Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Everything wrong with Across the Dead Earth's Riot Shields (In Five Minutes or Less)


I mentioned in my original review of Across the Dead Earth that riot shields contribute a fair amount of cheese to the game. In fact, if abused properly they can really break the game.

Let me lay some groundwork first. The rules as written appear to confuse riot shields with ballistic shields. The former are strong but lightweight plastic shields used by riot police to hold back protesters and deflect missiles such as bricks, bottles and petrol bombs. They are not, by and large, designed to stop bullets, especially not rifle rounds. Ballistics shields, on the other hand, are less shields in the traditional sense, and more like mobile cover.

The rules appear to confuse the two, leaving us with a shield large and strong enough to stop bullets, while light enough to be wielded effectively in melee. And at 10 points its a steal.

This is mostly because of a convergence of several rules.
  1. Weapons may be switched freely at any time
  2. You can dual wield shields
  3. The bonus vs range attacks stacks with cover
Admittedly, these are less rules, and more omissions on the part of the designers, but again, unless you come to a gentlemans agreement with your opponent, the game can quickly become broken as follows...

At range: The Normandy Beach Pillbox

Take 2 riot shields and a ranged weapon of your choice. For the authentic effect take an LMG, but a sniper rifle or missile launcher will do, if you want range or to impersonate a tank. Sit yourself in heavy cover. During your turn blaze away at the enemy. When you take fire, switch to your shields for a +7 cover bonus. You don't even need the Touche* feat, as it only applies to defending with two melee weapon, not gaining passive bonuses from them. This will make you practically untouchable. As there doesn't appear to be an 'automatic hit on a 12 rule' as there is for wounding, this means that you would need a base to hit of 5 or less, which basically no weapon has, and even then, the distribution curve would keep you safe.

If you feel like going mobile you can up sticks and saunter around the battlefield with a still potent +4 modifier vs ranged attacks.

In melee: The Boss Battle

Again, take 2 riot shields and whatever melee weapon takes your fancy. I'd suggest 2 Saw Edged Swords and the Touche** feat if you feel like cheesing to the max, a chainsaw if you cant bring yourself to work out exactly what a Saw Edged Sword is supposed to be.
 Find yourself a victim, hammer them with your melee weapons, the switch to riot shields to take the return attack with a whopping +10 parry modifier. Pretend to be Pyramid Head as you invincibly render your opponents down to their constituent body parts.

The Quick Fix

Luckily these situations can be houseruled fairly easily:
  1. Shields cannot be dual wielded
  2. The bonus vs. ranged weapons does not stack with cover
  3. To claim the bonus vs. ranged weapons from a shield you may not use a 2h weapon in the same turn (unless subsequently engaged in melee)
  4. At the start of melee choose your load out. You may not change weapons until the melee is resolved (i.e. your figure is no longer in base to base contact with any standing enemy models)
The above should fix the egregious cheese. I would personally add the following rules
  1. The bonus vs. ranged weapons granted by shields does not apply to firearms
This makes shields more realistic as any shield light or small enough to be used as a shield could not protect against any serious small arms fire.

If I was feeling adventurous, I'd separate out riot and ballistic shields, creating the latter as a new rare item, with bonuses in buildings and enclosed spaces, but that limited the wielder to one handed weapons.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time, when I will have done some bloody painting for a change!

*AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!
**AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!

1 comment:

  1. I'd vote sticking with no dual-wielding shields (it's not like the bonus would stack) and when you pick a 'loadout' that is what you use until the start of your next turn.

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