Saturday, March 23, 2013


In my quest for a leaner and simpler Blitz datacard (and rules), I've left only a single part of the datacard untouched... namely the weapon section.  Perhaps it's more of a personal issue of early onset dementia on my part but I find myself referring to the card for weapon ranges more than anything else. Most other games I've played don't have as many brackets but, if they do, they tend to be simple multiples of the same number (linear progression) instead of the quadratic progression of Blitz. I've found myself wondering how the game would play if the weapon ranges were instead simply linear multiples of the same number (thus requiring only the memorization of a single range for each weapon).

First off, I'm simply not a fan of the nomenclature Blitz uses for range.  Optimal, suboptimal, and extreme seems like a needlessely complicated and elite way of simply saying short, medium, and long that most games instead use.  For the purposes of my Flash! houserules, I'll be changing the ranges to the more easily accessible short = optimal, medium = suboptimal, and long = extreme terms.  While I'm sure that there was some reason for the use of the unique terms above, I'd rather have the game and it's playstyle more easily recognizable to both wargamers and the general public alike and I think the change in terms helps with that.

The option I've chosen is to just go with the optimal range number as written and then just double it for additional range brackets.  This has the unfortunately tendancy of shortening the effective range for Blitz down significantly for suboptimal/medium range shots.  Long range shots are also affected to a lesser extent but those frankly rarely hit except for lucky area affect deviations so I'm not as worried about that.  Basically, an LRP would be 6" for no penalty (no change), -1 up to 12" at medium range (changed from 24" here in Blitz), and -2 up to 48" (changed from infinity in blitz).  The LAC would be 12/24/48 and the MAC would be 18/36/72.   Finally, melee range and thrown weapons would stay as written ruleswise in Blitz but would just have the initial ranges listed under the entry as a reminder.

With these changes, the MRP for instance stays the master of the midrange bombardment to cover no man's land as well as your own deployment zone where longer range mortars are at a disadvantage due to MR; at the same time it loses that across the board coverage over your enemy's deployment effect. The commonly available 30" range weapons (like VLFG and HGM) fill that new void nicely and can reach the entirety of the 3'x4' board (including corner to corner diagonals) within medium/suboptimal range whereas the truely long range weapons (like heavy field guns) do the same on 4'x6' boards.

To illustrate that point, I've constructed the admittedly crude diagram below showing weapon ranges of a unit placed at the front of a short side deployment zone of a typical Flash! 3'x4' board. Remember that with my revised range stats the next range is double the previous so an LAC is 12 short/24 medium/48 long range. A 12" base range weapon still covers the entirety of no man's land as well as almost half the enemy's deployment zone within short/medium range whereas an 18" weapon covers the entire table within short/medium range with aggressive deployment. Both brackets still cover all of no-man's land even with backfield deployment as well. With this change, the corner to corner deployment bombardment becomes the specialty of longer range weapons like HGMs, LFGs, and HATMs instead of just doubling up with MRPs and AGMs/ATMs.

It takes some getting used to as the LRP and shorter ranged upgrades like snub cannons become limited to 12" or less effectiveness but I think that frankly goes with their fluff as well as previous editions of blitz (flanking tanks to get a close range shot instead of sniping from 24" with a snub as is commonly done now). I realize (as my opponent astutely brought up) that the above likely changes the effective TV of various upgrades and units slightly (no more than 5tv per model though IMO) but I'm not ready to start tweaking them directly until I get alot more games in with my house rules. In the end, I do like the fact that I had to make actual decisions on which weapons to use at what ranges in the most recent demo game instead of just defaulting to twin-linked MRPs for most things without much thought.

As a result of an interesting discussion regarding the changes in Gear Up 6 on the DP9 forums, I've decided to incoporate the following changes (thanks goes to feral on the DP9 forums for coming up with the idea that I expanded on for the first linked fire option).

Indirect Fire: Add "Weapons choosing to use the indirect fire option may not fire at targets within half their short range. The may still fire at targets at under half short range if the weapon does not have the MR trait and therefore can use the direct fire rules."

I've always found it odd that mortars that can actually shoot almost straight up vertically had a minimum range requirement but artillery pieces that have a much lower max angle of elevation didn't. The recent changes in minimum range got me thinking about that and I've decided to extend the minmum range restriction to all indirect firing weapons. This means that most rocket pods, field guns, and other IF capable weapons will now no longer be able to fire INDIRECTLY within half their short range (remember that I've change the terms for range and "optimal" is now short). The weapons will still however be able to fire directly within that range though. Weapons with the actual MR trait will still not be able to fire directly and have no firing option within half short range (unchanged from Blitz! and GU).

Linked Weapons: Weapons that have this option may be fired together as part of the same action using one of the two options below.

