People generally seem to agree that both fire and smoke are beneficial strategic options, but there have always been complaints about the specific rules, like it being too easy to fill too much of the map with smoke, or it affecting to-hit modifiers too strongly, especially in conjunction with terrain cover. Randomly changing weather was also usually disliked, yet disabling it makes camping in smoke even easier. However, the BattleMech Manual has a set of simplified fire and smoke rules that I believe are perfect for addressing these concerns.
Here's a rundown:
- Wind direction is fixed at the start of the match.
- Smoke fills only 2 hexes, in a line pointing downwind of the fire (not clouds of 3 hexes).
- Smoke never drifts.
- Smoke is always light smoke (light smoke clouds never stack into heavy smoke), unless the fire is from a heavy or hardened building.
- Smoke lasts exactly as long as the fire it came from.
- A burning hex can never have smoke in it (you can flush campers in a smoke-filled woods hex by igniting it, even if they can take the heat).
- Fire spread is very rare, requiring a roll of 12 and only proceeding downwind.
- No accidental fires from shooting at targets in a hex (they can still happen when attempting to clear).
I've been meaning to get involved in coding for MegaMek and MekWars to help maintain them, and I believe I can try these rules out in the near future. Would like to hear how others think it would work out for MekWars campaigns.