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I'm working on some background articles and thought I would put up my first draft here to hopefully answer a few questions and get some feedback if something needs a better description or other questions you may have!
Using APA and ECM
A common question I receive from players is how APA and ECM work in an actual game setting. So, I thought I take a moment to write up a more in-depth description of the process behind both SAs.
Active Phase Array
APA is a 3D radar system designed to track multiple targets at short range using a series of non-moving sensor arrays mounted in various locations across the equipped model, each emitting a “beam” at multiple “angles” and frequencies. The on-board targeting systems of other friendly models, through the BattleNet, can use this information to help cut through enemy electronic counter-measures, increasing the chances of a successful “hit.”
How is this different from advanced targeting computers?
Every combat model in CAV: Strike Ops is built with a rudimentary targeting computer, loaded with a basic software package that helps a pilot or gunner to analyze the surrounding environment and the desired target (weak points or existing damage for example), as well as helping to manage any on-board weapon systems and the actual firing of them.
Advance Targeting Computers take this process one step further with the addition of a Class One AI. The other major difference it the addition of a successful target-lock. While the data flow from an APA is available to any model set to receive the encoded stream, an ATC requires a specific target to analyze.
Understanding Artificial Intelligence in CAV: Strike Ops
By the 23rd century the use of AI by the various races of the known galaxy have been defined by one of four classes. As is typical, these concepts are provided from a Terran perspective to allow for a common framework for our readers to understand the principals involved.
Class One AI: Reactive
A Class One AI is the most basic of these types of systems and is designed to “react” to the current situation without any regards to stored “memories,” processing the data from the “moment” and providing an optimal mode of attack, in this example, from a multitude of possibilities. The more data it receives and processes (the rating level of an ATC is relative to this processing ability), helps to increase the chance of a successful outcome.
Class Two AI: Limited Memory
A Class Two AI allows it to “observe” the surrounding environment, storing the data to help improve any pre-programmed responses to deal with a specific situation. The drawback to this class of AI is it can’t “learn” or use a previous experience to help it when it is presented with a similar event later one.
These types of AI are often found on spaceships, self-driving vehicles and autonomous farm machinery.
Class Three AI: Empathy
Class Three AIs can understand and form reactions based on how it perceives the thoughts and emotions of creatures and people or how an object can affect the environment around it. This allows the AI to modify its own programming to behave in such a way to meet the needs or expectations of a given situation.
Class Four AI: Self-Aware
This type of AI takes the previous representations to the next step, allowing it to form its own thoughts and self-empathy based on what it perceives and any needs it may have. It is aware of “self” and make predictions on how it thinks others will react to their own feelings or inferences.
How does an APA work in game terms?
While typically built “into” a given design (CAVs, vehicles or aircraft only), an APA is currently available on two configurations: Active Phase Array 1 and 2. Both systems perform the same function but differ in power and range. Examples include the Ritter’s Cheetah Nd Series IIa and the Adonese Dragonfly TB-3 Interdict APA systems.
An external APA pod is available as an add-on to an existing model but is severely limited in its overall power and use as detailed below.
A model with an APA system will require the use of a Special Action when using either of the following options. Only ONE option may be used during the current activation:
OPTION ONE - Enhanced Targeting Acquisition: Its base function, the APA will generate additional targeting data for any friendly model that is targeting an enemy model located in the area of effect (APA Pod: 18”, APA 1: 24”, or APA 2: 36”) measured from the center of the model that is actively using the APA, moving with the model as it moves (if any).
The use of this targeting data will add a (+1) or (+2) based on the APA’s rating level to an attacking model’s final combat roll. The maximum bonus for an APA Pod is (+1).
If an enemy model should move out of the current AoE of the activated APA, the bonus provided is no longer available for an attacking model. Subsequently, an enemy model that moves into this AoE will allow for the addition of the bonus should it be subject to a later attack.
The targeting bonus will remain in effect from it’s current activation until the beginning of that model’s next activation in the following turn.
The model using this function of the APA can also benefit from the combat roll bonus should it also choose to attack an eligible enemy model.
The use of multiple friendly APAs do NOT “stack” to the combat roll bonus, using the highest available rating level for the attack only.
