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BattleTech. Tell me more...

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17 Aug 2010 08:32 - 17 Aug 2010 09:43 #71545 by Mr. White
I've never played a game of BattleTech. I understand that there's a 25th anniversary starter set coming soon. Assuming the contents are similar to the previous starter set, what can I expect?

That is, how complicated are the rules compared to say GW (any) or Silent Death. How long do games take to play? 24 minis...does this cover two factions? 3? 4? Can the game be played multiplayer? I see it's called 'Classic' BattelTech. Is there another BattleTech line? What books/supplements will I need later? How's the fluff?

I like the idea of getting a lot of minis/game in a starter and expanding. It also doesn't look like it takes up at lot of space being at a much smaller scale (28mm terrain can be a _pain_ to store).

Very interested in giving this a shot when it comes out.

Thanks!
Last edit: 17 Aug 2010 09:43 by Mr. White.

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17 Aug 2010 09:41 #71553 by mikoyan
The game isn't particularly complicated except for a lot of the bookkeeping for tracking armor and heat. If your mech is well designed, heat shouldn't be too much of a issue but of course as it gets damaged, it does become an issue. The combat rules are fairly straightforward with some modifications depending on the circumstances of the board. If you play wargames, you should be fairly comfortable with the rules. If I remember correctly, you can do a battle with a couple mechs in a couple of hours.

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17 Aug 2010 09:44 #71556 by Mr. White
So, do you get to design things like the weapons, level of armor, etc that go on your mech? I also hear there's a campaign system where you build up your mercenary driver's skills get money to upgrade your mech, etc. That interests me greatly.

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17 Aug 2010 09:46 #71557 by mikoyan
You can take a mech right out of the books or if I remember correctly you can design a mech within the limits of tonnage and heat sinks and what not. I also seem to remember a campaign system but I never played it that way. Usually we were just doing skirmishes.

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17 Aug 2010 10:24 #71560 by Pat II
There are enough mech designs included in the game to get what you want without getting into the business of designing your own.

I haven't played in a long time but this game is fun. I believe you would normally play out a two player game with a "Lance" of 4 mech's each. There is a point system worked out on tonnage with the heaviest of the mech's being 100 tonnes and the little scouts coming in at 20 or so.

They have infinite variety already and quite a bit of backstory to get you interested if you like it.

The only complex part is the book keeping as Mik states but it really isn't that bad. We used to play battle campaigns that centered more on the outfits (companies ,divisions etc...)rather than the individual pilots but there are rules for everything in Battletech.

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17 Aug 2010 10:29 #71564 by Mr. White
There is a type of bookkeeping that I like. A page with your vehicle's image with lots of little check-boxes to cross out as you take damage and weapons to scratch through when you receive a certain amount (like in Silent Death and Dark Future) etc are fun for me. It helps me see the narrative and imagine my wing blown off and the ship destabilized. I dig that.

Remembering to move this chit, then flip that card, to then reset stack three which sets off the 3rd phase of the turn, I do not enjoy.

I'm assuming this bookkeeping is the former.

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17 Aug 2010 10:32 #71565 by Pat II
You'll certainly enjoy this then. It was fun jabbing my frinds while they cried over their blackened mech sheets.

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17 Aug 2010 10:37 #71567 by Ken B.
There was one of the Battletech base sets at a local bookstore forever; I kept thinking about taking the plunge. Looks totally sweet. Of course when I finally decided to scoop it up, it was gone and that set was OOP.

Will the new set still have 24 plastic mechs? And when is the damned thing coming out?

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17 Aug 2010 10:37 #71568 by mikoyan
Jack Hooligan wrote:

There is a type of bookkeeping that I like. A page with your vehicle's image with lots of little check-boxes to cross out as you take damage and weapons to scratch through when you receive a certain amount (like in Silent Death and Dark Future) etc are fun for me. It helps me see the narrative and imagine my wing blown off and the ship destabilized. I dig that.

Remembering to move this chit, then flip that card, to then reset stack three which sets off the 3rd phase of the turn, I do not enjoy.

I'm assuming this bookkeeping is the former.

Yes. There are generally sheets with boxes for the amount of damage a certain area can take. Once it has taken that damage it is gone. There are also boxes for ammo expenditure (for rockets and machine guns). I think there are also your heat sinks.

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17 Aug 2010 10:43 #71569 by VonTush
"Classic BattleTech" is the newest version. Back in the day the game was a mess with some rules in some books, some rules that directly contradicted each other...etc. CBT is Catalyst Games going through all the old books and compiling and consolidating the rules.

The game is as difficult as you want to make it. If you just want mech skirmishes then the starter set should provide you with plenty to have some good 100-200 ton skirmishes (tons are the point system in the game).

If you want to add Aerotech (space battles, drop pods, aircraft to come strafe the battlefield), ground units and have the complete rule set then you'll need the Total Warfare book. Mech creation is under the Tactical Readout book. I haven't looked at BT in a while, but it looks like there's another book for advanced Aerotech and another book out to customize battlefield conditions to create different planet environments. And it looks like you can pick and choose what you want out of the various books to customize the difficulty as you see fitting.

