The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > Cafe Society

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 06-01-2004, 10:21 AM
Incubus Incubus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Anyone play the old Battletech strategy game?

It was a board game played on a hex board, where you'd have mechs square off against each other. The rules made it a relatively small-scale strategy game, because each mech had a page worth of info/stats to track and even if you were playing a large battle (Say one mech company pitted against another) you're still controlling the mechs as individual units, making the game hilariously time-consuming yet very interesting because of critical hits.

The game had Battle Points to set a balanced game, but my friend and I never believed in a fair fight, and we'd usually use tonnage to determine how much each of us could take (not a fair measure, since the Clans were much more efficient weight-wise). We emulated some of the hopeless battles the Inner Sphere fought against the technologically superior Clans (well, under 3055 rules anyway). My friend had a bit of powergaming streak, and often chose the clans (he was also a big fan of the Stackpole Battletech novels). I chose the Inner Sphere, even after knowing both sides inside and out. Why? Well, their weapons were less efficient damage/weight/space wise, but they did get access to some equipment the Clans didn't. And while much of the stuff the Clans got just made them overall better (Targeting computer, better pilots, Elementals) the Inner Sphere's equipment was just funner IMO. Some equipment we liked to take-

Artemis IV- If I'm not using some other system which conflicts with it, making custom mechs that have this with their missiles is a great way to get more missiles to hit. Only worth its weight if you have it on a LRM-15/20 though...who would waste it on an SRM-2?

Streak missiles- Short Range Missiles aren't really that useful (Medium lasers are about as effective for less weight and space) and get really inefficient on lighter mechs that don't have the spare tonnage for weapons that require ammo. But streak makes them very good, by making it so all the missiles hit. Best of all, if you miss, you don't waste ammo (its considered a 'failure to get a missile lock' rather than actual missing). Plus, if you fire streak SRMs and other SRMs, as long as the streak missiles hit, ALL the missiles hit.

Beagle Probe- Both my friend and I were notorious for just 'making shit up' if we were the defenders and losing. Hidden anti-mech infantry could come out of nowhere, as well as vibro mines and other anti-mech booby traps. Beagle Probe could detect the presence of hidden enemies, and so could prevent a player from just 'making things up as he went along'

Anti-missile system- A staple for just about any mech. On lighter mechs, this was sometimes a better investment than armor. Since a lot of the targeting gear we used was for missiles, AMS was a decent counter, particularly against SRMS which did twice as much damage per missile.

C3 computer- I always used this when possible in a lance. You give your heaviest mech (which has the weight to spare and will probably survive the longest) the Master computer, and use your fastest mech as the 'spotter'. I liked to give many of my mechs LRM's, have the spotter get within 7 hexes of a target mech, then pound the bastard from maximum range with my other mechs firing LRMs. The spotter mech was often given a walk speed of 10 hexes plus jump jets, making him near impossible to hit from the sheer speed.

Triple Strength Myomer- The main advantage is that it only uses up space on a mech, not weight, and it doubles the mech's melee damage. If the mech has a hatchet, it is capable of dealing ludicrous amounts of damage to the other mech. There have been situations where my 100 ton mech used this combo to literally chop the other mech in two (In this case, Melee damage= (Tonnage/5)x2 ) by dealing a whopping 40 damage
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 06-01-2004, 02:31 PM
Dark Helmet Dark Helmet is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2004
I used to play this stuff all the time (not recently though.) We used to play Inner Sphere with captured Clan stuff vs. Clan, so it was more or less even. My favorites were Artemis IV, the Clan Extended Range Particle Projection Cannon, and the Gauss Rifle.

The infantry rules and that game were pretty sadistic. Each infantry playing piece represented a unit of 21 or 28 people, and each person was a hit point. So if you shot an infantry platoon with a laser for 5 points of damage, you've just disintegrated 5 people.

