BB3 Some thoughts on Return Fire

During the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War, the general public got so see on TV how soldiers really reacted under fire, almost for the first time in history. And what most squaddies do is cower behind the hardest piece of cover they can find, and occasionally stick their gun over the wall and spray blind in the general direction of the enemy. Now, if that’s what you want to happen in PP, I commend you for one of the most effective pieces of Design For Effect I have ever seen ;0)

But somehow, I think that’s just an unforeseen side-effect of a cool piece of design that isn’t properly balanced yet.

Here’s the thing. If I’m facing more than 1 Crabbie armed with machine-guns, it’s really not worth me firing at them during my turn, unless they have a Grenade Launcher I want to get rid of (because a 100% chance of getting fragged by a grenade is a lot higher than a 30-50% chance of getting hit by Return Fire).

So what the game encourages right now is the forward line of Squaddies hunkering down behind the best cover they can find, switching on Overwatch and waiting for the Crabbies to rush them; while the Snipers in the rear area take pot-shots from a distance, where the chances of getting hit by Return Fire are greatly reduced.

I take Julian’s point that Fog of War & other things are likely to reduce the effectiveness of long distance RF in the final build, but unless you really want us all to adopt ‘Tet Tactics’ against any Crabnest we run across, I’d advocate toning it down a bit. Perhaps RF only gets off one shot with a VERY wide target reticle, 'cos right now, a Crabbie machinegunner gets off 3 shots with about a 30% chance of hitting – that’s usually 1 hit a turn – which really makes it counterproductive for me to shoot first.


You need to pick them correctly, or if there is too many of them at one really hide and use overwatch + grenades. :wink:

Good idea. How about someone makes it so that they can’t fire from anywhere even from where you don’t even know where they are and pretty much do always hit at least once? Or that it’s designed so that they don’t come towards you in a fashion where you are spammed with them so you can not isolate them?

That’s the reality of how it plays currently.

I think there are several issues with RF in the current build (and presumably it is something they will get around to). The biggest issue for me is the fact the crab-men will spam RF with unlimited ammo and zero consequences, if they tone it down to only have one RF per round, or at least make them run out of ammo, then I don’t think it will feel as cheesy as it does at the moment.

It will be tuned.

This OP was a really good post made some time ago about the problem with return fire.

Unfortunately now the soldier who is being shot at is the only one to leap up and start spray bullets whilst everyone else, who isn’t being targeted, are cowering behind cover. - This really needs to be the other way around.

Instead of RF we could have an actual Interrupt mechanics. Might be more work to code but would cover all of the edge cases that are already out there.
Aka - if you have enough TUs you have a chance to use them during enemy turn, the same is for the enemy. Stealth, line of sight and experience, can all be used to determine if Interrupt can occur.

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We kinda have that already with Overwatch, where you can spend APs to opt into an interrupt if you spot something moving across the area you are concentrating on. RF is a slightly different mechanic, which used to act like covering fire against someone shooting at you and your mates, but has now become something much weaker that can be exploited by a smart enemy to render it all but useless.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m taking it as you mean ‘interrupt’ in the sense that you can then use any remaining TUs to perform any actions you want, not just automatically overwatch, but actually plan and aim your shots.

If so +1 from me.

Exactly, you can spend left over TUs in any way, not only on shooting. For example you can take a better cover, use equipment or maybe buff one of your other soldiers for next turn. You have access to the same action as during normal turn. This helps AI more than it helps players as it makes cheesing some behavior very dangerous, like stepping-in-and-out the room to take pot shots.

The problem with reaction during opponent’s turn:

Reserving actions for opponents turn is usually (the exception being the first turn, where opponent cannot reserve actions) the optimal way to spend action points because it allows to react with advantage to opponent’s actions.

Ja1 & 2 dealt with this using specific stat checks, if I recall correctly, so that whether you would get an interrupt or not was a gamble.

Xcom2 implemented this via a special ability in the overseer class, with limited uses per mission, so it wasn’t really a game mechanic.

Some (board)games use a system of command points to activate a limited number of units during opponent’s turn.

Interrupts have a very big impact on gameplay and require a lot to work properly. This not even taking into account the AI.

My vote goes to RF as covering fire, where the target itself cannot respond with RF.

Can you elaborate on this? I can’t tell if that is the problem or not.

Hardly more of a gamble than a current RF - you might get hit or might not. With Interrupts, even few stats like experience and amount of TU left is much simpler predictor if Interrupt can happen or not. On top of that it adds a benefit of having experience soldiers close to noobs to help with defending them. I see this as only adding more controllable tactical options.

That fixes one aggrigious case but still leaves the whole dumb situation where in ambush you wait for 10 minutes for all 20+ enemies to play their RF animation. I don’t understand why you guys want to keep this ability at all. Its more annoyance than an interesting game mechanics. Like yes you can “smartly counter it by snipers” but that is the case for everything in the game :smiley:

Let’s play chess. It’s my turn. But I let you go ahead. Once you start moving, I interrupt you and make my move. Knowing this, you will probably graciously allow me to go ahead. And so and so forth. Except if in the first turn the opponent doesn’t have the opportunity to interrupt because they hadn’t had the opportunity to save APs first.

