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Corwin

Proud nails and house rules

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The following are issues that I encountered that don't make sense to me, and suggestions for changes.  I want to be clear that my intention is to offer points for discussion, I make no claim about being right.  I understand that some/most/all of the issues I cover are abstracted for ease and speed of play, so feel free to ignore all of it.

1.  On the cheatsheet, the Chameleon SA's stated benefit is (-1) to all direct-fire ranged assault Combat Roll(s) from medium range-band or greater.  On its face, this seems okay.  In practice, this means units equipped with PBG's have less-effective sensors than units with MACs, guided missiles, etc.  Compare this to units being able to Target Lock any other unit on the board, regardless of range.

Suggested fix:  Assign a fixed range for Chameleon.  Chameleon's benefit applies to all direct-fire ranged assault Combat Rolls from a range of 24" or more.  If allied units are within 24" of a unit with Chameleon, it has no effect, thanks to BattleNet magic.

2. Indirect fire cannot hit aircraft, even aircraft flying NoE (by definition being at very low altitude), even if the indect attack has a large AoE (aircraft are small and fast and therefore harder to hit).  AoE attacks, as with horseshoes and hand grenades, close should be good enough, but it isn't.  I understand that indirect fire attacks are made against a ground location, and not a specific unit, but if hover and anti-grav units can be damaged by indirect fire, aircraft (especially in NoE flight) should be eligible, too.
Suggested fix:  This should be elevation dependent, plus any bonuses from Double-Time.  Maybe aircraft can be hit on a 6+ if at elevation 0/NoE, 10+ at elevation 1, and unaffected at elevation 2+.

3. Nap of Earth flight is described as "a special type of low-level fight"... used "in an attempt to avoid being attacked by the enemy"..."twisting and turning just above the “deck."" (p2, CAVSEErrata119) "Abstractly, an aircraft using NoE is considered to always be behind blocking cover as it maneuvers around the battlefield.", even "if there is no “cover” available." (emphasis added; p18, CAVSOErrata119).  Aircraft flying Nap of Earh is interesting, evocative, and potentially useful.  In practice, it works too well, and it's applied inconsistently, since aircraft are the only units able to use it.  Other vehicles, including ones that stay at least as close to the ground (if not closer), do not ger the benefits of NoE.  Further, it makes aircraft nigh-invulnerable, unless a narrow set of conditions are met, (Anti-Aircraft SA, or within 12").  The closest analog is the infantry SA, "Rat", which counts open terrain as Light Cover.  Aircraft get the NoE ability for free, while the Rat SA has a cost, and NoE effectively grants Blocking Cover, as compared to Rat's Light Cover.  Finally, it steps on the Chameleon SA's niche, since it functions as better stealth than the Chameleon SA.  As a bit of an aside, it reminds me of the "Evasion" class ability from D&D, which allowed a rogue to take no damage from a fireball, even when in an empty room smaller than the fireball's blast area.  Evasion raises the question, "What is the rogue hiding behind?";  NoE raises the question, "What is the aircraft hiding behind?"

Suggested fix:  NoE sets an aircraft's elevation at 0, akin to hover and anti-grav units.  That's it.  The aircraft can use actual cover on the board.  This also simplifies things, since there are already suitable rules in place for elevation and cover, and is then consistent for all units.  The Anti-Aircraft SA would still grant its situation modifier, but it would no longer be the only way to attack an aircraft flying NoE, and enemy units would no longer need to be within 12" to attempt a direct-fire ranged assault.  The Chameleon and Rat SAs would not be upstaged by another ability.

4. The Double-Time SA seems unneccessary.
Suggested fix:  Fold this into the situation modifiers on the Combat Roll table.  Any unit that moves 11+ from its starting point in a turn receives a (-2) to those rolls against it.  This would apply regardless of the number of APs used to move that distance, and could be used in conjunction with Run N' Gun.

5. Certain weapons and equipment for SAs and not eligible for all units.  This makes sense for some cases, but doesn't make sense in others.  I can  understand infantry not having vehicle weapons, but I don't see why an aircraft can't equip a howitzer (light or heavy) if it has the hard points.  Before  anybody jumps on this as a ridiculous idea, I'd kindly refer them to that AC-130 gunship.
Suggested fix:  This should be obvious.

