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Author Topic: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?  (Read 2040 times)

Adastra

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #60 on: 19 November 2020, 16:06:17 »
Actually, the description of AC ammo does include discussions of penetrators IIRC.  The difference is that it is not inert like Gauss ammo, that is the comparison. 

But however, fine, they do not use the sabot rounds and instead use the HEAT rounds to break through the armor.  I was in no way suggesting you stand next to a tank that is being hit, merely that by their nature shaped charges have zones with much less effect since as much of the energy is directed to a specific place.  I thought about including a range safety diagram for AT missiles but that gets far afield of the point.  I understand your point about the ammo load, but IIRC the Abrams deployed in Europe during the Cold War had a war load of mostly anti-tank rounds- the sabots.

To your 3rd point, yes I know how it works and how the IEDs in Iraq were build a decade ago to use this- typically the deformed metal was copper.  I also know how they changed armor to try to defeat this sort of IED, I was using a very basic description.  The point was that its method of destruction- and why shaped charge warheads are used- is that it trashes the interior.  Armor that keeps things out is pretty good about keeping things in . . . like those reformed copper bits.

The point never the less remains the same, Anti-Mech weapons are going to put all of their destructive energy they can into defeating the armor and going internal.  Large blasts are a waste of that energy.

As for bazookas & panzerfaust . . . they were NOT modern (or again, 80s) armor piercing warheads, the technology was being developed.  For tanks and warships, their AP shells typically used processes to attempt make the tip denser than the armor so it would penetrate.  It should also be noted for them to be effective anti-tank weapons they had to hit weak points on the enemy tank . . . its not like TOW (future of the 80s) missiles which have a better chance, on the different aspects, comparatively of breaching the armor than a bazooka.

LRMs and AC rounds are not area effect weapons- what you are advocating is the AC shell is effectively identical to a Thumper or Sniper shell . . . and its not.  They would be designed differently.

Tanks in the cold war were largely using sabot because it was expected that they would largely be facing other tanks. You also had a lot more 105mm-armed vehicles, which could stow more rounds. The Yom Kippur War and the terror of infantry-portable ATGMs significantly changed that dynamic, not to mention the shift towards counter-insurgency warfare.

More about the M830. The fact that it has an airburst setting considered to be useful against helicopters should attest to the idea that it has a substantial lethal radius. Most NATO militaries to my knowledge don't even have dedicated HE rounds for 120mm cannons, multipurpose HEAT rounds (or HESH for the British) are effective enough in the role.

Shaped charges are more useful due to the fact that they can punch through the armor to begin with. Yes, behind-armor-effect is nice and you shouldn't ignore it, but it's meaningless if you can't actually get through the armor. Shaped charges effectively rendered the traditional armor scheme of monolithic steel plates obsolete.

TOW missiles are in fact, also very effective against infantry, just less efficient due to their cost and bulk. Javelins were being used a lot against infantry (particularly infatry in entrenched positions) in Afghanistan, but again constrained by cost and size.

There's a reason why most military shaped charge designs don't bother with "focusing" the blast effect. For one, shaped charges rely more on the shock wave than gas pressure, so containing it is less useful. But more important is weight. Putting enough metal around a projectile to contain a large explosion takes up a lot of weight, weight that could instead be replaced with more explosives. By not containing the explosives, you can get something that's as effective at punching through armor, but is also more effective at other things, like killing infantry. I'm going to restate the whole thing about most military shaped charges using either plastic containers or fragmentation sleeves.

Shaped charge warheads like ATGMs and rockets would not work if the shaped charge needed to be meaningfully contained. The projectile would weigh a ridiculous amount. Missiles are remarkably light for their size because instead of thick metal tubes, they're mostly motor, explosive, and guidance equipment, all of which also have a good deal of empty space.
« Last Edit: 19 November 2020, 16:10:49 by Adastra »

Colt Ward

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #61 on: 19 November 2020, 16:20:36 »
Tanks in the cold war were largely using sabot because it was expected that they would largely be facing other tanks.

The most important part of the whole thing you said . . . mechs carrying anti-mech weapons use munitions designed to be anti-mech.  If a AC or LRM equipped mech expects to face or deal with infantry they have different munitions (flechette) that allow them to do that more effectively.  While a shaped charge is going to have a blast area, and will have some effects 'behind' the point of impact & direction, it will still not be the same as to the front.  Safety diagrams get into the launch point, flight path and impact point danger zones, you can see just how they expect the blast & shrapnel scatter . . . and that is injury rather than lethal.

You are also still talking about AT missile being used to hit hardened or protected targets- not troops spread out in the open or in hasty positions.  Firing a TOW or javelin at a platoon in battle formation advancing across a field is just not going to do too much damage to the whole platoon.
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Adastra

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #62 on: 19 November 2020, 16:44:42 »
The most important part of the whole thing you said . . . mechs carrying anti-mech weapons use munitions designed to be anti-mech.  If a AC or LRM equipped mech expects to face or deal with infantry they have different munitions (flechette) that allow them to do that more effectively.  While a shaped charge is going to have a blast area, and will have some effects 'behind' the point of impact & direction, it will still not be the same as to the front.  Safety diagrams get into the launch point, flight path and impact point danger zones, you can see just how they expect the blast & shrapnel scatter . . . and that is injury rather than lethal.

You are also still talking about AT missile being used to hit hardened or protected targets- not troops spread out in the open or in hasty positions.  Firing a TOW or javelin at a platoon in battle formation advancing across a field is just not going to do too much damage to the whole platoon.
The main reason why most missiles don't have huge lethal radiuses is because they're generally not optimized for fragmentation. Blast radius tends to be a lot smaller, but it is still substantial.


