Register Register

Author Topic: Gunnery Bloat?  (Read 3425 times)

VirTseng

  • Recruit
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Gunnery Bloat?
« on: 29 April 2013, 05:28:19 »
I've recently converted my group from Mechwarrior 3rd edition to A Time of War.  While the Special Pilot Abilities look like tons of fun, I see lots of stuff that improves gunnery but few things that improve your defense.  Combined with there now being only a single gunnery skill that is easy to level, it seems like eventually players will be such accomplished gunners that any 'mech that relies on not being hit (IE Light, quick 'mechs) will have a very short life on the battlefield.  This would eventually limit the game to a bunch of assault 'mechs waddling at each other, their god-like gunners rarely missing a shot.

None of my players have an SPA yet, but I'm considering inventing a line of defense-oriented SPAs to help counter this gunnery bloat, and I'm wondering if anyone with more experience with AToW can tell me if my concerns are valid.

(Note: We're using Total Warfare rules for mech combat. I wonder if the SPA gunnery stuff balances better with the new mech combat system in AToW)

William J. Pennington

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1072
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #1 on: 29 April 2013, 07:47:22 »
Well, with any RPG campaign, rising skill levels will lead to increased lethality and effectiveness of the players.  To keep the players challenged, you will have to vary the situation somewhat. The opposition need not vary in weight.  Outnumber them.  Put them in disadvantegous situations.  Beat the crap put of them and keep them outside of their mechs for weeks and months after a mission that starts out "Ok, your dropship crashed, you barely survived, and your Mechs are toast.  You dont know where you are, roll for random wounds, and you have managed to find one survival kit and a knife apiece.  And the sounds of enemy VTOL's approaching can be heard. What do you do? The clock is ticking."

I guarantee you they'll be working on skills other than G/P for a bit.

You can also just deny them skill increases if you feel things are moving too fast.  Simply say for now, the campaign has a skill level limit of X, and no skill cna exceed that until you announce otherwise.

Some would suggest lowering XP given, but I don't.  Encourage them not to focus on piloting and gunnery.  If they are spending XP on a core set of 8 to 10 skills and not just focusing on two, you won't see levels shooting up that fast.

Grognard

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1206
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #2 on: 29 April 2013, 10:11:00 »
 >:D  I've got a scenario (written up somewhere) that will leave even the best G/P PCs shaking in their boots.

 >:D so good that my group forbade me from ever GMing again.

 O:-) I couldn't ever figure out why ... their reinforced Mech battalion only faced off against 32 medium Mechs.  O:-)

 >:D and 2 battalions of mechanized infantry...

 >:D and 3 battalions of mixed Armor.

 O:-) and the OpFor didnt even attack all at once...  O:-)

I call it: "Operation Hornet's Nest."

GROGNARD:  An old, grumpy soldier, a long term campaigner (Fr); Someone who enjoys playing tactics and strategy based board wargames;  a game fan who will buy every game released in a certain genre of computer game (RTS, or computer role-playing game, etc.)

Mohammed As`Zaman Bey

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 1903
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #3 on: 29 April 2013, 10:51:32 »
Two dimensional players don't last long in my campaigns -Most of the campaign is spent out of cockpit, dealing with other humans and mundane matters.

Paul

  • dies a lot at the Solaris Melee Challenge!
  • Battletech Volunteer
  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 13799
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #4 on: 29 April 2013, 11:17:14 »
At the same time, if both the players and GMs enjoy a very Mech-heavy campaign, there's nothing wrong with that neither. It's about making sure your group has fun, and that's usually achieved by giving them interesting and difficult problems to solve. Both WJP and Grognard have indicated good ways of doing that: give them missions where their high skill is countered by a substantial disparity in numbers.

Grognard also hints at another challenge: if your group has excellent anti-Mech equipped BattleMechs, give them an infantry rich or aerospace-equipped opponent. Other ideas to examine is how they deal with an enemy with good artillery support (8-16 artillery pieces) or how they deal with a well dug-in opponent; fortifications, bunkers, minefields, hidden positions and opportunity fire.

A third option is to fight fire with fire: if they hit truly legendary levels of competence, start making them the target of equally outstanding opponents. Or possibly opponents that are even more powerful than they are.


The key is figuring out what's fun for the group. And catering to that.

idea weenie

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 1995
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #5 on: 30 April 2013, 01:07:06 »
Give them missions where they have to be out of the cockpit for a while, and only the final fight is in their Mechs.  The final battle is influenced by their actions out of the Mech, making it easier/harder.