6.  A very minor quibble.  Page 19 of the Errata says that a 787 would have 2 DT's.  I understand the point being made, but I would use a different example, unlesss each hard point used for "Transport" can carry 80 people, assuming the 787 took the "Expanded Chassis" SA.

Suggested fix: None.  Just that there is at least a loose relationship between a chassis' size and number of DT's.

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Hi Corwin,

I thought I would comment on your suggestions, more in an effort to explain why we did this or that. As always, its your game, so play how you want. :)

 

1. SA: Chameleon - I'm sure down the road I could come up with some pseudo-science reason why this SA works the way it does, adding more of a description of its effects, etc. such as PBGs take a greater amount of power to use and as a result, degrade the model's sensors, but mainly I didn't want to penalize models for having lessor or greater ranged weapons. Target-locking is a whole separate "beast," using active sensors and a lot more gathered information from multiple sources to let it do its thing, so I wouldn't really compare them.

 

2. Aircraft fly a whole lot faster than the MV rate they are assigned. 1 MV equals 5 mph speed wise, so a real A-10 would have a MV rate of 68" at cruise speed. So what is really happening is the MV is a reflection of time over the battlefield they can actually do something. So even if you cant "see" it, aircraft are looping around, going up and down, etc. all the time, even if they declare no movement at all during an activation. Also I don't want to get into tracking an elevation level for aircraft.

 

3. NoE: Something that is missing here (which we are adding to the next errata update) is that other aircraft ignore NoE. So really the best thing to take out other aircraft is other aircraft. Airplanes have the lowest average DT for non-infantry models, get no other benefit from any cover, and cant really do anything else during NoE movement, especially if they don't have pop-up. In response to your question, what an airplane is hiding behind is whatever cover there may be on the board, maybe things that are not even represented on the board. This is played as an abstraction than a strict WYSIWYG kinda deal.

 

4. Double-Time: It could be down either way, but by having it listed as a SA it makes the player aware of the bonus without having to check a chart. We are going to be making a tweak to double-time in relation to turning during the move, but it serves its purpose. I generally like to keep everything in the game with a positive and a negative, hence why it cannot be used with Run N Gun. 

 

5. This is more of "Im not ready for some models to have this" but you never no what the future may hold!

 

6. The reasoning behind this is a transport HP would be much different than a combat one. It doesn't need armor, room for fully equipped combat troops, ammo storage, etc. so its very probable that a Transport/1 on a civilian airliner could carry 80 people.

 

So there you have a few "why did he do that" responses. I do appreciate your feed back and always take it to heart when looking at ways to improve the game.

 

Best

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I appreciate you responding to my post.

 

1. Okay.  I just thought it was odd that's Chameleon's efficacy is subjectively based on the model targeting the unit with that SA, while things like ECM, APA, and Target Lock have defined ranges.  I brought up Target Lock in my original post because its unlimited range suggests that units have sensors that work independent of what weapons are carried.  As a follow-on to what your wrote, it seems like using active sensors and collating targeting data would be exactly the type of thing that would apply to targeting a hostile unit equipped with active camouflage, but if you say it's tied to the weapon, then it's tied to the weapon.


2. Thank you for clarifying movement rate and that an aircraft's position is a simplification of its actual movement.  That also somewhat addresses another issue that bothered me, in that ground vehicles on roads can have a higher move than aircraft in flight.  A friend suggested to me that I shouldn't have issue with this because it can happen IRL, in the case of nitromethane drag cars vs single-engine Cessnas.  Your explanation is much better than either his or mine.  I thought that maybe there were speed-boosting regions on the roads, as seen in some racing video games. :)


3.  Aircraft ignoring NoE of other aircraft is a good start, but it only addresses part of the issue.  If NoE was described as, "Aircraft are equipped with cloaking devices that not only hide them, but makes them intangible, except to other aircraft.  Scientists are baffled why this technology doesn't work with any other units", then okay.  But the explanation isn't a superscience cloaking device, it's just very-low altitude flight, that IRL, lets an aircraft use existing cover (including existing geography and ground clutter) to avoid (or at least reduce) detection.  IMO, if there exists cover suffient to hide an aircraft in flight, it should be represented.  It's too much abstraction for me that aircraft (and only aircraft) get Blocking Cover where none is represented.  As written, NoE works when even when flying above a frozen lake or somewhere like the Bonneville Salt Flats.  "Hey, Joe, did your LIDAR gun clock the speed on that last pass?"   "No, he was flying too low.  Get on the radio and tell that hotshot to knock it off."
 