Not really "hardened". We're talking about sandbag gun positions and caves. Also, if you arrange 19 points in a hex-shaped formation (like a rocket pod) 30 meters wide, you would have only 7.5 meters between points. All standard types of platoons have more than 19 soldiers, and realistically they're likely to be clustering up behind available cover, which is going to be limited and not evenly dispersed. Hand grenades should be able to hit multiple soldiers, much less shells and missiles.

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #63 on: 19 November 2020, 18:46:50 »
In cover, it really shouldn't help much. Most weapons in BT are going to punch right on through most of the stuff that the game considers cover. For example, light woods, which is to say, trees, small hills and crests, maybe the occasional boulder. Autocannon shells should by all rights be able to go right through all of those, and in the case of trees and rocks, burst them apart with sufficient force to make additional shrapnel. Note that the to-hit penalty already covers the concealment aspect of woods.

When you've got weapons the size of BT's autocannons, you don't try to shoot around cover, you just blow it up and whatever's behind it.

Out of cover just about every weapon should be able to scythe through infantry like grass, which they really don't for the most part. An AC/10 does all of 1 damage to infantry in cover, 2 to infantry out of it.
28 dudes scattered across 2338.27 square meters, most (if not all) prone or kneeling, often behind concealment (if not cover) is still a whole lot less likely to get shot up by one stream of rounds, even if it's sweeping across the hex, than those same 28 guys doing some kind of Napoleonic dress-and-cover.  That's my point.  Cannonshop seems to think that marching rank and file is the normal expectation.  To me that's "in the open" (really it's worse than that.  28 dudes doing 3-5 second rushes across a street is "in the open".  Marching in column is just suicide.).
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Adastra

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #64 on: 19 November 2020, 19:31:44 »
28 dudes scattered across 2338.27 square meters, most (if not all) prone or kneeling, often behind concealment (if not cover) is still a whole lot less likely to get shot up by one stream of rounds, even if it's sweeping across the hex, than those same 28 guys doing some kind of Napoleonic dress-and-cover.  That's my point.  Cannonshop seems to think that marching rank and file is the normal expectation.  To me that's "in the open" (really it's worse than that.  28 dudes doing 3-5 second rushes across a street is "in the open".  Marching in column is just suicide.).
Sure, assuming Napoleonic squares is pretty optimistic. But Cannonshop's overall point about raking fire still holds up. The depth of the fired-upon area matters a lot less than the width.

Also, how are you getting 2338.27 square meters? I thought BT hexes were 30 meters across, not 30 meters to a side? Assuming that it is 30 meters across (in the sense that the center of one hex is 30 meters from the center of each adjacent hex), a hex is only about 780 square meters.

« Last Edit: 19 November 2020, 19:33:53 by Adastra »

Syzyx

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #65 on: 19 November 2020, 21:23:39 »
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So this thread got me thinking, and looking up some old threads, and doing some other research, and doing some math, and thinking again. If, a gigantic if here, we want to put something like realism into BattleTech (good lord, why?) then in general anti-mech weapons should do significantly more damage to infantry than they do.

 But first some definitions and specifications:

1)   I am working with 'kill' as defined as effectively removed from combat, not actually dead, nor even necessarily hurt.

2)    I am assuming a roughly 17 degree angle of attack, which is what you get shooting from 10m up across a 30m distance.

3)    I am assuming that the infantry in question know they are in combat and know that they do not want to die. (given descriptions of some of the combat drugs in this universe these matters are not a given, but I chose to make them a given.)

4)    I am assuming that the MechWarriors in question want to neutralize their infantry foes efficiently, not make a pretty red mist nor a frankly disgusting 1,400 kilo mud and gore smoothie.

Now that we have those matters out of the way let's look at the weapon categories:

Machine guns- gigantic, likely rotary barreled, slug throwers akin to what we have today and consider small cannon. actually the weapons that require the most work to make effective against infantry.

Autocannon- really big machine guns with either really big, explosive shells, or insane rates of fire with much smaller shells. Either way works pretty well.

Missiles- Tiny guided rockets with enormously powerful warheads. Pretty effective in general, but can be used in a couple ways.

Lasers- lots of energy packed into a very brief window of deployment. Not that effective,  but better than portrayed.

PPCs- a lightning gun, even if it isn't. A lot of energy packed into moving particles with near-infinitely more mass than photons. Should be outright fantastic against infantry.

Gauss Rifles- a magnetically accellerated glob of matter flying at hypersonic speeds. I was really surprised at the potential efficiency with this one.


Now that we've got our players let's get down to it.

I said above that machineguns are the hardest to justify really hurting infantry. In my mind, having considered the potential equipment, training, angles, and so on involved it's just not going to be easy to get a meaningful ID and target lock on that big a spread of that many people. Now, accepting that cover isn't going to be ubiquitous and evenly distributed, we do get some clumping and so it's definitely more than one person at a time, but up to 24 (taking into account the doubling for being in the open)? That is just hard. Unless the 1960's efforts at guided bullets were revisited and worked. Then you spray in the general area of the infantry and let the slugs figure out what to run into. A bit non-BattleTechy to me but, eh, potential future of the '80's stuff.

Autocannons, like the rest of the weapons going forward, are going to do very little if they are fired directly at one poor schlub. That guy is probably gone and the fight goes on. However, if the AC is shooting at the ground instead of the actual infantry then we start getting some effective kills. If the infantry are hiding behind rocks, hillocks, berms, or other earthwork-like structures then the AC users best bet is to use those very structures as targets and let the subsequent cascades of debris and toppling or sliding of earth remove the infantry from the fight. No, in this case you're not going to see a lot of fatalities but you will see a lot of guys either stuck in the mud and rubble subsequently created or trying frantically to get their buddies out of said mud and rubble. It probably won't take that long to get free, 5 minutes would be a stretch for the longest it could take, but in the scale of a 2 minute battle it's plenty long enough.
     Similar effects happen in wooded areas by shooting the trees and causing timberfalls and small-scale dazzling/blinding from the burning and sharp wood flying around. Still not actually prone to being too lethal but definitely takes those guys meaningfully out of the fight.
     Overall, I could still see this effect accounting for 1/3 to 1/2 of the AC's rating in kills.

