HAM completely changes the way that Tracer Magazines and Tracer Bullets work in Jagged Alliance 2. It brings JA2's Tracer System much closer to reality, and gives Tracer rounds a great importance on the battlefield.
JA2 1.13 History Edit
Tracer fire was introduced in JA2 1.13, partly to support the "new" Autofire feature.
In the game, the color of Tracer magazines is Yellow. They are mostly available for Assault Rifle and Machine Gun calibers (5.56mm, 7.62x51mm).
With JA2 1.13, loading a tracer magazine into your gun immediately reduces the gun's Auto-Penalty and Burst-Penalty values. This effectively makes the gun more stable. In other words, you lose less "Chance-to-Hit" with every successive bullet in a burst or volley than you normally would. This means that, on the whole, each burst is more accurate.
In fact, the effect is identical to using a Foregrip or Grippod.
One additional effect that Tracer Bullets have in-game is their light paths. Every bullet fired will leave a path of well-lit tiles behind it as it passes. While this has little effect during the day, during night-time it can reveal enemies hiding in the darkess. Of course, it also reveals the shooter himself to anyone who is nearby looking in his direction.
Finally, when a tracer magazine is loaded into a gun, it will immediately negate any Flash Suppression effects that the gun may have.
JA2 Tracers vs. Real-World TracersEdit
Tracers in JA2 1.13 don't function in quite the same way as REAL tracers. There are two key differences:
- Tracer bullets don't make your gun more stable - in Autofire or otherwise. They ARE used to increase accuracy however, because watching the paths of light allows the gunner to know which way his bullets are going. He can then adjust his aim and effectively "lead" his subsequent shots onto the target, even at great distances.
- Not all bullets in a Tracer magazine are actually Tracer bullets. Most of them, in fact, are regular bullets. In most magazines (or rather, ammo-chains), only 1 of every 5 bullets is a tracer. This is often sufficient enough to show very clearly where the rest of the bullets are headed. Naturally, the tracer itself can also kill, it's not just a dummy round that makes pretty lights.
So in order to get more realistic tracers, we need to change the way that they affect the gunner's aim, as well as make sure that they don't all flare up the night. HAM does both. :)
Tracer Fire in HAM B2.8 Edit
With HAM 2, the behavior of Tracer Bullets has been changed considerably.
- Each tracer magazine has a specific number of actual Tracer Bullets inside it, interspersed between regular bullets. The ratio of Regular-to-Tracer is determined by an INI setting, and by default is set to 1 in every 5, just as in real-life.
- When fired during the night, only the actual Tracer Bullets in the magazine will make a light-path behind them. The rest of the bullets fly in the dark.
- Unlike JA2 1.13, when a HAM Tracer magazine is loaded into the gun it does NOT reduce the gun's Burst/Auto Penalty at all. The gun itself isn't getting more stable just by having Tracer Bullets inside it.
Instead of making your gun more stable, Tracer Bullets now serve to guide your aim into the target. This effect only occurs when firing in Autofire mode.
The autofire volley works as it normally does. Bullets are fired rapidly one after the other, and as more bullets fly, your aim becomes worse due to the weapon's natural recoil.
HOWEVER, when a Tracer bullet is fired in amongst the other bullets in the volley, accuracy will suddenly shoot upwards. This "corrects" some or ALL of the accuracy lost through recoil, and may even make you MORE accurate than you were when the volley began! Then recoil starts working again, until the NEXT tracer is fired, accuracy then bumps up again, and the cycle continues.
Once the Autofire volley has ended, all tracer accuracy bonuses vanish - they don't carry on to the next volley.
Naturally, the longer your volley is, the more tracers you'll be firing out the magazine. This means, potentially, that a long volley can become VERY accurate indeed. Of course, the price you're paying is a very large expenditure of bullets. But that's why Tracer Volleys are best used with machine guns (which already have a ton of bullets at their disposal).
So remember - the longer the volley, the more accurate you're going to get!
Tactical Implications Edit
Tracer fire is a great way to make long Autofire volleys more useful. If you fire enough tracers within a single volley, you can reach higher Chance-to-Hit than the one you started with.
