Yet another topic on Suppressing Fire

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LawL LawL
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Yet another topic on Suppressing Fire

Post by LawL LawL » Tue Jul 10, 2012 3:54 am

Haven't taken a look at Dark Potential for quite some time, but coming back to read on the developments, it definitely seems there is progress (of the good kind) but I do have one issue with game mechanics versus realism. Bear in mind this in no way is me saying "This is not as it is in real life, therefore it should change." As obviously war-gaming as a whole is abstract representation of actual warfare, and thus going to include elements which may benefit the game, but don't reflect actual warfare too much.

So, my issue with suppressing fire is that the target being shot at still benefits from cover. The reason for this to be an issue is because if you factor cover in, you make it seem like the unit firing really is attempting to "hit" their target, when really the goal of suppression already forgoes hitting the target for (usually) volume of fire to keep the opposition disinclined to act. I say this because suppression in game is simply a shooting action, thus sensible modifiers should apply, but cover should not, due to the irrelevancy of cover where suppression (realistically) is concerned.

If you look at the real-world application of suppressing fire, there are two general situations where it is applied.

A: A target which is well beyond optimal engagement range is being fired upon, and so knowing the aforementioned, accurate shot-placement is done away with entirely and the goal is purely suppression. This applies to targets in cover, concealment, both, or neither.

and

B: A target within optimal engagement range, but unable to be engaged with effective point-fire due to either cover, concealment, or both, is fired upon.

In both real-world situations, cover is of no relevance, as suppression is an effect incurred upon targets due to the proximity of incoming fire. Each round placed on target will have a radius of suppression, highly dependent on the type of munition being fired, and suppress the target without "hitting" them, in a way.

The one criticism I can foresee as being possible is that suppression on units in the open and suppression on units in cover needs to have a noticeable difference.

Again, game mechanics may demand otherwise, but realistically, a fully-exposed target at a range suitable for causing damage, will never be engaged with suppressing fire as that, as I've stated before in previous posts, is akin to wasting fire. As from a realistic stand-point, your objective is to engage and incapacitate the enemy's ability to impede your completion of strategic objectives, thus to simply scare them whilst they're exposed rather than just dropping them dead on the spot makes for tactically questionable logic.

Expanding on this, I think there should be vulnerability whilst traversing open-ground in DP. And, as previously suggested by at least one other, suppression should find its way into the game as a passive result of shooting. In this case I think it should apply to units caught in the open by enemy fire.

But with the suppression mechanics the way they are, it might be better to just incur a morale penalty to troops fired on whilst exposed, as to have people suppressed and dazed out in the open for the enemy to continue to shoot at makes for a shooting-gallery situation in which units are not behaving in logical ways.

Anyhow it's getting late. I may have composed my thoughts rather poorly due to fatigue, so I'll likely need to re-evaluate what I've said at a later point in time.

Till then, your thoughts/opinions?

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Re: Yet another topic on Suppressing Fire

Post by slaughtergames » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:27 am

as of now, there is no suppression fire mechanic in the game, whilst you seem under the impression that there is one. it was ditched a couple of iterations ago.

last suppression fire mechanic though, did ignore cover.

we, as game developers, could make rules as to whether or not SF can be applied, but I really think this should be the players choice. that's not to say, that we couldn't make it so that it would be used in realistic ways.
Lawl Lawl wrote:The one criticism I can foresee as being possible is that suppression on units in the open and suppression on units in cover needs to have a noticeable difference.
^agreed!
Lawl Lawl wrote:Expanding on this, I think there should be vulnerability whilst traversing open-ground in DP. And, as previously suggested by at least one other, suppression should find its way into the game as a passive result of shooting. In this case I think it should apply to units caught in the open by enemy fire.
so, two things here.
the first I do not agree with. walking across a perfectly open and clear space should not be dangerous. in fact, realistically seen, it isn't! if you meant 'if you aren't in cover bullets will hit you more often', then, yes. but that is already accounted for in the games' mechanics.

