Welcome back, pilots, Aces, and Knights. It's been a while, hasn't it? There's been some changes to the combat doctrine since you last got into the cockpit, so a refresher course might be for the best. Don't worry, I'll try to be brief.
Action Points and YouEdit
Every Frame has a certain number of action points that it can use per turn - Light frames have four AP, mediums three, and heavies two. Some elite enemies may have more, and who knows - perhaps you will someday, too.
These action points are used to take actions.
Specifically, virtually anything you do will take an action point. A non-comprehensive list:
- Attack: Depending on the weapon, this has varying effects and ranges. See later for that much, but in general you're gonna be shooting a gun; As long as you have ammo in the weapon and AP, you can fire it.
- Suppression: A special variety of attack - Spend two AP and ammo to fire at the enemy inaccurately but effectively. This lowers their accuracy and ability to dodge in turn, as well as activating (and wasting) any reaction abilities. Burst-fire weapons may do this for 1 AP and 1 ammo, as they already fire multiple times. When used against enemies in cover, also deals damage to the cover.
- Prepared Attack / Charge: Spend one AP to attack a target at the end of your movement for this turn, as opposed to your current position. Only a single attack may be prepared, but you can attack them as normal the next turn anyways.
- Movement: You can spend an AP to accelerate or move, based on whether you're on a planet or in space. What's this mean? It'll be explained shortly, have no fear.
- Charge: Only possible on a planet, you move three squares for one AP as long as you end up adjacent to an enemy.
- Evasive Action: You duck and weave and dart around in space at the cost of an AP. Enemies have a harder time hitting you, but the same applies in reverse for ranged attacks.
- Take Aim: Spend an action point to increase your chance to hit against one enemy. Negated by the enemy changing its velocity (in space) or moving (on the ground).
- Take Cover: Moving into cover takes an action point. There are a number of different kinds of cover available, to be explained alongside attacking.
- Reloading: Your guns generally will run out of ammo eventually, although certain weapons are hooked directly into your ammo supply - those are fairly unique, though. Reloading them takes 1 AP and a magazine from your inventory. Switching ammo types also takes 1 AP.
- Grappling: Only possible in melee combat (or using certain weapons at their appropriate ranges). Takes 1 AP. You can only grapple with a frame of equal or lighter armor class - no, Spitfire pilots, you cannot suplex a Thresher no matter how good your boosters are.
- Using Items: One AP.
- Switching Weapons: Takes 1 AP. If you have one weapon of your weight class and one below it, switching to the lower-weight weapon takes no AP.
- Dropping items / talking: Free actions.
- Anything else: Ask, but don't stress too much about it.
Movement and AccelerationEdit
For a more detailed and/or better explanation with pictures, head over to Space Movement 101.
I mentioned that AP can be spent accelerating or moving, but what exactly does this mean?
Well, the important thing to keep in mind is that movement in gravity is far different from movement in orbit. For that matter, movement in orbit is far different from movement in deep space, but only on a scale that you probably will never need to care about.
On a planet's surface your movement is based on how fast your Frame can run; Every Frame moves up to two squares per AP spent on movement, in any direction you please. You can freely spend all your AP on sprinting across an area if you want, or attack while moving - There is a slight penalty for firing while running, but it generally won't be a problem.
In space, however, things are a little bit different. For one thing there's nothing slowing you down - no gravity, no air friction, no planetary surface to trip and fall on - well, not quite on that count, as gravity is in effect, but that's not going to come up as an issue unless you do something horribly wrong.
In space, you don't move a certain number of squares with each action; instead, you spend AP to accelerate and increase or change your momentum. Each AP raises your momentum in the direction you specify by up to two - certain upgrades can make that change higher, though. You can move two up, two down, etc, or divide it in two directions - one up, one left, and so on.
This might sound complicated, but it really isn't as bad as it sounds. Essentially it works like this:
- Turn 1: You use four AP to accelerate towards an enemy squares away. You move forward four squares at the end of your turn and have a Momentum of 4.