     -For each linked weapon fired, assign one of your rolled attack dice results to it; this result counts as the result for the attack as well as for determining out of ammo results for that weapon. If the weapons were fired indirectly, use the highest dice roll for determining scatter for all linked weapons fired. The defender rolls his defense dice once and applies it to each individual weapon attack roll. Any extra attack dice results are discarded and any weapons having no available attack dice to be assigned are considered to have rolled a fumble (including for both OOA and damage purposes).
     -Designate one weapon in the link as the primary weapon. For each additional identical linked weapon fired, you may add half the ROF (round off) to the ROF of the primary weapon. You may then use the modified ROF for the purposes off the attack roll that the target or targets will defend against once only for the linked attack. Add +1 per linked weapon after the primary to the target number for OOA checks and use the highest die rolled for OOA checks for all the linked weapons fired.

For example, a grizzly with att2 rolls a 5 and a 3 for his linked MRP attack with full ROF using the first option above. The defender must then roll once and determine the damage versus the 5 and 3 individually using the normal modifiers and the 3 result causes an OOA result for that one MRP.

If the same grizzly instead had two targets 5 inches apart that it wished to attack, it could use the second option to make a singe combined ROF attack versus both models (not normally possible with the standard MRP). Using the same dice results as above, scatter would be deternined by and the target would roll versus the single result of 5 for the linked attack. The 5 would also be used for determining OOA for both pods which in this case would mean that they're both out of ammo (due to the +1 modifier for the check for two linked weapons). The grizzly fired its full payload on the gamble of damaging both models. 


  1. The more I play with numbers and thoughts, the less I like having more than two range bands. If you're sticking with raw modifiers, a -2 shot is basically useless unless it's being made by an elite model (Jaguar) with a +1 ACC weapon. So why even have that range... the dice system isn't setup to be random enough to make that worthwhile IMO.

    What you have to reconcile is that most people expect the weapons to be able to be fired across the board, because of ground scale issues. But that doesn't necessarily make for a fun /*game*/ - where you want position to matter. If I can accurately peg you from 36" away - nearly most of a 4'x4' - it doen't make it easy for you to maneuver.

    I personally rather like Force on Force's position that weapons have an optimal range where they get their full firepower, but can shoot across the board at a greatly reduced rate. That gives you incentive to position to the edge of your range envelope, while still allowing you the chance to get a shot from beyond range.

    Very difficult question because it ultimately is a taste issue. How much do you want to make Blitz a 'game' versus a 'simulation'?

    1. While you do bring up some good points, I would partially counter that with blitz specifically the most common type of extreme range shot in my experience is usually area effect IF which does lose accuracy but not any damage at that range compared with optimal. Are you advocating then just two range brackets then with just a -1 in the second bracket with the same ranges or spreading them out 50/50 (instead of the current 20/80 ratio) with additional penalties for the second bracket?

      I am quite curious to see if my shortened medium and long range brackets ends up increasing the maneuvering in the game. I don't think it'll end up being the rush to 3" that L&L was as the optimal range is unchanged (and that is what most people try to get into) but there should be a bigger onus to get out of medium and especially long.

  2. Because range is a flat modifier, it really hurts shots; most people quickly learn to get to optimal range before shooting because that longer range shot is pretty unlikely to hit. However, mitigating factors - coordinated attack, crossfire and ATK modifiers can make across the board shots viable, especially with a good weapon. A SEBM can easily one-shot a standard Trooper from across the table even with the setup. In absentia of those factors, yes - IF is the preferred choice - mostly because it drops said modifiers and applies two of its own most of the time. If it didn't stack the -2 modifier (above and no detect) it's quite a bit weaker.

    Right now I'm thinking that maybe what's 'appropriate' is to give weapons a single range band that's relatively long, and grant a bonus when you're within that 'optimal' range. The actual effective range of a weapon is across the board, but it's harder to hit your target if you're not within optimal range. I'm just spitballing but maybe +1 while your target is in optimal, versus -2 when your target isn't in optimal range, might be enough to do the trick. Set an autocannon's range at 18-24" or so, with a bazooka's in the 12-18 range. That gives you incentive to maneuver while still letting you make those across the board shots if you're stationary. That would alleviate the rush to 3" that was Blitz, while most weapons still can't shoot across the board effectively at combat speed.

    Interesting topic all the same.

  3. While there is merit in what you're proposing, I dread giving a HG a longer AND more effective "optimal" range bracket by kicking it up 6" and boosting the bonus to +1 from 0. I thought initially that my range bonus boost would make the game deadlier overall but instead it just caused the game (albeit in a limited one game sample size) to maintain the deadliness but simply moved the action from optimal to suboptimal. With small forces and a small table (almost *everthing* was within most suboptimal ranges), we mainly just sat there in cover half the time stationary. You mentioned not liking the extreme band as it's generally useless but your idea turns anything outside of optimal into that band as well. I think if you were going that route, it may be better instead to lower the penalty to 0 or -1 and instead limit the options at that range beyond optimal. No direct fire ROF area effect, no crossfire/coordinated attack, limited special abilities like SB or haywire (other than AE and blast), etc. That way you turn the beyond optimal range bracket into the domain of the weapons that would be used beyond visual range/the horizon on the real battlefield like artillery and such.

