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Subject: An excellently play balanced product rss

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James Goldfinch
Australia
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Many Battletech supplements suffer from poor play testing, and consequently have significant logical errors and play balance issues. Pleasantly 'First Strike' is not subject to either of these flaws, and is probably the finest of the scenario supplements published.

The scenarios are excellent and each have their own nature so that it does not feel as if you are playing endless variations of equal ton slug-fests. Instead you have solid objectives that can be achieved despite the outcome of the shooting phase.

The front 16 pages are devoted to strategy tips, and while they might excite some I found them fairly basic; but I was pleased to see the way in which mechs were broken down into roles, Scouts, Skirmishers, Missile Boats, Brawlers. This was good advice, though reasonably basic.
I would have liked to see a few strategic plays outlined, such as the classic Hammer and Thumb, giving ground to maintain desired range... there is a lot that could be included that isn't... but then it is only 16 pages.

But the gems in this book ate scenarios which are universally excellent.
1st scenario is a slug-fest.
2nd scenario is a quick strike force attempting to rescue a hidden scout.
3rd scenario is a force trapped between two opposing forces.
4th Scenario is a battle in the Steiner Stadium on Solaris that I played again and again with various mech selections.
5th scenario is a slug-fest.
6th scenario is a last stand.
7th, 8th and 9th scenarios are a great little linked campaign, heavily based on Apocalyse Now. Which I have played through twice with great delight. There are two slight downsides of this, one being that enough repair materials are provided that there is unlikely to be much damage hanging round from earlier battles once you hit the final battle, and the other is that the Davion objective in the final battle is a little too easy to achieve... destroy The Old Man's mech... they should be required to kill him, as in actually destroy the head once the mech is down... this would take a round of aimed sshots and force them to stick around for an extra round... that being said neither of the two times I've played it has the Old Man's mech been taken down.
Then there are a number of CityTech scenarios set in the Clan era that I have not played. This is mostly because the Clan era does not interest me.
The last section of the product is scenario creation guide and a brief discussion of the recent wars of the Inner Sphere. This section might be of interest if I hadn't seen similar guides in other products.

Overall though I love this product for the well sculpted and well play balanced scenarios.
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Trent Garner
United States
Fayetteville
Arkansas
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Good review, you make quite a few good points. I liked the missions in this supplement well enough that I went to the trouble of creating most of them for MegaMek. Now I can play them out vs friends online, or the AI, though the AI tends to be a mixed bag, depending on the map and the units involved. MegaMek is best used for multiplayer, at least until the AI is tweaked a bit more.

My favorite scenarios are "In The Champion's Shadow" (the Solaris VII scenario) and "Infantry Blues". The former scenario is a tight battle in Steiner Stadium, where the walls and columns raise and lower at random. This isn't a large arena to begin with, but the moving walls make it downright claustrophobic at times. The opposing 'Mechs are fairly well matched, though the jump-capable 'Mechs have a mobility advantage that often seems to make a big difference.

The "Infantry Blues" scenario is a rare chance to see what conventional ground forces can do vs. Clan 'Mechs and Elementals. You just don't see conventional infantry and tanks in official BT supplements that often, unfortunately. They add some nice variables to the standard 'Mech vs 'Mech scenarios that tend to prevail. This particular scenario is a slugfest for both sides, with the conventional forces having just enough power to get the job done... as long as they don't make any major mistakes and the Clan player understimates the potential of the enemy forces even a little. A lot of fun!
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Ethan Van Vorst
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Nice review! I have a copy of this myself but have never been able to do more than glance at it a few times since I don't have a group. When I finally do get another BT group off the ground I will definitely include this in the lineup...your review makes me eager to play it!
 
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James Goldfinch
Australia
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I like in the Champions Shadow too
We played that scenario... then with the alternate suggested mechs... then with mechs of our own choice to set weights... and then with randomly selected mechs... my point is it was lots of fun and had good replay value.
 
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