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Say you have an enemy squad in the corner of a factory - if you area fire near the squad, does it hurt the squad more than area firing in another part of the factory tile or does the whole tile count as "factory" and suppress the same?

Also, say you see the squad in the factory - do you target the squad itself or area fire near it for the most effect?

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It does effect the surrounding area, but not a full tile's worth. Tiles are separate entities only for the terrain editor, they aren't functional units for the rest of the engine. They are not "hexes", in other words. Locations are tracked down to 2m by 2m bits.

But fire does effect an area, because the units are not points, conceptually. That is only the centerpoint of the squad. In open ground, a shot as far as 25m away will send someone to "alerted", ducking briefly. But the chance of actual loss is minimal at that distance. Can matter in terms of slowing rally of someone already pinned, or in particularly touchy situations (night, greens in the open, etc).

Shots within about 10m are more likely to cause real suppression, even to men with cover. You can hit men in the units not directly aimed at, if they are bunched up too much, and will "scare" them all. You get this effect whether you use "area fire" or aimed fire at one of the units present, either way.

The main reason to use area fire is to deal with targets that are only occasionally visible. At the edge of spotting, it is quite common for the enemy to be visible as a full spot if up and firing, but to "disappear", "turn into a flag" (recent sighting marker), if pinned or otherwise silenced. Units behind walls also disappear when they duck.

If you are area firing, your shooter will fire the full 6 times a minute (can be higher at close range) whether he can see the enemy at the moment of trigger pull or not. That will continue to add suppression if there is really someone there. It can thus be useful e.g. to keep an already pinned unit pinned, instead of "losing him" when he ducks, and letting him then rally back to "shaken" and fire again.

Normally, though, you are better off aiming directly at the target. You won't waste as much ammo if the target disappears. And you hit him a bit harder, each time you do fire.

All the above is for infantry type fire against a spotted target. There is another reason to use area fire with HE. Frequently you can't see the target, or it isn't current, or you aren't sure someone is there to begin with. But with large HE, "close counts", and you can blanket likely areas of cover or threat with several shooters over several turns. So you order a tank e.g. to area fire at a small building - it will pump in HE until the place is rubble. A flag telling you someone hid there at some point is all the motivation you need.

Note also that indirect mortar fire is always "area fire" by default.

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