- Turn 2: You spend four more AP to accelerate towards them - you move forward eight squares this time, because your previous momentum was preserved. You've moved 12 squares and have a momentum of 8.
- Turn 3: You spend all your AP firing at your enemy, who is now twelve squares away. You move eight more squares forwards at the end, leaving only four squares between, at 8 momentum. Uh oh.
- Turn 4: You spend all your AP accelerating in the reverse, which lowers your Momentum by 4. Unfortunately, you're still moving at 4 momentum. You smack into the enemy.
Admittedly that's an example more of what not to do. This situation is actually fairly easy to avoid - Instead of just trying to slow down you could have spent a single AP to gain sideways momentum, which would have given you a total momentum of 4^1< - which would have made you miss the enemy by the narrow margin of a single square. Mind you, Heavy Frames are completely unafraid of ramming Light Frames, so don't assume you're safe because you have a melee weapon! The lighter member of a collision always comes off worse.
That said, Spitfires' have a special ability that's almost built around slamming into their opponents at ludicrous speeds...
There is also an action you may take for one AP where you move one square without a momentum change - by accelerating and decelerating in turn.
tl;dr in space you have to slow down for just as long as you speed up... If you bother with slowing down at all.
For Quicksilver Only: While on a planet, you can use your dodge booster to add 1 to your movement for that turn in any direction. Similarly in space, you may use your booster to freely change your momentum by 1 in any direction for no cost - be aware that this negates your free dodge, however.
All Frames can fly under atmosphere - Admittedly not very well, since Frames have all the aerodynamics of a brick, though exceptions do exist. Taking flight takes one AP, as does landing. While still low to the ground, this hover allows the Frame to gain an aerial view of the battlefield - and more importantly allows it to fire at enemies behind low cover, bypassing their defensive bonuses and catching them by surprise. It's especially useful when combined with explosive weaponry and grenades to flush the enemy out of cover. Don't forget that you're a large metal suit hovering in midair, though - You're just as big a target, and you have no cover up there.
Frames are not planes - But they can be helicopters.
When you get down to it, this is the thing you all are really here for: Making pretty explosions and unpleasant leaking holes in both spaceships and Frames. Attacking is more or less the same as its original incarnation, but with a number of mechanics more fleshed out than they were previously.
Firing at an opponent now takes into account what range you're at compared to them. Firing outside your max range doesn't make it impossible for you to hit the enemy. However, your enemy is going to have a far better chance of detecting and avoiding your attacks. Space is big, and bullets are small. Comparatively. Firing outside your max range applies a penalty that gets steeper the farther out you are.
Firing at an opponent within your max range, on the other hand, can be penalized or improved based on the weapon. A machinegun or shotgun, for example, might get bonuses the closer the enemy is to you; however, a long-rifle or heavy weapon is unwieldy and heavy, and will be penalized, especially in extremely close-range combat. Don't try 360-no-scoping it here.
There's a number of weapon types now, including pistols, rifles, SMGs, shotguns, cannons, blades, thermal weapons, railguns (Fed only), beam weapons (Con only), rockets, missiles, and grenades. They all have pros and cons that are fairly self-evident - Cannons are high damage but low ammo, rifles balanced all around, shotguns low accuracy but high damage... So on and so forth.
Thermal weapons deserve a special mention, due to working differently from other types; there's almost no way to miss with a thermal weapon outside of incredibly extreme ranged combat, but they tend to have a few drawbacks; first, they're comparatively weak, with a kinetic or plasma weapon almost always beating them out in terms of raw damage. Second, their damage begins to bleed off at extreme ranges, the laser dispersing over distance. On a major plus side, though, lasers can hit through energy shielding - sometimes they're slightly weakened, but not often. They also do not necessarily need to reload - they regenerate one 'ammo' every turn. However, if the heatsink is overloaded (by fully running out of ammo) it cannot be reused.
