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jdripley

Some Battletech Questions

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Years ago as a young middle schooler I gave Classic Battletech a go (wasn't "classic then!") and found it to be over my head and a bit of a frustration to play. Loved the theme and still do, but have always had a bad taste in my mouth about how the game played. Well, now over a decade and a half later, I've made a hobby out of tabletop miniature games and figure that perhaps what was "so complicated" back then may actually be more reasonable to me now. So I'm looking for a few answers as I look into this.

 

So my questions to all of you CBT-ers are these:

 

1) What size game do you typically play, and how long does it take? e.g. for a lance level engagement, and if you play higher, how long for those games too?

2) What is the expense you're looking at? I'd love to have a full company so that I have options, and of course I know that you step into these games slowly and start with only a handful of mechs... Iron Wind would sell me the company that appeals to me for around $200, does that sound about right?

3) What books do you NEED to play? I've seen 3 books.. tactical something and so forth, they have madcat and thor on the spines.. Do you need to drop the coin on all three, or will one suffice for a start?

4) Timelines and mech choices... I realize this would be highly subjective relative to a specific group of players... But if I'm a complete 3025 geek, am I hamstringing myself if I want to play with the 3050-3070 crowd? Endo this and double that are vastly superior to the old standard armor, single heat sink chassis... and the weapons just vastly outshine them. Does CBT recognize this trend across the timeline and adjust Battle Value accordingly (for that matter is Battle Value still used?) or are BV's calculated according to the timeline the chassis appears in independently of other places in the timeline?

5) I saw a few years ago a boxed set that included plastic miniatures... is that still on the market?

 

 

Might come back with more questions, but that'll do for now biggrin.gif

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1) What size game do you typically play, and how long does it take? e.g. for a lance level engagement, and if you play higher, how long for those games too?

 

Battletech is very much a small unit action type game. If I'm running all mechs, I would be leery at running more than a lance. You can do a company though, though the game slows down. Last game I ran, I had 6 mechs and 2 tanks, and it wasn't too bad. Took around 3-4 hours, with a bunch of people that didn't know the rules well.

 

2) What is the expense you're looking at? I'd love to have a full company so that I have options, and of course I know that you step into these games slowly and start with only a handful of mechs... Iron Wind would sell me the company that appeals to me for around $200, does that sound about right?

 

I think you could easily do that if you wanted. The only thing is that because Battletech is so varied, more often than not you're not going to have the "right" mini all the time. I mostly run 3025 campaign games, and have 2 of all of the original mechs (110 minis!), but even recently I had to supplement my collection with some additional purchases.

 

3) What books do you NEED to play? I've seen 3 books.. tactical something and so forth, they have madcat and thor on the spines.. Do you need to drop the coin on all three, or will one suffice for a start?

 

You only need Total Warfare. This has all the core rules. Technical Manual has all the construction rules, Tactical Ops is sort of the "optional rules" book (worth picking up nonetheless), Strategic Ops has Battleforce and more optional rules (more about running a campaign style rules), and the forthcoming INterstellar Ops will have a strategic game as well as (I presume) more optional rules going with the theme.

 

4) Timelines and mech choices... I realize this would be highly subjective relative to a specific group of players... But if I'm a complete 3025 geek, am I hamstringing myself if I want to play with the 3050-3070 crowd? Endo this and double that are vastly superior to the old standard armor, single heat sink chassis... and the weapons just vastly outshine them. Does CBT recognize this trend across the timeline and adjust Battle Value accordingly (for that matter is Battle Value still used?) or are BV's calculated according to the timeline the chassis appears in independently of other places in the timeline?

 

Battletech is still very balanced compared to a lot of other rules out there.BV does take into account differences in technology. That's not to say you cannot break the system (IMHO a medium or heavy Clan mech with jump jets, pulse lasers and a targetting computer gets pretty close to broken), and 3025 units can be used in the 3050+ timeline. It may seem like an uphill battle, but you just have to keep in mind you'll take proportionally more losses to win the game. That being said, there are some new toys for older mechs, like improved AC munitions, that can help. You might consider (if running a campaign) to "backdate" these to an earlier era. I've decided to backdate the "pocket warship" concept myself for my campaign (set in 2950)...

 

5) I saw a few years ago a boxed set that included plastic miniatures... is that still on the market?