the second, I can see working mechanics-wise, but i don't think it would make sense. isn't suppressing fire much different from shooting-to-kill? I think it is. obviously, a unit could become suppressed if it takes many casualties, but how many times does that happen in comparison to actual suppressing fire?

to put it simply, IMO shooting to kill should kill, and suppressing should suppress.
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Re: Yet another topic on Suppressing Fire

Post by Azzorak » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:39 pm

I have been giving a lot of thought to suppression fire as I was rather disappointed to see it removed. Suppression fire is a viable and useful tactic especially in objective based games but I feel the problem with it all along is that it has not focused on what suppression really is and has more so been used as a way to ignore cover or direct your opponents movements. The OP posted a good summary of the application of suppressing fire and allow me to suggest my thoughts on the mechanics of suppressing fire. I apologize if this has been suggested before.

Why you would suppress from a game stand point when you can just get the kill:
Particularly in an objective based game causing your opponent's troops to spend a turn keeping their heads down can be rather valuable. You may find yourself in a situation where range, enemy armor, enemy defense, sheer numbers, or some other factor makes it unlikely that you will be able to outright destroy a unit, but that unit is close enough to an objective to capture it next turn if something is not done. In a case like this suppression fire, which keeps the opponent's head's down would be viable.

The mechanics:
As an action that costs a command point a squad or a solo with a suppressing weapon can nominate an enemy unit within 3 range bands and that is in cover to suppress. The targeted unit must make a morale test that cannot be modified by command points.

If they succeed they brave the hail of fire and can act as normal on their next activation.

If they fail then they are pinned and may only elect to blind fire or army crawl on their next activation.

Pinned: A unit that is suppressed hugs cover tightly and stays low to the ground. They can do little else than try to stay safe and wait for comrades to assist them. A pinned unit cannot move or act (with the exception of the two desperation actions listed below) but gains a few benefits. A pinned unit counts as dug-in, this stacks with the dug-in special rule. A pinned unit cannot retreat (this may be a benefit and a penalty depending on the situation). A desperate, brave, or foolish squad may elect to act in a manner of self defense. This always costs a command point and the dug-in special rule is lost on activations where desperation actions are taken.

Blind Fire: A squad under heavy fire may desperately return fire from a position of cover without aiming in an attempt to end an enemy's suppression. Blind fire will cost a command point and allows a suppressed unit to make shot at ROF 1 and at half of their normal shooting value against a squad or solo using suppressing fire against them. This may allow the unit to break the suppression by causing the enemy to suffer casualties and abandon their position.

Army Crawl: As an alternative to returning fire on the enemy a squad may wish to try to move to a better position or escape the hail of ammunition all together. An army crawl is a risky move that allows the squad to spend a command point to move as if they were in difficult and dangerous terrain. This may help the unit break the suppression by escaping.

On the suppressing unit's next activation they can elect to continue the suppression by forfeiting the regeneration of their command point. The targeted squad remains suppressed until they break the suppression, escape from it, another unit breaks the suppression, or the attacker elects to end the suppressing fire. If suppression is broken or escaped in any way the attacking unit can choose to begin suppressing again next activation if all of the targeting conditions are still met and they spend a new command point. In this case the enemy is allowed a new morale check and may escape the new suppression altogether.

Escaping Suppression:
The purpose of suppression is to keep a unit hiding in cover from moving or fighting. It is therefore possible (and foolhardy) to escape suppressing fire. A unit that abandons a position of cover (dangerous and difficult) is no longer being suppressed but is vulnerable to being hit. If a unit leaves the cover that was being suppressed (most likely via army crawl) then they no longer count as being suppressed and they cannot be suppressed next turn; however upon exiting cover the suppressing unit makes an attack against the suppressed unit as if they were on overwatch.

Escaping Suppressing Fire Safely:
Though far more difficult and generally unlikely it is possible to abandon a suppressed position and take few if any casualties. If a unit manages to move beyond the third range band of the attacker without leaving a position of cover they effectively end the suppression. Alternatively a unit that manages to abandon a position of cover but somehow out of line of sight of the suppressing unit also succeeds in ending the suppression. Neither of these methods of escape incur the overwatch attack as described in the previous section.