I’m not saying JAs system was bad because there was a gamble, what I mean is you need to have some system that makes staying put and waiting for the other side to move suboptimal. In JA that is achieved by not knowing whether you will have an interrupt or not. Akin to, say in the chess example, to tossing coin to determine if I can interrupt you or not. You can see that using the elements your suggest (experience or APs left) wouldn’t do it, because I can ensure interrupt by staying put to have more APs, and if such thing as experience applies to :panda_face:s I will know it, so no gamble.

I like it because I like that there can be a reaction to an opponent during their move. Again, going to the chess example, interrupts and coin tosses would completely change the nature of the game, but en passant provides an instance of something akin to “reaction fire”.

I also like the idea that shooting at something means the possibility of getting shot back immediately, and without the benefit of cover, because this reflects that to shoot from full cover the shooter has to expose himself.

I agree that some limit on the number of RFs activations is in order. First, the target itself shouldn’t be able to respond. Second, perhaps there should be some additional conditions on which of this teammates will. Some players have suggested a cone of fire.

Why make it sounds ridiculous if we are not talking about chess.

The role of interrupt in JA and reaction shots in X-Com is simple - prevent simplistic tactics that exploit turn based nature of the game. But it goes way beyond just that in JA. What it adds on top is a model of attack/defense. It allows to play defensively when needed as you can force opponent to move and use interrupts as means to augment your defensive stance. The attacker in this case can use various tactics to lower chance of interrupts by the defensive side. For AI this is not only rather simple concept to use but it makes their behavoiur more interesting. Even simple function of counting alive units on the field, plus current personal injuries is enough to decide which state should be taken.
Features like overwatch is what suppose to augment or create a notion of defensive state in modern games, but simplistic nature of how AI reacts to them makes it either OP (Firaxis XCom) or irrelevant (Phoenix Point).

Yes I get that, that seams to be clever on paper. In practice it just means extra micro management where you move into half cover to take a shot and then move back into full cover. Or you just attack from greater distance. This makes gameplay only more meta and focuses player on constant checking of the game rules. This did work in very early builds of the game where distance at which fights where happening where large, so it actually created a feeling that your guys are under constant fire. RF wasn’t an issue as you where getting shot at anyway most of the time. This created a pressure to act instead of just sitting in cover and it worked well, imho. This is not the case anymore as fighting on much smaller distance leads to an easy way of getting partial flank on someone in cover, especially when this cover is a tree or other slender objects. So half cover or crap cover limits your practical choices to complete loss of line of sight as a cover, which just adds more micro movement.

What I’m saying is that removing the extreme issue with the RF, just makes it tolerable, it still doesn’t make it a better mechanics. Why bother fixing something that isn’t great in the first place?
Like yes, you can use a cone to decide on who should RF but that means that you have to have ability to set a facing of your soldier in some way, this currently doesn’t exist. If you add it, you need to have some compensating AP to cover the cost of turn, you will probably have to make a directional stealth mechanics too and teach AI to use it. On top of that, player has to use it and have some benefits downsides naturally flowing out of it. While it’s prety clear that devs wanted more casual approach of Firaxis XCom where facing doesn’t matter.

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Because the same principle applies to all turn based games and there have been many elaborate ideas as to how to accomplish this. Battle Brothers, for example, deals with it using initiative rolls.

It’s anything but simple and all because of the same problem.

You can easily imagine it in PPs terms, just think what a smart crab would do with such mechanic in place.

I have to agree with @VOLAND that interrupts don’t seem great to me. Just like he said, the defender can interrupt the attacker while he is at his most vulnerable because he hasn’t finished putting his pawns into place.

I think that FiraXCOM did this right by not making interrupts but specific pre-defined, interrupt-like abilities like overwatch, covering fire, suppression. The enemy turn develops with you “calmly” watching it without having to do anything.

If I had a mechanism like interrupt, I’d imagine that both opponents would use only that and rarely take the initiative.
– Please do move
– No, after you
– I beg you
– Come on move, I have so much fun planned for you
– If you insist, I’ll …
– INTERRUPT !!! You’re dead

And frankly, I don’t see why overwatch costs AP and is limited to 1 shot when RF doesn’t cost anything, has no tactics involved, 360° and shots only limited by ammo.

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When I consider interrupts I’m thinking of something like this where you have the option to fire on the enemy’s turn, but not to move/use special abilities.

You can see the interrupt working on the first opponent, but then not on the 2nd (because it’s already been used at that point).

You get around that by adding an objective and/or a turn count. Now somebody has to move.

My only real concern with Interrupts is how practicable it is in the current development climate.
It sounds interesting as a long-term development goal, but in the short term I’d rather they fixed RF and made it both less get-aroundable AND paradoxically less devastating when it does go off, rather than adding yet another complex mechanic that needs balancing and rebalancing ad infinitum.

Actually, perhaps that would not be a bad idea for overwatch, to prevent it from activating too soon.

Now do we actually want a turn count, or is this for argument’s sake? :joy: