Thursday, November 14, 2013

Solo Battletech - More

Someone has asked about my Solo Battletech variant.

My variant is not a cohesive write-up per se. Rather it is an eclectic collection of bolt-ons which work for me.

Totally stolen off of the internetz

The basic rules for movement, combat, and damage are unchanged from the base Battletech game. So, these additions make the solo variant suitable for other games.

You will need a deck of playing cards for this variant.

Let us begin...

1. Decide what kind of mission you are going to run. This can be as simple or as complicated as you want. I would recommend simple missions first. This can be a completely narrative goal or just a purely mechanical goal (kill them all!).

2. Set the aggression level for the enemy. This is a value between 2 and 12. The higher the value the less aggressive the enemy is. For an enemy that could go either way set the aggression level to 7. For a timid enemy set the aggression level to a 10 or 11. For a battle-raging enemy set the aggression level to 3 or 4.

3. Set the contact level. This is a value between 2 and 12. This value is used to determine if a sensor reading (blip) is indeed an enemy unit. A contact level set low will generate more enemy units than a high contact level.

4. If you are running a campaign you might want to hash out payment, experience points, and salvage that can be earned for the mission. This step is completely optional.

5. Determine sensor readings (blips). These are markers you will use to represent potential enemy units. I use poker chips. Any kind of token or marker will do. I determine the number of blips by rolling a 1d6.

6. Deploy. The resolution of this part does not really matter. Deploy your units as desired and deploy the blips randomly. For an interesting fight take turns alternating deployment of your units and the blips. The key here is to get the units and blips on the board.

7. Start the game. At the beginning of each turn determine initiative as usual.

8. During the movement phase, when it is time for a blip to move, roll a 1d6 for the direction the blip will travel. Once you know which direction the blip will travel roll a 1d6 to determine how far the blip moves. Move the blip the direction and distance specified. Blips will stop at the board edge. Terrain does not affect the movement of a blip.

After all units and/or blips have moved...time to find out if any of them are bad guys!

Enemy Unit Detection Rules

1.      After the Movement Phases but before the Weapon Attack Phase the player must scan the battlefield, in an attempt to resolve any blips remaining in play.

2.      The player will select one of her units and a blip (to which she has LOS) and then draw a card from a standard deck of playing cards.

3.      If the card drawn has a numerical value greater than or equal to the distance of the unit from the blip, the scan attempt has succeeded. Numbered cards can "see" the number of hexes noted on them. Jacks are 11 hexes. Queens = 12 hexes. Kings are 13 hexes. Aces can "see" 14 hexes. A Joker can discriminate at any range

4.      If the card drawn has a numerical value less than the distance between the two units, the scan attempt automatically fails.

5.      If at this point the scan attempt is a success the blip has a chance to resist being resolved. A card is drawn for the blip. If the card drawn has a numerical value equal to or greater than card already drawn for the detecting unit, the blip succeeds at remaining unresolved.

6.      If the scan attempt is ultimately successful, then the blip is converted into a unit or removed from the battlefield.
Important note - If the scanning unit fails to resolve the blip, the blip gets a scan in return to attempt to target the players unit! The player's unit gets a chance to resist being scanned per the guidelines above. If the blip does get a good scan of the player's unit the blip is immediately converted into an enemy unit.

9. To convert a blip into an enemy unit roll a 2d6. If the number rolled is equal to or greater than the contact value (2-12) the blip is immediately converted into an enemy unit. Randomly choose an enemy unit put it into the hex the blip occupies. Remove the blip from play. If the 2d6 roll is less than the contact level, remove the blip from play, it was just a false sensor reading or a sensor spoof.

10. Move onto the shooting phase.

11. Shooting and combat phases are carried in initiative order. When an enemy unit is up for shooting they will follow the Enemy Tactic matrix. The enemy unit will fire based off of its stance and heat condition. The enemy units will fire at the closest threat. If two or more units are at equal range, randomly determine which target the enemy unit will engage.

Stance is determined by rolling 2d6 and comparing the result to the aggression level set in step two. If the result is equal to or greater than the aggression level the enemy unit will behave aggressively. If the roll is lower than the aggression level the enemy unit will behave in a passive manner.

12. After combat - work through the heat phase before beginning the next turn.

OK folks, nearing midnight here. I'll polish this up in the near future.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Solo Battletech

Battle Armor by CB FX on Deviantart
 Hi all,

Time has been tight recently. Well, not for me, but for getting everyone together to play some games.

Idly, I began to wonder if I could play against myself and have any fun. I was hankering for some Battletech.

So, I broke out my 25th Anniversary set and got to work. For the first few games I just played both sides of the conflict.

However, I am the biased type and soon I noticed that both sides were preemptively anticipating each others tactics.

At that point I sat down and let my Google-fu do its thing. I found a few blogs that deal almost exclusively with this particular subject.

Solo Nexus

Solo Wargamer

Lone Warrior Blog  - they also publish a magazine devoted to solo gaming.

