Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Three Types of People

There are three types of people in this world, those who can count, and those who can't! Sorry I couldn't help myself. Seriously though, Steve Williams, otherwise known as Typhoon, argued that there are three types of people who are fans of BattleTech:

1. The ones who play for the Battlemechs.

2. The ones who play for the background of the universe.

3. And the ones who play for a combination of the two above.

When he wrote this last year I went away and thought about where I stood in this scheme of things. At the time I thought I might be a three, but acknowledged that I started as a one, and it is only recently that I've gotten more into the background of the verse.

However, I'm not sure that this is even true. I think that people's views evolve and are not static, at least mine are. Though I would admit that some beliefs I have are strongly tied into my personality traits, which have been described both as passionate and assertive. Alternatively, I've been described as artistic and highly strung, even been described as a loose cannon, which is a bit scary.

So here is me being me and looking at my passion for BattleTech. The reason that I still play BattleTech to this day, inspite of a 13 plus year break while I got on with the rest of my life, is that it feeds my imagination. Well, more correctly Science Fiction has always fed my imagination, and BattleTech is SF, and even though this is perilously close to a circular argument, the point is that in the original BattleTech universe the battlemechs had changed the rules of warfare.

That of all the things about BattleTech was the one thing that drew me to the game. I don't care that the idea of giant walking battle mecha makes no sense, because for me idea being played with was the "what if they did?" The background also had the romance of knights in armour fighting against the end of civilisation was, if totally wrong in so many ways, utterly romantic. A world where the darkness has fallen and the people strive to survive against the odds has certain charming opportunities those who like to play games with the great what if?

Given this position, I find it easy to accept that I don't fit the classic BattleTech player profile, because I will gladly admit to running with the ideas I like, and leaving the ones I don't for others to enjoy. Unfortunately, the downside of such an attitude is that I question everything, and will tinker with rules and stuff as I see fit, which means that I don't always see eye-to-eye with more conservative players, whatever they play. So for me it is all about being able to use my imagination to create my own stories of war, betrayal and honour. I guess I'm just one of the people in the world who can't count!


  1. nice article. I don't play a whole lot of battletech anymore, mostly because of the rules. When I did play, and when I get the urge to play these days, it's typically a combination. I remember walking into a Shinder's when I was a kid, probably around 12 and seeing that warhammer on the box cover and knowing I had to have that game! At first it was all about the mechs. Later as I got more into the background it becam as much about the background.
    I miss the days' of the Fourth Succession war era. I think so far it's the most interesting period of the CBT universe. The recent Jihad seems interesting enough but I"m one of those crotchety old gamers who thought the clans really took a lot away from the originally feel of the game, and since then ithasn't been the same.

  2. Also, I meant THIRD succession war, not fourth, sorry.

  3. I think for a lot of us Old School Players, things went down hill with the introduction of the Clans. At first it was all ooh and aah, but then it was all headcaps and cored centre torsos. Changed the feel of the game completely, and made it something that I no longer wanted to play.

    Time has healed that rift a bit, but for me, as always, my opinion remains the same. We are winning!

  4. Honestly I wsn't impressed or interested in the clans at all, even initially. I recall the rumors of an invading force. We speculated that it would be aliens, an interesting idea. Instead we got the clans, a let down on all fronts, and as you say, a complete game changer.

    Ah well, what do you do!?

  5. Well, one of the things that I think is pretty obvious is that the end of the 3rd Succession War runs pretty much for 25 years. If you can't have fun playing games covering a 25 year period then I'm really at a loss, because that is such a long time and by extension covers hundred of battles or more.

    Every thing since is for those that want change, novelty, or a different game. Let them enjoy what they want, and luxurate in the enjoyment that comes from running pre-Clan.

    If it had been down to me, blowing hot air here, I would have handled the whole change in periods by having rules that modified target and armour effects. This would enable players to replicate the advantages of superior technology. However, no one at FASA asked me, so we ended up with a never ending new toys and rules being added to the game, which only serves to make the game play slower.

  6. I still don't see the issue. Perhaps it is the circles I move in, but I have never had a problem with the Clans. Battle Value did a lot to ensure the playing field was leveled, and I don't encounter enough Clan Tech - never mind the actual Clanners themselves - to have an opinion one way or another.

    Truth is, as a player in the big Inner Sphere, I think it quite likely I can live the rest of my life adventuring from one end of the IS to the other in the year 3076 and never encounter an actual Clanner outside the evening newsvid.

    No, really. How many of you have met a WWII veteran from Japan? Or a Vietnamese veteran from the Vietnam War? Okay, some of you, but the point is that I could play BattleTech for the rest of my adult life (call it 25 years) and never encounter any aspect of Clan culture first-hand - ever - and have a rip-roaring life of adventure, filled with stories I could tell to entertain my grandchildren around the fireplace on a cold winter's evening.

    The universe of BattleTech is really *that* big.


  7. In my limited experience, the "keep what you like and tweak the rest" attitude seems pretty normal among tabletop gamers; the "classic" BattletTech player profile might be an artifact of how the internet puts people together.

  8. Skiltao,

    Would you like to expand on that comment please? I think I know what you mean, but I'm not sure if I've totally understood you?

  9. I'd like to, but WordPress choked on it, so it's here instead.

  10. Well thanks for that, I've commented on your blog comment there.