A fairly innocuous value from JA2 called "Shock" is transformed into one of the most important effects of Suppression Fire. Suppression Shock simulates a gripping fear that inhibits a character, making them very inefficient in performing combat actions.
Shocking History Edit
Every character in the game, from Gus Tarballs to the lowliest civilian in Arulco, has a value called "Shock" it has been there since the days of the original Jagged Alliance 2, although the vast majority of players probably didn't even know it was there. It's certainly not as visible as Health or Stamina, and doesn't usually have a lot of impact if any. But Shock has the potential to affect a character's performance radically.
In JA2, Shock is responsible for negative effects immediately following an injury. When a character is injured, he/she will get a certain amount of shock points. This shock can linger over a period of several turns until disappearing, and during this time its most important adverse affect is to reduce the injured soldier's accuracy.
Shock is distributed at a 10% rate based on damage taken. If the character is hit with a bullet for 50 damage, he will receive 5 points of shock.
This is felt mostly in the character's accuracy. For a couple of turns after the injury, the character will lose a Chance-to-Hit penalty based on the amount of shock he's got. The ratio in JA2 is 5 to one, so for every one point of shock, the character loses 5% Chance-to-Hit. If the soldier got 5 Shock points, he loses 25% Chance-to-Hit.
The reason this is rarely felt is because we have no visual indicator for shock. We might notice some decrease in accuracy (25% is not much), but very few people if any actually knew what was causing this.
Shock slowly clears away every turn. More specifically, at the start of the character's turn, his shock value is HALVED. This will eventually cause shock to completely disappear, barring additional injuries.
Overall, this effect was rather limited... until HAM 2 came along and transformed it into one of the most important values in a HAM Suppression game.
HAM 2 - Suppression Reconstructed Edit
- Main Article: Suppression Fire in HAM
During work on HAM 1, it was discovered that JA2's Suppression system was broken. Reconstruction of the entire system began in HAM 2. The idea was not only to fix the system, but also to change combat gameplay to more closely match modern warfare, and indeed make battles more interesting and dynamic.
One of the key problems to be solved with Suppression Fire was that it was achieving two completely contradictory goals:
- Suppression robs the target of APs, making it less dangerous AND easier to kill.
- Suppression makes the target drop stance, which also makes it harder to hit. Also, by dropping to a lower stance, the target itself becomes more deadly and accurate.
Turning the Suppression System back on without fixing the above dichotomy was foolish. The need arose to come up with a way to make a target less combat-effective.
The solution was discovered in the Shock value. Since shock already makes the target less accurate, and already has the proper name for the effect we're trying to achieve (!), it was selected to be the secondary effect of Suppression, after AP Loss.
Therefore, HAM Suppression system inflicts both AP Loss and Shock on the target. AP Loss makes sure that the target is capable of performing fewer actions during its next turn. Suppression Shock makes sure that if the target does have enough APs left, even to take a single shot, it is still less accurate and less effective than it was before Suppression Fire started.
Suppression Shock symbolizes the fear that comes along with being Suppressed. If AP Loss is the natural instinct of survival telling you to keep your head down and out of harm's way, Shock is the hysteria and panic involved with being afraid for your life. Shock is involuntary and immersive - it's hard to shake off, because it's a physical reaction of the nervous system. Your hands become jittery, you can't see straight, and your entire body is telling you to stay as hidden as possible and try as hard as you can to avoid risking your life any further.
Training helps overcome shock, but even training can collapse during battle, when an entire enemy team is emptying their magazines at the flimsy wooden box you're hiding behind. At some point or another, logic simply fails, and there's nothing you can do except curl into a tight little ball and pray to your god of choice.
Suppression Shock Effects Edit
Suppression shock is not really a penalty in and of itself, but is rather the basis upon which other effects are calculated. Most of these effects are penalties, but one effect is actually good for you:
- Target becomes less accurate
- Target becomes less resistant to further suppression fire
- Target loses situational awareness
- Target loses the ability to lead other men into combat
- Target's panic has an adverse effect on its nearby teammates
- And finally, the beneficial part: Target becomes harder to hit.
