Saturday 4 December 2010

BattleTech 2.3: The BattleTech Reader

This post is going to be a response to the one made over on The
BattleTech Reader by Steve Satak. Linky:

A lot of what Steve says I basically agree with, but have you thought of this, or yes that works for me etc.  I'm only going to address those points where it is obvious to me that I did not make my position clear, and thereby caused misunderstanding.

Even Bigger 'Mechs
Steve said, "There are rule sets out there cobbled together to allow larger ‘Mechs and other machines.  But reality (such as it exists in BT) in the form of the in-universe flavor the writers want prevents this from becoming canon.  Also, there is the acknowledgment by many players (including myself) that a machine much over 100 tons becomes little more than a slow-moving pillbox.  We have no shortage of ponderous gun platforms at 100 tons – why would a 200-ton machine be anything other than more of the same?" [big snip]  
I mostly agree, but they already exist (Ares Colossus Class) from MW:DA and sometimes one has to make the most of things as they come.  While all you point are valid, the truth is that CGL can't limit what players choose to field, only players can do that.  The attempt to control the shape of BattleTech through the use of canon designs only works if the players buy into it.  I've never bought into canon as the only one true word of BattleTech.  IMO trying to control the background setting is doomed to failure.

I see the universe canon code more as "guidelines", if you savvy?

Quad 'Mechs
Steve said, "I think advanced rules already allow for a turret in a quad ‘Mech.  I have used HMP to make them.  The loss of internal space in a quad’s legs is somewhat mitigated by the fact that they are permitted to carry armor equivalent to a bipedal ‘Mech that is ten tons heavier...  Neither is their ability to fire in a hull-down position behind Level One terrain,...  That’s four out of twelve hit locations that are essentially ignored and that is the same as a LOT of extra armor!"...  To put them in a position where they enjoy not only the hull-down ability and the extra armor, but all of the advantages of a bipedal ‘Mech as regards field of fire is to negate any real difference at all... [lots of snippage]
Yes but, the construction rules are clunky, and IMO could have been phrased in such a way as to make them conceptually easier to stat up designs that look like quad mechs with center torso turrets e.g: unseen Goliath.  I also want six leg designs for a Desert Gunner from Dougram, or a quad with an upper body and arms.  I'm not interested in super munch, but I am interested in look and feel.

To do this one needs a slightly redesigned record sheet, and the ability to move engines and gyros etc around the center and side torsos.  That's all I'm asking for.  More flexibility. 

Breaking the Game with TarComps 
Steve said, "You flummoxed me here – earlier, you wanted the option of heavier machines that for most practical purposes are designed to get to the area of operations and... sit and shoot...  Targeting computers take up tonnage, are tied into all weapons and grant only a +1 to hit.  Are you going to nix precision rounds for the autocannons as well?  After all, they negate up to 2 points of movement modifier on their chosen target.  Ma’am, those rounds are the best reason anyone would use the AC/10.  Which is it to be?" [some snippage]
Can't have you all flummoxed now.  Okay, here's the thing.  Slow assaults moving 2/3mps per turn are sitting ducks to fast light mechs, which IMO is a good balance for the game.  Anything that makes it easier to hit has consequences out of all proportion to the on the face of it bonus.  For example, using weapons giving a minus two to hit bonus has effectively made the pilot an elite 2 gunner.  That's a big bonus.

My proposal is that targeting computer allow a player to re-roll one die, and the minus two weapons allow a player to re-roll both dice.  Only once per weapon per turn of course.

Electronic Countermeasures, Sensors, Networks a Waste of Time 
Steve said, "I have never played in a double-blind game, so for me the Beagle and ECCM are things which rightly should exist but which are not necessarily critical assets when playing at the local game shop.  That said…  I have equipped several of the machines in our TRO with ECM for the express purpose of ECCM, because when it DOES affect my local game, the impact is phenomenal." [snip again like we did last summer]
I agree, these things have to exist.  They are just a pain in the ass, because IMO such things as ECM, ECCM and Beagle probe should be standard on every mech, not additions that take away from the combat effectiveness of the mech itself.  YMMV, and there is little that can be done about it either, so I put up with the stuff for the time it can serve a purpose.

