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Battletech - 35th Anniversary Beginner's Box and Intro Set Review

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21 Feb 2019 00:00 #292862 by Michael Barnes
For those of us who grew up gaming in the...

Celebrating 35 years of overheating Mad Cats.

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21 Feb 2019 18:21 - 21 Feb 2019 20:28 #292863 by Gary Sax
With you on loving the price point.

Haven't played it for a while but this system is clunky as hell and janky. It's one of those games I don't think is worth revisiting so I guess I agree with 2009 Barnes.
Last edit: 21 Feb 2019 20:28 by Gary Sax.

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21 Feb 2019 20:23 #292872 by n815e
I remember ordering this by asking my mom to mail a check to FASA — after seeing an ad in Dragon for it. The 6 weeks that it took to arrive was torture and I felt like I was opening a box of adventure when it did. So many hours spent filling in bubbles on photocopied record sheets with number 2 pencils.

This hit its highlight for me with Citytech and then I discovered Star Fleet Battles, trading mecha for starships.
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21 Feb 2019 21:16 #292874 by SaMoKo
A gem from the days where throwing nukes at your opponent was an event celebrated with a tub full of dice to hurl at your enemy. Now it’s a tragedy to be mourned with black meeples and a thoutful sidebar note from the designer.
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21 Feb 2019 22:10 #292877 by Shellhead
I played Battletech once, in 1989. My gaming group was playing a lot of Car Wars at the time, and Battletech seemed like Car Wars for Dummies. Never played it again. One of my friends loved Battletech so much that he would go to GenCon and spend all four days just playing Battletech, so we called him The Battledork. If any of you ever went to GenCon in the '90s and played some Battletech, you probably met my friend Dave, aka "Ferd."

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21 Feb 2019 22:34 #292878 by dysjunct
Aesthetically, I didn’t like it because it ripped off Macross.

Game wise, it was only tolerable when I played a computerized version on a friend’s Amiga. That took care of all the math, but it had the consequence of lowering the stakes dramatically. If you overheat and blow up, the next game starts in 10 minutes, so there’s not as much incentive to play smart.

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21 Feb 2019 22:41 #292879 by hotseatgames
I played a 'learn how to play Battletech' event at Origins once. It was fun, and I'd definitely play again. I may pick up the starter set if given the opportunity.

I have really been enjoying the turn based strategy Battletech game on PC. I wish there was a way to lay hexagons on top of the terrain, but there isn't.

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22 Feb 2019 08:13 - 22 Feb 2019 08:31 #292890 by Mr. White
Very interested in this.

I grew up in Europe in the 80s, so my formative years were filled exploring GW's flavour of gaming universes. WFRP, AHQ, BB, SH. When we moved back to the US in the early 90s, attention was given to the FASA covers, to my mind a set of 'American' gaming universes. I owned several books from FASA games because the covers looked cool. Played...practically none except a few Shadowrun one-shots.

I'm not too interested in buying boardgames these days, but these two BattleTech sets look like a great opportunity to finally get into one of these FASA (or Catalyst) titles and have a little fun. They certainly look dead simple to paint. I love games with tick boxes for damage (Dark Future, Silent Death, BattleCars) so that's another plus here. Also...my son and a buddy are all in on Gunpla so giant robots are a big deal at home.

Is there a lot of redundancy between to the two products? Do the dry-erase damage boards that come with the $20 set cover the 8 robots in the $50 set?

Damn...I can't believe it's been 10 years since the last BT Anniversary box...

EDIT: Anyone know if the SNES Battletech/Mechwarrior games are any good?
Last edit: 22 Feb 2019 08:31 by Mr. White.

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22 Feb 2019 08:35 #292897 by Legomancer
Always loved the look and idea of Battletech, but the one or two times I actually tried to play it I just floundered. My disinterest in minis games got its start there.

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22 Feb 2019 08:39 #292898 by Mr. White
What the...

Both of these boxes look to be going for twice MSRP. Didn't they just come out? The IP still that popular?

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22 Feb 2019 08:48 #292900 by BaronDonut
During summer in my middle school years, I would spend all day every day in my neighbor's basement playing the FASA big three: Shadowrun, Earthdawn, and Battletech. I dunno why this particular company's products became embedded so deeply in our brains, but that's what stuck: every other system bounced off us, these were Our Games.

We used to play Battletech more like a roleplaying game, working cooperatively against enemy forces, taking turns controlling their actions. What I remember best is the feeling of heft and consequence--lumbering beasts that had to swivel their torsos and smash through forests, the feeling of impact as a Gauss Cannon shredded a limb and ignited the ammo stored there.

