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Subject: Smoke screens rss

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Jon Darlington
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Can anyone clarify the way that smoke screen works when deployed by a unit? I'm a bit confused about timing and effect on fire/LOS to and from the deploying unit based on the rules as they stand.

After combing through the Smoke Screen rules a couple of times I think I might know what's intended but I'm not certain.

Here's what we know from the rules:

- A unit with the Smoke Screens ability can deploy Smoke once per game.

- To deploy Smoke, the unit marks the Smoke Screens order IN ADDITION TO another order (let's call that the "primary order") for that turn. This is an exception to the normal one-order-per-turn rule.

- If the Smoke Screens order accompanies any Movement order, circle the hex in which smoke will be deployed.

- While executing the primary order for the turn, also place a Smoke counter in the unit's hex. If the unit is moving, place the Smoke counter in the circled hex on the movement path.

- Plus the following, lettered for reference:

a) Smoke blocks line of sight (LOS) for all units.

b) Any units in a hex marked with smoke have no LOS and cannot execute any orders until the smoke disappears.

c) Units cannot move through a hex with Smoke. Any unit ordered to enter such a hex must top moving on a hex adjacent to the hex with smoke.

d) Units in a hex with Smoke count as being out of LOS and cannot be the target of any order.

e) If a unit that is setting up a Smoke screen is the target of an Open Fire order, only rolls of 1 will count as hits regardless of the shooting unit's Accuracy.

f) Shooting at a unit setting Smoke screens during the Movement phase (fire and Movement order) is impossible.

(Plus rules for what happens when you deploy smoke in a hex containing a Hidden unit or units in Close Combat. Also rules for smoke spreading in high winds, and for removing smoke; basically it lasts three turns, including the turn deployed, and is removed at the very start of the fourth turn.)

A few specific questions:

1. PRIMARY ORDERS: To be perfectly clear, can I combine the Deploy Smoke Screen with any order at all?

2. TIMING: When I execute the pair of orders (the Primary Order and the Deploy Smoke Screen order), are they considered simultaneous, or do I resolve one of my choice and then the other? For example if I combine Deploy Smoke Screen with Open Fire, does the smoke happen simultaneously and block my line of sight, preventing me from executing the Open Fire order? Or can I choose to resolve my Open Fire order first and then immediately deploy smoke after my shot?

3. LEAVING SMOKE: Rule c) above prevents units from moving through a Smoke hex but not from leaving it, which I guess is why a unit can deploy smoke in the middle of its movement path yet continue moving beyond the smoke hex. Can other friendly, moving units that are in the same hex in which smoke is deployed also leave that hex and continue their movement during the same turn?

4. HITTING ON 1s?: Rule e) above ("hit only on 1s") seems odd because a unit in a hex with Smoke cannot be the target of any attack. Does e) refer to firing against a unit that has an order to deploy smoke this turn, but has not yet done so because its order has not arrived in the turn sequence?

For example, suppose I use Open Fire against a unit that has orders to both i) Move and Fire and ii) Deploy Smoke Screen. The target will not actually deploy the smoke screen until the Movement phase arrives. So when I fire during Open Fire, my fire against the target will only hit on 1s because the target "is setting up" a smoke screen but has not yet done so?

Whereas if I had a Move and Fire order against a target that has orders for Open Fire/Deploy Smoke Screen, I would not get to fire; because the target deployed smoke when resolving its order (Open Fire), and my Move and Fire order isn't resolved until afterward, at which point all LOS to the target is blocked by the Smoke it just deployed?

5. ACTING IN SMOKE: Rule b) does not apply to the unit deploying the smoke screen, right? Otherwise it couldn't execute its Primary Order once it deployed Smoke (although my timing question #2 might help resolve some of this.)