Every Frame has a certain amount of armor - An unarmored Frame has 50, with the three armor levels (Light, Medium, Heavy) adding 50, 100, 150 respectively, for finals values of 100/150/200. When a Frame reaches 15 armor, it is disabled, and at 0 it is destroyed. The pilot still has a chance of surviving this - either ejecting beforehand or simply getting lucky. However, a sufficient amount of overkill leaves no chance for survival.
Taking cover is a fairly important thing to do when, for example, you are being bombed from orbit. Cover works somewhat differently from Aeris Gaiden - and especially different from the original game, where it didn't exist. Taking cover takes a single AP to do, and can be done from two squares away - think of it like diving for shelter.
There are still three varieties of cover, with different values for each. However, certain cover is now directional - a brick wall will protect you a bit from things in front of it, sure, but above? No dice.
- Partial: This is cover like the aforementioned brick wall - it protects you both from being spotted by the enemy and slightly from damage. These tend to be ambient and non-purposed, like walls, smashed vehicles, hills and small houses. Use common sense - don't crouch behind a wall if there's a plane strafing you. It probably won't help.
- Specialized: This works similarly to before, with it providing a greater bonus to defense than just partial cover. Specialized cover tends to protect you from all sides - exceptions do exist, such as trenches, but even when being attack from a direction that isn't totally guarded, specialized cover gives a small defensive bonus.
- Full: You're behind something thick enough that you can neither be seen nor hit. As before this only matters if the enemy is on the other side of it from you.
Cover can be destroyed, but only by weaponry fitting it - You can punch through a brick wall, for example, but don't try destroying a bunker with a pistol.
While certainly rarer than on the ground, cover does exist in space - and works pretty much the same way. Shield generators are especially common, projecting a translucent field that deflects, destroys, or otherwise inconveniences projectiles. Some include 'firing slits' for allied ships to shoot out through, although be aware that the enemy can fire right back if they have good aim. Shield generators without firing slits count as Full Cover that can be seen through, while those with firing slits count as Specialized Cover.
Light Frame pilots in particular want to pay attention here. Melee combat works differently based on your location.
In terrestrial combat, you may "engage" an enemy in Melee by attacking him with a melee weapon. This pits you in close-combat battle with the enemy, where both you and the enemy are encouraged to punch, stab, and slash your way to victory - firing a ranged weapon in a melee has penalties applied to it. Allies can join in by attacking the enemy as well - this adds them to the engagement. Note that a poor roll with your ranged weapons in melee (or firing into it) can result in an ally being hit too! Leaving an engagement costs 1 AP, but if the opponent is not engaged with any of your allies they can spend 1 AP to pursue and prolong the fight.
Orbital melee combat, on the other hand, is essentially a series of high-speed near misses. Or, alternatively, a game of chicken with swords. Melee combat is possible both while one square away (unlikely to occur) or while passing by within one square. Remember the example I gave for the momentum system? Here's how it might have gone instead:
- Turn 4: Spend 1 AP to add momentum to the right, 1 AP to attack the enemy with a flyby slash, and then slowing down with 2 AP.
You should always declare your attack before slowing down, because you do more damage the faster you're going as you fly by the enemy. Of course, this has risks - if the enemy declares a grapple action, your flyby slash has a chance of ending with you getting snatched out of the air. You can also declare a Parry action, which requires you to have a melee weapon of your own; this action has a chance of blocking a melee flyby attack. The Counter Module upgrade allows you to even turn the tables. Of course, neither of these work on someone just ramming you with a melee weapon outstretched; though that has its own downsides for the attacker. Like smashing into the opponent.
For Spitfire only: In terrestrial combat, your Tilt Booster allows you to instantly engage the enemy from up to two squares away, moving and attacking in the same action. It also allows you to disengage for no cost, though you can still be pursued. In space, it allows you to boost your momentum for a single melee attack - However, you can only do this while flying straight at the enemy. If this attack manages to defeat the enemy, you take no damage from the collision and continue on unabated - a Frame without the Tilt Booster would still take collision damage, even if they successfully killed the enemy.
