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Rasumichin
Recently, somewhere on this forum, the question came up wether security personell is still advised to "shoot the mage first", as was the case since SR2's Awakenings came out.

I'm not certain wether this doctrine appears anywhere within SR4, but it certainly is prevalent in the minds of many GMs who suppose it to be a choice for sec-guards both plausible from an ingame perspective and strategically feasible on the mechanic side.

I must admit that, after reading Awakenings back in the mid-90s, i found the whole concept to just make sense.
"Yeah, guards would act like that", i thought, "and it would make fights more challenging for the group".

Recently, though, i am more and more coming to the point of discarding the whole concept, at least from a mechanics-inspired metagamey point of view.

While within the setting, many possible opponents -those whose knowledge of magic is derived from watching Karl Combatmage- might actually fall for it, any opposition with serious training, all enemies able to keep a level head in a fight against a runner team, might actually not decide to target the spellcaster first.

See, in other RPGs, those where magical healing is something happening on the instant, not taking time to be upheld until it comes into effect, the most feasible choice would be to take out the healer first.
Otherwise, he will be able to foil or at least seriously hinder any attempt to eleminate other teammembers by instantly healing the damage done to them, buying his team the time to hack the opposition into pieces.
So, in D&D, the best advice for a group of enemies would be to go for the cleric.
Or, in RPGs such as DSA/TDE, where healing is also the mage's job, actually shooting -or slashing, or rending, or whatever- the mage first actually is the way to go.

In SR, the mage usually also functions as the group's healer, but will rarely be able to do so in mid-combat, as heal spells have to build up over several rounds.
Shooting the mage can also lead to one or more spirits going free, with completely unforeseeable consequences best dealt with under more controlled conditions.

So, if we do not target the mage, the next logical choice would be to target the group member with the highest damage output, as without the hindering factor of instant healing, he would pose the greatest threat.
And with a sufficiently optimized sam or with a well-prepared drone rigger, i have doubts that this group member will be the mage.

Another aspect to be taken into consideration is the importance of initiative in SR combat.
Would it be the most feasible option to shoot the party member first who...well, shot first?

These are just some ideas i speculated about during the last days.
What is your opinion on the issue?
Of course, there will be situations where one will not be able to apply textbook tactics for a group of sec-guards.
Where greatly varying, situational aspects mandate a certain mode of operation.

But in general, is there a reason to stick to the old motto of shooting the mage first?
Or do we have to replace it with another modus operandi?
Dancer
There are two reasons to "Geek the mage!", both of which are applicable to both SR and D&D.

First of all, mages tend to be relatively fragile compared to combat cyborgs. So an investment of a given amount of firepower will have a greater return when directed against the wizard than against the ork with only 10% of his original parts.

Secondly, given a moment to act mages can change the tactical situation drastically. They might summon a powerful spirit, or turn everyone invisible so they can escape, or just bring up an armor spell so they'll be much harder to shoot next round. You shoot them now because you can shoot them now - next round you've been possessed by a Loa or you bullets are bouncing off him or you don't know where to shoot. The gunbunny isn't changing the situation to his advantage, focusing instead on killing people - he won't be any harder to take down in 2 rounds than he would be now.
masterofm
It's called geeking the mage, and yes you pretty much always target and kill the mage 1st. Many if not most mages have a heal spell, which means although when they cast it they can no longer do any type of normal healing (baring extended care) on the wound inflicted it is pretty much done in a flash in SR4.

The mage is also the X factor. You don't know how powerful he/she is or how many spirits he/she has at his/her beck and call. Mages can throw down some serious destruction. Mages can have sustaining spells on other members of the party (buffs) that make them more badassed, or they can have sustaining spell foci and become a walking tank, or harder to hit, or you name it. Some mages have debuffs to an area, or can reduce your magic stat down to nothing. Some of the crazy spells are basically resisted with just willpower, others (like mana static) have no resistances at all, and if you have counterspelling you might be a little more fortunate in most areas, but it still might not be enough.

A mage at times can pull out 6 force 6 spirits that can throw down spells of their own. It adds up to insane hurt.

You kill or knock out the mage first, because you never know what kind of hurt they can bring. A sammie, or a rigger brings to the table an expected amount of pain, but a mage at times can bring it much harder then you could ever expect sometimes.
Fleinhoy
Besides, that early in a fight, how will the various parties know who has the highest "damage output" as you name it? They'll have had very little time to assess the situation before the time comes to decide who to put down first.

The mage is also likely to be the person dealing the most initial visible damage: a grenade needs preparation to throw, guns need to be drawn and aimed, the mage can cast his spells as quick as he can either think or waggle his fingers a bit, line of sight is his aiming device.
Drogos
Yeah the mage's ability to change the battlefield so drastically in the course of one pass means geeking them first. With spells as strong as Mana/Stunbolt/ball, Control Actions/Thoughts, Physical Barrier, etc. (I was just adding to those already mentioned). So geek the mage, yeah.
xsansara
Shoot the mage first, because he is most valuable and most fragile. Plus, if you happen to kill the mage your mage doesn't have to deal with this nasty countermagic. Same goes for Riggers with drones. They just tend to be easy targets.

