Heavy Gear Blitz v3.1 Houserules

2024-06-29 heavy gear / game design / rules /

I'm debating how much I want to homebrew the Heavy Gear game I'll be running at Millennium Con in November. On the one hand, running stock rules means no custom play aids, and it's an easier time for anyone looking to get into the game from my awesome session. Also many of these problems won't come up if I assemble forces to avoid their problems. On the other hand, I think the game is more when smoke works well, infantry are interesting, etc.

I've tested everything below with at least some solo table time, and the majority against a human opponent. None of it made the game worse in any way we could see. And while a few rules shifted balance, force composition, and overall strategy, it did so in predictable and desired directions.

There's no specific order to my houserules.

Rerolls

Problem: Rerolling into a worse outcome just isn't fun at all.

Solution: Replace the second paragraph of the Reroll section on page 9 with the following:

To reroll, take the lowest die and roll it again, keeping all other dice.

There are 4 situations where you reroll, and 3 of them feel like they should be more consistent, not a second wild swing; Veterans, Commanders (initiative, attack orders), Special Defensive Equipment (AMS, Shield), Desperate Actions (Hide, Evade).

Margin and Melee

Problem: Rifles are able to penetrate tanks, certain melee builds are wildly too effective in an unfun way, and accuracy and penetration are over-conflated.

Solution: Put a cap on Margin of Success, except for Railguns

The maximum margin of success is 4.

I understand the rolls where a grunt head-shots a tank to death are intentional design, harkening to the anime protagonist roots of the game, but I don't care for them. This also solves the Eden Lancer Golem problem, where it's possible to build a cheap unit capable of reliably dumpstering a tank more than three times its cost with little to no possible counterplay that is still extremely effective against every other unit as well.

Smoke

Problem: Smoke's defense bonus stacking with both cover and ECM leads to overly safe static play.

Solution: Replace the third paragraph of Discharge Smoke on page 32 with the following:

Discharge Smoke creates a 3" radius by 4" high area of light cover centered on a Smoke token.

A portable deployable area terrain is already plenty beneficial, there's simply no need, and a whole heap of examples from the games I've played, to give a unit a whole 'nother defense bonus on top of the existing ones.

Cavalry

Problem: Cavalry units are too fragile

Solution: Remove the Cavalry unit type from the game, reverting all instances to their previous type

  • South - Lizard Riders ­čí▓ Infantry
  • NuCoal - Hoverbike GREL ­čí▓ Infantry
  • NuCoal - Lizard Sandriders ­čí▓ Infantry
  • NuCoal - Barnaby Sandrider ­čí▓ Vehicle
  • CEF - Hoverbike GREL ­čí▓ Infantry
  • Eden - Huni Riders ­čí▓ Infantry
  • Eden - Agni Hellion Rider ­čí▓ Vehicle
  • Universal - Jackrabbit, Wallaby, Spitz ­čí▓ Infantry
  • Universal - Armadillo Rider ­čí▓ Vehicle
  • Universal - Barnaby Rider ­čí▓ Vehicle

The various lizard riders and ATVs got the worst of this change between v3 and v3.1. It's the only mistake I think was made in the rules revision. Apparently GREL hoverbikes were such a nuisance that it necessitated some kind of corrective action, but this was simply too much fallout.

Electronic Warfare

Problem: The electronic warfare rules are a mix of cartoonishly uploading viruses in the middle of a battlefield and believably disrupting communication and targeting.

Solution: Remove the ECM Attack and ECCM Firewall actions from pages 34 & 35, along with any other references to them. Rewrite ECM defense as bolded:

All models within 6 inches of the model providing ECM defense, including the model providing ECM defense, receive a +1D6 modifier to their defense rolls against all Guided attacks.

ECM Scan and ECM Jam are sensible and need no changes. ECM Defense is too powerful of a defense bonus, and never made enough sense when it worked against optically targeted shells when the ECM unit didn't even have LoS to the shooter.

Orders

Problem: Two of the most common orders have confusing names.

Solution: Page 36, rename 'Let Them Have It' to 'Coordinated Attack' and rename 'Coordinated Attack' to 'Concentrate Fire'.

Let Them Have It could mean damn well anything and is a terrible name for what is essentially a coherent command bonus. With it also being only for the duration of the combat group's activation, 'Coordinated Attack' is actually a really apt name for it. Except that name is in use for what I think is far better described as 'Concentrate Fire'.

Blast

Problem: The circumstances under which it negates cover don't actually make sense.

Solution: Replace the Blast entry on page 47 with the following:

Blast: The primary target of this attack does not benefit from a cover bonus. Secondary targets determine cover from the primary target as if it were drawing LoS to them.

This preserves Blast as different to merely an AoE attack, but makes far more sense. The way it is currently implimented was to ostensibly simplify cover determination, but in practice its completely counterintuitive to everyone I've played with.

Rockets

Problem: Standard rockets are rarely fired in nearly every game I've played and witnessed.

Solution: Use the HGBTS Salvo Fire optional rule from a previous season's tournament packet.

All Rocket Packs (RP), Anti-Personnel Rockets (APR), and Artillery Rockets (*AR), gain the Salvo trait.

Salvo - This weapon may gain Burst:+1 for an attack. If they do so, then the weapon will be out of ammunition and unable to fire again until Reloaded, as if it has the LA:1 trait.

Easily the best rule I've seen from the HGBTS crew. It fixes a problem in both a mechanical and thematically satisfying manner. The books and source material always depicted gear pilots dumping their rocket packs at targets in saturation attacks, rather than conserving ammo, plus having a pilum like weapon for opening attacks seems an obvious ploy for trooper gears.

Comms & SatUp & ECCM

Problem: Cohesion and command are oversimplified and uninteresting

Solution: Append the following two sentences to their respective rules.

Comms: Commanders in formation with a model that has the Comms trait may also measure formation coherency from the Comms model as well as themselves.

SatUp: This model is considered to be in formation with all friendly models with Comms or SatUp.

Make Comms a second bubble of coherency if said model is coherent with a commander. And allow satup to create a coherency bubble even if discontinuous.

Infantry Squads

Problem: Infantry are too similar mechanically to gears.

Solution: Make them both more versatile and more important to disrupt and degrade.

Infantry Squad upgrade cost is increased by +1 TV and gains the trait React+(Aux)

Striders and vehicles with multiple crew as well gears with automated smart systems have extra actions. That an entire squad of infantry can only do one thing has always seemed too limited. React+ means they can't be used as action filler, they hit harder when undamaged by focusing if they so choose, and can often perform snap fire reactions. Really, it should cost 1.5TV, but the benefits of doubling all TV totals in the game to eliminate wonky half point upgrades is entirely too much work for an already long post.

Infantry in Buildings (WIP)

Problem: The terrain rules don't adequately handle infantry in buildings.

Solution: ... I'm still not sure. I've been sitting on this post for months trying to figure this one major sticking point and I still don't have a satisfactory simple answer. It feels like it needs an entirely new system.

My best idea so far, which I've only been able to test the once, is as follows.

When a building with infantry in it is damaged, half the damage round rounded up is applied to all units in the building divided evenly one point at a time with no cap. When a building with infantry inside it is destroyed, damage equal to its starting Structure is applied to all units in the building divided evenly one point at a time with no cap.

Use the following table as a guide for building stats.

Material Size Arm Structure Capacity Cover
Light - 6 - - Light
Medium - 8 - - Medium
Heavy - 10 - - Heavy
- Small - 4 1 Squad -
- Medium - 8 2 Squads -
- Large - 12 4 Squads -