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KommissarK

Overwatch - better than the normal attacks?

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Dark Heresy second edition Core Rulebook, page 223

 Overwatch

Type: Full Action

Subtypes: Attack, Concentration, Ranged

The active character guards a specific area or target, poised to shoot at an opportune moment. When Overwatch is declared, the active character establishes a kill zone consisting of any general area, such as a corridor or tree line, which encompasses a 45 [degree] arc in the direction that the active character is facing. The active character then specifies Standard Attack, Full Auto Burst, or Semi-Auto Burst, along with the conditions under which he will perform the chosen attack. Each any [sic] time the specified conditions are met before the start of the character's next turn, he can perform that attack (so long as he is otherwise eligible to do so). This attack occurs the moment the condition is met, such as an enemy entering the kill zone. If it occurs at the same time as another character's action, the character with the higher Agility acts first. If both characters have the same Agility, they make an Opposed Agility test to see who acts first. After the attack is resolved, even if it does not succeed, targets must immediately make a Challenging(+0) Pinning test or become pinned (see page 230) where they entered the kill zone. If a character on Overwatch performs any actions or Reactions, such as Evasion, his Overwatch immediately ends. Note this does not include Free Actions, such as speech.

 

Dark Heresy second edition Core Rulebook, page 220

 

Evasion

Type: Reaction

Subtype: Movement (Dodge) or Melee(Parry)

...

Reactions cannot be used during the his [sic] own turn, so he cannot Dodge/Parry attacks made via Overwatch or when he flees from combat during his own turn, and so on.

 

So I'm reading through the rules in preparation for running a DH2 campagin here pretty soon, and I found this oddity in the rules (I don't consider this a rules question, because I'm quite sure my reading is definitely "by the rules").

 

So I made the following observations about Overwatch:

-It cannot be dodged, as per the wording in Evasion.

-It can allow for more than one attack per round, (while there is a typo, either reading would indicate any number of attacks can be made)

-The definition of "condition" is quite loose. You can even pick and choose targets "...are met before the start of the character's next turn, he can perform that attack..."

-It has a Pinning test tacked on for good measure

-It operates at the same standard bonuses/penalties as the normal ranged attack actions

 

Except for not having a half action to Aim, Overwatch just seems like a better action to take. Its an undodgeable attack, or even a set of undodgeable attacks, and it would seem you can set the condition to be as simple as "any time an enemy acts within my killzone." Even if it can't be as specific as "enemy" it still allows for choosing to not attack.

 

From the flavor of Overwatch, it appears to be intended as a defensive action; that a character is intended to Overwatch when there is a pending, but otherwise unseen threat that may appear at any moment. Rules as written, it seems like its just a better form of an attack.

 

Any thoughts on this?

 

For my game, I'm intending to house rule this, likely adding in a requirement that Overwatch can only be triggered off an action with the Movement subtype as well as Overwatch only being able to make one attack per round. Any other thoughts.

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I was actually pondering this some time ago, but dismissed it for some reason. Now that I read your take on it (an excellent post, by the way), Overwatch is definitely wonky as written. To me, RAW Overwatch could be keyed to "when the Inquisitor says 'Fire!', leading to an entire salvo of un-Evadable attacks. Thematically appropriate? Maybe. Balanced? Most likely not.

 

Without thinking about it too much, I would want Overwatch would "interrupt" the triggering character's turn. For example, if the condition is someone entering the kill zone via a Half Move, that character's Turn temporarily ends (therefore enabling Reactions). After the Overwatch resolves, the target can take an appropriate Half Action. Limiting Overwatch to only Movement-based triggers or one attack per Round seems too heavy-handed for my tastes.

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Overwatch should have movement based triggers. In either ambush or defensive fire corridors, one holds fire until there is a target or target conditions are met. The shots from Overwatch i'd consider non-dodge only for the first salvo, then the surprise factor of it is gone, depending on level of communication the opponent has.

 

knowing the killzone exists may not make bullets less lethal, but allows you to come up with ways to defeat or limit it.

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My ruling was that, since there's another general rule stating that you may only make one attack action in a round, then you can only make one attack per round via Overwatch.  

