Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Rant: Grenade Launchers

The GL is a tough fit in Car Wars. Grenades existed from the very beginning as a pedestrian equalizer - they did full, 1d6, damage to vehicles. They also defined pedestrians (your driver had skills as a driver and gunner and was equal to 6 grenades).

It seemed natural to include the Grenade Launcher as both a weapon for pedestrians and for Vehicles as well.

In a recent (May 2007) discussion at the SJGames Car Wars forum, there was a discussion about what is the worst weapon/accessory in the game. Grenade Launchers were mentioned, and I can see why. They seem oversized and underpowered - and overshadowed by the handheld version which seems to do the same thing!

Yet this rule-warp is on purpose. See how this major (anonymous) question was fobbed off by SJ Dude Charles A. Oines in ADQ-Q&A 6/1:
Q: 2. Why is it that the hand-held grenade launcher can only hold five grenades, but the vehicular model can only hold ten, and takes up 2 spaces? If the vehicular model was one space and held 15 grenades things would compare a little better.

A: 2. Compare in what way? Personally, I'm happy with the numbers as they are.
Great answer, Oines.

I will restate the ADQ Question: a 5 shot pedestrian weapon (worth 2 GE in the hand) has the same to hit & same damage as a vehicular version - which is 10 shots and 2 spaces. No other pedestrian weapon is equally matched (which is why I always arm my drivers with Grenade Launchers when money is available).

One difference could be range. I don't know if pedestrian weaponry is limited, but that could be a factor. [Update, pedestrians can throw 5", but does that hold for the handheld GL?]

The reason for the rule warp could be the God of Game Balance. If so, it'd be the first time.

I asked the SJGames thread a set of questions about the grenades, as follows, let's see what they can come up with:
A few questions about a much maligned weapon, the Grenade Launcher.

1. What is the range of a hand-held GL? Is it 5"? (which I've been told is the range of a hand-thrown grenade)

2. If a (car) GL has impact-fused ammo, then does the fuse go off when the shot hits the designated target or do the grenade scatter rules apply first?

3. If there are scatter rules, then what happens if the 'to hit' roll is under 7 - does that mean the shot went off into the stratosphere? And if so, this suggests firing the GL engenders two risks - whether you hit on the 7 and even then, you don't really 'hit'

4. Does the 'to hit' of the GL, especially with impact fuses, allow using the GL like an Oil Gun? That is, by using the +4 to hit a patch of ground, the impact grenade with a Flaming Oil load is a smaller Oilgun and with a smoke-grenade load it's a 'smoke gun' (for point-shot smoke screens).

5. According to this AADA News (Pyramid #30) article, NOVA has banned impact fuses because they can be used as a tire-eater. Is that a house-rule specific for NOVA or is that part of the AADA banned list?
Ironically, the ADQ (9/1) introduced the military weapon, an "Auto Grenade Launcher" which has these stats:
Auto-GL – To hit 7, damage by grenade type, 3 DP, $5,000. 250 Ibs., 2 spaces, holds 20 grenades (cost by grenade type +$20, 5 Ibs. each); loaded weight 350 1bs. ; loaded magazine costs $50 plus the cost of grenades and weighs 105 1bs. Different grenade types may be mixed in the magazine and fired in any order desired; rotary magazine effects are included in the price. The auto-GL can fire one, two or three grenades in one firing action. All grenades must be fired at the same target, and all grenades in a salvo use the same to-hit roll to determine the amount of scatter, but each grenade scatters separately. For instance, if a three-shot salvo misses its to-hit roll by 3, then each grenade scatters 2d-2 squares in a random direction.
These seem like perfectly reasonable stats for a standard Grenade Launcher - yet the same logic that downgraded the standard version (play-balance? spite?) is the same logic that bans the AGL.

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