Ever play the Battletech MUD's? Imagine playing MechWarrior, in real time, on a scrolling ASCII text interface. We must have been nuts.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 06-01-2004, 02:59 PM
wolfman wolfman is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
I didn't play that much mostly cause nobody wanted to play with me any more. My favorite was the little puma with the PPCs. I had a fun little habit of popping heads, way more then you should, hehe. For some reason people don't like it when a crappy little Puma takes out their Daishi with the expert pilot before it ever moves.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 06-01-2004, 03:27 PM
Jophiel Jophiel is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
I think I still have the Battletech book around somewhere. As I recall, the rules were pretty much self contained in a single volume (or enough rules to get you moving anyway, there may have been expansions). I mostly liked making up my own Mech ideas and favored lighter machines with longer range weapons. Doesn't mean it always worked, but it's what I favored.

I remember playing with a couple friends, Mike and Ken. At one point, Mike jumps on top of a two or three story reinforced building and uses the extra height to spot Ken and fires into him. So, the next game, Ken gets the bright idea to do the same and attempts to take his kajillion ton mech and jump onto a two story wooden building with a basement. He naturally falls through the roof, through the two levels and crashes into the basement. I don't recall the rules well enough to name all the circumstances, but the upshot was that his leg was damaged in to fall and he couldn't get out of the sublevel. Eventually Mike came along and fired some missiles into the building, dropping it on top of him and then proceeded to pound at the debris with whatever firepower he had. It was pretty funny -- well, except to Ken
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 06-01-2004, 03:49 PM
Incubus Incubus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark Helmet
I used to play this stuff all the time (not recently though.) We used to play Inner Sphere with captured Clan stuff vs. Clan, so it was more or less even. My favorites were Artemis IV, the Clan Extended Range Particle Projection Cannon, and the Gauss Rifle.

The infantry rules and that game were pretty sadistic. Each infantry playing piece represented a unit of 21 or 28 people, and each person was a hit point. So if you shot an infantry platoon with a laser for 5 points of damage, you've just disintegrated 5 people.

Ever play the Battletech MUD's? Imagine playing MechWarrior, in real time, on a scrolling ASCII text interface. We must have been nuts.
See, Artimis IV is nice on an LRM20, because its only an extra ton and way more missiles hit (nothing more frustrating than getting a hit with an LRM 20 and having only SEVEN of the missiles actually hit ) particularly against mechs that have anti-missile systems, since not all missiles will hit and those that potentially do will get shot down, so Artemis IV ups your chances. However, you have to have it for EACH launcher on the mech, so it gets kind of ineffecient if you pack SRMs or LRM5s (the extra ton isn't worth it in that case). If you have LOTS of missiles, then the NARC missile beacon is the way to go, especially handy since other lancemates' missiles benefit from it. Of course, you have to get it to HIT first...

Clan elementals were friggin annoying. My friend 'invented' this Clan mech that had chambers for the elementals to hide in, that way he could have the mech charge forward underfire and disgorge a star of elementals, which would swarm my mech like friggin fire ants. When they swarmed your mech, you were half as likely to smack/zap yourself instead of managing to pry the little bastards off

Gauss rifles were kind of cheap in my opinion. Sure they weigh a lot, but they were an annoying 'sniper rifle' type weapon. They also had almost no heat, unlike a PPC, which you had to use carefully. Light mechs had to be insanely fast otherwise a hit from a gauss rifle could literally blast them in half (I've had critical hit rolls which caused two gauss rifle hits to shear off the left/right torso of an enemy mech ) Didn't like Guass rifles because while they did weigh a lot, they didn't have any battlefield drawback (i.e. risk of jam, overheat, etc). There also wasn't any countermeasures to protect against them compared to other hard-hitting long range weapons.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 06-01-2004, 04:30 PM
lokij lokij is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Incubus

Gauss rifles were kind of cheap in my opinion. Sure they weigh a lot, but they were an annoying 'sniper rifle' type weapon. They also had almost no heat, unlike a PPC, which you had to use carefully. Light mechs had to be insanely fast otherwise a hit from a gauss rifle could literally blast them in half (I've had critical hit rolls which caused two gauss rifle hits to shear off the left/right torso of an enemy mech ) Didn't like Guass rifles because while they did weigh a lot, they didn't have any battlefield drawback (i.e. risk of jam, overheat, etc). There also wasn't any countermeasures to protect against them compared to other hard-hitting long range weapons.

