Monday, February 8, 2016

MERCS 2.0 - Rules Changes

As part of my preparation for MERCS 2.0, I decided to type up some notes on the major rule changes. After typing them up, I decided to post my notes up here in case anyone else was interested.

MERCS 2.0 Quick Rules: This 3 page PDF covers the basic changes to MERCS tabletop. This is a pre-2.0 release document that should be considered in beta at this time:

Initiative Modification
  • This is a new rule and provides the players with more flexibility when planning, and forces players to make important choices in the first Initiative phase
  • When assigning the initiative die result to the unit, the result may be modified by the value of the unit's Initiative Modifier
  • Players do not need to modify their initiative; it is a choice
  • The initiative die result may be modified to be higher or lower
  • The value of initiative may be modified up to or below the value of the unit's Initiative Modifier. 
  • Initiative can only be modified in the Initiative Phase, and once the initiative result is changed and assigned, then the initiative cannot be altered.

  • There will be only one movement template in each faction deck, and this template is where Corporate Traits (formally Corporate Abilities) are listed
  • Players can choose to use the card for movement, a custom movement template, or tape measure. For people who use a tape measure, 1 MP = 4 inches
  • Using the card for movement, units can now move to any location underneath the card, if the entire base is covered by the reference card
  • Any movement, whether a full card or moving within the card, counts as a movement point
  • As before, snap to cover is NOT considered a move, but the unit must have cover within base range.

ER rating
  • The biggest change in the ER number is how units move up and down terrain. It is quite a bit different. It is more limiting compared to the first edition rules
  • The elevation rating number is based on a simple scale: each ER number represents eight feet of real world height
  • All units fall into the ER1. The ER stat from 1.0 has been removed from the card, because all units (even the Behemoth) are the same elevation rating
  • If terrain elevation rating is greater than the ER1, then the target cannot be seen or targeted (except in special circumstances with certain MegaCons)
  • If the ERs are the same, then normal LOS rules apply
  • In 2D terrain, players will need to determine if same ER terrain can be seen over
  • MERCS in 3D terrain is quite simple, as players deal with true line-of-sight. If an attacker can see the inhabited space of the target, he can attack
  • When ascending up terrain, it must follow the rules for measuring elevation rating. If the elevated terrain is within a card width of the ground, then the unit can ascend, but must use an entire movement point. Same goes for descending.
  • Any elevation outside this card width measurement cannot be climbed into without assistance -the unit needs a special personal ability or piece of equipment that allows them to ascend or descend.

Firing numbers
  • The firing numbers are all a bit lower - every weapon’s FN has been lowered or altered in some way
  • Firing numbers are based off of weapon type
  • All range combat starts with this number 
  • All rolls in MERCS are still equal to or higher to succeed
  • Most modifiers are the same in terms of definition of modifier value
  • However, there are several NEW optional modifiers based off of keywords, like AIM and SET - make sure you understand how these new modifiers work, because they are a choice
  • Flanking no longer requires the target be engaged in melee combat
  • Flank - a flank attack is from one of the two side arcs. The attacker must be clearly attacking from the 90°side quadrant
  • Flank attack bonuses are provided to attackers at range or in melee, to targets in cover or not
  • A flank attack lowers the firing number by one AND increases the weapon strength of any weapon used by one

Melee combat
  • Melee combat makes more sense now - moving and attacking in melee is standard practice now
  • In order to make a hand-to-hand attack, a unit must have a melee stat bar. If the unit doesn’t have the keyword melee stat anywhere, he cannot attempt a melee attack
  • Everyone with a melee stat can move into and attack for one action, but do so at a -3 melee attack penalty
  • If a unit with a +0 melee stat moves into range and attacks in the same turn then he would roll his d10 dice pool and subtract three from each roll. If after the result is modified, it is equal to or higher than the target’s Reaction, then the target is hit
  • Melee combat specialists have advantages that eliminate penalties and often provide further bonuses
  • Once in melee range, moving into range and attacking penalties do not exist
  • Units in melee range cannot leave hand-to-hand and reenter melee range with the same target
  • Attackers can leave melee combat without penalty

  • A unit on overwatch MUST shoot - they cannot choose to wait for a specific target
  • Overwatch is a one on, one off action. A unit on overwatch attacks the first target to meet overwatch requirements, then cannot attack the next target that meets overwatch requirements
  • Overwatch results should be treated like a simultaneous action results in terms of how the original action and overwatch take place - it does not prevent the target’s action, even if the target is killed 
  • Overwatch carries over from initiative to initiative, until the overwatcher activates again
  • Actions that do not trigger an overwatch attack: Hold, Suppression, Snap to cover, Aiming, Passive abilities
  • There are some weapon limitations for overwatch: grenades and melee combat cannot be used for overwatch
  • Likewise, any weapon that has a load penalty occurs over two turns cannot be used to overwatch
  • Long range kill weapons with single turn load penalties CAN be used on overwatch, because overwatch is a one on/one off action

  • A unit on suppression MUST shoot - they cannot choose to wait for a specific target
  • Suppression is a two on, one off action. A unit on suppression fires (for no damage) at the first two targets to meet suppression requirements, then cannot suppress the next target that meets suppression requirements
  • Suppression carries over from initiative to initiative, until the suppressor activates again
  • Targets under suppression must make a courage check

Sync out.


  1. Is there any word on a release date for 2.0 ?

    1. No solid news regarding retail release, but Kickstarter backers should start receiving their new rulebooks in early March.

  2. I like most of the rules changes as it cleans up the system significantly. But with initiative modifiers does this create a system where rolling order matters between the two players? Like, if player one rolls an important model's initiative and can modify it, player two can wait to see the result before modifying his model's initiative. Do you alternate initiative rolls between players and models?

    Also, the only rule change I am iffy about is the one/two on, one off for over watch and suppression. Although it makes sense why they changed it, it seems very "gamey" and is yet another thing to track. Overall though I prefer the change, as it's another wrinkle you'd have to think about and can be explained in real-life terms like having people draw fire for your models to get through.

    1. I agree on both points Ryan -
      We'll have to wait and see what the MERCS 2.0 rules say about the new Initiative Phase process, but the order of initiative assignment will add greater tactical depth to the phase.
      And tracking Overwatch and Suppression will be a little more difficult now, but I think that it is better that the ACMs have been balanced.