Also, almost every major blogger seems to have tinkered with solo gaming to one extent or another. Look up some of your favorites.

Uziel Battlemech by Rafta on Deviantart

Anyway, after much research about the Fog of War, random events, and programmed opponents, I went ahead and made a very rudimentary enemy tactics chart for playing Battletech.

Essentially, at the beginning of every turn I roll for each enemy unit to decide if it will fight aggressively or passively.

Aggressive fighting stresses maintaining range and exploiting the flank, closing the range for a more sure kill, and running the mech hot by firing the most damaging weapons over the more accurate ones.

Passive fighting stresses maintaining range and exploiting the flank, extending the range for a better defensive posture, and firing the most accurate weapons over the more damaging ones.

Battletech readily lends itself to this type of solo programming due to the hex-based game board, movement points, and heat. All of which act as limiting factors on what any opponent real or programmed can do.

I am not going into the specifics more than that, right now. If anyone should be interested I will elaborate upon my system.

My efforts worked better than I had expected. My programmed "enemy" acts (to me at least) like an actual opponent. It has several times occurred that as I was setting up a devastating attack, my opponent just pulled back or jumped over my head to get a rear or flank shot. It has also happened that he has acted rashly, not monitored his heat, and subsequently suffered a crippling ammo explosion.

I have declared solo gaming to be full of win. Making up programmed enemy tactics is almost a game unto itself. Now, I look forward to porting solo gaming into several of the other systems I play; 40k, Warmachine, and Flames of War.

Let me close by saying that games are played to be fun and enjoyable. Despite not having a human opponent and letting a random chart decide the enemy actions, I have had fun and had some hard fought, narrow victories. That is why I have been able to play six games of Battletech in the last week.

Solo gaming. Why not try it yourself?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Gaming Progress Update

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated...

I continue to game.

I have played in an Apocalypse game my local GW in Tomball Crossing. My son brought his Tau and I fielded my piecemeal, "half-painted Blood Angels" Dark Angels Deathwing list. It was an epic battle that essentially ended in a draw.

Come closer...the Butcher wants to axe you a question!
My Pathfinder campaign was brought out into the sunlight and dusted off as the intrepid band of heroes faced bullywugs, a green dragon, and a mysterious mud creature. The session ended as their return to civilization brought them the unhappy news that the elven secession has begun.

Modified Demolisher-Devastator-Spriggan kit
I purchased and have built most of another heavy warjack for my Khador Warmachine army. It was the Spriggan multi-model plastic kit. The engineering  on this thing is poor. It has tiny little arms to hold up giant shields or other weaponry and the arm/shoulder design sucks. So, I had to modify it some.

A steam-powered iron clad build from an old cereal box. To be used in my Pathfinder campaign.
A Spring Break trip to Colorado Springs gave me the opportunity to discover a fantastic gaming store named Gamer's Haven, in which I went whole hog and was snapping up vintage 3rd edition GURPS supplements for $1.99 to $3.99 each. Their link is here;

My kitbashed Belials. Outfitted with the TH/SS and the twin lightning claws option.
I am continuing to assemble and paint my buddy's Sedition Wars for him. In exchange he has offered to purchase me the Robotech kickstarter.

I need to get on here more often and post updates as I usually do something gaming related everyday.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tau - The Next Expansion

Reposted from Faeit 212: Tau Compilation as of 19 Mar 13

by The Vampire Dio

The Tau are on the move again. I have been eagerly awaiting a new codex for ~4 years now. I own nearly 3000 points of everyone's favorite fish communists and cannot wait to get them on the table for a spin.

Prices being what they are, I see some serious scratchbuilding/kitbashing in the future to make that sweet, sweet battlesuit of goodness, The Riptide.

Enjoy the compilation and look to more Tau goodness in the near future.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Game Design - Random Thoughts 01

My gaming group is a fickle bunch. They will buy practically anything for a system that they already own.

Totally used without permission

As such, I have access to nearly the entire collection of Warhammer 40k material starting with Rogue Trader up to the present.

The same could be said for Pathfinder. While very few of of the group own the core rule book, everyone owns at least ONE Pathfinder book.

This can be a problem if we want to try something other than grimdark battles or fantasy role playing. Especially since there is some laggard response to any new attempts at purchasing products/systems outside of what we already play.

For instance, I want to play miniature space battles. Everyone has a few star ship miniatures from various manufactures/factions. What we lack is a generic cohesive rule set. Now, I am personally a big fan Full Thrust. The price is right (free) and allows for comprehensive ship design.

The problem is lazy players. I have e-mailed them all the rules. I have even printed out the rules for myself. The lazy SOBs will NOT read the damn rules or stat out their ships prior to getting together to play. Not to mention Full Thrust uses specific symbols to represent ship statistics which takes time to get used to/instinctively interpret/use.