4.  I think the tradeoffs for using Double-Time and Run N Gun are already in place, in that a unit capable of such probably doesn't have a lot of armor (so it's a bit reckless), and unless it has Assault, any attacks beyond the first one are penalized.

Seperate from Run N Gun, what's the difference between Unit A (with Move 11) using 1 AP to move 11" during its activation, and doing nothing with its second AP; Unit B (with Move 6) using 1 AP to move 6", and using its second AP to move another 6" along the same route;  Unit C (Move 12) using 1 AP to move 11", and doing nothing with its second AP; and Unit D (Move 15) using it's 1 AP to first move 11", turn 90 degrees to the left, then move its remaining 4", followed by Do Nothing with its remaining AP? During their activations, they all moved 11+. Unit B moved farther than Unit A (but used 2 APs to do it).  Unit C moved just as far as Unit A (but didn't use all of its MV).  Unit D moved farther than any of them (but changed direction part way through; glad to hear you're addressing this one in the next errata). To reiterate, they all moved 11+.  It's arbitrary that only Unit A qualifies for the bonus from Double-Time.
 

5. I am ready for some models to have this.  I also want my aircraft to have Heavy Rocket 20's and Counter Battery.


6. I agree that a civilian Transport SA would likely be different from a combat Transport SA.  That said, passenger airliners in my head canon have more than 2 DTs.

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#3. Remember this is an abstraction and ties into the concepts described for #2. Sorry if its to "far out" for you but it does what we want to change up model types.

 

#4. The SA: Double-TIme is granted based on a model's overall speed, not the actual inches moved. If it has a base MV of 11" or greater, it gets the SA. The trade off for Run N Gun is you get the modifier for Double-Time or you use the extra MV to get farther than 1 action's worth and still get to shoot. Most of the model's that want to do Run N Gun have Assault, so Im not sure that's really a negative in most cases.

 

Best

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3. I didn't forget that it's an abstraction, but I think it's an unnecessary and confusing one.  Aircraft are roughly the same size as CAVs (and other vehicle units in the game), so it's reasonable that they interact with the board in a similar way.   The board is populated with geography and other features that are scaled meaningfully for units of a certain size, namely CAVs, but other units, including vehicles, interact with the same. Those units are within the resolution level of the game. Units below that scale (infantry), could reasonably benefit from additional cover that isn't represented, because individual infantry are below the resolution level of the game.  As written, aircraft flying NoE are treated like they're smaller than any other unit on the board, including individual infantry models.

"I'm going to shoot at that aircraft." "You can't. It's behind cover."  "Oh, okay.  What cover?"  "It's there, it just isn't represented."  "How does that work?  Is it clouds or something?"  "This aircraft has cover becauase it's flying really low, hiding behind hills and such."  "Oh. Just about every other unit is literally on the ground, lower that any plane can fly without landing.   Can they get this kind of cover?" "Nope, other units use just what's there." "What about units smaller than aircraft?"   "Nope."  "And this works everywhere, even on a flat, featureless board?"  "Yep."


4. Yes, the Double-Time SA is granted based on overall speed, but getting its bonus depends on inches moved.  As written, it requires both a relatively high MV, and that MV be exercised in a specific way.  From p18 of CAVSOERRATA119, "The model must expend its full MV allowance when conducting the move action and any movement backwards will negate this "bonus."" (Has to move 11+, can't move backwards).  From the SA cheatsheet, "(-2) to any Combat Roll vs equipped model if full MV used for 1 AP in single direction. Requires MV (11+)." (Must move 11+ in a single direction.).
There's quite a few models that don't have Assault that could Run N' Gun and benefit from Double-Time if it wasn't limited to being an SA.  I acknowledge that there's little downside for Run N Gun and Double-Time to stack, other than the risks I stated in my previous post, but I don't think that's a bad thing.  Changing it from an SA to a move-dependent bonus would, at the very least, open another option to a wider range of models, and potentially encourage riskier maneuvers and faster games.

