At the Heart of the Abyss
|Initiative||Actions||Resolving Attacks||Health and Dying||Cover|
Cover is very important to combat in Mass Effect. In general, a combatant wants to have cover against his enemies while denying cover to them at the same time. This is rarely possible, and hence people do a lot of moving around the battlefield to keep themselves in a good position to fight.
Taking cover is simple, one identifies an object or building that can provide cover and gets behind it. Hiding behind the cover full time will protect the character completely (see Full Defense) but that makes it hard to win. Under normal circumstances characters are ducking behind cover when the enemies fire, then popping back up to shoot.
Cover provides a +5 bonus to defense under normal circumstances.
Flanking and Moving
There are two good options for getting around enemy cover, move to the side of the cover, or get up high enough that it no longer protects them. A flanked enemy immediately loses all cover bonus against the character, there are no partial cover bonuses.
Moving from one piece of cover to another imposes no penalty as long as the character isn’t being suppressed. The movement happens during a break in enemy fire, and the character retains his cover bonus to defense. When a character ends his turn out of cover, he loses the cover bonus and is a tempting target for everyone on the enemy side.
Moving while under suppressing fire imposes the same penalty as ignoring the accuracy penalty. The character takes a hit from the enemy’s weapon. It can be worth it to do this for a good position sometimes, especially if the character’s shields are still strong.
Suppression and Tactics
It’s worth noting that the penalty to enemy attacks for laying suppressing fire on them is the same as the bonus a character gets from cover. Having a friend suppress the enemy while you move forward is an excellent tactical way to get across big gaps on the battlefield without getting shredded. Even if the enemy chooses to attack, at least the ally doing the suppressing gets a hit in on them.
Working as a team is key, with multiple team members laying down suppressing fire, one or two squad members should be able to move forward in reasonable safety, get into good flanking positions, and shred the enemy. A squad that splits up and doesn’t support each other is likely to find itself with no cover, at the mercy of enemies in great firing positions. The outcome of that battle is grim.
Biotics, Grenades (tech or otherwise), Heavy Weapons, and good use of the environment (everyone loves fuel drums) can make the cover situation even more favorable for the characters.