Using some custom cut clear hex bases and short clear flight pegs from Litko Aerosystems I figure I can make some hex tiles to go with my hex-map-scale scaled terrain. The flight pegs make picking up the ’tiles’ a breeze (when units move into them), and are almost invisible if you’re not looking for them. Also, A while back we found that the just the clear hex basis are great for marking building damage, just write on them with a marker and place on the map.
As I may not be able to attend this year’s Origins Gaming Expo in Columbus Ohio I thought I’d take a look back over last year’s diceapalooza… a year I had only a phone camera…
Starting next week, I’ll move from my self prescribed but unspoken update schedule of once-a-weekish to every MONDAY-MONDAY-MONDAAAAY!!!. While I refuse to make a ‘sorry-too-busy-to-post’ post, I can guarantee that some posts might substitute sugar for beef (nothing against sugar). I will always try to provide at least one question, one connection between disparate pieces or linkage, or something worth the muscle effort of pushing a button and moving your eyes across the page. In following standard and unfortunate digital media practice I reserve the right to modify, continue, build upon, or develop posts in following weeks (my post on Battlevalue for example).
I have a few more unspoken rules, but their articulation might warrant entries in their own right. I want to make some things clear so that anyone who might be reading has the chance to keep me honest. For now I’ll just state that I intend to keep content roughly 50% Battletech related in some way shape or form. I feel that a close examination of a game can provide just as many – and often times different – insights than the common game designer practice of voracious sampling.
Lastly, thanks to the small collection individuals whose head nods and comments provide a confirming splash for these messages-in-bottles (I hate missing the water) and build a more interesting collection of content than I could produce myself.
I’ve got a bone to pick with Battlevalue. As I was in the process of doing my research, it came up on the CBT forums recently. Unfortunately it didn’t get the discussion i think it deserves.
The variety of equipment in Battletech was originally balanced by each item’s tonnage and space and for weapons primarily through their range, heat, ammo, and damage. Because of this matches could be roughly balanced by number of units and tonnage, two endogenous values in the game. Of course there was always advanced ‘lost-tech’ which would play a factor, but that’s an atypical case.
As the timeline progressed and the game grew so did its cannon equipment. Distinctions in technology base and era became a factor. About this time (from what I can gather) Battletech saw the introduction of ‘Battle value’. BV seems to function as an attempt to express in numbers the imbalances in the game. Imbalances that increase for every variable (equipment) added without adjusting existing variables (rules and equip). BV as a game design choice is a problematic at best. Here’s more explanation why:
First: Does anyone find it necessary to keep track of all BV destroyed while playing a game to understand what the situation is? Of course not. Destroying equipment is an act that already has in-game value. ie. It effects game play. Point systems that have no other effect than their comparative value are arbitrary methods of evaluating game events compared to what they are supposed to represent.
Second: If I play a ‘mech with a point value of 1000 against a carbon copy of myself running a ‘mech with a point value of 999 on a symmetrical map. Which one will win? No idea? Me either. What about if me ’2′ had a 950 point ‘mech? Any idea now? Maybe? 900 points? 800? Where are the significant figures in this measuring system?
Battletech has always been fussy, but its details give it charm in the way they work within the game.
Battletech was responsible for my introduction to the wonders of the hex grid. Ever since I began playing I’ve had an inescapable fascination with the hexagon and its tessellation. Staring at field populated by scattered robot figures was in many ways an exercise of intuiting invisible power structures from a latticework of these mystical shapes.
Perhaps there’s some natural cause for this fetish. Our six sided friends have natural properties that make it well suited for physical structures; maximizing efficiency and stability. A single hexagon alone even contains a sort of latent formal depth; look closely and you can see the outline of a cube in isometric perspective. (A property not lost on various designers)
So it’ll come as no surprise that I’ve become smitten by Six, a turn based strategy game centered around making structures out of a growing hex grid. Created by the German game designer Steffen Mühlhäuser and now republished by Foxmind you can buy Six from your local Barnes and Nobel.
In the box you’ll find a lovely set of 19 red and 19 black beveled wooden hexagons roughly 1/2″ thick. Play starts with a black and red hexagon together on the table. After which each player takes turns placing additional pieces in an attempt to make (or prevent the other player from making) one of three shapes (each containing six pieces). If you manage to use all your pieces then you begin taking turns moving pieces that you’ve laid down. So far games last anywhere from 30 seconds to maybe 6 minutes. You can play with four people by simply splitting a single color’s pieces between a team of two.
The elegance of the rule set and its foundation in the formal qualities of the pieces is about two steps from perfect. The biggest mar on the otherwise angelic rule set is a limitation of the first move. During which you can not place a piece touching your own. This leaves you with two, opposed to five, options (a number of the possible moves in either case are symmetrical). Of course being able to touch your own piece in the beginning would be exceptionally unbalanced, but its rules are so delightfully minimal that this one time use rule feels feels like a wonderful painting hung a foot too far left. I certainly extend to Mühlhäuser the benefit of the doubt, but I wish I could understand how the three moves allowed by this one rule are worth having when he might have decided on a three piece setup and axed this aberration in the mechanics. Perhaps the two piece setup was too beautiful. Perhaps the two moves consistently result in two distinct types of games. Questions to ponder…
Six is perfect for in-between battles – or for those who spend a little bit too much time at the pub – at the pub. The pieces themselves could even be used in Battletech as tokens for objectives or other abstract stand-ins. Like any game with a highly simplified rule system it should be noted that it bares resemblance to several similar – though less eloquent – games including Army of Frogs, Hive, and Hexade.