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Re: Yet another topic on Suppressing Fire

Post by cymruvoodoo » Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:12 pm

The biggest problem I see with this at the moment is that "cover" as a term in Dark Potential currently refers to any non-model element of the tabletop which is present on a line drawn between a shooting model and its target. It does not actually refer to the specific position of a targeted model. It is entirely possible to have a model "in the open" relative to anything within 12" of that model and yet have it be "in cover" when targeted from beyond 12" because it's standing in the middle of of a jungle clearing, a large warehouse, or just because of the angles and the placement of terrrain on the tabletop. Now, there's no way that unit is hugging cover or able to do much beyond minimising their profile and possibly digging in, although at the moment that is only a special rule which adds to existing cover and thus is not something any model in the open might do to create cover.

In that situation, analogues of which will be common on Dark Potential tables simply because the game specifies and indeed demands a large amount of terrain, you can end up having a lot of models eligible to be targeted by this version of Suppressing Fire which are actually not sensible targets for suppressing fire at all, realistically. They're not actually in cover, they're just in cover according to the rules, and the difference will lead to some wonky setups. More to come later.

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Re: Yet another topic on Suppressing Fire

Post by Azzorak » Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:49 pm

I too had thought of that concern and am glad that someone else acknowledged it. I suppose for my version of suppression to work their would either have to be a redefinition of cover in the rules, or I would have to rewrite my rule to make it clear that a model must be either in base to base with the object providing cover or in "area terrain" What do you think of these rules with the proposed changes.

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Re: Yet another topic on Suppressing Fire

Post by dragon1010 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:53 pm

you could say ignoring all forms of cover within 3" of the target unit
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Re: Yet another topic on Suppressing Fire

Post by dragon1010 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:53 pm

or something to that effect
armies i play: tyranids (14000 pts), marines (4000 pts) orks (1750 pts) eldar (4000 pts) ig (3000 pts) lizardmen (2500 pts) high elves (3000 pts) cryx (100 pts) blindwater congregation (50 pts) trollbloods (25 pts) Legion of Everblight (50 pts)

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Re: Yet another topic on Suppressing Fire

Post by cymruvoodoo » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:08 pm

No, I don't think that would quite work unless that trigger condition led to "if there is no cover within x inches of the target, they cannot be suppressed into cover and must be shot at directly or ignored." That might work, but it's a slightly complicated little check.

This leads to another possible problem which is that the previous iterations of Suppressive/Suppressing Fire always failed the "there are situations in which I would rather do this than shoot" test. Trying to make it better kept leading to situations where it was the no-brainer "always shoot like this" option. I'm not sure this manages to find that sweet spot between never-used and easy-button where it adds the strategic complexity of unit pinning in a useful but not overpowered or in an unrealistic way.

I think one of the problems I keep bumping into in trying to work it into the core game rules (which is where I think it ought to be, not a weapon special rule) is that just slapping a CP cost on it doesn't seem quite right when it's also got to be, I think, somewhat circumstantial in its use. I need to think more on this.

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Re: Yet another topic on Suppressing Fire

Post by Azzorak » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:43 pm

I feel that I would use this. I can think of situations where this would be useful. At range band 3 I can see a recruit squad having trouble with a squad of Xlanthos soldiers. If those soldiers were nearing an objective and were in cover it might be viable to pin them. This would prevent them from capturing the objective. This is perfectly circumstantial in that it is only used in a specific situation. A rule doesn't have to be used frequently to warrant being in a game. A perfect example of this is the go to ground rule in WH40K. It is rarely used but its nice to have the option. In Dark Potential it may often times be more viable to shoot to kill, but would it not be nice to have the option to immobilize a squad if you feel you wouldn't be able to destroy it. Suppression fire may have other uses as the game develops as well. Say for example a (unlikely perhaps) that a weapon is created that requires you to place an targeting large blast AOE but it does not fire until the next activation. Naturally the enemy squad would choose to relocate. Now you can choose to have one squad suppress them while the other prepares the attack. Suppressing fire is another one of those things that may not be useful on its own but may be valuable in using units in concert. Or it may just not be worth bringing back into the game. I would like to see it come back and that is why I posted my idea. By nature I will defend my idea, but it is out here for the community to judge. Perhaps I will run a playtest using the current rule set and this method of suppressing fire and see A) if it gets use and B) if it is actually useful. Feel free to test it yourselves and let me know how it goes.

