Friday, 21 September 2012
Little Big Mechs
There are several problems when converting playing a game of BattleTech on a hex board to playing the game on scenic terrain boards that are at once obvious, subtle, and often bogged down by hidden assumptions.
The obvious point is that very few terrain boards have hexes drawn over them, so you have to convert the movement point allowances of BattleTech into something that works with miniatures on an unmarked playing surface. This is not too hard, and there are various well established rules that have stood the test of time. Unfortunately the specific details will have to be changed, since they weren't written to represent mechs forty feet high.
However, the subtle problem is quite a fundamental one. Boardgames deal with hexes which are measures of area. Miniature games deal with linear distance.
Let me put it like this.
On a board, if two mechs are three hexes from each other, the nominal distance is ninety metres, but a mech is not thirty metres wide and could therefore be standing at one edge of the hex, as could the other mech. Hence they are nominally ninety metres apart, but potentially between sixty and one hundred and fifty metres away from each other.
Of course this doesn't actually matter in the boardgame, because the ground area is clearly defined by the hex pattern, so that there is no confusion over what is implied by the weapons range, and the players know that the rules are fair to both sides.
This is not the case with a table top game where such looseness would cause problems, so a measure is normally defined as the centre-to-centre distance between models.
The final problem is one that has weighed down the traditional wargame for years, as it makes underlying assumptions about the structure of a wargame. This is something that I am very concerned with. The lengths to which the arguments have gone have caused ructions amongst miniature wargame enthusiasts, and have been going on and off for some quite considerable length of time. Put simply, what do the models represent?