Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Rant: Hot Smoke

So it's taking me a while to pour through Uncle Al's Hell, and I see that some of the most gnarled of recent game-skewing annoyances (I'm looking right at you, Stickyfoam) are *not* in this book. Shazbot. But there is a particular offender: Hot Smoke.

In general, I don't like any rule change that only affects price. Besides not being even remotely faithful to whatever vague rules of physics Car Wars attempts to emulate (in the words of kjamma4 "Most weapons in Car Wars contain a liberal helping of 'handwavium'"), it's just BAD for game balance.

I know I've said this before. That's why it's labelled a 'rant.'

And it's even worse when the easy item MASSIVELY TILTS THE GAME DYNAMIC. I mean, back in the day, there was the all-powerful Laser. It was heavy, it was expensive, but it took 2 spaces and gave out 3 dice damage. And it started fires! It was the scariest thing around. The only protection from the laser came from the smoke-screen.

Then some joker came up with "infrared" lasers which allowed you to fire lasers through smoke/paint. Infrared didn't reduce damage, didn't add weight or space, just cost. And now the balance went the other way. So I guess 'hot smoke' was the inevitable (un)balance to already extant imbalance. Well, bully for us.

My proposals to balance back these bad rules:

Infrared Laser
Old Rules: (UACFH p. 19) "Two times the cost of a normal laser, IR laser can fire through smoke and paint, but suffer a -1 per die for every 1/2" of smoke or paint between the firer and the target....An IR targeting laser cannot penetrate more than 1" of smoke [which means a 1/2" cloud will block an IR-TL]"
New Rule Suggestions: I think the damage reduction should be standard and permanent. Half-damage should do it. The TL rule is a nice, but arbitrary, tweak. I'll keep it.

Hot (ugh) Smoke
Old Rules: (UACFH p. 38) "Any standard smoke munition or ammo can be made into Hot Smoke for 1.5x the cost with no effect on the ammo weight. Hot smoke behaves like regular smoke, but it completely blocks IR..."
New Rule Suggestions: The precedent model should be the Flaming Cloud Ejector. The Hot-Smoke counter should last one second and then it disappears. The Hot Smoke ejector should also be considered volatile (like FCE/FOJ).

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