by Philip Nelson
An Attempt to Clarify the Spotting Rules in PG3-SE
I recently performed several tests of PG3-SE's spotting rules at Mark Kirby's request. Here are the results of my amateurish analysis of the subject.
Recons screen friendly ground units from being spotted by enemy forces. All friendly non-recon units within two hexes of a recon are screened, and can only be spotted at range by enemy ground units in two ways. The first is through the recon patrol order: it reveals everything within a recon's spotting range, no exceptions. The second and more interesting is this: When a screening recon does not have the class special, Force Recon, an enemy recon with Force Recon can spot the screened units without using a patrol order, though they are still harder to spot. In any other case the screened units stay hidden. However, fighters ignore the effects of recon screening.
Recons seem to screen each other with reduced effectiveness. I haven't figured out what determines the visibility of adjacent recons. I did notice that when a recon with Force Recon was paired with one without, the former was easily visible, while the other was hidden. When two with the class specials were paired, both were easily visible. When two without the class specials were paired, one was easily visible and one was hidden, both for no apparent reason. The effects of three or more adjacent recons were too complicated to be worth investigating at the time.
Recons can normally see four hexes, though most camouflaged units are hidden from them. Also, units behind obstacles such as forests or cities can be hidden, even if they are as high-profile as the King Tiger. Force Recon aids in spotting hidden units; and it also adds two hexes to a recon's spotting range, contrary to what I had previously thought(+1 range).
Recons are very easy to spot. In fact, I was able to spot an enemy recon up to ten hexes away with a Force Recon M24, though I could not determine why. It appears that a recon can sometimes be spotted at greater-than-normal ranges if a hex within the recon's screening range can be spotted. Perhaps a recon with the class special can be seen two hexes farther away than one without the special.
In the open, units with good profile numbers (6 or 7) are harder to spot at range, though maneuvering within two hexes of them with a recon usually reveals them. Camouflaged, however, they are very hard to spot without using patrol orders. And they are hardest to spot when camouflaged in forests or cities. In fact, even units with poor profiles can be hidden in those hexes, though they are easier to spot, of course. Cities also seem to remove a recon's visibility penalty. I drove a Force Recon PSW within two hexes of an uncamouflaged recon in a city and could not spot it. (Recons normally have a profile of 6.)
Also note that camouflaged infantry and AT guns entrenched at level three were harder to spot with fighters than the same units entrenched at two or less.
Fighters can normally spot two hexes. The Eagle Eye scouting order adds four hexes to their range, while making the spotting of the first two hexes more thorough. The class special Hawkeyes adds a hex to the base range and enhances all spotting further, though the first two hexes are still patrolled the most thoroughly. A camouflaged unit three hexes away from a scouting Hawkeyes fighter will probably escape its notice, but almost everything within two hexes will be spotted.
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