Building Scenarios for Battletech

Introduction

This (very unofficial) article is intended to help players new to the game figure out how to setup and balance their own scenarios for quick pickup play at home after enjoying the Beginner Box and A Game of Armoured Combat. This document does not attempt to deal with Vehicles or Infantry. More complete information can be found in Total Warfare and various supplement books available from Catalyst Game Labs.

A Note on Balance

Coming from other gaming systems, you might be used to the idea that a wargame should be as close to perfectly balanced as possible. This is not always the case, particularly with Battletech. With an old school wargame like Battletech the idea is largely to play to find out what happens, rather than play to prove yourself. That doesn’t mean playing to lose, so much as it means accepting that you might be on the losing side or the winning side. That factors besides your skill (such as a greater enemy force or difficult conditions) might affect that result, and it doesn’t really matter which side was victorious as long as the game experience was enjoyable and it told a good story. Both approaches are of course equally valid, but it should be noted that true balance is always illusory in a game with as many variables as Battletech. If you are used to playing to prove yourself, give playing to see what happens a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.

This document provides information useful to both styles of play.

Forces

There are a large number of ways you can select forces in Battletech, some of which we will cover here.

Tonnage

One of the simplest ways to balance forces in Battletech is by making sure both sides total the same amount of tonnage, and where possible the same number of mechs. This is not a precise method of balancing, but it is one of the fastest. If you are only using the contents of the Beginner Box and A Game of Armoured Combat there ought to be no problem just using this method. Adding mechs from outside those restrictions will add more variance in the reliability of the balancing by tonnage method, but I have found that within the confines of the Succession Wars era it generally works out just fine.

You can still use tonnage to very roughly balance forces outside the Succession Wars era. You should count an Inner Sphere mech with 3050 onwards technology as being 50% heavier tonnage. A Clan mech should count as twice it’s tonnage. Clans will usually have to field fewer mechs than Inner Sphere. This will be an even less reliable method of balancing than normal when Clan tech gets involved however.

Battle Value

Balance will never be 100% accurate in a game as widely variable as Battletech. However Battle Value is the closest you will get. It is also the most complicated method of balancing. A Mech’s Battle Value can be found on it’s record sheet or in the Master Unit List. This number will be modified by the Gunnery and Pilot skills of the Mechwarrior, which is the complicated bit. The table to do this can be found on each Mech’s entry on the Master Unit List. If you are using random Skill values (see later), you won’t need to modify BV’s.

The Master Unit List can be found here:

http://www.masterunitlist.info/

Because of the size of the numbers involved, you will never be able to get both forces to have exactly the same amount. You could apply a limit that neither side can go over, as is common in miniature wargaming. 6000 BV is a good number for this. If you are preparing both sides yourself, simply try to keep them within 5% of each other.

C-Bills

In the Master Unit List and the Technical Readouts, each Mech has a listed in-universe cost in C-Bills. It is possible to use that to balance forces. You should note that a Mech’s cost very rarely matches up to it’s actual effectiveness however. As a result, this is normally used for campaigns, where you might be looking for a more in-game appropriate method to limit force selection.

Random Allocation Table

Random Allocation Table (RAT) is a popular method for generating forces. You can find various RATs about the place. There are some in Total Warfare, some available online and so on. In this method, you are not worrying about whether each side is precisely balanced. You just use them to randomly generate the tools each side must use to find victory. With this method, it is common to also randomly generate Skills.

Here is a simple RAT that uses just the contents of the Beginner Box and A Game of Armoured Combat. Simply roll the indicated dice on each table to generate each side’s forces.

Lance Weight

Choose, or roll once to determine the single weight class that both sides will use:

2d6Weight Class
2-6Light
7-8Medium
9-10Heavy
11-12Assault

Lance Composition

Roll once for each side, or once for both sides if you desire.

1d6Individual Mech Weight Classes
Light Lance
14 Light
2-33 Light, 1 Medium
4-52 Light, 2 Medium
62 Light, 1 Medium, 1 Heavy
Medium Lance
11 Light, 3 Medium
2-31 Light, 2 Medium, 1 Heavy
4-54 Medium
63 Medium, 1 Heavy
Heavy Lance
12 Medium, 2 Heavy
2-31 Medium, 3 Heavy
4-54 Heavy
61 Medium, 2 Heavy, 1 Assault
Assault Lance
11 Medium, 1 Heavy, 2 Assault
2-33 Heavy, 1 Assault
4-52 Heavy, 2 Assault
61 Heavy, 3 Assault

Mech Assignment

Beginner Box Only
1d6LightMediumHeavyAssault
1Locust LCT-1VGriffin GRF-1SThunderbolt TDR-5S
2Locust LCT-1VGriffin GRF-1NThunderbolt TDR-5S
3Locust LCT-1VGriffin GRF-1NThunderbolt TDR-5S
4Locust LCT-1EWolverine WVR-6RThunderbolt TDR-5SE
5Locust LCT-1EWolverine WVR-6RThunderbolt TDR-5SE
6Locust LCT-1EWolverine WVR-6MThunderbolt TDR-5SE
A Game of Armoured Combat
1d6LightMediumHeavyAssault
1Locust LCT-1EGriffin GRF-1SThunderbolt TDR-5SEAwesome AWS-8Q
2Locust LCT-1VGriffin GRF-1NThunderbolt TDR-5SAwesome AWS-8Q
3Locust LCT-1VShadowhawk SHD-2HThunderbolt TDR-5SAwesome AWS-8Q
4Commando COM-2DShadowhawk SHD-2HCatapult CPLT-C1Battlemaster BLR-1G
5Commando COM-2DWolverine WVR-6RCatapult CPLT-C1Battlemaster BLR-1G
6Commando COM-3AWolverine WVR-6MCatapult CPLT-K2Battlemaster BLR-1G

If you don’t have enough mechs or record sheets in the box, more can be printed out from here:

https://bg.battletech.com/download/RS%20AGoAC%20Epub%201-26-19a.pdf

Favourite Lance

Another method of choosing forces is to simply not worry overmuch about balance. Simply choose a Lance of your favourite four mechs, or four mechs that you think will work well together (or any number up to 4; just pitting one mech you think looks cool against whatever the other player chooses is a good way to learn the game).