Other than that: focus fire and biggest weapon first, fast characters next, techie and face last



Sir_Psycho
Don't forget, if the sec-team has a mage (which they should for game balance purposes) then geeking the mage negates the team's resistance to spellcasting. If the sam puts a bullet through the mage, then that mage's team loses half their spell resistance.

Also, you'd rather have a spirit uncontrolled then focusing on engulfing you.

And any magician who's putting himself in a combat situation is either a cyber-mage with initiative enhancement, or has an initiative enhancing spell cast and possibly sustained, so he's probably just as fast as the samurai.

Not to mention that if there is a samurai with an assault cannon coming at you, you shoot him first. Unfortunately, through overcasting, a mage has special eye assault cannons. Maybe he's just a healing mage, but I wouldn't take the chance.
masterofm
Player phase - IP 1 everyone shoots the cyber monkey and he ends up getting pretty hurt but probably ends up dodging or soaking most of it.
Enemy phase - IP 1 mage uses simple action and now has six force six spirits out and wailing on whoever they damn well feel like.
Player phase - IP 2 whoever is left standing is still shooting the cyber monkey and may or may not kill him.
Enemy phase - IP 2 spirits proceed to shred the hell out of whatever is left of the team.
Player phase - IP 3 You can't take it because you probably didn't survive IP 2.
Enemy phase - IP 3 the mage takes a sip of coffee.

Feel free to substitute the player phase for the enemy phase. It's pretty much all the same. To put things even more in perspective we didn't play out the tactic of geek the mage on our most recent escapade against a force 6 possession mage. Every single IP I could tell our GM had to hold back from bringing the big guns that the mage had.... or else it would have gone soooooo badly. If the GM hadn't pulled his punches we would have had at least 1 dead mage with a possibility of 2 (yes 2 considering the mage was not the only threat,) and one of the party captured. The last remaining party member in the scene would have quietly tried to exit stage left and would probably would have succeed. The situation is long and complicated on the reasoning why we didn't try and obliterate the mage outright, but the second mage broke down and finally overcast a force 12 stunbolt to KO the other mage. It just makes geeking the mage all the more obvious when you put it all into practice.
ElFenrir
QUOTE
Shoot the mage first, because he is most valuable and most fragile.


Most valuable? Yes. Most fragile? See, this is why I like using ork and troll mages in heavy armor. Heh. Time and time and TIME again...the PCs, even KNOWING that any race can...and does...have mages....ALWAYS think the orks and trolls the ones who won't be. Even though they PLAY ork and troll mages and have been proven wrong many times. I just don't get it. grinbig.gif

masterofm
Troll mages with a high body that specialize in overcasting spells are pretty vicious.
Ryu
Survival strategies on the part of the guards suggest to kill any summoners. You would run if you could, but spirits can not be contained by simple walls.

Equally important would be to kill the hacker, so that all technical security measures keep their value. Else the human element will have to deal with the whole threat.

Pure samurai are a reason to disengage and try again at a later time, unless you are talking the FRT dealing the final blow. Their job definition is removing guards from the equation. Security personell does not like that.

So yes, killing the mage first would be a good idea, if you intend to run afterwards. If you want to fight, drone spiders followed by samurai should have higher priorites. The mage MIGHT be dangerous as hell, the samurai with an LMG IS.
Blade
Geek everyone first!
High Initiative+Grenades are all you need!
Rasumichin
Couple of excelent points made here.

Let's take a closer look at some of the suggestions :

-battlefield control
Admittedly crucial to winning most fights.
Questionable here is wether in your typical SR scenario, the hacker isn't more important.
Basically, the hacker negates the corp's advantage of fighting on its own turf, even worse, turning your own turf into the runners'.
Not to mention other possibilities such as drone networks, hacking enemy equipment, preventing the hacking of the runners' equipment and so on.

What does a runner team do when it's stuck in a high security facility without a hacker, with the opposition controlling doors, lighting, surveilance cameras and drone networks?



-vulnerability of mages
Usually, soaking capability will be higher for sams, agreed.
But hackers and especially TMs might be forced to deprioritize both evasion and armour to a similiar degree as mages (that is, favourably not more than necessary- which will still pale in comparison to the amount of damage a sam can handle).
Of course, there might be exceptions, especially among hackers.


-counterspelling
A strong point for geeking the mage first.
I'd add that absence of a mage also greatly decreases the chances in fights with spirits.
One more point against the mage.
Certainly better to send in valuable magical backup after the enemy mage is geeked.
Which would unfortunately leave the team without counterspelling dice- however, one can work around this problem to some degree as long as there is a possibility to leave the own mage within line of sight, but out of the line of fire- which might be near impossible in some situations.
Or very easy, if the building comes equipped with one of those fibreoptic systems (one more reason to stock up on lasers).


-direct damage
Yeah, mana/stunbolts/balls are nasty.
Especially as it is a lot easier to come up with efficient protection against mundane attacks.

