Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 Hide
13 Posts

Armor Grid: Mech Attack!» Forums » Rules

Subject: Great game, but... rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Carlo
Canada
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I know this game isn't exactly receiving updates or has a huge following, but it's still one of the better games for getting the feel of Battletech without the time investment. Mech Attack captures the feel of heat management (without monitoring a 30 point scale) and filling in armor blocks (without needing a full page sheet and dozens of internals). I've loved the "Damage Template" system since FASA's Renegade Legion and Crimson Skies, and I love it here.
I still play it once or twice a year with friends.

However the more I play it, the more issues emerge that make me go "Hmm". Note I'm talking purely about Mech vs Mech, this is without vehicles or infantry. So I was hoping to get a bit of a discussion here on possible changes. The issues that have come up:

Problems
1. Killing a Mech is wonky. First of all it's not even explicitly stated in the rules how to destroy a Mech, it's just implied that Crit result 9 & 10 do it. In our last game we had a Mech put ~20 shots into an opponent, roll at least 7 Crits, and not get a single 9 or 10 for the kill. Meanwhile his enemy (who was pounded to heck) got a set of lucky Laser shots (maybe 3 attacks total) and the only Crit he rolled was a 9 and killed the enemy. As a player that is hugely frustrating. If you shoot something 20 times and get shot by it 3 times back you assume you'll win the fight. In other words having a 20% chance to randomly explode, regardless of the state of the rest of your armor, is a bummer.

2. Standing still is rewarded. Combined with slow base movement means this can make for a stale game. Again in a previous game two players were down to a Heavy Mech each. Both were in Cover, around 6" apart. So no need to move closer to avoid Extended range. They sat there for ~7 turns just rolling D10s against each other. Why? Because the first person to leave would have lost the Cover advantage, AND lost the ridiculous "please camp more" Stand Fast +1 bonus. The Heavies couldn't move far enough to get into rear arcs, and even if they did it would require a Rush (-1) which with Rear Arc (+2) is a +1 total bonus...aka the same as just sitting still (Stand Fast +1), except you lose cover. There is no mechanical advantage to moving once you're in Cover and at optimal range. This is especially true once the Lights (and even Mediums) are dead and it's just the sluggish Heavies.

3. The terrain Level stuff feels like it's pushing the game to be played on a hex map. Except it's played over free form terrain. All these calculations around figuring LOS between different elevations are silly when you can just get a "model eye view" and see LOS?

4. Specific terrain types overly complex. So the game already handles Cover vs Concealment, which is always a nice differentiation (military types seem to love it especially). But then there is almost a full page of specific terrain types. First of all these rules are really based around generic free form terrain that has hills, trees, water, walls, etc. Having all these custom rules for things like forest ("can't fire through a forest...wait isn't that Concealment? No it's Concealment if you're within 1" of the edge"), Rubble providing Cover to Mechs, even though the section above says Level 0 terrain never provides Cover to Mechs? Again the Level stuff and sort-of-pulled-from-Battletech forest stuff.

5. Cover / partial LOS / Concealment work strangely. This is related to the specific terrain types, but is there really a situation where you'd have Partial LOS and NOT Cover or Concealment? I guess if a wall is between the Mechs but the target isn't right up against the wall? The alternative is also true, when would a Mech be in Cover and NOT have Partial LOS? So why not have Cover be -1, stackable with Partial LOS (also -1)? Same result of -2, but less confusing. Then the stacking rules are consistent, since Concealment stacks with Cover already.

6. Modifiers end up figuring out new TP. Every player I introduce this game to don't use the modifiers on their dice roll. Instead they figure out what they need to roll above on the D10. So TP 4 with a -1 on the roll means 5+. This means there is an extra step of math and the initial confusion of "Okay, look, just tell me what I need to roll". I know the modifiers were done so that negative = bad, positive = good, but I feel like modifying TP directly instead of the roll would be better.

Okay, done the wall of text!

