Saturday, August 13, 2011

Battletech: The Dragon holds the line! (and a few thoughts avbout Traveller)

A few days ago we assembled to commanders at my place and fought a Battletech scenario. BT is old school to me, whatever rules you use. My boxed set if the 2nd ed.

Along the border of the Steiner and Kurita empires, worlds have started to rebel, not respecting the deal by Theodore Kurita and ComStar. (this is before the clans. I did say old school, didn't I?). One such planet is Zyclone 3, where the samurai mechwarriors get their orders from the local warlord, that coming down from the mountains are two lances of Steiner mechs. They are spearheading a push toward the industrial centres in the lowlands. "We are redeploying to meet this thread, but you have to Hold the Line until reinforcement arrive and we can defend these vital resources!" Let the battle commence.

I played the Kurita guys, and had one lance of veterans in medium mechs. The Steiners had one light lance and one heavy lance. They were regulars, and the light lance mostly so. Naturally, the first thing that happens in that the heavy mechs stumble and fall while crossing a river! Some giggles in the light lance when that happened. Then I got my LRM and autocannons up on two hills with good visibility on a majority of the battlefield. Missiles started to rain as soon as the Steiners came into view. Two batteries of LRM 15, firing each round for four rounds. Just picture it!

In the end I managed to blow up two enemies, and shoot off the leg one another. It looked like a victory and the other player yielded. This was so fun that I at once started to think about doing a campaign. Naturally that makes you start to think about stories, free form developments and sandboxes. Again.

There are different rules for Battletech campaigns, and some of them have tried to handle the fact that you might want to play in a story line, but also to be the master of your own fate. I have read some of those and been thinking that maybe they can be used got a RPG campaign?

In a BT campaign you use something called tracks, which specify not which troops show up, but their relative size and strength. Also, the terrain is stated in a general case and the outcome can lead you to another track depending on what happened.

If you want to try to game a more controlled story, I don't see why you couldn't use something similar. In Traveller adventures, at least those from DGP, utilized something called nuggets. A nugget was a few resources for an encounter, and it had a dependency tree, i.e. it was connected to nuggets that had to happen before that one, and nuggets you could go into depending on the outcome. I think I'm going to go back and reread some of those old Traveller adventures and see how it worked.


  1. Battletech is such an awesome game. I lost interest in it and sold all my mini's back when they released the rubbish collectible miniatures version but kept most of the books to mine for ideas.

    Not one of my best moves.

  2. I have stopped selling game stuff.

    Unless it's things I already have extra copies off, since I have regretted it before and it has cost me much to repurchase things...

  3. Well, bad grammar, but you all get it, right?

  4. I got introduced to BT back in the mid-80s and played it for a number of years. We played with the paper cutouts; miniatures were too expensive. I got back into BT in 2007 when I wandered into a FLGS for the first time and there was a game going on. Of course the miniatures are still too expensive IMHO, but I do love the game. Not being terribly happy with the direction the BT universe has gone, I've toyed around for a couple of years of making my own BT/Traveller universe in which to place the battles in, but haven't made much headway.

  5. Well, where have the BT universe been going? Toward even more war, right? :)

    I still use paper cutouts...

  6. The 3025-3030 era just had a nice feel to it and I wish it had gone more towards a 13th-15th century Holy Roman Empire type setting with hundreds of factions, more feudalism and the need for more mercenaries. And the clans should have never have returned.

  7. Well, I agree it was more fun before the clans.

    If I started a "contemporary" BT campaign in 3075 or whatever, I'd set it in the Periphery or have it be about pirates and marauders in the Inner Sphere or something.

  8. Always love to hear Battletech stories.

    As for eras -- I've enjoyed all the eras of the game so far -- including the FedCom Civil War (my favorite time frame) and the Blakist Jihad (recently ran a campaign in the Jihad) but...

    I understand the feeling of enjoying some eras and then not being happy where the game is going. I think the Dark Age/Republic of the Sphere stuff is not very good at all and I'm cutting off the timeline in my own games at the end of the Jihad... that's my personal limit.

  9. I hated he arrival of the clans BUT for some strange reason, I really enjoyed the Operation Serpent campaign hitting back at them. I can't even explain it to myself.

    And I'm feeling you Andreas. I really am. I learned from that experience I really did.

  10. So what is the timeframe for the Jihan anyway? Is it over?

  11. We never played a single campaign or even campaign themed game, just grab random mechs and go. *shrugs*


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