This method balances surprisingly well if you use random scenarios/objectives instead of just playing a straight up fight. Since you never know what challenge you will face, you will need to pick a well rounded team. Four assault class mechs might serve you well in a pitched battle, but will hamstring you fatally in a pursuit or extraction mission.

OpFor

This is not so much a method of balance, as an alternative way to approach the game; and most commonly used for formal or informal campaigns. In the OpFor method, one player designs a force of their choosing and individually names their Mechwarriors. This might be a Lance of four or a Company of three Lances, depending on the scope of the game. You might limit them by cost or tonnage, or just allow them to choose whatever Mech’s they want. You would not commonly worry about Battle Value with this method.

The other player takes on the role of neutral Gamesmaster (GM), and controls the Opposing Forces (hence OpFor) that the Lance or Company commander faces with no personal attachment or specific force of their own. In each game the OpFor player generates a completely new force to challenge them, using any agreed upon method. Random Assignment Table is one of the most common methods used for OpFor generation, guaranteeing a surprise each time. You can string these games into a sort of loose campaign, building on the Lance/Company’s story as you go. Or you can use more complicated campaign methods from one of the many Battletech supplements.

One such freely available campaign pack, designed for players moving on from A Game of Armoured Combat, can be found here:

https://store.catalystgamelabs.com/collections/battletech/products/battletech-chaos-campaign-succession-wars

Skills

As well as selecting which Mechs to use, you will also need Mechwarriors to pilot them. There are a few different methods available to you.

Everyone’s the Same

The absolutely simplest method of assigning Skills is just to give everyone the same values. For Inner Sphere Mechwarriors the default is Piloting Skill 5 and Gunnery Skill 4. For Clan Mechwarriors the default is Piloting Skill 4 and Gunnery Skill 3. You can choose any values you like however. Better Gunnery Skill values help speed the game up a bit, so there is nothing wrong with using the Clan default values for Inner Sphere Mechwarriors if you want to play a faster game.

Array

This is just an extension of the previous method. Each side has a set of pre-defined values they can assign as they see fit to their forces. An example array for a Lance of four could be:

MechwarriorPilot SkillGunnery Skill
132
243
354
464

Battle Value

If you are using Battle Value to balance your forces, you simply choose whatever values you like for your Mechwarriors. The values you choose will affect the price you pay for them.

Random Generation

The final option is to generate them randomly. This is common when using Random Allocation Tables, or when creating an OpFor. Simply roll on the following table twice for each Mechwarrior; once for Piloting and once for Gunnery. If using this method to generate Clan Mechwarriors, add 1 to the dice rolls.

1d6PilotingGunnery
165
2-354
4-543
632

If you want a more balanced game, where both sides have the same Skill values to choose from, you can use Random Generation to create an Array as above.

Role-Playing Games

This isn’t really a method of generation as such, just a mention of another style of play. The various Battletech role-playing games (Mechwarrior, A Time of War, Destiny) have methods to port your character into the Battletech tabletop game for more detailed combat resolution.

Map-sheets

Total Warfare and the Succession Wars Chaos Campaign have a method of randomly generating which map sheets to use in a game. Being new to the game, you’re unlikely to have access to that many maps however. So just use whatever you have available. The usual guideline is to use one map-sheet for every four Mechs in the game. So in a standard Lance on Lance game, you will want two map-sheets (or one neoprene game mat).

Objectives

Here we come to the real meat of a scenario; what is it that each side is trying to achieve? The objective of each scenario should be randomly generated after both players have determined their forces, so that they are encouraged to be well rounded. Total Warfare has a set of scenario types you can use.

Here we will present a different system, to avoid potential copyright issues. You should take 8 cards, two sets numbered Ace to Four from a deck of ordinary playing cards. Shuffle them and deal one to each player. These should be kept hidden, and tell each player what their hidden objective is. These Objectives have been deliberately designed to make for faster games than usual. These particular Objectives are designed to work with Succession Wars era mechs, and may not work all that well when Clan and Inner Sphere mechs face off.

For these games, all Mechs begin off table and move onto the map from their edge during their first activation.

CardObjectiveVictory Conditions
AceHeadhunterYou win by destroying an enemy mech.
TwoCrippling BlowYou win by crippling two enemy mechs, as per the Forced Withdrawal rules.
ThreeBreakthroughYou win if you manage to get all your mechs off your opponent’s map edge.
FourReconYou win if you manage to escape off your own map edge with intel data on each of your opponent’s mechs. You gather data through your targeting systems by successfully hitting them with any weapon attack. Record on your mech’s sheet that they have gathered that data. A mech loses it’s data if it become crippled or destroyed.

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