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Battletech 2006 - The Cover Story
October 2013
Tue, Nov. 8th, 2005 09:35 am
Battletech 2006

I've spent a fair amount of my free time this week making intial prepartions for a BattleTech Strategic Game in 2006. I've been getting a lot of interest in the game, and its made it clear to me that I'm going to have to have an automated data gathering and distribution system -- manually running the turns the way I did in 2004 isn't going to fly. On the plus side, I have the BSG rules set from FanPro now, which will help a lot in preventing some of the excessive complexity of the last game.

The project is also providing a lot of interesting exercises in interface and workflow design. Although there's only four phases (Setup, Economic, Order Writing, and Order Execution), the rules make allowances for players to act out of turn order, or to make decisions in the Execution phase. The rules also allow for conditional order execution, but are no specifics about what are valid triggers for conditionals (The frontier is down, the moon is eclipsed, the Starfighters are dead. Invade!). I have to figure those out. Also interesting is that rolls are only available to certain players involved in them (for instance, a Lyran defending Hesperus against a Draconis force could see the rolls for the Drac's actions there, but couldn't see the rolls for the Draconis player's attacks against Robinson.) On the plus side, the rules for production are significantly simpler (everything without a K-F Drive is produced at the company level), and there are only about a dozen orders that can be issued to a regular military unit. The Special Forces units are going to be interesting, but I'll deal with those later.

The other concern I have is maintaining each player's view of the Universe. Generally speaking, each player knows roughly 75% of the redeployments made by each other player. The rules don't specify how to communicate this information to the players effectively. Those who played in the last game might remember me handing a stack of paper to Jeremiah, which was the sum total of the ridiculous amount of intelligence he used to trace EVERY LAST UNIT IN THE GAME. Of course, handing somebody thirty pages of text all written in the form "Unit X has moved from Planet A to Planet B" isn't the most effective way of handling the situation. I'm thinking I keep track of which units each player believes is on each planet, and what its last known strength was. I think this calls for a Contact vs. Actual model, but I'm still meditating on it. Certainly, there's no way of getting around a stupid amount of data being involved.

I still need to figure out the scope and location of the scenario. In order to make the math work out, each turn of the BSG is about a month. I was originally thinking about just running Chaos March, but it won't make for a very interesting game if I do -- there are few forces and less production, and the presence of Outreach and Terra make the area disturbingly unbalanced. Escalating to the Inner Sphere is possible, but if I have more than five players, it becomes problematic. I certainly could press ComStar into service as another faction, and the Word of Blake as well, although it would be a bit more difficult. The Free Rasalhague Republic would be a real bummer to play in any period other than 3043-3052. If I need more players, I can always run in 3051 with Invading Clans, which will make ComStar a much more viable force, but would take the Word of Blake out of the equation unless Tukkayid still went off in 3052. There's also the possibility of running the Fourth Succession War, but I did that last time, or the War of 3039, but that only has FedCom and the Draconis Combine to meddle with -- it might make an interesting if one-sided test game.

Finally, there's the issue of termination conditions. The objectives of each force will have to be dependent on the era and scenario. For instance, the Capellan Confederation holding the line at Tikonov would be overwhelming victory in the Fourth Succession War, but would be greivous failure in 2750. Likewise, if there's to be a fixed number of turns, how do I handle scoring? Does it matter? Ultimately, I can't make those decisions until I have a scenario, but they are rattling around now.

I hope to launch the BT2006 game shortly after the start of C-Term if there's sufficient interest in it.

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Tue, Nov. 8th, 2005 09:00 pm (UTC)

Sounds like fun. I would like to play in the game, I heard about the last session too late to join. However I'm not too familiar with the BattleTech universe. Do you know of any quick-summary-like webpages I could start reading?

Robert Bronzite
Tue, Nov. 8th, 2005 09:06 pm (UTC)

Classicbattletech.com has a considerable amount of material and older sourcebooks for PDF download. There's also Patrick's Battletech Archive, which has a great deal of material (much of which is probably still copyrighted) from when FASA still existed.

ReplyThread Parent
Wed, Nov. 9th, 2005 02:29 am (UTC)

I'd be interested in playing, or perhaps even AGMing such an event.