This is a proposal for some changes to the current reaction fire system.
I say current, because I believe this system (taking TUs from the next turn as opposed to using leftover TUs from the previous turn) is inherently unfair, especially in multiplayer on smaller maps. But this is not what this proposal is about, I just wanted to make that clear.
Now, keep in mind that I am aware that there are issues with accuracy during reaction fire. I am not trying to fix this problem, rather I am pretending it isn't there. In other words, even if accuracy during reaction fire was sane, the following would still apply.
What is wrong with the current reaction fire?
As it stands, reaction fire triggers too quickly. While not instantly, it can and will trigger for every step a hostile unit takes while in the line of fire. This means that:
- Soldiers on reaction fire get to spend all their TUs on firing, which in theory is 100% effective (no TUs wasted on movement)
- Soldiers on reaction fire get to fire more often than an enemy unit who is moving into position (or trying to move to cover).
What should be changed?
The time before reaction fire occurs should be a function of two factors: the TU cost associated with the fire mode the soldier is using and his reaction time (measured in TUs). This reaction time is a representation of the time a soldier needs to spot movement in the shadows, focusing on it, identifying friend-or-foe and deciding to take action. This shouldn't be too much (after all, soldiers are trained in that sort of thing), but still greater than zero. An enemy entering the line of fire of a soldier on reaction fire should have the opportunity to spend time equal to the sum of these values. The former value is easy, it is directly derived from the weapon's fire mode. The latter value can be a function of a soldier's stats, but I shouldn't think it should stray outside the 2~4 TU range.
Let us consider an example.
This effect should be in place per soldier per enemy, i.e. if soldier B is standing in the line of fire of soldier A, and soldier C (who is on the same team as soldier B) strays into view of soldier A using 7 TUs, after which soldier B manages to duck into cover in less than 8 TUs, then soldier A will NOT shoot at soldier C, since he was aiming at soldier B. Instead, soldier C gets his very own 15 TU action window (minus the time soldier B needed to get out of danger).
Not directly related to the above, but nevertheless important is reaction fire in team play.
What are the effects of these changes?
- Because of the newly introduced reaction time penalty, paid on every shot, shots taken in reaction fire mode are more costly than shots taken in the player's own turn. This punishes turtling tactics.
- For shots that normally take up few TUs the overhead is larger by comparison. On the other hand, shots that spend a larger portion of the TUs on actual firing (which, in other words, are more time-efficient) are slow to fire, giving the enemy more time to act. This is a trade-off giving more meaning to the reaction fire mode choices.
I believe that these changes will considerably improve the current reaction fire system, making it less overwhelmingly powerful while not rendering it useless. Of course, I am also well aware that implementing and debugging this is a very complicated business, and I don't expect these changes to be made anytime soon. Nevertheless, I hope to see this on a TODO list soon.