Radical YCE: melee

JawRippa

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Mar 31, 2017
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For a full view of changes that I'll be trying to introduce, view this thread. TLDR: getting into melee is going to be noticeably easier, due to movement for charging ranges and various nerfs to shooting, but what about melee itself?

I'm a firm believer that current melee system is not fun, nor interractive. For crunchy parts, check this thread. (TLDR: when melee champion charges another melee champion, the chance to OOA on charge is above 75%). Old version of Necromunda had a comparative score system, where it being good at melee meant that you were also good at protecting yourself when charged and could actually kill an opponent who charged you. Modern Necromunda turns this into whoever charges or initiates the fight first - wins (provided they are lethal enough). This turns fights into unengaging dice rolling, when attacker wipes the floor with opposition with no retaliation whatsoever. I would like to discuss various approaches on what could be changed.
 

JawRippa

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Currently, I'm still planning to continue with an alternating attacks melee system.
After initiating a Fight action, fighters compare number of their attack dice with all
modifiers such as for Charging or Dual weapons. After that, starting with whoever initiated
the fight, fighters roll 1 attack dice at a time, until all of their attacks are spent. Whoever had
a higher number of attacks at the start of a Fight may roll 2 attack dice instead of 1 once per
fight, these attacks are resolved simultaneously. If one of fighters spent all of their attacks or
became seriously injured, their opponent rolls all of remaining attack dice simultaneously.

Bob charges Alice. Both have 2 attacks in their profile and both are armed with 2
knives. After comparing attack dice, Bob has 4 and Alice has 3. Bob initiated the fight,
so rolls attack dice first, and because he had more attack dice at the start of this fight,
he can roll 2 dice simultaneously once per fight, so he does just that. If Alice is not
seriously injured, she retaliates with 1 attack. The sequence looks like this:

  1. Bob: 2 attacks (2 left)
  2. Alice: 1 attack (2 left)
  3. Bob: 1 attack (1 left)
  4. Alice: 1 attack (1 left)
  5. Bob: 1 attack (no attack dice left)
  6. Alice: 1 attack (no attack dice left)
I find it is acceptable for these key reasons:
  • It does not require too much alterations to existing traits, rules and skills
  • It allows defender to actually benefit from their combat stats and traits.
  • It is tense and engaging for both players when equally matched fighters clash.
  • It still allows a lowly juve to have a chance of taking out an enemy champion.
The downsides (and my opinion on why they do not outweight positive sides):
  • It takes more time to resolve than current melee system. (Most of the time fights are resolved quickly, as less skilled fighters do not have a lot of attacks and melee monsters duels usually end up before all attacks are rolled. I've tested multiple scenarios with mass melee fighters and they were acceptible in length)
  • "Coinflip" fights make melee less attractive, since you do not want to spend 2 actions to give an opponent a 'free' retaliation. (I think that giving defender some way to interract is top priority of melee rework. If you wiffed your attacks, there is a chance that an opponent might wiff their attacks in return, leading to tense roll-off. However, if we want to give whoever initiates a fight a hefty advantage, retaliation attacks could happen at -1WS when charged or other types of maluses could be applied to retaliation attacks.)
 

JawRippa

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This does not mean that everything is set in stone; I'd take any suggestions for improving alternating attacks system (such as improving attacker's chances to make melee worth their while, or making resolution faster), or even swap it for something else entirely. However, for something to be accepted by me as an alternative I want to see at least a rough draft of such rules that can be playtested right away, otherwise I'm considering it as concept and nothing more. I'm overloaded with work enough as it is, and attempting to expand upon other people's ideas all by myself would be too much.

Here are two main suggestions regarding melee that I've picked from previous thread:
1). Remove retaliation attacks whatsoever:​
This directly goes against #1 priority - allowing defender to make use of their stats and weapon traits. Thus I'm directly against it and it won't make it.​
2). Introduce some sort of opposed roll between the attacker and defender; I think this one has good potential, but:​
  • It could be hard to bring such system without altering how a lot of traits and skills work (change is fine, as long as it is serves a purpose).
  • It can lead to juves having no chance against melee champions since juves will have a lot less successes on average and even a lucky juve roll will be negated by a below average roll by melee champion.
  • "In Necromunda, a melee fighter can range from WS5/3A when charging to WS2/8A when charging, that's an obscene range and I postulate it is objectively impossible to have the lower end be usefully viable and the upper end not be instant blenders".
If anyone could expand upon this concept I'd be really interested to check it out. For inspiration more points from previous thread:
  • Killteam 2021 has a strike-block system, however they are not suitable for Necromunda as is, due to killteam having vastly different fighter's stats.
  • "Hits would get negated by opposing hits from the lowest hit score first, so that if you rolled 3456 as your 4 hits and your opponent rolled 555 for his three, you would be left with the 6 as the net hit. We liked going lowest upwards because otherwise a lot of things like Power and Shock would never come up. After net hits you roll wounds and saves as normal."
 