Gauss rifles were the best weapon in the game. Big damage, long range, no heat, no jam and no ammo to explode if you took a crit to the magazine. When I played this game alot we were using the design your own mech rules and coming up with crazy stuff, friend of mine stuffed the largest reactor he could into the smallest mech he could get away with and ran the bare minimum armor. He armed it with one medium laser and machine guns... and could run it across half the board in one turn. I favored superheavy hover tanks. :>
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 06-01-2004, 05:05 PM
Dark Helmet Dark Helmet is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2004
Of course the REAL man's weapon was the Ultra AC/20. Time to get up close and personal. Win or die, or most likely, both.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 06-01-2004, 05:11 PM
Incubus Incubus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Actually Gauss rifles did have one weakness- if the weapon was hit in a critical hit, the 'feedback' from the charged energy would deal 15 points of damage to the mech, plus the electrical shock would cause the pilot to sustain damage. Considering how large the weapon was, a critical hit was very likely to destroy the rifle. Regardless, we had a house rule that stated the energy drain from the weapon was so great you could not fire any energy weapons that turn. That balanced it out enough so that one mech could only fire one gauss rifle shot plus any ballistic weapons he had. In mech designs, it often lead to either ballistic centric mechs (with CASE and extra ammo for big weapons) or energy centric mechs (with extra heat sinks).

Pilot hits were prettty bad, and my friend and I have had situations where the mechwarrior actually died because he got banged around so much. The pilot had 6 'points' of life, and certain things (falling down, ammo explosion, overheat, head hit) could cause hits. The death of a pilot in such a way was usually from a string of horrible luck, for example, a mech with a engine hit and gyro hit is going to be falling down/overheating a lot, if the mech happened to be on fire the situation is even worse

Fun mech designs-

Kamikaze mech- If you have an 80 ton mech with a walk speed of 5 or a 100 ton mech with a walk speed of 4 (the maximum for those weights) and give those Mechs MASC (doubles movement speed), you can perform a charging attack capable of doing 400 damage to the other mech (charging damage=(Mech tonnage/10) x hexes moved) of course, you'll receive 200 damage from the impact, but the concept is still funny to have this huge mech basically just plow through punier mechs.

Machine gun mech- Perhaps this was an oversight by the designers, but in the compendium we had, machine guns generated ZERO heat. They were the ONLY weapon that generated zero heat, and they were one of the lightest weapons in the game (clan machine gun weighed .25 tons). You could make a fast, well armored mech that could charge in close and unload a lot of machine guns. Sure they only did 2 damage apeice, but you could take a LOT of them; ten tons worth on a clan mech is forty machine guns That's potentially 80 damage a turn, which at zero heat is pretty good. Plus, if you are close enough, you can perform a melee attack (kicking is pretty effective) to add insult to injury.

Impossible-to-hit mech- I found a way to make a 20 ton mech with a walk speed of 10 and 10 jumpjets. The way the rules work, if you can jump 4+ hexes, its harder for them to hit you than for you to hit them (the jumping mech's modifier is fixed, but hitting a jumping mech is based on how far it jumped). A mech that jumps 10 hexes adds a +10 modifier to hit. At short range, that means an enemy mech needs to roll a 14+ on only 2D6 My friend gave me this idea when he pointed out some lighter hovertanks like the harasser and gabriel hovertanks have such a high movement speed its virtually impossible to hit them when they are moving at flank speed in the game O_o
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 06-01-2004, 05:18 PM
Incubus Incubus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark Helmet
Of course the REAL man's weapon was the Ultra AC/20. Time to get up close and personal. Win or die, or most likely, both.
Meh, Ultra AC's look good on paper, but if you consider the fact they have lower range, more weight, jam on a roll of a 2, and roll the SRM2 missile hit chart (meaning that even if you fire at double rate and hit the other mech, there's still a chance 1 of those 2 shots somehow missed anyway which, on an ultra AC/20, is a collosal waste of both ammunition and heat).

I like LBX class autocannon better. Lighter, better range, and the submunitions are good. Combo LBX autocannon with pulse lasers and all your weapons get a -2 modifier to hit (making it easier to hit stuff).