OPTION TWO – Jamming: A model with an APA system, during its current activation, may choose to try and “block” or jam the use of an enemy APA or ECM system by overwhelming their sensors with highly concentrated bursts of energy, creating electronic “noise” to disrupt their data streams. APA Pods cannot use this option and will automatically be “jammed” by an enemy attempt against it (no opposed roll needed).
Example: A model (A) with APA 1 is activated and declares, as part of their activation, an attempt to jam an enemy model (B), also with APA 1. A jamming attempt uses an opposed roll to determine success, so both players will roll 2d6 and add the rating level of APA system to their respective roll. If model B wins the opposed roll, the attempt fails, and the action is lost. Should model A win the roll, model B will be unable to activate its own APA until after the end of its next activation.
Is the enemy model required to be in the AoE of the activating model’s APA system? What if it has both a APA and ECM system?
No, jamming does not require targeting data so it less dependent on range and an enemy model equipped with a APA and ECM system will have BOTH systems jammed.
Are there any other modifiers applicable to the opposed roll?
Yes, Ace and Veteran pilots/crews and a WSO will add their bonus to the final roll.
What if the enemy model has already activated this turn? And what happens if the enemy model is currently using their APA or ECM system?
If the enemy model has already activated this turn, it will be unable to use either system until after the end of their next activation in the following turn. If either system is currently active, any effect it is currently generating is removed and cannot not be reactivated until after the end of its next activation.
So, an enemy model is jamming one of my models, what happens if I have another one of my models jam it?
The jamming effect is cancelled, and your model may use either system during its next activation.
I had already activated my model this turn and had been using option one with my APA system before I was jammed. If the jamming is removed does the use of option one return automatically?
No, you will have to initiate it with a new special action on your next activation.
BONUS – HARM GMs: A model with an APA system may use upgrade points to equip HARM guided missiles. When used as part of a direct-fire combat action against an enemy model with an ACTIVE APA or ECM system (either option) during the current turn, HARM missiles do not require the use of an additional target-lock action to be used in the attack and adds the rating of the APA system to the combat roll as a (+) modifier.
Does using HARM GMs require a special action?
No, it is considered part of the combat action.
Does the automatic target-lock apply to other direct-fire weapon systems? Does a normal target-lock also add to the combat roll to the HARM attack? Does the automatic target-lock also add any ATC bonuses to the HARM attack?
Does Ace/Veteran Pilot/Crew and WSO modifiers apply to the HARM combat roll?
ECM (Electronic Counter-Measures) is a specialized jamming array designed to radiate concentrated energy signals at an enemy’s radar and other targeting/detection systems across a wide range of frequencies. This type of jamming requires a lot of power, limiting the overall range of an ECM system.
How is this different from the normal jamming used in option two of APA and ECM systems?
A dedicated ECM system works across a wide spectrum of frequencies and is typically referred to as barrage jamming, providing interference that degrades the ability of the enemy to specifically target. Option two, also known as base jamming, goes directly after the source of an emission, attempting to block any data from being used.
How does an ECM work in game terms?
While typically built “into” a given design (CAVs, vehicles or aircraft only), an ECM is currently available on two configurations: ECM 1 and 2. Both systems perform the same function but differ in power and range. Examples include the Terran’s Talon Cloak System 26 and the Rach’s Kahn R-Series 21c ECM systems.
An external ECM pod is available as an add-on to an existing model but is severely limited in its overall power and use as detailed below.
A model with an ECM system will require the use of a Special Action when using either of the following options. Only ONE option may be used during the current activation:
OPTION ONE - ECM: Its base function, the ECM will prevent the use of the target-lock action (or loss of an existing target-lock) of an enemy model located in the area of effect (ECM Pod: 18”, APA 1: 24”, or APA 2: 36”) measured from the center of the model that is actively using the ECM, moving with the model as it moves (if any). The rating level of an ECM system affects its overall range and its effectiveness when be used for option two. The ECM Pod does not have a rating level and cannot be used for option two or the use of HARM GMs.
If an enemy model should move out of the current AoE of the activated ECM it will no longer be affected by the target-lock block. Subsequently, an enemy model that moves into this AoE will no longer be able target-lock an enemy model and will lose any current target-locks it may already have.
The use of option one by a model will remain in effect from its current activation until the beginning of that model’s next activation in the following turn.
Does an ECM system block EST?
No, but it does prevent the enemy model from acquiring or maintaining a target-lock, effectively removing EST from play.
OPTION TWO – Jamming: See above.