Seriously, when I have time to play, I want to PLAY, not teach, nor design my lazy buddy's fleet for him.

SO, I must create a rule set so simple, that a near comatose turnip can design a fleet in a few minutes and has rules simple enough that it encompasses no more space than two pages or so.

From FreeVector - Looks really cool

Here are a few principals I want to include in the system;

1: A single 3x5 card per unit(s). No army lists, no codexes, no clipboards.

2: Every stat must be equally important during the game. If it does not meet this criteria, it's out. This will assist with internal balance, if that type of thing is important to you.

3: Only positive modifiers that are added together. If a negative modifier applies it should be mechanically added to other sides bonuses.


5: There should be an element of randomness/fog of war integral to the system.

Just a few thoughts. More to come in the future!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Flames of War: "Open Fire!" Review

Having made out like a bandit I found myself with a ton of holiday gifts in the form of cash to buy new toys with.

In the past I have toyed around with 15mm in the sci-fi arena and found it to be fun. However, I have been hearing really good things about FoW since 3rd edition came out.

So I traipsed down to my local game store and bought the starter set known as, "Open Fire".

I was unprepared.

You get ton of stuff in this box; over 100 miniatures, a quick-start guide, a rulebook shrunk down to pocket-size, bases, laminated full size army lists for included forces, and terrain (in the form of cardboard punch-outs and a sweet V-1 rocket objective/terrain piece). You also get the magnets for magnetizing the turrets on your tanks!

Fantastic stuff.

The quick-start guide and portions of the rulebook are photos of a game in progress, with overlaid graphics and explanations written in comic book form. The quick-start guide was worth a read no matter what.

The miniatures are fantastic. The eight tanks come on a sprue and have to be assembled. Kind of a pain at 15mm scale but fantastically detailed. The sprues even include optional stowage for each tank so that even at 15mm scale you can individualize your vehicles.

The men are included on two sprues, are one piece, and are glued to the bases in "teams" which is a concept that works within the rules.

My only complaint at this juncture is that while the vehicles are in separate poly bags and are either US green or German grey the soldiers themselves are uniform grey/green color and are intermixed on the same sprues. So, be prepared to use a magnifying glass and a well lit area for assembly. Of course, at 15mm if you should get some mix ups it is doubtful anyone will notice.

As mentioned, terrain is included in the form of punch out walls, houses, and trees. Also in the set is damn sweet V-1 rocket and launch rail that just looks great. Terrain matters in the game and it is awesome that it was included.

Points-wise both armies are close in points; 790 to 830 if my math is correct. I have heard that most games are in the 1500-2000 point range. This means that purchasing two starter sets and splitting it with a buddy is very viable in getting a functional army on the table at club levels.

I cannot speak to the mechanics as yet but I know it is an IGOUGO rule set (not my favorite kind). However, from a cursory inspection of the quick-start guide the rules seem to be fairly decent. They are however, not deep into simulation territory. So, if you are looking for a rule set that distinguishes between the individual weapon capabilities of a regular soldier, then it is probably not the game for you.

If you like really nice miniatures, have only a little room to play (as opposed to 28mm), enjoy a fairly tight yet abstract rule set then you might want to look more into FoW. I know I am.

For $70 USD I rate this a 9.0 out of 10 on my own personal satisfaction scale.

Predator Rescue, Part 03

After I completed gluing the magnets into openings to mount the turret I went ahead and glued the top panel down completely.

I did some more filing on the hull itself, mostly to neaten up the appearance of the tank overall.

The entire model was already primed a nice flat black. Since my army is painted in Blood Angels colors I figured I would stick with that scheme.

I have never been a huge fan of the all red look of the BA and I have taken pains to include a fair amount of black as well as yellow, green, and white in the army. Think of Death Company colors.

One of my Rhino's is painted in a mostly black with red as the trim color. My other Rhino is primarily red with black as the trim color. I firmly put my predator between the two and decided on a 50/50 color balance between black and red.

I use quite a few cheap acrylic paints in my arsenal and my standard undercoat prep for red uses the Americana brand in Khaki Tan.

In my opinion not only are acrylic paints inexpensive, you can make them into truly wonderful paints using water, matte medium, and flow improver to make them smoother to use. Even with the required doctoring they are still much more inexpensive than the GW pots. The base coat worked as intended and the red went on smoothly and with very few blotches.

I added some greeblies in the form of tow hooks, HK missile launcher, and smoke dischargers. Since I had completed a majority of the painting I went ahead and used decals for the first time.

Colors blocked out and decals applied. More on the magnetized sponsons next post.
For decals I used conventional wisdom. A coat of gloss where the decal would go. Application of the decal using decal solution and once dry the application of a matte coating over the entire decal to blend/lock it into place. I am very happy with the results and the decals really seem to give the vehicle an identity that is in context to the force.

At this point I would have no issues with putting this on the table. However, I do owe it some washes, drybrushing, and weathering. I also need to discuss the work I am doing on the sponsons.