Any weapon that does 15+ damage at a time is still great for one-hit kills off headshots.

Anyone else find it rather disconcerting that a clan mech can have an ER large laser mounted in its head?! I don't know about you, but I don't relish the concept of straddling some huge-ass laser (did my pants just get hotter? Or is it that huge laser I'm sitting on? )
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 06-01-2004, 08:07 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: America's Wing
Posts: 23,258
My favorite Battletech moment was when we decided to play a 300 ton game, with 0/0 pilots, and with NO limit on tonnage: we called it the God Game. (If you went over 100, you just stacked another virtual mech on top of the next one, with all its extra stats!!!! Cheesy yes but i exploited it....)

So, I built 2 150 ton mechs...no sense in building a 300 ton one, as an extra 50 tons will enable me to get a 150 ton mech that moved at 6/4 with twice the weaponry as a 100 ton!

But thats not the best part. Since we had 0/0 pilots, I loaded me up with lots of pulse lasers and a targeting system. Needed a base 1 for a called shot on the center torso baby
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 06-02-2004, 01:06 PM
Chairman Pow Chairman Pow is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Incubus
Machine gun mech- Perhaps this was an oversight by the designers, but in the compendium we had, machine guns generated ZERO heat. They were the ONLY weapon that generated zero heat, and they were one of the lightest weapons in the game (clan machine gun weighed .25 tons). You could make a fast, well armored mech that could charge in close and unload a lot of machine guns. Sure they only did 2 damage apeice, but you could take a LOT of them; ten tons worth on a clan mech is forty machine guns That's potentially 80 damage a turn, which at zero heat is pretty good. Plus, if you are close enough, you can perform a melee attack (kicking is pretty effective) to add insult to injury.
My friends stopped playing when a guy developed an army of these things, he called them the "Reddenbachers" (from the popcorn).

I do have lots of fond memories of digging up my friend's back yard to make our terrain. Once we found people who knew the rules, it became a lot less fun.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 06-02-2004, 02:20 PM
Incubus Incubus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Some fun mechs which I questioned their usefulness-

Urbanmech- For a long time this mech was the butt of lots of running jokes. It had a lot of armor for a light mech and a rather impressive weapon (AC/10) but it was INSANELY slow, and the fact is that the game mechanics meant that in a light mech you CANT trade speed for armor. Hell, the thing was slower than many assault mechs!

Hollander- It was a light mech with a guass rifle. But that's all it had. In order to fit the guass rifle, it had poor speed and armor. It was meant to be a 'sniper' I guess, since the range was pretty good, but pit it against other light mechs, and they'll easily be able to close the range before it can score a good hit. Heavier mechs can absorb a few guass rifle hits, and also have the range to just slug it out. So it was kind of a joke. Also, the mech looked hilarious. Imagine this robot with a giantic cannon-like gun sticking out of its chest. The gun was longer than the mech was tall! Very awkward looking.

Charger- The original model was a heavy mech armed with only 6 small lasers. This is the most collosal waste of tonnage I have ever seen in a mech. Even the Dragon, which was under-gunned for its weight but made up for it in speed, had redeeming factors, but the Charger didn't. I asked my friend, "WTF does the Draconic Combine need a heavy mech with 5 small lasers for?" he replied, "Counter-insurgency?" But frankly, there are plenty of excellent rebel-supressing light mechs out there, such as the Flea, the Commando, or the Hermes. A later model had several large lasers, which were a little more practical for a mech of that weight.

There was a light mech (can't remember name) which had no weapons, only Target Aquisition Gear (basically an artillery spotter mech) this, too, I consier a waste. A vehicle with TAG has a much smaller profile than a mech. A VTOL armed with TAG has much greater mobility than even a light mech with jump jets. At least give it a medium laser!

