A Hacker's Guide to Legions of Steel UPVs

Written by Tony Lin (tlin@laplace.math.ucla.edu).
(Legal disclaimer: Legions of Steel is copyright Global Games. This post is made with the blessing of Marco Pecota, one of the designers of Legions of Steel, who has patiently endured hours of long-distance questioning. These calculations are in no way official; Marco suggests that players wanting to use figures based these UPV calculations get these calculations approved by the opponent first. Please email your feedback to tlin@math.ucla.edu. I'll update these costs as I figure out more.)
This web posting is not made with tblessing of anyone at Global Games.
A bit of background: I have my PhD in statistics, and I'm a bit of a powergamer (although of course I call it maximizing available resources). A friend of mind introduced me to the Legions of Steel system, and I was intrigued how Global Games had the audacity to publish point values for individual units. I was even more amazed that my mini-maxed forces would get wiped out time and time again by other, more balanced forces. It became a personal quest to determine how the UPV's were determined, and to see if I could come up with the unstoppable unit. Well, I half succeeded. =)

I would be very curious to see what people do with these rules ... let's see what abusive units you construct! Give in to the Dark Side, my son!

0. The Basics

0.1 An observation

Most weapons in Legions of Steel have the option of autofiring: for example instead of rolling 1 die with a kill number of 3, the player has the option of rolling 2 dice each with a kill number of 4. Although autofiring is normally better than regular fire, suppose for simplicity we treat them as equivalent. Then a ROF 1 weapon that has a kill number of _n_ ought to be worth the same UPV's as a ROF 2 weapon that has a kill number of _n+1_. By extension, a ROF 1 weapon that has a kill number of _n+1_ ought to only be worth half as many UPV's, and a ROF 1 weapon that a kill number of _n-1_ ought to be worth twice as many UPV's. Likewise, armor that has a -1 general modifier is like imposing a -1 on all weapons and so ought to be twice as expensive as armor that has a 0 general modifier.

0.2 The Word from Above

Marco mentioned that each figure's UPV cost is based on its chassis cost and its weapons' costs. He further mentioned that a Deadbolt Launcher is worth 20 UPV's and that a "normal chassis" (0 general modifier, walk 4, 1 kill) is worth 20 UPV's.

1.0 Chassis costs

When constructing a new figure, first determine its armor (keeping in mind that normal power armor has a 0 general modifier). The formula for chassis cost is 2 + 18*2^(-general modifier). For those who aren't math nerds, the formula translates to
Typical armor*		General Modifier	UPV cost

no armor (civilians)		+3		   4
infantry armor			+2		   7
recon power armor		+1		  11
normal power armor		 0		  20
assault power armor		-1		  38
HEAVY power armor		-2		  74

*as I see it; Planetstorm may have different modifiers for infantry, but
 I believe that infantry is easier to kill than UNE Recce troops, thus the +2.
The UPV cost is modified by speed: multiply the base cost by (walking speed of figure divided by 4). So a walk 4 figure has a multiplier of 1; a walk 3 figure has a multiplier of 0.75.

If a figure has two kills, multiply the cost by 2.75.

As a gentleman's rule, no figure has more than 2 kills (a 3 kill figure is considered a light vehicle), nor less than a -2 general modifier.

2.0 Ranged Weapon Costs

The basic cost for a single weapon can be found in Junction Point: the cost to give a figure a hero point is the same as the UPV cost for the primary weapon. A basic Commando is armed with a Blaster ... the cost for a blaster is 28 UPV's. The plasma projector is a whopping 66 UPV's. (There seems to be a convention not to allow hero points to drop below 20; for example, the deadbolt carbine is inferior to the deadbolt launcher but supposedly costs 20. I believe a deadbolt carbine is only worth 17 UPV's.)

Weapon UPV costs can be modified by ROF and bonuses/penalties to hit. If doubling the ROF of a weapon, multiply the UPV cost by 2; for each +1 to hit, multiply the UPV cost by 2; for each -1 to hit, divide the UPV cost by 2. So a ROF 3 plasma projector that has a -1 to hit has a net cost of 66 [base cost] * 3/2 [ROF] * 1/2 [-1 to hit] = 49.5, or 50 UPV's.

As a gentleman's rule, no weapon has a ROF greater than 4, and no weapon can have better odds than PB+ (i.e., even if you paid to double the cost of the plasma projector, there is no benefit to being at range less than 3 ... anything at 5 or less would be considered PB+.)

