N18 A Thought Experiment on Pinning, House Rules, and Making Close Combat Viable

Cpt. Boriel

Gang Champion
Jan 7, 2018
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Preface. This origionally started as a reply to @TopsyKretts in a conversation, and quickly became too much to not write a post about. This isn't perfect, and there are typos, and I reference a TON of ideas that i've read about while lurking over the last year. But I believe it could be a great way for people to balance out shooting VS close combat in N18. without further ado.

Hey yakkers!

Warning, this is a wall of text.

I had the morning off work and I went to town with a few ideas. I was reading through the NCE and the N18 summery of rules of yours with one main thought in mind: How to balance N18s massive shootiness to its close combat. I hope you are interested because I feel that scarce ammo is not properly balanced (shouldn't need to jack up the price of that plasma gun). CC gangs just cant compete with Van Saar, or just massed shooting in general.

PART 1 (pinning needs a rework)
The ground work. I don't like or use tactics cards. Also I am assuming first that the old XP system is NOT used, though I would like it to work either way. Problem 1: CC is less than 50% of the combat. Why? Pinning keeps people from declaring Charge actions. The current workaround is Overseer, which we all know is the most broken skill, and super lame for Leaders. I found there is a way to work around this without distinctly super nerfing Overseer, but also without opening up CC too much (maybe). It takes one radical shift that will necessarily mean changing up some skills. Re-Implement "Recover From Pinning Checks". In NCE it states that at the beginning of your turn (now model activation) if there is a friendly non-juve, non-broken, non-down model within 2", you can recover from pinning with an init check (a free spring up with requirements). IMO if this was re-implemented with the extra stipulation that pinned models within 2" do not count, it would very much improve the game.

Hear me out, the new rules give very little to no incentive for model coherency that is such a staple in all the other GW games. In N18, being close to your friendly models gives you: access to multiple activation, panic, and the occasional Lead By Example (i think that's what its called), and maybe some skills (munitioneer, medicae, inspiring, overseer). Considering Pinning is such a major issue to CC gangs, and the "fix" is just to give people extreme charge distances (new slaughter skill, broken when it goes off; overseer), this could smooth out the average.

ISSUES:
Does it give Esher too much advantage? No. they will recover from pinning a lot, but it will also weaken their lasgun spam. Also note that Van Saar will not recover from pinning without init bonuses that they would never really want to get otherwise. Besides, if you fail a recovery test, you can still spend a basic action to stand back up.

Overseer will be too powerful with this. Yes, So we nerf it. My proposed Overseer is thus: Overseer skill grants the action "Overseer (Simple): Make a leadership test, if passed, a friendly model within 12" may make a single stand up (simple) or move (basic) action." Your thoughts would we nice to hear on this.

Spring Up is now useless. Yes/No. modify it like the ORB nerves of steel. you may always test to recover from pinning, and if you qualify for regular recovery, gain a reroll. This could allow a group of pinned models to have a character stand, and grant recovery rolls to each model within 2".

Nerves of Steel will now not be very good. true, but it depends on a separate stat and exposes the model to more fire, and access to a different skill tree. It will make it not an auto take, which are things we generally like.

This will make shooty gangs more shooty becuase they will be able to stand and aim more often. Yes. Simple Change: make Balistics Expert skill allow the model to take the aim action with an Intelligence check, period, nothing else.

PART 2 (a little more changes, a little more of my ramblings)
do the CC gangs really gain more from this? Yes. do they all care? no. Opening up 4+d3" or 5+d3" charges a bit more often, under certain conditions is good, but not something that will swing the game to even close to 33% close combat. With the prevelence of M5, 6, 7 in neomunda, I'm against the idea of straight up making charge a Move x2 distance. The random adds a bit, but I think CC focused gangs should be able to specialize to make those chargers connect without some stupid mechanic like overseer. something not as drastic, but a little more reliable. Also, everyone should have access. I propose this with some skill reworks, and some ammo check reworks.

Ammo Checks: in N18 we roll a firepower die with every shot to see if we need to take an ammo check. there are also the mutioneer skill, ammo crates, and ammo jacks. so scarce ammo and bolters can, eventually, be run with impunity. My answer is to run more ammo checks. add in the old school rule that any to hit of a natural '6' also triggers an ammo roll. This effectively doubles the chance of an ammo roll for everyone, making crappy potshots less of a solid idea, an ammo checks more important. to balance out the increased ammo check possiblity, I was thinking about adding the action "Careful Reload (Double): spend two actions to attempt to reload a weapon that is out of ammo, with a +1 to your roll". I have no data on this, but my gut is telling me this will allow for pauses in firefights, decisions to maybe engage with pistols or CC weapons instead of reloading, and for a boltgun to be a more reliable preference than a plasma gun (scarce=no reload). The regular reload action (simple) would still exist to allow for the reliability of las weapons, for example, to be easily reloaded and continue firing under duress.

