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.

3 Responses to “On the Absurdity of “Battlevalue””

  1. EastwoodDC says:

    Right on brother!

    Actually, from all my considerable research on Battle Value, the amazing thing is that it works as well as it does. Your criticisms are quite valid, and many of those questions same were raised in the discussion of “BV2″. In the end though, most people simply did not understand the problem, much less the solution, and the decision was made to go with minor changes to the existing system. I consider BV2 to be a minor change. Most of the same flaws in the system still exist.

    My suggestion would be to do something similar to ELO scoring as used in Chess (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elo_rating_system), in which the difference in ratings between randomly selected players (here Mechs) can be interpreted as a probability that the higher rated player (higher BV) will win. ELO scoring has it’s own problems, but such a system would go a long way towards a BV system that actually means something.
    (The creation of such a system is one of the major motivations for my own blog.)

  2. Kevin S says:

    I always assumed it was something like a consumer-rating…y’know, some sort of number to tell you how much bang-for-your-buck, er, c-bill, you were getting. Which goes to prove your point that the system has no intrinsic value to actual game play. Besides, what does BV matter when your pilots expire from concussive head-hits or other serious cockpit related damage?

  3. Ian says:

    @EastwoodDC

    “Actually, from all my considerable research on Battle Value, the amazing thing is that it works as well as it does.”

    I’d _hope_ it’d work as well as it does as the basis for its numbers lies in previously tuned game-mechanic values. We’ll get more into this down the road I think…

    @Kevin S
    “I always assumed it was something like a consumer-rating”

    Ha, it’d make for a perfect fluff piece. They could go on and give a mech collision ratings. 1 crit for a pair of side airbags anyone?

Leave a Reply