I.e. a mission to sneak up and sabotage the enemy sensor control, before you hit the base.  Success means lower ability to spot your Mechs coming in, so the base has less time to get ready.  Failure means your character got captured, and one less Mech to attack.  Plus other problems if they interrogate him, and find out where your base is.

The other fun is disproportionate threats.  I.e. you have one team of a few players trying to rescue someone from a jail.  The Mechs are providing a distraction.  The Mech pilots focus on the enemy Mechs too much, and get drawn off.  Two infantry platoons make it into the jail.  To a Mech, two infantry platoons is a small problem.  To the three people in the jail, those two platoons just cut off their exit route and will soon cut their lives off.

Coldwyn

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 740
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #6 on: 30 April 2013, 04:20:48 »
I've recently converted my group from Mechwarrior 3rd edition to A Time of War.  While the Special Pilot Abilities look like tons of fun, I see lots of stuff that improves gunnery but few things that improve your defense.  Combined with there now being only a single gunnery skill that is easy to level, it seems like eventually players will be such accomplished gunners that any 'mech that relies on not being hit (IE Light, quick 'mechs) will have a very short life on the battlefield.  This would eventually limit the game to a bunch of assault 'mechs waddling at each other, their god-like gunners rarely missing a shot.

None of my players have an SPA yet, but I'm considering inventing a line of defense-oriented SPAs to help counter this gunnery bloat, and I'm wondering if anyone with more experience with AToW can tell me if my concerns are valid.

(Note: We're using Total Warfare rules for mech combat. I wonder if the SPA gunnery stuff balances better with the new mech combat system in AToW)

The gunnery bloat actualy ain´t a bad thing as it quickens up combat and therefore is the best defence against the mounting chance of criticals.
it´s not necessarily that i´m immoral of character, i just don´t take great stock in the morality of others, that´s all

Grognard

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1206
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #7 on: 30 April 2013, 11:21:15 »
THANKS PAUL.

yeah, the options for bunkers and artillery can add a whole new level of EV.. , er, CHALLENGE to a scenario.

my plan was to cut the Player's Merc unit down to a more managable size.  To that end, I targetted all the NPCs very heavily.
12 PCs and 30 NPCs entered the fight. 10 PCs and 8 NPCs survived, with 5 functional Mechs and 2 stolen APCs. }:)

Thing is, the objective and the ability to force the OPFOR to cease fire was right in front of them for 3/4 of the game.  ::)

GROGNARD:  An old, grumpy soldier, a long term campaigner (Fr); Someone who enjoys playing tactics and strategy based board wargames;  a game fan who will buy every game released in a certain genre of computer game (RTS, or computer role-playing game, etc.)

Grognard

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1206
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #8 on: 30 April 2013, 11:25:27 »
and befoer anyone cries 'foul' at my GMing... one of the killed PCs was MY OWN PC, which I had spent the entire previous semester building up.  :b

GROGNARD:  An old, grumpy soldier, a long term campaigner (Fr); Someone who enjoys playing tactics and strategy based board wargames;  a game fan who will buy every game released in a certain genre of computer game (RTS, or computer role-playing game, etc.)

VirTseng

  • Recruit
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #9 on: 30 April 2013, 11:37:46 »
Thanks everyone for the replies!  Looks like gunnery shouldn't be the problem I feared it would be.

Paul

  • dies a lot at the Solaris Melee Challenge!
  • Battletech Volunteer
  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 13799
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #10 on: 30 April 2013, 12:43:11 »
Thanks everyone for the replies!  Looks like gunnery shouldn't be the problem I feared it would be.

One thing to keep in mind is that high gunnery doesn't increase the potential damage a 'Mech can do. It just makes it more likely that it'll achieve the full potential. Someone who hits with a MOS of 10 doesn't do more damage than someone who just gets the roll they needed.

Some SPAs *do* amplify the damage that can be done, but even those, it's incremental.

Acolyte

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1475
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #11 on: 30 April 2013, 12:49:14 »
Unless you're using the Direct Hits from TacOps, in which case you do an extra 3 points. :D

   - Shane
It is by caffeine alone that I set my mind in motion
It is by the coffee that my thoughts acquire speed
My teeth acquire stains
The stains become a warning
It is by caffeine alone that I set my mind in motion.

Paul

  • dies a lot at the Solaris Melee Challenge!
  • Battletech Volunteer
  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 13799
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #12 on: 30 April 2013, 13:23:45 »
Unless you're using the Direct Hits from TacOps, in which case you do an extra 3 points. :D

 [madflame]

 :P

idea weenie

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 1995
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #13 on: 30 April 2013, 21:05:52 »
Unless you're using the Direct Hits from TacOps, in which case you do an extra 3 points. :D

Pair that with a Piranha.  12 Machine guns each doing 5 pts of damage?   ;D  It is only dangerous within 3 hexes, but those three hexes are death.