 

Sadly OOP, but you should be able to find a copy here and there. It is set for a re-release pending. Catalyst is still recovering from an alleged embezzlement (or missappropriation of funds, depending on whether you feel the chief culprit is guilty or not) issue, so releases over the last year have been slower than normal. That being said, there are 2 more Battletech books slated for release this month (TRO 3085 and Jihad Hot Spots: Terra), so it may be that they're recovering.

 

Damon.

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The above post answered most of your questions but I have to chime in that if you have some patience I'd wait for the new boxed set that is due out any time. That being said it's been due out anytime for over a year but it does seem to be imminent for before Christmas or first quarter next year. It will have the rules and 22 plastic mechs for about $50. It's hard to beat that deal. Once you are playing with experienced players a lance on lance takes about 3 hrs.

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I bought the now OOP box set a little over a year ago and I gotta say the plastics that came with it were abhorrent. Flashing was so bad on some of them, they had to be partly mangled in some areas to remove the flashing, the bases weren't consistent in size OR shape... some of the bases appeared almost oval and diamond shaped rather than hexagonal. Hopefully with the new boxed set they have a new set of molds for these.

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I also started BT during middleschool and found the same problem. I had the OOP plastics and found they were a pain to paint as the plastic was no good. Unfortunately I just sold it about 2 months ago, so no help there sorry.

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Thanks for the info guys, that's really helpful. I found an old boxed set on ebay - 3rd edition with Unseens! - for $11 before higher bids and shipping. Punch-out cardboard mechs. Do you think it's worth it? I think the big draw would be the out of print Unseen stuff, and the downside is that it's 3rd edition which I believe (?) is not current.

 

I think a big part of the draw for me at this point would be playing games in the context of a campaign. So many games are based around speed of play and fast-paced action (which is a good thing, don't get me wrong) that they really just do not work well in a campaign setting. A typical Warlord game lasts an hour and has something like 70% or higher attrition rate for both forces after only three turns. Makes for a great experience, but how could you possibly maintain any meaningful sense of unity game to game in a campaign like that? What I remember from Battletech (and what I experienced as I gave it a shot yesterday using the free downloads to quick-start myself) is that in Battletech you can reasonably expect to "beat" an opponent without actually destroying any of their mechs. Simply put, when the Panther's PPC gets knocked out on one team, and the Clint takes a Gyro hit on the other team, and their companions are both reasonably battered, the teams will most likely break off the battle with a few parting shots (assuming you're playing with a sense of the expense of the machines in mind - how valuable is your objective, really, if you're going to end up losing your mechs over it?)

 

So probably for me my best bet would be Total Warfare for the rules, and Strategic Operations for the campaign management details? Does Strategic Ops have details about the expense and time it takes to repair mechs?

 

I think the ideal campaign for me would be a short-term affair. Say, Player A controls the garrison on such and such a planet, and Player B controls the raiders who just touched down in their Union class dropship. The Garrison is composed of X mechs and has such and such repair capabilities, and the raiders have stuffed their Union with Y mechs and has only thus and such spare parts. You then assign a general map to the area, the Raider plans their objectives, and the garrison tries to fend off the raiders. The campaign begins as the Union is detected in system (garrison gets some time to deploy forces based on whatever intel they may have), combat begins after the Union is planetside and the two sides begin fighting. Battles take place on a timeframe set by both players - either player can run it faster or slower based on when they send attacks, and both players can use whatever forces they have remaining and operational at the time, that they can get to the site of the battle. You play it for as long as the Raider thinks it is worthwhile to continue the attack, or until the Garrison wipes out the raiders. Bonus points if the Garrison can take out the Union and move the campaign into guerilla warfare mode.

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If you decided to go with the 3rd edition boxed set, keep in mind it has rules ONLY for mechs, whereas TW has rules for mechs, vehicles, infantry, Aeros, and assorted sundry. Also the difference between 3rd edition and the current is that a lot of the modifiers have changed. You could get by with just 3rd edition and downloading the current weapons/mod chart from the website.

 

You can also collect those "classics" from Ebay, but be aware there are several recasters that do business there. Caveat Emptor.

 

I don't recall what campaign rules StratOps has (I want to say it was focused on things like travel time, etc), but I'll check tonite.

 

As for a campaign, this is entirely dependent on what sort of players you have. I generally play like you suggest: if damage becomes too severe, it would be logical for the pilot to withdraw rather than pressing the point. Unfortunately, a lot of players that are not immersed in the setting will find this dissatisfying, or will continue to fight on despite crippling damange (gotta get that "win!). In the gritty setting of Battletech, sometimes winning is just staying alive with your mech still (mostly) functional.

