Monthly Archives: February 2009

Campaign: Second Battle

To refresh the memory, you can check out the campaign backstory, campaign map, campaign goals and the account of the first battle before you get started.

As you may recall from his post on using a moving table in Mechaton, Simon had the choice of battlefield, restrictions and special objective for this particular game. The moving table thing has been outlined in this entry, so I won’t labour the point by restating what was said there. The special objective was a truck full of special foods. The side that held on to that particular truck would gain a multiplier to Population. There were no restrictions on attachments for this game.

Simon seems to exhibit a fair degree of luck when it comes to choosing forces. Both he and I plumped for four mechs each, but I lost out on points by having 14 attachments as opposed to his 12. Richard was fielding a far bigger (and stronger) force than his last outing, with six units and 18 attachments.

The points per and starting points for this game were:

Combined Military Forces (Me): 6/36
Allied Defence Dynamics (Richard): 3/24
The Miner’s Union (Simon): 7/42

Simon set up his objectives far down the field, covering them with his strongest mechs. Richard pretty much dominated the left hand side of the table, looking like he wasn’t going to repeat the mistakes of the last game. I stuck to the right hand side. With the special objective so far away from my units, through both other forces, it wasn’t looking like I could grab hold of it. However, Simons second station was looking much more promising.

The first turn was a disaster for Simon, a disappointment for me and a crushing start for Richard. The Miners Union had a mech knocked out almost from the get go and I just couldn’t roll anything with the dice. Richard on the other hand had his forces rush down the table, pounding the Union forces and (luckily) mostly ignoring the Army.

I’ll say this: I had awful, awful luck with the dice for most of the game. It was either a case of rolling very poorly on the initial rolls or being totally unable to convert hits to damage. Across the course of the game I think i did about three attachments worth of damage. Terrible!

As the game progressed, a little artillery duel began between my sole artillery mech and the two unharrassed artillery units from ADD. Leaving those units free to bombard the table was pretty stupid, but in reality there was little to be done with the luck that Simon and I were having.

The moving table convoy idea actually worked pretty well. It added an extra tactical dimension to the game when you realised that on every turn, the objectives would move another three distance units away from you. Anticipating that and making use of it actually allowed my Army mechs to take a Union station (or truck, in this case). I’m not sure I would want to use this kind of setup in every game, but it was certainly a fun diversion.

At the end of the battle, though, it was Richard who stopped having the luck. The final couple of turns allowed the Union mech defending the special objective to show some incredible tenacity and resistance to damage, holding ths objective until the bitter end, despite being toe-to-toe with a couple of heavy tanks. That really change the complexion of the battle. If he had taken the special objective, Richard would have remained on 24 points (he was down to 21 having lost a unit) AND he would have gained the x1 population multiplier. If that Union mech had been destroyed, Simon would have been down to seven points for the battle, a disastrous result.

In the fiction of the campaign, this is a curious one to work out. It seems that despite superior force and minimal losses, the ADD division lost the battle. We rationalised it as they had drawn back after failing to gain the special objective, a bit of tactical withdrawal. The Union gained the population multiplier because they delivered the food to the mining town, then hightailed it before the Army arrived. The Army won a tactical victory: no losses, capturing some Union trucksand taking control of this particular area.

In the end, though, the points worked out like this:

Combined Military Forces (me): 42 (no mechs lost, one enemy station taken)
Allied Defence Dynamics (Richard): 21 (one unit lost)
The Miner’s Union (Simon): 21 (two mechs lost, one station lost, special objective held)

When all this is taken into account, the current campaign points are looking like this:

Combined Military Forces

Government (x2): 138
Mines (x2): 138
Population (x2): 138

Miners Union

Government (x1): 57
Mines (x3): 171
Population (x2): 114

Allied Defence Dynamics

Government (x1): 35
Mines (x3): 105
Population (x1): 35

So story-wise, the Union has made big gains amongst the population as a result of that battle while the CMF still holds tightly on to control of the government. The Union are very, very strong in the mines but the military are certainly creeping up behind them. ADD are, in the main, failing badly at their campaign to win over the planet. They have very little support and their initial gains in the mines have been overtaken by the CMF gains in that same area.

Next up we have yours truly setting the battlefield, restrictions and special objectives. Oh, the Doomsday Calendar ticked down to eight at the end of the battle, with no further changes made by any of the participants. Looks like we’re all in it for the long haul.

Cheers
Malcolm

4-DR



Robot 4-DR

Originally uploaded by legoloverman

The second campaign game was last night. Photos and report to come in the near future. In the meantime, why not enjoy this great creation from Peter Reid? The scale is slightly larger than Mechaton, but the creative use of parts and the extremely clever design are well worth taking note of. Peter is one of these builders it’s worth taking the time to check out.

