J, you're still on the dealer's left, so you set up the first battle. Here's what we need from you:
1) What's the special station?
2) Which of the three objectives does it represent: society & conscience, economy & jobs, or security & law enforcement?
3) Where on the map does the battle take place?
4) What are the circumstances of the battle and what constraints, if any, do they place on the mechs we field?
Then we go to our calendars to schedule. Sweet!
1. On 2006-11-06, Vincent wrote:
So if it were my turn, maybe here would be my answers, for example:
1) A popular and influential Mukun schoolteacher and revolutionary. I'm doing a kidnapping raid.
2) He represents society & conscience. (This means that if I hold him at the end of the battle, my S&C multiplier will go up to x3; J, if you hold him, yours will go up to x4; and Em, if you hold him, yours will go up to x2.)
3) In the neighborhood of the safe house in the top corner of B4. (My faction doesn't know where the safe houses are in particular, although we know the neighborhoods.)
4) I'm going to be fielding a murder squad as one of my units. J, you need to field some armed human beings too, for this guy's bodyguard. Em, you can field whatever you want. There also have to be people as cover on the field. It's a daytime raid.
3 or 4 armed humans on a plate is, ruleswise, a mech. My murder squad for instance gets 2 white dice for being a mech, one blue die for being able to scatter, one green die for being able to pass through cover a mech can't pass through, and other dice depending on how it's outfitted.
Unarmed humans on a plate is, ruleswise, cover. This is my most favorite horrifying rule.
I might make a deck of cards for them. At the end of every turn, flip a card for each group of people to see how they move. In addition to hexwise or compass movement, there could be cards for "away from the nearest mech," "toward the nearest nonhuman cover," and "toward the nearest other group of unarmed people."
Let me say the implications of choosing to have the battle be in space or underwater.
A normal mech in space gets no white dice.
To get your white dice, you have to have a space attachment. This uses up one of your four attachment slots. It doesn't give you any colored dice, just your two white dice.
So the effect of setting a battle in space will be a slight reduction in dice, across the board.
Same with underwater.
If you want to set a battle on an environmental boundary - between space and an orbital platform, on the riverbank - that's even cooler. Say who's acting from which position when you say the design constraints.
So if you attack me out of the river, you'll put underwater attachments on your mechs, natch, and I'll have to choose: if I do put underwater attachments on mine, I'm good; if I don't, I have an edge over you on dry land, but if you draw me into the water I'm screwed.
1) I'm kidnapping the shit out of Emily's Prime Minister. He was a member of the Tarkut Democratic Nation-State (NB: "democratic"is a bit of a misnomer) government and we've got a beef.
2) This is a coup for us ??? it shows that we can strike anywhere at any time. This is S&C.
3) He's coming out of one of the Legislative Offices in D3.
4) He's being driven in a limousine. (He's a moving Special. I think we're cool on rules for that, right?) Vincent, you've got a mob of people protesting the PM's presence, let's say two stands of them. They can have Reds, but not Blues - mobs don't fare well in this kind of thing.
There are news reporters and civilians around.
??? A police station belonging to the Rasili
??? A market belonging to the Tarkutliya
??? Two trucks that brought the Paktali Ptimanya to the field of battle, probably disguised as farm vehicles or something.
I'll leave the remaining Objectives to you guys.
(Am I correct that I can't have "I assassinate the dude" as an objective? I don't see how that would work.)
To do Vector Movement on the table top without hexes and without the multiple leapfrogging counters technique (which would get very confusing in Mechaton) I recommend d20s.
Set the number to the velocity and use the triangular face like an arrow to point the vector. Set the die near the mech.
When its time to move, measure that distance from the mech in the direction of the arrow. Move the mech. Then apply your thrust etc. Then measure from the die left behind (close enough) to get the distance and use the measuring tape as a guide to line up the arrow. Move the d20 with the new number and new vector next to the mech.
Works very well, though you do have to be very careful not to bump the d20s...especially by rolling dice on the table.
Ralph, that's a good idea. I think we should try it.
It sounds really error-prone, though, given the number of dice on a Mechaton table. A given mecha already has a blue die for a Current Defend, maybe a Yellow if it's been targeted, maybe a Purple if we use some sort of command flag thing, very likely another mecha or two in HtH, and then a die that we have to carefully not move. I dunno.
Will Mechs in Space remove their legs in favor of prehensile anii? Shock crossover!
