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GauntZero

Overwatch

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I've yet to get a satisfactory response to my earlier assertion that, perhaps, Overwatch is supposed to be this good. I'm not entirely certain that anyone is denying that Overwatch appears to be broken, so I can't help but infer that there's a distinct possibility that it is supposed to be that good.

 

If we assume that Overwatch is intended to be this good, it does make combat seem rather odd compared to other RPGs. One of the most useful combat actions would be to wait and react to your enemies and hurt them when the standard defensive action would not be available to them. Granted, Overwatch doesn't work against high Agility opponents so its use is limited. However, that does make high Agility enemies such as Eldar almost guaranteed to get their Overwatch in before the character that triggers it and it could almost turn into an Overwatch pinata battle. If Overwatch is as good as it seems, most combats could just devolve into Overwatch and counter-Overwatch where possible. Combat would be incredibly static unless both players and NPCs mixed up their tactics, which in most cases would be inferior to just continuing to Overwatch. Even a straight up firefight in an open battlefield gives Overwatch plenty of benefits of standard shooting.

 

My concern with Overwatch is that there is nothing stopping you from using it in the middle of combat and the triggers can encompass almost anything that the player can think of and the only potential limit is GM fiat. Furthermore, the penalties of using it (can't use Reactions, limited field of fire, generally can't aim) don't seem that severe compared to similar actions like Suppressing Fire and compared to the bonuses it gets (denies enemy their Reaction, can pin, can interrupt). To enable multiple attacks with a single Overwatch seems to push Overwatch into broken territory and that's solely off the FAQ due to the relatively vague text in the book. Multiple Overwatch attacks is much too good for me. A single Overwatch attack still makes Overwatch powerful but not crazy broken.

 

Overwatch is so good, in fact, that no-one "under the sights" is going to even twitch for fear of getting blown away. 

 

How would an enemy know they were under the sights? How would an Overwatch action look different compared to someone doing a Full Round Aim? Unless the enemies or the players get meta knowledge of what the other side is doing, there is nothing to signify that someone has Overwatched on a kill zone unless the character openly declared it ie. "Don't move or I'll blow your brains out!". Considering Overwatch kill zones are only limited by the 45 degree cone and the weapon's maximum range, how would someone know that an enemy 200 metres away had declared Overwatch on anyone poking their head out of cover? I understand that once the element of surprise is gone that enemies can flank and reposition but certain fights won't allow that (firefights in narrow ship corridors, warehouses, sewers, etc) and nothing prevents anyone changing their kill zone to cover the flanking attacks. And that's just for one character that Overwatches. 

 

I do agree that Overwatch is really, really good and there don't appear to be too many weaknesses if you are engaging enemies at range.

Edited by Popdart

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As per Popdart's latest comment - I do agree that Overwatch is really, really good and there don't appear to be too many weaknesses if you are engaging enemies at range.

 

I just house ruled your INT bonus is the # of reactions you get;

 

attack of opportunity

dodge

overwatch

 

Let say you got 44 INT - then in my system you choose how and when to use your 3 options above - i didn't know if you saw this house rule I made - I am by no means telling the rest of the forum to do it my way - just consider it a tested working option...

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If we assume that Overwatch is intended to be this good, it does make combat seem rather odd compared to other RPGs. One of the most useful combat actions would be to wait and react to your enemies and hurt them when the standard defensive action would not be available to them. Granted, Overwatch doesn't work against high Agility opponents so its use is limited. However, that does make high Agility enemies such as Eldar almost guaranteed to get their Overwatch in before the character that triggers it and it could almost turn into an Overwatch pinata battle. If Overwatch is as good as it seems, most combats could just devolve into Overwatch and counter-Overwatch where possible. Combat would be incredibly static unless both players and NPCs mixed up their tactics, which in most cases would be inferior to just continuing to Overwatch. Even a straight up firefight in an open battlefield gives Overwatch plenty of benefits of standard shooting.

 

Can you give me a compelling reason why this is a bad thing?

 

Other RPG's assume that combat is inevitable; the "murderhobo syndrome" if you will, so they don't provide for the contingency of neither side actually wanting to fight that much. Dark Heresy appears (to me) to provide for a circumstance where the "mexican standoff" is not only an option, but a preferable one at that. Given the choice, I'm sure most people would actually prefer not to have a lot of lethal projectiles flying every which way in their general vicinity. Dark Heresy seems to support this attitude through the medium of Overwatch.

 

In combat, it is better to have the edge of waiting for an opponent to react. In a previous post, I talked about studies having been done on active vs. reactive actions; being the "reactor" is an advantageous position to be in. The like of Eldar, who have extremely good reactions should have that edge in combat.

 

Also worth bearing in mind is the fact that taking the defensive and advantageous stance that Overwatch grants is not always conducive to the goal you have. If you need to get from A to B and there's a functionally unlimited number of dudes in the way, then Overwatch will get you nowhere. Sure, you can kill every mook that comes under your sights, but it won't get you any closer to B.

 

How would an enemy know they were under the sights? 