Skill Reworks: So you've made it this far, and you know what. I still don't think Cawdor players care. Everyone can ignore pinning - to some extent - and CC is now *possible*, and if the enemy runs out of ammo, we might get a second to run in and smash heads. But how can we make it reliable? This takes skill reworks. I know this is generally a contenious subject, but I wanted to address a few main issues, with the overall CC theme in mind. 1.) every CC gang should have access to a skill that helps them ignore pinning (more so than just Recovery From Pinning), 2.) every CC gang should have access to a skill that impoves their charge range a moderate/medium amount (no 18-23" craziness, but 10-14" seems more acceptable than bearing the brunt of short range fire for multiple turns [AND I'M AN ORLOCK PLAYER!] there should be alternatives). and 3.) Brawn still sucks, like, real bad. So here we go onto a few skill reworks - I may repeat some from before, but I'll start with the doozy:

Bull Charge (Brawn): while charging, attacks by this model gain the knockback trait, in addition, *the model adds their S value to their charge distance (may not combine with New Sprinter - below. * (could be abused with stimms, but all in all, I don't think this really blows anything out of the water due to the 1 turn on stimms now, except with perhaps overseer, or super late campaign. It also gives a real reason to improve the S of a character.

Spring Up: may always check to Recover From Pinning, if the model with this skill would normally qualify to check, they may re-roll their initiative check.

Sprinter: Move triple as normal. add: When declaring a charge, this model moves Move X2 +d3". May not combine with Bull Charge

Impetuous: the 4" consolidation move may be used to become Engaged.

Ballistics Expert: replace with "allows access to the Aim action with the success of a intelligence check"

Hurl and Headbutt will need to be able to be used instead of Fight if the player wishes, while charging.


ISSUES: the new CGC skill that perma increases movement will need to be scaled back

PART 3 (thoughts moving forward with this experiment)
This all obviously opens up a can of worms that needs to be addressed. Namely, if CC becomes prevalent, is it balanced? I'm currently running the numbers on parry, and its definitely not as good as it used to be.

Ideas:
Impetuous allows for the crawl action to grant full movement. (super army crawl style)

Ditch the Crushing Blow (Brawn) skill. bring back some sort of Juggernaut. My current thought is "1/turn, when a model with this skill is hit by a ranged weapon, make a S check for each damage the weapon deals, if all checks are successful, ignore the hit." much like a nerves of steel, but stronger, yet more conditional - definitely breakable. this is just a thought-outline. but Brawn needs a pin ignoring skill and another reason to have a good S score

Bulging Biceps: A model with this skill may move and fire an unwieldy weapon with -1 to hit in short range, and -2 to hit in long. This model may wield an unwieldy weapon in one hand in CC.

-Edit: Other Ideas/thoughts
Implement the "you have to hold your two handed weapon in CC" making a difference between ranged fighters and CC focused fighters. could give a strange bonus to bulging biceps?

Some sort of cap on Special/Heavy Weapons. The ammo fixes would make the heavy bolter a bit more hard to start with.

would the old xp system create a CC forward imbalance late game with too many skills open to so many gangers?

are cawdor, with access to feriocty and brawn and versitile weapons better for these?

how does rebalancing brawn include cawdor without breaking golaith and offering a unique path for orlock?

In short, I think these changes would open up the game more to tense decisions of weather to shoot or engage in CC, or even other options; make Brawn useful again, and balance the game. the scope of this post does not include the fun ideas of melding the old and new XP system, and balancing juves and champions, but it is where my brain went when I initially started discussing those things with @TopsyKretts last week. Also, I am totally aware that one morning of thought experiment does not a great idea make, but I thought I would share this with you all for discussion because I feel it may have a good effect on the game. I know you all get to play much more often than I, and just maybe, someone will try out some of these ideas.
 
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irlZombie

Ganger
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Jun 14, 2017
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I like where you're going with this and thought I'd throw my 2 cents worth in...