 

Furthermore, I only enforce pinning or disallow dodging if I think it's appropriate to the specific circumstance.

Edited by Vorzakk

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If a character has made an attack, they are not normally eligible to make another one.

 

I'm going to counter this statement. Overwatch does not explicitly state only one Attack can be made (rather, the opposite is implied). I believe you are referring to the one Attack/Turn restriction, which does not extend to a one Attack/Round restriction.

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If a character has made an attack, they are not normally eligible to make another one.

 

I'm going to counter this statement. Overwatch does not explicitly state only one Attack can be made (rather, the opposite is implied). I believe you are referring to the one Attack/Turn restriction, which does not extend to a one Attack/Round restriction.

 

Taking the action to attack ends your Overwatch immediately after the attack. Since you're not in Overwatch any longer, you obviously can't make further attacks based on Overwatch being triggered.

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Perhaps this is a bit of a wonky reading on my part, but I don't see the attacks generated by Overwatch as being Actions in and of themselves, but rather components of the single Overwatch Action as a whole.
 
"Each any [sic] time the specified conditions are met before the start of the character's next turn, he can perform that attack (so long as he is otherwise eligible to do so)."

 

It calls it an "attack." Its lowercase, and is not described as "Attack Action."

 

Also, as far as "1 attack action," that's per the character's turn. The attack made by Overwatch occurs outside the attacker's turn, as that is precisely how it is considered to be undodgeable (because it occurs during the defender's turn).

 

To be fair, my main issue with Overwatch isn't so much the "infinite attack" notion, but rather that it is undodgeable, with fairly loose wording defining the conditions under which it may be triggered. As such it seems to just be superior to a normal attack (besides the ability to aim or take another half action during my turn).

 

I wouldn't go so far as to say its OP, but it just feels that under a fairly large set of circumstances, it seems better to use Overwatch to perform a Standard Attack, Semi-Auto Burst, or Full Auto Burst attack, and I'm not sure I agree with that.

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Taking the action to attack ends your Overwatch immediately after the attack. Since you're not in Overwatch any longer, you obviously can't make further attacks based on Overwatch being triggered.

 

 

There is one angle where the attack is part of the Overwatch action, thus not ending the Overwatch. Another angle, as you are demonstrating, is where the attack counts as the non-Free Action that breaks an Overwatch. I used the former as the basis for my reply as I found it most appropriate at the time. Looking back now though, I do find my logic odd and Overwatch really should end after satisfying the condition once.

 

That being said, I think the "each time the specified conditions are met" refers to the number of prompts the character gets to Attack, not how many attacks the character has. For example, the condition is "the target comes into view", but the character chooses to wait until the target enters Close Range.

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If a character on Overwatch performs any actions or Reactions, such as Evasion, his Overwatch immediately ends.
 

Substitute Attack for Evasion and it's clear that Overwatch still doesn't allow for more than one attack per turn. The part about any time it is triggered suggests to me that you can say "when an enemy comes around the corner" and then ignore the first two guys, shooting at the third one.

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Would it help if I edited the main post regarding multiple attacks and just remove the notion?

 

Its seriously not my main point of contention with Overwatch. I listed it as just another thing on a pile of issues; I don't want to see that comment de-rail the discussion about the other, more meaningful issues with Overwatch.

 

If you have the option of an Action like Overwatch, why would you use the more basic attack actions?

 

Overwatch is an undodgeable attack that has the same functionality as Standard Attack/Semi Auto/Full Auto, that also invokes a Pinning test, only at being the cost of a Full Round Action, and canceling if the character Evades. It's wording regarding the conditions seems loose enough that it can trigger off of "when an character acts in my killzone."

 

Is it seriously intended that 50% of the ranged attack actions taken by characters should be done as Overwatch, and that Evasion is only ever used during the odd time someone shoots after arriving at cover?

 

Yes this does put a character at the mercy of the initiative order, but still, it seems rather effective.

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Would it help if I edited the main post regarding multiple attacks and just remove the notion?

