Sunday, September 23, 2012

Not Re-Inventing the Wheel... and Appropriate Conditions

Welcome back.

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.



  1. How's this coming?

    We are having a bit of a blarney on my blog about the use of infantry in BattleTech, and just wondered really?

    1. Looking good so far. Just ran a game with some tanks, anti-personnel mechs, and infantry. It was very tense and a lot of fun. Any news on when you're releasing this?

  2. I am still studying infantry as they are presented in TW, as they are presented in TacOps and making some decisions as to how grainy I want this to be. Pretty large-grain at first - I want rough tactics for the beer and pretzels crowd (if they even exist). Then we start talking about what average troops you can make.

    Then we introduce new machines along with their mission profiles. And so on. Still working the details.