Friday, June 06, 2008

Spaceships and Giant Robots

The past few days I've been feeling the urge to break out the old BattleTech stuff for some sci-fi wargamery. Back when this stuff first came out in the eighties B-Tech was a big thing with my group. For a time it rivaled and perhaps even surpassed D&D in our affections. I talked to my buddy Pat and he seems amenable to the idea of writing up and playing out some scenarios.

I think I'm going to start with some Aerotech action. As far as I can tell this spacefighter add-on to BattleTech never quite caught on. I bought the boxed set when it came out in '86, but my crew never played it. I blame the production values. The playing pieces were standard wargame chits in two colors, not the full-color stand-ups you got with BattleTech. And the map was double-sided doom. The low altitude map, where you could intereact most easily with BattleMechs via strafing and bombing, was blank white with a black hex overlay. It was literally the most boring hexmap you could possibly create.

Meanwhile, just looking at the space map made our balls hurt. The gravity well markers might have been a good idea mechanically, but it discouraged us by looking complicated. Here's one sixth of the space map:

Admittedly, that's the worst sixth of the space map, where the gravity wells of the planet (you can see the atmosphere in the upper right corner) and the moon meet. Even now I look at that map and think Man, I don't want to screw around with that crap. But I'm older and a little bit wiser than I was when this game came out. Nowadays I realize that, hey, I don't have to use FASA's sucky maps if I don't want to. So for space battles we'll use a map that isn't junked up by gravity wells. Either we'll ignore gravity or gin up some easier to use rules, or steal the simple-as-dirt grav rules from Star Frontiers Knight Hawks. And for the low altitude map, welcome to Planet Blitzkrieg, hope you survive the experience:

The Lyran Commonwelath, a.k.a. House Steiner, will be playing the role of the Great Blue defender, while the Draconis Combine (House Kurita) is cast as the Big Red invader. Each hex on the old Blitzkrieg board will equal one BattleTech tactical map, which also happens to be the standard scale for Aerotech planetside operations. B-Tech artillery pieces have ranges measured in mapboards, so we should be able to use some combined arms with this set-up. But we'll start with a simple skyduel involving a couple fighters apiece.


  1. Anonymous12:21 PM

    NOW we´re talking!

  2. Anonymous2:04 PM

    Looks like fun! I really prefer Mech's but my group and I recently used the Aerotech2 Ruleset to play out a fairly fun game using Warships and a couple of dropships.

    Hope your game goes well!


  3. What was the transforming Aerospace to Battletech mech called? The ones that were based on Robotech?

    I remember straffing runs were killer.

  4. Stuart: They're called Land Air Mechs or LAMs.

  5. Prepare for the great fun of having your fighters randomly FALL OUT OF THE FUCKING SKY because they carry so little fuel, and atmospheric flight eats it like crazy.

    That was one of my issues with the game.

    Fun fact -- the FASA licensed "Top Gun" game contained rules for using the fighters from Top Gun in Aerotech, so one time my friend and I ran a few Aerospace fighters against a bunch of F-14s. The space fighters won.

  6. Great thing about battletech, still the same rules as far as I can tell. Miniatures still available, the ones in the starter boxed set are not to shabby. The Atlas looks like it's on atkins though. Had a b-tech bug about six months ago, need to rekindle that I think.

  7. Anonymous5:14 PM

    I tried, but I could just never get into Battletech (I had Aerotech, too...and never played it).

    Now, Blitzkrieg, on the other hand, got the hell played out of it. That map picture brings back fond memories of armor racing across that northern desert.

  8. Awesome, my high school Friday nights were marathon Battletech sessions. I ran a campaign for two friends using my Squad Leader board maps, I still have their mech sheets around somewhere. Man I may have to dig out my BT stuff now. Thanks!

  9. Ah! The Great Game!

    The transforming Mechs were called Land-Air-Mechs (LAM). Were, fortunately.

    The strafing run rules have been changed a little bit. Strafes are still deadly, but you can avoid the worst by some tactics and maneuvering.