Now missiles have two arguments, but I am partial to the second one I will present. Personal preference, neither more right nor wrong than the first.
     Initially, since missiles are guided weapons, it's nowhere near beyond the scope of reason to presume that each missile might be able to lock on to an individual trooper and blow that specific guy to however many bits might be imagined. Not too hard to extrapolate from the future of the '80's technology mandate. But I just don't care for the idea of poor Pvt. McWillis running madly away from the soda can of doom as it chases him down. Again, my preference.
     Going back to the idea of shooting the ground, however, we run into a neat effect called liquifaction. Liquifaction is when a mass of solids get enough potential energy and in the right conditions to act like a liquid. If you bury a bunch of explosives a meter or half meter under ground and largely blast downward this is what happens to relatively solid earth. Mining demolitionists use this property to slough big sheets of earth out of the way.
     Pepper a hex with 10 LRMs and you're going to see infantry wrestling  not only with the shrapnel kicked up from the blasts, but also finding themselves or their buddies stuck in what amounts to quicksand. Still quite unlikely to actually kill a lot of people but it definitely takes them out of the fight.
     Either way you look at it I feel like this could account for 1/2 to even full damage from missiles applying.

Lasers are kinda tricky. They pack a ton of energy into a small spot. Shoot poor Pvt. McWillis with one and he'll be boots and not much else. But his buddy at his shoulder is mostly going to have only the trauma of having breathed in his squadmate. Lasers work by ablation and so the surface they hit will be directly harmed but it's the explosion of material off of that surface that would really work against infantry.
     By shooting at the ground or cover the infantry is using you're going to create a rapidly expanding cloud of stuff that is highly ionized. The ionization matters because unless the infantry in question have fully self contained breathing apparatus then they won't be able to use the atmosphere around them for respiration and attempting to do so will leave them spasming from the electrical impulses in their lungs/diaphragm. I was not able to determine how potentially lethal that could be but from the few lab accident reports I found regarding high-powered lasers I'd assume not too much so. But even still, it stops those soldiers from fighting.
     Now the question of pulse duration for BattleTech lasers really makes a difference in how this actually plays out. If it's a single, micro-second long pulse then you'll get a very violent but small explosion and really you're only likely to inconvenience or kill one or two guys. If it's a single seconds long pulse, or series of pulses over a few seconds then you can sweep the beam and spread the effect out. By shooting the ground with that longer spray you can affect more troopers.
     Hard to judge this without better pulse duration, but I'd still say 1/4 to 1/3 effect from lasers.

Now on to the old-school mother of all weapons, the PPC. Looking into how these should work and the effects of accellerated protons on various materials the PPC has become a lot scarier in my mind. This loose conjecture is based on a muddle of information between particle effects and lightning strike details so please have your sodium intake significantly increased. 
     But relevant to our discussion if a PPC hit someone directly that individual is dead. There is no maybe, they are actually worse than dead because they are exploding with enough force to cause injury to others within possibly 50 feet. Now that 50 foot number relates to unarmored people in unprepared conditions, but even still the guy nearly shoulder to shoulder with him behind that wrecked tank is definitely out of action.
     On top of that wonderful effect there is also the magnetic corona around the beam. That is likely to be around 30 to 50 feet in diameter and is a massive force in itself. People exposed in that area suffer arhythmia, seizures, muscle spams potentially strong enough to break bones, and a host of other physiological effects that are massively debilitating. Now as awful as that all sounds it is apparently not commonly lethal, so we come back to guys out of the fight but not necessarily dead.
     But hold on! There's more! What if we shoot the ground behind the infantry group? Why would we do that? We would do that because the charged particles from the PPC's beam will charge and split particles in the ground which results in a big explosion! Now this explosion is coming out of the ground but because of the ionized channel the PPC created the blast is going to mostly focus back the way the beam came with something like a cone point of around 5cm and a cone base of around 30m (unexpectedly convenient, that). In this cone is going to be a whole lot of brief hell: heat, shrapnel, overpressure, and concussion. Altogether this can actually be lethal, but given the armor, training and other factors on the part of the infantry in question many will probably pull through. Just not likely in immediate fighting shape.
     So, yeah, PPCs should realistically do their full damage against infantry. Maybe more. But who wants the PPC to be even more the King of Kings?

And now the Gauss Rifle... This one really surprised me. I was really expecting KE weapons like the Gauss to be pretty simple: that guy is dead, everyone else heard a loud, annoying whistling sound. But no. Apparently if you use the Gauss Rifle as a miniature Rods from God type weapon then you can create craters in hexes to bury infantry or at least leave them stuck trying to climb up steep slopes of very loose material, which will take way more time than a battle will last.
     At a 17 degree angle, for what it's worth, assuming hard ground, the gauss slug leaves a crater almost 4m deep and a little more than 15m across. And then there's the ejecta and concussive effects to worry about. Definitely something that will ruin the day of poor Pvt. McWillis and co.
     Overall effect in game? Probably even more than base damage to infantry, but again that doesn't sound like fun.