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There's something else about Nap-of-Earth that bothers me, and it's related to something you touched on in your first reply.  It took a little while for me to chew on it and pin down what it is. You stated that because aircraft have the lowest average non-infantry DT and can't use cover, they need something like NoE as written. I fully understand the need for abstracting some things, because the game would be too slow and tedious.  Very few players want to play an accounting simulation.  Too much detail is bad.  But too much abstraction is bad, too.  Instead of having to work with the balance of low DT and limited weapons paired with greater speed, and having to make choices about the risks versus the rewards of when and where to move, abstracting NoE to act as blocking cover removes all tension because it removes those choices.  NoE is always the right choice, in every situation. That makes it boring.  "Set Autopilot to NoE flight, avoid AA units if there any on the board, don't stray within 12" of enemy units."  Yawn.  If it was a cloaking device (something like the Chameleon SA) but only worked a limited number of turns, or if it required a roll (like a piloting check) and there was a chance of failure with meaningful consequences (like crashing, or revealing your position), then it would be interesting.  But it works automatically, every turn you want it.  Aircraft ignoring NoE on other aircraft isn't much of a fix.  Might as well resolve the air battle on another board, and have them stop cluttering up the more interesting fight that's occurring on the ground.

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@Corwin Welcome to the CAV forum! It is great to hear insights and ideas about the game expressed and reasoned so well. I'd like to share an idea of mine and some anecdotal evidence about playing aircraft in CAV. Most of these ideas are focused on tournament style play as my local CAV group hasn't really taken up narrative play just yet.

 

Aircraft in CAV force list design choices onto players that traditional CAV/vehicle lists do not. As you pointed out aircraft are immune to indirect fire and can cross the board under NoE. Additionally, they are immune to the fire of weapons with the SA: Strike and being soft targets force weapons like MRacs to use their lower strength value when engaging them. I'm not sure if all aircraft have the SA: Improved Mobility but the one's I'm familiar with do. This allows them some very useful movement options when trying to maintain their position in an advantageous range band while engaging the enemy. These abilities can be powerful when leveraged properly and if your opponent doesn't take them into account during list design they can start the game at a serious disadvantage.

 

During CAVCon this year there was a tournament organized by @Mastergunz, called the WarMaster tournament. This tournament used an alternative set of list construction rules that allowed, amongst other things, aircraft. In fact, the rules allowed an all aircraft list which I took to and won the tournament with. This was a dark horse list that some players were unprepared for. In all honesty, I probably won 2 of the 3 games I played during list construction as only 1 of my opponents brought anti-air assets. After the tournament there was a lot of conversation about aircraft, the tactics to use against them, and how to plan for them.

 

This reaction is exactly what the game needs.

 

We, as a CAV community, need to increase list diversity. There needs to be more 'Rock, Paper, Scissors' so that optimizing armor and hard RAV numbers isn't the end of list construction. There are a couple of ways to do this. Scenario objectives that require units move around the board a lot to capture them is one way - the current tournament pack does a good job with this one. Forcing players to take aircraft and other diverse unit types and /or list builds into account during list design is another.

 

Some thoughts on your  "Set Autopilot to NoE flight, avoid AA units if there any on the board, don't stray within 12" of enemy units." comment. I play tested my WarMaster list against lists that included the SA: Anti-Aircraft and the Cheetah is a force that aircraft have to deal with. If opponent uses it aggressively it will delete an aircraft from the board every time it fires and possibly two of them. It doesn't matter if you are in NoE or not there is literally no where to hide from that thing once it is in range. If your opponent positions it near the center of the board it becomes very difficult to avoid. The Arbalest fire support vehicle is equally powerful against aircraft and much longer ranged. If you find yourself facing aircraft and you didn't bring any anti-air assets then be aggressive. Move your force up the board and spread out in such a way that there is no where for the aircraft to end its movement without being within 12" of enemy models. PBGs are especially good for this tactic as they punch equally hard against hard and soft targets. They will make big holes in any aircraft that they hit especially if they overdrive.

 

In my tournament games, I spent several turns not flying in NoE because I wanted to close the distance a lot or in one case because I wanted to land. Remember, that only aircraft with the SA: Pop-Up can attack and gain the benefit of flying NoE. My list had 2 aircraft that did not have the SA: Pop-Up and I had to make many tough choices about when and where to use them.

 

Thanks for listening to my thoughts and for sharing yours.

