Saturday 23 October 2010
BattleTech 2.1: Uncool Rules
Again over on the Classic BattleTech Forum Herb.B is polling the members on the subject of "Your Top Ten Least Liked pieces of BattleTech technology?" Broken link removed.
First I have to to wonder why bother, as the sample size is going to be far too small to be useful, and the forum members are unlikely to be a truly representative selection of players? I must admit I really didn't get the question, or poll as such. For me there are rules that I like, or think work well, versus those rules that I don't like, because for me they don't work so well. Some are only mildly bad rules and I can live with them, some are so bad that I house rule from the get go.
Being an Old School Player of BattleTech, what sold me on the game was the fact that it would allow me to simulate the action sequences I saw in Japanese SF anime giant mecha show, which were/are cool. So, using the concept of the "Rule of Cool", here are the rules in BattleTech that I think are not cool.
1. Ammo explosion rules, and the various CASE rules, are so clunky as to be the first thing everyone I know house rules, so not cool. In fact the ammo explosion rules are a classic example of a broken rule in BattleTech, which is amply illustrated in the explosion of one ton of machine gun ammo equals 200 points of internal damage. My inclination is that an ammo hit equals the damage of the ammo. For example machine gun ammo would be two points, LRM 20 would be 20 points. Internal damage is always bad, but this plays far more reasonably (fun & cool), and would remove a lot of arguments for not carrying auto-cannons etc.
2. Not allowing mechs larger than 100 tons is so not cool. Giant stompy robots are cool. Bigger giant stompy robots have even more cool. Cool is good, rules that get in the way of cool are not good. Of course the reason these rules have never been codified is that there are some flaws in the engine table when they arbitarily shifted the mid-range engines power to weight ratios. As for the record sheets, again these can be adjusted as there is nothing intrinsically stopping one from doing so.
3. The quad mechs rules in BattleTech are so not cool. Quads are cool, quads with a torso and arms are cool, quads with a torso and a body with four arms are cool. Tripods with, or without arms are cool. Six legged mechs with turrets are cool.BattleTech is about the rule of cool. Again the rules for having quads that can torso twist, or not (think choice of hand actuators etc for Rifleman etc) is relatively trivial. Record sheets can be adjusted so that quad mech legs are treated like biped arms with two sets of internal spaces. Allowing turrets for quads as their version of the built in torso twist. It's all cool.
4. One-Shot Launchers (SRM, MRM, LRM) rules are a complete waste of time, so again not cool. My reading of the rocket launcher rules suggests that the fix is in, but the will to remove useless stuff is lacking. I can see from an RPG perspective that one-shot launchers may offer more in-character role-play opportunities, but for BattleTech the boardgame, not so much.
5. Rules that break the basic premise of the game, which for me is epitomised by the basic rule of thumb that faster machines are harder to hit. So for me this means targeting computers, pulse lasers and any other clunky rules where the rules make it an advantage to sit and shoot, rather than fire an manoeuvre have to go, as they are just not cool.
6. The additional armour rules for stealth, hardened etc. are great for the RPG, but are a total waste of time for the boardgame, too much detail for very little added play value. So again just not cool.
7. All the electronic rules covering things like ECM/ECCM, Beagle probes, C3 Boosted, Master & Slave, Remote Sensor Launcher rules are just so not cool. All of this stuff needs to be folded into the basic premise that battlemechs are the ultimate warmachine of the future, and such detail should only rear its ugly head when playing the RPG.
8. Protomechs that look like animals. Not cool unless you are five and think Transformer Beast Wars is the best thing since sliced bread. Don't get me wrong, Beast Wars can be cool, but it is just so not BattleTech, which is grey, unrelenting warfare over centuries, where the advances of the great powers on the interstellar scale look less than impressive. Remember the scene in the Black Adder Goes Forth episode Private Plane. The one where General Melchet shows Lt. George the one-to-one scale model of the 17 square feet of land that the last offensive captured from the Bosch. That's BattleTech!
9. Melee weapons on mechs, except on industrials, and even then they should be field expedient and appropriate to the task of the mech. Hate hatchets, hate swords, and maces even more. This is BattleTech not WH40K. Not cool.
10. Double heat sinks rules have no down sides. Not cool. I rather like the suggestion made on the CBT forums that when damaged that they could cause a critical hit on the usual 8+ on 2D6.
11. The way that the weapon ranges are explained are dumb. The way the rules explain extreme and line-of-sight are so not cool. The rules as written tie the game into unnecessary knots.
12. Infantry organisation rules. One mech, or vehicle equals a squad, and 3 to 6 squads equals a platoon. Why oh why oh why then make infantry based around platoons when every unit is equal to a squad. Then you can allow platoons of infantry to be created organically by choosing the number of squads in them as appropriate.
13. Anything that adds extra details needs to go into the RPG side of the game where it belongs. BattleTech needs to be streamlined, fast and sexy, because that is cool. At the moment BattleTech is a fat bloater who waddles from place to another, and that is not cool.
End of rant.
Disclaimer: All posts are condensed & abbreviated summaries of complex arguments posted for discussion on the internet, and not meant to be authoritative in any shape, or form on said subject, T&CA, E&OE & YMMV.