6. SMOKE MECHANICS FOR EACH ORDER TYPE: Here's a quick rundown of what I think happens when a unit combines smoke with any order. Are these correct?

i) DEFEND: I will be invulnerable to attack while I remain in the hex and the smoke persists, because nobody can shoot into or out of the Smoke, and nobody can enter the Smoke hex. I also cannot fire at moving enemies during the Movement phase regardless of the details of my Defend order, because my own LOS is blocked by my smoke once the Movement phase arrives.

ii) OPEN FIRE: If timing is the player's choice, then I guess I can fire first and then place the smoke counter immediately afterward. In this case, presumably enemies with Open Fire orders can shoot at me, but hit only on 1s, since I'm enjoying the benefit if shooting out of my hex before placing my Smoke marker.

Alternatively, if timing is the player's choice, I could choose to drop the Smoke before shooting and forego my own Open Fire attack (which is now impossible because it is blocked by the Smoke). But as compensation for this choice, enemies with Open Fire orders cannot shoot at me at all, either, because I'm protected by Smoke at the very start of the Open Fire phase. Fire at me by enemies with Move and Fire orders will also fail because by then I will be protected by Smoke.

iii) ASSAULT: If I circle an early hex in my Assault move, I will leave the smoke behind me in that hex but engage in close combat in the hex that I move to. Alternatively I can deploy smoke in the hex that is the target of the assault, in which case all of the participants use their Suppressed Accuracy while the smoke persists. Open Fire orders against me would have hit me only on 1s because I am deploying smoke this turn. Defend orders against me cannot hit me in any hex in which I deploy smoke; on other hexes along my Assault path, they hit only on 1s. (?)

iv) AMBUSH: The smoke is deployed in the Ambush phase. Fire at me earlier in the turn will hit only on 1s. Fire at me with Fire and Movement will fail because by then I will be protected by Smoke. If an enemy blundered into my hex with movement and initiated a close combat, do they also only hit me on 1s? Or use their Suppressed Accuracy?

v) SPECIAL: Fire at me earlier in the turn will hit only on 1s. Fire at me with Fire and Movement will fail because by then I will be protected by Smoke.

vi) MOVEMENT (includes Move and Fire): Fire at me earlier in the turn will hit only on 1s. Fire at me in hexes before and after the hex in which I deploy smoke will hit only on 1s. Fire at me in the hex in which I deploy Smoke is impossible (because I am out of LOS in that hex.)

One rule says that "The Smoke screen may be placed on any hex that the unit will move through -- even the hex that the moving unit will fire from." So if I am firing and deploying smoke in the same hex, presumably I must fire first and then drop the smoke (otherwise my own LOS would be blocked by my own smoke.) What about enemies that resolve a Defend or Move and Fire order against me in the same movement "impulse" (i.e. hex-by-hex move)? Can they shoot at me but hit only on 1s? Or is their fire forbidden, even though mine is expressly allowed from the hex in which I deploy smoke?

Sorry for the long-winded post, but I'm trying to wrap my head around this and I'm uncertain of my interpretations.

7. SET SMOKE SCREENS AND MOVE: Oh, also, I see that there's a separate rule for "Set Smoke Screens and and move" (page 15), which allows the unit to deploy smoke in one or both of the hexes it passes through (or its own hex if not moving), and this smoke dissipates at the end of the following turn. Only the Soviet tank appears to have this ability. Is this order limited to once per game like other Smoke Screens, or can this order be selected without limit?
 
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Thomas J.
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The smoke rules are indeed annoyingly vague. I can't provide any official answers, of course, and I don't claim expertise on the topic. All I can do is to report how we play/would play it, if that's any help to you:

JDarlington wrote:
[...]
1. PRIMARY ORDERS: To be perfectly clear, can I combine the Deploy Smoke Screen with any order at all?


Yes.

Quote:
2. TIMING: When I execute the pair of orders (the Primary Order and the Deploy Smoke Screen order), are they considered simultaneous, or do I resolve one of my choice and then the other? For example if I combine Deploy Smoke Screen with Open Fire, does the smoke happen simultaneously and block my line of sight, preventing me from executing the Open Fire order? Or can I choose to resolve my Open Fire order first and then immediately deploy smoke after my shot?