Solutions?
Now some possible solutions and fixes:

1. Get rid of Critical Chart result 9 & 10. Instead current 7 & 8 would become the 9 & 10, and the new 7 & 8 slot could be "Attacker chooses a Hardpoint location to be destroyed". Mechs are instead destroyed when they take 2+ Criticals to the same location. Easier to track on the sheet (X the number below the Crit once, second time remove the Mech). This is a more reliable and satisfying way to kill a target, and also makes life deadlier (and the game faster as a result). The Mech record sheets could even be modified to have more spots to count Criticals if a higher number than 2 is desired for a kill (such as 2 for Light, 3 for Med, 4 for Heavy).
Related to combat, I think getting a 10+ result to-hit should be a "Lucky Shot" (or something) that lets you modify the Location roll by +1/-1. Basically control the randomness a bit and let you focus down areas more reliably. Plus players traditionally like "critical hits" of rolling the highest on a die.
I'd consider adding a mechanism where Mechs that are hit on a turn are automatically pushed back based on their size. Light 3", Medium 2", Heavy 1". What this would add is an important choice to activation order, because you could use a Light Mech first to push a Heavy Mech out of Cover, then blast him with your big guys.
And finally the whole "close combat" / breaking engagement stuff just seems like a strange, archaic fit for a Mech game. Does having no special effect for being in base contact, and no Break Contact rules really take away from the game?

2. Remove the Stand Fast bonus. Remove the Rush action. Double all base Movement (Heavy 6, Medium 8, Light 10). Any BP spent on engine upgrades gives +2 MV for 2 BP (instead of +1). The point here is to mechanically support and encourage players to move, try to get into the rear arc, etc. As it stands a base 3" Move on a Heavy is PAINFULLY slow on a 3'x'3 board, especially once he waddles up a hill.

3-5. Remove Levels entirely, just use "model view" LOS. Remove specific terrain types (except maybe for movement details specific to Mech vs Vehicle vs Troops?), just have a general "halve Move going through difficult terrain". Cover is if 1/4 of the model is behind something solid. Concealment is 1/4 behind something that isn't solid. Partial LOS is shooting 1/4 through something that the target isn't right up against. All three are -1 each, and all of them stack. Waaay simpler, but still has enough variety and handles the different shooting scenarios.

6. As I said this is a tough one, because say changing Rear Arc from +2 to "-2 TP" looks like a bad thing, and could be confusing. But I really think having the rules follow how players actually play (which is figure out what they need to roll above) is good.

Anyway not sure if anyone even reads this forum anymore, but I'll subscribe to this thread and hope to hear some responses!
I think overall the game plays well, it just has a few too many nods to Battletech that really slow the game down, add unnecessary complexity, and don't improve the feel of play. Just because Battletech had 3/4 move Assaults that slugged it out, confusing Level rules, lots of custom terrain types, chance for lucky 1-shot kills on Ammo in the head, etc. doesn't mean Mech Attack needs to
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Carlo
Canada
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Also are the arcs intentionally wacky? Two Mechs a few inches apart can't actually hit each other with their arms, or am I misunderstanding this?

From the rulebook here are the arcs flipped to face each other. The left/right arm don't overlap the target:
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shaun Austin
Australia
Townsville
Queensland
flag msg tools
designer
1- 2- 3- 4!- A- A- 5!
badge
110% Rally
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
bosky wrote:
Also are the arcs intentionally wacky? Two Mechs a few inches apart can't actually hit each other with their arms, or am I misunderstanding this?

From the rulebook here are the arcs flipped to face each other. The left/right arm don't overlap the target:
I have never really looked at those diagrams in detail but I have always assumed that the Arm Weapon arcs also included the front arc.
Other hex based Mech games do it that way but now you have me wondering and I don't have the rule book handy ...

I still have to find the time to read through and study your previous post! soblue
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Carlo
Canada
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ShaunGamer wrote:
I have never really looked at those diagrams in detail but I have always assumed that the Arm Weapon arcs also included the front arc.