However, sams deal damage a lot faster, even if both the mage and the sam happen to have the same Initiative.
While the mage needs a complex action to drop one opponent with a bolt, the sam can shoot his sniper or assault rifle (or semi-automatic assault canon or whatever) twice.
Or, if sufficiently maxed out, can lay down a barrage from his LMG that takes out two enemies and seriously wounds a third one.

Yes, there's spells with area effects.
There's also semiautomatic airburst grenade launchers.
Once more, the sam shoots twice, the mage once.

Yes, the mage's damage is harder to soak, but the sam might have a higher damage code and DP to begin with, at least if he was twinked correctly
It's not that hard to bring AGI and a firearms skill to or at least one die below the augmented max.
Magic and Spellcasting DPs will, given the same amount of twinkage, almost certainly be lower at the start of the game, as will the spell's starting damage code in comparison to the sam's main gun.

This might change after a lot of karma, of course.
But it will take some time before the mage's body count surpasses that of the sam.
Frankly, direct damage to me alsways was a good reason to ditch the mage's Pistols or Automatics skill, but it was always a secondary consideration after using spirits, mind control spells and so on.


Still, at this point, i'd say the geek first list would read hacker/rigger/TM>mage>sam>face.
Control the terrain, destroy astral defenses, than take care of the rest.
Drogos
Or the team on the ground is relying on their own hacker/spider/IC to keep their matrix assets safe. Any facility that has a full security detail and wireless controls is most likely going to have at least a couple layers of IC to tie up any intrusion, at least to my mind. Of course, it's not a bad idea to drop the hacker either. Really, drop them all and let the janitor sort them out.
Sir_Psycho
Hackers don't even come into it. An AR hacker isn't nearly fast enough to do anything worthwhile to you in 1 IP. Hacking on the fly takes hours half an hour at best. The mage or sam/adept are your immediate problems.
CanRay
First rule of Combat: Geek the Magician.

Second rule of Combat: Geek the big ork with the big gun.

Third rule of Combat: If you're a big ork with a big gun, get a Magician Buddy to come with you into combat.

nyahnyah.gif
ElFenrir
QUOTE
Still, at this point, i'd say the geek first list would read hacker/rigger/TM>mage>sam>face.


This is exactly what inspired me to build my combat-face hybrid. The prettyboy elf isn't even looked at until he snaps half of the opposition's necks.

While the ''Kill Order'' is oftentimes debated between hacker/TM-Mage-Sam-Adept, the Face is ALWAYS at the end. Faces end up liabilities far more often than other team members for some reason...when they are by far, IMO, the easiest archetype to ''hybrid''.

Combat Faces make wonderful team members for this very reason.

Really, the best rule of Shadowrun is ''expect anything''.

Other rules:

Never let the prettyboy stand in the corner unattended. To quote Homer Simpson in the famous Mafia vs. Yakuza scene ''But Marge, that little guy's going to do something!'' Never let the guy ''just standing there'' do that, because chances are, he might just do something.

Yes, there is a decent chance the ork or troll with no gun IS a mage. People like their ork and troll mages.

The ''kill lists'' are good rules of thumb...but in a game where you can hybrid anything with anything just about(save technos...who have a bit of issues hybriding), you really never know.



Ryu
QUOTE (Sir_Psycho @ Jul 31 2008, 05:49 PM) *
An AR hacker isn't nearly fast enough to do anything worthwhile to you in 1 IP.


You undervalue spoofing, and giving commands to previously hacked nodes.
Rasumichin
QUOTE (Sir_Psycho @ Jul 31 2008, 04:49 PM) *
Hackers don't even come into it. An AR hacker isn't nearly fast enough to do anything worthwhile to you in 1 IP. Hacking on the fly takes hours half an hour at best.


Yes.
Which is why it is, if possible at all, done before physical entry, if the runner team is taking preparation seriously.
Which it absolutely should if entering a high-security corporate research facility.
Which might just mean that the geek in the electric wheelchair might have a fake admin account for your workplace's security system and can tell your LMG-equipped steel lynx guard drones that you are the intruder.
Should take about 1 IP.
As should locking you as a target for his own cadre of steel lynx combat drones...
Note that i am subsuming riggers and hackers under the same label, as it is usually done in SR4.

Of course, hacker threat depends on the situation.
If the hacker is locked in cybercombat and can't do anything in meatspace, geeking him won't be a high priority.
In such cases, one should be more concerned with physical and astral threats, of course.


@ ElFenrir : Actually, reading the responses to this thread made me think of a team that is composed entirely of members who look completely harmless except for all carrying an assault rifle and -on top of that- all look the same due to nanopaste disguise.
To mix things up even more, they could all constantly go hiding behind the nearest corner, changing positions to make it unrecognizable which team member is the sam, hacker, mage etc.
sunnyside
Also the Geek the mage first philosophy results in focused fire, which can be a good thing. Goons and drones are probably only throwing 7 die when they attack. Various modifiers can whittle that down fast too.

But by firing at one target they whittle down their dodging pool and shots start hitting home.

Anyway yeah. Geek the mage first!


