Sunday, 16 March 2014
This is Madness, This is BattleTech!
I've been thinking again about BattleTech, and what I think slows the game down. In my not so humble opinion, I think now more than ever that the original game played better before they added so much chrome on top of the basic rules. This in my opinion turned a fun game of giant battling robots into a bloated monstrosity with five plus volumes of rules that added nothing to the fun from playing the game.
So I've culled all the current core rulebooks but the A Time of War from my collection, and I've only kept that just in case I find myself in need of the opportunity to learn another set of rules. I am aware of the irony involved in this decision, given that the core rule books would be ideal for all that extra added gribbly detail that RPG campaigns thrive on, except that when I GM sessions I tend to play fast and loose with tech, being much more interested in the plot and story, rather than the technical aspects of the weapons as such.
If I could go back and change the basics of the BattleTech rules I would do the following:
1. Fix the ranges of the weapons by the simple expedient of making all the long range limits from the current stated start and extend them out to line-of-sight. So a machine gun shoots at one, two and three plus hexes at a base to hit of four, six and eight. Given the addition of movement modifiers this will make hitting with a machine gun a rather unlikely affair, and in my opinion will not adversely affect play balance. Just to be clear I would apply this to all the other weapons too, and allow dice probabilities decide the outcomes, rather than imposing artificially short ranges on everything.
2. No double heat sinks period, ever, full stop. The one big game breaker that renders auto-cannons less than worthless is the double heat sink. Get rid of them, end of problem.
3. Ammo explosion rules amended to reduce the damage to be one round cooking off, and applying the this first to the armour of the section, then the internal structure, and only carrying over any excess to adjacent section after that. Yes I like targets that go boom, but mechs are supposed to be state-of-the-art weapon platforms, so they should be at least as capable as a twentieth century Abrams MBT when it comes to containing an ammo explosion.
4. Internal hits on mechs should take into account the volume of the mech, in that there is a lot of space inside a mech, which means harder to do damage when something gets through the armour. So no re-rolls on empty spaces, armour allocation etc. Battlemechs should soak up damage.
5. Vehicles are meant to go boom, and therefore should not in my opinion be allowed to use anything to soak up critical hits. In addition, the construction rules for vehicles should result in vehicles that are less capable than mechs, otherwise what is the point of having mechs in the first place when one can build vehicles that make more sense? Otherwise you might as rename the game HoverTech.
6. All weapons post 3025 should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, with in my opinion those that add rules requiring more dice rolls, or shooting modifiers etc. being eliminated.
7. While we are at it, the missile launcher rules need simplifying with less rolls of the dice to calculate number that hit and location.
What I want is a game where one pilots a battlemech with a platoon of infantry and one, or two vehicles per person that plays at BattleTech's sweet spot, which in my opinion was always at the tactical come gladiatorial level of mecha-on-mecha level of play. YMMV on this, but you youngsters can get off my lawn is what I say.