I have spent the past couple of weeks studying the rulebooks (Total Warfare, TechManual and Tactical Operations) that contain all the rules for choosing, assembling and deploying infantry and battle armor.
It occurs to me that listing all the weapons and troops available for the game would be re-inventing the wheel. Why trot all that stuff out when it is done so much better in the rulebooks themselves?
SO - we will list the troop types available, then dive right into mission profiles. We will reference the applicable page of a given rulebook when needed so you can find it yourself. The point is not to create an exhaustive list (that has already been done), but to show how to get the most out of the various lists for a given mission.
Where Can You Use Foot-Sloggers?
Keep in mind there should be several parameters in effect when choosing weapons and troops. As I stated in the last blog post, merely stating a date and then a Battle Value is not going to be enough. There are troops available from the very simple foot infantry with no armor and ballistic weapons right up through the most advanced battle armor this side of a ProtoMech. Why would anyone choose foot infantry if battle armor is in the offing?
The answer is that there must be additional limits to a particular scenario - ones which make choosing a platoon of foot infantry logical and effective. We will list these restrictions so Game Masters can craft a scenario where this type of infantry has an actual use.
For example, a Periphery world with little access to BattleMechs and battle armor, but good access to tanks and other Vees would be a place that needed infantry to take and hold a town or other objective. In fact, they might be vital to the successful completion of the mission.
This is not the only place where such an encounter might take place, however. In the fan-made Technical Readout: 3063, there is a special tank known as the Hammerhead II. Deployed to the developing world of San Nicholas in the Free Worlds League, this acts as an escort to large 'roadtrain' convoys which transport vital supplies to towns and small cities in that world's Outback. The setting is very much like that found in the 'Mad Max' movies, with roaming gangs preying on the cargo trains whenever they get the chance.
This setting would be ideal for foot infantry, whose firepower, organization and ability to conduct maneuvers in terrain that is off-limits to wheeled vehicles makes them an effective choice.
Some Additional Thoughts on Game Restrictions....
Remember Advanced Dungeons and Dragons? For those of you who recall the weapons list, there was a bewildering array available. Some weapons were manifestly better suited to fighting than others, yet the stone axe was listed right along with ten variations on the morgenstern. The reason for this - the reason you found so many variations of a simple weapon type - was that some of the weapons were forebears to the others. In other words, while they were all found on a single list, in actuality they were strung out over five or six hundred years of developmental time!
Many players simply took the most effective weapon they could afford and ignored the rest, which were considered to be there for 'flavor'. But some Game Masters enforced a level of cultural development which forbade choosing the most effective weapons. Essentially, the list was broken up into chronological divisions that were further divided into technological levels. Different parts of the GM's world had different levels of weapons technology.
What has this got to do with BattleTech and infantry?
Well, all those troops and weapons listed in the books aren't divided up by much more than price, BV and a rough notation of the time they were introduced. Not mentioned are local tech level (can the weapon be reliably serviced?), availability (it's a long trip between the stars - does everyone on every planet have access to that weapon despite its being 'current'?) and the cost of outfitting troops en masse with that weapon type (how much of a factor is cost, really? Many politicians authorize funding only for what will work, not the absolute best that can be had).
We will consider these factors when drawing up the section on recommended limits.
Sorry there are no links to the Infantry construction software and spreadsheets available - I have not had the time to get them all nailed down yet. Also, if anyone out there has a good idea for new types of battle armor that have not been done by the company, I would welcome submissions. Please include a mission profile for each type.
Thanks for stopping by.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Sunday, September 9, 2012
SO - I finished the TRO:3063. Yay! Five years and I am taking a break from writing and putting every spare cent and moment of time into a fan project.
But of course, I will be picking things up again in about a month.
What Is The Infantry Primer?
Well, nothing but an idea right now.
