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fog1234

Overwatch Issues

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I saw a thread on here a while ago about overwatch being superior to all attacks.  Obviously, overwatch causes some issues and I'm planning to nerf it.


 


The way my players used it in my last game kind of gave an example of something that I'd like to address.


 


Overwatch seems to allow players to exceed the rate of fire of their weapons.


 


There were two snipers using it.  These weapons are single shot only.  Three enemies entered the kill zone and each one shot three times within the span of a theoretically 10 second long turn.  They also forced a pin check on all three enemies.  How on earth is this balanced and why would anyone attack any other way?   


 


This is correct RAW I believe.  I'm fairly sure it isn't limited to one shot or burst.


Edited by fog1234

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I'm not sure what the errata says about overwatch (frankly I recall it even further confusing the issue), but I think it's entirely sensible to limit characters to 1 attack per turn. So your sniper could have taken a shot at any one of the three, but only gets one shot. It's not like you can take 3 semi-auto attacks in one turn so there's no reason to think you can do it when it isn't your turn.

 

Also I don't believe you're limited to single shot only, so a full-auto weapon could actually hit all 3 if enough DoS were rolled and they were close enough to each other. But it'd still be just one attack.

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As I see it, not having encountered problems with Overwatch personally in any games I have played:

 

Your interpretation seems right, as near as I can tell. Though do note that enemies can execute Overwatch as well.

 

The player has to assign Standard, Semi, or Full Auto at the time of declaring Overwatch. This determines the rate of fire of their weapon up to the max allowed. Their ability to attack is still limited by clip size and remaining ammo.

 

The action specifies that only targets have to make Pinning checks. The target of a Standard attack is one enemy, who would have to make a Pinning test. If seven people entered (for example, they all arrive at once in an elevator), those exceeding the rate of fire could, by definition, not be targets of a single-shot attack.

 

Powerful in that it denies a Reaction, yes, but I see this as being fine and not overpowered on the first round (where most Overwatch would occur, as far as Entering the Killzone goes) as it shows the danger of an ambush. We've all seen war movies where the good guys are pinned trying to access a corridor or behind an obstruction by enemy fire.

 

The ability to specify multiple conditions ("I fire if anyone enters or if I see something out of the corner of my eye or if someone moves out of cover or if someone tries to lob a grenade or...") introduces the imbalance depending on the imagination of your players. 

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I did read the errata nothing useful.  

 

I don't have a problem with overwatch used in an ambush type situation.  Where the players have set up a killzone and hidden.   Basically, the idea of a traditional ambush where enemy soldiers on patrol walk into a trap.  I love that idea.  All about it.  All about extra damage.

 

The problem has been that players use this during combat with rifles, but i can see other problems arising as heavy stubbers start to show up.  

 

This basically means that if you have 20 enemies moving forward toward a sniper, then all of them can be engaged in a 10 second span RAW.  The only limitation being the sniper's ammo magazine.  I mean i could run enemies around the killzone, but it's a 45 deg arc and the way the maps work that's pretty significant.  It basically nerfs any kind of rushing close combat enemy.  There is effectively no reason to ever make a standard attack again unless you are only fighting a single enemy who cannot suffer from pinning or you have truly awful BS.

 

The ability just doesn't mesh with the turn length.  

Edited by fog1234

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Overwatch is one of those rare areas where I tend to agree with DH2's detractors. Not in it's effect but rather in it's lack of clear definition. As a response I tend to interpret it as follows:

 

Overwatch can only be triggered by an action (As defined on pg. 219 of the core rulebook) and such action must be declared when setting overwatch. (None of this "If he breathes I shoot him" crap!). 

 

Once triggered, Overwatch allows the Acolyte to make ONE attack (Single, Semi or full auto). This is not entirely realistic but seems necessary for game balance.

 

Note: Groups can be attacked either normally or during overwatch with either semi-auto or full auto weapons. I give the size modifier as stated below:

 

# of man-sized targets            Bonus

 

Team (2-5)                              +20 (Enormous)

Squad (6-10)                          +30 (Massive)

Mob (10+)                               +40 (Immense)

 

When fired in this manner, each hit is randomly assigned to an individual within the group.

