Jagged Alliance 2 Details
Jagged Alliance (released in 1994) and Jagged Alliance 2 (1999) had a profound impact on turn-based strategy games. The basic elements developed in JA and JA2 show up in many later games, such as Fallout: Tactics and Silent Storm. They certainly weren't the first games in the genre, but JA2 remains one of the best-designed squad-level strategy games ever written.
When Jagged Alliance 2: Wildfire was first published in 2004 by Strategy First, the complete source code for the original game was included on the CD-ROM. This was fascinating, to say the least. After rummaging through the source code for a while, I decided to create some web pages with the tidbits I found. (The source code is now available here.)
Over the past several years, a group of independent developers has been working on a cross-platform JA2 runtime, with the goal of modernizing the software and fixing bugs without altering the core gameplay. The project, called JA2 Stracciatella, is freely available.
On this site you can find:
- A summary of mercenary statistics. Very handy when deciding which mercs to recruit.
- A detailed listing of mercenary and NPC statistics. This table includes the starting equipment as well as a friends/enemies list, so you can see which mercs aren't going to get along. This information comes from the data files, not in-game screens, so you can see the stats for Mike, the Queen, and the Queen's bodyguard.
- The complete list of weapons, with all in-game statistics as well as computed values like the AP cost with and without the rod-and-spring attachment. According to comments in the source code, at least some of the data is derived from Compendium of Modern Firearms (Edge of the Sword Vol 1).
- A list of all items in the game, as well as the merge tables that define how items may be combined. Many items are useful, some are useless, a few exist primarily to be combined with other items.
- The meaning of the various traits, skills, and attitudes, and the effects of equipment.
- The impact of each answer in the personality quiz.
Skills, Traits, and Attitudes
Every character has two slots for skills, which can be chosen from the list below. The exact meaning of the "+" modifier depends on the skill, but in general everything is happening on a scale of 0 to 100. Every character can have two skills, and bonuses are cumulative, so if you have "teaching (expert)" that's +60 to your teaching ability.
Some skills are not available to the mercenary you generate from the personality quiz.
- Removes the -20% to-hit penalty when firing with a pistol or SMG in each hand.
- auto weps
- Reduces "to hit" penalties for burst fire by half (to 25% for an expert). An increasing penalty is applied to each bullet after the first, so the skill improves your chances of hitting with more than one round.
- camouflaged [can't get from quiz]
- Permanent 100% camouflage.
- Improves chances of interacting with electronic devices. The odds of successfully performing these actions are determined by the "mechanical" or "explosives" stat, but any character who does not have electronics skill has their chances reduced by 25% (planting a remotely-detonated bomb, disarming an electronic trap) or 50% (attach/merge electronics, electronic lockpicking, attaching a remote detonator). Being an electronics "expert" has no effect.
- Improves your chances to hit with and dodge unarmed attacks (+15). The skill bonus is smaller than for "martial arts", but the damage bonus is greater (effectively +45).
- Improved ability with knives (+30). Helps with knife defense (parrying) as well as attacks.
- Bonus to lockpicking skill (+25). Chance of success is based on mechanical skill, modified by dexterity, wisdom, and experience level.
- heavy weapons [can't get from quiz]
- Bonus to hit when using mortars, grenade launchers, and LAWs (+15). Note that mortar firing skill takes into account marksmanship, dexterity, wisdom, and experience level.
- martial arts
- Improves unarmed fighting skill, giving a bonus to hit, dodge, and damage (+30). When the character does a "ninja spin kick" animation, used on weakened enemies, damage is doubled. Also helps with knife attack/defense, but provides no damage bonus for brass knuckles. This skill is only available to normal-sized male characters. Female or "big" male characters have the skill converted to "hand-to-hand".
- night ops
- Better night vision and hearing (+15). Each +10 represents one additional visible square, so "night ops" is +1, but "night ops (expert)" is +3 squares. You use night vision goggles more effectively too. You get a small additional hearing bonus during the day, and a higher chance of interrupting enemy soldiers moving in the dark.
- on roof [can't get from quiz]
- Bonus to attack when on roof (+15). This is in addition to a built-in bonus for firing downward.
- Harder to spot when sneaking (+25). Two levels of this makes you as stealthy as a bloodcat. (There's a table that says +15, but the code ignores it and gives +25.)
- Bonus to teaching skill (+30). (The table says +15, but the code uses 30.)
- Not used. A slot is allocated in the source code, but the skill wasn't implemented. This appears to be the ability to tear the gun out of your opponent's hands while he's standing next to you.
- Bonus to throwing skill (+12). Improves maximum range and accuracy with knives and grenades, and increases chance of instant death from a knife throw by 10% per skill level. (Instant death requires that the attacker not be heard or seen, and the target is head or torso. The difference between the chance of hitting and the to-hit "die roll" determines the base percentage chance.)
Every character has an attitude that describes their personality. Several of these alter the way events affect morale. For example, killing an enemy soldier causes a "positive" event, while friendly casualties cause "negative" events. (In addition to the factors below, "negative" events are adjusted by -1 if you're at level 1 or +1 if you're above level 5.)
- Morale +1 on positive events. Double morale penalty for running away from a fight.
- No effect during game.
- No effect during game. (This is the actual term that appears in the source code.)
- big shot [can't get from quiz]
- No effect during game.
- Morale -2 on negative events. No penalty for running from a fight.
