#Heavyproblems

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#Heavyproblems

Post by spellbound on Mon Mar 23, 2015 12:42 am

So, while I'm still polishing up my tier list I decided to post about something that's been on my mind. Most people in our meta have accepted that Heavies are generally sup-par. However, we've never compiled a list, nor have we discussed how this should be addressed. Obviously without beta material in our hands we can't tell exactly what's being done but we know some of the changes coming through and I've been thinking about whether those changes will make enough of a difference to actually make Heavies viable. The changes, for those who don't know, are as follows: FN reduced by 1 for all models. Heavies who have to set can fire without setting but do so in a smaller template, and at +1 FN. After some debate I came to the conclusion, that no they will not. I'd like to explain why.

So Heavies are in a bad place because of a few features most of their models share, and the Heavies that are passable do not have one or more of the issues described. For this essay a Heavy is defined as a model that's used primarily for it's large number of potential shots, generally at a high strength, and ability to fire every round (no shotguns). The following models are either called Heavies or used as Heavies: CCC Heavy Gunner and Incinerator, House 9 Boomer and Housemaster, House 4 Heavy, ISS Heavy, Kazi Waza Heavy Hybrid, Kemvar Heavy Assault, Texico Heavy, Sefadu Heavy, Texico Heavy Gunner, USCR Behemoth, EU Inc Heavy.

Now that we know which models either are Heavies or do the "job" of a Heavy we can define what problems Heavies have and which of these Heavies will still have them after the changes Brian has said will be in 2.0.

Setting: Having to waste a turn doing knowing after getting into position sucks a lot. It alone makes Heavies untenable since they can't move and shoot which means avoiding their firing lines is really easy. They rarely get to do their job of firing because people just ignore them. Hence why Heavies who don't have to set are leaps and bounds a head of the competition.

Low MP: Heavies take forever to get anywhere. Getting them into position takes about 2 turns, sometimes longer if initiative screws you over. This, even without setting makes Heavies a tough pick. Some Heavies are blessed with 2 MP, something that I, and many other people, underestimate. A Heavy that gets in position early might actually see use!

Inability to manipulate FN: Heavies are at the mercy of their targets for what FN they are shooting at. They can't make someone be close, they can't move so someone is out of cover. They can do nothing, except get elevated, and even that leaves their control after that because their targets can do the same. They are stuck throwing FN 8-9 for most of the game, without a leader sitting with them and telling them it's okay. This is pretty crippling considering MERCS is all about moving to lower your FN. 2.0 is supposedly making things like to the rear, and close range less powerful bonus wise, which is a good thing overall, but those features will still be extremely useful in the game unless they are completely removed, and Heavies just can't use them.

Inaccurate shots: Dear God are Heavies inaccurate. They start at FN 8 in 1.0 and with half cover, elevation, or suppression, hitting becomes a nightmare. It's become standard practice to park a leader on this guys just so they can be threatening. This, more than anything else is what I'd say makes Heavies underwhelming as the best Heavies have a way to get around this. FN 7 is slightly better, but they have to be set to enjoy that benefit! And setting is still terrible!

Inability to retaliate to close combat or rear combatants: While some might think this is a good balance feature, it often means if you get close enough to a Heavy they stop being able to play the game. Which is trivially easy without a bunch of other models running defense, something which doesn't work well when the model you're defending has trouble contributing to combat.

Low number of shots: Yeah... I didn't actually realize this was a problem until a made my tier list. If we exclude the 7th man, the EU Inc Heavy, and any of the Heavies who have only a single shot at a reduced accuracy, we see a disturbing trend.  The average number of shots a Heavy gets is 2.83. This means that most Heavies are dropping 2-3 shots when they fire. What. The. Hell. With accuracy as bad as they have it this is never going to be equal to a fire and moving semi-auto. The funny part is Brian figured this out since the Sefadu Heavy, and the EU Inc Heavy both have 4 shots in template. Why Sefadu has one of the best Heavies in the game while already being so good at everything is beyond me.

So with that out of the way, does this new change fix any of these problems? No, not really. It may look great that the Heavies can fire without setting, but they can't fire and move, and they do so at such a high FN that they'll never hit. FN 9 is pretty terrible. Honestly, they'll probably be better off setting for the reduction than firing unset. They still can't manipulate FN which means they'll still miss most of the time, and unless they are Kemvar, Sefadu, or EU Inc at this point they aren't throwing enough dice to be worthwhile. They are still painfully slow, which means finding a location to shoot from accurately is still brutally difficult and they are still unable to retaliate to anyone behind them.