A group is defined as a number of individuals operating in cohesion (Within 5M of each other and not separated by a solid barrier)

This method illustrates where weapons like Heavy Stubbers and Heavy Bolters truly excel. (See the first few minutes of Saving private Ryan for a good illustration!)

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These were the two changes that came out of my process of talking to various people on Skype and you guys.  

 

Overwatch Nerf : Overwatch RAW allows for a situation where players can theoretically exceed the rate of fire of their weapons. Overwatch is therefore limited to a single combat action: Full Auto, Semi Auto, or Single Shot. This agrees with the limit of a single combat action per turn. 

 

Accurate vs. Tanks : Single 1d10 extra damage limit when dealing with armored vehicles like tanks. A tank would be something that does not have exposed crew and is covered in armor. This will be reviewed if an actual anti-tank rifle appears in the game.

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Alright, first, try to remember, that the combat in DH is very abstract and heavily influenced for tabletop warfare, but loose enough to allow descriptive fighting. I personally have never had any problems with overwatch and reading what you've mentioned above, simply tells me your players are trying to break the rules by manipulating terms and trying to insert their own agenda and abuse the system. This is fine as long as the tone of the group is okay, but just to be sure I wasn't mistaken I reread the overwatch and did a test run mimicking your sniper scenario. It didn't work. Sniper rilfes are one shot, once structure time came into play, the sniper was effectivly worthless on overwatch. He got two shots off, before the minions and mini boss, simply took cover, returned fire or scattered.

 

Firstly, the wording they used in 2.0 is more clear but oddly enough creates this loophole your friends are using by trying to be more specific. "Each any time the specified conditions are met before the start of the characters next turn, he can perform that attack (so long as he is otherwise eligible to do so)"pg. 223 

This is meant as, anyone who does a move action in this zone, or attacks, or some other action. Once that is established, the ability is quickly restrained but still useful. If people decide to try and abuse or use wordplay to break the rules or intended use, just plain GM it and say, "I know what you are doing, and I'm overruling it." Or if you don't wanna be so heavy handed, let the enemy take advantage of the rule word play too. They will quickly outcry and ask you to be more fair, then remind them of their own abuse and that should clear up fairly quick. 

 

If you don't wish to curb them, fair enough, tis a game and its your job to make the players have fun. Let them do it, but bring counters. If your players game it lots, then they will have a developed tactic which their enemies would now expect. Just whip up some counters based on the storyline and circumstance. Or if youre just not feeling creative here are just a couple examples to shake up their formula, that I'm pulling out of my behind.

 

Fast sniper. This can be as simple as a random mook, with a hunting rifle. Give him agility 45 and dodge +20 and maybe a camo cloak if you want to be mean to your players. He will dodge any shots directed at him with an unmodified 65-85 chance (with and without camo cloak respectively), add in the probability that he is using cover and give him a dodge bonus and bam: overwatch can't touch him. With his high agility, and once structured time comes into play, he may act first before the players, if not, he can still dodge overwatch. Then on his turn, have him aim and shoot at the overwatch player. The player either takes the hit, or dodges the attack which ends his or her overwatch. 

 

Stealth, have an assassin or a good sneaker flank or just sneak past the overwatchee's awareness. Either or both, whatever your pleasure really, have them with really good stealth or just really fast. So they can quickly move in or out of the kill zone. 

 

Counter Overwatch. Just to be a ****, have an enemy show up with a Heavy Stubber. Have him setup overwatch outside of the players arc but ontop of said player and have him declare overwatch "Anytime this player uses overwatch, I will full auto counterfire". Now everytime the player decides to cheese and use the skill, he will receive a full auto burst of a heavy stubber. Forcing him to make pinning tests, potentially being shot quite a bit and more than likely stopping his own overwatch.

 

Psykers, have lots of useful abilites, both in defense, synergy and raw damage. Check out Fire Shield, Telekine Dome/Shield, Mental Fortitude, Invisibility and Terrify, would all be useful counters to overwatch.

 

Brutes: Have a really big brawny guy with lots of health and a high willpower or make him frenzy or fearless and just be a bullet sponge. 

 

Combat drugs: Stim packs, slaught and spook are all lots of fun. Have the enemy use them.

 

Vehicals. Fairly straightforward.

 

And just in case the most obvious answer was not mentioned already, a smoke gernade?

 

Hope this helps with some of the issues you're running into.

Edited by Olifant

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I'm not sure what the errata says about overwatch (frankly I recall it even further confusing the issue), but I think it's entirely sensible to limit characters to 1 attack per turn. So your sniper could have taken a shot at any one of the three, but only gets one shot. It's not like you can take 3 semi-auto attacks in one turn so there's no reason to think you can do it when it isn't your turn.

 

Also I don't believe you're limited to single shot only, so a full-auto weapon could actually hit all 3 if enough DoS were rolled and they were close enough to each other. But it'd still be just one attack.

 

A good idea to build off of if you were to house rule this, maximum amount of attacks possible be equal to BS bonus?

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Maxing BS is already the optimal solution to building a combat character, I'm not sure why you think it should break the action economy on top of that.

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Olifant, you have some good ideas there, but I feel like your response to making Overwatch useless is to instead add enemies which... completely counter overwatch, making it unusable.

 

Congratulations, you've both solved the Overwatch issue by effectively removing it from play. :)

Edited by Utherix

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Utherix, no problem like the ones we create for ourselves, am I right?  ;)

 

There is only a problem where you let it be. Luckily the beautiful thing about pen and paper RPGs is you can do whatever you want. If the group likes to play that way, I gave options as to how to keep doing so yet still give challenge. I also gave blunt advice as to how to stop players from abusing. Regardless of wordplay, min/maxing or just jerk players, my goal was simply to give the ideas as to how to handle his dilemma. But yes, you're right, I simply solved the abuse aspect by negating it. If it were actually me, I'd do both. I would throw in a bunch of mooks to be mowed down to give the player the satisfaction of killing the crap out of some guys and then have more important or named enemies use some of the strategies listed above.

 

Also I would hope it would encourage teamwork: take one of the counters I listed above and maybe the team would have other members try and counter the counter tactics, thus still giving viability to overwatch while creating a more dynamic combat environment.

 

I have had the pleasure and misfortune of playing with people who either or both, think that RPGs are strict linear mediums or who are way to competitive. I simply try to remind people its a game, and work through it with your players, so they still have fun but still get challenged. I also love wargames and am a huge fan of the tabletop as well as Inquisitor and Necromunda, so when I run into strange rules or obvious mishandling of something by the players, I just give it to them the first time and figure out how to handle the next. I personally believe you should never punish players fo being clever or thinking outside the box, even if it ruins your plans but also don't let them agitate or take away the fun for the rest of the group. 

Edited by Olifant

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So here is quick report on how the overwatch nerf changed the meta game.  The two players using overwatch were not happy and suggested I'd made it 'useless'.  They then just started using a combination of delay action and aimed shots to get two shots on incoming mobs.  Basically, large mobs coming at the squad lose 2 guys a turn as opposed to the entire squad picked off by a vindicare assassin BS I was seeing before.  The nerf is working.  I may need to review it to support heavy weapons showing up.  The threat ratings verses the party XP are now more in line with reality and combat is at least headed in a direction that isn't just purely masturbatory.  I'm not losing entire squads in a turn!   

 

In another campaign I may also limit sniper rifles to 1d10 extra damage.  

 

 

 

Alright, first, try to remember, that the combat in DH is very abstract and heavily influenced for tabletop warfare, but loose enough to allow descriptive fighting. ....

 

I did read thru your stuff.  A lot of the ideas are good.  I just don't like using gimmicks and designing maps specifically to counter my group.  It limits my creativity and I feel lowers the plausibility.  I don't mind ideas like that when it's an established foe who have had forces survive combats, but against a new enemy I find it hard to get away with.  I also go out of my way not to overrule things.  There is a certain amount of GM capital every GM has and exceed that too often or be inconsistent, and you will end up with trolls and no-shows.    

 

I also feel you should redo my experiment.  Use a sniper, high BS, Imperial Navy.  The right talents and you will see squads wreaked reliably.  Don't forget the pin checks.  