Now I am certain that my web-based investigations have some pretty serious flaws, but the general ideas are sound. In a reality with these kinds of weapons I seriously doubt you could find enough people to volunteer for infantry duty to fill a regiment, nevermind the divisions the Houses have. But this is BattleTech and some people gotta have their massive underdog victories. Those are what make good stories!
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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #66 on: 19 November 2020, 21:30:37 »
The real killer from a  Gauss rifle is that you've got a 125 kg slug traveling at hypersonic speed.  Being near it as it passes by will inflict considerable potential damage to an exposed human body.  Or as Cray put it "the Gauss Rifle misses.  That means you're now deaf and airborne."
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Adastra

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #67 on: 19 November 2020, 21:43:38 »
The real killer from a  Gauss rifle is that you've got a 125 kg slug traveling at hypersonic speed.  Being near it as it passes by will inflict considerable potential damage to an exposed human body.  Or as Cray put it "the Gauss Rifle misses.  That means you're now deaf and airborne."

Yup. There are actually a number of sources describing deaths from cannonballs passing by the victim's head, or injuries caused by near-misses. As in "A cannonball flew by us, and Bobby fell over, and when I checked for a pulse I found out his skull was pulverized". And those are cannonballs propelled by black powder, not magnetically accelerated metal melons.

Best use for a Gauss Rifle, however, would be to aim for cover, not troopers. Just about anything the GR hits will be turned into a cone of very lethal shrapnel and vaporized crap coming out the other end.

All the same, people have brought up game balance, and I think it's also important. Gauss Rifles and most lasers/PPCs are already very strong weapons. On the other hand ACs and missiles are decidedly not so. Giving those weapons somewhat more damage against infantry is both a win for verisimilitude and for balance IMO.
« Last Edit: 19 November 2020, 21:52:26 by Adastra »

Talen5000

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #68 on: 19 November 2020, 22:34:51 »
Simply put, it's because a unit in a game must have some use, some value, some reason to be put on the board. Infantry and combat vehicles add variety to the game, which is an aspect to be valued, so..in game...they've been strengthened.

If this buff didn't occur, then battles would almost always be Mech vs Mech, vehicles would be even more of a glass cannon than they are and infantry would not be used because they wouldn't have any impact on the battle.

In universe, Mechs are king. If infantry was anywhere near as effective as they are in the board game, Mechs wouldn't exist. By the same token, if infantry were as ineffectual in the board game as it is in the BTU, there'd be no infantry.

Mech scale weapons would devastate anyone in the same hex. Shockwaves, sound, shrapnel, etc would leave little standing. So, the power has been turned down to give infantry a chance.


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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #69 on: 19 November 2020, 22:44:13 »
The intent was to have there not be any guns that are highly effective against any unit type.

Except for the goddam plasma rifle.
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Arkansas Warrior

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #71 on: 19 November 2020, 23:47:20 »

Also, how are you getting 2338.27 square meters? I thought BT hexes were 30 meters across, not 30 meters to a side? Assuming that it is 30 meters across (in the sense that the center of one hex is 30 meters from the center of each adjacent hex), a hex is only about 780 square meters.
You may be right.  I was just thinking Hex=30m.
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Cannonshop

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #72 on: 20 November 2020, 00:21:25 »
28 dudes scattered across 2338.27 square meters, most (if not all) prone or kneeling, often behind concealment (if not cover) is still a whole lot less likely to get shot up by one stream of rounds, even if it's sweeping across the hex, than those same 28 guys doing some kind of Napoleonic dress-and-cover.  That's my point.  Cannonshop seems to think that marching rank and file is the normal expectation.  To me that's "in the open" (really it's worse than that.  28 dudes doing 3-5 second rushes across a street is "in the open".  Marching in column is just suicide.).

I'm not really going to defend that point, because it's more or less incidental, and we don't have real world numbers on how well 28 men in full combat gear are going to cover 30 meters in ten seconds while finding enough cover at each end.

(1MP=30 meters in any direction, the baseline movement of foot infantry in Battletech).  UN-loaded men can do it in around 7 seconds. (but that's in tank tops and booty shorts with sneakers, on a prepared track, without having to hump gear.)

but I'll point out a few things that are also incidental:

Small Arms in Battletech are heavy. this is more or less the result of the original writers/developers for the roleplaying game aspect being my fellow americans and not understanding the relationship between Metric and English systems.  (hence, infantry rifle weights in kilograms that were straight port of equivalent weapons in pounds-the Federated Long Rifle is far too heavy!  It weighs as much as a BAR.)

Correcting that over and pretending the weights were dropped to something realistic...

that's something else for your 30 meter dash-they aren't just running all-out, they're doing it with rifles, ammo, and packs.

while still being able to fight.

if they were doing it in formations, then those are some healthy boys and girls, doing it in cover-and-move and it's bordering on olympic athlete levels of healthy.

which goes back to the core point I was making: Battletech isn't science fiction, it's science fiction flavored fantasy, the infantry rules aren't granular enough to account for people-scale things people scaled people would be doing, but instead it's abstracted averages.

Honestly for damage, the only ones they've been able to get completely right wrt infantry are AOE weapons and machine-guns, and that's only on the damage end.

but it's a balance issue there, too; infantry needs to be useful and dedicated anti-infantry designs need a role, so they set things up that way.
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Adastra

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #73 on: 20 November 2020, 07:45:41 »
The intent was to have there not be any guns that are highly effective against any unit type.

Except for the goddam plasma rifle.

I wouldn't really call my proposed changes something that would make ACs "highly effective" against every unit type. ACs are one of the worse weapon categories in the game right now (not to the point of being useless, but definitely far from the best), so while their anti-mech and anti-vehicle effectiveness isn't poor per se, it's far from the best. Missiles are also hardly overpowered in any major way. So far as I can tell these changes would, at best, make them okay against everything.

And I want to reiterate that my proposed changes are hardly extreme. Instead of 1/10 damage against infantry in cover, ACs and missile launchers would do half (cluster weapons still need to roll on the table, and streaks probably behave like normal MLs against infantry).

