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Saturday, 23 December 2017

R40K Wounds and Energy (R40k)

This particular post describes some experiments I've trialled, tinkering with Rogue Planet's Energy Pool and Damage/Wounds mechanisms.  I've tossed and turned on this one... if your interested in my thinking, read on...

There are lots of things I like about Rogue Planet - hell I wouldn't have stuck with it this far if I thought it didn't have legs - however, there's one thing that just doesn't seem to work during our family games: the Energy Pool.

Postscript: I've had a revelation of sorts subsequent to writing this particular entry.  The mechanisms I've described below 'mostly' work, but you know what, the more I play, the more I think the pure Energy Pool and Wound-related rules in the game work fine... actually beyond fine - they're really very elegant.  Read this post if you'd like to understand some more.

Rogue Planet utilises "Energy Pools" for opposing forces which can be used to offset kills, subject to a number of caveats.  We did experiment with doing away with the Energy Pool altogether and only adopting Wounds - which worked nicely - however, it slowly dawned on me that in doing so, we had also lost the Armour differentials.  Whilst that didn't matter in some games, others (e.g., Space Marines vs Guard) ended up being kind of wrong.  So what you're seeing below is a compromise of sorts with the following principles/goals in mind:

  • Eliminate off-board tracking i.e. if I wanted to colour-in, I'd play Battletech.
  • Minimise on-board tracking - markers, chits etc - I generally hate you.
  • Some units need to be harder than others e.g., Space Marines should outlast Guardsmen; and
  • There should be an opportunity for miracles to occur e.g., if the Emperor wills it, a Guardsman should be able to take out a Demon Prince-type super bad guy... however they shouldn't count on it! 

Energy Pool Allocation

Establish a Force's Energy Pool as per standard Rogue Planet rules.  An Energy Point can be employed in the following manner:

  • To downgrade a Hit result e.g., a Kills becomes Disabled, Disables effectively become Misses.  Note - such downgrades are not treated as Skill Check downgrades and as such do not generate the usual Partial Success and Failure-related penalties.  The application/expenditure of 2 Energy Points means a Kill could be reduced to a Miss.  Note Energy cannot be used to downgrade an AUTO KILL result (see table below).
  • To include/add an additional die to a Skill Check die pool, allowing the player to select any 2 of the dice rolled.  E.g., a standard Shoot Action can be 'energised' allowing the player to roll 3d6.  A result of 4, 4 and 6 would allow the shooter to select a Critical Partial Success (4 and 4) or a standard Complete Success (4 and 6). **Disclaimer - we're yet to give this particular aspect of the house rule a red-hot trial**
A slight tweak we've been trying is that the use of Energy actually costs an Energy Point.  It seems to work well and acts as something of a break eg Space Marines may well push through a hail of fire but the effort of doing so costs them the initiative.  What's a bit more left-field (Rogue Planet speaking) is that the Energy expenditure can result in an Action Point deficit come to the following Turn.   That element has already made for some tense situations where a force commander need weigh up the advantage of keeping units immediately operational vs the potential loss of tactical flexibility during the subsequent Turn.  When combined with a pawn like Intimidator it seems to really add flavour to a force.

With the inclusion of this particular rule, Power Armour (for example) becomes more interesting: in addition to the Rogue Die, Power Armour generates an Energy Point towards the Force's Pool.  Using that Energy, should the Power Armoured Unit be hit, they can consider downgrading the result... but even then there's only a finite amount of Energy available...

Hit and Damage Resolution

As per standard Rogue Planet rules, hits and damage to units are all resolved by Skill Check, sometimes augmented/penalised by the inclusion of a Rogue die and coupled with buffs/debuffs to a maximum of +/- 3.  That coupled with reference to the Target's DEF (sometimes CQ) and Armour
yields 0 or more 'hits'.

Skill Check Result vs Target's ARM Nil Light Medium Heavy Groups 

KILL, DIF KILL, DISABLE and DIF DISABLE results can be downgraded via Energy expenditure.
AUTO KILL results cannot be downgraded via Energy expenditure.

So how does the above feel?

  • Imperial Guard, indeed most Units, are decked out in LIGHT armour.  A (complete/full) success will kill them outright with no opportunity to offset the blow using Energy.
  • The likes of Space Marines, wearing power armour (ignoring the Power Armour trait for the moment), Ork Nobs, Necons etc can offset the same hit using Energy - if it's available.  Also, fewer weapons provide MEDIUM armour buffs than LIGHT, so the odds of getting a Success vs Partial Success are also reduced some.  
  • Remember MEDIUM armoured Units automatically generate 2 Energy Points for their Force's Pool - that's two opportunities for the Space Marine to shrug-off otherwise disabling hits...
  • Disable results are a lot more frequent and Energy seems to get applied to such Units more readily if only to avoid the chance that the Unit will expire at the cost of a future Action Point's expenditure.
  • HEAVY armoured Units are still terrors to behold.  3 Energy Units baby.  1 Point Hits on a Success and even the ability to downgrade Critical Hits/Successes.
The jury's still out: I can see myself tweaking this endlessly and even arriving back at the vanilla Rogue Planet rules in the end 😀  I still like the mechanism from The BattleField where damage to big things (e.g., tanks) translates into a loss of efficiency (more Action Points to do things) or effectiveness (same Action Points to do things, but you can't do them as well)... and might consider incorporating that into the 'brew in due course.

Disabled Units

In the event that an attack results in a Partial Success, the attacked Unit is deemed stunned, concussed, wounded or simply "Disabled", not destroyed.  A Disabled Unit is laid on its side and whilst it remains Disabled, the Unit is restricted to only one possible Action going forward: Recover.

A Recover Action can be made during a Forces Turn and if successful results in a Unit being active and able to be utilised as normal (i.e. stood up and removal of the Disabled restrictions).  A Recovery Action is made via a Skill Check, subject to the following modifiers:

  • For each friendly Model* in base contact with the Disabled Unit, add a minor buff up to the usual +3 maximum;
  • For each enemy Model in base contact with the Disabled Unit, add a minor de-buff with the usual -3 maximum; and
  • Units with the Medic Trait are provided with a +3 buff by default.

*A "Model" in this regard is either a (a) single figure Unit (e.g., the Force Leader or hero) or (b) members of a typical 4 model "Group"  e.g., should a Group lose a model through a Partially Successful attack and be reduced to 3 'Able' models (i.e. 75% strength), those 3 models could be placed into base contact with their Disabled ally/squadie and provide a +3 modifier to a subsequent Recovery Action attempt.

A Success (Partial or Total) results in the Disabled Model reverting back to Able; however, a Partial Success also awards the opposing Force a free standard Move.  A Failure results in the Disabled Model being removed from play - some wounds take more than a slap and mouthful of water to shake off! - and a single free Move to the Opposing Force.

Some notes relating to Unit's designated as Groups:
  • The Disabled result is translated into individual Models e.g., a Group suffering 2 hits via a Partial Success would Disable two Models.
  • A Group can move away from a Disabled Model i.e. Group coherency requirements excludes Disabled Models.
  • Should a Group break coherency, Disabled members are automatically removed from play.  This does not result in any additional 'free' Move(s) being awarded to the opposition.

I've found the above is easily applied and has added an otherwise missing dimension to our games.  Suddenly Groups (of 4 Units operating as a single squad) are that little bit more attractive than they were and there's something to be said for unit/force coherency.  It also puts another tactical decision into the hands of the Force commander e.g., with my remaining Action for the Turn do I attack the enemy (reduce their strength), move into a better defensive position (conserve my strength) or attempt to revive my Disabled Units (increase my strength).

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