A Hacker's Guide to Legions of Steel UPVs

Originally posted on mlangsdo's page
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
This web posting is not made with the blessing of anyone at Global

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

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

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:  
  • chassis=74 (-2 mod) * 6/4 (move) * 2.75 (2 kills)=305.25
  •  weapon=20 (deadbolt) * 3 (ROF) * 4 (+2 to kill)=240
  • 3 hero points=3 * 240=720
  • total cost:  1265 UPV's.

     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?