 

Its seriously not my main point of contention with Overwatch. I listed it as just another thing on a pile of issues; I don't want to see that comment de-rail the discussion about the other, more meaningful issues with Overwatch.

 

If you have the option of an Action like Overwatch, why would you use the more basic attack actions?

 

Overwatch is an undodgeable attack that has the same functionality as Standard Attack/Semi Auto/Full Auto, that also invokes a Pinning test, only at being the cost of a Full Round Action, and canceling if the character Evades. It's wording regarding the conditions seems loose enough that it can trigger off of "when an character acts in my killzone."

 

Is it seriously intended that 50% of the ranged attack actions taken by characters should be done as Overwatch, and that Evasion is only ever used during the odd time someone shoots after arriving at cover?

 

Yes this does put a character at the mercy of the initiative order, but still, it seems rather effective.

 

Yes, Overwatch is silly as written.  Yes, there will be situations in which Overwatch will be mechanically superior to a standard attack even through a standard attack better describes what a character is actually doing.  Yes, unless you clean it up with some house ruling, you're opening yourself up to muchkins saying "I'm going to overwatch on that guy with the flamer and make a standard attack the next time he inhales" rather than just making a standard attack (in order to deny the enemy a dodge and force a pin test).  No, I don't believe that the developers intended for it to be used this way; I think it just wasn't fully thought through.

Edited by Vorzakk

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The one thing I'd specify, although it isn't strictly RAW, is that you can't use any Aim actions with this, and therefore do not benefit from, f.ex. Accurate's extra damage, because you're specifying a 45° arc, not a specific target.

Still, yeah, strictly RAW, Overwatch is better than basic attacks...

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Would it help if I edited the main post regarding multiple attacks and just remove the notion?

 

Its seriously not my main point of contention with Overwatch. I listed it as just another thing on a pile of issues; I don't want to see that comment de-rail the discussion about the other, more meaningful issues with Overwatch.

 

If you have the option of an Action like Overwatch, why would you use the more basic attack actions?

 

Overwatch is an undodgeable attack that has the same functionality as Standard Attack/Semi Auto/Full Auto, that also invokes a Pinning test, only at being the cost of a Full Round Action, and canceling if the character Evades. It's wording regarding the conditions seems loose enough that it can trigger off of "when an character acts in my killzone."

 

Is it seriously intended that 50% of the ranged attack actions taken by characters should be done as Overwatch, and that Evasion is only ever used during the odd time someone shoots after arriving at cover?

 

Yes this does put a character at the mercy of the initiative order, but still, it seems rather effective.

 

Yes, Overwatch is silly as written.  Yes, there will be situations in which Overwatch will be mechanically superior to a standard attack even through a standard attack better describes what a character is actually doing.  Yes, unless you clean it up with some house ruling, you're opening yourself up to muchkins saying "I'm going to overwatch on that guy with the flamer and make a standard attack the next time he inhales" rather than just making a standard attack (in order to deny the enemy a dodge and force a pin test).  No, I don't believe that the developers intended for it to be used this way; I think it just wasn't fully thought through.

Replace that with 'I point my gun at the guy with the flamer and tell him to stand down or I shoot' and you have a perfectly logical in-game action. Being held at gun point and shot at if you try anything at all is a common occurence in action books/movies.

The problem IMO is the inability to Dodge on your turn:

Someone draws their gun and shoots you. You dodge it.

Someone draws their gun, threatens you and if you don't comply shoots you. Despite clearly seeing it coming and having time to prepare you're a sitting duck. Dumb.

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For my game, I'm intending to house rule this, likely adding in a requirement that Overwatch can only be triggered off an action with the Movement subtype as well as Overwatch only being able to make one attack per round. Any other thoughts.

 

I'd include the trigger for allowing Overwatch against Ranged attacks from visible enemies. Otherwise, what is the point of watching over something :)

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Would it help if I edited the main post regarding multiple attacks and just remove the notion?

 

Its seriously not my main point of contention with Overwatch. I listed it as just another thing on a pile of issues; I don't want to see that comment de-rail the discussion about the other, more meaningful issues with Overwatch.

