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CAV 2.M Beta [Fan Revision]

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Inspired by the CAV Kickstarter, over the past couple of months I have frequently alluded to and shared portions of my attempt to improve upon the CAV 2 rules as they were left following the Rage Chronicles ’08 public beta. Utilizing an early draft of rules changes proposed by Mil-Net and drawing heavily on old forum discussions of known problems and possible solutions, I have overhauled several portions of the rules and expanded others. This project has now reached the point where there is little more I can do without feedback on the numerous changes, and so I would like to present to you the CAV 2.M Beta.

 

CAV 2.M Beta [zip]  EDIT: Link dead. Find the latest version HERE. EDIT: Links removed as per Reaper's request. PM me if you're looking for the latest files.

 

The download consists of an errata document, in the style of Rage Chronicles ’08, and data cards for all models with the exception of the War for Sale army lists and those with the Unique SA from Shards. I would be happy to provide any of the excluded cards if there is demand for them, and they will of course be included in the final release. My intention following the testing is to produce a full rulebook incorporating the changes and improving on the layout and presentation.

 

Please post any feedback in this thread; actual playtest results/battle reports would be most valuable, but all input is welcome! Thoughts on the assignment of abilities and point values would also be helpful, given the abundance of new SAs and the increased relevance of EXP, TC, and EDV values. Due to the sheer number of models I had to work through, the data cards could probably do with some refinement, and improving balance and internal consistency will be a major focus leading up to the final version.

 

Throughout this project, I have relied heavily on several members of the Mil-Net community. My thanks to all of you for providing the groundwork for this project, and especially for the assistance in developing the new point calculator. The M designation is in honor of Mil-Net and all they've done for the CAV community.

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To open the discussion, I would like to present a list of my design goals, both specific and general, to provide some context for the changes. Above all else, my aim was to retain or improve the fast, streamlined play that makes the game so enjoyable, and to generally remain true to the history of the game. With that in mind, I set out with the following five goals:

 

Address “The Huddleâ€

Perhaps the single greatest complaint regarding CAV 2, at least after the insta-death infantry were addressed, was “The Huddleâ€, the cluster of units that inevitably formed around ECM- and EST-providing Recon models. As such, I have implemented no fewer than three major changes all intended to address this problem. First, dedicated electronic warfare models, such as the Panther and Talon, have been separated from reconnaissance units, such as the Nomad or Puma, and given the new designation of ESM or Electronics Systems Management. Models retaining the Recon type have generally had their electronic warfare abilities curtailed, though some such as the Ashigaru retain the ability to serve as “spotters†for fire support. Second, acquiring a Target Lock or Jamming is no longer guaranteed; the model in question must succeed on a 10+ EXP roll. ESM units receive a bonus to this roll, but the possibility of failure remains and is strong incentive not to rely too heavily on your ESM units. Third, the native Target Lock/Jamming capability of many models has improved, allowing them to receive a meaningful bonus without requiring an ESM model.

 

Improve Indirect Fire

Indirect fire resolution was one of the less elegant components of the existing CAV rules. Numerous elements were added or subtracted to the Target Point and Drift rolls, and it was nearly impossible for attacks by models without the FRS SA to land on target. As with electronics, the use of the EXP stat offered a solution. The Target Point roll is now a simple 10+ EXP roll with any Target Lock or Jamming modifiers applied. This gives Attack models a reasonable chance of hitting on target, while dedicated Fire Support retains superior accuracy with the FRS SA.

 

Incorporate New Content

There are a variety of additions not intended to address any particular shortcoming, but rather to simply expand the game. This includes concepts resulting from discussions at Mil-Net such as strike pools and several new SAs, optional rules published by Mil-Net such as allowing full-rate defensive fire and the Beans and Bullets doctrine, and the addition of new models to the game. This last point includes both variants suggested by the model’s Journal of Recognition entry as well as the addition of entirely new units, made possible by the addition of Rogue Legion to the CAV line and the multitude of new models announced over the past several months. I have thus far been quite particular in the addition of new models, resulting in a slight imbalance between the factions (see this blog post for details); I am absolutely open to suggestions in this area. I have yet to add any, but I believe faction-specific infantry may have some potential.

 

Individualize UCORs

This may have resulted in some of the more controversial changes, as it called for substantial revision of many data cards. In CAV 2, model stats are modified by faction: all Adonese models have increased range, all Rach models have reduced DV, and so on. This struck me as rather unfortunate, given the effort that has gone into establishing each individual UCOR’s history and visual style. So, I went through and defined strengths and weaknesses for each UCOR. Major changes include extended range for Hughes-Marietta missiles, distinction between UCORs which favor guided missiles and those which don’t, and variations in severity of model degradation.

 

Individualize Weaponry

One minor complaint that came up occasionally was that the various weapon systems didn’t feel distinct enough; at the end of the day there wasn’t much differentiating a PBG from a GC, or a GGC from a DFM. My improvements in this area are almost entirely drawn from the Mil-Net playtest document and are centered around a selection of new and altered SAs. Powerful PBGs can now overload the target’s electrical systems, while GGCs can increase their rate of fire at the expense of accuracy. Guided missiles suffer no range penalties, but have a reduced maximum range compared to regular DFMs.

