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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Suppressive Fire (Rogue Planet)

If you've been following this blog for a bit, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I've found Brent Spivey's Rogue Planet something of a revelation: a flexible, fast and feature packed set of rules that are quick to communicate and provide the means for a whole lot of deep tactical play.

"Wait for it... wait for it..."
I'm always on the lookout for something a little different and I thought I'd also try my luck with Brent's earlier game The Battlefield: Miniature Modern Warfare.  Now the game is quite different to Rogue Planet; however (and not surprisingly) there's some common threads in the design.  One feature of The Battlefield that's caught my eye is Suppressive Fire - and it struck me: Rogue Planet doesn't really have a Suppressive Fire mechanism.  Sure Heavy Machine Guns provide for a Driving Fire Attack (along with Heavy Fire and Bound Manoeuvre) but it isn't quite the same.

Rogue Planet's Driving Fire mechanism can dramatically increase the shooter's ability to hit their target and if successful, rather than inflicting damage, it forces (drives) the target away from the shooter.  Want to push those nasty bugs back some?  Flick your machine gun to Driving Fire and let it rip.  But that isn't exactly how I envisage/imagine suppressive or covering fire.

The Battlefield also allows (some) Units the ability to forego the opportunity to damage a target and instead subject them to Suppression (page 31).  The exact mechanics really require a broader appreciation of the game's rules, but in a nutshell, there's a better chance of suppressing a target than harming them directly and upon the successful suppression of a target, the target is subjected to a Command Action Point overhead or penalty until it's expressly negated by the suppressed player.

That was a bit long-winded.  How about: (1) it's easier to suppress than harm a target, (2) to activate/order a suppressed Unit requires more Command Action Points than otherwise and (3) that CAP overhead remains indefinitely until the owning player actively negates the same.  Consider:
Support Team A successfully lays down suppressive fire on Assault Team B.  The net result of the suppressive fire being 3 Suppression Tokens being applied to Assault Team B. 
Now in order for Assault Team B to perform any 'normal' action, they first need to expend 3 CAP to wipe their 3 Suppression Tokens.
One thing that I've been trying to simulate in Rogue Planet (using our slightly modified rules that incorporate measured moves) is a charging and defending an entrenched position sort of thing.  Now while Rogue Planet's Op Fire Counter Action works quite nicely in this regard (even if the odds of success aren't fantastic) it still doesn't feel quite right either.

As to when Suppressive Fire can be played, I've toyed and we've tried making it solely a Primary Action ("Lay down some covering fire - Alpha Team get ready to roll"), Counter Action ("There's the charge lads, now make them hug the ground") and both. Putting my mind to it, I've come up with the following house rule when playing Rogue Planet.

SUPPRESSIVE FIRE

SUPPRESSIVE FIRE simulates an attacker firing their weapons at the enemy to force them to stay in cover, to reduce their mobility and their ability to return fire and reconnoitre a position.

A unit may initiate suppressive fire on a single enemy unit for the same Action Point (AP) cost as any other Shooting Action (typically 1 AP) available to them and are subjected to the same buffs and debuffs as per Shooting Actions.  For example, a unit equipped with a Machine Gun may combine a Heavy Fire Attack with SUPPRESSIVE FIRE to generate a +3 bonus for a total cost of 2 AP, a Flamer can be employed to suppress a Group with a +2 bonus and whilst using a Carbine provides a +1 bonus when attempting to suppress Lightly armoured targets, against Medium, Heavy and Groups, there's no buff to be had.

SUPPRESSIVE FIRE attacks require a skill check that will be based on the ranged attack skill and defense rating [RAT vs. DEF] of the units involved.

SUPPRESSIVE FIRE must target the closest enemy unit that is a valid target.  Enemy units that already engaged in melee or are already suppressed MAY be ignored.  Unless benefiting from a special rule, suppressive fire requires line-of-sight.

As a Primary Action
Upon declaring a SUPPRESSIVE FIRE action, the attacker need make a Skill Check and apply the following success-and-armour related results:
LIGHT ARMOUR and GROUPS:
Partial and Total Successes cause the application of Suppression Tokens equal to the difference between RAT and DEF (minimum 1).
Critical Success the application of Suppression Tokens equal to the attacker's RAT.

MEDIUM ARMOUR:
Partial Successes cause the application of 1 Suppression Token.
Total Success or Critical Successes cause the application of Suppression Tokens equal to the difference between RAT and DEF (minimum 1).

HEAVY ARMOUR:
Partial and Total Successes cause the application of 1 Suppression Token.
Critical Successes cause the application of Suppression Tokens equal to the difference between RAT and DEF (minimum 1).
A (standard, non-ROGUE related) Failure allows the Opponent may make two MOVE actions with two separate units.
A Critical Failure allows the Opponent may make two MOVE actions with two separate units and causes a Suppression Token to be applied to the firing/suppressing Unit.
As a Counter Action to a MOVE or CHARGE
The MOVING or CHARGING model must make a Skill Check with a ROGUE die.  
If this causes the MOVE or CHARGE to Fail, the active unit receives Suppression Tokens equal to the result on the ROGUE Die.  
If the Skill Check is failed normally, the moving unit is STAGGERED from a location along the active units movement path selected by the countering player.
 Suppressive Fire Counter Action - Dodge
Units being targeted by SUPPRESSIVE FIRE may declare a DODGE Counter Action.  If the ROGUE die causes the SUPPRESSIVE FIRE Action to Fail, the dodging unit may make an FX roll and move up to that distance.  
Note, in such circumstances (1) only one additional MOVE is made available to the team being targeted by SUPPRESSIVE FIRE, and (2) the additionally moved unit cannot be the same unit that was targeted by the SUPPRESSIVE FIRE.
Suppression Effects
Before a unit that has been suppressed can perform any actions, the cost in Action Points must be paid equal to the number of Suppression Points on the unit.
Furthermore, when engaging a suppressed unit in MELEE, attackers gains a +1 buff for each of their opponent's Suppression Tokens.
So there you have it.  We did experiment with the suppression effect automatically reducing the oppositions available AP (for this Turn) and even modifying their AP generation on during the next Turn; however neither felt as 'right' as The Battlefield's Suppression Token mechanism.  Whilst I don't like littering the board with tokens, I can't see an elegant manner in which to otherwise track suppression - if you've got an alternate idea, please shout-out!   I especially like the Critical Failure effect as it easily translates into jamming or something similar at the worst possible moment.  Fun times.

Finally we've been playing that all Missile Weapons are capable of Suppressive Fire but they are no specific Suppressive Fire buffs as such, rather the buffs normally available to a given weapon/unit are applied.

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