One shock begins to pile up, these effects can become very powerful indeed. combined with the reduced ability to do anything, caused by AP Loss, this can easily turn a combatant into a quivering bowl of jelly.
The calculation is different for each of these effects. Later HAM versions externalized the relationship between Shock and its effects, allowing players to decide for themselves what being shocked really means.
Shock Dissipation Edit
AP Loss can only take effect for one turn. A character can be driven down to negative APs, possibly even losing his entire next turn in the process. But if Suppression Fire on that character stops immediately, the character's APs won't suffer beyond that next turn at all.
In contrast, Shock tends to linger for several turns, especially if it is applied in large quantities. This is because shock HALVES itself at the start of the character's turn, and only disappears completely the turn after reaching a value of 1 (1/2 = 0.5 = 0).
Calculation of Shock Edit
Suppression Shock is applied based on the number of APs your character loses to Suppression Fire. A character who is immune to suppression (through high Suppression Tolerance value) or receives too little suppressive fire to lose any APs, will not suffer from shock either.
In HAM 2.8, the calculation of Suppression Shock was flawed. This was due to faulty integration with the 100AP system, but also due to an inherent flaw in the calculation, which was really much too complicated to begin with. This was fixed in HAM 3.5's Second Suppression Revamp.
HAM 2 Shock Calculation Edit
The original, faulty calculation used the character's Tolerance and the current AP Loss to figure out the limit on the number of shock points a character could accumulate. In other words, an experienced veteran could only get so many shock points, while a rookie could get a lot more. This served to make sure that superior combat personnel couldn't get a lot of shock, even under heavy suppression fire. Conversely, the rookies would be hit by a ton of suppression shock whenever they were shot at, making them rubbish under suppression.
Unfortunately, the calculation itself was rubbish. Using bad values, bad maths, and lack of 100AP compatibility, it was not uncommon to see soldiers being fully shocked after a couple of bullets were shot at them. This had to be toned down properly, but the change only occured in HAM 3.5. Before then, most characters could receive very large amounts of shock regardless of how trained they were.
HAM 3.5 Shock Calculation Edit
HAM 3.5 simplified the entire business, making shock depend DIRECTLY on AP Loss. The more APs a character loses to suppression fire, the more shock they gain, on a linear scale. This proved to be a far more effective way to handle shock distribution, because experienced characters already lose much less APs under Suppression than mere rookies, so Shock is also accumulated much more slowly for them.
The formula itself is very simple:
Shock Gained = AP Lost / X
Where X is the value of an APBP Constant that the player can set at will. As you can see, there's a completely linear correlation between AP Loss and Shock. Very simple and straightforward, and also provides much better results than the HAM 2 system did.
Maximum Shock Edit
There is a certain limit to the amount of Shock a character can have at any given time. This is called the Shock Limit. It is not an absolute limit (as you'll see below), but serves to stop the character from becoming actual Jello.
HAM 2 - Variable Limit Edit
In the original HAM Suppression system from HAM 2, the limit was decided based on the character's resistance to Suppression Fire (or "Tolerance"). The higher your experience level, and the higher your morale, the less Shock points you can receive overall. True Elites could receive no more than about 5 shock points, which is relatively insignificant, while rookies could go up as high as 30 or more, rendering them pretty much incapable of doing anything but run away (given that they've still got the APs to do so!).
HAM 3.5 - Stable Limit Edit
HAM 3.5 aimed to simplify the system, so control over the limit was handed over to an existing INI setting called MAX_SUPPRESSION_SHOCK (simple, see?).
The limit is set at 30 by default. Changing the limit is not recommended, unless you know what you're trying to achieve. Read on to understand why the limit is so important.
Breaching the limit Edit
No matter how the limit is set, characters can still go through it. This is called "Breaching".
