing on the flank.

SO if 2 fireteams of 6 each are firing at a single target, and lets say they are each carrying a SAW, just to make it fun.

Fire Group A, 12 attack dice, brought down to 10
Fire Group B, 12 attack dice, brought down to 10
Group B is a flank shot so +1 die for them.

You throw a total of 21 dice, 10 for group A quality, 11 for group B.

Zelekendel Inactive Member14 Sep 2012 12:14 p.m. PST

I was just thinking that increasing the tactical options for smaller units could be the key. And combining fire is chief among them.

I would definitely cap the base firepower at 10 as normal, though (optimum range, abundant supplies, exposed etc. can break that cap).

The main problem is how to accomplish this within the activation system. One would need to introduce a "combined activation" mechanic, and that's a whole another ballgame…or is it? Consider two units moving from different locations to fire at the same target unit…how will the chain of reactions work?

On the other hand, such a system could temper the fact that as it is, each unit has to move individually into the teeth of units in overwatch realistically they'd all surge in and the overwatch unit would need to split their firepower or pick and choose their targets.

I could combine this with a base defense of, say, 4 for infantry…perhaps the "combined activation" could balance both sides of the battle, although with the reduced base defense the insurgents need some help, too.

Wartopia Inactive Member14 Sep 2012 1:47 p.m. PST

Do you think the AAG players are dogmatic then about the mechanisms?

Some seem pretty fanatical. But every game has it's share of fan boys, some more than others.

There is one advantage to sticking to the "Rules as Written". When you play with other fans you're all playing to the same sheet of music. Modding screws that up.

However, for that to matter you need a big fan base, something that TW/FoF sorely lacks (they also require lots of specialized dice and currently lack a points/tourney system which seems very important to many gamers).

So if you enjoy TW/FoF I'd say mod to your hearts content.

(Jake Collins of NZ 2) Inactive Member14 Sep 2012 2:24 p.m. PST

I think you could use the leaders (currently fairly limited in their usefulness in TW/FoF) as mechanisms to do 'combined activations'. You could say that a squad leader can activate two of his fireteams if they are within a certain radius of him or something like that.

BaldLea14 Sep 2012 2:53 p.m. PST

Initiative player declares he intends to pool shooting with two of his units. The catch is that both units have to win all Reaction checks; otherwise, they will shoot as normal. However, each additional time the target defends itself, it gets one less die (similar to diminishing firepower). Combined shooting rolls would have to wait until all associated moves are complete.

A base number of defence dice for infantry would also be cool.

The AAG guys are good for responding on forums but they can be very defensive about some of the ambiguities and unclear rules.

BlackSmoke Inactive Member14 Sep 2012 4:50 p.m. PST

I can totally see the point your making, but I think it's somewhat mitigated by the TQ dice differences and unit organisation. If you're fighting regular vs regular then you should probably have roughly equivalent unit sizes. If you're fighting irregulars, then a D6 vs a D8 is significant. You can also use suppression fire which, if successful, drops their TQ and thus renders them combat ineffective for the rest of the turn. So open up with your GPMG first, suppress them and then hit them with the rest. However, if you're still not satisfied then an easy adjustment may be that you remove one defence die per reaction the unit makes, as per the FP loss. So the first round of fire takes them from 10 to 8. The second round only allows them 7 DD.

whoa Mohamed Inactive Member14 Sep 2012 5:34 p.m. PST

WE actually encourage people to make what use of the rules they will. We have repeatedly said this over and over.
we do our level best to clear up any ambiguities and unclear rules. We also encourage players to participate on the development boards in an effort to make the rules better. No game system is perfect its a journey but we really don't want to leave anyone behind while we make it.
I honestly don't know the exact numbers of people that Use FonF or other of AAG products but it appears to me to be a "significant" number of folks tho….I speak as a person who enjoys the rules very much. The Owners of the company may or may not agree with what I have said …..Mikey

BaldLea14 Sep 2012 11:17 p.m. PST

Hi Mikey. I do enjoy AAG products and own several of them. You guys are also great in responding quickly on the forum.

It does seem, however, that the published errata rarely gets updated yet more and more books are published. I also think you and Shawn make extra work for yourselves by not publishing a carefully written set of examples for those rules that are commonly misunderstood. The current "walk through" actually makes things worse.

Not to hijack the thread, though, I have to agree with Z that the defence system just doesn't feel right. Some of the other anomalies can easily be house ruled on the fly but the defence system is fundamental and has thrown up many bizarre situations in our games. The problem is exasperated in Tomorrow's War when people start using more unusual unit sizes etc.

Valmy9215 Sep 2012 3:54 a.m. PST

Collins355 has an interesting idea (using leader to activate adjacent teams). Piggybacking on that, perhaps allow it if it is the first action of the activation. Rationale – both teams are in place and can get their orders to coordinate. If two units have to move to combine fire, the likelihood of their arriving at the same time to overwhelm with fire (ie not fire and defend/react separately). I also like BaldLea's suggestion about combining units all having to win the reaction checks.

