Sunday, September 9, 2012

Welcome to the Blog...


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.



  1. As someone who is running a campaign that fields lots of infantry and vehicles, I'm looking forward to seeing what you bring to the table, so to speak.

  2. Agreed! This is a really neglected area in the BT universe. In one campaign I (Successfully) used paratroops to do the actual snatch and grab in a prison while the BattleMech force drew away all the combat forces in the area. Some Karnovs came in for the extract and we were gone in under five turns. It was pretty impressive. =)