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Kiro The Avenger

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Apr 4, 2018
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What's the logic behind making melee more interactive?
Nothing else in the game is interactive in that way. Movement and shooting is all done on a per-fighter basis.
When you initiate melee; that's one fighter/player spending their turn and action points fighting you. Is it fair to expect one player to spend all of those "resources" to enter into what is almost a coinflip with the other person?

At the very least I would like to see reaction attacks reduced to once per round. It's silly watching a fighter beat back and kill fighter after fighter for free.
 
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Jayward

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An interesting but simple adjustment that I think does a lot to reduce both the lethality and non-interactivity of combat is to simply remove the free Coup de Grace from a fight action.

The problem with the CdG is that Necromunda these days causes a hell of a lot of damage, and every melee wound is essentially a 3+ to kill the fighter. Remove the CdG and you need to roll a hard 6, and that changes the maths significantly:

No. of injury dice:1234
OoA with CdG (%)66.6788.8996.3098.77
OoA with no CdG (%)16.6730.5642.1351.17

So that obviously reduces the lethality, but how does it help interactivity? A Serious Injury still means you can't fight back... This round. You need to bring in a second fighter to finish off a Seriously Injured fighter, because if you don't then they might get up in the Recovery phase, and that will give them the ability to fight back next round. It wouldn't increase the immediate interactivity, but given that all interactivity ends when a fighter is removed from the board anything that reduces the chances of that can only be an improvement.
 

NoOneII.

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I like that approach.
A butcher coming in got still has a very solid chance of removing a model, with the 5 or so overspilling damage they can expect.
But it's not almost guaranteed anymore.
At the same time, they can bring a juve with them in a group activation if they want or need the guarantee.
 

JawRippa

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Mar 31, 2017
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What's the logic behind making melee more interactive?
Old Necromunda had interactive melee. Also if I level up a beastly melee fighter, I expect them to do at least something when charged.
When you initiate melee; that's one fighter/player spending their turn and action points fighting you. Is it fair to expect one player to spend all of those "resources" to enter into what is almost a coinflip with the other person? At the very least I would like to see reaction attacks reduced to once per round. It's silly watching a fighter beat back and kill fighter after fighter for free.
That's a fair point. I think it'd be fair if retaliation in melee would use up an action point. So such fighter could only do 1 action when activated later. The downside that does make it complex is that remembering who has retaliated could be annoying. Currently at the least they have to spend 1 action to Coup de Grace you, if you went down on retaliation attacks, which is something at least.
An interesting but simple adjustment that I think does a lot to reduce both the lethality and non-interactivity of combat is to simply remove the free Coup de Grace from a fight action.
I see the logic here, but it'd lead to ranged combat being much more preferable in general, since it is easier to do and you need a lot less stats to be effective at it. High lethality and 'guaranteed' XP is what separates melee from ranged and I'd say that it should stay as is.
Also being unable to coup-de-grace at the end of fight could lead to weird situations like this:
  • My fighter gets charged, seriously injured and then he recovers.
  • During next round I win priority.
  • My fighter fights, seriously injures ex-charger and coup-de-graces him.
 

Kiro The Avenger

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I like the idea of reaction attacks using an action point. It's not too bad to keep track of. GW has also supplied "generic" tokens that can be used to reflect this.
 

NoOneII.

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Many games have varying AP numbers, and just put them besides the fighter. Two instead of one readymarker, so to speak.
That would also theoretically allow for having combatants with three action points.
 

Jayward

Gang Champion
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I see the logic here, but it'd lead to ranged combat being much more preferable in general, since it is easier to do and you need a lot less stats to be effective at it. High lethality and 'guaranteed' XP is what separates melee from ranged and I'd say that it should stay as is.
Also being unable to coup-de-grace at the end of fight could lead to weird situations like this:
  • My fighter gets charged, seriously injured and then he recovers.
  • During next round I win priority.
  • My fighter fights, seriously injures ex-charger and coup-de-graces him.
Removing the CdG from the Fight action means that the third bullet can't happen; they wouldn't get to CdG either, which is the whole point. And alternating attacks allows weird situations like 'I charge a fighter, I don't kill him in one attack, I die', which quite literally happened to an Orlock melee Champion in my test game.

