While it’s not my intent to rant here at flechs, it’s been a long (and wonderful) Thanksgiving week and I’m a little low on more…useful…content…
The direction of the Battletech line is currently being dedicated towards (among other things) providing players with ways of simulating conflict in the Inner sphere through scale tactical to interstellar. In this vein, there’s currently three books planned, three o which have been published, one of which I actually own. In a previous entry I mentioned how the current developer motto of “Yea, we’ve got a rule for that” has led to an expansive case of featuritus, and also a codification of house rules that allow for customizing sessions while still providing some common umbrella for players to gather under.
Those long term players of us have a certain curse of knowledge when it comes to the language of war gaming. In a previous post I mentioned how people unfamiliar with the basics of the genera inevitably roll their die when setting out to make their first move. While Battletech mechanics are stock for wargames, those with no wargaming experience have a lot to assimilate. If the current rule writing is aimed at consolidating the player community (see my past post), it seems focuses primarily on serious players, while abandoning any kind of ramp building for those new to Battletech.
There’s definitely a product path for new players, and even the inclusion of a prebuilt figure in the new plastic sets caters to the casual or new player, but these products, I feel, for those outside of wargaming, are intermediate at best, and follow the same ‘(dis)include rules as you feel like it’ mentality that exists in the more advanced products. There exists no continuity from your basic quick start rules to what is the definitive tournament set. For players interested in moving into different contexts it’s a question of translating stats from their current game to a new ruleset.
Furthermore, however organized the latest series of books are, the rules they contain have been subject to moderate to major changes in every revision. Each revision attempting to balance integration, reflection, and stand alone quality of the the core Battlemech combat which is treated almost as an atomic unit, a structure which can not be dissected (though I have seen some thinking about it in line developer discussion of Tac ops rules ). If Battletech is going to function successfully as a multi-context system, it’ll need to address the core system as an expression of, opposed to a building block of, said multi-context system. Among other things, this will give structure and accessibility to entry level play….
I know this is all really abstract. It’s also intended to be food for though not so much a call for some kind of overhaul. As I’m most interested in the path from monopoly players to battletech there’s far more practical things to look into. For example, what if the equipment proliferation avalanche could be ridden to a place where items negated rules (opposed to generating new ones) in exchange for reduced battlefield efficacy. How much tonnage would you give up for a mech that never fell over? How much damage potential would you sacrifice for a weapon that was always at short range? Would having to remember only four locations be worth the vulnerabilities of a fixed-forward and unsegmented torso with no arms?