Also a note on CP:
It may not even need a CP cost, especially with a little tweaking, but I only did so since CP costs for special actions seem to be the norm that Matt has established. CP as a whole is a mechanic that I both love and hate. I like the idea of needing it to perform special actions or to modify morale checks, but I hate it in every other use. I think that rerolling dice and modifying to hit/wound rolls is OP. I like the the combat in Dark Potential is quick, lethal, and fairly realistic, but from a gaming standpoint I feel that this mechanic favors the player with the first turn, or the first to get in range. Matt decimated that squad of shock troopers in Playtest 8 in 1 turn, even though they were in cover. Dan never even got to use them and I feel that is too OP. Alternating activations would alleviate this some, but that obviously has its own problems.

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Re: Yet another topic on Suppressing Fire

Post by cymruvoodoo » Sat Jul 14, 2012 8:50 pm

I can definitely think of times when I want to suppress a target. Times when I can't guarantee enough kills, times when I could get some kills but keeping a big unit from moving is more important, and times when suppressing a target is a great way to diminish their offensive output. If it was tweaked correctly it could also be a very valuable multiplier for CQB as your suppressing unit co-ordinates to suppress and then quit firing as your melee unit gets stuck in.

I also admit and agree that some rules which don't get used every turn are still worth having in the core game rules. I think Go to Ground is an excellent example of just that. It's not clunky, it's very simple, and it's not an all-the-time piece, but if you understand what the point of it is and use it well then it can be a game-changer (keeping your troops on the objective for one last turn by avoiding that last ditch effort to force a morale check) and I think that's good.

I think that distilled down, the majority of the problems that have been run into with previous versions of Suppressing Fire were really that we none of us could manage to set up a rule or group of rules that operated the way people expected suppressing fire to operate (i.e. had some relationship to reality) and provided a useful function within the framework of the rules (i.e. had some sort of tabletop use). All of the "this is how it really works" efforts just ended up with stuff that was too complicated in context of the rest of the way Dark Potential operates or just didn't do anything worthwhile. The worthwhile rules ended up making serious background/setting/fluff holes.

I think the following could work, but I'm not going to sign off on it just yet. I offer it here for the sake of argument.

Suppressing Fire

Any unit may attempt to Suppress another unit as an action. First, spend a command point (CP) and nominate the target unit. The firing unit must have a RoF of 4 or better or an AoE in order to perform Suppressing Fire. If the firing unit, because of line of sight or other conditions, does not have sufficient RoF, the action fails and the CP is used regardless. The target unit must be in cover from the firing unit and within 3" of a terrain feature, or within area terrain. The firing unit makes a ranged attack as normal but ignoring any cover penalties which would be applied to the shot. If the firing unit succeeds in its test (MoS 0 or better) then the target unit is Suppressed.

Suppressed - A unit which is Suppressed must pass a morale test at the beginning of its activation. If this test is passed, the unit may move up to have their normal move distance and then either Attempt To Disengage or Return Fire. If this test is failed, the unit may only move half their normal distance and then their activation ends.

Attempt To Disengage - A unit which is Suppressed and passes its morale test to keep its head under fire may try to escape the suppressing fire. It is allowed to move a second time, up to half it's Mv, to try and break LoS. If after this second move the unit which performed Suppressing Fire on the unit which is Attempting To Disengage cannot draw line of sight then that unit is no longer Suppressed. If the unit which performed Suppressing Fire on the unit which is Attempting to Disengage can draw LoS then it may immediately make a ranged attack against the Suppressed unit, ignoring cover.

Return Fire - A unit which is Suppressed and passes its morale test to keep its head under fire may try to return fire and encourage the suppressing unit to dive for cover. It is allowed to make a ranged attack against the unit which performed Suppressing Fire at a -3 penalty but also ignoring cover.