To expand on the 'No free CdG' concept slightly, I'm going to compare it to the stated advantages and disadvantages of alternating attacks:

Advantages:
  • It does not require too much alterations to existing traits, rules and skills -Removing the free CdG requires only one rule change
  • It allows defender to actually benefit from their combat stats and traits. - Whilst it doesn't change a lot of the common ones it does bring new skills into play; True Grit, Unstoppable, and Impetuous all increase in value. Effects that aid recovery might become more useful just because there's more serious injuries to recover
  • It is tense and engaging for both players when equally matched fighters clash. - This is subjective, so it's hard to comment on. I actually found alternating activations poor for this, as getting the drop on an enemy fighter and dying anyway was intensely unfun.
  • It still allows a lowly juve to have a chance of taking out an enemy champion. - I feel this one is even; with no CdG both sides have a higher chance to survive and keep fighting, with alternating you are somewhat likely to get an attack off before going down.
Disadvantages:
  • It takes more time to resolve than current melee system. - Removing CdG takes no more time
  • "Coinflip" fights make melee less attractive, since you do not want to spend 2 actions to give an opponent a 'free' retaliation. - Your justification for this one is 'I think this is less important than allowing interaction', so calling out the CdG change for making melee less attractive is a bit of a double standard. With no CdG your opponent is unlikely to be able to retaliate on the same turn, since the chance of a SI is so high.

No free CdG has some advantages and disadvantages of its own, of course. Mostly it is just incredibly simple; you could explain it in 2 seconds and anyone who plays Necromunda would understand it immediately. And it absolutely reduces the lethality of melee.

Whilst reducing the lethality of melee might seem to reduce its advantages over shooting (and it does, yes), the insta-kill nature of melee is incredibly un-fun when you are facing things like Stimmed Death Maidens with 20"+ charge ranges, or Nacht Ghuls that simply appear 6" away and then kill you without allowing any saves.

I wholeheartedly agree with you about increasing interactivity, but I think we're approaching the concept in different ways. The principle I always have in mind is that interactivity ends when a piece is removed. You charge my guy and kill him? Job done, no interaction. You charge my guy and only leave him Seriously Injured? Well now. Do you bring in someone to finish them off? Do I bring in someone to assist the recovery, even knowing that it exposes them to melee? Do you sprint someone into B2B so that if I do get up, you've got assists in combat?

I feel like any change that reduces the lethality of Necromunda will increase the interactivity.

Shooting is a whole separate kettle of fish, albeit a linked one. There's ways to limit shooting easily too, but this isn't really the thread for them
 
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JawRippa

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No free CdG has some advantages and disadvantages of its own, of course. Mostly it is just incredibly simple; you could explain it in 2 seconds and anyone who plays Necromunda would understand it immediately. And it absolutely reduces the lethality of melee.
The fact that it is incredibly simple to add and explain to anyone who played Newmunda is its main selling point. It is a tempting idea (and a decent fallback if we are faced with a fact that we have to keep changes to absolute bare minimum), but for me most of the problems will be left unresolved.
To me a non-interactive melee system is when it does not matter what kind of stats or weapons my fighter has when they are charged. I could have had a juve or a melee champion on a charged fighter's place and they'd fair the same. As a trade-off I'd be willing to have a possibility of seing my fighter's charge going hilariously bad, because it allows my opponent to make use of their fighter's combat stats in return and makes it fair. The exact nature of such system can vary, I just happen to find alternating attacks route requiring the least ammount of work.

Just to give you an overview, my group has played a full campaign with most of changes in the list, but we played with vanilla melee rules. Our final game ended in a very anticlimactic fashion. Basically it boiled down to whoever got a priority roll for a key melee fight, 2 melee champions group activated and charged 2 enemy melee champions, wiping them out as if they were juves.

Removing the CdG from the Fight action means that the third bullet can't happen; they wouldn't get to CdG either, which is the whole point.
They'd recover in base to base contact, becomming engaged. They fight with one action, CdG with second action.
Whilst reducing the lethality of melee might seem to reduce its advantages over shooting (and it does, yes), the insta-kill nature of melee is incredibly un-fun when you are facing things like Stimmed Death Maidens with 20"+ charge ranges, or Nacht Ghuls that simply appear 6" away and then kill you without allowing any saves.
Charges are limited up to 12" (engages are longer though). Infiltration means that a Nacht Ghul activates after his teammates, allowing you to retaliate or move away.
 