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I will download this tonight, and give it a read.  May even pull the old CAV pile o' models out and give it a go with the kids.

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To open the discussion, I would like to present a list of my design goals, both specific and general, to provide some context for the changes. Above all else, my aim was to retain or improve the fast, streamlined play that makes the game so enjoyable, and to generally remain true to the history of the game. With that in mind, I set out with the following five goals:

 

Address “The Huddleâ€

Perhaps the single greatest complaint regarding CAV 2, at least after the insta-death infantry were addressed, was “The Huddleâ€, the cluster of units that inevitably formed around ECM- and EST-providing Recon models. As such, I have implemented no fewer than three major changes all intended to address this problem. First, dedicated electronic warfare models, such as the Panther and Talon, have been separated from reconnaissance units, such as the Nomad or Puma, and given the new designation of ESM or Electronics Systems Management. Models retaining the Recon type have generally had their electronic warfare abilities curtailed, though some such as the Ashigaru retain the ability to serve as “spotters†for fire support. Second, acquiring a Target Lock or Jamming is no longer guaranteed; the model in question must succeed on a 10+ EXP roll. ESM units receive a bonus to this roll, but the possibility of failure remains and is strong incentive not to rely too heavily on your ESM units. Third, the native Target Lock/Jamming capability of many models has improved, allowing them to receive a meaningful bonus without requiring an ESM model.

 

Improve Indirect Fire

Indirect fire resolution was one of the less elegant components of the existing CAV rules. Numerous elements were added or subtracted to the Target Point and Drift rolls, and it was nearly impossible for attacks by models without the FRS SA to land on target. As with electronics, the use of the EXP stat offered a solution. The Target Point roll is now a simple 10+ EXP roll with any Target Lock or Jamming modifiers applied. This gives Attack models a reasonable chance of hitting on target, while dedicated Fire Support retains superior accuracy with the FRS SA.

 

Incorporate New Content

There are a variety of additions not intended to address any particular shortcoming, but rather to simply expand the game. This includes concepts resulting from discussions at Mil-Net such as strike pools and several new SAs, optional rules published by Mil-Net such as allowing full-rate defensive fire and the Beans and Bullets doctrine, and the addition of new models to the game. This last point includes both variants suggested by the model’s Journal of Recognition entry as well as the addition of entirely new units, made possible by the addition of Rogue Legion to the CAV line and the multitude of new models announced over the past several months. I have thus far been quite particular in the addition of new models, resulting in a slight imbalance between the factions (see this blog post for details); I am absolutely open to suggestions in this area. I have yet to add any, but I believe faction-specific infantry may have some potential.

 

Individualize UCORs

This may have resulted in some of the more controversial changes, as it called for substantial revision of many data cards. In CAV 2, model stats are modified by faction: all Adonese models have increased range, all Rach models have reduced DV, and so on. This struck me as rather unfortunate, given the effort that has gone into establishing each individual UCOR’s history and visual style. So, I went through and defined strengths and weaknesses for each UCOR. Major changes include extended range for Hughes-Marietta missiles, distinction between UCORs which favor guided missiles and those which don’t, and variations in severity of model degradation.

 

Individualize Weaponry

One minor complaint that came up occasionally was that the various weapon systems didn’t feel distinct enough; at the end of the day there wasn’t much differentiating a PBG from a GC, or a GGC from a DFM. My improvements in this area are almost entirely drawn from the Mil-Net playtest document and are centered around a selection of new and altered SAs. Powerful PBGs can now overload the target’s electrical systems, while GGCs can increase their rate of fire at the expense of accuracy. Guided missiles suffer no range penalties, but have a reduced maximum range compared to regular DFMs.

This point may or may not be of help, but as to the "Huddle", real life experience shows the jamming unit can become a target as you close in on the jammer.  You actually lock on to the jamming signal as it becomes more of a defined shape that to a Radar is solid.  In game scale it would be considerably shortened due to table sizes.

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This point may or may not be of help, but as to the "Huddle", real life experience shows the jamming unit can become a target as you close in on the jammer.  You actually lock on to the jamming signal as it becomes more of a defined shape that to a Radar is solid.  In game scale it would be considerably shortened due to table sizes.

 

 

Given the low DV on most jamming units, this kind of effect is primarily included in the point blank bonus. That said, there are two new rules along a similar theme: anti-radiation missiles (available as a gunship upgrade) that give a +3 bonus vs. jamming targets, and a new Templar doctrine that grants all your units +1 vs. jamming targets.

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Wanted to make a quick note--the formatting of the data cards is very much a first-pass attempt resulting from the limitations of Excel. The final versions will be easier on the eyes, with finer lines and bolded weapon names like the existing CAV 2 cards.

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Quick update: after taking a short break to focus on some other projects, move across the country, and start graduate school, I'm back at work on these rules with the help of a small private playtest and feedback group. Feedback on the rules presented here is still very much welcome, but we've moved forward in a number of areas, so if you want to be involved with the most current discussion or help out with playtesting, send me a PM. I've set up a digital tabletop client for playtesting games, so you don't need to have a local opponent to participate!