The best use for this is for hitting targets that are beyond the weapon's normal range, or using good cover. You get to spray them down with a ton of lead, and the accuracy bonus from the tracers helps ensure that some bullets have a good chance of actually HITTING the target. This is especially important considering that, as yet, automatic fire cannot be used together with Scopes and Extra Aiming Levels.
The downside is, of course, that you could waste many bullets before the tracers send you into reasonable Chance-to-Hit levels, especially if you start out with bad accuracy. This is why tracers are mostly important in machine guns and for any squad member who lays down heavy automatic fire.
Remember, tracers are NOT just useful at night. They confer the same accuracy bonus during the day. They are THAT bright.
External Arguments Edit
With HAM B2.8, we can tweak several values in the Tracer Fire system:
- We can decide how many bullets in a Tracer Magazine are actually Tracers. This is done with a ratio between "regular" and "tracer" bullets within the magazine. 5-to-1, 3-to-1, etc.
- We can decide how much our accuracy increases each time a Tracer bullet is fired - called the "Tracer Bump" or "CtH Bump" (CtH = Chance-To-Hit).
- We can decide whether loading a tracer magazine into a gun reduces the gun's Auto/Burst Penalties (as was in JA2 1.13). This effect is NOT REALISTIC, but heck, use it if you like.
Behind the Scenes - How this actually worksEdit
Understanding HOW the new tracer system works may help you figure out how to use it.
To this end, here is a brief run-down of the inner-workings of the HAM Tracer system. It's not overly complex, but do try to follow.
- As the Autofire volley is being fired, each successive bullet's Chance-to-Hit is somewhat lower than the previous one. This is the effect of recoil, and is represented by the gun's innate "Auto Penalty" value.
- Tracer bullets also suffer from this decay. They don't actually increase your accuracy until they are already flying!
- Therefore, the bullet IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING the Tracer will receive a "Bump" of accuracy. Depending on the settings you're using, it may actually push your accuracy back to its initial level - as it was at the START of the volley, before all that recoil kicked in! If your settings are tuned well enough, the Tracer Bump should push your accuracy ABOVE its original level!
- Don't forget that recoil keeps having effect throughout the entire volley. So, while the Tracer Bump has increased your accuracy somewhat, it will then resume deteriorating at the natural rate... Until the NEXT tracer is fired.
- The bullet AFTER that second tracer will, exactly as in step 3, bump your accuracy up again.
- Repeat the process above until the Autofire volley ends.
- If you've shot enough tracers during a single Autofire volley, it is quite possible to reach 100% accuracy at some point. (See more on this below)
- When the autofire volley is concluded, all recoil penalties and Tracer Bonuses are also removed.
- If you want to shoot some more, start a new Autofire volley, going back to step 1.
Tracer Fire in HAM 3.5 Edit
HAM 3.5 saw an important revamp of the tracer system. In a nutshell, it makes sure that Tracer Fire can't make you über-accurate.
This was needed because Tracers were a bit TOO useful. They were so good, you could use a machine gun as a sort of sniper rifle - You just had to fire a long Autofire volley with enough tracers in it, and eventually your Chance-to-Hit could reach 100% - even at a great distance!
This is NOT realistic, and makes autofire much too powerful once the better machine guns appear.
The obvious solution? Just think about how Tracers work in real life: You see your tracers flying, and you try to change your aim towards the target to compensate. However, the further away from the target you are, the less likely you are to actually fire DIRECTLY at the target, even with the help of Tracers.
HAM 3.5's solution is to put a limit on the maximum CtH you can reach using "Tracer Bumps".
This limit is based entirely on the range to the target. The further away your target is, the lower your "accuracy ceiling". You still benefit from Tracers - they do increase accuracy and help balance your Autofire Penalty - but they can't raise your accuracy any higher than what you started with.
How does it work?Edit
When a Tracer bullet is fired as part of a volley, it can only push "Chance-to-Hit" up to a certain calculated limit. Subsequent bullets will suffer the normal Recoil penalties, bringing accuracy down slowly, and the next Tracer Bullet will again bump the CtH only up to the limit, and so on and so on.
The further away the target is, the LOWER this limit will be. Note that the limit is always relative to whatever your original Chance-to-Hit was, at the start of the Autofire volley. If your chances sucked to begin with, the limit will be respectively lower.