Muspellsheimr
QUOTE (Sir_Psycho @ Jul 31 2008, 09:49 AM) *
Hackers don't even come into it. An AR hacker isn't nearly fast enough to do anything worthwhile to you in 1 IP. Hacking on the fly takes hours half an hour at best. The mage or sam/adept are your immediate problems.

Hacking on the fly is measured in Complex Actions. In the span of one Combat Turn or less, a skilled hacker can completely fuck up the opposing teams communications, quite possibly smartlinks, and if they are stupid, their cyber. They can also do so before said opposing team arrives.

Mages, on the other hand, have at least equal damage output as a samurai against armored opponents. Sure the samurai gets to attack twice. They get to soak damage twice. Oh, the mage just multicast a pair of Stunballs & dropped all the opposition not behind cover, and half those that were...

When the mage hits at least as hard as the samurai's heavy weapons, with no test to stage down the damage, & is indeed capable of throwing 2 or 3 spells a round (with minimal penalties if using specializations & foci), s/he is the most dangerous opponent around - not counting the versatility. Also take into account that typically, the mage is going to take much more damage than the samurai from gunfire...
Tarantula
QUOTE (Rasumichin @ Jul 31 2008, 07:35 AM) *
Couple of excelent points made here.

Let's take a closer look at some of the suggestions :

-battlefield control
Admittedly crucial to winning most fights.
Questionable here is wether in your typical SR scenario, the hacker isn't more important.
Basically, the hacker negates the corp's advantage of fighting on its own turf, even worse, turning your own turf into the runners'.
Not to mention other possibilities such as drone networks, hacking enemy equipment, preventing the hacking of the runners' equipment and so on.

What does a runner team do when it's stuck in a high security facility without a hacker, with the opposition controlling doors, lighting, surveilance cameras and drone networks?

Hacker is not nearly as important. I don't even know what you have going on in your head that a hacker is doing, but it'd take far far far longer than geeking the mage would to be a threat.

What does the runner team do? Keep the flare comp on, use low-light/thermo, and keep slaughtering all your sec guards.



QUOTE (Rasumichin @ Jul 31 2008, 07:35 AM) *
-vulnerability of mages
Usually, soaking capability will be higher for sams, agreed.
But hackers and especially TMs might be forced to deprioritize both evasion and armour to a similiar degree as mages (that is, favourably not more than necessary- which will still pale in comparison to the amount of damage a sam can handle).
Of course, there might be exceptions, especially among hackers.

Armor is pretty easy to beef up. Hackers and TM are actually more likely to be hidden away in one of the horseman type vehicles if they're overly fragile. Good luck blowing that up.


QUOTE (Rasumichin @ Jul 31 2008, 07:35 AM) *
-counterspelling
A strong point for geeking the mage first.
I'd add that absence of a mage also greatly decreases the chances in fights with spirits.
One more point against the mage.
Certainly better to send in valuable magical backup after the enemy mage is geeked.
Which would unfortunately leave the team without counterspelling dice- however, one can work around this problem to some degree as long as there is a possibility to leave the own mage within line of sight, but out of the line of fire- which might be near impossible in some situations.
Or very easy, if the building comes equipped with one of those fibreoptic systems (one more reason to stock up on lasers).

Fibreoptics give mages penalties, they're rather pathetic really.
Counterspelling is the reason to geek the mage first, their mage dies, your mage owns. Fairly simple.


QUOTE (Rasumichin @ Jul 31 2008, 07:35 AM) *
-direct damage
Yeah, mana/stunbolts/balls are nasty.
Especially as it is a lot easier to come up with efficient protection against mundane attacks.

However, sams deal damage a lot faster, even if both the mage and the sam happen to have the same Initiative.
While the mage needs a complex action to drop one opponent with a bolt, the sam can shoot his sniper or assault rifle (or semi-automatic assault canon or whatever) twice.
Or, if sufficiently maxed out, can lay down a barrage from his LMG that takes out two enemies and seriously wounds a third one.

No, sams don't. Mage needs a complex action to cast his spells. Say, 6 spellcasting, + 6 magic, + 2 mentor, +4 focus = 18 dice. Split that between 3 spells, 6 dice a spell, average 2 hits. Most mooks will be lucky do get 1 hit on their willpower tests and suck the force +1 damage from the bolts.

QUOTE (Rasumichin @ Jul 31 2008, 07:35 AM) *
Yes, there's spells with area effects.
There's also semiautomatic airburst grenade launchers.
Once more, the sam shoots twice, the mage once.

Mage can shoot up to his dice pool in sorcery, it just doesn't work as good. Mages still have more power than sams, you seem for have forgotten about multiple spells at once.

QUOTE (Rasumichin @ Jul 31 2008, 07:35 AM) *
Yes, the mage's damage is harder to soak, but the sam might have a higher damage code and DP to begin with, at least if he was twinked correctly
It's not that hard to bring AGI and a firearms skill to or at least one die below the augmented max.
Magic and Spellcasting DPs will, given the same amount of twinkage, almost certainly be lower at the start of the game, as will the spell's starting damage code in comparison to the sam's main gun.

