It’s the big one, people. Ever since the PDF rules were posted on the AMG website there has been some confusion amongst some players as to just how cover and line of sight (henceforth to be sporadically referred to as LOS) work in Crisis Protocol. The way that cover and LOS have been designed in the framework of the game can sometimes seem unintuitive and allows for some seemingly strange situations where a character at ground level can punch another character on a roof 4 stories up, but can’t be hit back.
For those who come from a skirkmish/wargaming background it may take quite a bit of mental conditioning to get into the right frame of mind to work under the umbrella of the MCP core rules and get out of the habit of crouching down to see how much of your mini is poking out from around the corner of that crate.
To start off this discussion it would be a good idea to talk briefly how cover and LOS work in MCP, and how this differs from other miniature games. In MCP line of sight and cover are 2 distinctly separate things – LOS determines whether one character can see another character or object, and cover determines whether a character gets to modify their dice when defending an attack. The blocking of LOS and the gaining of cover are very much centred around character and terrain size, both of which are definite values determined prior to the commencement of a game. Terrain sizes from official AMG terrain are set, as are character sizes (see the character stat card), and unofficial terrain sizes are agreed upon by players prior to commencing the game. Sizes are not based upon the actual physical size of the character and/or terrain, but these set values. How this differs from other miniature games is that in other games LOS and cover are very much tied together and are centred around the actual physical size of the terrain and/or character. To determine LOS and cover in some other games can involve lots of crouching to see whether your miniature can actually “see” any part of the target miniature through or around a piece of terrain.
With that being said, let’s now take a look at how LOS and cover are defined in the MCP rules and then look at some in-game examples of how these rules are applied. As we discuss, bear in mind that there are no jaunty angles or verticality (?) within the MCP ruleset. Everything is measured horizontally, including the lines drawn for LOS. Effectively, everything takes place on a 2-dimensional plane, regardless of where characters are on the battlefield vertically speaking.
LINE OF SIGHT
The rules state that “a character has LOS to another character or an object if a straight, unobstructed line can be drawn from any part of the characters base to the other characters base or the object.” Fair enough, if you can draw a straight, unobstructed line from one part of a characters base to another part of a characters base then you have LOS. This is as per many other miniature games. In the below example we see M.O.D.O.K and Killmonger. A straight, unobstructed line can be drawn between their bases and so they have LOS to each other.
There is more though – “the line can pass unobstructed through characters but not through terrain features with a larger size than the other character or object.” The first thing to take away from this sentence is that neither enemy nor allied characters block LOS. In the example below we can see an allied Iron Man and Black Widow, with an enemy Ultron between them. Iron Man and Black Widow are both size 2, and Ultron is size 3. Even though Ultron is larger in size than the other two characters, all characters in this example have LOS to each other because characters do not block LOS.
The second thing to take away from the above quote is that the LOS line cannot pass through terrain features with a larger size than the other character or object. The key to determining LOS when attacking through a terrain feature is the size of the terrain being attacked through, and the size of the character being attacked not the size of the character doing the attacking. In the below example we have Black Widow and Ultron again. Black Widow wants to attack Ultron, but there is a piece of size 2 terrain between them. The question is, does she have LOS to Ultron? The answer is yes because the terrain is size 2 but Ultron is size 3. To block LOS the terrain between them needs to be larger than the target character, so the blocking terrain would need to be at least size 4 to stop Black Widow having LOS to Ultron.
Just to get that into our heads let’s setup another example. Here we have Hulk and he is trying to determine whether he has LOS to Red Skull. Hulk is size 4 and Red Skull is size 2, and between them there is a piece of size 3 terrain – does Hulk have LOS to Red Skull? No. Why? Because the terrain between the two characters is larger than the target character – Red Skull is size 2 and the terrain is size 3 and so Hulk cannot draw LOS to Red Skull.
But now let’s flip this example and say that Red Skull is wanting to draw LOS to Hulk, can he do it? Yes! Why? Because the terrain between them is not larger than the target character. Hulk is the target and he is size 4, the terrain is size 3, and so the terrain does not block LOS from Red Skull to Hulk.
But, again, there is more. The rules also state that “if a character is on top of a terrain feature, add the size of the character and the size of the terrain together for the purpose of determining LOS.” In the below example we can see Captain America stood proudly atop a piece of size 3 terrain, so based on the above what size is he for the purposes of determining LOS? He is size 2 and the terrain he is stood atop is size 3, so for the purposes of determining LOS he is size 5.
Spider-Man is trying to draw LOS to Captain America, but between them is a piece of size 4 terrain. Does Spider-Man have LOS to Captain America? Yes. Why? As we discussed earlier, for terrain between two characters to block line of sight it needs to be larger than the target character. As Captain America is size 2 and he is atop a piece of size 3 terrain, for the purposes of determining LOS he is size 5. The terrain between Spider-Man and Captain America is size 4 and so Spider-Man has LOS to Captain America.