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JawRippa

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Alright, so after listening to your opinions on alternating attacks and melee in general I'm strongly considering adding following changes to alternating attacks to motivate attacking stronger melee fighters with your gangers and juves:
  1. When you are chosen as a target of a fight, you have to spend 1 action in advance to do reaction attacks: that means that during next activation you'll have 1 action to do if you've retaliated once and not get/lose a ready marker if you retaliate twice. Most fighters can do two reaction attacks per round. If you do not 'spend' an action point, you do not engage in alternating attacks and just take all the frontloaded damage.
    • This is to make it more fair action economy wise. Do you really want to kill that juve who is trying to shank you by spending a precious action? You might need 2 actions during your next activation!
  2. When you retaliate, your attacks are resolved at -1WS in addition to all other modifiers.
    • This is to make initiating fights more weighted towards those who initiated the fight and motivate being aggressive even if you are completely outclassed in a melee fight; after all getting hit on 3+ when retaliated instead of 2+ sounds more promising.
 

Jayward

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These changes seem to work against your aim of increasing interactivity in melee. They also seem to work against alternating activations?

If I was to get charged when I've already activated, I have no action to spend. I get no reaction attacks and alternating attacks doesn't come in to play.

If I'm charged by something that I don't think can kill me, but that I can probably kill (like a Juve or a Ganger charging one of my well-armoured Champions), then my options are to spend an action for a diminished chance of a kill or wait and have a normal chance of a kill. In the latter case, the opponent would not be able to retaliate as they have already used their actions.

There's a case to be made that I could make the reaction attacks, and then have an unrestricted fight action in my activation. This certainly seems like the best option if you're being charged by something tough; you get more attacks if you survive, you might get to pop a shot off before going down if you're not going to live through it. Which is nice, but I don't think it's worth bending the entire melee system to achieve.

Making Reaction Attacks have both a cost and an additional penalty reduces the number of situations you can use them in, and also reduces the number of situations you would want to use them in. Less reaction attacks means that melee is less interactive, and has the knock-on of making Alternating Attacks less relevant since they don't function without reaction attacks.
 

JawRippa

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If I was to get charged when I've already activated, I have no action to spend. I get no reaction attacks and alternating attacks doesn't come in to play.
If you are no longer ready but want to retaliate, your next activation will have a -1 action. It is similar to an effect of ambush or delaque psy-power.
 

JawRippa

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Changing melee in Necromunda is a really 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' thing.
  • If you leave everything as is, defender's stats barely matter when they are attacked by someone sufficiently deadly, you get players who are pissed that their cool melee fighters can't do anything when charged.
  • If you give defender a say in the melee combat when someone attacks them, you get players who are pissed that their cool melee fighters can't safely charge stuff, since you can end up killing your fighter during their own activation.
I still think that the second option is the best, because it was always like this in old necromunda and noone complained. However I'd like to try and make it more fair, at least action economy-wise. If my decked-out melee fighter spends 2 actions to charge and get seriously injured, I'd prefer to at least see an enemy spend 1 action to fight back (and later 1 action to coup-de-grace me). 2 actions for 2 actions seems fair.

So, whenever a defender gets attacked, they have a choice to retaliate or not. If they do not retaliate, melee plays just as it is now, the attacker frontloads all of their attacks. If the defender chooses to retaliate, they get a condition that reduces available actions during their next activation (similar to how ambush scenario affects those caught off-guard or psy-power from chronomancy works). The question is should each retaliation reduce available actions during next activation, or it should be capped at 1 action?
  1. If retaliation cost is capped at 1 action, then defender can retaliate infinitely. It would go in line with other effects in Necromunda. This would make it really hard to overwhelm a melee blender with a crowd of mediocre fighters.
  2. If retaliation cost it is uncapped, defender can essentially retaliate up to 2 times and you could end up in situations when a defender won't even be able to coup-de-grace enemies during their next activation.
Peronally I'd prefer option #1, because it is easier to keep track of, and I'd prefer to always leave fighters with at least 1 action (1 action can be used to retreat, coup-de-grace or engage someone up to M").

Also I want to add 2 changes on top:
  • Recovery rolls are impossible when there is an enemy within 1". This is to prevent weird situations when a fighter becomes standing, recovering from seriously injured state (it is unclear whether or not they should become engaged or be pushed 1")
  • Coup-de-grace can only be performed for free if the fighter charged. This is to make the melee slightly less 'lethal' and to make it so you always have to spend at least 2 actions to completely take out a fighter.
 