Sam does not have more damage. Force 6 + 6 net hits = 12 damage you take. Period. Sam gets 7P (i think off memory) for assault rifles, plus net hits (possibly more, but dodge pools are considerably higher too). Mages win for damage also.

QUOTE (Rasumichin @ Jul 31 2008, 07:35 AM) *
This might change after a lot of karma, of course.
But it will take some time before the mage's body count surpasses that of the sam.
Frankly, direct damage to me alsways was a good reason to ditch the mage's Pistols or Automatics skill, but it was always a secondary consideration after using spirits, mind control spells and so on.

Spirits are nasty, but take time. Mage direct damage is scary, hurts, and most mages have it, which is why you geek them first. Mages geek sammies first, why? Cause sammies love to use willpower as their dump stat.

QUOTE (Rasumichin @ Jul 31 2008, 07:35 AM) *
Still, at this point, i'd say the geek first list would read hacker/rigger/TM>mage>sam>face.
Control the terrain, destroy astral defenses, than take care of the rest.

nezumi
Geeking the rigger first is definitely best if you can manage it. Unfortunately, in most scenarios, if you can manage it, he's actually the decker. A rigger not safely in his battle wagon directing his drones is useless.

From a strategy perspective, it may be best actually to defeat the electronics expert or the decker. In a secure facility, this will eliminate the group's maneuverability (they can't get past locked doors) and advanced intelligence. It's a poor tactic, but an excellen strategy.

Also worth mentioning, wound modifiers mean you don't generally need to kill characters. A serious wound or, better still, mod wound/mod stun will greatly reduce their combat effectiveness. My NPCs generally get people to Serious wounds then ignore them, as they are no longer seriously contributing to the battle (contrast that to D&D). The exception is hermetic mages, who can still call up and order around elementals regardless as to wound modifiers. The hermetic mage must DIE.
Moon-Hawk
It's also worth mentioning that the whole geek-the-mage-first strategy assumes you can correctly identify the mage. It's not as if, of the five guys you're fighting, four of them are wearing plate mail and carrying swords and the fifth guy has a robe, magic wand, and a pointy hat with little silver stars on it. Often, if you're fighting security, of the five guys you're fighting all five of them are wearing security armor, helmets, and carrying SMG's, and you're pretty sure that someone, probably one of them, cast a spell. Of course, if it's the runners you're fighting it seems like more often than not there is one member of the team with feathers and other animal parts tied to his jacket dancing around and chanting, which does simplify the task of identifying the mage somewhat. Assuming it isn't a bluff.
Muspellsheimr
QUOTE (Tarantula @ Jul 31 2008, 11:54 AM) *
No, sams don't. Mage needs a complex action to cast his spells. Say, 6 spellcasting, + 6 magic, + 2 mentor, +4 focus = 18 dice. Split that between 3 spells, 6 dice a spell, average 2 hits. Most mooks will be lucky do get 1 hit on their willpower tests and suck the force +1 damage from the bolts.

[(6+6) 3] + 4 + 2 = 10 Dice per spell. You add modifiers after splitting.

QUOTE
Sam does not have more damage. Force 6 + 6 net hits = 12 damage you take. Period. Sam gets 7P (i think off memory) for assault rifles, plus net hits (possibly more, but dodge pools are considerably higher too). Mages win for damage also.

Force restricts Hits, not Net Hits. Your point still stands, however. 6 + Net Hits damage (Unresisted) vs. 7 + Net Hits damage (Resisted). I will take the former. This is also assuming the mage is not yet pissed enough to overcast.


QUOTE (Moon-Hawk @ Jul 31 2008, 12:12 PM) *
Of course, if it's the runners you're fighting it seems like more often than not there is one member of the team with feathers and other animal parts tied to his jacket dancing around and chanting, which does simplify the task of identifying the mage somewhat. Assuming it isn't a bluff.

Or, in my case, an incredibly beautiful, pissed off gothic woman in a high-quality evening gown without any weapons, in Seattle.
sunnyside
QUOTE (Muspellsheimr @ Jul 31 2008, 02:35 PM) *
Force restricts Hits, not Net Hits. Your point still stands, however. 6 + Net Hits damage (Unresisted) vs. 7 + Net Hits damage (Resisted). I will take the former. This is also assuming the mage is not yet pissed enough to overcast.



Um. Mages cast attack spells like manabolt at force 9 as fairly standard. A good mage will usually manage the drain every time anyway. So you don't really have to get them pissed.

As for knowing who the mage is, that's kind of a moot point.

