Friday, January 24, 2014

Hit, miss or suppress

"Cover me!" is one of the most useless phrases I've seen used in the modern combat RPGs I've played. Why? Because the games I've played have basically two outcomes: hit or miss. If you hit, what's the point of of covering your buddy, the enemy is already dead. If you miss, what's the point of covering if your shot isn't going to stop the enemy from firing back. If the only way to pin down an enemy in a game is to see him and shoot him dead the player loses a great deal of tactical options with the character.

In Weapons Free suppression fire is the third and most common outcome of an exchange of bullets. Suppression has the purpose of pinning down your enemy and allow friendly troops to reposition in the hopes of gaining a tactical advantage.

In the game you can shoot an enemy even if your character can't see them. "Whoa, what? Fire's coming from that tree line?", all of a sudden everyone shifts fire there even when they haven't seen anyone. Combat is resolvable even if the target isn't visible and the outcome of suppression can be leveraged for the unit's benefit.

So mechanically what is suppression? Suppression is a shot who's die roll is off enough not to be a hit, but not that far off to be a total miss. It comes close enough to scare the hell of the enemy. A miss is the product of a misplaced shot, shooting into the wrong direction or, if the target is dead center, appearing to have no damn clue how the weapon should be used. More often than not you'll either hit or suppress, unless you have no clue as to the enemy's location and your character is just firing blind.

As you might have guessed missing in the game is a terrible thing. It fails to neutralize the enemy in anyway and most surely gives away your character's position. Which can lead to your character getting suppressed. Remember, your character will probably not get hit, but all those bullets flying over his head will not make him comfortable or willing to put his head up and shoot back.

What do I expect to see in the game and what effects does this have? Well I expect there to be a lot more ammunition usage. A lot of shots that don't hit, but keep the enemy or players down. A lot of moving around to reposition and a lot less dying. I believe suppression will reduce game lethality and will go a long way into changing the expected outcome of an encounter from total annihilation to retreat or surrender. Getting totally suppressed should be the equivalent outcome of many "fight to the end" encounters I've usually had. Leading to a retreat or a surrender of the enemies or the party involved instead of a TPK.

Thoughts? What games have you played that allow for non-lethal outcome of attacks that push back the enemy?

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