Oh duh, I re-read the rulebook and the first line even says:
"A Mech may FIRE any of its weapons at a target within its FRONT arc."

Much ado about nothing, my mistake modest Also as a note of clarification Mech Attack is technically free form terrain based, not hex based (only the stands of the minis are hexes, not the maps. Not sure if that's what you meant).

----
I'd still be interested to hear on the other points.

One new question came up our last game. If Shooter Mech is directly beside Target Mech (who is facing forward) can the Shooter Mech hit the Target Mech rear arc?
Basically the attached case. The Shooter is right "on the line", but could get get the "Attacking Target's Rear Arc" bonus?

This came up because the Target Mech in this case backed directly to the flat edge of the table.
I thought "yes", but the target thought "no", I think because they were hung up on the idea of "hitting the BACK of the Mech" (which would be impossible from the side) as compared to hitting the 180 degree rear arc.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shaun Austin
Australia
Townsville
Queensland
flag msg tools
designer
1- 2- 3- 4!- A- A- 5!
badge
110% Rally
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
bosky wrote:
Also as a note of clarification Mech Attack is technically free form terrain based, not hex based (only the stands of the minis are hexes, not the maps. Not sure if that's what you meant).

----
I'd still be interested to hear on the other points.

One new question came up our last game. If Shooter Mech is directly beside Target Mech (who is facing forward) can the Shooter Mech hit the Target Mech rear arc?
Basically the attached case. The Shooter is right "on the line", but could get get the "Attacking Target's Rear Arc" bonus?

This came up because the Target Mech in this case backed directly to the flat edge of the table.
I thought "yes", but the target thought "no", I think because they were hung up on the idea of "hitting the BACK of the Mech" (which would be impossible from the side) as compared to hitting the 180 degree rear arc.
Yes, I just meant hex based Mech not hex game, but I admit it wasn't clear. blush

As to your new question, I would say "no" also.
Most miniature games are abstracted because miniatures cannot crouch, go prone or change their stance to suit the environment.
1. If the target had backed up to the edge of the table, he was obviously trying to position himself to avoid you hitting his rear arc. It is not unreasonable to assume he would be successful in doing that.
2. Part of the abstraction is that the arcs are all radial measures, so they are measured from center to center. Your diagram above would not be correct if the target was actually on the edge of the table, as the shooter's base corner would need to be off the table edge. Keeping the shooter's base fully on the table would mean it is now firing into the right fire arc not the rear arc.


I do not have the rule book here but usually the target gets to choose which fire arc is used when it is right on the border of adjacent arcs.
(If the target wants to fire back then it is obviously going to choose the right arc rather than the rear arc).
I should note that if the situation occurred (which I have seen) where there is a shooter on each side, then I would say the target cannot hide the rear arc from both of them.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Carlo
Canada
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ShaunGamer wrote:
As to your new question, I would say "no" also.
Most miniature games are abstracted because miniatures cannot crouch, go prone or change their stance to suit the environment.
1. If the target had backed up to the edge of the table, he was obviously trying to position himself to avoid you hitting his rear arc. It is not unreasonable to assume he would be successful in doing that.
2. Part of the abstraction is that the arcs are all radial measures, so they are measured from center to center. Your diagram above would not be correct if the target was actually on the edge of the table, as the shooter's base corner would need to be off the table edge. Keeping the shooter's base fully on the table would mean it is now firing into the right fire arc not the rear arc.


1. I don't know if I feel comfortable with the idea of backing yourself against the invisible wall of the table edge makes you invincible to rear arc shots, haha. Backing yourself against terrain could achieve the same thing, and as I griped about in the first post reducing mobility and having stagnant movement phases is already an issue.
2. Good point on the hex bases being wider when turned, so that the shooter would technically be that 0.1cm further in the front arc.
For the sake of completeness, I'd be interested to know what you thought if it wasn't the table edge, and they were EXACTLY on the arc line. Because I think if you can see/fire at/access both arcs the shooter could choose to hit the rear? The rulebook is silent on the matter from what I could see.

