Sunday, 31 October 2010


Talking about the future of BattleTech here is a link to one of the Battlechats with Herb.

If you scroll down the page you find a more readable edited version to peruse and think about. I can see the logic in CGLs approach, but the cost is the loss on any real chance of updating BattleTech for the 21st Century. This is in spite of the fact that all the elements to introduce a new Starter Set exist.

My vision would be an introductory set with Quick Start Classic and Quick Strike fast play, which would go a long way to addressing the major complaints of new players coming across BattleTech for the first time, which are; that too much detail slows down play, and one can't field large numbers of units.

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.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Pain & Weakness

There is a well known adage in the military that "pain is weakness leaving the body". If so, then I'm incredibly weak as I've been having a lot of pain recently. Without going into a blow-by-blow account of the last month, all I will say is that last week I was admitted to hospital due to pain in my breasts that the doctors deemed needed treatment with overnight IVF anti-biotics (QDS).

So, here I sit in front of my computer, after my morning nap, morning visit to the surgery for dressing, and afternoon nap, in a bit of pain (up to my eyeballs in pain killers) writing a blog entry. Normal service will take some time to be resumed...

As in any good story, the heroine's travail was a weeks worth of IVF anti-biotics, with an attempted aspiration performed on her right breast, which then led to another aspiration under local anaesthetic that then led to emergency surgery (emergency as in they brought forward the operation, not AFAIK to prevent life threatening problems, though as my temperature was spiking in anti-biotics at 38.3c, so I may be wrong).

I was released from the hospital on Monday this week with two "soft drains" in my right breast (yes, tubes in flesh where fluid comes out, very
Baron Harkonnen from Dune, "your abscess is looking full and firm my lady") that require that the dressing be changed daily due to "soiling".

Not feeling up to much, but will post comments as I can.

PS: Missed the SWLWG, which was a shame as I intended to take Oliver to the show and get him some terrain for playing MWDA. This weekend my godson will visit and I have some MWDA mechs for him when he gets here. It is the little things that keep one's spirits up.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

BattleTech 2.0

Having gotten back into playing
BattleTech over the last couple of years, after a 16 year hiatus consisting of work etc, I'm not necessarily the worlds most experienced BattleTech player. The addition of new weapons and rules into the game over that 16 year period, has expanded BattleTech far beyond what was available in 1992 when I stopped playing. Though I had to chuckle a bit when I found out that the current line developers had rewritten the pulse lasers and targeting computers rules due to certain designs I wrote for them that appeared in the 3055 TRO.

I can't say I was completely innocent of pushing the boundaries, but there again I only designed what the rules allowed me to design, and IMNSHO the problems with a lack understanding the consequence of rules written by FASA is still a problem 25 years later, because largely it's the same crew writing stuff for the game.

Okay, they are brilliant, creative people, but none of them has the will, or desire to crunch the consequences of the rules as written, rather than the underlying intent of the rules.
Heck, at some points I get this image in my head of the CGL crew as all rather left wing, vegetarian carrot crunching, social science majors, who hug plush toy cat girls when they go to bed at night. Seriously, what BattleTech has always needed is some hardcore "right wing" game design munchkins to break the game in every possible way they can. Someone who will go in, kick over the dustbins, take names and chew gum.

Having now ruined any chance of ever working for CGL let me tell you what I do. I only really play
BattleTech with the introductory rules, using the Total Warfare rules as something one dips into to be able to use select pieces of hardware that are cool. Everything else is covered by house rules, with the aim being to keep the flow of the game going. To keep it cool. In my experience it seems to me that what new players want are games that they can play over a course of an evening, and that allow them to field a larger number of miniatures on the table. Something that BattleTech delivers rather poorly.

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.

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