All about smoke and lasers!
One of the more complex interactions, perhaps counterintuitive at first glance, is the relationship between smoke and lasers.
As one peruses the gear they will often see this ability:
LASER DESIGNATOR: May be used to mark targets or locations (laser designation). Must be able to draw an unblocked line from the laser designator to the marked spot or target. Friendly units targeting marked spot with NLOS type weapons may nullify line of sight modifiers.
Here are some common questions we get:
Lasers work in smoke? Sure . . . While the laser might defuse a bit while traveling through the smoke, the reality is that that is only a very small part of the beam and if the operator of the laser can see the target, the beam going in to the smoke area in all actuality is more of a vector pointer. The missile’s targeting system picks up the laser and uses the vector data to inform the flight calculation/course corrections to target. By the time the missile reaches the smoke area it is moving at hypersonic speed and likely not going impact whether it hits anyways.
Would the laser designating unit need to be able to “see” the target? Yes . . . the word is “unblocked” So if there is no part of the target unit showing, or the target is fully in smoke and the designating unit has no seer system, the line is blocked (either by smoke or physical cover)
What if the entire beam is in smoke? This is a more obscure case thus not directly covered in the existing rules. As a clarification if the entire laser beam is in smoke laser designation cannot happen as the missile essentially can’t find the beam. To date missiles don’t have seer systems aboard the missile, even if the controlling unit does.
Can laser designator gear really negate all cover for missile shots? Yes . . . the reality is the rules allow the laser to negate the NLOS modifier of -6. Since a missile can always be fired NLOS, even if a direct path to the target exist, the laser can be used to negate all cover modifiers.
Why can’t I laser designate other types of rounds such as rifles or rockets? Guided missiles are the only rounds with the ability to self-correct course in midflight. Rockets are not guided, and rifles are pre-aimed for example.
Can any laser weapon designate? Laser designation is tuned to a special frequency that is detectable by missiles. Unless the weapon specifies otherwise in the abilities, laser weapons are not tuned for, thus cannot provide, laser designation.
Brian “xDOOMx” Carnes,