The rough idea here is to collect some of the elements which keep cropping up over and over again and do so in a way which is meaningful and yet accurate to both the role of what is going on and the realities of the setting. Cover was one of the big ones, and so I've tried to emphasize that. I have specifically not range-limited Suppressing Fire because I think that it would be one of the only, if not the only range-band elements in the game which was also range limited. I think for the sake of cleanliness and simplicity we should keep things either limited to a fixed and specified range or give them infinite range band incrementation.

Also, I think that for the investment of a CP, plus an action, plus a good roll, or spending the CP to make it a good roll, plus your opponent failing one or more rolls and having to choose about spending CP at that point you should get something as dramatic and powerful as other usages of CP - rerolls, etc. Therefore, I think if you can successfully execute Suppressing Fire you should be able to expect that a unit which is Suppressed is going to be paying a whole lot of attention to the unit which is shooting at it.

I have left something I have proposed before in this iteration also because I think it is the best way to make Suppressing Fire something that you have to have a certain amount of firepower to perform but still leaving it as accessible as possible and without just making up another special keyword to throw around. I think RoF 4 is a good cutoff since that means machine guns have to hold still to open up sufficiently to suppress, that most every squad except the cheapest smoke-toting PMC threesome should be able to suppress within the bounds of their native ability, and units like snipers will have their impact on morale handled in other, more appropriate ways.

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Re: Yet another topic on Suppressing Fire

Post by Azzorak » Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:23 am

I am inclined to agree with most of you tweaking. I believe you have simplified a few of the more complex concepts in my proposal while keeping the general feel of my idea. That being said I believe a few things from my original proposal should remain.

1. A suppressed squad should get the bonus to its defense and should be immune to fleeing. I also think a suppressed squad should not be able to move at all.

2. By making a morale check the squad has the option to try to break line of sight or return fire. I like this method over my original suggestion. By succeeding in their morale check they can move at half of their movement to attempt to break LOS or return fire as you described. These minor tweaks keep in the spirit of you described method but add back in a few of the concept I like. In your suggestion the squad still effectively gets its full move while being suppressed if they succeed in a morale check. That seems like too much as I believe crawling while under fire should be slow.

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Re: Yet another topic on Suppressing Fire

Post by cymruvoodoo » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:15 am

You are quite right in that I just completely overlooked the idea of a bonus to defense while suppressed (since they're hugging cover) however I think it ought to work like Dug In in that it adds to whatever cover you're already entitled to claim. If someone can line up an in-the-open shot while a squad is suppressed I don't know that the squad ought to be able to claim extra cover. Fish in a barrel, eh?

However, I think that a suppressed squad should be able to have limited movement. One of the points of contention in earlier discussions was that a squad could get pinned in places where it didn't make sense. Now, in part the "must be within x distance of cover" helps alleviate that but I think it's important to allow the squad some shuffling/low crawling/whatever. First, on the practical front it helps create an easy escape mechanism from a mechanics standpoint. This way, you can give someone who wants to try and get away their full normal movement, but split up so that part of it is conditional on passing a morale test to keep their cool. This means no awkward/artificial "skill" tests to escape based on yet another morale or perception roll. Second, on the representational front, it seems important that the suppressed models don't just "freeze." That's been a sticking point before also. Third, on the tactical front, allowing a squad to have it's full normal movement as both its movement and action for the turn, and only at the cost of succeeding at a morale check is pretty darn slow. Consider the comparison - a squad would normally get their full move, plus another full move if they wanted it as their action, and with no morale check at all normally. To guarantee that units can have half of their base move while suppressed is, I think, a perfect representation of a slow crawl under fire.

Also from a tactical standpoint not being able to count on a unit staying right exactly where it is I think forces players to treat Suppressing Fire as a proper utility piece rather than just the easy button. It gives you options, but neither player will be able to completely dictate to the other. I think that's important to have

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Re: Yet another topic on Suppressing Fire

Post by Azzorak » Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:34 pm

I am inclined to agree with you about the movement. I suppose when you explain it all in detail it is slow by comparison. I can agree with your tweaking now, just adding in that the unit cannot flee while suppressed and gains the benefit of dug-in.

