If there is a true fact about rules updates it is no rules update ever feels like it is ever complete. For early versions this can be an advantage since it means there is still time and space for changes. There are a lot of subtle changes in the March 14th update and some not so subtle ones. The Melee attack options got some work and even some expansion with rules like Crush (for infantry) and Toss (for when you want to move a target but don't want to follow).
Some needed items are as simple as the separation of Split fire from the Burst trait. If the weapon has the Split:X trait you can attack X models with the weapon with one attack option. There is a -1D6 modifier to the secondary targets but it is still a powerful option. Auto cannons with rotating barrels are now in their own category called Rotary Cannons, slightly shorter range but wickedly effective.
Other weapons that have received some attention are the Area Effect weapons. The Blast trait has been separated from the AE trait so some weapons will have a localized but intense blast with a small chance of damage to nearby models while other attacks will feature a smaller but more reliable blast zone. Some AE ranges have increased and IF has been added to weapons like the rocket pod, now capable of raining down explosives in response to Forward Observations. Blast also will always get a chance to damage if the attack check result hits the attackers Gunnery skill target number. If your armor is higher than the penetration rating of the weapon you get the blast resistance trait and only get damage on a 6 so now even a concentrated bombardment of AEs can slowly wear down even the toughest targets.
A lot of attention has been given to the army lists thanks to the dedication of the forum community with some members even building simple data card apps to help the more graphically focused get a handle on the minute of the rules.
the biggest change comes in the application of damage. It's a small but specific rule called marginal hits. What it says is that whenever an attack Penetration rating +margin of success is equal to the target's armor rating you roll 1D6 with a 50/50 chance of a damage point. This is a small but definite increase in the lethality of all weapons.
When reading the army lists you will notice that every model is now clearly defined as a complete model in its own rights with full attributes, weapons and traits listed. All unit availabilities are also now listed with a limit rating so unlimited and limited models are clearly identified without any guessing. There are also some changes to how traits are defined and weapon arcs have received some attention in terms of the fringe cases. The Nagas chin mounted cannon is now a medium rotary cannon with the arc of FT+F. It can now snap fire but can only attack to the front arc.
The Army list that required the most corrections is the Colonial Expeditionary Force (CEF). The hovertanks needed their weapon loads to be re-examined and some specifications about how the packs fitted with the Frames has resulted in the whole model + upgrade pack being presented as a unified model for the first time.
The Air combat rules have been upgrades to full Alpha status with players able to use some of their army value to call upon a fast support element. Air units can stand off the battlefield and provide long range guided support or strafe targets on the table with auto cannon and bombs. The aircraft attributes provided are very generic right now, they will be given some more faction specific flavor once the rules get a proper shake down on the table.
There is a lot going on even with only a few dozen rules modifications. The next update is scheduled for April 11th and will not be a complete file update like the last two. Instead a short document for each faction listing any changes will be the format. The Core rules will be a complete update considering the probable rewrites for clarity and simplicity that are needed. The next set of updates are not going to be aimed at tweaking the rules but focusing on clarity.
Thanks to everyone who has been participating on the forums, don't forget to continue to send in your play test responses,comments, and suggestions by e-mail. There is no way I can guarantee that at the end of a long day of casting your miniatures that I can be certain of catching every nuance of the discussion. Ideally the originator of a discussion topic in the Alpha section of the forum should be sending in a 'heads up' e-mail unless I have already responded to it in the thread.
I have some busy weeks of play testing coming up so keep your dice hot and start showing your gaming groups how to play the new Heavy Gear. Next week I'll be featuring some of my favorite comments from the forums and e-mail responses.
If you missed it here is the link gain to the Update Files
forum handle: dave
Currently painting: NuCoal
Random Alpha forum topic: VBs as Anti-tank weapons