ShaunGamer wrote:
I should note that if the situation occurred (which I have seen) where there is a shooter on each side, then I would say the target cannot hide the rear arc from both of them.

I find this interesting, because what makes the second shooter any more special than the first? If they're both exactly on the opposite sides, with the same firing arcs (just reversed), why do you think the second could hit the back?

I appreciate the answers so far, I had subscribed to my thread assuming it'd be answered in a year or two when someone got back to this game, haha
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shaun Austin
Australia
Townsville
Queensland
flag msg tools
designer
1- 2- 3- 4!- A- A- 5!
badge
110% Rally
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I always consider the table edge a physical barrier or an actual piece of terrain that has "block line of sight" and "impassable" attributes etc.
For example a cliff face, pit or dense forest ... Something that could be represented on the table as actual terrain. It just happens to be in a straight line at the edge of the table.

As to my thoughts if the line of attack falls exactly on the border ... The Target chooses!
My reasoning is that both arcs exist on that border so someone has to choose which one applies.
As the target is the source of the arcs, they can choose.
Surely they would be able to easily twist the extra nanometer to adjust for the enemies position. It makes sense that the attacker has to put in the extra effort to position themselves correctly, not the target.
This reasoning is why I say the target cannot hide its rear arc from two opposing shooters.
The nanometer twist that puts one shooter into the forward arc must automatically put the other shooter into the rear arc. (It doesn't necessarily have to be the first shooter).

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shaun Austin
Australia
Townsville
Queensland
flag msg tools
designer
1- 2- 3- 4!- A- A- 5!
badge
110% Rally
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
To add some discussion on your other points.

1. I have to admit the critical results chart has a huge amount of luck but some people like it that way. In particular, the chance of an instant kill is particularly appealing.
However that chance is very high 1:5. Most popular tactical games with instant kill have at least 1:20 or lower.
Your solution does reduce the luck facter but also removes the instant kill that some people like.
Perhaps a combination of the both ... Destruction when you exceed a critical limit, along with changing the critical chart to % (2D10) to allow for a better distribution of the odds.
(I have increased odds for torso hits and Fuel cell explosion while decreasing the Mech destroyed odds in the example

1-10% Actuator Damaged – Reduce Mv by 1
11-20% Heat Vents Damaged – Reduce Hc by 1
21-30% Left Arm Hardpoint Destroyed *
31-45% Left Torso Hardpoint Destroyed *
46-55% Right Arm Hardpoint Destroyed *
56-70% Right Torso Hardpoint Destroyed *
71-80% Fuel Cell Explosion – D10 Damage** Ignore Crits
81-95% Fuel Cell Explosion – D10 Damage** Roll Crits
96-100% Mech Destroyed
*If already destroyed or not equipped, roll again
**Roll separate hit location for each point of damage


I really like the idea of how the number of criticals required to destroy a mech is related to the mech's size.
Lucky shots sounds like a good idea, but I would need to try it out.

Push back would need to be limited. The concept is sound but I would be hesitant to allow all hits to push back a Mech, maybe only Cannon or Missile shots. That would give an excuse to take those low penetration weapons. And perhaps push back only mechs that are equal or smaller than the weapon size:
Light cannon & missile can push back Light mechs, medium cannon & missile can push back Medium or Light mechs. etc.

As for Close Combat and Breaking Engagement. It doesn't really apply to Mechs or vehicles however I can see it applying to troops if you use them. I would probably limit the rules to troops alone.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Carlo
Canada
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yeah funnily enough one of the players likes the instant kill, so they weren't as interested in the possible house rules.

I think my main complaint with it stems more from how random killing a Mech is. One Mech can be shot 20 times and survive, another 3 times and die.

Something similar was suggested in another thread but I also like the Crit change idea where you count your Crits, so "X" off 1, then 2, then 3 in the line under the Critical Systems Area.

