Emergency Combat Heading Operation (ECHO)
What is it?
Simply put, it's an additional movement phase that occurs after all other aerospace movement, where a Dropship can execute a single hex-side facing change allowing them to partially react to highly nimble smaller craft.
How does it work?
After all other movement is complete, a Dropship (or Warship) may declare an ECHO by expending 2 thrust points. The unit must still have these thrust points available in order to use them. The Dropship may then rotate a single hex-side in either direction. Since we use Advanced (Vector) Movement, this becomes the unit's new facing.
The Fine Print
Engaging in an ECHO makes it more difficult to make an attack
- If the unit used Safe Thrust, it adds a +1 to-hit modifier
- If the unit used Max Thrust, it adds a +2 to-hit modifier
Why, Serrate, WHY?
Seriously, I think it's an awesome rule. I like the cinematic value of a captain yelling last-minute, emergency heading orders at his crew.
More important than the rule-of-cool however, is that it's a valuable tactical addition. It's one of the biggest flaws in the Aerotech movement system, that the largest units on the board essentially have no counter to smaller units' movement, even when they've won initiative. In a situation where BV is essentially equal, but Side A has a Union dropship left on the board (3962 bv), and side B has just 3 Corsairs (4/4, 4/4, 4/5) with (3928 bv), the Union really has no shot whatsoever. Regardless of who wins init, the Union will always move first, and the Corsairs should be able to be in an advantageous arc most of the time due to their better thrust and maneuverability. Use of the ECHO rule turns this engagement into a true battle, instead of a foregone conclusion.
That's an extreme example, but I think anyone who has played BWN ops has been in situations where they would've liked to have been able to ECHO. If you fly an aerodyne dropship, like a Leopard or an Avenger, it would be even more valuable as you've got arcs that are wide open. In fact, for an aerodyne dropship, the arcs are so wide open that even an ECHO won't help depending on where those fighters are located. But it should help occasionally, which is better than nothing.
I think the rule is well-balanced, making it harder to hit for the ECHO'ing unit. StratOps compares it to a torso-twist in Battletech.
ASF's will be more vulnerable than before. The player will have to take a close look at whether the DS has thrust left to use, and how to best counter a potential ECHO.
This is essentially another part of the movement phase and would increase game-time by a small amount. Not enough to bother me, but it is a negative.
It's not currently supported by the client, so would require coding... probably not an easy job. Use of the twist button wouldn't work either, because the ECHO needs to happen before any fire is declared. The weapons you fire, and in what order, often depends on what arc you're facing. This must be established before any fire happens, not just the dropship's fire.