Commissariat

Ganger
Mar 9, 2017
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I would be very careful with introducing Action Point Debt into a game that isn't designed around Action Points (within its vernacular). I think it could work, in theory, but I want to be careful of only adding things which are actually absolutely necessary. Change for the sake of slightly better is different than change for the sake of fixing the unplayable.

If you're looking for an alternative to melee, there was talk about Simultaneous Rolls for both sides. Just the idea of making combat take less time and still solve the issue about steamrolling seems good. IE: You have both players roll and players decided which of their successful hits they want to sacrifice to deny an incoming successful hit (from weakest hit to strongest)). So if a Juve runs in with 2 attacks on the charge against a 3 attack stub gun + power sword champion, and they both hit with everything, then the player (who charged or with initiative this turn) declares if they're blocking first.

Though I guess the power sword champ could block both hits from the Juve and then just get a single free hit on the Juve with their remaining attack...... unless a charging model is guaranteed at least 1 hit to go through (or maybe a number up to their base attack characteristic before modifiers).

The issue with figuring out Melee in Necromunda is that their statblock system does not cater to anything more than 40k 1-sided fights. It might be something to bite the bullet and decide if it is really worth it to hold on to the crumby X+ WS system.
 
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JawRippa

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@Commissariat
Changing profiles, dice and such is sadly out of the question, we have to work with what we are given.
It does not matter what kind of resolution we use for combat (if defender gets a say when attacked), the issue is that sometimes the attacker will essentially kill themselves by spending their own actions. I think that maybe it is justified to have a small retaliation prize of knowing that at least your opponent had to 'spend' an action to down you. If it complicates things too much, I could just drop the 'action point debt' altogether.

I don't see another system other than alternating attacks that would work without having to change how weapon traits work and such. I've tried cooking up something similar to killteam, it does not work for the reasons you've listed, the stat difference between bad, average and awesome melee fighters is huge, so in a success based system, melee blenders will be untouchable by anything other than melee.

Here is an idea that potentially could work, but require redoing most of weapon traits (so I still prefer alternating attacks). We artificially increase number of rolled dice to give bad fighters a better fighting chance; however being a good fighter still offers a good advantage.
  • Both fighters roll a big number of dice simultaneously. Something like 6 dice. Nobody in the game can ever have more attack dice than 6.
  • Fighters include into the pool of those 6 dice their actual attack dice: so for example a juve with 2 attacks would roll 2 of 'his' attacks and 4 'default' dice. A champion with 5 attacks would roll 5 of 'his' attacks and 1 'default' dice.
  • Attack dice succeed on a weapon skill test, 'default' dice succeed on a 5+ and critically fail for each rolled '1'.
  • Fighters compare number of successes (critical fails reduce successes). Whoever wins strikes an opponent equal to difference of hits..?
 

Daganisoraan

Ganger
Oct 25, 2021
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An important point that should be considered is that Close Combat should be better than Ranged Combat. What's the point of getting into CC if your chances to wound and not get wounded are betting in RC. Any fighters equipped for melee should have a better potential of downing his opponents if he manage to get into CC than the credit equivalent in ranged weapons.


A thing that would be interesting for CC would be a Rock-Paper-Scissor mechanics. Like Axe are better/counter than Swords, Swords are better/counter than Maul and Maul are better/counter than Axe. Don't know it such a mechanic is possible in Necromunda, but it could be explored.
 
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JawRippa

Gang Hero
Mar 31, 2017
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An important point that should be considered is that Close Combat should be than Ranged Combat. What's the point of getting into CC if your chances to wound and not get wounded are betting in RC. Any fighters equipped for melee should have a better potential of downing his opponents if he manage to get into CC than the credit equivalent in ranged weapons.
Betting in what? (RC) Close combat allows:
  1. Gaining XP in a more guaranteed way because you Coup de Grace a downed enemy right after a successfull charge.
  2. Not reliant on ammo characteristic, cover, etc. You can attack enemies out of line of sight.
If we get to gangs, skills and wargear costs I plan to keep melee a lot cheaper than ranged weapons. Lasguns/Autoguns should be 20-25 credits, just like they were in old Necromunda.
 

Daganisoraan

Ganger
Oct 25, 2021
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I'm not fully used to N17/18+ wounds and coup de grace rules. But still, getting in range for CC isn't easy and I don't consider cover/line of sight to be a factor influencing CC.