The other alternative is to combine the fireteams of the squad into a single unit for all purposes. Do I remember right that there is a rule for splitting units, combining (after the game starts) might only be for units that have taken casualties.

Zelekendel Inactive Member18 Sep 2012 5:46 p.m. PST

I found Shawn was very helpful with rules questions and Mikey has been very informative and sharing with his combat experience.

I think Shawn said in a thread that FoF is an evolving system still, so maybe it's in everyone's interests to develop the system to be even better while retaining the same playability, so that more people can enjoy from it as it really does produce pretty frickin' fun games, and those that already do can do it more fully (the ones who care about rules mechanics and scenario design like I do!). What's this about development boards?

Yeah, I don't want regular to regular / D8 vs D8 matches favour the side that wields the bigger units if numbers are otherwise equal. I see smaller fireteams as a mark of more advanced tactics and organization, all the way down from "Conscript platoon and Ork Mob" down to fireteam and pair.

This is why I really like the concept of allowing for combined activation, as it plays into the strengths of smaller tactical units working together rather than separately.

It just might wreak havoc with the reaction system, but who knows, I'll think about it.

Zelekendel Inactive Member03 Oct 2012 8:49 p.m. PST

An idea I got from FAD 4.0: Firepower would not be impacted as highly by riflemen.

Firepower of teams would be: 4+support weapons + 1 for every 3 riflemen.

Defense would be always a base of 4.

This would simply and cleanly solve everything in an easy way. Larger teams would be better, but a much less optimal use of manpower (which is the main point for smaller fire teams!) It would make things harder for larger insurgent teams, of course.

The following rules might compensate a bit:
Defense rolls of 6+ are enough to block any hit.

Finally, the suppression rules need a bit of tweaking to remain feasible within the system:
If a unit is performing suppressive fire with small arms, roll all the riflemen bonus dice (1 per 3) and bonus dice (so 1 for SAW, 2 for GPMG) separately. Hits from these dice do not cause casualties, but a single success causes a suppression morale check.

Unled Irregular units must always use suppression fire if they can.
Regular units or Irregular units with a leader must test pass a TQ test if they do not wish to use suppression fire.

Suppressive fire to me is a rule rather than the exception, hence the rule above.

What say you? Have I done well?

Zelekendel Inactive Member04 Oct 2012 12:07 a.m. PST

Small addition: base firepower is still 1 per number of figures, but with a maximum of 3.

Also, for the rifle bonus, round the number of rifles normally, so 5 rifles is +2 and so on.

(Jake Collins of NZ 2) Inactive Member04 Oct 2012 11:50 a.m. PST

You've lost me, sorry.

Are you giving dice for number of figures and then for rifles? And then for support weapons?

billthecat04 Oct 2012 1:43 p.m. PST

Might be easier to modify a different rule set for 'not 40K'…?

Zelekendel Inactive Member04 Oct 2012 1:49 p.m. PST

Anu suggestions? If you're being sincere that is.
Mind you, reactive gameplay and emphasis on troop quality in defense is a requirement.

This is not just for "not 40k". This is mainly for FoF missions.

Zelekendel Inactive Member05 Oct 2012 2:46 p.m. PST

Yeah, Collins, up to 3 base dice for figures…but you're right, that is probably not too good an idea.

Let's stick with 3 base firepower for all units big or small, and add rifle / weapon bonuses to that.

3 base firepower (this FP is the same as normal
+1 per 3 rifles
+whatever for support weapons

Weapon Team bonus dice done away with. A weapon team lets an MG suppress with all dice without penalties and a sniper to pick out targets.

Defense is 4 base.

Alternative system:

Normal firepower dice as per FoF
(Base) Defense dice:
FirePower 1-4: =same as firepower
FirePower 5-6: =same as firepower -1
FirePower 7-8: =same as firepower -2
Firepower 9-10:=same as firepower -3

1 1
2 2
3 3
4 4
5 4
6 5
7 5
8 6
9 6
10 7

This would be a manpower-agnostic defense system closest to the main game rules.

Option 3:

(Base) Defense dice are:

Attacker's TQ____Base Defense Dice
D6:______________Number of hits +1
D8:______________Number of hits
D10______________Number of hits -1
D12:_____________Number of hits -2

A kind of a "saving throw" system, it's close to the table above. Has to be "normalized" for the ATTACKER'S troop quality, or D6s will get the advantage.

I'm warming up to this last one quite a bit, it's easy to remember and characterful.

What do you all think?

Zelekendel Inactive Member09 Oct 2012 4:19 a.m. PST

After testing it out, I'm really warming up to Option #3

(Base) Defense dice are (minimum is 1 die):

Attacker's TQ____Base Defense Dice
D6:______________Number of hits +1
D8:______________Number of hits
D10______________Number of hits -1
D12:_____________Number of hits -2

A kind of a "saving throw" system, it's close to the table above. Has to be "normalized" for the ATTACKER'S troop quality, or D6s will get the advantage.

The big difference of course is the difficulty in defending against all hits.

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