If it doesn't kill them... Hopefully you have good insurance.
On Rockets, Missiles, Grenades, and Other ExplosivesEdit
There are a number of explosive weapons that Frames might regularly make use of, and they all have special rules associated with them. There are two aspects to this: Travel time and blast radius.
These weapons, compared to a railgun or beam rifle, are fairly slow - usually, anyways. As such attacks made by launched explosives are not resolved instantly; instead, your rocket occupies a square and has its own momentum values. They accelerate for a turn or two, then fly straight in whatever direction they were shot in. As you can imagine, this makes them pretty useless for anti-frame combat except at near point-blank range, though they are unwieldy and difficult to use close-up. However, a rocket is not an anti-frame weapon to begin with; Instead, these are the primary anti-ship weapons made use of by Heavy Frames, delivering massive damage and armor-piercing power from long range. Most are fairly low-explosive, relying on their speed to punch through armor instead. Grenades are essentially light rockets with higher explosive yields that require no special tubes or launchers to fire. Certain rockets and grenades have proximity triggers or remote detonators, which can help with accuracy against fast targets.
Missiles, on the other hand, are in a rather different position. While rarely used as a primary armament by Frames, Missiles are a common sight on starships as a defensive measure. They work on a similar principle to Rockets - firing off with its own momentum values - but unlike the fire-and-forget rockets, missiles have action points that they can use to maneuver themselves in space. As such that can keep up with and pursue a Frame, as long as their fuel lasts. Most are high-explosive, sacrificing direct damage for effectiveness against areas. Some missiles require an active lock - this requires the launcher to spend AP every turn to keep the missile on target. Others have a passive lock, but there are countermeasures against these; thermal locking can be broken via flares, radar locking by Prism Cloud canisters, et cetera.
In general explosive weapons have a blast radius between 0 and 6, with higher values being rare on Frames and anti-Frame weaponry. Explosive damage, unlike impact damage, is not affected by accuracy rolls; Instead it deals static damage based on how far you are from the blast's center. A 3 radius blast affects any square within three tiles, for example, while a 0 radius explosive only affects its impact tile. Each tile away from the center deals less damage, with no damage being dealt further than the end of the radius. This damage dropoff is far more severe for smaller explosives.
|Range from center||0||1||2||3||4||5||6|
And so on.
For Heavy Specialists Only: Both the Invoke and the Peacemaker have specialized, functionally unlimited explosives that only they may use. These are the Plasburner and the Leech respectively. Unlike Grenades and Rockets, these explosives must be used very close to the target, but their effects are devastating. Starships usualy have heavy armor over their most vulnerable locations and systems, rendering it highly difficult for most Frames to damage them. These both degrade this armor in various ways. The Plasburner deploys a powerful plasma emitter that releases huge amounts of thermal energy. The end result of this is entire sections of armor melting and boiling away, burning a hole straight through. This takes several turns, however. The Leech, on the other hand, is a small drone armed with a drill and a package of high explosives. It drills into the armor and detonates a shaped charge, blowing the plating apart from the inside-out.
Equipment and InventoryEdit
Frames may carry two weapons. A weapon of your Frame's weight class must be held in both hands, but a smaller gun may be dual-wielded. Light frames can only carry two light weapons, and wield one at a time.
|Type||Number of Weapons|
|Assault||2 Primary Weapons|
|Support||1 Primary Weapon, 1 Tool|
|Specialist||1 Primary Weapon, 1 Secondary Weapon|
Every Frame has an inventory for various usable items - Light Frames have 16, mediums have 25, and heavies have 36 slots available. Items take between 1 and 5 slots of inventory space to carry. These inventories are located in the machine's legs. The most common cargo for a Frame to have is ammunition, of course; light ammo generally takes one slot, medium two, and heavy ammo 3. Certain heavy weapons have even larger ammo still, particularly the oversized weapons. Thermal weapons uses heat sinks, but do not necessarily need to reload if they're careful. There are a number of varieties of ammunition, for example:
- HP Ammo: High penetration bullets/plasma casings, which are highly effective against heavy armor - however, they pierce through light armor without doing nearly as much damage.