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Re: Yet another topic on Suppressing Fire

Post by Roscoe » Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:29 pm

I was working on an idea for suppressive fire before I saw this thread, it does link to my idea of reactions found in this thread: http://www.miniwargaming.com/forum/view ... 22&t=76496

So ill start by highlighting the problems of suppressive fire found in a lot of the suggestions I've seen all round the forums (as I see it)

1. Command point cost
2. Over powered or under powered
3. Inability to inflict damage with suppressive fire
4. Lack of counters to suppressive fire
5. Putting new limits on who can use suppressive fire rather than using familiar pre-existing limitations

So the solution I propose:

Suppressive Fire Rule

Any unit can elect to use suppressive fire, suppressive fire is a normal shooting attack ignoring the targets defence. Margin of success is still limited by the shooting units RoF.

The Margin of Success (MoS) of the shooting attack confers an equal negative modifier to Morale of the target unit for the purposes of a Pinning test.

The MoS of a suppressive fire shooting attack only inflicts a hit for every 3 MoS rather than every 1. (Hits and wounds from Suppressive fire do not incur break tests).

Pinning - A pinning test is required of a unit when they are targeted by Suppressive fire. A pinning test is a normal morale test that if failed results in the unit being Pinned instead of Broken.

Pinned - A unit that is pinned cannot move and suffers a -4 penalty to Ranged and Perception skills. Pinning is automatically lifted at the end of the pinned units activation.

Counters

As it is this is a very effective suggestion for suppressive fire, unfortunately I believe this to be necessary for suppressive fire to be a viable option as shooting is so effective in this game. However as it is so effective there needs to be equally viable counters to it:

Courageous(Special rule) - A unit with the Courageous special rule never has to take pinning tests.

Player Reactions and Suppressive fire Interelation

Relates to my thread concerning player reactions:http://www.miniwargaming.com/forum/view ... 22&t=76496

Return Fire - When targeted by Suppressive Fire a unit can choose to Return Fire if the Return Fire scores more hits than the enemy Suppressive Fire the unit does not have to take a pinning test.

A unit that fails a pinning test are also counted as having used the Take Cover reaction meaning that they cannot perform any further reactions and benefit from an extra +1 Defence.

Review

By keeping Suppressive Fire easy to pull off and limiting the associated negatives (not requiring CP spend) it keeps it a very viable option even in a game where shooting is so effective. However the effectiveness does bring problems and the players on the receiving end of Suppressive Fire need options and my suggested reactions help with this. I would also suggest that some units should be immune to the pinning affects of Suppressive Fire perhaps courageous is not a great name for the special rule, comfortable under fire might be more accurate.

I also do not think that there needs to be limitations on what units can use Suppressive Fire I think a rule like must be at least a 3 man squad with RoF 2 does not help the immersion any unit should be able to use Suppressive Fire and those with low rates of fire are unable to achieve the same MoS in the attack and so are less effective when using Suppressive Fire.

I think Suppressive Fire should completely negate enemy movement, from a tactical standpoint I think this makes it more viable in more situations. Various movement speeds adds to complexity in such a way that I think is unnecessary.

So to sum up I think we need a SF that is effective when used but the other side must have counters available. It should completely stop movement and limit shooting and perception.

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Re: Yet another topic on Suppressing Fire

Post by dragon1010 » Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:10 pm

i agree with pretty much everything you are saying except one. i do believe there should be some sort of movement with supressive fire. a person that is getting shot at continuously will not just stand tere and take it if there is a nice big rock next to him to hide behind.
maybe a rule like this: if a unit fails its pinning check because of supressive fire then that unit may immediately move 3", then are pinned.
armies i play: tyranids (14000 pts), marines (4000 pts) orks (1750 pts) eldar (4000 pts) ig (3000 pts) lizardmen (2500 pts) high elves (3000 pts) cryx (100 pts) blindwater congregation (50 pts) trollbloods (25 pts) Legion of Everblight (50 pts)

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