The more I think about it, the more I think that translating the shooting penalties into dice instead of skill modifiers is worth exploring. Even if it ends up being a bad idea, I think good ideas could come from it.
The good that comes to mind is that it'd give a boost to Skill 5 shooting, as the penalty is much less severe (about half as severe). This would also have the effect of decreasing the disproportionate value of high Def Skill currently in the game. In short, a Def 3/Y unit isn't basically immune to shooting at beyond 7".
One concern that immediately comes to mind is that with these modifiers stacking, a shooting unit could very easily find itself with zero attacks. This to me is an easy fix where a unit can't be lowered below 1 die. This is something I think is overdue in the game in general, but it would be necessary here as well.
The other concern, the bigger one in my mind, is that any boost to shooting overall is a boost to stand & shoot builds. While this may not be unbalancing, especially in light of the Disrupted rules, it is something to be aware of.
The biggest change is that to keep things simple, all ranged modifiers in the basic rules will become dice modifiers. A summary of the rules changes:New Rule
: If a unit's attack dice stat is reduced to zero or below, the player rolls 1 die. Command Cards and faction abilities modify the stat, so if a unit has -1 attack dice and a faction ability is used which grant (+2)+0/+0, then the number of dice rolled is 1 not 3.Modifiers
Long Range: (-1)-0/-0
Extreme Range: (-2)-0/-0
Moving & Shooting: (-1)-0/-0
Cavalry Target: (-1)-0/-0
Fast Moving Target: (-1)-0/-0
Large Target: (+1)+0/+0 only to negate range attack penalties
Colossal Target: (+2)+0/+0 only to negate range attack penalties
Soft Cover: (-1)-0/-0
Hard Cover: (-2)-0/-0
Ranged modifiers based on unit rules would be left alone (so HE Rangers and charging cavalry would get D:+1/+0 instead of having those translated into dice penalties).
(Goblin Bomb Chucka just got a lot better, so Gull should be happy).
From this I have a couple of Bubblepig's Out-of-the-Box thoughts, just to throw against the wall. These are a la carte ideas.
Idea #1: The one concern I have here is that shooting just got better on the order of a tenth-a-point per archer unit at long range. That may not seem like much, but those Skill 6 guys and things like Bomb Chuckas just got a lot better. That leads me to have concerns about stand and shoot becoming too good.
The idea I had to resolve that is based on where I think stand and shoots are dangerous: the ability to concentrate fire. If you take 4 archers and have them shoot straight across at the enemy coming towards them, I'm not concerned that's a huge deal. What does concern me is when those 4 archers zero in on one unit, destroy it, and then move onto the next unit while the speedbump units pin down the enemy close & hose units.
If that's the problem, the solution strikes me as to add an additional penalty if your standing order has you shoot at a unit that is not the closest. This allows a player to use Direct Control to choose a target at no penalty, which is fine with me because you're essentially expending a CA for (+1)+0/+0, which isn't a wonderful trade but situationally can be worth it. Also cards like the Plan start to have a later-stage battle application for shooty units.
This penalty would be added to the master list:
Unit Objective Modifier: (-1)-0/-0
In the text it would state that this penalty applies if the unit has a standing order unit modifier that instructs it to shoot at a more distant enemy unit and there is an enemy unit that is closer
What I like about this is that it builds in that Large and Colossal units will basically negate this penalty ("shoot that big freaking lizard!"), but it'll have an negative effect on the archer if they're told to shoot at the big lizard waaaay over there if there's a band of snarling Raptors bearing down on them.
Idea #2: Way back in the day, the cavalry were easy picking for ranged units and so the penalty was included in a version of 2.X rules. I wonder if it has made heavy cavalry just invulnerable to shooting (their Def functionally becoming 4/2 or 3/3 at short range). Which at least according to real life, they most certainly were not.
At the same time, units like Raptors remained relatively more vulnerable to shooting, despite at least being as nimble and dodgy as things like Light cavalry (and certainly more agile the knights).
My idea is to do away with the penalty for shooting at cavalry and replace it with a modified penalty for shooting at fast movers:
Cavalry Target: (-1)-0/-0
Fast Moving (MC 6") Target: (-1)-0/-0
Fast Moving (MC 7" or higher) Target: (-2)-0/-0
Again I'm not sure of this one, but I'm just raising the point. One of the things the historical guys commented was that heavy cavalry was more or less immune to bowfire. I dunno if that should just be a quirk of the game (it's fantasy not a historical game), but I wanted to include it here for discussion.
Idea #3: This is the most radical idea of the three. To address one of the concerns that archers could be reduced to 1 die really quick as penalties stack up, this idea is rather than having penalties be cumulative, they put a shooter into penalty "categories." When a shooting unit goes to shoot, it determines what it is shooting and depending on the category it suffers (-1)-0/-0 or (-2)-0/-0 (or maybe even in extreme cases (-3)-0/-0).
Here's a quick take on the categories, which are by no means definitive:
Category 1: Range penalty (-1)-0/-0 if any of the following are true:
Moving & Shooting
Fast Moving Target
(Unit Objective modifier would be here if its included)
Category 2: Range penalty (-2)-0/-0 if any of the following are true:
Long Range + Soft Cover
Long Range + Fast Moving Target
Category 3: Range penalty (-3)-0/-0 if any of the following are true:
Extreme Range + Hard Cover
Extreme Range + Soft Cover
Extreme Range + Fast Moving Target
Large Target: shift range penalty one category lower (category 2 becomes category 1, category 1 become no penalty).
Colossal Target: shift range penalty two categories lower (category 3 becomes category 1, category 1 or 2 becomes no penalty).
I'm not at all sold on the idea, mainly because it feels wrong. But that could be just because its a fairly radical change. Or it could be because its not a good idea.
But either way I'm trying to think outside of the box on this.