3.0 One-shot Weapon Costs

This category includes grenades and SSRP's. At this point, it's mostly guesswork, but use the following as guides:
		Fantasian Gauss grenades	8 UPV's
		UNE Forcewall grenade		5 UPV's
		UNE K-pulse grenade		4 UPV's
		Machine Disruptor grenades	4 UPV's
		Machine Prometheus bombs	4 UPV's
		UNE Plasma grenades		3 UPV's
		Machine Nachtmacher grenade	2 UPV's
		UNE FTG grenade			1 UPV
As before, improving the to-kill number increases the cost of a weapon; a "heavy k-pulse grenade" (k-pulse with a +1 to kill) costs 8 UPV's. These are costs PER GRENADE.

As a gentleman's rule, no one-shot weapon is worth more than 8 UPV's. (Otherwise, k-pulses could get too deadly -- even if you scatter, you'd kill.)

4.0 HTH Weapons

This category is a little strange: the value of a HTH weapon depends on the ability of the figure to actually survive to be able to get into HTH. Marco gave some hints how to do this; as best I can tell, it's something as follows. The initial cost for a HTH weapon is 15. Multiply this cost by the kill probability: a ROF 1, 3+ weapon would multiply by 2/3, a ROF 2, 4+ weapon would multiply by 0.75. [It helps to have a statistician here. =) ] Multiply by (movement rate/4). Multiply by 2^(-general modifier); so +1 general modifier figures multiply by 1/2, -1 general modifier figures multiply by 2. This gives the UPV cost for the HTH weapon.

5.0 Heroism, Leadership, and Command

If a figure has a ranged weapon, the cost to give that figure a hero point is the UPV cost for its weapon. If a figure has multiple ranged weapons, the cost for a hero point is the sum of all its ranged weapons. (So a figure armed with a plasma projector AND a deadbolt launcher combo would have to pay 86 UPV's for a hero point). The rationale: each weapon has a specialty at some range, and for any given attack the figure would use the best weapon, so it only makes sense that the UPV cost of the package is more expensive than the UPV cost of the individual weapon being fired.

(The 30 is a rule of thumb; one potential abuse is to give one figure a pistol and a leadership, and to give a second figure a plasma projector; then the value of that leadership is AT LEAST 66 UPV's, since the leadership could be assigned every turn to the plasma projector.)

As a gentleman's rule, the sum of "number of hero points" plus "number of leadership" should be 3 or less.

Command points cost 20 UPV's each.

6.0 Special Rules

The X1's Jacking-in ability seems to be worth about 2.67 times the normal HTH cost of a weapon; so, if X1's were able to jack-in on a 4+, the cost for the weapon would be 15*(1/2; 50% kill)*(1/2; +1 GM)*(6/4; walk 6)*2.67 = 15 UPV's.

HTH weapons in general form a special category; giving a hero point to a HTH attack doesn't greatly improve the figure's kill ability, since it still needs to get into HTH. I have special arcane formulas for that ... maybe later. =) Other tweaks I have worked on include rules for weapons requiring E-links, and rules for multiple fire actions. Currently, I don't have a unified rule, just a series of ad hoc guesses.

7.0 Examples


A single G1 Nightmare is sent to exterminate a civilian camp. The civilians are a rag tag bunch with no armor and only a cache of weak K-pulse grenades (K-pulse with a -1 to kill; each civilian has 1 grenade). Each civilian costs 4 + 2 = 6 UPV's. So, 7 civilians ought to be worth 1 Nightmare. (Civilian strategy: swarm the Nightmare and try to take it out with a half dozen tossed grenades.)


Suppose the civilians are now armed with lead pipes and other tools of HTH warfare. The kill number is 6+; the cost is 15*(1/6)*(1/8) = 0.325 UPV's. Since technically the chassis cost for a civilian is 4.25, the total final cost is 4.25 + 2 + 0.325 = 6.575; I'd call it 7 UPV's for a civilian armed with lead pipe and weak grenade.


At the other end of the galaxy, the Machines have developed a sinister new robot: the Mark V Munchkin. It has 2 kills, walks 6, has a -2 general modifier, and its gun is a ROF 3 deadbolt launcher with a +2 to kill. It also has 3 hero points. This monstrosity costs as follows: Now this figure is lethal, to be sure, but it's also very expensive in terms of UPV's -- this figure by itself costs 2 UNE Commando sections. Also, weapons that ignore general modifiers would negate the effectiveness of its armor. An interesting scenario might be to try to eliminate the Munchkin. =) Commando strategy would probably be to flank the Machine and use plasma projectors like crazy. Anyone ever play Ogre?
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