Then after all attacks are done on a Mech roll a Destroy Dice (or whatever), if the result is over 11 the Mech is destroyed. Add +1 to the Destroy Dice roll for every existing Crit.
So the first Crit a Mech takes can't destroy it, because even D10+1 can't get 12+. The second Crit would require a roll of 10, then 9+ on the third, 8+ on the fourth, and so on.

So that "instant kill" luck is still there (since you could "two Crit" a Mech and destroy it), but you also more reliably destroy Mechs over time.

I also think the Critical Hit chart could be simpler and deadlier to make up for it. Since right now I think a lot of the Mech Destroyed hope comes from re-rolling Hardpoints that don't exist. But re-rolling the same D10 four or five times isn't that much fun. I also like the slight chance of the Crit doing nothing, so that the defender has something to hope for.
In other words:
1: No effect
2-3: Heat control -1
4-5: Move -1
6-7: Attacker destroys hardpoint of choice
8: Fuel explosion, ignore crits
9: Fuel explosion, roll crits
10: Attacker chooses any result on this table

In our most recent game we tried double Movement, no RUSH, the "Lucky Shot" idea, simplified Combat Modifiers (no Stand Fast, Partial LOS/Concealment/Cover are all -1 stackable), and the X Crits to Destroy house rules. Everything seemed to work pretty well.

Lucky Shot didn't factor in a whole bunch (since it was rare to roll a 10 AND get a good, modifiable location that would really make a difference). Extra base movement was terrific, and if I was to do one change that'd be it. So much more maneuvering (combined with no Stand Fast bonus).

----
As to the arc stuff I think it's definitely enough of a corner case to not matter a ton. It just really divided our gaming group so I wanted to get some second opinions, so I appreciate your input
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shaun Austin
Australia
Townsville
Queensland
flag msg tools
designer
1- 2- 3- 4!- A- A- 5!
badge
110% Rally
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I like the new Critical Hit Chart.
The destruction roll could still be exceedingly lucky.
There is a similar mechanic in Dungeon Plungin' for end game Bosses, and I have seen them survive a lot longer than you think possible.
Admittedly it wouldn't be 20 hits but it could be as high as 10 hits.

It would make for a pretty cool story though!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shaun Austin
Australia
Townsville
Queensland
flag msg tools
designer
1- 2- 3- 4!- A- A- 5!
badge
110% Rally
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Continuing with the next point.
2.[ I have to admit I don't know what they were doing except maybe limiting the complexity.
Most games that give a bonus for the attacker standing still also give a bonus to the defender moving.

So there really should be two more Combat modifiers:
Target Moved | -1
Target Rushed | -2

I would also be inclined to remove the bonus for Standing Fast.
Otherwise add another modifier:
Target Standing Fast | +1

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Carlo
Canada
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ShaunGamer wrote:
So there really should be two more Combat modifiers:
Target Moved | -1
Target Rushed | -2

I would also be inclined to remove the bonus for Standing Fast.
Otherwise add another modifier:
Target Standing Fast | +1



Haha funny you should mention this, my friend who comes from a Battletech background consistently would ask if the target moved or rushed. He kept forgetting to relax and not worry about counting target hex distance like the old days (including tediously marking where the enemy started their move).
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Martin
United States
Fort Leavenworth
Kansas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ShaunGamer wrote:
Continuing with the next point.
2.[ I have to admit I don't know what they were doing except maybe limiting the complexity.
Most games that give a bonus for the attacker standing still also give a bonus to the defender moving.

So there really should be two more Combat modifiers:
Target Moved | -1
Target Rushed | -2

I would also be inclined to remove the bonus for Standing Fast.
Otherwise add another modifier:
Target Standing Fast | +1
:D


For simplicity sake, I think I'm going to play with just a -1 if target moved in any way, but for overall balance, I don't know if that means all TP should be decreased. Otherwise, the number of misses increases, slowing the game, making it a grind fest.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.