Whenever a character receives enough Shock to go over the limit, he can go over the limit. However, if it already IS over the limit, the extra Shock points dissipates and he stays right where he is. Therefore, you only receive shock if you're not over the limit yet.
This means that a single, concentrated suppressive attack can cause a character to shoot up over the normal limit. Once he's there, further suppression shock will not be accumulated. In fact, no more shock can be gained until it clears away and falls below the limit again. Remember that shock is HALVED at the beginning of every turn.
The main flaw in HAM 2.8's Suppression System was that a lot of shock was administered all at once, causing the limit to be severely breached often in the game. This tended to put low-level characters into a state of complete hysteria (50-60 shock...) and occasionally also caused similar effects to high-level characters, whose limit was very low already. In other words, limit breaching was far too common, causing the Shock Effect to be far more common as a result.
This was fixed in HAM 3.5. Now, it is much harder to actually breach the limit, and even if you do it won't be by so much. Fresh Rookies (level 1) can still get 50-60 shock points (that's the whole idea), but training really helps avoid reaching such high values. Still, anyone can go all the way up to 30 provided that enough suppression fire is being sent at them, reducing the ability of high-level characters to avoid suppression shock entirely.
Accuracy Reduction Edit
Shock was selected to represent the panic caused by suppression, not only because it was so aptly named, but because its primary effect was exactly what suppression fire was missing - it makes the suppressed character much less accurate.
By default, for each point of shock he receives, a character loses -5% off his Chance-to-Hit with ranged weapons.
A character reaching 30 Shock (usually a rookie) has lost -150% Chance-to-Hit. This virtually renders him unable to hit a barn door. If this character still has enough APs to fire, and actually chooses to spend them this way instead of escaping to cover, his best option would be to "spray and pray". Even a sniper with a big gun can't do much with -150%.
Fortunately, most characters won't go that high for two reasons.
The first is that most characters have enough tolerance to slow down the accumulation of shock. Of course, more suppression fire directed at them can still cause them to go that high.
The second is that Shock halves itself at the start of each turn, and suppression usually happens between turns. You can fire at an enemy during your turn, sending him to maximum shock (~30), and when your turn is over the enemy's shock is halved (to ~15), giving him only a -75% Chance-to-Hit during his turn. This is still a LOT, though. Usually enough to make sure that the enemy can't return fire very accurately.
This is very important in Suppression's overall purpose - to make an enemy combatant less of a threat on the battlefield, through the combination of AP Loss and Accuracy Loss. Of course, you can always have two opposing forces firing blindly at each other, both shocked and "spraying", in the hope that one side will lose the advantage through sheer firepower from the other side.
Variable Accuracy Loss and Limits Edit
Two settings in HAM control the ratios between Shock and Accuracy Loss.
One setting puts an absolute maximum on the amount of accuracy that the character can lose due to Shock, ever.
The other setting determines how many Chance-to-Hit points are lost for every Shock point.
The calculation is very simple:
Accuracy Lost = (Current Shock * X), but no more than Y
X = INI-set Ratio
Y = INI-set Limit.
"Harder to Hit" Penalty Edit
Suppression isn't all bad for the character receiving it. Although it decreases your effectiveness as a fighter, the natural reaction to incoming fire can sometimes help survive the battle. The worse suppression fire gets, the more the character puts his effort into hiding from the incoming bullets. Self-preservation has its perks.
HAM Suppression Shock makes the target harder to hit. Anyone shooting ranged weapons at this target will lose some of his Chance-to-Hit. The more shocked the target, the harder it is to hit!
Dishing Out the Penalties Edit
When a character is suppressed, anyone firing ranged weapons at that character will receive a penalty to their Chance-to-Hit. The recommended value of the ratio is 5% per Shock Point, so a fully shocked character gives -150% Chance-to-Hit to anyone shooting at him. This can render a target virtually impossible to hit, until such time that the shock begins to dissipate (I.E. the target gains its nerves back and starts peeking out from behind cover to see what's going on, and thus is again less difficult to hit).
Accuracy Lost for firing at a Shocked Target = (Target's Shock * X), but no more than Y
X = INI-Set Ratio
Y = INI-Set Limit
Killing Shocked Characters Despite the Penalty Edit
Snipers, of course, may be able to pick off these targets, assuming that they aren't hiding behind actual hard cover, of course.
But with HAM tactics, the idea is that suppression immobilizes a target, allowing a second force to flank and destroy it. Characters under suppression will lose APs and accuracy, making them ineffective, and to overcome the associated "Harder to Hit" effect, you'll have to employ a second team that will get much closer - close enough to overcome the target's Harder to Hit penalty.
This is further aided by the fact that the penalty is only effective beyond a certain range. By default, this range is 10 tiles. Anyone who is closer than 10 tiles from the target does not feel the full accuracy penalty for firing at that target. The closer you get, the less penalty you feel.
Therefore, the assaulters try to get closer and closer to the target while it is being suppressed. The target is practically invulnerable to people firing at it from long range, but any enemies that manage to close the distance will still be able to kill it easily.
Of course, you can always wait for the target's shock to dissipate enough that it is no longer so hard to hit. But that can take time, and in the meanwhile the target can regain its senses and start firing back more accurately. This interplay between suppressing a target and actually killing it is what makes HAM Suppression Tactics so much fun.
Oh and please note that the full-penalty range (default 10 tiles) can be changed by the player to suit his own taste.
Different Bodyparts More/Less Difficult to Hit Edit
A suppressed character puts more emphasis into protecting his head, often leaving other bodyparts exposed to gunfire. This is felt in the "Harder to Hit" penalty. Only part of the penalty is given when shooting at the legs (which are exposed), while shooting at the head is very difficult. Still, if the suppressed character is not lying flat prone, he dishes out a much smaller "Harder to Hit" penalty anyway.
Rooftop and Ground Edit
There are several modifiers for the "Harder to Hit" penalty that are based on the relative vertical difference between the Shooter and his suppressed Target.
If both characters are on the ground, no special modifiers are added.
If both characters are on the roof, the "Harder to Hit" penalty is completely ignored. That's because the suppressed character has nowhere to hide, so no matter how close to the ground his head is, he's not any harder to hit at all!
If the Shooter is up on the roof and the suppressed Target is down on the ground, the shooter only receives HALF the original "Harder to Hit" penalty. The target on the ground has a harder time hiding because it can be more easily seen from above.
If the Shooter is on the ground, while the suppressed Target is up on the roof, the shooter receives TWICE the original "Harder to Hit" penalty. The target can use the roof ledge and the difficult angle to great advantage, hiding almost his entire body from view, and thus becoming extremely harder to hit.
There is an important interplay between AP Loss and Suppression Shock.
On the one hand, Shock is the RESULT of AP Loss. If you don't lose APs, you don't gain shock. The more APs you lose, the more Shock you gain. Very simple.
On the other hand, if you receive enough shock, your AP loss to suppression fire becomes more pronounced. You are, in effect, less resistant to suppression fire, and will lose more APs than normal.
When a character reaches such high Shock values, he is said to be "Cowering in Fear". You will receive an on-screen message when this occurs to any character.
The exact point where this happens is based on the suppressed character's "Tolerance" value. If the character's Shock has exceeded the character's Tolerance, then he/she enters a state of Cowering. Naturally this means that high-tolerance characters are FAR less likely to reach the cowering state at all. They don't gather up Shock as quickly, and also have to pass a higher threshold to Cower, and so reach that state more rarely. Low-level characters, on the other hand, gain Shock very rapidly, and don't need to go very high to reach a cowering state either.
When a character is Cowering, AP Loss is increased by a pre-set percentage:
New AP Loss = Original AP Loss * Cowering Percentage
The percentage is INI-Set, so you can decide for yourself how dangerous it is to reach a cowering state. You will continue to feel the effects of this percentage, causing massive AP Loss, until such time that shock (and hence Cowering) has disappeared on its own.
Reduced Situational Awareness Edit
Shocked characters try to keep their heads out of harm's way, reducing their ability to look around and be aware of nearby enemies. This feature of HAM 3 causes one of two effects:
- Reduced Range of Vision
- Increased Tunnel Vision Effect
You can turn each of these on/off independently.
The penalty only kicks in when the character has achieved "Cowering" state (see above). At that point, sight will suddenly drop, and will continue to drop as Shock is accumulated. When shock reaches the limit (this is normally 30, in HAM 3), the character will be nearly blind, able to see only one tile ahead.
As Shock drops back down, this effect slowly disappears. When the character loses enough Shock to stop cowering, the sight penalties disappear as well.
Negative Effect on Teammates Edit
A Shocked character is approaching a state of panic, and this loss of composure is going to have a negative effect on his nearby teammates.
Firstly, characters under considerable shock ("Cowering") cannot give any sort of Leadership bonus to other characters' Tolerance.
In addition, high-level Cowering characters will actually REDUCE the tolerance of nearby teammates who are of lower experience level. This can have the effect of lowering Tolerance throughout the entire group, making them easier to suppress.
Reduced Trap Detection Edit
Another artifact from JA2's old use of the Shock value - injured characters (and now, suppressed characters as well) will be unable to concentrate properly to find traps. Making your way through a minefield or a trapped door while suppressed can be a death sentence.
So what about Shock and Injury? Edit
In the beginning of this article, I mentioned how Shock was gained as a result of injury. This is still true in HAM 3.5. Shock is gathered both from Injury and from Suppression, and works exactly the same in both situations. Of course, it is much easier, and more commonplace, to get shocked by suppression fire.
INI Settings: Edit
There are many settings for this feature, and some are fairly complex. If you wish to adjust the importance of Suppression Shock, or turn it off completely, you'd best use the main setting "SUPPRESSION_SHOCK_EFFECTIVENESS". Other settings are provided for manual tweaking, but should not be messed with unless you know what you're trying to achieve.
|Effect||Enables/Disables Suppression Shock in HAM 2.8-3.4.|
|JA2 Default Value||FALSE||Shock is not accumulated through Suppression. It is still accumulated through injury though.|
|HAM Recommended Value||TRUE||Suppression can cause Shock.|
|Notes||This setting was only used before HAM 3.5!|
|Effect||Controls how much Suppression Shock is accumulated compared to the "normal" HAM defaults. If you feel that you want more or less shock in your game, this is the value to change!|
|Range||0 - 1000|
|JA2 Default Value||0||Suppression Shock is disabled. Shock is not accumulated through suppression fire, but is still accumulated through injury.|
|HAM Recommended Value||100||"100%" Shock Accumulation. This activated Shock at the "optimal" level for a HAM Suppression Game.|
|Other Values||50||Shock accumulates half as quickly as normal.|
|200||Shock accumulates twice as quickly as normal.|
|Notes||This is the primary setting used for turning off Suppression Shock completely.|
|Effect||Determines the upper limit for Shock. This limit can still be breached under certain circumstances, but generally prevents characters from exceeding it.|
|Range||0 - 200|
|JA2 Default Value||0||Suppression Shock cannot accumulate, disabling the system.|
|HAM Recommended Value||30||Shock can only reach a level of 30, unless being breached.|
|Other Values||50||Shock can accumulate up to a level of 50. Only Low Level characters are likely to reach this high, but when they do the effects are very dramatic.|
|Notes||Messing with this value is not recommended, unless you know exactly what you're trying to achieve.|
|Effect||Determines how much Chance-to-Hit a character can lose due to Shock, when firing a ranged weapon.|
|Range||0 - 250|
|JA2 Default Value||30||A character cannot lose more than 30% CtH due to Shock, ever.|
|HAM Recommended Value||0||No Limit.|
|Notes||Unless you're trying to achieve a specific goal, you should leave this at No Limit (0).|
|Effect||Determines the ratio between the Target's Shock Points and the Shooter's loss of Accuracy.|
|Range||0 - 100|
|JA2 Default Value||0||No matter how many Shock Points your target has, they do not make it harder to hit.|
|HAM Recommended Value||5||For every 1 point of Shock that a target has, anyone shooting at this target will receive 5% CtH Penalty.|
|Other Values||3||A slightly more reasonable value, if you feel that suppressed characters are just too hard to hit. For every 1 point of Shock that a target has, anyone shooting at this target will receive 3% CtH Penalty. Still very powerful, but may allow more room for sniping at suppressed characters.|
|Effect||Determines the maximum Chance-to-Hit that a shooter can lose when firing at a Suppressed (shocked) target.|
|Range||0 - 250|
|HAM Recommended Value||0||No Limit.|
|Other Values||60||Shooters can never lose more than 60% CtH due to firing at a shocked target.|
|Effect||Determines the range beyond which a Shooter will suffer the full Chance-to-Hit penalty for shooting at a shocked target. Under this range, the penalty begins to disappear. At 1 Tiles, the penalty is gone.|
|Range||10 - 10000|
|HAM Recommended Value||100||If the Shooter is 10 or more tiles away from the Shocked Target, he receives the full CtH Penalty from target shock. At less than 10 tiles, the penalty begins to disappear. This requires characters to get pretty close to be able to accurately hit a heavily-shocked target.|
|Other Values||200||If the Shooter is 20 or more tiles away from the Shocked Target, he receives the full CtH Penalty from target shock. At less than 20 tiles, the penalty begins to disappear. This allows killing heavily-shocked targets at a greater range.|
This setting is measured in METERS, not TILES. 10 Meters = 1 Tile.
|Effect||Determines the comparative amount of Target Shock Penalty applied to the Shooter, based on the target's Stance and the Targeted Bodypart.|
|Range||1 - 100|
|HAM Recommended Value||1, 3, 4, 5||
Shooters get the full penalty when targeting a Prone enemy.
They get 1/3 of the penalty when targeting the head of a crouched enemy, 1/4 for the torso, and 1/5 for the legs.
Therefore, the legs of a crouched shocked target are much less difficult to hit, compared to hitting a prone shocked target, etc.
|Other Values||1, 1, 1, 1||Shooters get the full penalty regardless of the target's stance or the targeted bodypart.|
|Notes||A standing target, even when heavily shocked, never delivers a Shock Penalty to people who shoot at it.|
|Effect||Determines by percentage the AP Loss caused to a target when it is Cowering.|
|Range||0 - 1000|
|HAM Recommended Value||150||Once a character has reached the Cowering state by suffering a lot of Suppression Shock, all AP Loss inflicted on this character is 150% stronger than normal.|
|Other Values||100||There is no difference in AP Loss once a character has reached the Cowering state.|
|50||Once the character reaches the Cowering state, he receives only half of any AP Loss inflicted by suppression fire. This makes the character LESS vulnerable to suppression, and may be counter-intuitive...|
Setting this below 100 can have the strange effect where heavily-suppressed characters become resistant to further suppression.
If you set it much higher than 100, any Cowering character will probably reach "Pinned Down" state (full suppression) immediately.
|Effect||Determines the effect that Suppression Shock has on the character's field of vision.|
|Range||0, 1, 2, 3|
|JA2 Default Value||0||
Suppression Shock has no effect on vision.
|HAM Recommended Value||1||Once a character has reached the Cowering state by suffering a lot of Suppression Shock, his Vision Range is decreased, and he suffers from increased Tunnel Vision. Further shock will make the effect worse and worse, until the character is practically blinded by shock.|
|Other Values||2||Cowering only causes decreased Vision Range.|
|3||Cowering only causes increased Tunnel Vision.|