BONUS – HARM GMs: See above.
By Savage Coyote
So I've completed my CAV:SO Christmas Exchange piece and thought I'd post it here. I'm using my "speed painting" technique thats cut down my paint time for desert jobs at the moment. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out and pleased with my new photo set up.
It has been a really busy year for me, between moving across the country, starting a new job, finding a place to live, getting married, major surgery for the missus, and evacuating/rebuilding after a major hurricane. Unfortunately, this has left little time for painting- and it’s been driving me nuts!
After the wedding a few weeks back, we finally had some time to take a step back and breathe. The wife poked me and said “why don’t you start painting again?”
The first thing I picked up was this squad of half-finished Ritterlich Republic cougars I had been working on last winter before the move. They had been painted and inked, but not assembled, highlighted or jeweled.
I’ve been working on them a few hours at a time over the past few weeks, and finally had a big chunk of the day yesterday where I could sit down and power through them… here they are! I still need to do the bases, but I couldn’t do that last night as the glue was still drying. They will also get a matte varnish coat, but I'd like to get your C&C on a few things before then.
As I have mentioned before, this is from the CAV kickstarter; one of the things I wanted to do with the kickstarter CAVs was to explore a different painting technique for each army. For the Ritter, this was edging.
As time went on, I started to become a bit fatigued at the sheer amount of edging required. This caused me to slowly rotate from display quality (for me at least) to more tabletop quality. But hey, a painted mini is always better than an unpainted one, and easing up a bit on the quality allowed me to finish them quickly.
I am also trying to incorporate more blending in the canopies, as well as some OSL effects. As you can see, I am still practicing. I expect I will get better with time (at least I hope I do)!
As always, C & C are very welcome. I am trying to get better and I can’t do that without critique. Any comments about how to improve the jeweling or OSL in particular would be most appreciated.
If anyone wants the paints or techniques used, I can provide that information too.
Some thoughts on The CavCon tournament.
The tournament was well organized. The terrain looked great. Jon and Tim were available to answer questions and explain the reasons behind various decisions at any time.
I've never had more one on one time to interact with a game developer ever. Jon went out of his way to walk me though several parts of the game that I didn't understand and he was open to feedback to improve the game for me (and hopefully others).
The veteran players Todd Farnholtz, Ross Hines, and Brandon Baker were friendly, open, and available to explain both the rules and their thoughts about the 'meta'.
Todd and Ross are also fabulous painters with lots of experience in the niche of painting giant robots to look like giant robots. They shared tips and feedback with me which I appreciate a lot,
The tournament terrain looked awesome but it's nature and layout limited the kinds of forces that were viable in the tournament.
The tallest piece of cover on the boards I saw was a level 3 hill. That is it in the background of the photo where my figures
- in red and grey - are learning the meaning of the phrase 'shock check'. :)
The deployment zone of my opponent (Ross Hines) had an elevation 2 hill just outside of it. All Ross had to do was walk forward for one activation and then his CAVs - in blue and black - were at elevation 4 which lets him see over the highest elevation terrain on the board. On his first turn he could fire Guided Missiles 6" deployment + 7" Move + 64" Extreme range = 77". The playing area is only 72" long.
[Edited to correct the Silverback's movement from 5" to 7"]
I literally had no where to hide from his fire.
Additionally, being at elevation 4 allowed him to see over the intervening 'woods' which are only elevation 3. I could only gain the benefit of cover by hugging against it within one inch. The trees did serve to slow down my forward progress as I had to either go around them or spend extra movement to go through them.
I've only played about a dozen games of CAV so I may be missing an aspect of the terrain rules or some strategy that mitigates the lack of LOS blocking terrain.
The people. The models. The game.
No better example of good people than Jeff my second round opponent. He is a veteran CAV player who helped me through the rules I was unfamiliar with and shared numerous stories about the history of the game.
The new Firedrake model is beautiful. I love it's angular lines and the compactness of it's rocket launchers - I bought 6 of them. :)
The game plays fast once you get several games under your belt. The rules flow logically and I found by the end of the tournament I rarely had to ask how something worked.
Perhaps the last and best compliment that I can give is that I'm already planning my next force. I have the paint scheme in mind and plan to experiment with heavily weathered CAVs.
I hope to meet and play CAV with all of you at the tournament next year.
WE ARE LIVE! CAV:SO KICKSTARTER II
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