- Burst Ammo: Explosive ammo designed to rip apart lightly armored targets. Much less effective against heavy armor, where the ammo simply explodes on the outside.
- Flak Ammo: Explosive ammo similar to burst ammo, but deals less damage to both light and heavy targets - the difference is that Flak Ammo is smart ammunition that bursts into shrapnel when nearby opposing Frames, being effective even against evasively maneuvering targets.
- HV Ammo: High-velocity ammo that has a higher effective range, but slightly less damage due to reduced bullet mass.
- EM Ammo: For Genus only. Ammo with an electromagnetic pulse generator in the body of the shell, potentially disabling enemies when it hits them and possibly disabling sensors.
- Nanocanister: For Niot only. Specialized ammo containing nanomachine factories, bursting into clouds of nanomachines when impacting the enemy. Nanomachines can degrade enemy armor or blind their sensors.
More than ammunition can be carried, however; There are a variety of healing items, utility items, and deployables that can be utilized by Frames.
- Grenades: Unguided explosives with a small fuel source - more like a mini-rocket than a grenade. Useful in close combat and against enemies behind partial or specialized cover. Come in multiple varieties, much like ammo. Take up one slot each, with certain large grenades taking up two. Mines are a special variety of grenade that have a proximity fuse and detection capabilities, able to explode when near enemies and pursue them if they try to escape or fly past. Usually deployed at chokepoints or scattered in space.
- Repair Kits: Self-healing items that recover a small amount of your Frame's armor. Not nearly a replacement for the dedicated abilities of a Medium Support (which are unlimited), but a fine stopgap. Take up one slot each.
- System Restore Kit: Repairs damaged or hacked systems. Also purges nanomachines and systems disabled by EMP. Takes up two slots each.
- Deployable Shield: A large powersupply/shield generator combination. Can be deployed both in space and on land, producing a small protective shield in front of itself - it counts as full cover. Enough damage will overload it. Takes up five slots.
- Flares: Not the same kind of flares that existed in the past. Frame flares are a combination of thermal dummies, sensor-disabling mini-lasers, and various other countermeasures to give missiles (and drones as well) an unpleasant time. Take up one slot.
- Prism Cloud: A cloud of reflective dust that can disperse lower-powered lasers to harmless levels for a very short time (one full turn). Launched from canisters. Coincidentally, this also serves as a smoke grenade to obscure vision. Also breaks certain passive locks. Takes up two slots.
There are a number of other utilities, but we won't waste more time on them here.
Frames also carry two additonal upgrades - A system and an ability. Abilities are upgrades unique to every Frame model - for example, the Quicksilver's Dodge Boost or the Aegis's reconstructor nanomachines. There are multiple abilities for each Frame model, but most of them are currently in research and development - Maybe you'll get access to a few as time goes on, eh?
Systems are fairly similar to abilities, but are interchangeable between Frames. They range from passive upgrades to abilities to whole new functions or actions, such as the Counterattack Module, as mentioned earlier, or the Bulletstorm Module - which lessens the accuracy penalty of rapid-fire. However, systems aren't likely to fall into your lap for a while - the vanilla frames are generally good enough for any work you ought to be involved in.
Operations in SpaceEdit
Frames are and always have been primarily produced as battleship killers. While a full history of their development and the reasons for it can wait, the primary answer is this: As shield projection technology became more and more common, ship-based combat became a war of attrition, relying on borderline suicidal flanking maneuvers in an attempt to circumvent the shields and blast the projectors. When short-range Flow warps were developed, however, a new strategy came into use: hit-and-run attacks, jumping out to strike at the shields and jumping back in again.
