Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Started listening to the Dead Games Society podcast. Their latest episode deals with early Battletech and MechWarrior, a subject near and dear to my heart.
WHM on the move.

Like Warhammer 40k, BattleTech has changed in tone from its initial presentation. It's gone from feudal knights riding slowly disintegrating metal steeds in a dark age to a bunch of combined-arms "modern" stellar nations duking it out with militaries that seem far more contemporary in org structure and tactical capabilities.

In the first iterations of BattleTech, a MechWarrior* losing their 'mech meant that they became Dispossessed, losing the traditional rights and privileges of a MechWarrior until they somehow clawed their way back into another 'mech or died trying. By the time of the Clan invasion, it just meant you picked another off the factory floor.

But I digress into boring shit.

After a friend gifted me with some Battletech expansions in law school, I've wanted to run a full operation scenario, charting the course of a raid or incursion from initial landing to hitting the objectives to exfiltration. As I was listening to the podcast, I realized how I might want to do this: a pointcrawl map, using double-blind movement for both players.

Ah, Space Bavaria!

The scenario would work something like this. Two Leopard dropships (total of 8 mechs) are sent to attack a world in a commando raid. The first battle is getting the dropships through the planet's space defenses; can the defender get lucky and take out one (or both) dropships?

Next step is landing and a cat-and-mouse game. Both sides are given a pointcrawl map with a few nodes. Some of these are the invaders' objectives (factories, bridges, etc.): others are useful areas to hold (satellite uplink - whoever last tapped this can see certain types of movement, etc), and others are just empty nodes.

Leopard-class Dropship
The attacker can land their ships on lines between two nodes on the pointcrawl, and then send their 'mechs out, divided up as they please. Meanwhile, the defender has designated where their 'mech forces are to be located (in nodes), and their abstracted planetary militia. Militia would occupy lines between two nodes (like the dropships); if enemy mechs moved through the area, then the militia forces basically get a free shot at the moving mechs, while the 'mechs get a chance to eliminate the militia unit. Quick abstracted resolution that has the 'mechs arriving on battlefields somewhat beaten up. Oh, and presence of a light mech would allow for a saving throw to avoid the ambush altogether (yay scouts!).

Both sides would be engaging in maneuver here: the attacker to try and take out their objectives (and possibly additional side goals), and the defender to intercept them. If 'mech forces wind up occupying the same node, then you resolve as per a traditional Battletech game. (The aerospace fighters used in the initial portion of the battle somehow fail to show up for the cat-and-mouse component, since aint' nobody wants to deal with aerospace integration in a B-tech game, it's already cumbersome enough as is.)

Each of the special function nodes would have to be clearly denoted beforehand so that it's possible for folks to figure out where the crucial areas and chokepoints are going to be.

 Neither side would have any repair capability (or maybe capacity for minimal field repairs - armor is fixable, internals less so), so commanders have an incentive to play conservatively with their tonnage and withdraw .


*Something never explained in BTech: the inexplicable fondness for every damn thing to be named in CamelCase. BattleMech, AgriMech, MechWarrior, ComStar...