Monday, 10 January 2022

Played Against The Machines

Big stompy robots were never really part of my nerd roots. I was more He-Man than Transformers. I was more Warhammer Fantasy Battle than 40k. And I never played Battletech.

Until now.

Pete has bought into Battletech in a fairly big way over the last year and invited me over to give it a try.

Given that trying something I don't normally play is a hobby bingo challenge, and I was a little intrigued, I agreed.

Pete had given me a Griffin GRF-1N to pilot in our intro game and he had...a different one.

Essentially the mechs were roughly the same but I had quite powerful long range guns, whilst he had more firepower when at shorter ranges.

At first glance the stats cards are a bit intimidating, but that might be the fact that this is a game that hasn't been 'streamlined' over the past 30 years (although this is a beginner sheet) and it's actually much less complicated than it looks. It also has a fun colouring-in mechanic for damage.

After about a turn or two, the only bit I was needing to refer to were the movement and weapon ranges on the left.

The game play is very straightforward: determine initiative, move, shoot. 

The game is played on a hex grid, which rally makes movement and line of sight easy to deal with, although it does slightly break the immersion for me and gives a bit of a boardgame feel to proceedings.

Each time you fire, your accuracy is affected by the movement of your own mech and that of your opponent, terrain and the specific weapon you are using.

Damage locations are determined randomly and filling up the damage points in a location can have an impact on your abilities in the game.

Getting initiative seemed to be massively important to potentially success, and rolling higher than Pete on 2D6 over several turns allowed me to use my range advantage to outmanoevre him.

He needed to get close, which meant that having initiative and moving second allowed me to get round his flanks and use my bigger guns to inflict significant damage and ultimately destroy his mech.

We then had a second game with two mechs each and it was interesting that the game actually sped up. Not only was one of your mechs always going to be a bit exposed, but with more firepower on display the damage racked up quickly.

The two lighter mecgs we added had much closer ranges, meaning that this game became more of a knife fight and meant that the range advantage of my Griffin was less significant.

Even though I probably inflicted more damage on Pete's mechs and destroyed his light mech first, my light mech got immobilised and my Griffin was ultimately felled with series of annoyingly accurate headshots.

Overall I found Battletech to be an enjoyable game. It's interesting that it has a range of different ways to play: beginner mode; the full game with more complexity; and Alpha Strike, that has simpler rules, but mire mechs and 3d terrain.

There's also a massive backstory and universe to dive into that I know nothing about.

I'm not sure whether this is something I'll buy into, simply because of game overload. However, I'd happily play it again.


  1. Great you got to play Battletech. This is one of those games where I love the background, have tons of novels and other material as well as miniatures and rules - but as is the way - never bloody played a single game!

    1. I'm not sure it's something I'd buy into, but it was definitely enjoyable to play.