Rules Changes – Threat or Menace?

This thread at Vincent’s blog contains the exciting news of a possible new edition coming out this (Northern Hemisphere) Summer, along with disturbing rumours of rule changes afoot. I’m going to look at some of the implied changes here, and give my take on them.

The Provostian Heresy:

This is the dispicable belief that Spotting and Armour shouldn’t tick down a point, as God intended, but rather that a “zero-point” hit should be counted for the purposes of claiming a spot die. In other words, instead of subtracting one from the value of dice assigned to Spot or Armour, you’d leave them unchanged. If a mech is targeted with an attack that matches its armour, that’s a hit for zero dice, doing no damage, but allowing you to claim a spot die and use those instead.

I’m against it. There seems to be a minimal advantage of simplicity, but at the cost of a huge change in the balance of power. Allowing a 6 for armour is a big deal, meaning that one-on-one, mechs will often be unable to hurt each other. It makes spotting a neccesity. I can see that increasing the effectiveness of Spotting is a good thing, but to my mind, this goes too far. I’ve already found that mechs can very effectively “turtle” when they need to, and a couple of armour attachments can make a mech very hard to hurt. This change will make mechs harder to hurt. You get on average one extra die from the extra spot, but you lose more than that on mechs who fire against armour without a spot. It gives more advantage to sides with more mechs, since they’ll be fighting alone less often.

Vector Movement:

As demonstrated, I’m all for it. Exciting! I’d want to see exactly how it’s being done, provisions for mechs flying off the table and so on, but it seems like it would add fun and variety. I’m especially loving the rule that you your velocity as a spot die on mechs you enter into close combat with. Mechs ramming each other in space!

Area Effect Artillery:

The rule is like this: Any sixes rolled on the damage dice for artillery also hit any mech within 1 of the target.

I’m not sure about this one. I like the idea of area effect weapons, but I’m not sold on this implimentation yet. I have two concerns: First, the area seems very small. I’m not sure how often this rule will be used. Barring mechs in close combat, or those huddling behind cover, it seems like you’re not often going to find mechs that close together. Second, I’m worried that it’s an easy way to get hits on a well-armoured mech. If the mechs are in cover, shooting a mech’s low-armoured neigbor is a more effective way of damaging the high-armoured mech than shooting it directly. That seems wonky to me.

Extra Movement w/ No Declared Target:

This is an optional rule, allowing mechs who don’t target anything in a round to get an extra +1 to their movement die. This is presented as an alternative to the “green d8 for no guns” rule. On the one hand, I like the idea of getting a bit of extra movement for not targeting anyone. The game can sometimes be a bit static, and this would combat that. On the other hand, you get the weird thing where close combat mechs slow down in the final rush to their target. That seems weird to me. Also, the green d8 for heavily damaged mechs, while it sometimes seems a little weird in the fiction, does lead to some exciting results in the game.

Special Environment Attachments:

This a rule that you can declare some or all of the battlefield a special environment (space, water, radiation or whatever) requiring a special attachments. Mechs without the attachment (either because they’ve lost it in combat or because they were never given one) in the environment roll only one white die.

I’m a fan of this rule, especially the idea of having only part of the battlefield covered by the special environment. That’s going to lead to some interesting tactical choices.

“additional initiative die = extra go (w/ no move)”:

Having read the above, you know as much about this rule as I do. I am extremely skeptical.

I guess my instinctive fear of change is affecting me a little here, but on the whole I’m opposed to changes to the core rules of the game. They work remarkably well as they are, and I’m worried that changes to them will change the dynamic of the game in a not-fun way. That said, I’m excited about a new edition, and looking forward to additional and optional rules.

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8 thoughts on “Rules Changes – Threat or Menace?

  1. Uriel

    “The Provostian Heresy:”

    I agree about how easy it would be to turtle with this. You would almost be forced to use a sensor with every mech. I ran into this problem too when I abandoned the minus to sensor and shields a long time ago, that’s why I’ve been using a D8 for weapons, so that weapons always have the edge. Plus it gives the added advantage that one attachment always equal one die.

    Reply
  2. mechatonic

    My main concern with the new damage rule echoes a lot of what has been said.

    With the current setup, there’s always the chance you (a solo mech) can do damage to the target, even if they have maximum armour. This new rules means that you need to:

    a) Hit a 6 on your damage roll.
    b) Be shooting a mech that has been spotted.

    Now, I’ve not tested this out in play yet (although we will be doing so later this week), but it seems, I dunno, worse. I like the idea that you always have a chance to damage your opponent. Allowing armour to go to 6 requires having another unit to spot and then rolling a 6. It’s another complexity that I don’t think Mechaton needs.

    Of course, I could be a reactionary old fuddy-duddy here, you never know.

    Cheers
    Malcolm

    Reply
  3. Mantisking

    Malcolm wrote “With the current setup, there’s always the chance you (a solo mech) can do damage to the target, even if they have maximum armour. This new rules means that you need to:

    a) Hit a 6 on your damage roll.
    b) Be shooting a mech that has been spotted.”

    Why do you need a 6 on your damage roll? With the new rule, a tie now goes to the attacker allowing you to use whatever Spot die happens to be there.