Nova Prime- A clan mech, I think the prime model was the one with 12 ER medium lasers, and not nearly enough double heat sinks to use them all. Worse yet, all the lasers were in the mech's arms, meaning if it lost an arm half its weapons were lost as well. If it fired all the lasers, it would have generated 60 points of heat, and was only able to dissipate about a third of that, the rest of the heat directed towards making the cockpit into a very large toaster

Weapon load-outs I don't like

Primary weapon+1 or 2 piddly weapons: I can guarantee you that any weapon that takes up 6+critical slots in a mech is going to be destroyed in batle, particularly arm-mounted weapons. Mechs with a 'main' weapon often lose 95% of the effecitveness once that weapon is gone.

Too much/too little ammo: I see this all the time. A mech designated as 'fire support' but only has 1 ton of LRM 20 ammo (that's only 6 salvos, and with a long range indirect fire weapon you're probably going to be lobbing missiles practically every turn). Inner Sphere Anti-missile systems also need plenty of ammo because they use up a lot; I usually take less armor and more AMS ammo because the AMS keeps me alive longer at long range than the armor does. Too much ammo: a mech with machine guns or AC/2's with MORE than 1 ton of ammo/weapon. Lemme tell you people, machine gun ammo is a DEATH TRAP waiting to happen. If it blows, it does more damage/ton than any other weapon ammo! (2 damage per unit of ammo x 200 units of ammo=400 damage!). There is no way in hell anybody is going to burn up a ton worth of machine gun ammo in a game, that's why they let you add it in half-ton lots.

Slow mechs with jumpjets: A mech can't jump any faster than it can walk, and the benefits of jumping aren't worth it in a slow mech (unless it is 100 tons or something). Jump jets are best if the mech can walk 4 or more hexes.

Missile boats: This applies to any mech with one sole type of weapon, such as all missiles, or all energy weapons. A mech with all missiles will have a hard time against mechs with anti-missile systems. A mech with lots of energy weapons will really start to suffer if the opponent gets a lucky engine hit (costing the mech 5 heat sinks it cannot spare).

Paper-thin rear armor: Usually given on mechs like the Archer or Rifleman, which are supposed to be long-range fire support mechs. Its assumed they wont get in close enough fisticuffs to worry about getting flanked, but any player worth his salt that knows his opponent has rear armor so thin a single medium laser can pierce it will DEFINITELY wind up delivering the killing blow from behind. That's what is great about fast mechs- they might be lightly armed but they are great as anklebiters. A critical hit to the center torso guarantees something bad will happen to the other mech.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 06-02-2004, 02:45 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: America's Wing
Posts: 23,258
Meh, the damage thing and no heat wouldn't be the biggest advantage of the 40 machine guns, since the damage would be evenly distributed across the enemy mech. (potentially 80, yes, but realistically only 40 or even less since you will have to move to close in on the enemy to hit them before they hit you.)

The big advantage is the potential of 40 hits. Each hit, of course, has the potential for instant crit, plus, if any location's armor is off, the average of 0.583 crits per machine gun!
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 06-02-2004, 02:56 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: America's Wing
Posts: 23,258
With the caveat that you are playing by BV. If you are playing by tonnage, go right ahead and make all the medium and light MG mechs you want. But you'll have to put good enough engines on them to make sure the enemy boats won't be able to pound you into the ground (since you will have to close with them before having a chance to damage). Playing with BV it just isn't worth it.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 06-03-2004, 06:58 PM
BlackNGold BlackNGold is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
It's been a long time, so forgive me if I get some of the details wrong...

In a campaign I was running, I had six helocopters outfitted with fusion engines, PPCs, and 2 SRM6's. They were insanely fast, manueverable, and packed a hell of a punch. They basically came screaming over the hills, swooped around the backs of the mechs, and delivered lethal back shots to their targets.

I'm not recognizing some of the terminology used above, so I'm assuming I was playing an earlier version. Still probably the best game of the type I ever played. Found some of the books in my parent's attic last month, and got very nostalgic...
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 06-03-2004, 07:47 PM
Master Wang-Ka Master Wang-Ka is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
The game's back in print, as "Classic Battletech" these days.

In addition, there's a new version, Mechwarrior, with pre-painted miniatures. Not a bad game, either.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 06-03-2004, 08:21 PM
Odesio Odesio is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
I used to love playing Battletech though I was never into the fiction associated with the game. I even went so far as to buy the metal miniatures and paint them. After many years of playing I got tired of the clunky rules and the relatively long time it took to complete a game with multiple mechs. I moved on to other games though once in a while it'd be nice to play a game of Battletech.

