Sunday, February 16, 2020

Battletech Beginner Box Mini Review

So I picked up the Battletech Beginner box a few weeks ago.  I detailed the contents here.  My idea was to give it a go with the kids.  I am pretty sure I started playing it at about the age my youngest is now.  The first thing I noticed from the beginner box is that the game has changed very little in its 35 years in production.  The beginner box has simplified rules from the main starter box.  It has removed Heat, Internal Structure, Terrain Levels, and Pilot checks to name a few things removed in this simplified version.  Mechs just have armor for their sections so when that armor is destroyed that section is destroyed with affects on the mech depending on what section. 

Since the game was written 35 years ago it is very table and 2d6 heavy compared to any modern game.  Tables of weapon ranges, table of attack modifiers, table for hit locations, table for mission hit numbers.   This line is called Classic Battletech and it certainly has that feel.  The GATOR mechanic for determining attack target numbers sort of shows how old school the game is.

First you start with Gunnery Skill (G) and then you add a modifier for Attacker movement modifier (A) determined by movement type and then the Target movement modifier(T) determined by how many hexs the target moved.  Next you have the Other modifiers (O) which is general terrain like wooded hexes between the attacker and the target or that the target is standing in.  Finally you have a range modifier (R) to determine the final target number.

So for example if you have normal Gunnery skill of 4 and then ran it gets you a +2, and the target moved 5 squares yields another +2.  The there is one light woods in the line of site adding another +1, and the target is in a light woods for another +1.  They are 6 hexes away which is say medium range for another +2.  Added that all up and you need a 12 to hit on your 2d6. 

Now they suggest using different colored D6 to mark on mechs what they moved and how far to make tracking the modifiers easier from the movement phase but they do not provide the dice or tokens which could accomplish the same thing in either this set or the bigger starter box.

As is clear from example above it gets very hard to hit things in the game.  This makes for many missed shots.  It also puts a lot of luck in the game when you are needing 10+'s to hit many turns.

This seemed to be the problem we had in both our trial games.  In the first I had my 13 and 8 year old duel with the two plastic mechs on the grassy map with all the standard terrain in place.  The kids moved around terrain and sort of got the feeling for it but the 8 year old had the hot dice and got enough damage on the 13 year old that she was not feeling the game was fair.

In the second game, my 8 year old and I used the two plastic medium mechs to take on 2 Locust Standees.  I piloted the standees and did my best to make them hard to hit and I did a good job of that.  It really slowed down the game play and seem to take several turns before any real damage can be done and need say more explosions to really get him hook in.  My plan was to follow the locust up with the thunderbolt heavy mech but we were sort of done after the Locusts.

If you are used to skirmish games were you might run 8 or so models and take down models with a turn or two of attacks, Battletech will seem strange.  The models have lots of staying power usually and a few mechs on each side can keep a battle going for quite some time.

The most powerful weapon on a mech in the box does like 10 damage.  As you can see from the little dots on the armor diagram (these dry erase mech sheets are great, wish they came with the bigger set also), every spot on the medium mechs other than the head can absorb at least one of those hits.  When you added in the scatter of the hits onto the mech it takes a fair number of hits to take someone out.

Playing it reminded me a little bit of how I learned to teach players Xwing by giving them the Falcon.  The turret there means you can shoot every turn so there are no dead turns.  Seems like I needed to start the first mission by stripping out the terrain (there are double sided terrain modifier tiles which can be used for this in the beginner box).    This will increase the hit rate and increase the excitement.   It will also remove at least one layer of modifiers to the hit number.

I recently picked up the bigger box to add to the plastic mechs from this and to keep working on teaching the game.  They just finished late pledges on a kickstarter but I passed as I am not willing to invest that much at this point as I am still trying to determine if the youngest likes it enough to keep playing.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Battletech Beginner Box Contents

So I used to play Battletech a long time ago.  I was an annoying little brother who tagged along with his older brother and his friends to play it.  We pretty much had everything but that was over 30 years ago.  I saw this box set on the shelf at the local bookstore which reminded me I did enjoy the game so I picked it up recently to give it a try with the kids.  This is the basic rules starter box which retails at 20 dollars.

Here is the collection of stuff from the box.  Not bad for 20 dollars these days.

These mech cards are the best thing in the box.  They are dry erase so you can mark down the damage, then erase and repeat next time.  If you look close you will see these cards have only armor and no internal structure.  This is the basic version of the game so that level of detail is left out.  There are 8 cards with 2 for each mech type introduced in the box.

 You also get 4 double sided pilot cards which add a little something extra with different Gunnery skills and special rules.  The cards have a point value which you are supposed to match between to two sides.

On the punch out sheet you get some double sided terrain pieces to put on the plastic map.  You can use these to add or change tree types or cover elevations or such.

Desert Blanks.

Short full color gloss rules book.  You also get a 4 page fluff primer.  You can see from the page I selected that tables and modifiers are still the  name of the game.

Classic Cardboard Standees.  These are the mechs I am used to.  We had two reinforcement boxes when we were kids to cover almost all the mechs.  Here you get 8 so two lances of 4.  Red verses Blue but the Locusts are different colors.  Not quite sure why.  I guess they need camo since a solid hit from any of the other mechs will punch through their armor.

You also get 2 preassembled plastic mechs.  Griffin and Wolverine.  Detail is not bad but there are some mold lines and sprue cuts that need cleaning up.

We got 2 games in last week to discuss in a future post.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Blood Bowl 7s Pitch

So my youngest is now getting to the age where he can be taught Blood Bowl.  I have tried to teach people the game in the past but it takes a long time to play a game with a new player so I normal get through less than a half when I am showing it.  Blood Bowl 7s to the rescue.  With only 7 players on the pitch for each side and 6 turns per half with very limited rerolls, the games go quicker.