That means that an AC/10 is still less effective than a machine gun against PBI (5 vs. 7 average), while being 24 times the weight and carrying way less ammo, in exchange for greatly increased range and better performance against non-infantry. I think that's a fair trade.

An AC/5 would only do 1 more damage against infantry than a PPC (3 vs. 2) while being a worse weapon in basically every other regard. I don't think the AC/5 turns into a murder machine here. The AC/2 is similar. Sure, it does more damage than it did before, but it's still only 1.

An AC/20 does 10 damage, which is about halfway between a machine gun and a flamer. But the weapon weighs 14 tons and only has 5 shots per ton, so I think that's still fair.

An LRM-5 kills two PBI on average, killing only one on a roll of 4 or less and killing 3 on a roll of 11+. Pretty good, but still hardly exceptional. An SRM basically kills one PBI per missile hit, which is nice, but I doubt this change would bring them out ahead of medium lasers.

Sure, a PBI platoon can be wiped out if a King Crab hits them with every weapon in its arsenal (pretty difficult since the range bands don't really lend themselves to that, and the LRM needs to roll a 9+ on the cluster table to actually pull it off). Is that really so bad? 
« Last Edit: 20 November 2020, 07:49:24 by Adastra »

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #74 on: 20 November 2020, 16:45:18 »

Now on to the old-school mother of all weapons, the PPC. Looking into how these should work and the effects of accellerated protons on various materials the PPC has become a lot scarier in my mind. This loose conjecture is based on a muddle of information between particle effects and lightning strike details so please have your sodium intake significantly increased. 
     But relevant to our discussion if a PPC hit someone directly that individual is dead. There is no maybe, they are actually worse than dead because they are exploding with enough force to cause injury to others within possibly 50 feet. Now that 50 foot number relates to unarmored people in unprepared conditions, but even still the guy nearly shoulder to shoulder with him behind that wrecked tank is definitely out of action.
     On top of that wonderful effect there is also the magnetic corona around the beam. That is likely to be around 30 to 50 feet in diameter and is a massive force in itself. People exposed in that area suffer arhythmia, seizures, muscle spams potentially strong enough to break bones, and a host of other physiological effects that are massively debilitating. Now as awful as that all sounds it is apparently not commonly lethal, so we come back to guys out of the fight but not necessarily dead.
     But hold on! There's more! What if we shoot the ground behind the infantry group? Why would we do that? We would do that because the charged particles from the PPC's beam will charge and split particles in the ground which results in a big explosion! Now this explosion is coming out of the ground but because of the ionized channel the PPC created the blast is going to mostly focus back the way the beam came with something like a cone point of around 5cm and a cone base of around 30m (unexpectedly convenient, that). In this cone is going to be a whole lot of brief hell: heat, shrapnel, overpressure, and concussion. Altogether this can actually be lethal, but given the armor, training and other factors on the part of the infantry in question many will probably pull through. Just not likely in immediate fighting shape.
     So, yeah, PPCs should realistically do their full damage against infantry. Maybe more. But who wants the PPC to be even more the King of Kings?


Not really. The damage from a PPC is tied up in the momentum of the particles(mass x velocity squared, its mainly about velocity), not their charge. The streams are pretty tightly focused and there isn't a huge magnetic charge associated with the beams. They will produce some fun isotopes on the receiving end, but that's really something for the techs to worry themselves with. The damage resembles arc welding from a distance in the instances I've seen.
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monbvol

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #75 on: 21 November 2020, 12:23:10 »
I wouldn't really call my proposed changes something that would make ACs "highly effective" against every unit type. ACs are one of the worse weapon categories in the game right now (not to the point of being useless, but definitely far from the best), so while their anti-mech and anti-vehicle effectiveness isn't poor per se, it's far from the best. Missiles are also hardly overpowered in any major way. So far as I can tell these changes would, at best, make them okay against everything.

And I want to reiterate that my proposed changes are hardly extreme. Instead of 1/10 damage against infantry in cover, ACs and missile launchers would do half (cluster weapons still need to roll on the table, and streaks probably behave like normal MLs against infantry).

That means that an AC/10 is still less effective than a machine gun against PBI (5 vs. 7 average), while being 24 times the weight and carrying way less ammo, in exchange for greatly increased range and better performance against non-infantry. I think that's a fair trade.

An AC/5 would only do 1 more damage against infantry than a PPC (3 vs. 2) while being a worse weapon in basically every other regard. I don't think the AC/5 turns into a murder machine here. The AC/2 is similar. Sure, it does more damage than it did before, but it's still only 1.

An AC/20 does 10 damage, which is about halfway between a machine gun and a flamer. But the weapon weighs 14 tons and only has 5 shots per ton, so I think that's still fair.

An LRM-5 kills two PBI on average, killing only one on a roll of 4 or less and killing 3 on a roll of 11+. Pretty good, but still hardly exceptional. An SRM basically kills one PBI per missile hit, which is nice, but I doubt this change would bring them out ahead of medium lasers.

Sure, a PBI platoon can be wiped out if a King Crab hits them with every weapon in its arsenal (pretty difficult since the range bands don't really lend themselves to that, and the LRM needs to roll a 9+ on the cluster table to actually pull it off). Is that really so bad?

I would say yes this is too much.  By a pretty substantial margin.

Yes the ACs and missiles will weight more than machine guns but with the extra versatility this grants added to the consideration that the main reason I'm mounting such weapons in the first place is not to engage infantry but tanks and mechs?  Flamers and Machine Guns just don't justify their weight anymore.  Not when I'd be better off putting that 1-1.5 tons into either upping a launcher to the next size or slapping an extra ton of ammo on for such weapons since now they are being used more often.*

Then this raises the question of why bother loading flechette or fragmentation specialty ammunition?**

There are more designs than many suspect that carry more than one ton of ammo per AC but I'd still argue with that performance and the fact that even AC-20s allow you to out range a rather substantial number of published infantry options, you're getting enough performance out of standard ammo that you're better off with standing back and making the extra trigger pulls.