Now, the rules also state that “a character on top of a terrain feature ignores that terrain feature when determining if it has LOS to another character or object.” In the above example, were the Quinjet not on the board would Captain America have LOS to Spider-Man? yes, because Captain America ignores the terrain which he is on and there is no other terrain between them
But let’s say that the Quinjet is in place as per the picture above. We have Captain America on top of a size 3 piece of terrain and he is trying to draw LOS to Spider-Man through a piece of size 4 terrain. Does Captain America have LOS to Spider-Man? No. Why? Although Captain America is size 2 (we ignore the terrain feature that he is on as we are determining LOS from him to another character), LOS is dependent on the size of the terrain between the two characters being larger than that of the target character. Spider-Man is size 2 and the terrain feature between Captain America is size 4 and so Captain America cannot draw LOS to Spider-Man.
With that hearty discussion out of the way, let’s talk cover.
The rules state that for a character to have cover three conditions must all be met. These are:
- The defending character must be within range 1 of a terrain feature of the same size or larger;
- A straight line can be drawn from any portion of the attackers base to any portion of the defenders base through that terrain feature; and,
- The attacker is not within range 2 of the defender.
If all three of these conditions are met then the defending character has cover, and this means that during the modify dice step of an attack a character who benefits from cover may change the result of one defence die to a block.
In the below example, Captain Marvel is defending an attack from Baron Zemo, and between them is a size 2 terrain feature. Does Captain Marvel have cover? Yes. Why? Captain Marvel is within range 1 of a terrain feature of the same size or larger size larger than she is, a straight line from Baron Zemo’s base to Captain Marvel’s base can be drawn through that terrain feature, and Baron Zemo is attacking from outside of range 2.
Let’s have another example. In this one, Crossbones is attacking Black Panther and there is a piece of size 1 terrain between them. Does Black Panther benefit from cover in this example? No. Why? Although the attack is occurring from outside of range 2, a straight line can be drawn between the two characters bases through a terrain feature, and Black Panther is within range 1 of a terrain feature, the terrain feature is not the same size or larger than Black Panther, and so Black Panther does not benefit from cover.
At the moment there is one other way to gain cover, and that is with M.O.D.O.K’s Psychic Fortress team tactics card. This card provides cover regardless of the 3 requirements for gaining cover from terrain mentioned at the start of this article. I imagine that as the game progresses there will be more ways to gain cover added to the game.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
So, that’s LOS and cover, er, covered. Let’s put that all together into some gameplay scenarios and see if we can determine what happens.
In this example Ultron is on top of a piece of size 3 terrain and is being targeted by Iron Man. Between them is a piece of size 4 terrain. Let’s first determine is Iron Man has LOS to Ultron. Because Ultron is on top of a terrain feature we get to add the terrain feature size to Ultron’s size, making him size 6 for the purposes of determining LOS. A straight line can be drawn from Iron Man’s base to Ultron’s base (on a horizontal plane remember), and this line passes through some size 4 terrain. The terrain is not larger than the defending character (size 6 Ultron) and so Iron Man does indeed have LOS. Now, does Ultron have cover? Yes. Why? Ultron is within range 1 of a terrain feature of the same size or larger (he is standing on it), a straight line between Iron Man and Ultron’s bases can be drawn through that terrain feature, and the attack is occurring from outside of range 2. As such Ultron will get to change one of his defence dice to a block after he rolls.
Let’s flip this example and go the other way, with Ultron wanting to attack Iron Man. Does Ultron have LOS to Iron Man? No. Ultron is a size 3 character, and we ignore the terrain that he is on when determining LOS from him. Iron Man is size 2 and between them is a size 4 piece of terrain. The terrain is larger than the target character and so Ultron does not have LOS. Does Iron Man have cover? Yes. Why? He is within range 1 of a terrain feature which is the same size or larger than him, a straight line can be drawn between the two characters bases and passes through that terrain feature, and the attack is occurring from outside of range 2.
Let’s have another example shall we? In this one Doctor Octopus is wanting to attack Hulk, and between them is a piece of size 3 terrain. Does Doctor Octopus have LOS to Hulk? Yes. Why? A straight line drawn between the two characters bases passes through a terrain feature which is not larger than the target character, a size 4 Hulk. Does Hulk have cover? No. Why? Although the attack is occurring from outside of range 2, Hulk is not within range 1 of a terrain feature of the same size or larger than him through which a straight line can be drawn from his base to Doctor Octopus.
Let’s now flip this one and say that Hulk is wanting to attack Doctor Octopus. Does Hulk have LOS? No. Doctor Octopus is size 2 and the terrain between him and Hulk is size 3. To block LOS the terrain feature would need to be size 3. So, does Doctor Octopus have cover? Yes. Why? He is within range 1 of a terrain feature the same size or larger than he is, a straight line drawn between the bases of the two characters passes through this terrain feature, and the attack is occurring from outside of range 2.
If you have managed to make it this far into this article then well done, I salute thee! I doff my cap and you are welcome to pop to mine for a brew next time you find yourself upon the shores of old Britannia. Hopefully the examples above have been helpful in wrapping your head around these 2 very important rules, and hopefully it will make for less arguing at the gaming table during future skirmishes. The problem now will be getting our heads back into the mindset for regular miniatures games when they next hit the table…
Until next time, farewell and as usual if you have any questions feel free to comment or email.