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The BattleTech Compendium» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A comprehensive overview of systemic tactical warfare rss

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Thaddeus Ryan
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The Compendium marked the leap for Battletech from a miniatures game with pen and paper to a full tactical combat system, a summarization of rules for building mechs and vehicles, costing structures, determining fire damage, aerospace combat, dropships, etc. From here, avid players can construct entire campaigns in the endless wars of the 31st century, whether they had a hex map and counters or a decorated foam board with hand-painted Ral Partha miniatures.

Experienced gamers may appreciate the compendium's thoroughness but dislike the dice-happy nature of many of the rules. Locust used a flamer on a batch of infantry in a forested hex? Roll to see how many men are scorched alive, then if the forest caught fire, then to see if the wind made it spread, then to see if the building in the adjacent hex catches fire, etc.

My first exposure to Battletech was as an 11-year-old playing in the computer sim bods at the Battletech Center on Chicago's Navy Pier. In the days of 14" CRT monitors and 10 MHz processors, the experience was unparralleled in coolness. $8 for 8 minutes playtime. I still think of all the time I spent playing the original Mechwarrior - a cool game, though clunky as all get out.

I started drawing mechs in drafting class (much more interesting than hexnuts and washers), and eventually plunked down $20 for the Compendium. I was not disappointed.

You can still pick one of these up on eBay. When I recovered mine from my parents' attic I was pleased to find old mech specs I had come up with, as well as a dot-matrix-printed handbook I designed of new weapons, technology and rules called "Project Thunderclap". If you ask nicely, I may just share some of my secret research ... :-)

Ah memories, memories.
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Bellevue
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It seems like every 5 years or so, whoever holds the rights to Battletech releases a new book or set of books that compiles all the rules in one. The Compendium was THE go-to book when you needed to know any rule in the game for any situation.

Beginners are recommended to begin with an Introductory Box Set, as soon as it comes back in print.

For those that have played before or are getting back into the game after a hiatus, I recommend picking up the following 4 books in the order listed:

Classic Battletech: Total Warfare
Classic Battletech: Tech Manual
Classic Battletech: Tactical Operations
Classic Battletech: Strategic Operations

If bought in that order, you get all the rules for Battletech, Aerotech, Citytech and Battletroops in one book (Total Warfare), all the collected rules for constructing your own Mach along with details of all the weaponry and technology (Tech Manual), Command-Level rules for individual planetary operations including vehicles and more new technology (Tactical Ops) and rules for Strategic Solar System level
operations and includes new and advanced aerospace technology and rules (Strategic Ops).

Mech sheets are almost mandatory to me, as are map sheets (if you're not using 3d terrain), but most of the rest of the material released for the game isn't necessary. Mostly stuff like scenario books and Tech Readouts, which while cool and informative, they don't give you anything necessary to play the game.

Oh, and good review. Battletech has been taken over by other miniature based wargames such as 40k, Warmachine and even Flames of War, but I like the micromanaging feel of the game that is often missing from other games. Heck, in 40k, 95+% of the units can only take one wound. In other words, anything that penetrates armor, kills. I like playing games where as you pound away at your target with fusillades of huge frikken lasers, missiles or cannon rounds, the enemy loses armor, limbs and often takes damage to internal structures before being felled by things like critical hits to the gyros, overheating cooking the Mechwarrior, or even the insane Death From Above maneuver where a Mech literally drops on top of another's head, crushing the Mechwarrior inside.

Awesome stuff...
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しんぶん赤旗
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I have fond memories of playing battletech at high school. It was a great game.
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Abdul Rahman Ibrahim
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I like making my own mechs And the multitude of roll tables are just awesome because of the random effects. Gotta love the ammo explosion on the Hunchback
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Thaddeus Ryan
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Please don't hate the 5-year-old bump here ... does anyone know if a mobile app has been released to support the rolls? This would lend itself very easily to an app whose logic is like a tree structure - roll for hit, roll for crit, roll for fire... etc.
 
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Mark T
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Ok, so my reply is almost a year later- sorry! I have an app on my (android) phone called BT dice roller and it seems quite good. I've only used it once and I am not yet a regular Battletech player (my first game in 20 years was a solo affair that took 5 hours to play 2v2. I haven't had the time to try again).

Anyway, this app was very helpful as it has all the cluster hit tables and a variety of other things built in thus helping to reduce the amount of time you spend with your nose in the rule book.
 
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