*Now I grant the number of mechs and vehicles that use both an AC and a Machine gun/flammer is relatively small but it is substantial enough to be a consideration.  The number of mechs and vehicles that use missiles and machine guns/flammers is quite higher.  The point is that this is a level of versatility that only looks okay on the surface but once you stop to think about it the proposed changes start falling apart from a game balance perspective.

**I know I need to address Inferno ammunition separately.  Against standard infantry it is always going to be quite effective but with the proposed changes it becomes the only real alternative worth considering.

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #76 on: 21 November 2020, 18:59:27 »
I would say yes this is too much.  By a pretty substantial margin.

Yes the ACs and missiles will weight more than machine guns but with the extra versatility this grants added to the consideration that the main reason I'm mounting such weapons in the first place is not to engage infantry but tanks and mechs?  Flamers and Machine Guns just don't justify their weight anymore.  Not when I'd be better off putting that 1-1.5 tons into either upping a launcher to the next size or slapping an extra ton of ammo on for such weapons since now they are being used more often.*

Then this raises the question of why bother loading flechette or fragmentation specialty ammunition?**

There are more designs than many suspect that carry more than one ton of ammo per AC but I'd still argue with that performance and the fact that even AC-20s allow you to out range a rather substantial number of published infantry options, you're getting enough performance out of standard ammo that you're better off with standing back and making the extra trigger pulls.

*Now I grant the number of mechs and vehicles that use both an AC and a Machine gun/flammer is relatively small but it is substantial enough to be a consideration.  The number of mechs and vehicles that use missiles and machine guns/flammers is quite higher.  The point is that this is a level of versatility that only looks okay on the surface but once you stop to think about it the proposed changes start falling apart from a game balance perspective.

**I know I need to address Inferno ammunition separately.  Against standard infantry it is always going to be quite effective but with the proposed changes it becomes the only real alternative worth considering.

Even assuming every shot hits, an AC shooting at infantry will take about half a ton of ammo to kill a standard platoon (An AC 5 needs exactly half a ton of hits, every other AC requires more than half). LRMs will need even more due to the cluster roll. Even expensive infantry platoons tend to be lower BV than the cheapest mechs, which will have a hard time standing up to half a ton of AC ammo hitting them.

Well, let's take an actual example and compare? Let's just say, an Archer. Quality heavy fire support mech with a focus on missiles. Each LRM-20 will kill about 7 troopers per hit, with four hits wiping out a standard platoon assuming the cluster rolls are more or less favorable. I'm discounting the lasers because they're no stronger than before and the Archer lacks the heat capacity to really manage them in combination with the missiles. So that's two rounds per platoon destroyed minimum, and the Archer will shoot itself dry after killing about 6 platoons. Again, that assumes no misses, and that the Archer has nothing more important to do.

By contrast a Stinger can kill platoons about as fast (14 damage average from the machine guns by themselves). With 100 salvos, the Stinger will basically never run out of ammo, even if it has to go multiple battles without a reload. It's more vulnerable while doing so, but it's also less than a quarter the BV (359 vs 1477), so you could field an entire lance of Stingers for the same "cost" as an Archer (the cost in C-bills would also be similar).

A Firestarter, less than half the BV of an Archer, can wipe out platoons in a single round without even firing most of its weapons (one flamer hit and two machine gun hits will kill the requisite 28 troopers on average, and the Firestarter has 4 flamers).

So a top-quality 70-ton LRM boat can break even with a mediocre 20-ton scout with two machine guns, and is outclassed by a 35-tonner anti-infantry/utility mech with flamers and MGs.

Honestly, MGs and Flamers could also do with improvements, but they're not exactly useless here, and avoiding buffs to weapons that need them to keep them in line with weapons that ALSO need buffs is, not great.
« Last Edit: 21 November 2020, 19:01:36 by Adastra »

monbvol

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #77 on: 21 November 2020, 19:28:13 »
Even assuming every shot hits, an AC shooting at infantry will take about half a ton of ammo to kill a standard platoon (An AC 5 needs exactly half a ton of hits, every other AC requires more than half). LRMs will need even more due to the cluster roll. Even expensive infantry platoons tend to be lower BV than the cheapest mechs, which will have a hard time standing up to half a ton of AC ammo hitting them.

Well, let's take an actual example and compare? Let's just say, an Archer. Quality heavy fire support mech with a focus on missiles. Each LRM-20 will kill about 7 troopers per hit, with four hits wiping out a standard platoon assuming the cluster rolls are more or less favorable. I'm discounting the lasers because they're no stronger than before and the Archer lacks the heat capacity to really manage them in combination with the missiles. So that's two rounds per platoon destroyed minimum, and the Archer will shoot itself dry after killing about 6 platoons. Again, that assumes no misses, and that the Archer has nothing more important to do.

By contrast a Stinger can kill platoons about as fast (14 damage average from the machine guns by themselves). With 100 salvos, the Stinger will basically never run out of ammo, even if it has to go multiple battles without a reload. It's more vulnerable while doing so, but it's also less than a quarter the BV (359 vs 1477), so you could field an entire lance of Stingers for the same "cost" as an Archer (the cost in C-bills would also be similar).

A Firestarter, less than half the BV of an Archer, can wipe out platoons in a single round without even firing most of its weapons (one flamer hit and two machine gun hits will kill the requisite 28 troopers on average, and the Firestarter has 4 flamers).

So a top-quality 70-ton LRM boat can break even with a mediocre 20-ton scout with two machine guns, and is outclassed by a 35-tonner anti-infantry/utility mech with flamers and MGs.