We've been playing bulging biceps in it's original form the whole time in my little group and nobody has complained about it, I think the -2 at long range is a bit much - this is taking up a skill slot that could be used for a variety of much more effective skills fruit other gangs. Maybe -1 at both ranges or no penalty at short range and -1 at long range would be more reasonable.

Slaughterborn at +1" movement per kill would be fine IMO.

I like the idea of an initiative check to recover from pinning for free as long as nerves of steel remains unchanged, also a bonus to the initiate test if a friendly unpinned fighter is within 3" is very thematic.

I think the heavy/special weapons limitation is quite straight forward - max 3 Champions and no free specialists with gangers having no access to special weapons until they earn the advancement.... Simples 😁

Also don't be afraid of giving Cawdor access to useful skills, I don't think it would break them...
 

Cpt. Boriel

Gang Champion
Jan 7, 2018
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@irlZombie thanks for the comments.

Bulging Biceps: I heard a bit of commotion over goliath heavy bolters being a reason for the official skill change, I'm much more on board with the move and shoot with a -1 at all ranges, my PART 3 was playing that change safe. I've been thinking of how to break it, but without easy access to Aim, I don't think it is. glad to hear we are on the same page here.

slaughterborn for a +1M per kill is a nice, simple and easy fix. I haven't had the chance to play as or against CGC, and since they arent in the original six + cops, I doubt my group will ever see them. Its a great point to start from.

init to recover from pinning is the old ORB rule, it requires a model to be within 2" of a friendly that isn't suffering a condition. bonus to the test would come from the spring up skill. Nerves wouldn't change, just add an extra layer to avoid pinning.

I'm generally on board with the champs+Leaders being the max of special/heavy weapons. but I don't feel like the cap is fluid with a campaign. I was leaning towards using REP (2 or 3 +1 per 10 REP) as a sort of measure of eliteness and (i don't have the new books) maybe a underdog balancing mechanism - as clunky as rep is, I haven't solidified any ideas on this yet. and its kinda outside the scope of the thought experiment on CC.
 
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irlZombie

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From memory I think in 40k if a model with a heavy weapon moved they were -1 to hit in an earlier edition, I think it's very reasonable.

Early (turf war) newcromunda was 2 Champions and then 1 more every 5 rep but 10 works as well.
 
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JawRippa

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Mar 31, 2017
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I would not recommend mixing skill discussion and core rules changes. First you have to make core rules work and then you start worrying about how useful/bad current skills are relative to them.

Currently our group has been playing for quite some time with following changes:

1. Charge is 2xM" on Mechanicus and M+D3" on Mortalis.
2. When you are making a charge you can stand up from being pinned; however distance of such charge becomes M", also fighter does not gain +1A or any bonuses he'd gain from normal charging.
3. Consolidation allows you to engage.
3. Maximum M characteristic is 7. Stimms give flat +2" to first move you make this turn. (so M7 fighter is charging 16" while stimmed up, not 19").
4. If fighter has moved more than M" during his activation away from starting position (by any means, be it running, charging, falling etc.), he counts as Fleeting target. Shooting Fleeting target gives a -1 penalty to hit. Fleeting target status is lost if fighter gets engaged, pinned or if the round ends.
5. Blasts can target fighters or any spot on the ground (for the spot to be targetable, you should be able to put a N17 token on it without falling, so no blasting tips of antennas or windowsills to negate cover). Targetting spot of the ground gives a -1 to hit penalty. Grenades gain +1 to hit if there is any negative modifiers to shooting.
6. Equipment rebalance. Only things that have +2 to hit at close range are shotguns at 4" range. Lasguns and autoguns are 25cr, while axe/knife/club are 5cr.

2xM" charge was a thing in old necromunda, and it wasn't broken there, nor it is broken in N18. Double move charge can be broken on Mortalis though, from our experience M+D3" is fine there. We've removed all +1 action tactical cards and Overseer, and even with all changes above I struggle as melee gang on Sector Mechanicus. So far, everyone in our group agrees that changes were overall more healthy for the game.