 

If you have the option of an Action like Overwatch, why would you use the more basic attack actions?

 

Overwatch is an undodgeable attack that has the same functionality as Standard Attack/Semi Auto/Full Auto, that also invokes a Pinning test, only at being the cost of a Full Round Action, and canceling if the character Evades. It's wording regarding the conditions seems loose enough that it can trigger off of "when an character acts in my killzone."

 

Is it seriously intended that 50% of the ranged attack actions taken by characters should be done as Overwatch, and that Evasion is only ever used during the odd time someone shoots after arriving at cover?

 

Yes this does put a character at the mercy of the initiative order, but still, it seems rather effective.

 

Yes, Overwatch is silly as written.  Yes, there will be situations in which Overwatch will be mechanically superior to a standard attack even through a standard attack better describes what a character is actually doing.  Yes, unless you clean it up with some house ruling, you're opening yourself up to muchkins saying "I'm going to overwatch on that guy with the flamer and make a standard attack the next time he inhales" rather than just making a standard attack (in order to deny the enemy a dodge and force a pin test).  No, I don't believe that the developers intended for it to be used this way; I think it just wasn't fully thought through.

Replace that with 'I point my gun at the guy with the flamer and tell him to stand down or I shoot' and you have a perfectly logical in-game action. Being held at gun point and shot at if you try anything at all is a common occurence in action books/movies.

The problem IMO is the inability to Dodge on your turn:

Someone draws their gun and shoots you. You dodge it.

Someone draws their gun, threatens you and if you don't comply shoots you. Despite clearly seeing it coming and having time to prepare you're a sitting duck. Dumb.

 

If I were to houserule I would simply remove the inability to dodge. That seems to imply the opponent is unaware of the attack. If he is, fine. If not, the RAW is implausible. As it is, the fact that the attack interrupts movement and creates a suppressive effect while allowing full damage effects of the chosen attack type seems like plenty to me! 

 

IRL, this is pretty much how Machine gun nests are set up to operate. they are pointed at a general field of fire. When a target, or targets enter the field they fire! Pretty simple.

 

In this case, I might even allow multiple attacks. But, only from a braced, fully automatic weapon. (Emplaced machine guns are a nasty thing!)

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The problem IMO is the inability to Dodge on your turn:

Someone draws their gun and shoots you. You dodge it.

Someone draws their gun, threatens you and if you don't comply shoots you. Despite clearly seeing it coming and having time to prepare you're a sitting duck. Dumb.

 

Not really. 

 

In the first case, you're reacting to an action that takes a little time* to complete: Reaching for the gun, drawing it, raising it and pointing it towards you. You have (a little) time to see this, process it, and dive out of the probable line of fire.

 

In the second case, you're going to react to the minute movement of an already tensed trigger-finger, a virtually instantaneous action. And by the time that finger has moved, it's too late for you to move out of the way**. 

 

Just remember you're not Neo dodging bullets here, but a guy making Evasive manoeuvres before your shooter finishes lining up his shot.

 

*According to NRA research:  For the average officer to draw his gun under stress, point the firearm at the target, obtain a sight picture and fire a round averages about 1.71 seconds. (source: nra.org)

 

**Consider that the normal human reaction is at about 0,2 seconds (ranging from about 0,15 for really fast ones to about 0,3 for more normal types). Pulling a trigger takes no time at all, and can be done in less than 0,01 seconds.

 

Edit: I see now that I missed your point. You mean you should be able to Dodge the setting-up of the Overwatch, while I was talking about Dodging after the Overwatch was set up in the first place.

 

I agree with you, that is dumb. I would allow the target to attempt a Dodge here, when the Overwatch Action is being taken. That is, as if it were an immediate Attack Action, and thus you would not be Evading on your own turn. The Overwatch Action itself has the Attack subtype, so this is not completely unheard of. But it is not RAW, I understand that. 

Edited by Darth Smeg

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I feel like the scenario you're describing should be handled by the GM and the players, and not be a combat specific action that you can take. Roleplay that **** out, and re-write overwatch for, say, shooting people as they enter an area, garage doors opening and what have you.