Gentlemen Do Not Fight With Anything But Ranged Weapons & Their Bare Hands 
Steve said, "Given that most ‘Mechs repeat the human form in large, it seems to me nothing is more natural than two ‘Mechs facing off against each other with swords and such.  How is that not cool?  Several million avid fans of the Solaris matches would beg to differ."
Ah but, what happens on Solaris stays on Solaris.  Carrying a dead weight around that can only be used close up and personal, is IMO (and Greyson Death Carlyle) a waste of the opportunity to carry something more useful; like armour, heat sinks, or ranged weapons. ;-)

Final Comments 
Steve said, "I once called the fuzzy line between what ‘Mechs do and what infantry do the ‘30-meter Limit’.  Once you begin trying to play BattleTech inside that single hex, the rules break down – and fast.  You are effectively in RPG territory.  You can’t have it both ways, though the writers and designers have worked hard to make it at least somewhat possible.  I strongly believe that there is an upper limit to the game’s resolution as well, one I call the ‘100-ton Limit’.   Once you start playing above that limit, you are in BattleForce territory, and again, the BT rules break down pretty fast." [from snippage done earlier]
You are right, but the easiest answer is to ignore it, just like the ranges.  It is an artifact of the game to make it playable.  However, I disagree with the 100-ton Limit rules, because in practice I have found that while the younger players will revel in the awesomeness of the Colossus mechs, in the long run they are very specialised units that exist really for the Rule of Cool.


  1. >"My proposal is that targeting computer allow a player to re-roll one die, and the minus two weapons allow a player to re-roll both dice. Only once per weapon per turn of course.."

    I think re-rolling one or both dice is at least as good as the -1 or -2 it is replacing. I'll have to write that up and post it.

    You and Steve are having so much fun with this, maybe I'll throw my hat in the ring too. ;-)

    1. After three years of owning and running this blog I finally saw that I can reply to individual posts, hence the edit here...

      "I think re-rolling one or both dice is at least as good as the -1 or -2 it is replacing. I'll have to write that up and post it."

      Well, I would be interested in one of your analyses of the probablities that both have, because I just made my answer by the seat of my pants i.e: a wild ass guess.

  2. @EastwoodDC: Would that apply to precision ammo as well?

    I will think on the handful of ripostes above and consider a response (if any are needed). One I can think of right away is the mention of the Goliath. Heavy Metal Pro allows for turrets on the side torsos only. I like the old Goliath very much and, given its appeal, would like to have rules which allow it to see action on the field.

    Probably the biggest issue I ever had with BT and the quadruped 'Mech was, at least in the old days, there was no real advantage to the design over a humaniform chassis. You could sidestep. So what? There was also a bonus to the Piloting Skill Roll, but the loss of the space in the arms was a crying shame by comparison.

    The new rules provide for hull-down shooting in a way that vastly improves the quad's performance on the battlefield. But there is still that niggling lack of a turret option and the resulting decent field of fire. You have more armor, yes, but for a given tonnage, the humaniform chassis brings more to the battlefield and has a better arc of fire.

    I guess it really depends on what sort of battle you intend to fight. Quads would excel at defense, but so would a string of turreted pillboxes. The vehicles are allowed a range of suspension systems - tracks, wheels, hover, wings, etc. Each has a penalty/bonus unique for its type. Battle armor also has biped and quad frames, and I notice the quads typically move faster than the biped counterparts.

    What if... what if, instead of trying for turrets, the quad 'Mechs instead enjoyed a higher speed advantage for a given engine size than their two-legged bretheren? They have armor equal to a biped 'Mech ten tons heavier - why not bump up the speed another class in order to reflect the four-legged stance? A two-legged 'Mech would move at 5/8 for a given engine size, and a quad of the same tonnage and engine rating would move at 6/9.

    Just some thoughts...

    1. I always welcome your ripostes Steve, so post away.

  3. hey ,I use a quad mech at 35 tons with a 9/14 move 7 med laser(rt)with TSM Kicking front and back kicks kids,thanks to the new hall down rules it kicks some better booty every turn it runs stands up drops to the ground only 3 move points thats on a straight run a +5 to hit every turn,the side step is always great even back in th day ,in citys fast Quads can move at runs side step on no pave hexs face chang back to pavement move 8+ hexs with out one pileting roll!

    but if you mask it when some one makes a pop shot with PPc youcan charge them!