Marc
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 06-03-2004, 11:17 PM
Incubus Incubus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Ludovic, the only way to get an instant critical hit was if you rolled a 12 on the hit location chart (Center Torso critical hit), which is a 1 in 11 chance of happening. That's a lot of engine hits! The way to pull that mech off is to make it fast, and give it jump jets. With jump jets you can use cover to protect yourself against long-range mechs, then leap out and machine gun them. You will get quite a few 12's, and quite a few 2's (which is a headshot!). Remember, every time the head gets hit, the pilot takes a hit. That is a lot of conciousness rolls the pilot will have to make.

The helicopter strategy sounds pretty interesting. The rules for VTOLS were fairly decent; they seemed to mesh well with mechs much better than aircraft did (which had an entirely different rulebook, used fuel, and generally seemed much more complicated and confusing than mech rules). The big downside to helicopters, though was the rotor- a rotor hit was almost certainly instant death for the helicopter. A PPC is a pretty powerful weapon for a VTOL, I must say, but having several of those helos would be a pretty nasty weapon against a mech lance.

The downside to vehicles in that game was that if they lost one internal structure location, they were 'destroyed' while a mech on the other hand could be reduced to this giant amputee, with one arm, one leg, a center torso and a head kind of just flopping back and forth like a fish Also, an ammo explosion on a vehicle=instant death, while in a mech, if you had CASE, ammo explosion was just a problem for that hit location (they wouldn't let you put CASE in a mech's arms, though, which was a shame because a mech's arms are potentially the only truly ependable body part.

The people who do Heroclix have a Mechwarrior game called Mechwarrior: Dark Ages. My friend and I bough a bunch of em. Its fun because the rules are simplified and the ranges scaled down, so you can play on a much smaller space and get a game done in the span of an hour without any pencil-and-paper stuff needed. The game had combined arms, where infantry, vehicles, and mechs each had a role in the game, and unlike Classic Battletech, infantry were actually USEFUL and not just fodder. Cause in Classic Battletch, infantry were flamer bait (did 2x damage to them) and both of us learned that the best way to deal with guerillas and jungle warfare was to (naturally) burn the jungle down
__________________
"I don't give a @#&% about the spirit of Mother Earth and why she's personally pissed off at me just because I throw rusty car batteries into freshwater lakes and piss on baby birds nests. ... I don't care about the romantic lives of two 12-year old girls that look like eight-year old girls imitating six-year old girls who have had their DNA genetically combined with the DNA of an insect and a creature composed solely of tits"
Lowtax

N
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 06-04-2004, 10:15 AM
Chairman Pow Chairman Pow is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Incubus
The downside to vehicles in that game was that if they lost one internal structure location, they were 'destroyed' while a mech on the other hand could be reduced to this giant amputee, with one arm, one leg, a center torso and a head kind of just flopping back and forth like a fish Also, an ammo explosion on a vehicle=instant death, while in a mech, if you had CASE, ammo explosion was just a problem for that hit location (they wouldn't let you put CASE in a mech's arms, though, which was a shame because a mech's arms are potentially the only truly ependable body part.
I always wondered why more people didn't just use vehicle armies against 'mechs. It always seemed to me that given the choice, there was no contest, I could field significantly more vehicles than mechs (if we chose to play by BV or CV or whatever) and wasn't at that big a disadvantage if we played by tonnage. I suppose that critical hit rule was a big reason, although I never got to test out my vehicle army.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 06-04-2004, 11:16 AM
Incubus Incubus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chairman Pow
I always wondered why more people didn't just use vehicle armies against 'mechs. It always seemed to me that given the choice, there was no contest, I could field significantly more vehicles than mechs (if we chose to play by BV or CV or whatever) and wasn't at that big a disadvantage if we played by tonnage. I suppose that critical hit rule was a big reason, although I never got to test out my vehicle army.
I think the reason is because 'Mechs are overall more versatile than vehicles. There are a few decent tank designs (the Rhino comes to mind), but other than that I think the majority of vehicles tended to be function-specific. This made them good for support (Having a mech lance accompanied by a few LRM carriers, for example) but not flexible enough to be the main body of an attack force.