I have been slowly picking up the new plastic teams to add to my collection so wanted a pitch that would fit the bigger models.  The plastic teams work well for sevens also since the often missing models for a optimal league team do not matter with only 4 total non lineman allowed.  I looked around for a pitch from several vendors but no one really listed it as a standard product.  After contacting some of the different makers for quotes, I decided to purchase one made by Mats by Mars.

The mat is vinyl.  It rolls and unrolls nicely.  Since the Sevens pitch has fewer squares it still fits nicely across the table.  I still have not adjusted to playing sideways with the BB2016 pitches.

The pitch has integrated sideline items.  Turn markers, Score, Fame, and Reserves up to the Morgue.

Blood Bowl 7s kickoff table on one side.

Pass Table, Weather Markers, and scatter on the other.

Overall I am quite happy with it.  I got it in the standard grassy style but they have a whole ranges of background patterns if you want to match your favorite teams.  Now onto training the Next Generation.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Kings of War Vanguard Model Groupings

Mantic has a tendency to just throw a lot of parts in a box or bag in their stuff which some times makes it hard to tell if you got everything.  I have gone through the kickstarter posts and collected images of the various parts and collected them here.  No images of the hard plastics as it is pretty easy to know if they are there or not.

Plastic Giant (Note that You get 6 arrows)
PVC Basileans (1 Bag Contents)

Resin Basileans

PVC Nightstalkers (1 Bag Contents) 

Resin Nightstalkers

PVC FoA (One Bag Contents)

Resin FoA

PVC Northern Alliance (One Bag Contents)

Resin Northern Alliance (Note Ice Elemental is 3 parts:Body, Arm, Face)

Friday, December 30, 2016

Blood Bowl: Miniature Size Comparisons Orcs

Now for Part II of the size comparison between the models in Blood Bowl 2016 and previous releases.
From left to right I have aligned the 2nd Edition Plastics, 2nd Edition Lead, 3rd Edition Plastic, 3rd Edition Petwer and Finally the 2016 Edition Plastics.





As you can see the size varation is more pronounced that with the Humans but also all over the place with the 2nd edition plastic being often the biggest until the newest edition.  Strangely the 2nd edition metal Blizters and Blockers seems smaller than the lineman or thrower from the same edition.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Blood Bowl: Model Size Comparisons Humans

So the new edition of Blood Bowl dropped last month and I got a copy for my collection for Christmas.  One of the first things people commented on during the rumor and reveal time was that GW was following the Age of Sigmar path and increasing the size of the models.  I am sure this is only to allow more detail and not to try to get people to rebuy stuff so that it is not funny looking next to the new stuff.

Now that I have the set I was able to leverage my collection to compare the different models from the game over nearly the past 30 years to see how consistent they have been in scale.  Long story short is that they have never been very consistent.  The models from the Humans are from 6 different official GW products.
From Left to Right: 2nd Edition Plastics (Monopose), 2nd Edition Metal, 3rd Edition Plastic, 3rd Edition Metal, 4-5th Edition Metal, and 2016 Edition Plastics.



Linemen (2nd and 3rd Models are Human Blocker and Human Lineman from 2nd Edition Metals)


Overall we see that the 2nd edition plastics were larger than most of the other models until the recent release.  The 2nd edition metals are bulkier than the 3rd-5th editions but generally not taller.  The most recently released metal team is pretty similar in size the new team.  If they were on the pitch together the 3rd edition plastics would probably show the scale change the worst of these.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Blood Bowl: Where to Get Teams?

So GW has dropped the newest version of Blood Bowl, but it does seem a little lacking in teams.  Starting a league with only miniatures for 3 types of teams is a bit of a waste.  The LRB 6 rulebook which is very very similar to the new release has rules for 24 teams.  You can ofcourse convert teams out of other GW plastics.  There was a great set of images up on the Warhammer World site like a week ago from last years Bugman's Cup of converted teams but they removed it now since this years event passed.

Another great place to look is at the third party manufacturers.

Impact Miniatures
Willy Miniatures
Greebo Games

Or Places the retail a variety of models
Tritex Games

While these minis are going to be more expensive generally the GW 12 man plastics(Only Skaven currently), I am guessing they will be priced fine compared Forgeworld stuff.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Dungeon Saga: Undead Boss Creation Rules in IronWatch

My rules for creating your own Undead Bosses have appeared in the November issue of IronWatch.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Lost Patrol: Retro Rules

So I gave Lost Patrol a try tonight.  I had heard bad things about the updated rules taking an intentionally unbalanced game and making it almost unwinnable against someone who know how to play the aliens so I went Old School Rules with the Lurker Counters instead.  I was just getting a feeling for the rules and was playing myself before getting the kids involved.  Scouts went 1 for 3 tries which was not bad.  This was after the first turn Scout on the map they won.  Because of all the Y splits right near the clearing I was able to reveal tiles pretty fast, getting 20 tiles after an aggressive first turn push.  On trick for the Scouts is to get just far enough from the clearing to get some of its outgoing paths to clear and then try to retake it to draw new paths out.  Sort of cheap I know, but the Lurker player can counter it by spanning Lurkers in the region when Scouts push out.

Next time I will unpack some stealers to see how the new version plays.
Update:  Tried the new version of the rules.  These are pretty bad.  Pretty much every turn for the scouts is roll 5+ or lose a scout regardless of what you do.  It plays so bad I think I must be playing it wrong but have read the rules and discussions a couple of times.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Get a Copy of Blood Bowl Rules Before They Disappear

With a new version of Blood Bowl due soon, GW will ofcourse be trying to sell rules that are very much like the last edition.  Well you can still get a free pdf of the best version of the rules every made.