Maybe Mechaton campaigns could adapt the Cheap & Cheesy Adventure Generator from "In a Wicked Age" for creating scenarios? Or is it unwise to cross the streams? (If so, too late, we've already discussed locally mixing Dogs with Mechaton.)
It's interesting that for this campaign the Mechs seem to be powered armor size, if humans are two bricks tall. I'd been musing over rules for infantry using 1x1 bricks, that made the mechs really massive. Infantry only got 1 white die: move, spot, defend, attack hand to hand, choose one. And after you step on them you replace them with a 1x1 plate. :-)
I like the space and water combat rules - simple but interesting. Will those be in the final PDF?
For vector movement in space, you mean like Mayday had, where you have a token to represent your previous position, then you place a token for your future position along the same line and distance as from previous to current position, and adjust it's location by the amount of your green die? Are you also going to use vector movement for missiles (so they keep going if they miss) or are they time-fused so if they miss, they go off instead of being a battle field hazard?
Space minefields would be nifty, but maybe that's too fiddly.
With the new and improved cover damage rule (5's vs. a target in cover damage the cover instead) has anyone tried the tactic of moving a mech with low armor value (or a high spot value) behind a mech with high armor value, in the hopes the third player will shoot it up and do damage to the mech in front as well? I'm assuming you can't target your own mechs, though.
Do stations provide cover? If so, can you blow them up by accident? How about intentionally? Boiled peaches again!
Hey, what's this talk of purple command dice? Did I miss something?
I did consider letting each side roll all its initiative dice and then assign them (instead of rolling for each mech), but it seemed likely to be REALLY slow as people dithered about optimal order.
Something Space Hulk had that I really liked was that the Space Marine player got 3 minutes to move all his marines, less 30 seconds for each sargent killed. Perhaps a command mech (or station) could get an extra initiative die to assign to any mech on its side, but perhaps that should require an attachment.
If I can interject here, on behalf of the potential customers:
This is cool & all, but part of what I liked about Mechaton is that it seemed like a fun, quick, simple entry-level war game involving Giant Lego Death Robots.
It seems like every week the rules get a little more "wrinkly." That's kinda cool, but at the same time, c'mon. If you've got people, why not jeeps? Why not planes? Why not hovercraft, which are like boats crossed with jeeps? Or give special rules for your various "stations"--artillery, mech factory, teleporter node, etc.? There are an infinite number of possible improvements/realistic-thingies/etc. that could be added, and delay my spending of cash for (potentially unnecessary) rules.
But--in my opinion--this gets further and further away from hot, quick Giant Lego Robot Death.
I've used command dice of two kinds when tinkering around some with the game this summer. My first idea was that you could reroll any dice by taking a -1 to you score, but, as NinJ pointed out at the time, this was kind of stupid.
I played one game where you could buy a pool of command dice at the beginning of the game for 2 points each that could be used as white dice but once used were gone. I don't know if it was a good idea, might work, but might not.
Then I played one game where we tried a bunch of crazy stuff, including falling, pushing and sliding rules, were one mecha could take a Command attachment, in this case a walkie talkie, which when rolled could be given to another (advice for the rookie) mecha for it to use as a white dice with that value but commander mecha would also have to remove one of its own dices of equal value -2 (because of the commanders attention being all over the place). I can't say if this worked either because that game was just crazy with new variants added every round.
James, these rules are fundamentally unchanged. In principle, they're the same. In practice,they're the same.
You'll notice that the "people" rule has to obey all normal rules for a piece on the battlefield. That they're people is color. It doesn't change anything. We wanted to go for this gnarly, Iraq/Afghanistan war thing (Gasaraki and VOTOMS being inspiration), and that was our decision. You might go for Gundam or Macross flavor. Whatever!
That it's a hovercraft, jeep, or a dude with an RPG only matters insofar as it affects the color. And that's stuff we agreed on at the outset. Your group will probably agree on totally different color.
There are principles to the rules of Mechaton. They are unchanged. You still build your guys and give them dice for what you've got. You still play for victory points against the Doomsday Clock. What we're doing here is making fun color and situation. A pickup game is still entirely possible, but there's other stuff you can do with it, too.
If I were to do a Command Die rule, I think I would make it a universal White Die.
i.e. replace any White Die for any unit on your side (except its own)
That's useful enough to be worth an attachment. Simple enough to use in practice. And "simmy" enough to be justified as superior command / control.
For campaign purposes, one can also provide Non Mech based attachments representing orbital resources. Purple Command Dice, Yellow Spotting Dice, and Red Artillery Dice would all seem to be appropriate. They'd work just like their mech based equivalents except have no range requirements and no Initiative order. Just roll em and use 'em at the beginning of each turn. Would give a reason to select a space battle in order to fight over control of orbital facilities.
