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BattleTechnical - Customized BattleTech

Basics | Campaign | Mechs | Variants | Links

BattleTech is a game of warfare in the 31st century, with the Kings of the Battlefield being huge robots of destruction that are piloted by the descendants of humans from Earth. These machines of war are called BattleMechs and their pilots are MechWarriors.

Obviously, this description of the game is for those who are unfamiliar with this wonderful game and the elaborate history that it has, so I'll get down to the basics of the board game:

The game is for 2 or more players, with more players its most likely that they will be split into two teams. Scenarios may be played where one team is attacking with the other on defense, often with objectives other than total annihilation, but in basic games its just a fight to the death. Options for game play are really broad.

As a player you will need a BattleMech, unless you prefer to control a weaker element of a unit such as infantry, tanks, and other mobile units. Personally, I think that BattleMechs are what the game is all about - why choose anything else? You might control one element of a unit or an entire unit on your own, that depends on how you set up the game.

Your unit may be a "Lance" which is 4 BattleMechs (or other elements), or you may have a "Company" which is 3 Lances. Personally, I think it's ideal using 2 'Mechs per player, but not all battles turn out that way.

To play the board game you'll need a few basic things:

  • Rulebook (the most current is the BattleTech Master Rules)
  • Dice (Standard 6-siders are fine but multi-colored ones are useful.)
  • BattleMech Record Sheets (These can be written up by hand, copied from Technical Readout source books, or using special programs like Heavy Metal Pro - my preferred method.)
  • BattleTech miniatures or cardboard representative markers (Miniatures should be available at your local hobby shops and some online. Cardboard markers were packaged with some of the BattleTech boxed sets.)
  • Maps or terrain (Paper maps are my preference for simplicity - the hexagons are drawn for simplifying movement and calculations. There are 6 official BattleTech map sets that have been published to date. The 7th should be out by spring of 2002. Terrain is like you would see around a model train set - trees, hill, buildings, whatever you want to put into it. Terrain looks cool, but is something that requires more time and money than paper maps, also calculations become more cumbersome.)

A note about the BattleTech boxed sets: Those sets have playing pieces, usually cardboard cut-outs, basic maps, and basic rule books, but not all the details that are described in the BattleTech Master Rules. Its a good way to start if you're new to the game without anyone to teach you or for use in teaching others, but if you already know the basics you'll probably just want to get the BMR.

The way the game is played (based on a game of 2 players using 1 'Mech each):

After selecting the 'Mechs that will be used and determining the scenario players will role for initiative. This determines the reaction time for a MechWarrior. The player with the lowest (worst) roll will move first, allowing the winner of initiative to see where he wants to go. Then the initiative winner will move. Available movement speeds are listed on each record sheet, so not all 'Mechs will have the same movement. This is determined by weight, engine ratings, and other factors. Attacks are determined and players roll dice to determine success or failure. Attacks are initially made using weapons such as lasers and missile launchers. There are many different kind of weapons that are available and these are determined prior to the game by the configuration of the 'Mech.
After weapon attacks, players can make physical attacks if they are close enough. Physical attacks are punches, kicks, and other hard-hitting attacks that can sometimes do more damage than weapons.

When a player makes an attack, there is a target number that the player is trying to roll equal to or better than for each shot to be successful. These target numbers are modified by movement of the 'Mechs involved along with any terrain that may interfere. Additional modifiers may also be used depending on the situation. After the attack is determined successful, exact damage is determined. This is determined with referencing die rolls to charts and marking it on BattleMech Record Sheets. Some shots may damage only armor, while other shots may cause more Critical damage internally.

The battle is over when all opposing targets are destroyed or have retreated from the map. There is more than one way to effectively destroy a BattleMech. One way is by wearing down the armor in the center torso of the 'Mech and blowing out the internal structure there. Another is to blow the head off - sometimes possible with one shot. You could also make a shot which strike a Critical Slot where ammunition is carried - this can cause a deadly chain reaction which will often shred the internal structure of a BattleMech. The MechWarrior may also be killed, although it's very rare to see the MechWarrior die before the BattleMech itself is put out of commission.

For further information about BattleTech, read the BattleTech Master Rules or get a BattleTech Boxed Set - currently on 4th Edition. The MechWarrior RPG is an expansion to BattleTech, bringing additional details of the individual warriors to the game with more role-playing. A new version of BattleTech will soon be in production as collectable miniatures game called MechWarrior: Dark Age from the creators of Mage Knight . When looking for further reference to BattleTech, look for "Classic BattleTech" - a name that often reminds me of the return of Coca-Cola Classic after the failure of NEW Coke during the late 1980's.

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