- No effect during game.
- No effect during game.
- No effect during game.
- Morale +1 on positive and negative events.
- Morale -1 on positive and negative events.
Characters can have a personality trait, which is generally negative, though there is an upside to "psycho".
- Morale declines and fewer action points are available while underground. Can cause verbal complaints.
- fear of insects [can't get from quiz]
- Morale and action points decline when character sees an insect (i.e. the subterranean bugs in sci-fi mode). Can cause verbal complaints.
- Occasionally, when told to move from point A to point B, your character will stop and ask for directions. Dimitry is an example of a forgetful character.
- No effect during game. Can cause verbal complaints.
- Soldier does poorly when left alone. Don't put them in a squad by themselves, far from friends, or morale plummets.
- non-swimmer [can't get from quiz]
- Does poorly in deep water (runs out of breath 5x as fast). Can cause verbal complaints.
- Character is normal.
- Soldier gets a to-hit bonus when attacking the same target repeatedly. Small chance of switching from single-shot to burst fire ("Buzz goes psycho"), especially on non-targeted shots. Can cause verbal remarks.
Un-hired mercenaries have a small chance of dying each day. Forgetful, nervous, or psycho mercs are more likely to die, while stealthy mercs are less likely.
One feature that none of the JA2 FAQ lists described accurately was the meaning of the answers to the "personality quiz" given at the start of the game. The quiz is a series of multiple-choice questions. Each question potentially grants you a skill, attitude, or personality trait. At the end of the quiz, skills and attributes are assigned based on your responses, with some degree of randomness involved.
The outcomes for each answer are:
|Q1 (who did you want to be)||
|Q2 (teen throwing darts)||
|Q3 (money in a bus station locker)||
|Q4 (pickup truck rear window)||
|Q5 (purple dinosaur)||
|Q6 (home invasion)||
|Q7 (loot army surplus store)||
|Q8 (job as butcher)||
|Q9 (wife is overdue)||
|Q10 (frat house neighbor)||
|Q11 (slow minivan)||
|Q12 (pay to see fight)||
|Q13 (during the summer)||
|Q14 (not do willingly)||
|Q15 (major league baseball)||
|Q16 (plane crash survivors)||
To get stealthy/night ops (two hits on each) with a touch of optimism: 6233-2232-2113-2441
Good combinations: stealthy/night-ops or night-ops expert (for a scout), stealthy/throwing or stealthy/martial arts (for an assassin). Auto weapons with "psycho" trait is lethal in the end game.
All attitudes and personality traits will be mentioned in the e-mail you get on the third day.
Equipment Bonuses & Penalties
All bonuses are affected by the equipment's condition. To get the maximum benefit, your equipment must be at 100%.
- Sun Goggles
- For greater than normal daylight levels (a way of simulating desert blindness), sun goggles improve sight range by up to 2 squares. No effect on sight range in normal daylight conditions. The effective range to target is decreased by 10%, providing a mild to-hit bonus. There is no penalty for wearing sun goggles at night.
- Night Goggles
- Most effective in "normal" darkness, where vision is increased by 2 squares. It can get "really dark", which reduces their effectiveness (not sure exactly when this occurs -- maybe underground?). "Night ops" adds one additional square per ability level. There is no penalty for wearing night goggles during the day.
- UV Goggles
- Only work above ground. Vision is increased by 4 squares. "Night ops" adds one additional square per ability level. There is no penalty for wearing UV goggles during the day.
- Extended Ear
- Improves hearing range by up to +5, depending on equipment condition. Note hearing range is greater at night (up to +3, depending on the time).
- Sniper Scope
- Effective range to target is decreased by 20% for every level of aiming.
- Laser Scope
- Adds 20% to chance to hit. If scope is damaged below 50%, to-hit probability is actually reduced.
- Without a bipod, you get a 10% to-hit bonus when firing while crouched, and a 20% bonus when firing while prone. With a bipod, you get an additional 10% bonus when firing while prone.
- Barrel Extender
- Improves weapon range by up to 10 units, depending on equipment condition. Can't be removed, but can fall off during battle, causing a 30% to-hit penalty for that shot.
- Spring & Bolt Upgrade
- Reduces APs required to fire weapon. The formula is complex, so the AP reduction is shown in the entry for each gun in the weapon list.
- Reduces volume of weapon noise by up to 100%.
- Reduces chances of being spotted. Effectiveness is increased by crouching or lying prone in rough terrain, and hiding behind trees. Effectiveness is decreased by moving: the farther you moved last turn, the less effective camouflage is at concealing you this turn (5% per tile). Camouflage wears off over time, and wears off more quickly by moving through water (especially "deep" water, which can also damage equipment). Once a character has been spotted, camouflage provides no benefit.
- Head equipment in general
- Sun goggles, night goggles, and UV goggles reduce your chances of being blinded by aliens spitting at your head.
- Tanks [vehicles]
- Tanks are more easily seen than soldiers, but get an equal bonus to their sight range. They suffer a -5 penalty to hearing though, and have a blind slot in close. If you're prone and within about 8 tiles, or crouched and within about 4 tiles, you're inside the tank's blind spot and won't be spotted by it. Trees seem to provide less cover from tanks than they do from soldiers.
JA2 "official secrets"
Sir-Tech had a list of "official secrets" on their web site. It has some valuable information, especially about the to-hit calculations.