It also would work for a JaegerMech, with its paired AC/2 and AC/5 turning into AC/5 and AC/8, but with the existing long ranges.

Te best use for something like this is to take an existing weak force, make it much more dangerous, but there is nothing fancier for the player to salvage.  In the Piranha, they are getting Clantech machine guns (plus the lasers and other stuff).  For the Jaegermech, they are getting basic Autocannons.  This is better than tossing super-tech/weapons at the players, and knowing that when the players win they are getting even more dangerous.

Acolyte

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1475
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #14 on: 30 April 2013, 21:19:10 »
Pair that with a Piranha.  12 Machine guns each doing 5 pts of damage?   ;D  It is only dangerous within 3 hexes, but those three hexes are death.

It also would work for a JaegerMech, with its paired AC/2 and AC/5 turning into AC/5 and AC/8, but with the existing long ranges.

Te best use for something like this is to take an existing weak force, make it much more dangerous, but there is nothing fancier for the player to salvage.  In the Piranha, they are getting Clantech machine guns (plus the lasers and other stuff).  For the Jaegermech, they are getting basic Autocannons.  This is better than tossing super-tech/weapons at the players, and knowing that when the players win they are getting even more dangerous.

To be fair, you'd have to get the same MOS with each roll for that to happen. This is why you put your very good gunners in 'Mechs that have lots of little weapons.

   - Shane
« Last Edit: 30 April 2013, 21:24:04 by Acolyte »
It is by caffeine alone that I set my mind in motion
It is by the coffee that my thoughts acquire speed
My teeth acquire stains
The stains become a warning
It is by caffeine alone that I set my mind in motion.

bytedruid

  • Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 199
  • A great starter adventure.
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #15 on: 05 June 2013, 18:16:08 »
... it seems like eventually players will be such accomplished gunners that any 'mech that relies on not being hit (IE Light, quick 'mechs) will have a very short life on the battlefield.

In our campaign I don't allow players to have a skill rank higher than the target number, i.e. there is no such thing as a negative modifier.  That's not much of a limit, but it does cap out skills eventually.  Another house rule that you could consider would be to state that you can't have more skill ranks than your link attribute.  Thus, if you want to be +6 to gunnery, you'll have to put 600 points into DEX as well.

Col Toda

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 2150
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #16 on: 06 June 2013, 11:19:54 »
A Good Gunnery score does not prevent you taking a bad contract . A good gunnery score
does not get you out of trouble if the bad contract gets your unit put up on war crime charges.

A good gunnery score does not help if you blow a protocol roll and you find yourself in a
circle of equals with blades .

My Unit does not need 2 or 1 gunners to kick  ass . In fact a 2 or 1 gunner tends
to increase the BV of their unit by more than 200 % .  It cost me too much to field mechs
with that kind of gunnery .  I like battle armor with 2 gunnery and mechs with 3 gunnery.

My unit enjoys house regular skill levels in 4 companies  3G 4 P and one company of a
training cadre for low risk contracts 4 Gunnery 5 Piloting  ( our minor leages . )
If the pilot gets better it gets transferred to home defense or a Ghost Regiment.

I make up for not having great gunnery and pilot skills with technology . My unit
tends to have 9 TAG units to help target 3 ARROW IV launchers and 9 LRM 15 s
with semi guided ammo .  The result is if 3 out of the 9 TAG hit an enemy unit
it likely gets hit with a Homing Arrow IV and 3 Semi- Guided LRM 15s . The Company
also fields 6 Gauss Rifles : 3 PPCs  : 6 LB 10 X s : and 6 ER Large lasers in a C3
network to better kill the enemy all with building heat by movement only . Yes
all that and Command Consoles increase the BV of the unit but not as much as a
1 Gunners in mechs and it is more effective. 


Coldwyn

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 740
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #17 on: 06 June 2013, 11:25:58 »
@Col Toda:

That interrests me. Is there a reference/rule on AToW characters being included in the BV modifier?
it´s not necessarily that i´m immoral of character, i just don´t take great stock in the morality of others, that´s all

William J. Pennington

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1072
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #18 on: 06 June 2013, 21:31:08 »
Unless you're using the Direct Hits from TacOps, in which case you do an extra 3 points. :D

   - Shane
and if you choose to do that on a board full of elite gunners... well that's the game you wanted. Enjoy.