This isn't an obsession. A sec team isn't going to hold their fire until they figure out who the mage is. The point is if they can tell that's who they'll prefir to shoot at.
Muspellsheimr
Most mages (excluding PC's, because then it just becomes number-crunching), will not overcast unless pressed. Overcasting hurts - even if you do not actually take damage, it is still painful.
Wounded Ronin
ALWAYS kill the mage first. Entirely because of Control Thoughts. Control Thoughts was my single biggest source of stress when I was a GM.
Rasumichin
QUOTE (Tarantula @ Jul 31 2008, 06:54 PM) *
Hacker is not nearly as important. I don't even know what you have going on in your head that a hacker is doing


In a worst case scenario :
Controlling the building's locks, sensors, security drones and other defense mechanisms.
Which means that at least he would be able to control their enemies movements by just locking them in, plus he'd always be aware of where the opposition is located at the moment.
This alone could be a decisive advantage.
If the building is laid out accordingly, he also has control over combat gas systems, armed drones, sentry guns and built-in laser systems (to just use the examples for security installations in the BBB).


All assuming that he managed to hack an admin account beforehand and thereby has control of the entire system.
As i said before, if he doesn't, he'll rank lower on the to-hit list- unless he happens to have brought along half a dozen combat drones.
Which is not that unlikely, given SR4 drone prices.






QUOTE
Fibreoptics give mages penalties, they're rather pathetic really.


Yeah, -3 on spellcasting tests.
One net hit less, that's totally pathetic if you assume 18 DP casters.

Plus, line of sight to provide counterspelling dice is established without getting near the opposition physically.



QUOTE
Sam does not have more damage. Force 6 + 6 net hits = 12 damage you take. Period. Sam gets 7P (i think off memory) for assault rifles, plus net hits (possibly more, but dodge pools are considerably higher too). Mages win for damage also.


They're about on par, if you assume Force 4 foci as standard, while the sam is still packing an assault rifle.
If you're giving the mage a friggin' Force 4 focus, why not provide the sam with equivalent gear like heavy lasers, LMGs or burst-modified sniper rifles?

And -more importantly- if you forget that you are comparing a sam firing twice with either a mage casting only one spell at a time or a mage with a much lower effective DP.
As i don't see where your mage is getting the 6 net hits when he's splitting his DP for multicasting.
If he manages to have a Force 4 focus and mentor boni to combat spells and maxed out spellcasting and magic 6, he would clock in at about 3 net hits with his 10 dice.
If he's not optimized for blasting, but for something another teammember cannot do sufficiently well (like the ever-useful manipulations, or healing, or whatever), he'd better only try that kind of stunt against complete mooks unless he wants to risk his direct damage spells to bounce off the spell resistance test without doing anything but causing drain.
And, unlike the sam, he still has to swallow drain for that kind of crap.



On an unrelated note : if your group delegates dealing damage to the mage, and he's actually -somehow?- better at it, why do you bring a sam along in the first place?


QUOTE
Spirits are nasty, but take time. Mage direct damage is scary, hurts, and most mages have it, which is why you geek them first. Mages geek sammies first, why? Cause sammies love to use willpower as their dump stat.


Their bad if they don't use Logic or Charisma for that, but something that's actually useful in their role.
Wounded Ronin
BTW, Control Thoughts made me so unhappy that the next time I GM if I ever get that chance again I'm going to say that in my game world there's no mind control magic.
Rasumichin
QUOTE (Wounded Ronin @ Jul 31 2008, 08:29 PM) *
BTW, Control Thoughts made me so unhappy that the next time I GM if I ever get that chance again I'm going to say that in my game world there's no mind control magic.


I wouldn't go that far, but i see your point.
Personally, control manipulations are my favourite as a player.
And i wouldn't blame any GM if sec guards try to geek my shaman first for using them, no matter what their manual has to say about it.
Siege
Quick the Mage - a rule derived from practical experience. Snipers have specific kill lists as well, which this thread has touched on - command, commo, heavy weapons, medics and so on, with your rank-and-file grunt being the last threat to waste a bullet on.

The initial SR was very much a Hollywood game - by this I mean professional runners dressed according to the archetype: wizards had fetishes and 'occult' decorations, samurai wore para-military outfits with absurd amounts of weaponry and so on. It made picking out the mage very easy and ultimately essential to party survivability because, as noted, mages are some of the most versatile and therefore unpredictable elements on the battlefield.

For the sheer unpredictability factor, the mage can still wreck the most uncontrollable havoc of any close contact element. Drone riggers might be worse, but they'll be well enough away from the front lines as to be untouchable.

Heavy Weapons fall in close behind as the most destructive, but are limited by ammunition, mobility and options - they only do one thing as determined by the weapon.

Commo can still be a sensitive subject, but with the wealth of easily accessible commo options, you can't isolate a squad by geeking just one person.

Now, if the response comes rolling around the corner in the same black combat suits, identical weapons hanging from three point slings and approximately the same kit load on their backs, you're going to have a harder time picking out the mage until she starts rocking your world.

-Siege
Rasumichin
QUOTE (Siege @ Jul 31 2008, 08:38 PM) *
Now, if the response comes rolling around the corner in the same black combat suits, identical weapons hanging from three point slings and approximately the same kit load on their backs, you're going to have a harder time picking out the mage until she starts rocking your world.


In such cases, the kill list could quickly boil down to "shoot who is not shooting at you".
Kliko
that's just stupid spin.gif
Rasumichin
QUOTE (Kliko @ Jul 31 2008, 08:50 PM) *
that's just stupid spin.gif


Pardon?
Siege
I think he's trying to be funny.