See, there are a lot of ways to play BattleTech. You can use BattleMechs only, or you can add tanks and battle armor and infantry and VTOLs and other stuff to the mix. Or you can play all of those other things by themselves - I have seen armor engagements with nary a 'Mech in sight. I have heard of infantry battles using just foot troopers and a bit of battle armor all by itself.
There's a problem, though. For a lot of us, running a 'Mech was our first experience with the game. Gradually, if we stuck with playing, we learned (in a half-assed way) to use tanks and some aircraft (mostly VTOLs). Much of this was due to the fragility of tanks, etc - anything that was not a 'Mech was horribly weak and vulnerable to all sorts of insta-kill weapons.
Then the Total Warfare rules came out. Tanks and other vehicles were given a new lease on life, as they were much tougher. Also added in the rules was a section on infantry.
Now, infantry in the past was a gimmick, or at best part of the scenery. You squashed it, ignored it but were seldom threatened by it unless your opponent was very good and you were a tactical klutz.
Total Warfare changed that, too.
The New Face of Infantry - the Grunt's Revenge!
The new rules not only introduced new types of infantry, they expanded their capability by adding the ability to field 'Mech-grade weapons. Without anti-personnel weapons, it is very hard to kill a platoon of grunts hiding in the weeds. And wouldn't you know it? Over the years, a lot of folks were so underwhelmed by the 'threat' of infantry that they removed a lot of anti-personnel weapons from BattleMech designs.
So where does that leave us? Well... I think we are now poised to enter a Golden Age for infantry. Tactical Operations has even more optional rules for infantry, but even without all the new gadgets for battle armor, properly-selected and deployed infantry can send an invading force packing. *Especially* if it is made up entirely of BattleMechs.
Only For The Headstrong
Do I advocate folks just putting away their BattleMechs and investing in infantry-only formations? No. Tank battalions reinforced by infantry? No. Think about it - this is a game of big stompy robots. The other weapons in the game are going to be good, but a player who uses BattleMechs as part of a combined-arms force will get a lot further than one who does not. It's built into the rules, for pity's sake.
What I do advocate is finding out where infantry work best. As there are several different kinds, and several different ways to arm them, that means your mission requirements will dictate what you choose to field. But which conditions match which kind of troops? How best to deploy them? Where does jump infantry come into its own? Where is battle armor best used?
In games that use infantry, you must have limits other than Battle Value. Otherwise everyone would invest in artillery and scads of battle armor, sit back and outwait their opponent. For infantry to be useful, the GameMaster is going to have to establish goals and victory conditions that *require* certain types of infantry to actively participate.
This is not going to appeal to the player whose way of playing is forming a line with his assault 'Mechs and shooting anything that moves. It will not appeal to players whose idea of a complex goal is 'I kills it with my gauss rifle'. It *will* appeal to players who like a challenge, are flexible with their tactics and who are BOLD!
Making It Easier...
So we will address all of that stuff. What is my goal? It is simple:
- Right now it is easy to choose a 'Mech, or even several 'Mechs, and properly deploy them on a successful mission. It is almost as easy to do this with Vehicles of all kinds, but the rules are a little different and deploying them is a bit different too. So fewer people tend to use them. But infantry is a mystery to a lot of players, myself included. I think this is a result of the scattered nature of the rules and the fact that the game revolves around the BattleMech. And that's wrong. No, not the part about the BattleMech - they are the stars of the show. What I think is that infantry should be as easy to choose and deploy as any lance of BattleMechs - and just as deadly if used in the correct way.
I intend to do that with The Infantry Primer. Consider it a "BattleTech Infantry for Dummies".
[As a side note, I have watched infantry played correctly to a victory. It is one reason we designed so many new Infantry Fighting Vehicles for the fan-made TRO:3063. Ever wonder why so many of our troop carriers come equipped with an SRM or LRM launcher? It's so they can make cover for their debarking troops using smoke rounds.]
Next week I will put up links to places where you can get a Platoon Editor! And we will discuss the pros and cons of the various editors available.
Thanks for stopping by.