Monthly Archives: April 2009

Back with a scam

SKAM – Anti-Personnel Combat Robot

Originally uploaded by krush!

You might have noticed a certain absence over the past few weeks. I jetted off back to Scotland to see friends and family, leaving poor old Simon to hold the fort all by himself. Normal service will now be resumed and Simon won’t have to bear the burden of doing all the updates on Mechatonic.

We have some exciting stuff coming up in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled.

In the meantime, I found this SKAM Anti-personnel Combat Robot very engaging. Take away the minifig and you easily imagine it as a Mechaton scaled walking tank.

And I’ll hopefully be posting some photos of a couple of new mechs I’ve been building. Just as soon as I get another sheet of black card. Then I can finally show off the Karma and the Gundog.



Burning Rubber

Joshua has posted playtest rules for a “Car Wars” style mechaton hack.  I’ve just glanced through them, and they’re going to take some digesting, but I love the idea.  My favourite part: One shot rockets that give you either red dice or green.

Check it out!




I finally got around to taking photos of some of the ships we used in the last Spaceaton game. 

The Human Improvement League build elegant, ghostly ships using their advanced technology.  Each ship is controlled by a single implanted brain, a member of the League who has trancended their physical body.  The League’s pilots are some of the best in the galaxy – unsurprising since they literally live in their ships.

The Poisson Belt is one of the few genuine frontiers left in the galaxy.  This maze of asteroids, dust clouds, and nebulae has resisted amalagamation into any of the large factions, and its population of miners, outcasts, criminals and pirates exist almost without laws.  Ships built in the belt tend to be clunky and inelegant, but they get the job done.  Many factions hire privateers from the belt to suppliment their own forces.




For those (two) of you wondering about the maths behind Vincent’s comment here, that a d8 and 2d6-pick-highest are almost identical, I made a little chart to show how that works out.

This chart shows the percentage chance of rolling a particular number or higher with 2d6-pick-highest and with 1d8:

So pretty comparable numbers, really.


I’m embracing the name unabashedly now, possibly just from some kind of linguistic Stockholm syndrome.

Whatever you call it, I played again last night, showing my cousing the ropes of the game, as well as trying out Vincent’s vector movement rules, and rules for fighter-bays.  Briefly, it went pretty well.  The Free Worlds Confederation raided a deep-space mining operation held by the Human Improvement League, and won a handy victory.

Fighters work like this: Draw three boxes next to the attachment on your note sheet for your fleet.  When the ship activates, you can choose to launch fighters instead of shooting.  You can scratch off one to three of the boxes, and roll that many d8s for your shooting, out to half direct fire range. 

Essentially they’re like a whole bunch of one-shot rockets.  In play, they lead to some cool choices – launch them all, and possibly waste some of them (since the best you can get is an eight, no matter how high you roll) or launch fewer, risking a low roll, and also risking losing the attachment before you fire them all.  There’s also the choice between using them to crack open a tough target, or holding them for use when a ship makes itself vulnerable.

They worked pretty well.  I can’t tell if they’re under or over-powered.  They were very effective in the game, but generally only saw a single use.

The vector movement rules were elegant and effective, as expected.  It did get a bit messy having vector markers cluttering up the table, but it was no worse than using a bunch of dice.  Taking stations is a bit of a hassle, especially if they’re near the table edge.  I think I will rule that stations have to be a minimum distance from the edge, to avoid ships having to slow right down to capture them. 

It may sound odd for someone who writes a blog about a giant-robot game, but I find spaceships much more compelling, fiction wise, than I do robots.  There’s something about the engagement of ships in space that I find really exciting, and I end up imagining and describing the details of each action as they happen in a way I don’t with regular Mechaton.  Possibly I haven’t watched enough shows with mecha, but I find mecha combats quite hard to imagine, even as I enjoy the game.