Friday, March 15, 2013

Post Demo Thoughts...

Well.. I'm definitely glad that I got to try the demo with an experienced player as my thoughts on several things have changed since the game.  Previously, I had played with people that were relatively new to Blitz so they didn't know the ins/outs of the proper game let alone my house rules so it was nice to play against someone who knew what the proper game plays like.  That said, some things ended up surprising me to say the least.

The big thing that I noticed is that the game played more statically than I expected.  Part of it was due to my choice of demo armies that both included a Fire Support fire team whose job it is to just stay put waaaay back and fire but I don't think that was the only contributor to the camping we both did.  Another was the rolls and choice of offensive objectives dependent on killing the enemy (which encourage taking shots over positioning) as well as a small 3x4 map that is known as a killing field apparently in playtesting circles.  Finally, my opponent made an interesting observation in that my smaller combat groups tended to weed out the chaff that usually ends up running up and providing flanking shots to the upgraded gun models.  Without them, the gunners tended to just hand back and shoot instead.  This was also true of my upgrading the CGLs in half the fireteams to effectively gunners instead of commanders (both I and my opponent prefer to run lean CGLs in Blitz which wasn't the case here in Flash!).  

I'm really not sure what to do with this frankly.  I *want* to be able to play with smaller squads that still feel like the bigger ones but the only things I can see to change are to get rid of the veteran slot granting yet another option you wouldn't otherwise get.  A second choice would be to give players the option of adding back in those remaining two gears that are "missing" from the squad as the second part of the fireteam before allowing a second CGL led fire team to be taken.  Basically, you'd get the fireteam as is right now but wouldn't be able to take another until you took that second group of two models cut from the squad.  It would effectively be a complicated version of the blitz subcombat group rule in the Field Manual.

On the game rules side (as opposed to army construction as detailed above), two changes I made had unintended side effects when combined.  The removal of a bonus to shooting at models out in the open combined with an increase overall in range bonuses meant that both I and my opponent measured out some risky top speed moves that positioned us better for the next turn but ended up just staying put and taking combat or stationary shots in cover instead because there was no relative reward.  Zooming up at top speed for a better next turn position that grants you an in the open shot at optimal that counteracts the top speed firing penalty does encourage more movement from that safe suboptimal range at combat/stationary speed shot.  I'll likely be rolling back those changes in the blog and see how it goes instead.

One benefit to camping was that we gave the new cover/concealment and lock rules a fairly thorough go.  Despite the really wacky rolls (like my Blitz Jaeger failing his 2+ active lock check two turns in a row with 1's), it did seem to work with one caveat.  Some across the entire board active locks from one camping corner to another with unoptimized gears (like a simple Jaeger) made me think that the active lock check system doesn't account for cover enough.  I don't want to complicate it much more (especially not with measurements) but it does need to account for active locking a target model behind a house versus a target model behind a house, a hill, and a ruined building.  I think that I'll modify the rules to instead say that the TN of an active lock check is 4 +1 per piece of terrain crossed after the first (as opposed to just the flat TN4). 

As always, feel free to comment about the above. 


  1. Thoughts & suggestions, but then I haven't ever played HGB! all that much either.

    1) The modifier for stationary EW is a bit high, and might be more suitable for models actually using EW equipment (ECM/ECCM/etc) rather than just attempting lock checks.

    I could see the +1 stationary bonus being overly powerful for +electronics Recon models buried in cover.

    2) Although you seem to have eliminated measuring cover, you still need to measure range and then check it for every weapon to see what band it will use.

    Have you considered going to a single range scale for all models roughly equivalent to common loadouts and changing individual weapons to have maximum ranges and various traits? This might allow just measuring once and using the best weapon for the range.

    Say for example;
    Base contact = melee
    Point Blank; 0 - 6" / +1 to ATK
    Short Range; 6 - 12" / 0 to ATK
    Close Range; 12 - 24" / 0 to ATK
    Intermediate Range; 24 - 48" / -1 to ATK
    Long Range; 48+" / -1 to ATK

    Something like a LAC would have 48" of range and a SC 24" of range, while a LLC would have up to 120" of range and maybe an MB2/30 trait (-2 DM per 30").

    MR might be something like cannot fire within size in inches, while ignoring range modifiers.

    Technically though most all the HG weapons should be able to range across any map board, but I'm not sure if going that route wouldn't just turn the game into a camp-fest as well.

    3) The +1 for a range band rather than for models In the Open might be overpowered, especially when applied to MR trait weapons having long sub-optimal ranges.

    4) Not messing with movement modes would seem to have eliminated one of the 'slow-down' analysis paralysis activities of standard HGB!.

    I believe Ice Raptor once mentioned an idea of having Gear [G] mode possess the Poor Off-Road trait due to a higher ground pressure when using wheels/treads and to distinguish them from conventional vehicles.

    5) Cover & concealment may still break down for any system, even before getting into stealth and other rules-bending traits.

    That being said, rather than individual instance/area modifiers maybe take a look at a variable target number for lock checks depending on terrain pieces in LOS.

    Model's eye view may not always work out either.

    1. 1) That's a good idea. Initially, my problem with this situation was that I thought it highly strange that a model couldn't fire at top speed without penalty but could do complex electronic actions without any hindrance. The idea of including a +1 stationary bonus just came about from simplicity and to mesh it with the firing bonuses but I'm not wed to the idea though. The next demo game I'll be trying will have some more specialized elite units (although I'm not sure about stealth yet) to test out how the locks work with the whole gamut of gears; if there is still too much camping, I may dump the stationary bonus as well as you suggest.

      2)/3) I did consider something else along that line but keeping some things as is was a concession to sanity as well as simplicity. I don't mind changing a rule or subsystem here or there (like cover/concealment) but I came to the conclusion that changing every weapon would just lead to no one ever bothering to try my house rules as it would be too complex. Since I'm not trying a radical redesign of the whole Blitz system but rather tweaks that will fit on a few pages that make the game (hopefully) quicker and simpler to play, I opted instead for the increase in attack bonuses but that had a strangely opposite effect when combined with everything else and will soon be removed.

      5) Agreed, 5th edition 40k showed me that strict TLOS has its own pitfalls but at least it plays alot quicker than measuring every single piece of terrain and then doing arithmetic on every single piece of terrain to then do a comparative analysis and possibly tertiary roll. I'm not sure if I'm missing a finer point of your comment above but I effectively am doing a variable target number depending on terrain pieces in my post. The number of pieces that affect LOS/cover change the TN and not the roll. It may be half dozen of one and 6 of the other but I wanted some things to affect the EL and others to change the TN. The intervening cover seemed a good fit for the latter once I realized it wasn't playing as I had planned.

    2. Typo.. in 1) it should read trying out more specialized recon units (and not elite) in the next demo. Also, thanks for the detailed analysis and suggestions!

  2. How very weird to see your name pop up in a random blog thread.

    1. Mine? I have to say I'm surprised. My number one visitor is some website bot tracker and almost all of the other hits tend to come from either dakkadakka or the dp9 forums.

  3. Man, I bungled that comment.

    I meant to say, "how odd it is to see your own name pop up in a random blog thread". Seeing my name referenced was rather surreal. That's all!