But to answer you - yes, precisely. Which means you might pick the mage first or some nameless schmuck or you might instinctively unload on the hulking figure with the massive gun - you are limited to your immediate visual cues.

-Siege

Edit: for clarity

Edit 2: Which brings us to Murphy's Law of Combat: "Try to look unimportant - the enemy may be low on ammo." grinbig.gif
Stahlseele
QUOTE (Rasumichin @ Jul 31 2008, 04:35 PM) *
What does a runner team do when it's stuck in a high security facility without a hacker, with the opposition controlling doors, lighting, surveilance cameras and drone networks?

nasty grin and:"i love the smell of napalm in the morning and things going boom"
Siege
I think we're starting to drift into the camouflage thread - there's a reason why officers try to look like everyone else in a hot zone and you're not supposed to salute them. grinbig.gif

-Siege
Rasumichin
QUOTE (Siege @ Jul 31 2008, 08:53 PM) *
But to answer you - yes, precisely. Which means you might pick the mage first or some nameless schmuck or you might instinctively unload on the hulking figure with the massive gun - you are limited to your immediate visual cues.


That's one point i'm wondering about- initial, untrained response to an average runner team would, IMHO, be to take down the ork or troll with the gyromounted LMG first, as he'd be most intimidating.
Then, as soon as something whacky and paranormal happens, to desperately try to figure out who the mage is.

Of course, halfway decent personell will be trained to act more controlled in such situations.
When determining how they would most likely be supposed to act, one has IMO to first keep in mind that an average on-site security team would be best advised not to deal with an intruding group of shadowrunners on its own, as they would wipe the floor with them (given that the site is not so extremely high-sec that an entire army is guarding every level).

Instead, trying to lock them within the structure and call for backup would be a better option, right?

So, which team member would be best to prevent the guards from doing that?
The hacker most likely.

But then, i see the problem with the mage's versatility and the chaos this can lead to.
It's not that i outright resent "geek the mage first", but i think it's a rule worth of closer examination and possible exceptions.

And of course, if the situation is not the initial confrontation with a homogeneously looking black ops group that has just come around the corner, but a scenario where more detailed information is available, things might change completely, too.

QUOTE (Stahlseele @ Jul 31 2008, 08:59 PM) *
nasty grin and:"i love the smell of napalm in the morning and things going boom"


Ah, plan A.
CanRay
QUOTE (Siege @ Jul 31 2008, 02:53 PM) *
Edit 2: Which brings us to Murphy's Law of Combat: "Try to look unimportant - the enemy may be low on ammo." grinbig.gif

I still laugh that they actually, honestly teach Murphy's Laws of Combat in Royal Military College in Canada!
nezumi
Again though, you don't need to GEEK the hacker. +3 to all tests is sufficient to make him much less of a nuisance.

It just occured to me that in groups with no mage, the scrawny, uncybered fellow in the back is always going to get shot first. I wonder if he knows why he always gets picked on...
masterofm
Lets break this down then.

Not all facilities can have full access and can't just hacked anywhere you feel like it when you are in a facility. Some security does not broadcast, some is autonomous, other sections win by anti-wifi paint. If the door is autonomous and it's box is anti-wifi painted then it does not matter how hard the hacker tries his magic it won't work. Also more of the high end facility will have tiered structures where the lower level will not grant you the win when it comes to combat. Communications if your hacker is lucky enough to get EW then yeah they could take over the tac channel, but it takes time to find all the correct nodes and work your magic. As a hacker you can't just shut down every single persons smartlink on the 1st IP, or take over every single autonomous drone.

If you kill a rigger it does not mean that suddenly all of his drones won't still unload on you. So that means a rigger can have 6 shots with each drone he brings to the table per combat round and they will throw anywhere between 6 and 12 dice when firing on an enemy. That is assuming that they can fit tons of drones in a hallway an open space is different, but many riggers and hackers (if they can afford to) will be off sight in a mobile bunker of their choosing. Sorry if a hacker is in combat if they go into hotsim they are a sitting duck, if they don't go hotsim well... they are still pretty easy targets with all of their IP's dedicated towards the matrix and matrix combat. In a combat situation the hacker will probably not be hacking at this point, because hacking will fing get you killed.

So lets take the sammie. A fully tricked out bio cyber sammie can have a wicked soak, dodge, and weapons dice pool. In the end though they only have 8 attacks (using firearms) 16 if they split their dicepool on every single shot (the unarmed, bow, throwing, or blade wielding sammie will get half that, but lets deal with guns right now.) However when they fire on an individual that individual can dodge, soak with armor, soak with body, take certain measures to reduce the dicepool when being shot at, and roll edge every single test that is thrown their way if they really want to live (and by raw most mooks get at least 2 edge.)