Essentially none of their problems were addressed. Heavies will still be either useless, subpar, or will be the ISS Heavy, CCC Incinerator or Housemaster. It should probably be a sign that the best Heavies are the ones which are least like traditional Heavies.

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Re: #Heavyproblems

Post by MI-MERC-Mongoose on Mon Mar 23, 2015 10:27 am

I took the time and read what you said and I agree with most points. If the Base FN is dropped then without setting they will be hitting on 8's before modifications and 7's if they set.

In this last tournament I made a new map that was played on and will be posted for March's new Map. One of the first things that was said was, "man heavies are actually useful on this map. I feel at though in a lot of the map setups that were created early on it didn't give heavies a chance so thats why they seem a bit unviable. Just like the field of war, diifferent locations will call for a different squad setup.

This does not in anyway take away some of the points you made but I feel as though map layouts really make a huge difference on what models should be brought to the table. The other point I think should be made is, the current scenarios for Tournament Pack 1.0 do really give heavies a chance for use. Because they are slow (and I'm ok with that) they don't have time to set up in a good position, but with some of the thoughts of possible different deployment methods in the 2.0 Pack I think you will see that they will be a part of the squad and very devastating.

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Re: #Heavyproblems

Post by spellbound on Mon Mar 23, 2015 12:43 pm

Unless the map has nothing blocking line of sight, Heavies get flanked without direct support from their models, and if nothing breaks line of sight the Overwatchathon is in full effect. Heavies can be made viable, but as of now they aren't being supported well. The ability to set and move would really help, 4 dice minimum for all setting Heavies would help, and a Goddamn side arm they can fire and move, in addition to the current FN changes would be necessary for me to even consider a Heavy worth taking over another model.

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Re: #Heavyproblems

Post by MI-MERC-Mongoose on Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:09 pm

It had a lot of half cover and some full cover too. If you can get a heavy in a good position and throw him on overwatch or suppression, he can be a good deterrent on an area of the map. meaning if you see people are going to shift to another side of the board, you can counteract to that or set up some sort of tactic that will cause them to really decide whack route to take.

I think the main reason here that heavies are not taken is because yes, they have high FN's and are not viable in a kill'em all scenario. They will almost never hit. But with a new focus on scenarios in the 2.0 Pack I think heavies will have a much better role. They are not necessarily meant to wipe out a guy in one action with 3/4 dice per attack but more to deter people from going into a section or path.

Lets just say you have 2 objective and the heavy is set and waiting for you to come in. Most will not take a chance at sending 2 or 3 guys in the path of a template weapon. So now you have possibly shifted their focus to move to the other side where now you have another team setup for the invasion. I know this is more for a modified game type deployment and non of the current Tournament Pack scenarios have this available.

I think something that would give heavies a much more added benefit is when a heavy is in suppression he causes a +2 to your courage check. Just imagine a set heavy unloading 100's of rounds in your direction you would have to be very brave to even try and move.

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Re: #Heavyproblems

Post by spellbound on Mon Mar 23, 2015 2:34 pm

Heavies are most viable in a kill em all strategy. In such a circumstance you can hole up on one side of the map and wait for the enemy to come to you. With the right set up you can just make multiple kill-boxes and hope and pray you roll well. Granted this tactic has a lot of limitations. If you try and lock down an area with a Heavy your opponent can send their 5 MERCS into your blind spot and then you'be put yourself in a 4v5. The Heavy takes so long to re-position that you'll likely have decided who won by the time the Heavy gets to shoot. And that assumes you get set up in time to even have a say. Basically unless the Heavy was set up before the game started they aren't doing much.

Suppression, even with the boost you describe, is terrible for Heavies. It is relatively easy to avoid if you just duck from cover to cover. Just do your fighting in a blind spot. The best models at suppressing can move around if they need too, and can easily start suppression in another area. Suppression is also most often used when someone plays aggressively and gets stuck out of cover, which generally happens to models with 1 MP, like Heavies.

If you were able to run multiple Heavy Gunners in a map with clear firing lanes you might be able to make something work. That's a lot of factors you need just to make them able to function as effective area denial, and it requires a playstyle where you wait and hope to catch someone out of cover, which is very difficult on a stationary model.