We let the deployment happen last (no choice). Thus in your example you would fire first and then loose LOS because of the smoke.

Quote:
3. LEAVING SMOKE: Rule c) above prevents units from moving through a Smoke hex but not from leaving it, which I guess is why a unit can deploy smoke in the middle of its movement path yet continue moving beyond the smoke hex. Can other friendly, moving units that are in the same hex in which smoke is deployed also leave that hex and continue their movement during the same turn?


Yes, if both units leave the hex on the same impulse (i.e. at the same time).

Quote:
4. HITTING ON 1s?: Rule e) above ("hit only on 1s") seems odd because a unit in a hex with Smoke cannot be the target of any attack. Does e) refer to firing against a unit that has an order to deploy smoke this turn, but has not yet done so because its order has not arrived in the turn sequence?


I believe so.

Quote:
For example, suppose I use Open Fire against a unit that has orders to both i) Move and Fire and ii) Deploy Smoke Screen. The target will not actually deploy the smoke screen until the Movement phase arrives. So when I fire during Open Fire, my fire against the target will only hit on 1s because the target "is setting up" a smoke screen but has not yet done so?


Correct. (I imagine it this way: They have started deploying smoke but haven't finished yet before the enemy fire comes in, therefore they are still somewhat visible but of course harder to hit.)

Quote:
Whereas if I had a Move and Fire order against a target that has orders for Open Fire/Deploy Smoke Screen, I would not get to fire; because the target deployed smoke when resolving its order (Open Fire), and my Move and Fire order isn't resolved until afterward, at which point all LOS to the target is blocked by the Smoke it just deployed?


Correct.

Quote:
5. ACTING IN SMOKE: Rule b) does not apply to the unit deploying the smoke screen, right? Otherwise it couldn't execute its Primary Order once it deployed Smoke (although my timing question #2 might help resolve some of this.)


I think it doesn't apply only in the turn in which the unit deploys smoke. If the unit stays in the smoke hex, it can't execute orders in the following turns (until the smoke dissipates).

Quote:
6. SMOKE MECHANICS FOR EACH ORDER TYPE: Here's a quick rundown of what I think happens when a unit combines smoke with any order. Are these correct?

i) DEFEND: I will be invulnerable to attack while I remain in the hex and the smoke persists, because nobody can shoot into or out of the Smoke, and nobody can enter the Smoke hex. I also cannot fire at moving enemies during the Movement phase regardless of the details of my Defend order, because my own LOS is blocked by my smoke once the Movement phase arrives.


Correct. But note that the unit in the smoke hex can't move out of it either. (Probably the hex could still by targeted by indirect fire, if we had that already in the game).

Quote:
ii) OPEN FIRE: If timing is the player's choice, then I guess I can fire first and then place the smoke counter immediately afterward. In this case, presumably enemies with Open Fire orders can shoot at me, but hit only on 1s, since I'm enjoying the benefit if shooting out of my hex before placing my Smoke marker.

Alternatively, if timing is the player's choice, I could choose to drop the Smoke before shooting and forego my own Open Fire attack (which is now impossible because it is blocked by the Smoke). But as compensation for this choice, enemies with Open Fire orders cannot shoot at me at all, either, because I'm protected by Smoke at the very start of the Open Fire phase. Fire at me by enemies with Move and Fire orders will also fail because by then I will be protected by Smoke.


As already mentioned, we don't leave the timing to the player. Therefore, deploying smoke in the Open Fire phase won't protect you from attacks by enemy units with the Open Fire order, though they would only hit on a „1“.

Quote:
iii) ASSAULT: If I circle an early hex in my Assault move, I will leave the smoke behind me in that hex but engage in close combat in the hex that I move to. Alternatively I can deploy smoke in the hex that is the target of the assault, in which case all of the participants use their Suppressed Accuracy while the smoke persists. Open Fire orders against me would have hit me only on 1s because I am deploying smoke this turn. Defend orders against me cannot hit me in any hex in which I deploy smoke; on other hexes along my Assault path, they hit only on 1s. (?)