Acolyte

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1475
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #19 on: 06 June 2013, 22:01:45 »
and if you choose to do that on a board full of elite gunners... well that's the game you wanted. Enjoy.

I do! Anything that helps the game get wrapped up in the limited time the group has is welcome, and this does.  O0

   - Shane
It is by caffeine alone that I set my mind in motion
It is by the coffee that my thoughts acquire speed
My teeth acquire stains
The stains become a warning
It is by caffeine alone that I set my mind in motion.

Col Toda

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 2150
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #20 on: 07 June 2013, 09:41:02 »
@ Coldwyn 

Yes after a fashion it does  provide conversion to Battletech Gunnery and Pilot skills
Which do effect the BV  .  It does not take into account things like natural
aptitude Pilot or Gunnery traits or any combat maneuvers purchased with XP
in ATOW  . You Can Fake  certain traits with BV  by substituting the benefit that gives
the same thing with equipment IE Combat Sense with the value of Communication
Equipment ; Tough with Har Jel  ; etc . I think for every 3OOXP in a TRAIT or skills
that impact gunnery or piloting should move said skill up to the next category
may balance things  ; say natural aptitude piloting ATOW Trait 300XP  roll 3 D 6 and
take the best 2 dice would move a 4 pilot to 3 effective pilot for BV purposes .
This may be a question best for it's own posted entry.

Col Toda

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 2150
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #21 on: 07 June 2013, 10:57:04 »
Did you apply TIME ?  A Time of War Character ages and has an age chart.
IS Characters start at age 21 .  Contracts last  3 - 6 months typically and
2 years is not unheard of .  Travel to and  between contracts takes weeks to months.
Down time between contracts seem to be weeks sometimes months.
The typical Garrison duty is 90% +    boredom 10 % combat .
Apply enough age to a converted character that 1G : 1P  pilot becomes a 4 : 4 .
Slow Learner all skills cost 10% more : Glass Jaw 1 free pilot hit .
Reflexes and Dex lose a Couple of hundred XP from both.

ATOW starting Character can quickly get  2 G and 2 P with work but has to
spend just about every XP earned to keep them and he normally has other
demands on XP that he cannot really do it unless he is at Solaris VII or at
a shooting war with minimal travel time.

Coldwyn

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 740
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #22 on: 07 June 2013, 13:11:43 »
@Col Toda:

While you maike an interesting point there, I don´t think this is how it´s being handled. When full-blown AToW characters are used, basic p/g skill isn´t used as an BV multi anymore, as we´ve moved to a different valuation system.
Taking a look at the Bounty Hunter Dossier, Vic´s Mechs use baseline BV, without factoring him in. Now, using Vic as an RPG character in an TW game, the balancing factor will be EXP based and how many he will get based on the preset difficulty of said scenario. So absolutelly no need to fiddle around with cramming AToW things into BV.

As for aging: That makes it clear why characters start so damn young.
it´s not necessarily that i´m immoral of character, i just don´t take great stock in the morality of others, that´s all

Col Toda

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 2150
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #23 on: 11 June 2013, 10:29:37 »
Most Battle tech RPG regardless of system still want to use BV to balance combats
some how it is the way you can determine how much a combat is worth in experience
points if you have some kind of way to quantify the Traits and special skills in
BV terms in order to determine on how tough the combat is likely to be.  Unfortunately
such things need to be play tested some and they are those who argue the BV
system is broken in some way . My experience is that those people do not adjust
the BV of a stock 4 G 5 P me ch sheet with the pilot's gunnery and piloting skills
that have improved . 

Coldwyn

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 740
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #24 on: 12 June 2013, 06:00:37 »
Most Battle tech RPG regardless of system still want to use BV to balance combats
some how it is the way you can determine how much a combat is worth in experience
points if you have some kind of way to quantify the Traits and special skills in
BV terms in order to determine on how tough the combat is likely to be.  Unfortunately
such things need to be play tested some and they are those who argue the BV
system is broken in some way . My experience is that those people do not adjust
the BV of a stock 4 G 5 P me ch sheet with the pilot's gunnery and piloting skills
that have improved .