Honestly, MGs and Flamers could also do with improvements, but they're not exactly useless here, and avoiding buffs to weapons that need them to keep them in line with weapons that ALSO need buffs is, not great.

Except the problem is the Archer doesn't have to load up on specialty ammunition, one not found in Total Warfare I might add, and thanks to LRM range is close enough to immune to return fire from said infantry that it makes zero sense to send in a Stinger.  All while it can still go toe to toe with another Archer in the process.  Again all with standard loads and no optional rules that rely on the approval of others.

That's the problem for me.  I don't have to think.  I don't have to debate.  I don't have to reach for an anti-infantry specialist design either.  It may not be optimal but I can do all this at a level that is not good from a game balance perspective.

pat_hdx

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #78 on: 21 November 2020, 21:02:13 »
If you want to kill Infantry with an AC, pay the price and carry Flechette rounds.

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #79 on: 21 November 2020, 21:52:36 »
Except the problem is the Archer doesn't have to load up on specialty ammunition, one not found in Total Warfare I might add, and thanks to LRM range is close enough to immune to return fire from said infantry that it makes zero sense to send in a Stinger.  All while it can still go toe to toe with another Archer in the process.  Again all with standard loads and no optional rules that rely on the approval of others.

That's the problem for me.  I don't have to think.  I don't have to debate.  I don't have to reach for an anti-infantry specialist design either.  It may not be optimal but I can do all this at a level that is not good from a game balance perspective.

I'm not really sure why having to rely on optional rules is a good thing, because you talk about it like it's a positive.

Also, it's not as if the Archer is some universal tool in this circumstance. Very fast units are just as hard to hit as before (VTOL and Savannah Master swarms will be infuriating). Its speed is nothing to write home about, it can't jump, its heat sinks aren't great, and up close its armament is mediocre (especially since half its medium lasers are rear-facing). Even against infantry, an Archer would be able kill something like 50-60 BV worth of PBI a turn, as little as 40 BV worth of basic auto rifle foot infantry (once again, assuming no misses). That's not exactly incredible performance. In a normal game with constrained maps, an equal BV of infantry will likely be able to close with an Archer before it can kill too many of them, especially since the Archer can't use both LRMs every turn without incurring heat penalties. Jump Laser Infantry (66 BV for a platoon, so 24 platoons to an Archer) seem like they could win on most maps.

Even in the published rules, an Archer could kill 8 soldiers per LRM salvo. So the damage boost wouldn't even double its efficacy, just bring it up to a level where it actually makes sense.

monbvol

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #80 on: 22 November 2020, 00:59:19 »
I'm not really sure why having to rely on optional rules is a good thing, because you talk about it like it's a positive.

Also, it's not as if the Archer is some universal tool in this circumstance. Very fast units are just as hard to hit as before (VTOL and Savannah Master swarms will be infuriating). Its speed is nothing to write home about, it can't jump, its heat sinks aren't great, and up close its armament is mediocre (especially since half its medium lasers are rear-facing). Even against infantry, an Archer would be able kill something like 50-60 BV worth of PBI a turn, as little as 40 BV worth of basic auto rifle foot infantry (once again, assuming no misses). That's not exactly incredible performance. In a normal game with constrained maps, an equal BV of infantry will likely be able to close with an Archer before it can kill too many of them, especially since the Archer can't use both LRMs every turn without incurring heat penalties. Jump Laser Infantry (66 BV for a platoon, so 24 platoons to an Archer) seem like they could win on most maps.

Even in the published rules, an Archer could kill 8 soldiers per LRM salvo. So the damage boost wouldn't even double its efficacy, just bring it up to a level where it actually makes sense.

I do not consider optional rules inherently 'positive' or 'negative'.  I've just had too many of these arguments where invariably the other side eventually relies on them as in play to make their point.  So I made the point that with standard rules and standard ammunition loadouts enough mechs are getting significant enough boosts that it really raises questions about why I need dedicated anti-infantry units.

You're the one who chose the Archer, not me.  I just went with it to minimize variables.

Is it the poster child to show how much your proposed changes actually change the dynamic?  I'd say no.  It is actually pretty tame in that regard.  It is fair enough it's prime advantage against infantry in either rule set is it's potential to out range infantry.

To select another mech that still isn't a poster child but shows how it does go too far I'll reach for the 4R Enforcer.  Now sure it has that Large Laser but let's ignore it for now.  The AC-10 under your proposal does require 3-6 successful shots to eliminate a 28 man platoon depending on if they are in the open or not.  Now at the upper end of 6 that is most of the Enforcer's very limited ammunition supply.  But compared to before it only could do that if you use fractional ammunition load rules from Tac Ops and well it certainly makes me feel way more confident about just staying with standard ammo.

Especially when Flechette would still require 2 shots against a 28 man platoon in the open.  3 if they're not in a building of some sort.  Which compares a little too favorably to the lower end 3 of your proposal for just sticking with standard loads.

Which is my point.  Yes the specialty ammunition and specialist designs may still be better but the margin between them and your proposed revisions is too tight, especially if my opponent is using combined arms.

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #81 on: 22 November 2020, 01:23:22 »
I do not consider optional rules inherently 'positive' or 'negative'.  I've just had too many of these arguments where invariably the other side eventually relies on them as in play to make their point.  So I made the point that with standard rules and standard ammunition loadouts enough mechs are getting significant enough boosts that it really raises questions about why I need dedicated anti-infantry units.

You're the one who chose the Archer, not me.  I just went with it to minimize variables.

Is it the poster child to show how much your proposed changes actually change the dynamic?  I'd say no.  It is actually pretty tame in that regard.  It is fair enough it's prime advantage against infantry in either rule set is it's potential to out range infantry.