Cheers
Malcolm

Convoy!

It’s my turn to decide on objectives and limitations for the campaign game, and I’m using the opportunity to try something a little different to the regular Mechaton scenario.

Back in the day, I played a bit of the (now defunct) GW game “Gorka Morka”. The game itself was average, but there was one scenario that really grabbed my attention – “The Chase”. In this scenario, one side was racing to get a haul of scrap to the trading post, while another side ambushed them. To represent this running battle, at the end of every turn you moved everything on the table six inches towards one table edge.

I really want to try this same concept in Mechaton. Clearly, this is going to be a bit of a challenge. Here’s my concept:

Convoy!

Every month a convoy of computer-controlled trucks races across the barren plateau to bring much-needed supplies to the outlying mining settlement of Hardscrabble. Without the supplies, the settlement will wither, and the lives of many citizens will be endangered. In the civil war, all three sides have an interest in “securing” the supplies for their own use, claiming credit for their safe delivery, or holding the supplies for ransom. One truck is especially important – it holds urgent medical supplies.

At the end of each turn, everything one the table except the stations (which represent the trucks) move three units towards one table edge. Players take turns placing new cover on the leading table edge. If a mech drops off the table edge, it is counted as destroyed.

So that’s the plan, or most of it. We might have to jigger around with the setup so that it’s not too unfair. There’s a lot of potential for things to go wrong though, so I’d appreciate any thoughts or warnings.

Cheers,

Simon

Skewbot



Skewbot Small

Originally uploaded by J5N

Two pictorial posts in the one day?

Here’s another design from J5N. This time it’s the Skewbot, which showcases some interesting and useful articulation design. The choice of orange and old dark grey for the colour scheme looks nice as well.

Cheers
Malcolm

Mechaton… …in SPACE!


Originally uploaded by onosendai2600 (Also check out Onosendai’s awesome interpretation of Malcolm’s MgN 302)

I think most of us have contemplated playing Mechaton with spaceships instead of Mecha at some point or another. Seeing all the amazing microspace stuff out there (such as the delightfully boxy fighter above)certainly got me thinking about it.

Now, it’s perfectly possible to play Mechaton straight up, just using space ships instead of mecha in your battle. That’d be a fun game, and certainly get the job done. But to me, it just doesn’t quite feel spacey enough. I recognise the irony of tut-tutting someone in comments about introducing complexity without a corresponding increase in fun while simultaneously planning a substantial set of rules changes for playing in space, but my mind would not let the project drop.

Last night Richard and I had a quick bash at trying out some preliminary ideas.

First off, I wanted to represent vastly different sizes of ship, beyond the differences in Mechaton from one to four-attachment Mechs. A variable number of white dice achieves this, and we have three resulting classes of ship:

Corvette: One white die, up to two attachments.
Cruiser: Two white dice, up to four attachments.
Dreadnought: Three white dice, up to six attachments.

My main concept, and the bulk of the changes to the rules, concerns movement. Regular Mechaton movement doesn’t feel natural for spaceships, and I wanted something that gave the feel of vector movement without too much complexity. What I came up with was a simple system that utilises the natural “point” of a d8 to act as a vector.

At the start of the game, each ship gets a d8 that sits at the base of the ship, indicating a number, and with the top of the die “pointing” towards a table edge or corner. That’s the ship’s original velocity. Each turn, when the player assigns a movement die to the ship, they can tick this number up or down. They can also add a second d8, pointing in a different direction to the first. The cost for increasing or decreasing velocity is equal to the original number of white dice of the ship. Thus, Corvettes can increase or decrease their velocity by one point for every pip on their movement die, Cruisers take two pips to change velocity by one, and Dreadnoughts take three pips to change velocity by one. Thus Corvettes are able to flit across the field at will, while Dreadnoughts lumber about, and once committed to a destination, can not easily change course.

The result was a game that felt very different from Mechaton in a lot of ways. Ships are simultaneously more and less mobile than Mechs – they can travel very quickly, but can’t change direction easily. The game became very focused on predicting where we’d need our ships to be several turns ahead, and changing their velocity ahead of time.

We played just a quick game with only a couple of ships on each side, but the result was interesting enough for me to keep thinking about it. I have all kinds of ideas for torpedoes, fighters, and so on, but I’m acutely aware of the problem of adding complexity. Already it was slightly cumbersome having a d8 or two following the ships around the table, and I’m wary of any further complex changes.

Feel free to post ideas and questions in comments.

Cheers,

Simon