We´ve had an interesting discussion about this after test-driving some homebrewed campaign rules. We "came" to a very interesting set of conclusions so far:
- Two of the younger people I game with come from the d20/Pathfinder generation of players, so they want everything to be balanced, want balanced BV encounters, and so on.
- Three of the older people I game with, me included, could be considered old-school and want the encounters to be setting/situation specific, which precludes balancing of any kind and sees losing/fleeing as a viable option.
it´s not necessarily that i´m immoral of character, i just don´t take great stock in the morality of others, that´s all

Mohammed As`Zaman Bey

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 1903
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #25 on: 12 June 2013, 07:25:31 »
A bunch of new guys joined our campaign and wanted to apply as Mech pilots in an established, multi-regiment Merc unit run by a player. They all are elite pilot/gunners but they all lack leadership, training and admin skills.

"Good pilots are a dime a dozen -What would you bring to the unit?"

Paul

  • dies a lot at the Solaris Melee Challenge!
  • Battletech Volunteer
  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 13799
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #26 on: 12 June 2013, 09:30:34 »
We´ve had an interesting discussion about this after test-driving some homebrewed campaign rules. We "came" to a very interesting set of conclusions so far:
- Two of the younger people I game with come from the d20/Pathfinder generation of players, so they want everything to be balanced, want balanced BV encounters, and so on.
- Three of the older people I game with, me included, could be considered old-school and want the encounters to be setting/situation specific, which precludes balancing of any kind and sees losing/fleeing as a viable option.

Tricky. You could explain either:
- As a GM, your job is to create interesting problems. That can mean some scenarios are not balanced, but that a solution is possible anyway. Even if it takes several unbalanced encounters to get there.
or:
- There is balance, but rather than on an individual basis, the balance exists across multiple encounters. As the player, you won't know how many encounters until there's balance, you just have to trust the GM.

I favor the former.

Mohammed As`Zaman Bey

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 1903
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #27 on: 12 June 2013, 10:36:00 »
  In my gaming group there's no such thing as balance.

  Every player has the opportunity to create the scenario by using his skills and the equipment he's assembled to handle the situation. Every player must also be prepared to accept errors in judgement and insufficient intel and act accordingly.
In creating the scenarios, a commander's Strategy and Tactics skills are far more valuable than Gunnery and scouting elements are worth their weight in gold in locating the enemy.

  We have players who command multi-regiment sized units and others, such as myself, who chose to leave command positions to go solo. While its fun to command the assets of a regiment I don't miss the accounting involved.


Coldwyn

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 740
Re: Gunnery Bloat?
« Reply #28 on: 12 June 2013, 15:28:46 »
Tricky. You could explain either:
- As a GM, your job is to create interesting problems. That can mean some scenarios are not balanced, but that a solution is possible anyway. Even if it takes several unbalanced encounters to get there.
or:
- There is balance, but rather than on an individual basis, the balance exists across multiple encounters. As the player, you won't know how many encounters until there's balance, you just have to trust the GM.

I favor the former.

I´m in the middle ground right now.
So far, I´m working out some campaign rules for a Hexploration type of game that uses an adapted version of the Warchest rules to surplant and enhance EXP.
Background: I´ve used the planet creation rules from AToW:Companion and Traveller to create "Kittery" as a planet. The campaign starts in the early Jihad years with the famous prison camp break-out Stone was involved in.

The basic gist of it is this: It´s old-school style hexploration, meaning randomly rolled hex map stuff, coupled with some fixed map entries that "tell a story". The basic currency for everything in this campaign are warchest points, meaning you spent those for everything. Examples would be:
- Enter a new hex with a Lance: 1 point.
- Secure a Hex: 10 points
- Own a Hex: 100 points
- Call in an air-strike by 2 VTOLs to have the OpFor enter the battle damages: 50 Points, roll 2d6, by 10+, one VTOL got shot down an needs to be replaced
and so on.

At the current state of our playtest, we opted to exchange Warchest for EXP on a 1:10 basis, forcing players to "own" a vehicle based on that. So buying a Heavy Mech via Warchest points equals the appropriate vehicle trait, upgrading it would cost an equal amount of points to own the "customized" trait, and so on.
We also opted for using warchest points to salvage situations. That means that you could spent an equal amount of points regarding your skill levels to "not die" and the appropiate points to salvage your mech should things have gone wrong in a mission. This had an interesting side effect so far, as my guys and gals seem to be loath to attain levels beyond "veteran", as those get very costly to replace.

In the next two or three sessions, we´ll work on integrating more building/structure rules (like creating own mech facilities, barracks and so on) as well as look into commander abilities.

The interesting thing, so far is, that by tying several functions in this type of campaign to certain skills, gunnery bloat so far is no problem and only two guys (yes, the Pathfinder players) have invested into SPAs so far.
it´s not necessarily that i´m immoral of character, i just don´t take great stock in the morality of others, that´s all