 

How indeed? Would you, as someone "under the sights" want to take that risk? There's a guy pointing a gun in your general direction. You know that he's got the drop on you; you could even have your weapon in hand, ready to shoot...but this guy has actually got his weapon pointed down your way. He looks pretty mean and ready to use that weapon. You know, the weapon pointed at your face. At least, you think it might be pointed at you. Could be your buddy standing next to you. What do you do? As you're thinking, your antagonist quips "Your move, punk". You gonna raise your gun? Or are you going to drop it and put your hands up, knowing that you've been out-maneuvered?

 

The fact is, the target doesn't know if the guy pointing that gun at him is aiming or went into overwatch. Either is a good option. One of them is very good. Broken good, by the rules. Doesn't that make the threat of having a gun pointed at you very real and something to be taken note of instead of ignored? In D&D, a 4th level Fighter who has a crossbow pointed at him laughs and charges his foe; that crossbow can't possibly hurt him sufficiently for him to care. In DH, someone pointing a gun at you is something to give a **** about. In DH, if someone gets the drop on you, you're in a bad place. Why? Because Overwatch is so incredibly good at what it does that no-one dare even try to make a move if there's even a possibility that someone is using that rule. Overwatch can only perform this function if it stretches the boundaries of what can be considered "fair".

 

War is not fair. A gunfight is never fair. Overwatch isn't fair. It's not supposed to be. It's supposed to be "broken". If you try to "fix" it, you're missing the point.

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I think Overwatch is broken primarily because it's stupidly good compared to the other combat options. Maybe it's the case that I just need to shift my perspective but it seems as though the benefits and utility of Overwatch should make it the default ranged attack action as opposed to Standard/SA/FA. It also seems to be that even in open combat it is generally better as it denies an enemy their Reaction as well as triggering a Pinning Test. The lack of mobility is generally irrelevant because most ranged combat is an half action aim followed by attack. 

 

I agree Jolly. Overwatch is very good at the "mexican standoff" approach and preventing combat from escalating. However, it's also an extremely valid and useful tactic in the middle of a firefight. There are circumstances where characters could trigger Overwatch without even realising they're in a kill zone. Heck, if someone set their Overwatch trigger as "Firing at anyone who moves within my kill zone" they could, feasibly trigger their Overwatch twice against the same target; once when the target enters or moves within the kill zone and then once when the target moves to cover if they become Pinned. This is technically a-OK within RAW according to the FAQ.

 

Is something like this intentionally broken? Probably. I believe you are right and that Overwatch is intended to be a really good action to take in combat. What I disagree with is the FAQ comment which allowed multiple attacks against multiple targets as the result of a single Overwatch action. Such power and utility escalates Overwatch into extremely broken territory and personally I will not be allowing multiple attacks off a single Overwatch in my games. Overwatch is plenty strong without such a boost and I don't think it needs to be that super awesomely good.

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As far as the RaI on Overwatch, I feel it is against the spirit of the game any time Overwatch is used on targets in open ground.  If a target is in open ground, it feels intuitive to either just shoot, or suppress.  It makes sense to Overwatch when another party member is performing a task, or when an enemy is in cover.  If you take up an understanding of the rules that violates this intent, you would be better served to house rule the game back on track.

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As far as the RaI on Overwatch, I feel it is against the spirit of the game any time Overwatch is used on targets in open ground.  If a target is in open ground, it feels intuitive to either just shoot, or suppress.

 

Why? Overwatch is a choice not to shoot someone, unless/until they do something in a certain area. Whether you or your target is in open ground, in cover or even unaware of the presence of the other is irrelevant.

 

Shooting or Suppressing is an active choice to shoot someone. Sometimes you don't want to shoot someone now, but later, at the opportune time (like when they dash out of cover). Sometimes you don't know if there's someone to shoot (because they're hidden). Sometimes you don't really want to shoot someone, but aren't taking any chances and want the drop on them if they "try something funny". This is what Overwatch provides for, among other circumstances. It's not designed for gunfights where people are moving around, cover-to-cover, with bullets flying every which way; it's designed for those circumstances where it's advantageous to stand still and cover a small area against a contingency (which can be as loose as "there's someone there"). It very much gives you an advantage in those circumstances, but at a fairly heavy opportunity cost (primarily your own maneuverability).

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I'm making the distinction assuming that shooting is your intent.  A target that you can visibly see, who is an active threat, and does not have cover.  It should never ever be optimal to use overwatch on a target like that - an enemy who is actively and openly engaged in combat against you in an open field.

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I'm making the distinction assuming that shooting is your intent.  A target that you can visibly see, who is an active threat, and does not have cover.  It should never ever be optimal to use overwatch on a target like that - an enemy who is actively and openly engaged in combat against you in an open field.

 

In that circumstance, Overwatch is still doing it's job properly.

 

Let's break down this scenario. It's one-on-one, open terrain. You have the initiative and go into Overwatch, covering your opponent. Your opponent has a choice; do something or do nothing.