It's hard to know how I'll feel about this game divorced from the memory of these long summers--my gaming tastes have changed so wildly that it's tough to imagine a slow slog of mechanized attrition being appealing to my current sensibilities. But you can be damn well sure I'll pay twenty bucks to find out.

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22 Feb 2019 09:03 #292901 by hotseatgames

Mr. White wrote: What the...

Both of these boxes look to be going for twice MSRP. Didn't they just come out? The IP still that popular?


Amazon is full of scalpers. Hopefully a reprint puts them to death.

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22 Feb 2019 09:33 #292906 by jpat
It hasn't *quite* been 10 years since the 25th anniversary edition. Because it's Catalyst, and because Catalyst is always surprised by production issues, it came out around 2011. And it was a great box, with (as Barnes notes) 26 minis (including two "premium" ones) and hard-mounted maps and most everything up to decent 2011 board game style. I haven't seen the current box, but I'm sure the somewhat slimmed down contents are a better match for what CGL can reasonably keep fairly consistently in print. Maybe.

It clearly is a 35-year-old design, but (and this was pretty clear from the 25th anniversary box set and the slightly less luxe one before it) it's really a pretty simple game at heart. If you play 1v1 or 2v2 'Mech only and minimal terrain, it's still not streamlined, but you can wring out a rich experience with fairly minimal fuss. I don't know whether this pair of boxes does this like the old ones did, but you can even add in some basic vehicles and infantry without really cluttering things up. I'm not sure the game ever really gets hard, but it gets slow the more units you try to push through it and the more chrome you add on. As I recall, there are even some simplified aerospace rules in one of the books (because if anything *is* hard, it's probably the full aerospace stuff).

So you can get out of it what you want. You can have a fairly svelte 'Mech-on-'Mech thing or you can go lance- or company-level, add city streets and buildings, throw in some aerial or space units, whatever. The game's amenable to whatever level of stuff you want to put into it, and there are whole thick books devoted to advanced options on various scales, not to mention the RPG stuff.

Maybe the best way to describe the lore is as good to sometimes very good setting lore. It's usually not great literature, but, especially earlier on in the game's history (not when I was playing), it had an important role in helping to shape the overall storyline and specific settings/modules within it, and playing those reinforced interest in the fiction. They kinda got a little messed up when things went to the "Dark Age" in tandem with the clix game, and then the whole book publishing thing kinda collapsed on them, and there wasn't (like there had been in the Mechwarrior period and maybe before, too) something like a paperback novel every couple of months. I think they're going more to POD books on that front, but I haven't followed for a while.

So there's a lot here in this game, and it won't be for everyone, and I can't say nostalgia doesn't play some part in continued interest in it because it's still basically the 1980s game. But CGL, whatever their shortcomings as a publisher, really does care about the game, and their boxes have been very good to great if you set aside the difficulty of getting one.
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22 Feb 2019 13:00 #292917 by Michael Barnes
Oh yes, you are right- it is 2011. I really wish I had not sold that set off now...that thing is $250+ on eBay, I was thinking about getting one for the mechs and maps but...nope!

Jeff, the only crossover between the sets is one mech, and even it is a variant. Everything else is different, maps and all.

These versions of the game are straight up mechs- no Battletroops, Cityfight, or any of that other stuff. Which simplifies things GREATLY.

I think my favorite early Battletech story was when I first tried to buy the game. I was with my dad at the mall and I presented it as what I wanted to get. He was all like “no, kids play those kinds of games and lose their minds, it makes them think they can jump off buildings, etc.” I was kind of like “do what now” and then imagined that I might become so deluded and brainwashed that I might think I am a Jenner running across the yard.

He bought it for me anyway. It was October 27, 1989. There was a massive earthquake during the World Series. My dad was watching it as I was flipping through the books.
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22 Feb 2019 13:35 #292920 by jpat
At one time I had Battletech as a 10 on BGG, and I guess the fact that it's not now says I was wrong to give it a 10, but it really can be an incredibly immersive experience both in terms of gameplay and in the world around it. Or you can just pull out a couple of 'Mechs and use quick-start rules and be done in an hour or less. You can read the fiction or not. You can paint minis or use standees.

$250, though? Maybe I should sell my 25th. I bought all that stuff back when I had someone to play with. We had an hourlong work lunch, so we'd set up, play a bit, and break down and do it again the next day. But no more.

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