Having looked at vehicle combat last time, we’ll now have an example combat on the ground between two parties: One battlesuit-armoured, the other light infantry. Let’s start with the second one - but beforehand, I’m going to add an optional rule: Armour as dice from Pyramid 3/34. This makes analysis significantly easier and removes some of the more extreme peaks in damage.
Our line infantry is armoured with a TL 10 Combat Hardsuit plus Nanoweave Suit (DR22d/18d). An ETC Storm Carbine is doing 10d+2pi+ damage, which is not sufficient to penetrate the soldier’s armour even with armour piercing ammo. You’d need APEP ammunition - but why would you? 10mm HEMP does 8d (5) plus followup for double the cost while APEP costs ten times that.
So they’re getting a Storm Carbine with HEMP (8d imp inc (5) , Acc 4, RoF 10, 50 shots) plus an attached Mini-Missile Pod from THS, which provides 12d-1 pi++ base, which is increased to about 6dx3 (10) cr inc plus some followup by mounting HEMP warheads. Following THS, they cost about $40 per shot, for which you get about one magazine for the storm rifle.
Following a four-soldier fire team, we’d expect one armed with a squad support weapon. Upgrading the Storm Carbine is best done by adding the Storm Chaingun, which uses the same ammunition and increases accuracy by 1, and range to 1,300yds.
Another soldier is designated grenadier, and will probably carry a 64mm Infantry Missile Launcher, which might fire multispectral homing HEMP missiles at $1000 per pop.
Everyone is using an HUD (+1 to acc) with targeting software (+2 to skill).
The soldiers are Alfred and Bruce, Martin with the Storm Chaingun, and Gunther with the missile launcher.
Facing this squad is a single battlesuit-armed soldier, Paula. We’ll use the Heavy Battlesuit (slightly uprated to DR45d/30d). For weaponry, I’ll give her a Heavy Chaingun, also with HEMP ammunition (5dx2 imp inc (5), Acc 6, RoF 12). For more flexible firepower and as a backup weapon, the battlesuit will also mount infrared-homing micromissile pods in both arms (four shots á 5dx2 (5) plus followup) plus one three-shot mini-missile pod on the back.
She’s using the same electronics for the same boni.
On an Earth-like world, Paula has been separated from her squad of heavy infantry in a warzone. Stumbling through the deserted city streets, she sees movement in front of her - four enemy soldiers moving towards her. Both see each other at the same time and scramble to cover behind concrete vehicle barriers, which we’ll treat as DR40 and light cover (-2 to hit). We’ll open with both in cover in rifle-range (170yds, -11 to hit). I’ll let Alfred and Bruce go first, followed by Paula, followed by Martin and Gunther.
The first turn is spent by everybody except Gunther aiming: Alfred and Bruce with their minimissiles, Paula with her heavy chaingun, and Martin with his storm chaingun. Gunther takes out his missile launcher. Paula aims at Alfred (Gunther is still behind cover).
Alfred, having succeeded with his lock-on, rolls against 14 (skill) - 4 (IR stealth) + 2 (lock-on) -2 (cover) + 1 (SM) = 11. He misses with a 12.
Bruce fires his missile, for the same chance to hit - and he actually does. Paula, unable to dodge due to aiming, is hit. At an effective DR of 4d+2, the 18d of the micromissile are excessive - 14d-2 penetrates, for 46 injury - poor Paula is paste. That seems excessive.
Looking through UT, the Reactive Armour Paste (pg. 189) seems nice, adding 60d DR against shaped charges (though it can be depleted). With that, effective DR is now 10d+2 - still, 8d-2 damage will get past the armour. In this case, that’s 26 injury. Again, she’s done for.
Alternate Rule: Reactive Armour Paste disrupts shaped charges: How about, instead of the Reactive Armour Paste adding more DR against a shaped-charge attack, it instead disrupts the attack, removing its armour-piercing multiplier. Back to the game!
The missile hits Paula dead-on. It deals 18d vs the armour’s 45d - such a missile cannot hope to penetrate versus reactive armour.
Paula now fires with her full rate of fire at Alfred. She rolls against 14 (skill) + 2 (targeting software) - 2 (cover) + 6+1 (acc including HUD bonus) + 2 (RoF) - 11 (distance) = 12. She rolls 10; two bullets strike true. Against Alfred’s effective armour of 4d+2, the 5dx2 imp should suffice. The first hit does 40 injury. We’ll discount the followup and the second strike; he’s dead.
Martin now opens fire. He’s rolling against 12 too, compensating for the lower acc of his gun through Paula’s SM. He rolls an 8; three bullets strike. They’re 8d (5) damage, which will never penetrate the battlesuit even without the reactive paste. We roll 6, 5, 1 for those (each gets a successively worse die modifier as more of the paste is depleted) - the last one actually manages to hit an area that’s not protected by the paste. It still doesn’t do any damage, though.
Gunther aims at Paula.
Again with the aiming - Bruce, Paula and Martin all aim; Paula aims at the soldier with the missile launcher (Gunther).
Gunther fires. He made his lock-on roll, and so the missile is at 14 + 1 (SM) + 3 (acc) - 2 (cover). Rolling a 15, it does manage to hit. Again, Paula can’t dodge. Does the reactive armour save her? We have to roll a 5 or 6 on a single die - and actually roll 6. That was lucky - the missile’s armour penetration is negated. Actually, the damage is still 48d, though - it still does 3d damage plus followup. That’s 10 injury for the first one, plus 28d followup. She’s dead.
In summary, our rules change actually made powered armour useful - but it can still be downed by repeated fire from what soldiers are going to be wielding anyway or one hit by a missile launcher. This implies that the main use of powered armour is actually to force the enemy to no longer use high-RoF weapons and instead rely on single shots, reducing killing power and possibilities; which is also what the non-powered armour does.
Also, note that it didn’t really matter whether that missile hit. Next turn, a hit from Bruce’s minimissile would also have killed her.
This playtest showed two things I’m not happy with: First, HEMP rules almost everything, and second: You can easily hit human-sized targets with what is essentially an ultra-tech fire-and-forget RPG.
Also, homing attacks seem underwhelming. You always have to aim, but the chance to hit is almost independent of your skill or roll. I’ll have to think about that.
Rule Idea: Less Effective HEMP warheads
In UT, there’s arguably no reason not to use HEMP. It has the same armour divisor as shaped charges while boasting higher damage, and it does more damage than HE with a far better armour divisor. I’ll instead simply use the HE Warhead damage table, adding a (10) armour divisor. It still does the linked cr ex damage, too. Damage for an HE warhead is , so our 30mm minimissile does 5d (10) damage. A non-pasted battlesuit user will take 1d-2 damage per attack - easier to survive than before. From the larger 40mm gun, this would be 4d-2 damage, probably incapacitating them.
Against normally-armoured humans, it does 3d damage. Still quite a bit, but far more survivable than before - and a battlesuit will be a weapon to fear.