Currently we are about to test following changes:
1. If fighter has moved more than M" during his activation away from starting position (by any means, be it running, charging, falling etc.), he MAY gain a Fleeting target status. Shooting Fleeting target gives a -1 penalty to hit. Fleeting target status is lost if fighter gets engaged, pinned or is activated. If a fighter with Fleeting target status is activated, he gains -1 to hit
2. Whenever fighter fires a weapon, two Firepower dice are rolled instead of one with an ammo check for every ammo symbol. If two ammo checks are failed simultaneously, weapon jams completely and can not be used this game. (Ammo checks are twice as likely, with an added danger of a complete jam)
3. For Rapid fire(X) weapons, a pair of firepower dice is rolled X times, one pair at a time. Highest result from two Firepower dice is used when determining hits, but if there was at least one ammo symbol, then it counts as a one hit. After an ammo check was failed, stop rolling firepower dice. (This might seem like a huge buff to RF weapons, but in reality % of three hits, two hits and one hit are almost the same. It bumps chance of three hits from 16% to 25% and lowers chance of one hit from 50% to 41%)
 

TopsyKretts

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I wish many of the experimental rules here were replaced with what GW made RAW in their books. I'm reluctant with making too much changes, although you have looked into many consequences.

At the moment, we made Reload a Double action (instead of Simple).
 

Breekoenekk

"Snap my finger, stab your neck"
Honored Tribesman
We had a houserule taken from the boxset rules where consolidating and engaging into enemies was allowed again. So you have a chance of charging into gunwalls and not get shot by his mates immidiatly after you take one of them down. Worked great, makes skills like consolidating 4 inch and flurry of blows usefull again and is a simple, minor rulechange.
GW dropped the rule because one of their Escher players used it to great effect and was snowballing them with cc attacks. Guess they forgot you can place gangers slightly apart (like 2.5 inches) or stun them.

You still have to get into cc but that is a tactic thing. Spring up, Nerves of steel, use of cover (ducking behind cover makes you untargetable) and terrain, versatile weapons, juves with move 8 (best 10xp you can use on escher juves imo), stimms and a few tactic cards give enough options to get into close combat imo. Even without resorting to overseer (escher juves can charge 24-27 inch when overseen and move 8, or with stimms charge 30-33 inch. Give them grenades or handflamer, a trap and you got a intercontinental suicide missile, outranging almost everything 😈
 
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TopsyKretts

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They dropped it because an Escher gang had great effect... Didn't any Van Saar gang have great effect with their shooting? I'd like to join their campaign and fight that Escher gang, with say, the regular Van Saar Rapid Fire Plasma bullshit. Won't be much effect left in those poor Eschers, they can't consolidate into other fighters when they're dead!
 
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JawRippa

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Mar 31, 2017
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They dropped it because an Escher gang had great effect... Didn't any Van Saar gang have great effect with their shooting? I'd like to join their campaign and fight that Escher gang, with say, the regular Van Saar Rapid Fire Plasma bullshit. Won't be much effect left in those poor Eschers, they can't consolidate into other fighters when they're dead!
I've noticed that Van Saar players tend to have the worst luck. Our 2 VS players kept rolling 1's all the time during our last campaign.

I'm reluctant with making too much changes, although you have looked into many consequences.
I'm having a hard time of understanding this. Do you mean that too many core rules changes are unnecessary?
 

Breekoenekk

"Snap my finger, stab your neck"
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Van saar cant fire while falling down due to hivetremors, blinded by flashbangs, choking or engaged with lots of pointy objects :)
 

irlZombie

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Setting them on fire works well!
 
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TopsyKretts

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I'm having a hard time of understanding this. Do you mean that too many core rules changes are unnecessary?
No, I wish many of them were RAW in the books. There are so many rules to keep inside the head at the same time. First, you should know RAW (highly complicate), then RAW doesn't work well or as you want to, so make additional rules on top of that. After the 2 latest books, I got rules fatigue. If I'm gonna improve something now, it's got to be better AND simpler.
 

Cpt. Boriel

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Jan 7, 2018
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@JawRippa the thought of my OP was to examine the Test to recover from pinning and look at the balance consequences. That’s where the skill changes come in.

I will yield on Charge moment, specifically from the ZM perspective, because I don’t play it.
Due to the fact that hard terrain on a SM board is lacking - generally- I believe that an alteration to 1) ability to charge, 2) charge rules, 3) The need for more ammo checks are necessary.
I am 100% in with Neomunda community edition here, and am not discussing minor changes, but a rebalancing in the scope of Engaging in CC to be an alternative to shooting.
shennagins of overseer currently are not the topic, but how to mitigate it, because we all know it is OP and broken with shooting.
I am loving the thoughts on making ammo checks more prevalent, but it needs to be taken into consideration with the thoughts of the original post.
did I go too far?
 
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irlZombie

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I don't think anybody's gone too far. I have a few games lined up over the weekend, I'm going to test the pinning and ammo checks to see how it feels 👌🏻

I'm also wary of too many changes at once, but I agree that quite a few tweaks could be made for a better balanced game.