 

In conclusion I really think the single action limit is the way to go.  It also I think makes OW, which is much more combat & fighting mob focused a lot easier to deal with.  I really want my snipers picking off big nasty guys.  Not picking off entire squads.      

Edited by fog1234

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If your players are mad about overwatch they're acting like children. It went from the correct combat action to one of situational usefulness, boo-hoo. Their interpretation makes no sense whatsoever. You have a gun with a million bullets and a million badguys come into frame and you get to shoot at all of them in less time than it takes to pose this question? DH isn't that kind of game.

 

Their delay action shenanigans are probably suboptimal - you trade a full action now for a half action later. Good if you don't have a good shot at the moment but using it solely to shoot twice in a row costs you a half action (that you could use to, say, Aim) for no gain.

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Overwatch should be nerfed into one attack per turn, that's obvious for me. But there's another issue: why does the arc has to be exactly those 45 degrees? Why couldn't I set my character to overwatch over single door or a window, or a corridor? That was the second thing I changed: character can define his overwatch angle freely as long it's not bigger thatn 45 degrees.

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Overwatch should be nerfed into one attack per turn, that's obvious for me. But there's another issue: why does the arc has to be exactly those 45 degrees? Why couldn't I set my character to overwatch over single door or a window, or a corridor? That was the second thing I changed: character can define his overwatch angle freely as long it's not bigger than 45 degrees.

 

You can define conditions.  I've also thought about overwatch moving out of structured time and into narrative time for ambushes.  

 

 

If your players are mad about overwatch they're acting like children. It went from the correct combat action to one of situational usefulness, boo-hoo. Their interpretation makes no sense whatsoever. You have a gun with a million bullets and a million badguys come into frame and you get to shoot at all of them in less time than it takes to pose this question? DH isn't that kind of game.

 

Their delay action shenanigans are probably suboptimal - you trade a full action now for a half action later. Good if you don't have a good shot at the moment but using it solely to shoot twice in a row costs you a half action (that you could use to, say, Aim) for no gain.

 

They tried to explain a few times how it is theoretically possible.  I generally counter with the one combat action per turn game balance mantra.  A problem will come in when I start integrating heavy weapons and they don't have that wheat cutting effect against mobs.  This will be somewhat mitigated by the 2m spread of the hits from semi and fully auto weapons.  

 

The delay action trick work as thus.  Delay action until visible enemies run into sight, then aim and shoot on their turn.  It isn't really sub-optimal. They just aren't putting out infinite rounds anymore.  

Edited by fog1234

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They tried to explain a few times how it is theoretically possible.

 

Your players sound insufferable. Congratulations guys you found the secret win button, use this one weird trick GMs hate to fire all the bullets and kill all the bad guys.

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Your players sound insufferable. Congratulations guys you found the secret win button, use this one weird trick GMs hate to fire all the bullets and kill all the bad guys.

 

 

I have the problem pretty reliably it isn't just any specific group.  So far I've run ~4-ish groups and played in more.  Out of that number two groups have tried to use overwatch RAW.  A previous group almost all used flamethrowers to a disturbingly effective extent.  Three groups figured out molten beam.  These are just issues with the rules the play testers/developers didn't catch that take the threat value of the enemies you are throwing at the squad and invert them.

 

I don't blame the players for doing this really.  It's just a sort of natural thing for some people.  Not everyone enjoys playing losers with a 20-ish stat blocks as much as I do. I just accept it and if there is a game breaking problem I make an adjustment and see how it works.  They'll utterly break the game for a session, then then I'll take inventory, talk to other GM's like you guys, and react.  

 

Overall, I enjoy this group.  They all want to be there and I'm not dealing with people playing LoL in the middle of my game.  

Edited by fog1234

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I do find it nice that my group (which has a fair share of folks who optimize characters) never abused Overwatch.  They never really considered it a good option, all in all.  Just from a lack of reading into it, I suppose, but I haven't abused it against them, so they don't really look any closer.  

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I do find it nice that my group (which has a fair share of folks who optimize characters) never abused Overwatch.  They never really considered it a good option, all in all.  Just from a lack of reading into it, I suppose, but I haven't abused it against them, so they don't really look any closer.  