One could treat them as Facilities "Spy Sattelites" worth 2 Yellow Dice, "Orbital Missile Packs" worth 2 Red Dice (or hell...4), "Command Center" worth 2 Purple Dice...or whatever. Control of those facilities at the end of the battle would provide those dice to the owning side for rest of the campaign...until somone launches a space attack to take them away.
On d20 Vector Dice: If bumping dice becomes an issue, the game Hard Vaccuum had a supply of small bright orange triangular numbered counters that work equally well (except swapping the counters is slightly more fiddly than rotating the die). They work pretty slick and easier to maintain than the leapfrogging counters for larger battles. Vector Space battles is my Thang. The B5/FullThrust variant being a particular fave.
I don't know...seems to me that if you have a bunch of light mechs with few attachments the value of the white dice increases proportionally, so the value of a command die increases accordingly...which would make sense. Light units are typically deployed in greater numbers than heavy units and so are harder to command and so the benefit of having command assets is greater.
If one command attachment provided 2 purple dice...I think you'd pretty regularly see that get used. Especially if there was no range limit.
Guns are the only things with two dice. Changing that indicates a change in game philosophy, which is what James is worried about. Two Command dingers - a walkie talkie and a flag or something - is perfectly reasonable. I can see a commander having a Green (gotta keep up with the guys under your command), a sword, and two flags or something.
Personally I don't see much difference between:
"Guns are the only things with two dice" and
"Guns and command attachments are the only things with two dice". But maybe that's just the grognard in me.
But you know what...here's an idea I like better. There are no "command attachments". You just designate a unit as a commander and he rolls purple dice INSTEAD of white dice.
Option #1: The purple dice can replace any white dice on your side, but can't be used for yourself...making the command mech vulnerable and thus freely letting players choose to designate mechs as command if they choose
Option #2: The purple dice can replace any white dice on your side, and CAN be used for yourself...making purple dice inherently superior to white dice and requiring a limit.
A good limit might be "only during campaigns" with each side having a limited number of command mechs available that if destroyed are NOT replaceable during the campaign.
I'm liking that option #2 quite a bit actually.
IIRC there's also been some talk about Ace mechs getting extra white dice...Ace Commanders would be pretty nasty...and huge targets.
Coming to this party late, but going back to the unarmed human movement - why not have them move directly away from the closest mech, rather than in a direction of the mech's choosing? Makes sense to flee in terror from the giant death robot after all.
Andrew, if we did that, they'd flee effectively and then be out of the game. If they run around in a panic, they'll retain their relevance. This isn't a simulation issue, it's an issue of not wasting pieces.
Now, it might be that they don't move fast enough to get out of the game before it's over, but I bet it's more fun this way.
For a campaign game, I like the idea of giving rookie pilots only one white die, and if they survive their first mission they get the standard two white dice. After scoring five kills they're aces and get three white dice.
It would be extra overhead to track pilots, but could be extra trash talk fun. Perhaps they should be able to bail out of their mech before it's destroyed and become a puny human scampering to safety. Stompy stomp!
Optional Anime Rule: Teenagers who unexpectedly find themselves piloting a mech are rookies for their first turn, then aces. Go figure.
I'm not comfortable monkeying with the core mechanic of the game (even if they were my rules, which they're not. I just keep demanding stuff and Vincent keeps giving it to me). White dice aren't bonus dice or anything like that. They represent options that you have as a player. They don't represent anything! Adding color to them by knee groining or whatever is fine, but that's not what they do.
Look, the campaign rules don't effect the rules of play. They lend color to what you're fighting over but they don't change how you fight. If they did, it would change the fundamental ways the game works.
Vincent, I want to know your judgement on this kind of thing. Do I get an extra White for using consistent heraldry on a guy or something? Does that break your vision of the game? Oddly, adding a White doesn't break my vision, but taking one away sure does.
Okay, J and Em. Here's what we do and my thoughts about it.
1. An army is 3-8 mechs plus 2 stations. J's already given each of us one of our stations, so that's cool. What we need to do is decide for ourselves which of our units we're going to field.
2. The defender starts out in control of this PM guy. The defender's the one with the smallest, weakest army; we'll find out which of us that is at the beginning of the battle. So if you want to start out holding the PM, aim for the smallest, weakest army you think you can win with.