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Progress continues behind the scenes; we're currently playtesting several major changes and hope to have more to report soon. In the meantime, here's the latest version of a few datacards highlighting some of the new SAs:

 

Jan16%202.M%20Sample%20Cards.png

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Battle reports! Played two test games today utilizing all-new data cards and revisions to electronics, indirect fire, and strikes, to overall positive results. Both games were Terran vs. Templar, 2500 points, but utilizing different lists and doctrines.

 

Game 1: The Templar force consisted of an attack section with three Tigers (now an Open Market model), a Talon, and a Dingo, plus a fire support section with four Trebuchets. They were utilizing a new doctrine which gives models +1 Exp so long as they're within 3" of an allied model (boosting the accuracy of indirect fire and success rate of electronics). Opposing them was a Terran force featuring an attack section of two Naginatas and two Wolfs, a specialist section of an Ashigaru and two Raptors, and a section of mixed infantry with FiST and a Repair Module riding in a Condor and a Merlin.

The Trebuchets absolutely dominated this game, obliterating the opposing infantry early on and hammering the less-mobile remainder of the army from behind a ridgeline for the rest of the game. The Terrans dropped several FASCAM strikes (artillery-deployed minefields) which forced the Templar into certain firing lanes but failed to do any damage. Meanwhile, the Tigers and the Terran tanks advanced to the middle of the field and traded fire, proving fairly evenly matched until a particularly effective barrage from the Trebuchets.

While my opponent was still remembering how to play and could have used the artillery strikes more effectively, the Trebuchets may very well be unbalanced as is. Their stats were not changed significantly in the revisions, but their cost fell by about 30% under the new points calculator, suggesting that the indirect weapon cost formulas may require some additional attention.

 

Game 2: In the second game I fielded Templar with the Elite Training doctrine, allowing me to field two identical sections of a Duelist plus two Black Knights (variant Knight with twin PBGs), a recon section of four Mambas (featuring the new Jammer SA), and some missile strikes. The Terrans brought a primary attack section of a Starhawk VI, a Jaguar, an Archer, and a faction Talon, a flight of Tsuisekis, and the same infantry section from the first game.

This round proved more evenly matched. With little indirect capability, both forces moved towards the center of the board. The Mambas called in a Ripper cruise missile but were obliterated by the opposing CAVs after a FASCAM-deployed minefield softened them up. The following turn, the Ripper detonated in the midst of several opposing sections, vaporizing the infantry with the repair module and damaging a Tsuiseki and the Talon. By this point, one of the Templar attack sections had taken a hill and began their attack, frequently assisted by the Duelist's EST. The Duelist itself proved quite deadly thanks to the new Wrecker SA, often dealing 3-4 points of damage in an attack. The other Templar CAVs found themselves entangled with the Terran assault infantry. Though their numbers ultimately proved insufficient to bring down any of the Templar CAVs, the infantry and their transports tied up a Black Knight for several turns until a lucky double-10 resulted in the Knight stomping them flat. The freed-up Templar CAVs proceeded to systematically eliminate the opposing Terran CAVs, though taking heavy return fire from the Starhawk VI. The Mambas long since eliminated, they then found themselves at the losing end of a confrontation with the nearly-undamaged Tsuisekis and were ultimately forced from the field.

 

Overall, we were both quite pleased with the new mechanics. Indirect fire resolution felt right, with even non-fire support models having some chance of hitting on target, despite the specific case of the undercosted Trebuchets. Electronics also played nicely, with the Duelists in particular (as a non-dedicated ESM model) failing to activate EST on occasion. The Mambas unfortunately didn't survive long enough to test the new Jammer SA. My opponent was quite fond of the new FASCAM strike, and the flexibility offered by the strike pool system proved useful on both sides. The Burst SA felt appropriate the couple of times it was used, though Overload failed to trigger in either game, quite possibly as a result of most models having some amount of the Shielding SA. The lists felt quite balanced in the second game, suggesting that most of the revised point calculations are solid, with the possible exception of indirect attacks.

 

We'll be playing some larger games with different factions next time, and will hopefully have results to share on even more of the new abilities!

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Depended on force composition; in the first game, the Terrans had the range advantage so they parked themselves on a ridgeline and forced my Tigers to make the approach, while in the second game, the ranges were more even so both forces simply advanced until they were in close range. The airborne elements of the Terran force were quite mobile in that game however, making good use of point blank range to make an impact with the unloaded transports' machine guns. The board we used definitely encouraged a less mobile battle--there was a large ridge on each side of the board, offering good line of sight but preventing advancement past the middle of the board, with a lower central lane that was dominated by the Terran's artillery-deployed minefields. There were some woods providing light cover but very little to block line of sight; next time we might go for a more urban-type layout or use forces with more variable ranges and see how that plays out.

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You might also throw in some objectives and scenarios. I've found in playtesting that i have been a part of, it can help highlight issues as well.

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Forgot about this.  May pull the CAV back out again since the last time a year ago :)  Love CAV 2, since the simplicity of it made the game about tactics and not about pening the rulebook every 10 minutes.

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