 

If he does nothing; you don't shoot him. If your intent was to shoot him, you've failed. Yes, you've got your opponent to do nothing, but then, neither have you. If this state of affairs continues, you have a stalemate...because you took the option not to shoot the guy. You have the advantage, but nothing will happen until something occurs to break it. If you want or even need this guy dead, then Overwatch is not your friend.

 

If he does something, whatever it is, then yes you have a significant advantage over having just shot him in the first place, inasmuch as you have a good chance of severely limiting his actions. However, let's look at the other options;

- You could Half-Action Aim and then Standard Attack. This gives you a better chance of hitting at all. Certain Talents and Equipment will compound this benefit. Benefits you lose by shooting on Overwatch. Yes, he gets a chance to Dodge, but that's the "cost" of taking this option, the option that has a higher chance of getting a shot that hits.

- You can use Suppressing Fire. You've a better chance of Pinning with this than with Overwatch, but conversely a lower chance of hitting. The advantage here is that if you Pin the guy, when his turn rolls around, he's definitely not doing anything aggressive. With Overwatch, he still gets to perform his action, assuming he's capable of it. If he's pinned from suppressing fire, then in this open-terrain scenario, all he can do is run away, leaving you free to do whatever on your next turn.

- Called Shot, Defensive Stance, Guarded Action...Move. Depending on who you're facing and what you're trying to acheive, each of these may be preferable to holding your ground and using Overwatch.

 

I disagree with you in your claim that Overwatch should never be the optimal choice in this scenario. If you're looking for an advantage from having the initiative and don't mind not moving, sure; Overwatch is great and it should be. It's what it does. If, on the other hand, you're looking to pin your target, Overwatch is a poor choice. If you're looking to kill your target dead with as few shots as possible, Overwatch is a poor choice. If your target is conspicuously not wearing a helmet, or is very fast, or is melee focused, or immune to pinning, or...shall I go on? Overwatch is a poor choice in many scenarios, even within the limitations of a "one-on-one, no cover" circumstance. In how many more scenarios is it a bad choice when you introduce more variables?

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The problem doesnt appear with 1 enemy wjo you can make a stalemate with. Thats ok so far.

 

The problem is when you have 5 at once.

 

My point still stands.

 

If you want to pin those 5 guys, then Suppressing fire does the job better. If you need to move at all, Overwatch is useless. If you want to conserve ammo, but still kill all 5 of them, Overwatch is inefficient. If you want a better defence for yourself (and against 5 guys, in open terrain or not, I would!), then Overwatch doesn't give you that. Overwatch is not always the optimal choice. Against multiple opponents, there's a much greater chance that your Overwatch will be broken by the actions of one of them and further that not all of them will be in a convenient 45 degree arc. The limitations of Overwatch are compounded by multiple opponents as much as, if not more than, the benefits increase.

 

Despite being "broken", it's often a bad option. I'd even go so far as to say that the only thing that makes it even an option, in many cases, is the fact that it is as "broken" as it is.

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Just to pitch in here, but I have always run Overwatch as its represented in games like XCOM or Xenonauts, as a defensive option when you are uncertain where the enemy is and when they are coming to you. Beyond that, it makes logical sense to me that since the Overwatch Action demands you choose an Attack Action that is triggered when it activates that when the Overwatch is triggered then the character's attack follow the rules of his previously determined Action, meaning that once the action is triggered you handle it as if the character just made that Attack Action against the first triggering target should they choose to attack.

 

Take a situation where one character is standing at a corridor and 3 enemies round the corner. The player made the decision to use the Full-Auto Burst Action when his Overwatch is triggered. As such he performs an attack on the first enemy and for the sake of argument say he gets 2 DoS. He may then spread those three hits on all enemies as normal, 2 on one and the last on another, or all three on one target. After that his Overwatch ends and any further enemies that may appear during that turn will not be attacked.

 

This is at least how I have run it in my games.

Edited by SCKoNi

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Just to pitch in here, but I have always run Overwatch as its represented in games like XCOM or Xenonauts, as a defensive option when you are uncertain where the enemy is and when they are coming to you. Beyond that, it makes logical sense to me that since the Overwatch Action demands you choose an Attack Action that is triggered when it activates that the Overwatch attack then follow the rules of said Action, meaning that once the action is triggered you handle it as if the character just made that Attack Action against the first triggering target should they choose to attack.

 

Take a situation where one character is standing at a corridor and 3 enemies round the corner. The player made the decision to use the Full-Auto Burst Action when his Overwatch is triggered. As such he performs an attack on the first enemy and for the sake of argument say he gets 2 DoS. He may then spread those three hits on all enemies as normal, 2 on one and the last on another, or all three on one target. After that his Overwatch ends and any further enemies that may appear during that turn will not be attacked.

 

This is at least how I have run it in my games.

In my game I use it like that too. I don't understand how anyone can get the idea that their character can shoot once everytime it's triggered, just because it doesn't state that. For my part it's just common sense. You get one attack action, and with overwatch you can use it later, if it triggers, simple as that.

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