Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Weapon Analysis - Part 4 (Game Balance Issues)

Part 3 of this series (see 1 & 2), came up with new weapon possibilities. But as I described in part 1, and part 4, all these nifty ideas are secondary to the necessities of game balance.

We should elaborate the game balance issue for things beyond straightforward cost/weight/space/damage (because it's not set out clearly in the rulebooks and lists). Here are the special issues:
  1. Area vs. Burst effect
  2. Volatility
  3. Shot Number
  4. Hazards
  5. Benefits
  6. DP (Damage Points)
Area vs. Burst

In the original game, area vs. burst was a nonsense/RPG issue. Unless you were aiming at pedestrians, who cares if the gun is area or burst? In the age of metal armor, it's a big difference (especially with HESH ammo): area weapons strip off metal armor on a 6 on a damage die, burst effect on a 5 or 6. So the fact that there's no 1 space, 7 accuracy, burst effect weapon has ramifications.
  • Area
    • all Machine guns & ammo except explosive
    • FG, VS, GG, all Lasers, all Flamethrowers
  • Burst
    • all the following (excepting the special ammo in "neither" below): RR, AC, bombs, BC, GL*, ATG, TG, all rockets, all missiles, all torpedos, depth charges, and mines (MD etc).
    • Possibly the Cloud Bomb (CBSS) - who knows
  • Neither
    • Armor Piercing ammo for all rockets,
    • HEAT, HESH, APFSDS ammo
Incendiary and/or Volatile Weaponry

Which weapons are "volatile"? There's no list in UACFH, no index entry in the CWC2. The CWC2 (p31) states that your car will catch fire if hit by incendiary weapons - natch - but also if a some weapons are hit by enemy fire (2 in 6 chance), and 4 in 6 chance if those weapons are hit by other volatile weapon. And if a car is on fire, then certain weapons can explode the car. A keyword in making sense of this mess is that some weapons are "incendiary" and some are "volatile" and it's bad to mix the two. All incendiary seem to be also volatile, but not vice-versa.

Incendiary is easy to figure out (either the ammo is called 'incendiary' or there's the word "flame/fire" in the title), but which are the volatiles? Here's the list according to what I can piece together from the CWC2 & UACFH:
  1. Incendiary (and thus Volatile)
    1. Any weapon with incendiary ammo
    2. any flamethrower
    3. Flaming Oil Jets (FOJ, HDFOJ
    4. Flame Cloud Ejectors (FCE, HDFCE, FCGS)
  2. Volatile Without Being Incendiary
    1. Depth Charges (UACFH p.15)
    2. All missiles (SAM, AAM, RGM, WGM etc)
    3. All rockets (MML, RL, HR, MFR, VFRP etc)
    4. All torpedos (whatever)
    5. Anti-Tank Guns & Tank Guns
    6. Rocket boosters & jump jets
  3. Not Volatile But Should Be - Prob. Because of a mistake
    1. Bombs (UACFH doesn't say anything, see p.10-11)
    2. Minedropper ammo (UACFH doesn't say anything, see p.15)
    3. Dischargers of incendiary material (Flaming Oil, Flaming Cloud)
  4. Not Volatile But Should Be - For Game Balance
    1. Any burst effect weapon (e.g. AC, GL, RR, BC) - the reason why not could be the quantity of explosive in a RR round is less than in the ATG. But then the Blast Cannon should definitely be volatile!
    2. Hot Smoke (this is my pet-peeve, see my rant here)
Volatility is an issue for three things 1. Setting on fire, 2. getting on fire, and explosion.

Incendiary weapons can set a vehicle ablaze according to certain modifiers (see a chart somewhere), but non-incen. volatile weapons (e.g. ATG) won't do this. Volatile & incendiary weapons (and your power plant), if hit by enemy fire, can set your own car on fire on a 1 or 2 on a d6. If the volatile weapon is hit by an incendiary weapon OR a laser (which is itself not volatile) then your car will catch fire on a 1,2,3,or 4 on a d6.

If a car on fire has a volatile weapon then the car will explode on a 1 on a d6.

Shot Number

This mainly comes into contrast between the Machine Gun family and the rest. Also the Mine Flinger and other defensive weapons, e.g. the Oil Jet vs. Smokescreen (25 or 10). No real need for a chart here (even for my OCD).


In this category are detriments from firing the weapon (this could include the danger of housing a volatile weapon, but that's in its own list):
  1. the handling class hazard when firing the ATG,
  2. the power-draining from Lasers and GGs,
  3. Radar guided missiles need a certain distance to be active (and other mishugass)
  4. Wire guided missiles can't be fired while moving
  5. It used to be that Flamethrowers couldn't be fired forward, no longer.

This category includes all the extra effects of the weapon beyond causing damage:
  1. Flamethrowers and Lasers are automatically incendiary (no need for special ammunition).
  2. Gauss Guns are silent (whoop-de-doo)
  3. Flamethrowers & FOJ create a smokescreen
  4. FCE & FOJ create a hot-smoke SS

Sometimes it matters that your weapon is sturdy (RR, HMG) or not (RL, Laser). The drop spike plate is a classic example of as close to a possible DP-sink there is.


When seeking to add new weapons, game balance must be preserved in all categories - not only in spaces/weight/cost/damage but in the other factors like DP, volatility, area vs. burst effect, and miscellaneous benefits and hazards.

No comments: