View Full Version : [Sci-fi/Mass Effect] Small unit tactics?

2012-10-12, 07:54 AM
In our Mass: the Effecting game, we've taken on a job in the Terminus Systems where we're looking for a mythical ship and a paramilitary/terrorist cell. Since we're way out beyond Council space with no other backup available, we've hired on another merc company as extra muscle/groundside support.

They're a Ukrainian-originating outfit called Warta (Vigil) and bring a dozen personnel, split into two fireteams, each containing a combat engineer and a trio of combat drones. All are outfitted in medium armour and the non-techies have assault rifles.

For our own assets, we have a drop shuttle, two Mantis gunships and our frigate is atmosphere-capable if required.

My character is a former Alliance Systems marine who used to be a squad leader, and it's his job on missions with extended fire support to act as unit commander. There are also four other PCs; a biotic specialist, a vanguard/close combat specialist, a medic/heavy weapons trooper and an engineer/scout-marksman.

We might deploy into hostile environments where the people who own the place don't want us there. Or have to fight off other teams looking for the same information as us.

So how do I go about organising these people? What are some standard small-unit tactics that work well with those sorts of numbers?

2012-10-12, 08:55 AM
One thing I would recommend is splitting up. One team being the PCs, the other one the mercenaries. Now that I think of it, like on Vermire with the Salarians. :smallbiggrin:
Don't roll any dice for what happens with the other team, just have them on the radio with the commander to confirm they finished their objectves or ask for distractions, and stuff like that.

I don't really assume sci-fi tactics to have any actual real world applications, but it seems kind of plausible to have one tough guy in the front and someone else following some distance behind, to give a warning and fire support if someone sneaks up on his buddy from behind. That way he gets eyes on the back of his head. That's obviously a job for the scout. He can also check for booby traps and cameras, and all such stuff, while always having the Heavy close by to provide firepower when it's needed.

If you're on a spaceship or a small station, never use explosives. Best stick to shotguns, they won't rip holes into most walls.
In tight quarters, use short weapons. When you have your gun aimed and you can't turn around without pulling the gun up, your gun is too big for the situation. So shotguns and submachine guns. Most real world submachine guns also use ammo that is not exceptionally penetrating, because of the reducred risk of accidently shoting through walls. If the enemies are armored, which in mass effect is almost always the case, special armor piercing ammunition is used, which does go through walls, but still much less so than using a full size assault rifle.

Supressors also would be a good idea because gun noise gets incredibly loud when it echos off the walls of tight corridors. It will still be very loud noise, but you won't get deaf so fast. Though mass effect guns aren't really that loud, so that probably can be ignored.

Also, have pre-arranged responses for situations that can reasonably be expected to happen. So when it happens, everyone knows what to do and you don't have to come up with plans and argue about them in the middle of a firefight. Something like a sign or code word that tells the biotic to throw an area effect above cover used by the enemy, and then has the vanguard rush in to finish them off. And it's also a warning to everyone else that the vanguard is about to charge off at exactly that spot, so they don't accidentally hit him with something.

Knowing what the rest of the team is doing is the key. The biotic shouldn't just throw area effects and debuffs at random, but it should always been done in cooperation with other team members who use that opportunity. "When I do X, then you should do Y." And that of course means first checking with the partner that he is ready to do Y before you do X.
It's not neccessary that every player understands the mechanics of all the classes, but they should know what it means for their characters. If the biotic player tells the vanguard player that he has a power that makes an enemy easier to charge club to death, that's good enough for the vanguard. He doesn't need to know how that power changes armor or damage rolls, that will be taken care of by the GM.