A Point About Firefights

Game Theory

Ho boy, a lot of tags for a good topic:  Third edition’s silhouettes have done an overall great job of eliminating wiggly arguments about when models can and can’t claim line of fire.  Rules for “cover” are what they always have been, simple and easy to use.

Still, there are scenarios that cause confusion or even frustration.  I’m borrowing wisetiger7’s image here as his casual illustration neatly notes an unfortunately common contention:

Of course, scenery—and more scenery—and more scenery —is a hugely important part of Infinity.  Arguably the most important reason is for providing cover to the little soldiers fighting thereupon.

In keeping with the arithmetic of threes in Infinity, cover grants a +3 bonus to ARM rolls; that is, protection, and a -3 to enemy BS attack rolls; that is, incoming fire.  To qualify for cover, a model simply has to be touching a bit of scenery that obscures ⅓ of the model.

As the official rules declare:

» The target of the BS Attack must be in base contact with a piece of scenery.
» For a piece of scenery to be considered valid Cover, it must conceal at elast a third of the target.  This means it must have a height that is equal to or higher than one third of the target’s height, and must also cover at least the equivalent of one third of its base.
» When in doubt, check the Silhouette (S) attribute of the target and its Silhouette Template to see the measurement of that minimum height and width.

Beautiful rules.  But here’s a problem:

As wisetiger7’s image points on, that third-height bit of cover seems totally ridiculous—when you consider that in many people’s Infinity games, any obstacles with even a pinhole confer perfect line of fire, but zero cover, to the victim.

It’s like every soldier can pull off silly shots like this:

The problems comes from first point’s clarification that valid cover requires the soldier be touching, or “in base contact”, with the obstacle.  Under scrutiny this rule falls apart at some levels.  Many older players cite that this is ultimately good because it staves off arguments.  While I disagreed as a new player, after a hundred games, I emphatically agree.

But, a good thing can be be made better.  Fortunately for the community, this current edition introduced “Saturation” rules.  “Saturation” represents clutter between lines of fire, as trees would in a forest firefight.  It reduces the maximum volleys by 1.  “High saturation” double this effect.

Saturation rules tie in well with this problem here.  Although I haven’t got a game in a few weeks, at Mox Boarding House, our community ruling goes simply like this:

1. Does it look like a tricky/difficult/cluttered shot?
If no, then no saturation.  If yes, then saturation.  And if it looks like…
2…a really hard shot that only a robot, dumb luck, or bullet storm could make?
It’s high saturation.

This has been exceptionally well-received, and in the world of competitive wargaming, it’s noticeably beneficial as players who are quick to apply saturation penalties to their opponents are ultimately reasonable when such penalties are suggested against them.

If your local gaming group is frustrated with cover rules in Infinity, give the Saturation rules a look, and talk with your opponent before the game about where they might apply.

And if you want to be a real gentleman, offer to apply it even when it suits your opponent better.  Common courtesy makes popular play.

In the Infinity community, there are also relevant discussions about windows & doors, and an excellent discussion about some problems with silhouettes as prompted by the perspicacious Penemue.


One thought on “A Point About Firefights

  1. I think I might prefer BS modifiers to saturation, though I like the addition of that to the ruleset as well. Though part of it is I think -3BS should be for the target being partially obscured whatsoever regardless of terrain touched and +3BS weapon range bands should be fairly uncommon instead of the current standard.


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