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I would say you cannot set up overwatch once you are in combat (or with people firing at you). It is typically done when you expect someone to enter an area and you want to strafe them down asap, just like a gun emplacement.

 

being caught up in a firefight will probably mean you don't have the time to put your gun down and start waiting for the enemy, since this would also mean you are out of cover for the whole time looking down your barrel (remember that combat is an abstraction of people ducking in and out over cover to take shots etc. even if that is not a dodge. I see that more as truly rolling out of the way, possibly a couple of meters.)

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I would say you cannot set up overwatch once you are in combat (or with people firing at you). It is typically done when you expect someone to enter an area and you want to strafe them down asap, just like a gun emplacement.

 

This doesn't make sense since Overwatch is a combat action defined in the combat rules. It's clearly meant to be used in combat.

 

To curb any abuses, it's a lot simpler to simply disallow characters from using the Overwatch action to shoot at someone they could have otherwise just shot at with a regular attack action (maybe excepting in cases where to-hit bonuses change significantly).

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A lot of good ideas in this thread, we'd already house rules overwatch in our game, but I hadn't realised that overwatch was as broken as this.

 

The way we play it is that overwatch takes 2 full rounds to set up, the first round setting up the overwatch and then the second (and subsequent rounds if required) maintaining the overwatch.

 

It's still very powerful but gives everyone a round to run for cover, out of the arc of fire or just to shoot up the defender in response to the initial setup, which seems to work well (and obviously if the overwatcher moves, changes arc or dodges they have to go through the 2 round process again).

Edited by Naviward

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I would say you cannot set up overwatch once you are in combat (or with people firing at you). It is typically done when you expect someone to enter an area and you want to strafe them down asap, just like a gun emplacement.

 

This doesn't make sense since Overwatch is a combat action defined in the combat rules. It's clearly meant to be used in combat.

 

To curb any abuses, it's a lot simpler to simply disallow characters from using the Overwatch action to shoot at someone they could have otherwise just shot at with a regular attack action (maybe excepting in cases where to-hit bonuses change significantly).

 

All right, Everyone check your calenders! I agree with cps here!  ;)  :P

 

It is incumbent on the gm to excersize some common sense. I believe that a fair RAW interpretation would require a specific combat action (Such as a move or attack action) to occur in order to trigger an overwatch attack. This would allow for the classic "freeze mother ******" as well as emplaced machine gun nests.

Edited by Radwraith

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I think there's nothing wrong with modifying this action if people have a problem with it, couple thoughts of my own:

As it's been pointed out, this action probably only allows for 1 attack. Overwatch states "When Overwatch is declared ...  The active character then specifies Standard Attack, Full Auto Burst, or Semi-Auto Burst" which are all actions. Choosing to make that "attack" (which is defined by the rules as a type of combat action) when your trigger occurs would interrupt your ability to continue overwatch: " If a character on Overwatch performs any actions or Reactions, such as Evasion, his Overwatch immediately ends." based on my interpretation of the rules.

 

Which brings me to my second observation. Overwatch doesn't just prevent your opponent from using evasion, it prevents you from using it too (unless you're able to trigger overwatch prior to needing to evade). A clever GM could have enemies delay their action and allow those outside the killzone to act first. It's not unreasonable that the enemies would see the acolyte in overwatch and attempt to break that overwatch by attacking the acolyte.

At that point, the acolyte is left with a difficult decision: suffer damage without attempting to evade to maintain the overwatch, or lose an entire turn when they could have spent that turn making a regular attack.

 

The choice would be up to the player, but it demonstrates that there could be a serious trade off to attempting to use overwatch in place of a regular attack (putting yourself at risk of damage or having to lose the turn entirely).

Edited by ialsoagree

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The inability to dodge can't be removed unless you change how reactions work.  The inability to dodge effects more then overwatch, it effects moving out of melee by anything but a withdraw or any other reaction.

 

I wouldn't bother fixing overwatch,  just leave as written unless someone starts abusing it, warn them, and if they continue being a abusive ass, rule zero them as the situation is needed. 

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