3. Holding the PM at the end of the battle matters. So does winning victory points. Winning victory points plus holding the PM at the end of the battle is best, but giving one up to maximize the other is good if it's the best you can get.
4. This is a society & conscience battle. Right now, J's S&C is 3, mine is 2, and Em's is 1; whoever holds the PM at the end of the battle gets the +1.
If J holds the PM at the end, he really solidifies his S&C lead. I'm not comfy with that. Probably you aren't either, Em.
If I hold the PM at the end, I take J's S&C lead away from him. I bet you aren't comfy with that, J.
So Em's in the best spot. If I have to throw the PM away, I'm going to want to throw him to Em. If J has to throw the PM away, he's going to want to throw to Em too.
J's in the worst spot - if Em has the choice, she'll probably throw the PM to me, not to him. That way she'll have to win only two future S&C battles to tie, not three.
This is all subject to our on-the-spot strategizing about victory points, of course.
5. Okay! The PM is a moving station. Here are the rules:
a. After all the mechs go, before the unarmed humans move, the PM moves 3. The PM can't pass through cover.
b. The PM can't leave the field until doomsday.
c. By default, whoever holds the PM moves him.
d. If the PM comes under fire, though, someone else moves him. It's the person with the highest spot on him. (If you hold the PM, you can have a mech spot him, for just this reason.)
So if you want to control how the PM moves, here's how: attack him (or let someone else attack him) and put a high yellow die on him. The attack doesn't resolve, it only opens him up to outside control. I'm thinking of it as confusing intel on his limo's onboard nav; whoever has the best comms relationship with the limo has the most influence over how it drives.
We might want to figure a couple extra yellow dice into our armies, for this reason. It's up to us individually.
If we ever do ace pilots, we'll give them free colored dice, not extra white dice. "This is Captain Mary! She's EXTREMELY STABBY. She gets a free red die at hand to hand." "This is captain Mitch. He's awesome at spotting. He gets a free yellow die."
Purple dice for leaders, meh. Yellow dice include communications as well as surveillance; I think yellow dice are good for leaders. "I do the flag semaphore that says 'see that guy over there? To the left? Yeah him. Kick his butt for me, thanks?'"
If the PM doesn't come under fire, he goes wherever he wants to go, as determined by whoever's flag is clipped to him. If he comes under fire, then he starts to do stupid things like drive toward the giant robot who's shooting at his bodyguards.
After the first attack on him, there's no reason for anybody to attack him again that turn. All the attack does is switch his chauffeur from "I go where Mr. PM wants" to "HELP ME WHERE DO I GO OH GOD PLEASE GET ME OUT OF HERE, AUTOMATED LIMO SATELLITE NAV SYSTEM!"
This is for the benefit of the player who holds him. Say you hold him. You get to drive him around a) if someone shoots at him and you put the highest yellow die on him, or b) if no one shoots at him, no matter what the yellow dice are. So if you can keep us too busy shooting at your mechs to spare a shot at him, you get to drive him, even if we're spotting the tuna salad out of him.
For a future game, someone really needs to drop in on E-4 and seize the island there. Then you'd be able to exercise a lot of control over ground transport within the city. Plus you get to have a "Pegasus Bridge" scenario.
I hope you are ready for fan art, because I have some here. Whether this is a good thing or a bad one, I leave to you.
As for the factions with kewl technology, I am sorry that you get no propaganda poster. Let me simply say my loyalties will always lie with those who use clunky, ugly, crudely-functional diesel-powered thingies, regardless of race, creed, or species.
While I'm on the subject... what are the general thoughts on drones? I have a setup with a rogue insurgent in a generation 4.1 ptiman -- it has 4 remote-linked hover drones that it controls. I was thinking a red die (short range) and a single white die for each drone -- but that if lines of fire and terrain permit, the drones can pool their dice for maximal effect. The drones and the ptiman have IFF transponders so they don't accidentally shoot each other, but that's about it. The rogue has a pocket nuke (stolen from the Nyetchen rebels up north) and his goal is blow up a provisional gov't office, or an invader's army barracks. Kind of a moving target a la the PM.
Permit me to wind up by saying "Kudos!" to all involved. I have followed this blog with glee.
hey, vince(nt)? would it be possible to get a full set of rules in one spot?
'cuz i have some vague idea of the rules and i've been trying to pick up bits from these blogs.
if so, could you post it?
The rules are in his store; I think Vincent was being nice and offering to send you a copy for free, rather than charging you. That's as close as it comes to being on the internet... though this is an awfully good start.