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17 Aug 2010 11:38 #71578 by mjl1783

Remembering to move this chit, then flip that card, to then reset stack three which sets off the 3rd phase of the turn, I do not enjoy.

I'm assuming this bookkeeping is the former.


Yes and no. There's hardly any actual record keeping, but you still have to remember how far each mech moved this turn, what type of movement it used, which direction its turret is facing relative to its legs, etc. There are also a quite a few die rolls you have to remember to make when you move into certain terrain or take damage in certain spots to see if your mech falls. There are a lot of modifiers, and each shot, you have to determine whether you hit your target, where you hit it, and how much damage you did.

It's about as simple as Silent Death, and plays quite a bit like it, but it's a little fussier with the math.

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17 Aug 2010 12:59 #71593 by Brewmiester
I would say it is a little more involved than Silent Death but the box ticking is certainly there. After you lose all the armor over a location you damage the internal structure, then move on to the next location inward. You can also cause crits that do interesting things (just ask my buddy at Gen Con who I managed to get two engine hits on so he was generating 10 units of heat just standing around.)

At Gen Con we were using different colored dice by our Mechs after we moved depending on what movement mode we used (walk, run, jump) and then setting them on a modifier for how fast we moved (the faster you move the harder you are to hit but your accuracy decreases also.)

There are a lot of modifiers and rolls to be made but most of them make sense so they aren't too bad.

And if you do Heroscape at all you have terrain ready made.

I am a little biased though. I've been playing pretty much off and on since it came out and used to really enjoy playing the computer game at lan parties.

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17 Aug 2010 17:09 #71626 by jpat
Replied by jpat on topic Re:BattleTech. Tell me more...
I reviewed the 2007 intro box on TOS. Most of what I say applies to the new box (which was supposed to come out last year for the actual 25th anniversary).

There are two "levels" of rules in the box. There's a set of quick-start rules that really are quick. Those rules are divided up into (I think) three tracks, from basic battles between (I think) one 'Mech apiece to some light combined-arms stuff with 'Mechs, vehicles, and infantry. My friend and I played all three tracks and had a good time. It was a nice, smooth introduction for him and reintroduction for me.

The main rulebook is the introductory level rules. These are 'Mech-only but they are not a dumbed-down version of the main hardcover rules book; they merely omit material that's not applicable (e.g., vehicle information or advanced weapons). The introductory rulebook also includes construction rules for this intro-level tech, so you can create your own units. There should be at least 24 pre-filled record sheets, one for each mini. I don't know what they'll do with the two "high-quality" minis because those are for a higher tech level if they're the 'Mechs everyone thinks they are.

Contra the 2007 intro box, you'll also get game board-quality maps. The 2007 maps were thin, slick paper and were much worse, in my opinion, than either the cardstock maps of yore or the map compilation paper maps that are OOP but still findable.

Time-wise, BT can run the gamut. A one-on-one 'Mech battle using the quick-start rules can easily finish under an hour. A four-on-four (lance-on-lance) engagement could take two to four hours, depending on play style, rules familiarity, etc. (Ironically, the lower tech level at which the box is pitched makes the game easier to learn but reduces the lethality of the machines.)

The minis are decent, some better than others, but it is virtually impossible to complain about getting 24 or 26 of them for the price. BT is not a what-you-see-is-what-you-get game, so you can use proxies for any unit. Older versions of the game used cardboard standups, for example. The minis do not represent one or another faction per se. There are no army lists or anything like that in BT. Most factions had some 'Mech preferences, but (especially in the early years of the setting when there was more of a focus on salvage) pretty much any 'Mech could be found in any faction.

As someone else said, there's a shitload of backstory and supplementary material. The box comes with a universe guide, which is a decent introduction to all of that.

Maybe you can tell, but I find BT to be one of the most satisfying game experiences possible. It's as simple or as deep as you want to go.

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17 Aug 2010 17:12 - 17 Aug 2010 17:20 #71627 by jpat
Replied by jpat on topic Re:BattleTech. Tell me more...
I should also note that a lot of this stuff is available, albeit sometimes in earlier-but-still-nearly-identical versions, free for download from the publisher's Web site, classicbattletech.com. You can get the quick-start rules, the intro book (different edition than the one in the box), and the universe book (also a different edition) if you go to the "Leap into the Action!" page (for the first and the last one) and/or the Downloads section (for all three). (They've kind of hidden the PDF link for the intro rulebook but kept it on the site. It's there in the Downloads section under Rules.) BT rules have changed very little since 1985, so there should be no major discrepancies.

Edit:
Link for quick-start rules:
www.classicbattletech.com/downloads/QSR_BattleTech_EN.pdf
Link to universe book:
www.classicbattletech.com/downloads/CBTUniverse.pdf
Link to intro rules:
www.classicbattletech.com/downloads/CBT_...ductory_Rulebook.pdf

I hope by the linking that I'm not discouraging a purchase. The box is a great value for the maps and minis alone. Plus, it's nicer to have bound versions of the intro rules.
Last edit: 17 Aug 2010 17:20 by jpat.

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17 Aug 2010 21:12 #71635 by Ancient_of_MuMu
And there is a cartoon tv series for battletech. How many other boardgames can claim that.

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