Now lets take the mage. Lets just make it a force six mage since it seems like most badassed crews with a 4IP sammie will have a force 6 mage on hand. The mage basically drops grenades that have no falloff when it comes to damage, a mage overcasting an AOE spell because he wants to drop your party is quite vicious, if there is no friendly mage on sight during the combat, you don't get to dodge, you don't get counterspelling, and you get willpower for the resist.... The mage has increased reflexes on his persona so he also gets 4 IPs. Lets say he also chooses to split his dice pool so he only gets 8 attacks every combat round. Then lets take into account his spirits and if he was smart they will be equal to his force. That means if a mage splits his dicepool from 12 to 6 and casts 2 force six stunballs that means the mage will probably only get 2 hits, which you just have to suck it with will. Most mooks will have 2-3 willpower which means that they on average will get 1 freekin' hit each time.... maybe 2 if they edge, but even then the odds are not with them. So the mage has just busted out with 12 stun to every single target he can see in a very large area. That hurts when the mage can bring 12 stun an IP to whoever he feels like. Then he also brings in his spirit friends. Who also get to bring the pain. If the mage splits his 12 dicepool and gets 8 attacks and the spirits just attack on the mundane, granted they only get 2 IPs but that is 12 attacks those spirits are bringing! 12! And for many spells spirits cast they get 12 dice to cast it. In the end although your cyber monkey has brought 16 attacks when the mage only needs 4 spirits to bring the same amount of attacks down on the enemy. A force six mage might not just have force 6 spirits either... they can always try to summon and bind higher force spirits (at their own risk of course.)

Just based on attacks per combat round the rigger would need three drones (four would probably make up for their dicepool,) the sammie just brings him/herself, and the mage + 4 spirits... and if the mage has more so help you. You kill the mage. You always kill the mage. That is only dealing with straight up combat. If a mage just wants to mind control everyone and have all the mooks take off their helmet, shoot themselves in the face point blank twice they could just overcast an AOE mind control, use edge and effectively deal with every single exposed security personnel.

You kill the mage for this one most important reason. You know what the hacker will do, you know what the sammie will do, you know what the rigger will do, you know pretty much what the face will do (for the most part.) A mage on the other hand is filled with WTF. You have no idea what spells he will bring to the table, you have no idea what kind of pain they can bring, spirits they have, buffs they can use, or spells that completely kill the effectiveness of your crew. Fear the unknown because the mage is straight up filled with it.
Rasumichin
Yeah, alright, you got me.
I'm convinced.
Still, it was interesting to test this idea.
Siege
QUOTE (CanRay @ Jul 31 2008, 08:28 PM) *
I still laugh that they actually, honestly teach Murphy's Laws of Combat in Royal Military College in Canada!


They absolutely should - combat and by extension all military operations have a huge amount of moving parts and a lot of details can be lost in a 'high op tempo.'

Murphy's Laws, while funny, are also very real and direct truisms that should be drilled into every Soldier, combat or not.

Hell, even civilians can learn something from snippets of wisdom like "don't draw fire; it tends to irritate those around you" and "teamwork is essential - it gives the enemy someone else to shoot at."

-Siege

Edit 1: If it makes you feel any better, call it "Soldiers' Wisdom". grinbig.gif
masterofm
Very true. When you put it all to the test in a combat situation it makes a lot more sense, and the party I have run with has experienced this first hand in geeking the mage right off the bat or waiting for a few IPs. It's always less pain if the mage gets dropped.
nezumi
QUOTE (masterofm @ Jul 31 2008, 04:12 PM) *
Lets break this down then.

Not all facilities can have full access and can't just hacked anywhere you feel like it when you are in a facility. .. As a hacker you can't just shut down every single persons smartlink on the 1st IP, or take over every single autonomous drone.


If you are saying that in some cases it's not appropriate to shoot the decker first, you are correct. But in some it is. The guards, presumably, would know their facility and may have been trained to aim for particularly dangerous people first.

QUOTE
If you kill a rigger it does not mean that suddenly all of his drones won't still unload on you.


I would rather face a drone with pilot 2 than a drone with gunnery 6 + rigging pool 6 + combat pool 6 + ...

However, otherwise your point stands.
Siege
Which again leads to the issue of trying to identify the decker from the five or six black-shrouded figures charging you.

One could assume the big troll hauling the minigun isn't, but you know what they say about assumptions. grinbig.gif

-Siege
sunnyside
Decker would actually be harder to spot since they don't start glowing and yelling and such as mages do when casting higher force spells.
Snow_Fox
Just to add to the hoot-nanny
geek the mage first? oh yeah.
While you can predict what the big cybered monster with the HMG is going to do, the mage is unpredictable. What spells does he have? combat, illusion, manipulation and screw your plans six ways to sunday in a single round.
Remove the mage and you remove the elements of unpredictability.

If you team has a spell slinger, removing the other sides mage removes their ability to resist your own mage's screwing with them.

So of course the idea is to protect your mage while geeking theirs. Since I'm usually the spell slinger you learn to look like something else.
masterofm
I was always under the impression that if a hacker was found out and the security hacker got kicked out of his own system that security hacker would just shut the system down and reboot into closed system specs making the invading hacker much less useful. Like a rigger might issue the command to his drones to save them from being taken over.
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