But the size and mass of the average battleship made it far too obvious where it would be exiting the Flow, and short-range jumps are too inefficient for a whole fleet to use. Instead, the navies began to make use of lightly armed and heavily armored carriers, hopping out of the Flow nearby strategic targets, disgorging a swarm of fighters, and hopping back in again - only returning to extract the fighters after their objective was completed. Frames are simply an extension of that, the natural next step - a humanoid form is highly maneuverable, and advancements in prosthetics technology made the scaling-up of the Frames surprisingly efficient. It combined an armored EVA suit with a fighter-bomber, and both factions began to produce them in greater and greater quantities.
A space battle for Frames, generally, has three parts:
- Insertion: Their carrier exits the Flow at a determined point - close enough to the enemy to attack the target, but far enough that the ship can still make evasive maneuvers and the jump to safety. Frames are launched from catapults towards the enemy ship, giving them Momentum to work with, and the carrier exits as soon as possible. Occasionally, in smaller-scale battles, the carrier will remain and provide fire-support - Battle Carriers are a recent development specifically used for this kind of combat, but are still being developed.
- Neutralization: The Frames move to attack their target, targeting subsystems, weaponry, and engines. Disabling the ship's combat capabilities is their primary objective. Escort Frames and fighters are usually present to try and stop this. Heavy frames focus on smashing the ships, light frames focus on smashing the heavies, and medium frames focus on supporting them both.
- Extraction: Once the ship has been sufficiently damaged or the frames driven back, they call for extraction from their carrier. As this is often jammed, the carriers are usually scheduled to return after a certain period of time without contact. Once arrived, the Frames retreat to the safety of their ship and jump back into the Flow to repair and rearm behind allied lines. Depending on the battle and the degree of damage sustained, more operations may be mounted or the carrier may wait for the battle to end
This is for attacking battleships, of course - Killing a Carrier is a different case, relying on brief skirmishes as the two carriers hopscotch after each other, trying to destroy the other's hyperspace drives and leave them stranded for the Frames to pick apart. Carrier-hunters are battleships equipped with short-range jumps, but they tend to be vulnerable to the Carrier's Frames; It's here that Battle Carriers are quickly finding a niche, ferrying squadrons of Frames supported by anti-ship weaponry in pursuit of enemy squadrons.
Operations on LandEdit
Frames may have been originally designed for battleship-busting, but their versatile form and power gave them an undeniable place on the ground as well. While much more conspicuous than a tank or infantryman might be, a Frame excels in combat within dense locations such as urban environments or jungles - they have the maneuverability and versatility of an infantryman without requiring nearly as much path-clearing. Plus, their maneuvering engines let them take off and land as a sort of short-range VTOL. Frames are vulnerable in long-range engagements, where their height and reliance on their legs makes them easy targets, but when it comes to city fighting giant mechs are extremely useful.
If you don't mind collateral damage, anyways.
Land battles are extremely varied - that's not to say space battles aren't, but there are far more possible objectives and situations that a land conflict might face than can be summed up in a simple list. Most commonly Frames are used to take locations - cities, fortifications, what have you - using their superior mobility to surmount obstacles and blow shit to hell. In a land battle Heavy Frames are bunker-busters still, but light and medium frames take on more of an infantryman role; tactical movement and cover use matter more than coordination and target-selection. Frames might face infantry with anti-tank weaponry, tanks themselves, helicopters and other hovering aircraft, or planes, alongside rival Frames of course. They tend to come off fairly well when they can make use of cover and positioning - not nearly as well when they can't.
 For those curious, short-ranged Flow jumps are inefficient compared to longer-range jumps because more energy is expended focusing and narrowing the hyperspace 'tunnel' - in order to achieve the greatest precision possible and avoid popping out inside something else or a few hundred kilometers in the wrong direction. With long-range jumps, though, you don't need to be nearly as precise. Flow Gates, of course, handle these issues for you, but those don't tend to be very close to battles.
 There is a somewhat lengthy charge-up time before a hyperspace jump may be attempted, both after leaving the Flow and before jumping back into it. This can be circumvented, but god knows where you'll end up.