To select another mech that still isn't a poster child but shows how it does go too far I'll reach for the 4R Enforcer.  Now sure it has that Large Laser but let's ignore it for now.  The AC-10 under your proposal does require 3-6 successful shots to eliminate a 28 man platoon depending on if they are in the open or not.  Now at the upper end of 6 that is most of the Enforcer's very limited ammunition supply.  But compared to before it only could do that if you use fractional ammunition load rules from Tac Ops and well it certainly makes me feel way more confident about just staying with standard ammo.

Especially when Flechette would still require 2 shots against a 28 man platoon in the open.  3 if they're not in a building of some sort.  Which compares a little too favorably to the lower end 3 of your proposal for just sticking with standard loads.

Which is my point.  Yes the specialty ammunition and specialist designs may still be better but the margin between them and your proposed revisions is too tight, especially if my opponent is using combined arms.

Could always adjust Flechette ammo, too. Could roll it and Flak into a single ammunition type; the mechanisms of action are very similar (AHEAD and airburst ammo IRL are essentially both flak and anti-personnel fragmentation rounds). I think that would give the new combined ammo enough utility to be worth packing. Alternatively, flechette ammo could give a to-hit bonus vs infantry, or ignore/mitigate range modifiers.

Basically, once we have a new baseline, yes, other things need to be adjusted, but that can still be worth doing.
« Last Edit: 22 November 2020, 01:25:02 by Adastra »

monbvol

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #82 on: 22 November 2020, 01:50:57 »
Could always adjust Flechette ammo, too. Could roll it and Flak into a single ammunition type; the mechanisms of action are very similar (AHEAD and airburst ammo IRL are essentially both flak and anti-personnel fragmentation rounds). I think that would give the new combined ammo enough utility to be worth packing. Alternatively, flechette ammo could give a to-hit bonus vs infantry, or ignore/mitigate range modifiers.

Basically, once we have a new baseline, yes, other things need to be adjusted, but that can still be worth doing.

To be fair this thread does give me conflicting feelings.  I do maintain Total Warfare went too far in improving infantry over where they used to be.  Especially since I myself have floated similar ideas about just combining Flechette and Flak.  It just makes a lot of sense and wouldn't even be that hard to work out a game balanced final form.

But what you just said there is what worries me the most about your proposals.  The cascading changes.  Once I see that I know things are already out of hand and I knew they were coming with how tight the margins were from your proposals versus rules as written.

Adastra

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #83 on: 22 November 2020, 11:24:15 »
To be fair this thread does give me conflicting feelings.  I do maintain Total Warfare went too far in improving infantry over where they used to be.  Especially since I myself have floated similar ideas about just combining Flechette and Flak.  It just makes a lot of sense and wouldn't even be that hard to work out a game balanced final form.

But what you just said there is what worries me the most about your proposals.  The cascading changes.  Once I see that I know things are already out of hand and I knew they were coming with how tight the margins were from your proposals versus rules as written.

Well, nothing wrong with hard work. Conceptualizing, discussing, and refining is what it's all about, that and hopefully coming up with something better than what you started with. And unlike CGL, I don't have a time crunch or more pressing things to do, and don't have to consider the business implications of constant errata.

We have the notable advantage that Autocannons and missiles aren't coming from a particularly strong position balance-wise, and our ceiling is stuff like the Medium Laser and the Gauss rifle. That gives us some margin. Ideally, I'd like to work on every weapon to try to bring them about to the level of those powerhouses (perhaps with some minor nerfs to the top weapons).

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #84 on: 24 November 2020, 19:20:02 »
Oh man an ammo type that combined the benefits of flak and flechette ammo into a single ammo type would be good.  I think frag is missile so that wouldn't combine also but I forget. 

But to have an ammo for shooting at mechs and tanks, and an ammo for shooting everything else would be nice.  The rare times that it is helpful to bring something to shoot at PBI or Aeros or even clear woods, it would be nice to just have a single ammo that fired sharp shards instead of HEAT rounds to do all the sub work.   

It would also be nice if there was an extension to the handheld weapons rules where you could pick up an external ammo feed pack, and plug it into the outside of your cannon and fire that specialty ammo, then when the real fighting starts you drop it and fire the AP stuff.   

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #85 on: 25 November 2020, 13:43:40 »
Flak already does pretty solid damage to infantry, doesn't it?  More is always better, granted.
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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #86 on: 25 November 2020, 13:48:41 »
Flak already does pretty solid damage to infantry, doesn't it?  More is always better, granted.

No.  Flak is rather lackluster against PBIs.

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #87 on: 25 November 2020, 13:52:24 »
Quote
Flak ammo only inflicts half the normal damage on all targets except moving VTOLs and Fighters (AeroSpace and Conventional), WiGEs and conventional infantry.
Full damage is lackluster?  It's still better than standard rounds by a longshot, isn't it?
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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #88 on: 25 November 2020, 14:45:15 »
Full damage is lackluster?  It's still better than standard rounds by a longshot, isn't it?

No because that passage isn't telling you an AC-5 firing Flak rounds eliminates 5 infantry, it is telling you that it still does 5 damage then must go through the conversion process as per a ballistic cluster round.

If it really killed 5 infantry rules as written there would be zero need for Flechette.

Arkansas Warrior

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Re: Why do certain weapons do so little damage against infantry?
« Reply #89 on: 25 November 2020, 19:58:47 »
Ah.  I’ve been reading that wrong.  Good thing I’m mostly a fluff fan and rarely get to actually play on the tabletop.


But also, they really should combine flak and flechette.  They’re pretty similar in concept already, both being a burst of small, high-velocity shrapnel instead of anti-armor shells.
« Last Edit: 25 November 2020, 20:01:11 by Arkansas Warrior »
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