Tag Archives: rule changes

Shut Up And Read Understand The Damn Rules

Sometimes, as people who enjoy games, one of our first reactions is to go “Hey! That rule doesn’t sit well with me. Let’s remove or change it!” In many cases, this will be a considered opinion based on actual play and a thorough understanding of the interplay of different components. In many other cases, it will be a kneejerk reaction based on no play at all and a complete failure to understand how different rules elements interlock.

It’s especially irritating when people demand (I use the word advisedly) rule changes based on not having played the game. What? Mechaton/Mobile Frame Zero has been around for a long time. The rules have been rigorously tested, gone through thousands of hours of play in the hands of a wide spectrum of different people. I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark here and suggest that your reaction on skim reading the rules is probably so cockeyed as to be looking in two different directions at once. I should make clear at this point that I’m not talking about the back and forth feedback on the draft rules to clarify certain points. That’s all good. But I just know someone will have a failure of reading comprehension, take umbridge, and think that’s what I’m talking about.

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Micro junk

Originally uploaded by <(Chris B)>

Today we look at some non-mech vehicles.

First off, aircraft. Particularly these neat little designs from Chris B. Scaled nicely for Mechaton, too.

When playing Mechaton in Japan with Simon, we came up with a little rules change when using airborne vehicles. They got an automatic green D8 for movement (for free) but could not hold stations or engage in hand to hand combat. I remember it working rather well. Perhaps we need to try it out again.


Life Here Is Better, Down Where It’s Wetter…

You know, I can’t think of a time when I’ve actually used water in a Mechaton game. Which is odd, because it is such a useful environmental feature. Maybe it’s because of a lack of blue bricks to make streams, lakes and seas. Maybe it’s because of a lack of thought about how to utilise it. Then again, what about a game of Mechaton that doesn’t just use water as an environmental feature, but one that uses water as the environment itself. Mechaton meets The Abyss?

Rules for water-based mechs (or adapting mechs for use underwater) have been discussed before and what I’m about to talk about probably has an immense amount of crossover with not only them, but also with discussions on using mechs in a space environment.

First off, there’s the simple use of water as an environmental feature. I generally take it as read that, like modern tanks, mechs can wade across streams of reasonable depth. In order to do anything more than that (i.e.: to create an amphibious mech), you’ll need to buy a specialised water movement attachment.

The water movement attachment allows you to roll a green die for your mech while in the water. Think of the difference between an armoured personnel carrier that can wade across the stream and an armoured personnel carrier that be launched from a ship five miles out to see and move under its own power to the shore. That’s exactly the difference we’re looking at.

In anything beyond wading depth, a mech without the water movement attachment suffers several disadvantages:

It temporarily loses a white die and loses the use of any movement attachments.
It’s going to start flooding (a water movement attachment also fully waterproofs your mech, for obvious reasons).
If your mech spends longer than one turn in water deeper than wading depth, it is, for the purposes of the game, gone. Sunk, flooded, immobile, good bye, you should have bought that water attachment.

Therefore, it goes without saying that for games that actually take place under water, everyone is going to want the water movement attachment and they effectively take the place of standard movement attachments. Unlike standard movement attachments, however, they are an absolute necessity for everyone.

Now, weapons underwater.

Standard weapons are unlikely to work very well under water. Projectiles will have their range cut drastically. Energy weapons will just act like a big kettle, artillery round will simply land at your feet. Not so good.

For fully underwater games, assume that the weapons used are specialised. I you are mixing it up and combining surface/underwater games, then I’d suggest that both ranged and artillery weapons are limited to a range of three. Likewise, if you use specialised underwater weapon attachments on the surface, then they are also limited to a range of three and underwater artillery can not be used at all.

Note how the different types of artillery become just like normal ranged weapons in the wrong environment. I’d also propose something special for underwater artillery. I imagine underwater artillery to be something like torpedo (whether traditional of the supercavitating, high-speed type) launchers. Here’s a thing: underwater artillery hits the turn after you fire it, regardless of where the target has moved to.

Now, all of this is all very rough and ready and has never actually been tested in play. There is also a complete lack of any thought on the three dimensional aspects of underwater play. Something to return to in future postings. What would be really interesting is a Mechaton game that combines both types of mech and both types of environment. Half the playing area land, half the playing area water, underwater buildings, docks, maybe even some kind of large sea vessel? Interesting.


Vector Thrust

Vincent’s just posted the setup for their next campaign game, and included rules for vector movement.  Check it out here.

On brief examination, I’m a big fan.  It’s a very, very clever idea.  My only concern is getting mixed up with vector markers floating around the table.  That seems like it could get a bit confusing, but I’d have to try it.  Of course my next Spaceaton game will be a great test-bed.

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.