Sunday, 21 October 2012

BattleTech 3.0: Epiphany Update

Previously on Paint it Pink I did a post called BattleTech 3.0: Epiphany that laid out some ideas that are worth repeating when it comes to making a fast play variant of the game.

This update is driven by the recent Catalyst games Battlechat with Herb Beas, the Line Developer for BattleTech, where he made it know that in 2015 there will be a new box set with quicker play rules for small actions. Now whether this will be combined arms games was not clarified during the Battlechat, but I can't see how it would be unreasonable to assume that the rules wouldn't allow for for this.

Anyway, no point speculating too much on what was a very sparse, one-liner.

More important I need to update my campaign groups experience from the number of games we have been playing over the last couple of years where we have fielded what are quite large numbers of model and played games to a full resolution within three to fours hours over an afternoon. As a reminder you can find all the Operation Sandbox Mummerset Campaign reports here.

Reviewing the Guidelines
1. For board games keep movement as cost per hex, but double the firing range. 
No, we didn't stick to that. Instead we had one movement point equal two inches, and ranges of weapons were based on the same metric.
2. For movement now all units just count the number of hexes (board-game), or inches moved (tabletop), and add a free facing change at the end of the turn only. 
We never played the quickplay on hex maps, as I've always set the game up on my terrain boards, but otherwise yes this worked.
3. Roll one pair of 2D6 (change to 4D6 and discard two results) for combat to calculate whether or not all the weapons that the unit has hit or miss. 
No, this didn't work out, because it was skewing results in the short term with either all hits, or all misses being generated. Instead ended up I colour coding all the weapons on the players record sheets and gave them matching pairs of dice to use.
4. Roll one pair of 2D6 ( change to 4D6 and discard two results) for all the missile weapons fired to get an average of number of missiles hit.
Didn't work out, and instead we used the simpler mechanic of using dice with the number of faces equal to the number of missile e.g.: use a D4 for and SRM4 etc., half a D10 for a D5 for an LRM5 and so on.
5. Ammo explosions are calculated as the value of one round of the ammo cooking off when they explode. However, after applying the internal damage, roll again on 2D6 (the usual roll of plus eight) to see if more critical damage is done to the mech (if the ammo bay is hit again, this too will explode one round and so on). 
This worked pretty much as expected.
6. Ferro-fibrous armour, endo-steel count and empty slots count as valid locations for an internal hit and need not be re-rolled.
Still out for the count. What we do is roll a D12 for the internal locations to save all the time having to re-roll D6s for results that are invalid.
7. Head hits do not automatically kill the pilot, instead the auto-pilot is assumed to eject the pilot, unless of course there is no ejection system or auto-eject is turned off for some reason. Pilots only die from wounds received. 
No problems.
8. Initiative to be governed by using cards, which will randomise what moves when during a turn.
Of all the things we did, this was the one that really changed the dynamic of the game by removing the optimum move search, as players realised that there was no longer an optimum move, as one had to make the most of the tactical situation as it was handed to you.
9. Introductory Rules to be used as the jump off point with the minimum amount or rules from other books as necessary.
Definitely the thing that drives quicker games.


  1. the data you've collected to follow up on Epiphany is priceless!

    these days I value play time so much that I carefully document each game so I can read up on stats in between matches.

    streamlining is sexy.

    your fan,


  2. #3 was a great idea, color coded weapons! In fact, I'm going to add support for that in my next record sheet printing update. Basically I'll let you put in all the die color pairs you have, then it'll go through that list for all the weapons. I'll also add a number beside each one, to better facilitate using a box of death to roll to-hit rolls for similar weapons.

    1. Feel free to use the ideas, as I'm glad they have helped.

  3. I like #3 and the d12 part of #6, not so much the others - because the thing I'm trying to do is slightly skewed from yours, in that I'm trying to play the game as written as enjoyably as possible rather than altering rules to increase enjoyment. So for example I've put together a couple of sets of hit location dice, pairs of d6 that allow you to read a hit location directly rather than looking it up on a table - but they give the exact same probabilities for each location as the tables do.

    1. I would like to see those dice and give them a go.

    2. I'll bring them along to the game - I haven't had a chance to try them in play yet.

  4. Since you've already associated each 'Mech with a playing card, and color-coded all the weapons on each 'Mech, you could take another step and prepare "fire sticks" (popsicle sticks coded by color & playing card) to correspond to a specific weapon on a specific 'Mech. Pointing these at your target is supposed to be faster than regular fire declaration rules. Of course, that assumes you're using standard rules for the weapons phase, and not (for example) resolving damage before the next 'Mech declares attacks, or pre-plotting all your attacks for the phase a la the double-blind rules.

    I mostly heard about people using this in relatively small games with lots of players; I'm not sure if it would more help or hinder a two player battalion-vs-battalion match.

    And a question, if I may: did you find that allowing free facing changes (#2) raised Target Movement Modifiers noticeably?

    1. We've replaced the fire declaration rules with the cards that trigger fire declaration one mech at a time. This makes firing solutions much more straight-forward, so less analysis paralysis.

      As for fire modifiers, given one can't count hexes, we have a mech getting its full bonus for the type of move it makes, so yes and no. I'm thinking of making the modifiers work in opposition.

      For example an assault mech on plus two versus a light mech on plus 5, would therefore be calculated as five minus two for a total of plus three modifier, plus its own plus two for running as the modifier, for a total of plus five to then be added to the range modifier.

      Just a thought.