 

The first person that tried to use it was a very new player, so I was able to sort of suggest his rule interpretation was wrong, then I house ruled as soon as I figured it out.  I also didn't read the rule properly after that point and just let it lie.  The second time it was a much more experienced player so I couldn't lawyer it away instantly, so I got a pretty good idea of what the effect was.  I'm hoping they do something about it in the errata with regard to it.

 

I do get the developer intent behind it, but theoretically losing 20 enemies in turn when conventionally they could only kill 1 is a bit problematic.  I'm also not a fan of interrupt type abilities.  Delay action is still a thing though.        

Edited by fog1234

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Hmm... May we have more details about your group? Both character sheets and personality types would be helpful. Also any more information as about how often or what type of large mob engagement your players may do would be helpful as well.

 

I can fully appreciate your not wanting to game or make convoluted reasons as to why counter tactics might rise up, as I always allow my fights to go one sided, if the players were clever and surprised me or vice versa. And since my games are more secretive and investigation based, they only run into combat when they screw up or are looking for a fight, and both of those tend to be circumstantial and nearly always improvised and just not very often. 

 

Is the main antagonist not particularly clever? Or are their minion's untrained rabble? Because I would think that very rarely do people actually charge machine gun nests, or entrenched positions. Unless obviously they don't know about military tactics. Mayhaps have one of the Acolytes friends or contacts betray them and give the enemies information on them? Have the bad guys (loose term) ambush the players? Or a good old fashioned competent bad guy always makes things fun for the players and the GM. 

 

Usually, if my players go in combat ready, gear up with armor and heavy guns, I raised their subtly by quite a bit and make a roll to see if the bad guys learn of this. If the test succeeds, the BBEG will either try to flee to fight another day or hunker down and pull out his nasty toys, or if like my current case of antagonist, uses puppets, will sacrifice one of his high commanders with a trap for the Acolytes. Maybe try one of these more sneaky tactics instead of a straight out furball?

 

If they don't like the ability being nerfed and you don't like to (rightfully so) heavy hand counter it, just make it not practical for the situation?

 

Or better yet, do both. Give the players the hoard of enemies let them grind through it for a good beer and pretzels session, and then have them break into the enemies lair/warhouse/bunker/club and find a small group of elite enemies well kitted to defend their master. Or have a trap: the players fight their way to the BBEG and he is sitting in his chair with a spacecat 40k and he has laid a bomb in a plasma reactor for the nearby city, which only he knows to deactivation runes. And taunts the players for being so gullible and predictable to allow his agents to do his nefarious plot while they stormtrooped around.

 

Also, I'll try the sniper scenario again, with some new variants.

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I have suggested several times that with RAW overwatch in place I'd be forced to use very game-y tactics.  As I've said I've nerfed it.  The arguments have happened.  Now I'm just reporting on the effect.  

 

The idea of using massive hordes to me is problematic because I'm student of probability and I can't have too many entities on the board.  There are certain soft limits to what I can manage.  Be assured that I've run combats with over 40 individual combatants in them before.  The game bogs.  As GM you have to be able to crush turns very quickly.  This is part of the key to GM-ing 40k well.  Massive hordes also, due to a random jam, will utterly destroy the party and you don't want that.  You're effectively left with ambush out of the wall/floor as your main tactic.  If you keep overwatch.  

 

The best way to run combat in Dark Heresy is small unit vs. small unit actions.  4 on 4 or so.   

Edited by fog1234

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Just chiming in here, last night I ran overwatch for the first time, nerfed in pretty much the exact same way fog has. It worked well.

Also, I agree heavily with fog that smaller combats work much better and are much more exciting. I'm getting better at dealing with combat (I'm still finding all the modifiers a bit much), but large combats are quite hard to simultaneously run whilst keeping it exciting. I'm sure the secret is out there!

Edited by Gregor Eisenhorn

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I did have a discussion with the developers w/ regard to overwatch.  Overwatch is NOT limited by the action economy and that is the intent.  The developers basically suggested encounter design as the counter to overwatch dominance.   

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