Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Overpowered Active Camo

Active Camouflage - KemVar is always considered to be at one higher tier of cover than their position as long as their armour hasn't failed.

What does that mean in practice? If a KemVar model is in
  • the open, with No Cover, any shot against them counts as Weak Cover (+1FN)
  • Weak Cover, any shot against them counts as Strong Cover (+3FN)
  • Strong Cover, well, you technically can't draw LOS to them to take a shot anyway
That means that a KemVar model that has elevation and cover would have a +4FN modifier to any shots fired on them. When the general FN of models is FN6, you'd already be at FN10 to make your shot!
At a glance this seems like a very overpowered Corporate Trait, but here are some pointers to ensure fun and balanced MERCS games. Note that while this was written with KemVar in mind, it does apply across all factions.

MERCS Appropriate Terrain

Firstly, ensure you are playing on MERCS appropriate terrain.
Specifically, ensure terrain elements that offer optimum firing positions (that is, both elevation and weak cover) are limited and are located mid-field.
This ensures that both teams have an equal opportunity to secure these positions, and the most valuable firing positions on the field are rare and have to be fought for.
As an extreme example, if you put all the buildings that provided elevated cover in the KemVar deployment zone, then the KemVar would have very little motivation to give up their prime firing positions to expose themselves - they would just sit there and shoot down the opposition that came towards them.

A good example of MERCS appropriate terrain from the rulebook


Similar to the extreme example above, if there are no in-game objectives or missions to accomplish, once a KemVar model has secured an optimum firing position, there is very little incentive for them to move from it and expose themselves.
This is where good missions and scenarios significantly improve games - by helping to ensure units are forced into action, as well as adding an element of narrative to the game.

Squad Selection - Template Weapons and Armour Failure

It should be noted that Active Camo only affects weapons with an FN - so things like grenades thrown at the ground, that auto-hit anything within their template, are not affected.
Furthermore, note that the Active Camo ability does not work once a KemVar unit's armour has failed - some units have abilities focused on causing armour to fail, which is invaluable against Active Camo.
This battle report (specifically Game 2) shows how it's done. After the KemVar stole Game 1 by surprising the CCC with their speed, the CCC then played defensively and brought their template weapons to bear. The template weapons destroyed the KemVar - the Incinerator's flame thrower, the Demo's Frag Grenades and the Leader's Emp Grenades made short work of the KemVar.

Sync out.


  1. I agree with the strategies of utilizing templates to negate their AC benefits, as it should be a strategy anyone should have thought about before going into a game against KemVar. I do however believe that the standard terrain density for MERCS is severely lacking. In a table like the one shown it is still harder for the non-Kemvar player to take advantage of it, as until armor failure becomes evident in the majority of the KemVar squad they (KV) have a significant advantage over others.

    I believe severe terrain density is necessary to provide ALL factions the ability to outmaneuver their opponents.

    1. Also, even with some objectives like the previous (excellent) Michigan Mercs scenarios, there is still no true incentive for a player to NOT sit back and kill, as points/wins are still awarded to those who kill the entire opposing force before any objectives are claimed. Seeing as how objectives are generally placed in the opponent's half you can sit back and force them to go into your fields of fire, eliminate them and claim victory.

      Also, more terrain makes cooler looking boards.

    2. In my opinion, I believe terrain needs to be balanced - with a combination of open fire lanes as well as dense areas of terrain.
      If terrain is too dense and there are no open fire lanes, then the advantage will go to template weapons and close combat units because it will be much easier to stay in cover and engage the enemy in short range and melee. Snipers become devalued because they can't be used from long range.
      Conversely, if the terrain is too open, then the advantage will go to snipers, and template weapons and close combat units become devalued because they get shot in the open before they can get in range to use their weapons/abilities.

      That being said, it is the player's job to pick the best 5-man squad in their faction to win the game.
      Once each player knows the faction that they are playing against, and the table they are playing on, and the mission/scenario they are trying to achieve, then part of the game is for them to pick the best 5 units in their faction to win.

      Now, I haven't actually played any games of MERCS 2.0 yet, so this is mostly an opinion formed from MERCS 1.0.
      I'll actually have to get some games to ensure that my opinion is still valid in this edition!

      PS I think tables with lots of terrain looks cool as well :)

    3. Good points all, and my opinion of terrain density is also based on MERCS 1.0 experience.

      In terms of density I prefer that you should be able to move from one cover to the next within 2 cards, otherwise you may not ever want to move your model for fear of being in the open. This promotes a more mobile game, which in turn provides a more cinematic experience in my opinion. With the density shown in the rulebook picture example all of the action will be rather static as you only need two models to suppress or overwatch 2/3 of the table from deployment in the safety of cover. This forces all other models to congregate in the shadow of the building, and when they come out to assault the fixed positions they wind up in the open again. It seems like there would be no incentive not to sit behind the building and pelt each other until one has the advantage, while the addition of two more buildings, one in each lane blocking LOS, would encourage more dynamic movement while not diminishing a model's ability to suppress/overwatch over 1/3 of the table, which is still pretty good coverage considering you're only using one or two resources to do so.

      I like your example over the book's example, as the elevation still encourages dynamic movement while still having to consider the open lanes. My opinion lies in the fact that the books tend to show extremely open terrain that would make me play very conservatively.