There are several strong reasons tanks fell by the wayside in the Battletech universe- ton for ton mechs are typically faster, more agile, and more survivable than tanks are. A mech can take a licking and literally keep on ticking. The first critical hit a tank receives will likely put it out of commission. Melee attacks (ramming, in the case of vehicles) aren't really practical, but having a mech kick a target is very effective. And mech could punt a tank like it was a soccer ball
__________________
"I don't give a @#&% about the spirit of Mother Earth and why she's personally pissed off at me just because I throw rusty car batteries into freshwater lakes and piss on baby birds nests. ... I don't care about the romantic lives of two 12-year old girls that look like eight-year old girls imitating six-year old girls who have had their DNA genetically combined with the DNA of an insect and a creature composed solely of tits"
Lowtax

N
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 06-08-2004, 07:44 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: America's Wing
Posts: 23,258
Incubus: not 1 in 11, but 1 in 36, since 2 or 12 will only happen 1 in 36 each on 2D6. But I will give you 1 in 18 for something "good" to happen, since hitting the head will also be worthwhile. Also, jump jets may not be as good as you may remember: I never played until recently, but I hear the DMM used to be +1 to hit for every hex the 'mech jumped. Now, it's only +1 plus the DMM for regular movement (i.e. +1 for 3-4 hexes would be +2 instead, etc.)

In a game with decent pilots, you would have a problem closing in with the enemy before being killed on a relatively open terrain. If it were heavy mountains or forest, that's another story.

Now, VTOLS: I never played VTOLS a lot, but I've seen people build lots of tiny, fast VTOLS with only one ER PPC apiece. Make an engine fast enough that they can get a +4 DMM at regular speed. Then plug away at your medium or long range, they will be at their long range with a +4 to hit! The counterbalance to that is of course the LBX/2, but that's about the only use that weapon has.

W/r/t tanks vs 'mechs: I never played with a force large enough that this would happen, but I think the ideal offensive force for most situations would be about a 25/25/25/25 mix between tanks with direct fire weapons, tanks with indirect fire, VTOLS that will spot for indirect fire, and VTOLS with ER PPCs. In a large enough army you would want several 'mechs, as well, as shock troops, or to take vital areas of the board if the game winning conditions depend on having units in an area, since 'mechs are most likely to survive for a given time.

But the real reason 'mechs survive in the mechwarrior universe cannot be simulated by such a small scale game. The reason is, as other posters pointed out, they are tougher and more versatile than any other piece of equipment. You could just drop them off on a planet with instructions to raid and to attack opponents forces, and they can do that without any external support and minimal internal support (you'd bring along some mechanics.)

So in this world, the answer is, you'd take other forces nearly always, to the extent that the scenario allows. But some scenarios you would play might limit the number of non mech forces, for instance, in role-playing terms you might consider the battle to be between a 'mech force that just dropped onto a planet, versus that planet's quick response team.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 06-08-2004, 07:49 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: America's Wing
Posts: 23,258
One more reason you might want to make a 'mech with your points rather than a vehicle: if you have a limited number of good pilots. For instance you might agree that you can only have one 3/2 pilot/crew, a few 4/3s and the rest 5/4s. In a medium or bigger army I would put my 3/2 in a mech since it is the most efficient use of the pilot (it will live longer and bring more firepower to bear). In large armies I might even put some of my 4/3's into 'mechs rather than tanks.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 06-08-2004, 08:18 PM
Chairman Pow Chairman Pow is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Hmm, those are good reasons for keeping the 'mechs around. I was always the sort that had to look absolutely everything up in the book, so we never got sophisticated enough to figure the critical hits/versatility angle. That and we never had tank miniatures, so it never came up...

There are other games, HEAVY GEAR comes to mind, that don't necessarily make those disctinctions, so tactically, putting the tanks in there instead of their 'mechs would make sense.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:17 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.