Getting Into Classic Battletech

ValkunValkun Registered User regular
edited December 2008 in Critical Failures
So some friends of mine want to start playing Battletech, the table top strategy game that started the franchise spanning countless games, books, and even an animated TV show. As with anything table top related, there's a huge library of source books, expansions, and accessories available. Where does one get started and what's a must have item that no player should be without? Consequently, how much should one be looking to spend to get into it? Experience from 40k has taught me that this stuff gets expensive fast.

I've also heard criticisms regarding the game in that battlemechs are far outclassed by other unit types in terms of effectiveness per point. Not that it should matter because we'd probably play a lot of mechs even if they're horrible in comparison, but I was curious if it's still an issue.

Once I actually learn some things, I'll try to update this into a proper opening post. But for now, any help or advice on getting started would be greatly appreciated.

Valkun on
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  • INeedNoSaltINeedNoSalt with blood on my teeth Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    BattleTech isn't necessarily a WYSIWYG type of game like 40k is, and doesn't have stringent rules about what figures you must use (I don't think.) In that regard, it shouldn't be as expensive.

    In another regard, I'm not certain they're still making BattleTech miniatures at all.

    I've never actually played BattleTech with anything but mechs because why even bother, mechs are awesome.

    (When my group played battletech, the 'opening cost' was a book, a mat, terrain pieces, and miniatures. I wouldn't expect to spend much more than a hundred bucks or so for a barebones game.)

    INeedNoSalt on
  • ValkunValkun Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Well, apparently there's a starter set: $26 from Amazon

    It comes with a rulebook*, maps, plastic miniatures, dice etc. I suppose that's low enough of a cost to dive in and get a feel for it. Just briefly skimming their quick start guide, do you even really need to buy the mini's? It seems like small hex markers would work just as well.

    *Rulebook is not the same as the main $40 rulebook so it's probably very skimmed down in the fluff and some of the more intricate rules are probably cut out as well.

    Valkun on
  • ZombiemamboZombiemambo Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    I bought a BattleTech starter set thing that came with paper stand-up models. I've never played it before, but I love the BattleTech fluff. There's a site that sells a large variety of BT models, but I don't know if it's a complete list:

    http://www.ironwindmetals.com/catalog/index.php

    Zombiemambo on
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  • OrogogusOrogogus San DiegoRegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    BattleTech's information page -- includes free PDF downloads for the basic rules, background information and record sheets.

    There's also a separate page specifically listing the recommended introductory products.

    You need dice.

    You can play with counters to start with, although they need to be able to indicate facing. A hex map will make things slightly easier to start with, but if you already play 40K it won't really be an issue.

    If you want to try the game out online or against bots, Megamek is quite good, or at least it was 2 years ago when I last tried it.

    ===

    EDIT:

    You can basically spend however much you want on the game, since the starting cost is practically free what with the free downloads. It depends on what you're interested in. If you want a miniatures game, you can buy minis, paint, terrain and all the usual paraphernalia -- I believe Iron Wind Metals, linked in the previous post, is the official miniatures manufacturer. If you like the background, there are a ton of novels and sourcebooks. If you want an RPG, there are a lot of materials along those lines as well.

    Full product list. It seems kind of grim that the list is 10 pages instead of 1 if you include "Out of Print" items, too.

    I don't know if they've fixed it in the past few years, but the last time I checked BattleTech was sorely lacking anything like a fair points system. They had one or two perfunctory attempts at it, but I think the latest, the Battle Value system, was generally acknowledged to be significantly flawed.

    Vehicles were badly gimped in the version I last played, but this may have been addressed (they already had optional rules along these lines before). However, it was possible to flood a game with tons of cheap, fast hovertanks, which generally made things no fun for anyone.

    Orogogus on
  • DetharinDetharin Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    At my old job we used to get games going whenever things were slow. Nothing but mechs we started out using ones from the books and then when we learned how to custom build our own we used those.

    Its a really fun game when you get into it, real simple to do terrain as its either Level 1 (half a mech high hits roll on the punch table), level 2 (as high as a mech, blocks LOS), level 3+ (really tall, gives everyone a great view of you when you jump onto it)

    Personally I loved my Warhammer with two er ppc's and 2 lbx 20's. Nothing like firing the ppcs, and then using buckshot LBX rounds for extra chances at damaging internals.

    Detharin on
  • INeedNoSaltINeedNoSalt with blood on my teeth Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Is the new Classic Battletech identical to the older, out of print Battletech?

    Because when the OP was asking about 'Classic Battletech', I had forgotten that they had started republishing the stuff under that title. :p

    INeedNoSalt on
  • OrogogusOrogogus San DiegoRegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Is the new Classic Battletech identical to the older, out of print Battletech?

    Because when the OP was asking about 'Classic Battletech', I had forgotten that they had started republishing the stuff under that title. :p

    Yes; Classic BattleTech is what they named the old game after the Mechwarrior Clix game was released.

    Orogogus on
  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Valkun wrote: »
    Well, apparently there's a starter set: $26 from Amazon

    It comes with a rulebook*, maps, plastic miniatures, dice etc. I suppose that's low enough of a cost to dive in and get a feel for it. Just briefly skimming their quick start guide, do you even really need to buy the mini's? It seems like small hex markers would work just as well.

    *Rulebook is not the same as the main $40 rulebook so it's probably very skimmed down in the fluff and some of the more intricate rules are probably cut out as well.

    I have the starter set, the full rulebook and the new max tech book.

    The starter set rulebook contains all the rules you need to run battletech games with Inner Sphere 3025 tech. EG: No clans or C3 networks or whatnot.

    The big rulebook contains all the optional rules and later tech stuff.

    The max tech book contains a lot of kewl fluff about the weaponry and about 50% of its volume is rules for designing your own mechs / vehicles / dropships / everything.

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  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Orogogus wrote: »
    I don't know if they've fixed it in the past few years, but the last time I checked BattleTech was sorely lacking anything like a fair points system. They had one or two perfunctory attempts at it, but I think the latest, the Battle Value system, was generally acknowledged to be significantly flawed.

    Vehicles were badly gimped in the version I last played, but this may have been addressed (they already had optional rules along these lines before). However, it was possible to flood a game with tons of cheap, fast hovertanks, which generally made things no fun for anyone.


    The revised BattleValue system with the new version is actually pretty damn good. It's never going to be perfect when you start mixing clan vs inner sphere 3025 vs inner sphere 3055 etc... but it's pretty darn close.

    The game itself is really optimized to be played with 2-12 units per side in a game. More than that and you end up with just way too much record keeping and turns take hours to get though. If you want large battles you need to use MegaMek.

    Swarms of cheap vehicles are only a dick move in that it makes everything take forever because of how many you are deploying. Vehicles themselves are actually pretty well balanced for their points.

    The premise of the game and it's fiction is that vehicles are supposed to be a lot more vulnerable than mechs. And they are. In battletech vehicles shine as support units.

    RiemannLives on
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  • delrolanddelroland Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    1) Battletech is cool.
    2) I like Heavy Gear better, because I always thought the ablative nature of armor in Battletech was cheesy. Heavy Gear is much more rules-intensive, however.
    3) Swarms of cheap vehicles are not terribly nasty. Swarms of cheap 'Mechs are VERY nasty when you consider the charging rules. Having twenty Locusts per Daishi to suicide-charge means an IS win.

    Edit:
    4) MaxTech is pretty fucking cheesy. So are LAM's; feel free to dick-punch anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.

    delroland on
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  • A duck!A duck! Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited November 2008
    Oh God, I used to be able to cite the rules and build custom mechs from memory. I think I played that every day over two summer vacations, and I don't mean that in some metaphorical sense.

    EVERY. DAY.

    A duck! on
  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    delroland wrote: »
    1) Battletech is cool.
    2) I like Heavy Gear better, because I always thought the ablative nature of armor in Battletech was cheesy. Heavy Gear is much more rules-intensive, however.
    3) Swarms of cheap vehicles are not terribly nasty. Swarms of cheap 'Mechs are VERY nasty when you consider the charging rules. Having twenty Locusts per Daishi to suicide-charge means an IS win.

    Edit:
    4) MaxTech is pretty fucking cheesy. So are LAM's; feel free to dick-punch anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.

    You talking about the new MaxTech or the older (revised master rules) one? Because the newer maxtech book isn't what you are thinking at all.

    And nothing is kewler than the Pheonix Hawk LAM from the original printing 3025 book.

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  • delrolanddelroland Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    I was referring to the MaxTech with ER Pulse Lasers, Thunderbolt missles, and MRM-40's.

    Also, I only wish that there were 'Mechs larger than 100T so that the incoming dick-punch would do more than 20 damage with TSM.

    It's a shame you can't put arms on a dropship.

    delroland on
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  • A duck!A duck! Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited November 2008
    I think some of my favorite things in Battletech were C3 Command Computers and Homing Arrow IV. My friend and I played a custom campaign where we could use anything we wanted and just had to balance point values, and I raped him through the pants with a combined arms unit that abused both of those. Good times.

    A duck! on
  • INeedNoSaltINeedNoSalt with blood on my teeth Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    delroland wrote: »
    I was referring to the MaxTech with ER Pulse Lasers, Thunderbolt missles, and MRM-40's.

    Also, I only wish that there were 'Mechs larger than 100T so that the incoming dick-punch would do more than 20 damage with TSM.

    It's a shame you can't put arms on a dropship.

    The MechWarrior clix game introduced ultraheavy mechs, who were 130 tons and walked on three legs.

    http://www.wizkidsgames.com/mechwarrior/mw_article.asp?cid=40980

    They were pretty lame.

    INeedNoSalt on
  • ValkunValkun Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Looks like I'll buy the starter set and move on from there. I'm glad to hear that small mechs aren't underpowered, I was thinking a lance of 30-50 ton mechs would provide enough flexibility for me strategically. I'm looking forward to seeing what my opponents are capable of, one is training to be an air battle manager for the Air Force. That guy will one day be doing this stuff for a living.

    Valkun on
  • ZombiemamboZombiemambo Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Just so you know, BattleTech without Clans is more like...LameTech.

    Zombiemambo on
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  • delrolanddelroland Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    delroland wrote: »
    I was referring to the MaxTech with ER Pulse Lasers, Thunderbolt missles, and MRM-40's.

    Also, I only wish that there were 'Mechs larger than 100T so that the incoming dick-punch would do more than 20 damage with TSM.

    It's a shame you can't put arms on a dropship.

    The MechWarrior clix game introduced ultraheavy mechs, who were 130 tons and walked on three legs.

    http://www.wizkidsgames.com/mechwarrior/mw_article.asp?cid=40980

    They were pretty lame.

    135T, actually. I wonder if they will ever get "Classic" rules. Still, that's 6 more damage to Riemann's nuts.

    delroland on
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  • IanatorIanator Delightfully mediocre! Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Does anyone know where I can pick up some of those old Robotech models? Because the new starter set's Panther, awesome though it is, just isn't satisfying my inner Ryusei Date.

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  • delrolanddelroland Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Good luck with that. Unless you can find a 3rd Ed boxed set (or was it 4th?), you're not going to find those minis. That one though had a whole slew of the "banned" figs, albeit in really crappy plastic.

    delroland on
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  • OrogogusOrogogus San DiegoRegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Just so you know, BattleTech without Clans is more like...LameTech.

    Eh. I think the Clans were a terrible addition to the game in terms of story and gameplay. Their 'Mechs look okay, though. Aside from the Clans, I feel the worst thing about BattleTech is its artwork (opinions opinions again), but the original Clan Omni designs weren't horrible.

    Orogogus on
  • INeedNoSaltINeedNoSalt with blood on my teeth Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Clans are pretty badass as far as the story goes.

    INeedNoSalt on
  • ValkunValkun Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Orogogus wrote: »
    Just so you know, BattleTech without Clans is more like...LameTech.

    Eh. I think the Clans were a terrible addition to the game in terms of story and gameplay. Their 'Mechs look okay, though. Aside from the Clans, I feel the worst thing about BattleTech is its artwork (opinions opinions again), but the original Clan Omni designs weren't horrible.

    The little fluff book that comes with the starter set (available via free download) has a ton of the ugliest mechs I've ever seen. All of their humanoid designs look roughly the same and are universally horrendous. They even made the Atlas look ridiculous.

    Visited one of the few remaining hobby places in Vegas and apparently they don't carry Battletech merchandise. Are there any good online sites that are worth visiting that are comparable to or better than Amazon.com?

    Valkun on
  • IanatorIanator Delightfully mediocre! Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Valkun wrote: »
    Visited one of the few remaining hobby places in Vegas and apparently they don't carry Battletech merchandise. Are there any good online sites that are worth visiting that are comparable to or better than Amazon.com?
    :shock: I used to live in Vegas until about seven months ago! Where'd you go to?

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  • ValkunValkun Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    I went to the Advanced Technologies Academy and I'm graduating from UNLV in four weeks.

    Is it nationwide phenomenon that hobby and comic book stores are closing up shop? Because here, there's only one left that I know about.

    The miniatures aren't as bad as the artwork right?

    Valkun on
  • OrogogusOrogogus San DiegoRegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Valkun wrote: »
    The miniatures aren't as bad as the artwork right?

    In my opinion, they are. But you should look for yourself and decide.


    http://www.camospecs.com/ -- As far as I know this is the biggest BattleTech miniatures gallery on the Internet

    http://ironwindmetals.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=16_21 -- Iron Wind Metals's online catalog.

    Orogogus on
  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    The Iron Wind Metals line has some very nice minis. I particularly like my Battlemaster fig as well as their infantry and elementals.

    The plastics that come with the starter set are basically all trash in terms of look and quality (really shitty plastic). But they are good enough to play with anyway.

    If you are in the greater Seattle area check out American Eagle (Lake City, just north of Lake City Way & 125th) they have quite a few battletech minis in stock.

    Edit: And I cannot emphasize enough how small scale tabletop battletech needs to be. You do not want to play a game with more than 4 mechs on a side starting out. And even if you have the rules all memorized you are only getting up to company (12 mechs) sized engagements. The game just does not work for more than that. So you do not need many figures.

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  • delrolanddelroland Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    The problem with Battletech art is that it is done in an art style instead of a drafting/engineering style. This is fine for filler art, but the Technical Readouts should all be done in the style of the 3050 OmniMech style. If they did that, all the mechs would look a lot better.

    Except the Urbanmech.
    I want to see a pic of an Urbanmech with the head popped open and Oscar the Grouch sticking out.

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  • ForarForar #432 Toronto, Ontario, CanadaRegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Clans are pretty badass as far as the story goes.

    Quineg.

    Inner Sphere or bust.

    The Gray Death Legion lives on!

    Forar on
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  • INeedNoSaltINeedNoSalt with blood on my teeth Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Hey, I didn't say I play Clan ... IS for life!

    INeedNoSalt on
  • ValkunValkun Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    I'm kind of surprised that the clans made so little headway in the lore. When did they decide to change the faction names from House X and House Y, to stuff like the Lyran Alliance. Or has it always been that way and the various video games have just preferred to use different monikers?

    I remember the Urbanmech and its ridiculous garbage can with a big gun design from Battletech 3025. Had a blast playing that while it was still around. I take it a replacement for it still hasn't been developed?

    Valkun on
  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Valkun wrote: »
    I'm kind of surprised that the clans made so little headway in the lore. When did they decide to change the faction names from House X and House Y, to stuff like the Lyran Alliance. Or has it always been that way and the various video games have just preferred to use different monikers?

    I remember the Urbanmech and its ridiculous garbage can with a big gun design from Battletech 3025. Had a blast playing that while it was still around. I take it a replacement for it still hasn't been developed?

    Each of the inner sphere states always had both House X name (for their ruling dynasty) and another.

    Davion = Federated Suns
    Steiner = Lyran Commonwealth
    Liao = Capellan Confederation
    Marik = Free Worlds League
    Kurita = Draconis Combine

    The names for Davion / Steiner change depending on the timeline post 3025 because they end up in an alliance, then combining as a single state (Federated Commonwealth) then splitting up again with slightly different names for the halves.

    Edit: You all might be interested in the books of Poul Anderson. His books were probably the single most influential source for the setting as it existed prior to the clans. Like as much as Warhammer is the source for everything Blizzard has ever done (and in turn much of Blizzards stuff is based on Moorcock etc...)

    It also helps that Anderson was one of the (if the the most) skilled sci-fi author of the later 20th century. Makes for much easier reading than the pulp (at best, utter crap usually) that comprises the actual battletech books.

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  • The Count Of Midget FistoThe Count Of Midget Fisto Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Does the Introductory Boxed Set have the most up to date rules?

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  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Does the Introductory Boxed Set have the most up to date rules?

    That is the most current version of the basic (3025 tech only) rules. All the clan and optional stuff is in the hardbacked rulebook released at the same time as that box.

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  • ValkunValkun Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    From the reviews I've read, there are complaints that it's hard to learn to play from the hardcover Battletech Total Warfare and it expects you to already be a veteran or own the starter set.

    Valkun on
  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Yeah, pick up the new boxed set - the art in anything new is quite nice, though I always liked the old stuff, too. It had character. There's a full forum resource at www.classicbattletech.com.

    I also get a shoutout in the field manual, capellan confederation ^_^.

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  • delrolanddelroland Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    kaliyama wrote: »
    I also get a shoutout in the field manual, capellan confederation ^_^.

    Seriously? That's pretty cool.

    That is something I always loved about FASA: the little tidbits of character they added to their games, like integrating cool player stories into canon or those Shadowland sidebars in all the SR sourcebooks.

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  • ValkunValkun Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Rather than actually doing the various projects and homework that desperately need to be completed, I've been browsing the sarna.net wiki. There I came upon the Mad Cat (BV2: 2,737) article and I'm wondering how the heck you can take advantage of it tactically. It's fast, a monster at long range, and has moderate power short range. Would it be possible to ambush it with light, jump capable mechs with flamers to take advantage of its reliance on energy weapons? At short range, would a pair of Catapults (BV2: 2798) be able to stand up to it?

    In the campaign we'll likely be playing, I'll probably be using 3050 IS tech against equivalent Clan tech since it's set during the invasion. Right now, I'm thinking I'll probably be fielding a fast, light, jump capable force with units specializing in certain ranges.

    Valkun on
  • delrolanddelroland Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Keep in mind that the Mad Cat only has 12 LRM-20 shots, so if you have an AMS, you've effectively negated half of its armament.

    Two 3025 Catapults would be absolutely brutalized by a Mad Cat, as they don't have enough damage output to punch through the Mad Cat's nearly maxxed-out FF armor. Now, if you go with the 3050 Catapults, armed with Arrow-IV's, and they can get the jump on the Mad Cat (and don't miss too many shots), then they might win. You'd need a spotter, though, like a Raven or TAG infantry.

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  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Valkun wrote: »
    Rather than actually doing the various projects and homework that desperately need to be completed, I've been browsing the sarna.net wiki. There I came upon the Mad Cat (BV2: 2,737) article and I'm wondering how the heck you can take advantage of it tactically. It's fast, a monster at long range, and has moderate power short range. Would it be possible to ambush it with light, jump capable mechs with flamers to take advantage of its reliance on energy weapons? At short range, would a pair of Catapults (BV2: 2798) be able to stand up to it?

    In the campaign we'll likely be playing, I'll probably be using 3050 IS tech against equivalent Clan tech since it's set during the invasion. Right now, I'm thinking I'll probably be fielding a fast, light, jump capable force with units specializing in certain ranges.

    I would go after the Mad Cat with a few heavy-end mediums with jump jets kitted out for point blank range + physical combat. Especially the Hatchetman.

    Why? Check out the to-hit modifiers chart. It's really godsdamned hard to hit a mech that is jumping. Make that just about impossible at long range. You want to swarm into the mad cats face as fast as possible and start pounding on it at point blank range.

    Hatchets especially are awesome. A 50 tonner packing a hatchet means 10 damage on the punch hit location table. 1/6 chance of a head shot instead of 1/36. Even better if you can get behind the sucker.

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