Saturday, June 23, 2012

Designer Diary 7: Expanded Melee in Space Hulk: XT

This Wednesday, I broke down melee combat in Space Hulk, explaining why it functions in the manner it does. Earlier today, we looked at armor in Space Hulk and how it plays into melee combat. Now we delve even further, this time looking at how to incorporate new models into the mix.

To recap, a few basic rules and assertions:
-All models roll 1d6-2 in melee, modified by weapons and model seniority (sergeant, hero, etc.)
-As melee modifiers increase, they are traded in for new dice with a lower modifier (1d6+2 = 2d6, 2d6+2 = 3d6).
-Trained melee specialists and characters will most often roll fewer dice with higher modifiers, whereas non-specialist models with a comparable attack bonus will roll more dice with lower modifiers (i.e., a Terminator with Lightning Claws rolls 2d6+2 vs a Genestealer’s 3d6).
-A model’s Toughness vs. ranged attacks is determined by its armour, and in some extreme cases influenced by its speed and agility.

With this, nearly all models from Space Hulk are covered. What remains are the fun, complicated ones, as well as adding in new critters. Firstly, the Patriarch!

The Patriarch (or Broodlord in Third Edition) is the great big daddy ‘stealer. The first Genestealer to land on a planet begins the cycle of infestation, and as the Genestealer cult grows he becomes older, wiser, and more and more powerful psychically. In melee combat the Genestealer Patriarch rolls a whopping 4d6+3! Keeping in mind the basic framework that we have already laid down, how does this work?

Several new factors apply here. Firstly, a brood will only ever have a single Patriarch at any given time, so the Patriarch is one-of-a-kind. This makes him a Unique Character, conferring a +3 in melee (regular models are +0, squad leaders +1, and normal characters +2). Secondly, a Patriarch is not only an old and experienced fighter, but an exceedingly strong one. Rather than simply having extra hands as on a regular Purestrain Genestealer, his extra limbs are themselves lethal weapons due to his size and general orneriness. This adds in one last important rule, which will come in handy in shortly when I dive into Tyranid models. A model only counts melee bonuses normally for two weapons: however, up to two more melee weapons may each add a further +1 bonus. Therefore a Broodlord or Patriarch counts as having two Genestealer Claws (+3 bonus each) and two extra melee weapons (+1 bonus each). Coupled with the +3 bonus for being a unique character and the 1d6-2 all models start with, this brings his total to 1d6+9. Let’s see how this works on the melee chart.

Melee Modifiers
1d6+2 OR 2d6
1d6+3 OR 2d6+1
1d6+4 OR 2d6+2 OR 3d6
1d6+5 OR 2d6+3 OR 3d6+1
1d6+6 OR 2d6+4 OR 3d6+2 OR 4d6
1d6+7 OR 2d6+5 OR 3d6+3 OR 4d6+1
1d6+8 OR 2d6+6 OR 3d6+4 OR 4d6+2 OR 5d6
1d6+9 OR 2d6+7 OR 3d6+5 OR 4d6+3 OR 5d6+1

Now, since the Patriarch/Broodlord is a unique character (+3 bonus), we want him to be adding as close to +3 as possible with the dice he’s rolling (like a Marine Captain (character, +2) rolling 1d6+2 instead of 2d6). This higher modifier accounts for the fact that sometimes a lesser model just can’t hope to match his might and ferocity. Looking at the row of +9, you can see that 4d6+3 then works out perfectly. So, we now have ourselves a Broodlord. What’s next? Next is an example to tie everything together, followed by bugs!

For this example, I’m going to show the process behind statting a Dark Eldar Incubus for Space Hulk: XT. Firstly, let’s look at how his armor will affect gameplay.

An Incubus in 40K is fairly well armored, possessing a save equal to that of a Tactical Marine (3+). He is less tough, but with a slightly higher initiative. This puts him firmly between Unarmored (Toughness 4) and Very Heavily Armored (Toughness 6), and firmly in the realm of Armored models (Toughness 5, the middle). While slightly faster than a normal human, an Incubus possesses none of the superhuman agility present in a Genestealer, and will still be slowed down slightly by his armor. This means that an Incubus will have the normal 4 Action Points and Medium Movement, i.e. the same movement chart that a Tactical Marine uses.

Next up, we have weapons. Some Incubi (models from different editions) will possesses different wargear, but the model being explored here is a 3rd-4th edition Incubus from my model collection. He has a Tormentor Helm (helmet-mounted pistol) and a Punisher Power Axe (a two-handed power axe). In combat terms, this means that he will have a Laspistol equivalent for ranged attacks (1d6+0 damage, range 12, +1 to melee) and a Power Weapon for melee (+2). Now, in 40K the Punisher grants the wielder a +1 to his strength in melee on account of being two-handed. This is a small enough modifier to not be taken into account in Space Hulk, as an Incubus with a +1 strength power weapon strikes just as hard as a Marine with a Power Axe (strength 4). So in total, Incubi will have 1d6+1 in melee (1d6-2 base, +1 for pistol, +2 for power axe). A stat card for an Incubus (circa 3rd edition wargear) would look something like this:

Now that we have explored the process I use for models, it’s time to jump in with some of the really fun ones. For Rob, we have: Tyranids!

For a melee Tyranid Warrior, a base of 1d6-2 melee like everyone. Two Boneswords (i.e. Power Swords) each grant +2, and two more generic claws grant +1 each. This brings the model up to a net of 1d6+4, which converts to 3d6, with a parry.

A ranged Warrior with a Deathspitter (which you likely have from the same unit box) would be 1d6-2 base, +2 for two generic claws. This brings him to only a 1d6 melee, but he also has a Deathspitter for ranged attacks.

A Hormagaunt has just two basic melee weapons, bringing it to a 1d6. However, some strains of the Gaunt genus (including Hormagaunts) have the leap ability, allowing them to jump 2 squares forward for 2 AP once a turn. This is an excellent way to hop past enemies on overwatch for a flanking maneuver.

Some Tyranids are highly customizable, with various weapon options and bio-morphs available. However, as mentioned with the Incubus above gaining +1 strength from his Punisher, many of these bio-morphs will not confer any actual bonus in Space Hulk: XT. A +1 to strength or initiative in 40K changes little enough overall to not make the cut for modifying stats in Space Hulk.


Coming on Monday: New Models and Ranged Weapons in Space Hulk: XT

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