This limit makes it much harder to reach perfect accuracy with Tracers, beyond a certain range. While tracers certainly retain their usefulness at mid- and sight-ranges, they are no longer über-weapons that will solve all your tactical problems.
If you do choose to use tracers to target enemies at long range, you'll find that you can do so to with limited success, and at a great cost of bullets.
Additionally, at short ranges (specifically anything under 10 tiles) your Chance-to-Hit cannot go over the original accuracy at all! When shooting tracers in close proximity, you will see accuracy drop from its original point (due to Recoil), then bump back up to its original amount, drop again, and so on and so on.
One final noteEdit
Please note, when upgrading to HAM 3.5: Tracers will no longer be able to reduce the gun's Burst/Auto penalty - the setting that enabled this has been completely removed. Players who chose to use this ended up with insanely accurate autofire. If you still want Tracers to be massively useful, you can up the Tracer Bump, or up the ratio between "Regular" and "Tracer" bullets in magazines.
- A bullet that burns as it flies through the air, creating a path of light behind it. Highly visible, it can be used to lead an autofire volley onto the target, even during the day.
- A magazine containing one tracer bullets per every X bullets in the magazine. X is defined in HAM's INI settings, and realistically would be set to 5.
- A sudden increase in Chance-to-Hit caused by observing the lightpath of a Tracer Bullet and adjusting the gun so that subsequent bullets will fly straight at the target.
Autofire / Burstfire Penalty
- A number representing the gun's recoil strength. Every bullet in the burst or volley will lose this much CtH on top of whatever has been lost so far. This causes volleys to become less and less accurate the longer they are sustained. Tracer Bump works to negate the accumulated Burst/Auto Penalty, although it only does so after a tracer bullet is fired.
INI Settings Edit
HAM has four INI settings associated with Tracer Fire.
Determines whether HAM Realistic Tracers are activated.
|JA2 Default Value||0||
Tracer Magazines will reduce the Auto/Burst Penalty of the gun immediately when loaded in.
Bullets fired from the magazine do not cause a "Tracer Bump".
|HAM Recommended Value||1||
Tracer magazines do not reduce the gun's Auto/Burst Penalty. Instead, whenever a Tracer bullet is fired, subsequent bullets will gain a boost to Chance-to-Hit.
Tracer magazines reduce the gun's Auto/Burst penalty immediately when loaded in.
Tracer bullets also cause a Tracer Bump.
|Notes||Option #2 is no longer available in HAM 3.5.|
Determines how many tracer bullets there are in a Tracer Magazine.
One in every X bullets is a Tracer Bullet. Other bullets do not give a tracer lightpath, nor do they cause Tracer Bumps.
|JA2 Default Value||1||
Every bullet in a Tracer Magazine is a Tracer Bullet. They will all cause lightpaths, and will all cause Tracer Bumps.
|HAM Recommended Value||5||
Every 5th bullet in a Tracer Magazine is a Tracer Bullet. This is the realistic option, as this is the setup most commonly used in tracer magazines.
The first bullet in the magazine is a Tracer, followed by four non-tracer bullets, followed by a tracer, and so on.
Determines the size of the Chance-to-Hit increase you experience immediately after firing a tracer bullet as part of an Auto-fire Volley.
|JA2 Default Value||0||
JA2 does not have Tracer Bumps. Setting to 0 removes the Bump effect from the game.
|HAM Recommended Value||Less than 50||A value of less than 50 makes sure that you will need to fire many bullets to reach near-accurate Chance-to-Hit. Some have recommended 30, while others enjoy 50 just fine.|
|Notes||If you are using REALISTIC_TRACERS = 2, you should use a lower value here. Otherwise it can throw Autofire way off balance, making it exceptionally too powerful.|
Determines the importance of range-to-target in calculating the maximum Chance-to-Hit you can reach by accumulating lots of Tracer Bumps.
|HAM Recommended Value||3||At 20 tiles of range, you can only surpass your original Chance-to-Hit by around 30 points, by accumulating Tracer Bumps.|
|Notes||This setting is only available in HAM 3.5.|