 

For our campaign, I'm running it like an RPG that builds to a tabletop game. So FREX, our group of intrepid psychopaths...err...heroes are field agents for a collection agency, looking to "recover" debt at the point of a mech Large Laser. This is set in the "undocumented" areas of the Periphery, where there is no law (so basically they act like pirates, despite whatever legitimacy belonging to the collection agency is...). WHile you can do something like you suggested, I personally prefer the RP aspects because the setting is so amazingly rich and detailed.

 

Damon.

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There is an online game for BTech that my friends seem to like a lot. I cannot remember the name, but it plays like BTech and does all of the record keeping for you. It would give you the chance to learn to play with *free* minis and then buy those you like to use on the tabletop.

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I called MoonFever and asked him. I may not have the addresses exactly correct.

 

 

Mekwars.org 3025 server

 

Mekwarslegends.com is level II server 3074

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MegaMek is actually the software that's used to play the game, Mekwars is just a community based around the game. I haven't played it in a long time, but when last I did, MegaMek had bots and everything, so you can play solo to get the hang of it before you start looking for games vs real people.

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Yep, megamek, you can play online against friends or with 'em versus bots. Excellent game, but it glosses over the die rolling and record keeping, so if you find slow and detailed mechanics boring then megamek won't tell you that BT is no longer your game.

 

I bring this up not to diss BT but because I had a similar experience with Necromunda.

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Years ago as a young middle schooler I gave Classic Battletech a go (wasn't "classic then!")

 

After twenty five years it should be a classic.

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I'm currently at a science fiction convention where a nice woman named Mary is running a Battletech "grinder" -- simple combat where players can just drop in and out as their schedules permit. My youngest child has been having a good time with it.

 

Mary has dozens and dozens, possibly hundreds of Ral Partha / Iron Wind Metals Battletch minis, all in metal and beautifully painted.

 

It was nice to meet someone at the con to discuss minis esoterica with.

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2) What is the expense you're looking at? I'd love to have a full company so that I have options, and of course I know that you step into these games slowly and start with only a handful of mechs... Iron Wind would sell me the company that appeals to me for around $200, does that sound about right?

I think you could easily do that if you wanted. The only thing is that because Battletech is so varied, more often than not you're not going to have the "right" mini all the time. I mostly run 3025 campaign games, and have 2 of all of the original mechs (110 minis!), but even recently I had to supplement my collection with some additional purchases.

 

3) What books do you NEED to play? I've seen 3 books.. tactical something and so forth, they have madcat and thor on the spines.. Do you need to drop the coin on all three, or will one suffice for a start?

You only need Total Warfare. This has all the core rules. Technical Manual has all the construction rules, Tactical Ops is sort of the "optional rules" book (worth picking up nonetheless), Strategic Ops has Battleforce and more optional rules (more about running a campaign style rules), and the forthcoming INterstellar Ops will have a strategic game as well as (I presume) more optional rules going with the theme.

 

 

All your questions have pretty well been answered. All I would add is an advisory:

Battletech wasn't designed as a WYSIWYG miniatures game, and it isn't really designed for fixed armies. There are no codices or army books, there are no intrinsic options limiting what you put a force. As a result, it is nearly impossible to get all the miniatures you want for any possible game (and I've tried). I would suggest picking up the rules (as outlined above) and some kind of game pieces to try it out. You can use the standard Battletech minis, or you can use CAV, or you can use cardboard cutouts(*). If you want to save a little cash, Ironwind metals even has a line of half-sized 'mech minis (called "Battleforce" scale) that will work just as well, and are significantly cheaper than the standard ones.

 

I apologize if this is all a repeat for you, but I repeatedly see former miniatures players (40K, Warmachine, etc.) wander over and ask how to build a list and what it would cost, which can lead to frustration with the game. Play 3025 today, and then download some new record sheets and play in 3085 next week!

 

If you go the miniatures route, pick out a dozen or so that you like and go to town. If you like it, you'll be back for more!

 

* - I started playing Battletech back in the '80's with the 2nd edition cardboard standees and paper maps;

now get off my lawn! :P

 

Edited by klarg1

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All your questions have pretty well been answered. All I would add is an advisory:

 

The questions are three years old. I'm guessing as Pingo is at a con she just did a quick search for a Battletech thread to add onto without considering the ancient threadromancy involved.

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