    Malcolm wrote “Now, I’ve not tested this out in play yet (although we will be doing so later this week), but it seems, I dunno, worse. I like the idea that you always have a chance to damage your opponent. Allowing armour to go to 6 requires having another unit to spot and then rolling a 6. It’s another complexity that I don’t think Mechaton needs.”

    I think it removes a level of complexity. Now you no longer need to remember to roll down Defense and Spot dice.

    Reply
  4. mechatonic

    By “current setup”, I mean the existing rules as printed.

    Right now, the maximum armour you can have is 5. That means you always have the chance of doing some damage, by rolling a 6 when shooting. With the new system, the mech you are targeting (if it has maximum armour, now 6) has to have been previously spotted in order to have any chance of doing it damage.

    I dislike that. It requires you not only to roll a 6 but also to have spotted the target. Whereas before, a solo mech attacking another unit with maximum armour would always have the chance to do some damage.

    Cheers
    Malcolm

    Reply
  5. Uriel

    Mantisking is right about how easier the game gets if you remove the tick-down. I’ve demoed Mechaton at four Cons now and once I changed that rule it became much easier for beginners.

    And Malcolm is right about you needing a 6 in attack. In my experience about half of the mechas in an army will have 1 blue die, one fourth will have 2 and one fourth will have none. You will almost always pick the best rolled die of your white and blue for defense. If you’re unlucky this will be a 4, but most often it will be a 5 or 6. 6’s in defense tend to be quite common, more common than you might think.

    I’ve been using the rule that you need a sensor attachment to spot, again for easier to remember rules for beginners, and the written rules says you can spot with white so I assume that spot is more common in Vincents games than mine.
    Malcolm, I guess you’ve been using the same rule, how common has spotting been in your games? From reading your battle reports I get the impression that you guys were quite heavy on the artillery.

    I think the game will be slightly more clustered with this rule since you need to spot more, which makes direct fire mechas with spot more viable than artillery mechas. Left alone those would be quite useless.

    One way I could see this working is if spot die didn’t vanish at the end of the turn, which is what Eric Provost and his group did.

    Or go D8 for weapon dice like I did 🙂 Join the dark side!

    Switching subject completely lets talk about “additional initiative die = extra go (w/ no move)”

    It doesn’t say if you get an additional go if you only have one extra initiative die or if you need more. 2 seems like a good limit IMHO, since that is a half-strength mech.
    I’m kinda torn. It’s both awesome and a little to powerful. On the first go you roll all dice and move, on the second move you don’t move. Do you reroll you defense? If not your attack would become more powerful since you could pick better white dice for attacking instead of defending.

    I think I’ll try this too next game, which should be tonight, with a limit of 3D10 initiative for an extra go. That’s what my light mechas gets automatically with their 1 white/2 attachments. Right now they kinda die to easily, with this they might be more useful.

    Reply
  6. Mantisking

    Malcolm wrote “By “current setup”, I mean the existing rules as printed.”

    I’m sorry, I misunderstood.

    Malcolm wrote “Right now, the maximum armour you can have is 5. That means you always have the chance of doing some damage, by rolling a 6 when shooting. With the new system, the mech you are targeting (if it has maximum armour, now 6) has to have been previously spotted in order to have any chance of doing it damage.

    I dislike that. It requires you not only to roll a 6 but also to have spotted the target. Whereas before, a solo mech attacking another unit with maximum armour would always have the chance to do some damage.”

    I think you’re overstating the chances of people rolling sixes. Also, in the last game I played I was tossing around Spot dice like crazy trying to make sure I used both White dice when rolling.

    Uriel wrote “Switching subject completely lets talk about “additional initiative die = extra go (w/ no move)”

    It doesn’t say if you get an additional go if you only have one extra initiative die or if you need more. 2 seems like a good limit IMHO, since that is a half-strength mech.
    I’m kinda torn. It’s both awesome and a little to powerful. On the first go you roll all dice and move, on the second move you don’t move. Do you reroll you defense? If not your attack would become more powerful since you could pick better white dice for attacking instead of defending.”

    A second attack in the round seems like it would be very powerful.

    Reply
  7. Sleet01

    Although I haven’t played Mechaton yet, I’m provisionally against artillery splash damage. For one thing, as you said, it could be abused to hit high-armor ‘mechs by targetting low-armor neighbors within the damage radius. If anything, splash damage would need to be done in a manner similar to Warmachine, with hits to non-targeted ‘mechs doing half-damage and still having to roll to hit, but this bogs the game down if more than a few units have artillery. For another thing, think of tanks: HE artillery is only really a problem when it hits dead-on; tanks’ side and skirt armor is usually more than capable of handling shrapnel and splash damage. Why should ‘mechs be any different? I say leave splash damage out… at least until the fully-3D, RTS version of Mechaton is made 🙂

    Reply
  8. Mantisking

    I’ve had a craving to play Mechaton recently — it goes along with the building spree I’m on — so I’ve been re-reading this blog. On the “The Provostian Heresy” why not keep rolling down Defense dice while not rolling down Spotting dice. This would encourage use of the latter and keep the status quo concerning the former.

    Reply

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