Battletech, a review

I had to get away early the other day and one of the jobs I didn’t get round to doing was writing something new for the website about Battletech. It’s next month’s Tuesday morning breakfast game and one that holds a special place in the hearts of many gamers, so I asked Crian to tell me what he thought about it. Here’s what he sent me back and I figure it sums the game up quite well…

 

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Battletech! Giant stompy robots hold a special place in fiction and modern mythology, and this is the classic game of giant stompy robots. It features Battlemechs (the giant stompy robots) walking around shooting each other with all manner of weapons, ranging from lasers to giant cannons to tiny machine guns.

Battletech has been around for over 25 years, and in that time the core rules have only needed to be changed a tiny bit. This shows quite astounding robustness in the core rules, especially when compared to certain other miniatures rulesets. Movement and combat are both quite easy to get a grasp of, with base numbers being modified by terrain. The key mechanic is 'heat'. Everything the mechs do produces heat, and after a certain amount of heat has accumulated, Bad Stuff happens. This forces decisions on the player, instead of just running around at full speed firing all weapons.

Beyond the game, there is an incredibly rich setting. Naturally, you can take as much or as little notice of this as you want. Just want to blow up things? Go for it! Want to learn all about the 'history' of the universe and play out certain battles? Go for it. One thing that shouldn't be ignored about the universe is the varying time periods. The 'original' Battletech setting is 3025, where technology is in decline, mechs are often held together with tape and hope, and designs are not the best (which forces players to make the most of what they have). Things change abruptly when the setting hits 3050, when 'the clans' (who are the descendants of exiled people, and have a rigid caste and honour based culture) invade. The Clans introduce 'clantech', which is much better than the original tech. This can be used to create interesting asymmetric battles. Do you want to go with quantity, or quality? Moving on through the in-game time, the original technology gets upgraded to match the clantech.

 

Interesting moments will always get created in games. Do you send that light mech running around the back of your opponent's big heavy robots? If so, it might get a lucky shot into the back of some unstoppable Juggernaut, and send it crashing to the ground. Or said juggernaut might casually send a couple of shots into your light mech and strew bits of it everywhere.

 

There is, of course, life beyond mechs. Want to take to the air? Look at aerospace fighters. Want to roll around in a tank? Done! Want to provide your opponent with targets, also known as infantry? Easily done. You can even put them in battle armour and change them from targets to threats!

 

Battletech is a great game of stompy robots, some random chance, a lot of planning, and great fun.

 

Crian

 

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