    We've only done two turns roughly so far in the next demo game and I'm not too happy with my range changes at the moment. While it does put some variety into the game (there is now a reason to fire the grizzly mortar as opposed to linked MRPs), it really does significantly affect the really lighter weapons like LRPs. While I don't have a problem with that theoretically as light rockets aren't supposed to be long range weapons, it is a bit jarring and you do end up wishing more elite units had a single MRP instead of LRPs.

    It's hard to say so early but I'm starting to get the feeling that the sweet spot for the suboptimal range bracket (or medium in my terminology) is 3x optimal/short range. I proposed above in method 1 and am using in the game 2x currently and standard blitz uses 4x. At that point, I suspect it would feel better but ends up being a minor change that doesn't lend itself well to the datacard simplification I'm going for. Asking people to just double the single range entry is worthwhile but tripling it starts to go into the "why bother?" category it seems... I'll probably comment more on this in my next post after we finish the game tonight.

  4. Essentially the problem boils down to wanting weapons to have essentially a 'fixed' range to promote maneuver, without making it a rush to the center. With Sil, it's hard to 'degrade' shots without just saying you can't take them, because modifiers can generally be offset, making the shot 'possible'. I.e. if the second range band is -2, you only need to be stationary and in the open for the shot to be 'normal'; and on a big enough gun, you're still hitting pretty hard.

    Firing across the board makes sense for most weapons, but it does mean that maneuver is by definition much harder. You end up needing far fewer model counts since that by definition limits your overall force's exposure to fire. Play Infinity and throw a HMG and MSV L3 in a tower to see what I mean.

    Firearms range is a really tricky thing to get 'right' because too much and you suppress maneuver. Too little, and it feels really strange. I'm almost to the point of thinking that ranges should be a binary 'have it or not' switch, but that feels unnatural to me as well.

  5. While I can't comment about Warmachine, that binary weapons range is tolerable in 40k but not preferable in my opinion. One of the things I like about HG is that shooting someone at 1" with both targets standing still is different from shooting someone at 1" under max range with both targets moving. I agree it needs to be toned down though in HG.

  6. The binary range thing likely doesn't work for HG at all, because it just feels so 'unnatural'. I was only pointing it out because making it so that you can hit at an optimal range, but have a 'poor' shot outside, is really difficult to do with modifiers and / or dice in Sil. Modifiers can be beaten, dice can be added, etc. I came up with a 'drop modifier' - you drop the highest facing die before calculating your result - for my house rules. It works pretty well except once you increase the number of dice you throw; at which point it becomes less useful. I've also experimented with capping the dice result; i.e. anything above a 4 counts as a 4 before modifier - but that falls flat because your dice can't drive enough of a result to help offset the modifier in the normal (0-2 bias) cases.

    Sil is an extremely fickle system to work with, unfortunately.

  7. Is part of the issue here not so much the changes in ranges relative to each other but relative to the terrain density on the table? Taking a 12" range weapon (LAC) vs a 6" range weapon (LRP) and looking at sub-optimal/medium range the comparison is - how often does a target present between 24" and 48" vs between 12" and 24". If your terrain density is low enough that there are a large number of target opportunities below 24" then this becomes significant. From a fluff point of view 12" also seems quite short for an IF weapon?

  8. Yeah, 12" does seem short for an IF weapon especially if we're talking about the LRP for which that is the medium bracket. The LRP and 6" range weapons did make me question the use of changing the above but that particular bracket was the only one that I personally had trouble accepting and I justified it as howitzer type guns (snubs) and glorified firecrackers should be inaccurate at all but the closest ranges. At 12" for short ranges (like with MRPs), I found it to be perfectly acceptable and the shorter range encouraged maneuvering and weapon variety more than the current brackets. It's definitely a fine line though to draw as the previous original Blitz and L&L had too many ineffective range brackets and the games devolved to simply running to within 3" of the enemy to avoid penalties and then firing (if you were the one getting the all important first shot at combat speed at that range).

    I tried getting further changing the range modifiers as well to +1/0/-1 and getting rid of the "in the open" bonus but I instead encountered unexpected results in both my actions and my opponent's. We both just "did the math" and simply took shots at further ranges instead of trying to manuever closer and/or get around cover for the +1. That was a complete surprise for me which is why I kept the range modifiers as is instead.

  9. It looks like you have got a good compromise, I just wonder if the proper solution is to do this but also change the base ranges on some of the weapon systems? That said I am working more from fluff than combat experience here and also I can see that you would want to retain differentiation on weapon utility as much as possible i.e. giving currently underused weapon systems relative improvements at some ranges.

  10. I did actually consider changing them but that felt like crossing an invisible line. I'm trying to tweak the existing rules for the most part instead of replacing them (except for the case of concealment as that system IMO simply did not work and was totally out of place). I realize it's splitting hairs but straight up changing the ranges of weapons (instead of just tweaking the rules using the existing stats) felt like one step too many.