I don't really differentiate between sm and zm, my boards have a mixture of both styles with open areas and tight passageways. M+D3 feels like a short charge in the open areas but any more would be devastating in tighter areas - especially once you start factoring in skills, drugs and tactics cards so I'm reluctant to change anything there.
 

irlZombie

Ganger
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Okay, I thought I'd share some feedback... I've played/run 7 games trialling some of the suggestions above (on freshly created gangs) and this is what we found:

Pinning: cool or inititive check to stand up without spending an action
Verdict: passing an initative check to recover from pinning feels good and plays well, we will continue using this.

Charge distance: M+D3 was fine, we use soo much cover that any more felt like too much, especially for those crazy juves running around.
Verdict: no change required.

Fleeting: If a model moves more than 'M' during their activation, targeting this model with any ranged attack incurs -1 to hit modifier.
Verdict: Everybody loved it!

Specialists: Gangers cannot equip special weapons, no specialists may be taken at gang creation.
Verdict: Everybody agreed that special weapons don't need to be handed out willy nilly, gangers can acces special weapons once they earn specialist rank only and we won't be including any specialists from the get go. Once a gang or juve becomes a specialist they may put weapons and wargear back into the stash and have all equipment restrictions lifted.

Juves: double xp gain while still a juve, choose advances from ganger table, no rating cost on advances, advances must be chosen immediately (can't be banked), after 5 advances juve becomes a specialist, loses double xp gain and now rating increases as normal (not paying for existing ones)
Verdict: time will tell...

That is where we are at for now...
 

JawRippa

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Fleeting: If a model moves more than 'M' during their activation, targeting this model with any ranged attack incurs -1 to hit modifier.
Verdict: Everybody loved it!
An important note to avoid abuse with Fleeting target: status applies only if you move more than M" away from your starting position. Otherwise you can literally run in circles while staying on the same spot for -1 to hit against you and while not gamebreaking, it feels very "gamey".

Charge distance: M+D3 was fine, we use soo much cover that any more felt like too much, especially for those crazy juves running around.
Verdict: no change required.
Really? From my experience even if a lot of terrain is used, M+D3" just does not cut it. Usually distance between different pieces of cover is x2M". And M+D3" is too short to charge out of LoS on 3D. If it is not too hard, could you show a picture of your table?
 

spafe

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Specialists: Gangers cannot equip special weapons, no specialists may be taken at gang creation.
Verdict: Everybody agreed that special weapons don't need to be handed out willy nilly, gangers can acces special weapons once they earn specialist rank only and we won't be including any specialists from the get go. Once a gang or juve becomes a specialist they may put weapons and wargear back into the stash and have all equipment restrictions lifted.
Do you move the bolter to a special slot? If yes, cool, if not, I feel you should really move some 'special' weapons to basic (needle rifle, long las, long rifle).
 

Thorgor

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I'm afraid the recent Corpse Grinder Cult gang may throw a spanner in the works there, as their Juves have access to special and heavy weapons. How much of an issue it is depends on a couple of unclear or dubious rules though:
  • do they have normal access to the Trading Post?
  • is there really no limit as to how many Initiates you can hire?
If both answers are a yes and you implement a 'special weapons for specialists only' rule, then CGC (and to a lesser extent Enforcers) would be the only gang allowed to spam special weapons. Sure, Initiates are only BS 4+, but so are all gangers except Van Saar's, and they are also dirt cheap. As juves, they can also handpick their advancements (and don't pay the 2XP tax), so that average BS is not gonna stay average for long.
 

JustMurdered40k

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I'm afraid the recent Corpse Grinder Cult gang may throw a spanner in the works there, as their Juves have access to special and heavy weapons. How much of an issue it is depends on a couple of unclear or dubious rules though:
  • do they have normal access to the Trading Post?
  • is there really no limit as to how many Initiates you can hire?
If both answers are a yes and you implement a 'special weapons for specialists only' rule, then CGC (and to a lesser extent Enforcers) would be the only gang allowed to spam special weapons. Sure, Initiates are only BS 4+, but so are all gangers except Van Saar's, and they are also dirt cheap. As juves, they can also handpick their advancements (and don't pay the 2XP tax), so that average BS is not gonna stay average for long.
im not currently not considering CGC and SpacePolice, I think the enforcers are already limited enough... CGC, well time will tell.

GSC and Chaos cults on the other hand don't have juves but have other mechanics that differentiate them.
 
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