New OWB class dropped, the Machine Gunner. It's quite good, though I don't know if it's quite as evocative as the Combat Medic (>>31371
). It focuses on suppressing fire both offensively and defending against it, and excels when finding a machine gun nest and keeping up sustained fire, being particularly tricky to dig out of entrenchment.
First things first, this class has a requirement. Due to the fact that you're going to be lugging around a machine gun, only the strongest, sturdiest soldiers get the job. This is codified by needing a minimum Strength and Constitution of 13. I think that this is more of a flavour thing than a balance one. It's not super hard, but isn't a class that is going to crop up every time. I don't mind that as much as I thought I would though, since at the scale we're talking about, dedicated machine gunners were not actually all that common, mobility was often more valued at the section level for commandos. Once you get to full scale raids like Bruneval, machine gunners show up but that's not the scale that OWB works at. It also keeps them from stepping on the Grunt's toes too much since they fill relatively similar niches as the base of fire element.
Moving on to the statblock. They advance every 2000 xp which is middle of the road, the same rate as the Grunt. Their Hit Dice are new, and are most similar to an inverted Grunt. They use the same base die, but add +1 on the first, third and fifth level instead of second and fourth. This puts them in the tougher end of the classes, which reflects the mechanics that the class is trying to play into, where you're meant to dig in and support the rest of the team from your position and not be driven off with particular ease. It's also a clever way of balancing them to being as tough as a Grunt on average, but with a slight endgame bonus for being lucky enough to get the requirements met. Their Basic Hit Bonuses are good. Starting at +1, and peaking at +4. These are above average and I think it reflects the nature of using a machine gun quite well. When you're spitting that much lead, you're bound to hit something. Saving Throws are typical combat class fare, nothing special to note there, with the exception of getting a +2 save bonus against suppressing fire.
On to abilities. First up is Spray and Slay
. It gives them +1 to-hit and +1 damage on burst fire attacks. It also gives them the first carrot for using machine guns proper. Normally in OWB, you have to 'get your bearings' by attacking a single target in the area you want to suppress with a burst fire attack before you continue onto suppressing fire next round. However, this ability lets the Machine Gunner just go straight to suppressing fire. I like this ability because it gives you options. It doesn't force you to only be a suppressive base of fire, but allows you to leverage your rate of fire into effective burst fire if that is more appropriate. It's nuanced and that's good.
Next is Fortify
. It gives significant bonuses to the use of partial cover (sandbags, low walls etc.) to simulate effective use of a machine gun position. At 1st level, you get to apply an additional -1 to the existing attack modifier for single shot weapons against you. At 3rd level, you do the same with burst fire attacks, and at 5th level, you get an additional +2 (effectively +4 including the flat bonus from the class) save bonus against suppressing fire. The basic rule is that you take half damage from suppressing fire, but a successful saving throw means you take none, so you can see why this is particularly powerful here. Again, it's good and does the job elegantly. The bonuses are big enough to bother with but not so big as to be broken.
At 3rd level you get Terrifying Sight
. This is powerful and can turn the tide of battle. I like that they are remembering the machine gun as a force multiplier here. The ability itself says that after three consecutive rounds of suppressing fire, all hostiles in range must take a reaction roll. Depending on the result, they might retreat or surrender outright, hunker down in cover and do nothing or continue fighting. As this is a mass effect, even at an even 1/3 split each way this is pretty bonkers and in a good way.
Overall as it's Pay What You Want, recommended $1, I can recommend it to someone who plays or runs OWB. The class is powerful but not imbalanced, has a somewhat unexplored niche that is nonetheless historically relevant, and is fairly evocative even if it doesn't make the hall of fame like some classes have in the past.