It is finally here! The October 2017 Living Rule Book update (Beta) for Heavy Gear Blitz! Download it here.
Last week I posted a blog post with some teasers to sections of the update and received a lot of feedback. about it, some good but mostly bad. This is great! The only way feedback works is if it is brutally honest.
There are some very kind people who worry about how i deal with the harsh reading of the work I do, if feedback will be bad for my mental health. Thankfully I appreciate feedback! More stress is caused by feeling in a bubble and not actively hearing feedback.
This update was especially important because it is leading into the next Heavy Gear kickstarter. You can find previews on the front page of the new models.
The changes to the rules are an evolution of thinking about what the game should be and what it has to be. In the end Dream Pod 9 is successful at bringing you a great game like Heavy Gear because the players like it. Different players appreciate different parts of the game of course and a lot of this success is due to the skills and knowledge of the players giving feedback and helping to write whole sections of the rules for example.
Heavy Gear is a Skirmish Tabletop miniatures wargame simulation that allows for company level combat between two forces on a futuristic desert. As a simulation Heavy Gear Blitz uses real world examples of electronic warfare, Forward observation, co-ordination of units and command structure to give a player many options on the battlefield in addition to allowing a player to choose their forces from a wide range of Gears, Striders, Tanks, Vehicles, and Infantry.
Fire Team new order:
One of the most common comments I hear from players is that games can take a long time. This is something I've been grappling with for a long time. A solution came in the guise of an order. Fire Teams is an activation order that lets one model give up an action to add dice to another model's attack roll if they are in formation. Each model that's supporting has to be using the same type (autocannon, rifle etc) of weapon and all at optimal range. This works best when there are other modifiers stacked up such as burst, rear attacks etc. It also means that Having multiple models in the same unit is a very valid tactic as they can support each other. One model can go top speed to the rear of a target model and fire with support of another if your formation is flexible enough. This harkens back to the days of the old crossfire rule in Blitz (pre-LRB) but is a lot easier to determine if the set up is correct.
There are some weapons that are just not going to be any good at using the fire team order. Indirect weapons gain no advantage at all as their negative modifier at optimum range cancels the gain of adding a D6 to the attack roll.
Using some models activation to get them into position to assist should make for some very interesting game play and speed up the game in a small way by combining two or more actions into a single dice roll. Cheap support models will also be interesting. A Gunner Asp can support as well as a Jager for example but you can have three Gunner Asps for every two Jagers.
There are also some new upgrades that players will find interesting. The Mechanic upgrade will make an Infantry unit or engineering unit interesting to gain access to an engineering gear that can be upgraded to a repair unit. Cobra took a ATM to the face early in the game? Fix that damage and get it back in the fight! Just be careful because you have to be in base contact to use the Repair action and the model being repaired can't move or use actions for the rest of the turn after being repaired and is defenseless in melee. Plus proximity puts both models at risk for Area Effect weapons.
There are also some new veteran upgrades that will allow veterans to take better advantage of their weapons or counter melee specialists. Also a Duelist can no be equipped with a Haywire Whip! What a great way to help out friendly troops other than by providing them with an easy target?
Stealth has also received an upgrade. Instead of affecting the piloting skill it now gives an additional dice for cover and forces opponents who want to target it through full cover to roll EW or be forced to target another model. Shooting loses this bonus, unless you have a silenced weapon of course.
Link is a weapon trait that has undergone many revisions in it's history. This version gives the weapon the Split:2 trait or adds one to the split:X trait. Yes, this means that the Hussar has a Heavy Rotary Autocannon that can shoot at four targets in close proximity to each other!
One big change is to the Mount trait. Mounts have been difficult to balance considering how extreme they are at doing what they do. Since they have no rear arc there has never been a reason to do anything but stay away from them and shoot at range, trying not to get in range of their deadly spike guns. Now enemies get a +1D6 modifier if they are using a shooting weapon within 6" of a mount. Panzerfausts, Flamers, Snub Cannons, and Frag Cannons are now really excellent and the mounts have to be wary of exposing themselves to too much close range fire.
The Mounts have also been shown to be really excellent models and the choice was to either increase their TV by 2-4TV each or reduce an attribute. In the end it was decided to reduce the Armor Rating of most mounts by 1.
The Brawler trait has been split into two traits; Brawler and Parry. Brawler gives you dice to attack, Parry gives you dice to defend.
The biggest change to hiding is that you can now shoot when hidden and you don't lose the hidden token. This represents popping out of cover to shoot then dropping back again. You can even top speed up to cover and use your action to hide, ready for the next turn.
Also there's a new Hull Down rule for tanks and vehicles that gives them a bonus when they find a good piece of cover to protect those delicate parts. They're going to need it considering the Fire Teams they're likely to face.
There's a lot to see in the new update along with some small tweaks to TV for some models and a rewritten AP:X rule to simplify the reading for players.
Thanks to all the players and fans who have commented! Your participation matters! Keep it up and keep playing. Heavy Gear can have a steep learning curve but it plays very well with a lot of depth. This is how we'll keep attracting new players, especially with even more army sets available in plastic thanks to the new Kickstarter coming up soon!