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Re: #Heavyproblems

Post by jahatch28 on Sun May 31, 2015 2:34 pm

Ohkay, so I'm not an experience MERCS player... but I've been playing mini wargames for 20 years... and one of the best things about MERCS is that it tries to really incorporate more realism and requires thinking ahead... Heavies, Snipers, and some melee models in the game really highlight this... it is much easier to leave them at home, and take more models with Move & Fire or as mentioned, take Heavies that don't require Set & Rip... after a few games, everyone in my group basically said "Heavies are worthless"... but then I started pointing out the options with Overwatch, Suppression, and we modified our terrain and scenarios... and Heavies become something more useful and more influential in those games. I also think that the sheer "potential" for damage output is really the issues... yeah, 3 dice @ 9+ to hit isn't great.. especially only 3 times in a 6 turn game... but with a template, that might be 2 models under the template.. and every once in a while that is 3 models... that's 9 dice at 9's or 10's... and every once in a while, the dice come up 9, 9, 10... and you have just killed a model with one shot... that's 20% of the enemy gone (+ whatever specialty that model was.. medic? leader? monkeywrench? enemy heavy? enemy sniper?)... so that is why I don't want to see Heavies get too good ... and the fact that there is an option for move & fire at even more reduce chance to hit is IMHO a good thing as it will potentially trick some people into moving and firing with their Heavy each turn while more experienced or sneaky and tactical players may actually find that Bounding into position and setting up a better LOS is the way to go... I am not saying all Heavies are balanced.. and certainly some are easier to use or are a bigger threat than others... but I personally like the fact that Heavies and Snipers require some finesse and planning and would be sad to see it just turn into a dice rolling contest.

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Re: #Heavyproblems

Post by jahatch28 on Sun May 31, 2015 2:46 pm

Also, I know this isn't thematic, but what about letting Heavies Snap2Cover and not losing their Set? Would make having to "set", while say, behind cover, not as much of an issue.. then you can Snap around the cover and fire... I know they really want Heavies immobile when Setting... but wouldn't be horrible to let them S2C IMHO

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Re: #Heavyproblems

Post by spellbound on Mon Jun 01, 2015 12:00 am

Hello, and welcome to the forum. Smile So the points you make aren't wrong but they rely on something that in another table top game is referred to as the Oberoni fallacy, which is the idea that a rule as written isn't broken because the people playing the game can fix it. In your statement you mention modifying your terrain to favor Heavies. This clearly makes them more useful but you had to actively adjust the way the game was played to make the models even close to viable. Generally with high points for the Heavy to sit with a great sightline of most of the map. Unfortunately this means they get suppressed and flanked so even this idea has problems in the world of Karl Twirling. Not to mention every urban map having a wide open area with great sightlines is hard to believe. MERCS fight in offices, or in other tight quarters environments. As for Overwatch and Suppression, well any model with fire and move is just as good at Suppression (actually better because they don't have to be set to do it! 2.0 will change that though) and Overwatching requires your opponent to proc it. A lot of models can easily avoid Overwatching by running from cover to cover, since you have to see the action begin to fire at it. Basically models with fire and move aren't going to be stuck in that template unless the player using them miscalculated or they have literally no cover. And even in that situation their accuracy is terrible. FN 8 to start, which means half cover and suppression put them in the 9-10 range depending on the Leader's position or elevation. 20% chance of a hit for each shot. .008% chance of all 3 hitting. That's like banking on the Kezi Waza's headshot ability. Once in a blue moon it's pretty neat but most of the time you'll be disappointed.

As for the value of templates I completely agree. The problem is shotguns are far better template weapons, and they are only getting better with the auto shotguns appearance. Also Heavies can't fire and move in 2.0. They can fire without setting. They are like any model without fire and move that lacks set at the moment. Heavies and Snipers are both in the same boat where they happen to be so bad at their jobs that taking them is detrimental to your chances of success. At this point a lot of our groups use of snipers is similar to a packmule. Razz

Incidentally, the comments on MERCS striving for realism is what makes the treatment of Heavies and Snipers so bizarre. LMGs don't require a stand to be used in real life, and with the power armor it seems like the weight should be less of an issue. And yet, Heavies have to waste time setting. Sniper rifles have been moving away from bolt action for ages, and yet MERCS uses bolt action rifles, and requires an inordinate amount of time to use them. Suppressing someone can cause them to stand still out in the open instead of running to cover. A large number of models, who are highly trained soldiers, can't turn 90 degrees and fire a weapon at the same time. Honestly, the realism arguments never seemed that strong to me. Too many little things are wonky.

Personally I think Heavies should be able to set for improved accuracy but they shouldn't need to so that they can do their jobs. I think giving them FN7 at base and allowing them to fire and move if they only target a single unit (since they aren't able to completely spray the field). If they don't move they can fire in the smaller template and if they set they have the full sized template and FN 6. With that I think Heavies might be worth taking. And of course they all have 4 shots. With these changes they might be viable without tailoring the map to their presence. Their low MP and lack of FN manipulation is still problematic. Your snap to cover suggestion wouldn't be problematic because heavies need all the help they can get.

If you have any further questions or would like clarification on anything please ask. Smile

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Re: #Heavyproblems

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