Never happened in our games, but I wouldn't allow to deploy smoke in a hex where you assault and suggest to use the units' „normal“ accuracy in Close Combat (ignoring the „only hits on a 1“ rule). Also, the unit can be hit by defensive fire in the hex in which it deploys smoke, in my opinion.

Quote:
iv) AMBUSH: The smoke is deployed in the Ambush phase. Fire at me earlier in the turn will hit only on 1s. Fire at me with Fire and Movement will fail because by then I will be protected by Smoke.


Yes.

Quote:
If an enemy blundered into my hex with movement and initiated a close combat, do they also only hit me on 1s? Or use their Suppressed Accuracy?


I'm not sure I understand you here. If there's already smoke in the hex, no unit may enter it during the Movement Orders Phase, so no close combat possible.

But what happens if a non-hidden unit wants to deploy smoke in the same „movement impulse“ an enemy unit close assults it? I would say the close assault interrrupts (nullifies) the Smoke order and both units fight with „normal“ accuracy.

Quote:
v) SPECIAL: Fire at me earlier in the turn will hit only on 1s. Fire at me with Fire and Movement will fail because by then I will be protected by Smoke.


Correct.

Quote:
vi) MOVEMENT (includes Move and Fire): Fire at me earlier in the turn will hit only on 1s. Fire at me in hexes before and after the hex in which I deploy smoke will hit only on 1s. Fire at me in the hex in which I deploy Smoke is impossible (because I am out of LOS in that hex.)


I agree on all three cases.

Quote:
One rule says that "The Smoke screen may be placed on any hex that the unit will move through -- even the hex that the moving unit will fire from." So if I am firing and deploying smoke in the same hex, presumably I must fire first and then drop the smoke (otherwise my own LOS would be blocked by my own smoke.) What about enemies that resolve a Defend or Move and Fire order against me in the same movement "impulse" (i.e. hex-by-hex move)? Can they shoot at me but hit only on 1s? Or is their fire forbidden, even though mine is expressly allowed from the hex in which I deploy smoke?


I think the enemies can fire, hitting only on „1“.

Quote:
Sorry for the long-winded post, but I'm trying to wrap my head around this and I'm uncertain of my interpretations.

7. SET SMOKE SCREENS AND MOVE: Oh, also, I see that there's a separate rule for "Set Smoke Screens and and move" (page 15), which allows the unit to deploy smoke in one or both of the hexes it passes through (or its own hex if not moving), and this smoke dissipates at the end of the following turn. Only the Soviet tank appears to have this ability. Is this order limited to once per game like other Smoke Screens, or can this order be selected without limit?


My guess is that it can be selected without limit.

(But as said before: all the answers are just my personal interpretations.)

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Jon Darlington
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Wow! Thanks for the comprehensive reply. I think we have roughly the same idea about how the smoke screen is supposed to work.

I like your approach of making the smoke always deploy LAST in its accompanying orders phase (except for movement; see next paragraph). That simplifies many things. For the whole turn up to the end of that phase then, the unit deploying smoke can shoot without penalty, and enemies shooting at it hit only on 1s. Starting with the next orders phase, the unit cannot be shot at because it's now fully concealed by smoke, and this lasts as long as the unit is in that hex until the smoke dissipates.

Similarly, if deployed during movement, the deployment of smoke is the LAST thing that happens during that "impulse". So enemies firing at the unit in that hex (as a result of a Defend or Move and Fire order) can still shoot, but hit only on 1s. By the start of the next "impulse" the smoke has been fully deployed, and any unit inside that hex can't be shot at.

Incidentally, you're right, my example of an enemy blundering into a smoke hex and triggering an ambush can't happen, because nobody can enter a smoke hex.

I realize these aren't official answers, but they will do for now; and it helps to see that we have a largely consistent interpretation of the rules, so the reasoning must hold up.

Thanks!
 
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