 

J--

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J, thank you for your reply.  It's good to get another perspective, as we all have different experiences.

 

From what I know and based on the latest errata, all aircraft have the SA: Improved Mobility.  I agree that it's very useful.

 

I follow your podcast, so I recently became aware of the results of the WarMaster tournament.  My intial post was not in direct answer to that, but it did confirm and reinforce what I had already believed.  I agree completely about needing more list diversity.

 

No question about it, the Cheetah is an absolute terror when it comes to eliminating aircraft.  Were I to face one, I'd likely prioritize it for some indirect fire.  You provide some excellent advice on how to deal with enemy aircraft.

 

Does a vehicle with the Anti-Aircraft SA ignore terrain and other similar elements on the board when targeting aircraft flying Nap of Earth?  If so, that seems strange, as the SA would be granting not only its targeting effects, but x-ray or zig-zag effects to the model's weapon systems, too.  Yes, I know it's an abstraction.  Aircraft on the board occupy a superposition where they are simultaneously at every possible elevation, even when described as, and pay an MV cost for, being just above the ground.  Do you want to play a cat-and-mouse game with aircraft in a city, a desert canyon, an alien moonscape, or anywhere else you can imagine?  It can't be done with CAV, and that's disappointing.

 

I'm sure that PBG-equipped units would be effective against aircraft, but they're magnets for enemy fire, because those PBG's are strong medicine against everything else, too.

 

If the tournament rules didn't prohibit more than 2 of the same unit, would you have taken the aircraft models that didn't have Pop-Up?  My hunch is that you wouldn't have.

 

Regards

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To the best of my knowledge aircraft do not benefit from cover.  All models on the table always have LoS to the aircraft with one exception. That exception is when a model puts itself in the shadow of a piece of terrain that blocks line of sight to it - within 1" I believe. Then that unit cannot have a LoS drawn to it that crosses the terrain whose shadow it is in. LoS is reciprocal. Therefore, if the aircraft cannot see the 'hiding' unit then the hiding unit cannot see the aircraft.

 

A model with the SA: Anti-Aircraft who is not 'hiding' in the shadow of a piece of terrain can always draw LoS to an aircraft. 

 

I like the imagery of your 'cat and mouse' game with an aircraft but I don't think CAV, as written, is the right game for that scenario. Post your house rules for such a scenario. I'd love to see them.

 

If every model in your force carries PBGs then they are no more 'magnets for fire' than any other unit. :) Also, if you find your opponent prioritizing PBGs then give them a few cheap models to shoot at while the meat of your force does work...

 

During the regular CAVCon tournament I played a couple of scimitars whose primary job was to distract my foe. I happily gave the enemy good shots at them and they often unloaded serious firepower into the scimitars that might have been best placed elsewhere. 

 

I could have taken all aircraft with the SA: Pop-Up but I was worried that my force didn't punch hard enough and the third best 'Pop-Up' aircraft didn't make the cut,

 

J--

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That was my understanding of aircraft, LOS, and cover, as well.  Thank you for the clear and concise summary.

 

The house rules for a scenario like that would be to have aircraft use elevation levels, as I stated in my initial post.  Nap of Earth would be elevation level 0, relative to the existing terrain.  Aircraft can spend MV to gain elevation, and can maintain or lose elevation levels for no additional MV.  Fixed-wing aircraft have to move forward to change elevation, rotorcraft and VTOLs do not.  Nap of Earth does not cost additional MV, and no longer grants virtual/etheric/handwavium blocking cover.  Aircraft determine cover and LOS like every other unit on the board.  Use an additional die (a d10 would work well, because it already has a 0) next to the aircraft to indicate current relative elevation.  Aircraft flying Nap of Earth would be valid targets for indirect attacks, but have the choice, when attacked, to change to elevation 1 to avoid the attack.  Thus, indirect attacks could be used to flush aircraft out of Nap of Earth.

 

I'd be worried that an all-PBG force would suffer for having such short range on their attacks, but I understand your larger point.  You're absolutely right about using bait and sacrificing units.  I'd likely fall for that ploy at least once before I got wise. :)

 

I'll take your word on it regarding your force composition, but in any case, NoE plus Pop-Up is very effective.

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I want to retract what wrote above regarding fixed-wing aircraft having to move forward to change elevation.  They absolutely can perform vertical climbs and descents.

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