10,000 moves.


A video of the the above image being draw is available here.

In Battletech, every piece can make at least four basic movements: turn left, turn right, move forward, or move backwards. In a single turn, these are strung together in sequence and constitute a full move (e.g. forward, left, forward forward) In open terrain, even a modestly maneuverable unit — with up to eight movements to make — provides over ten thousand options. This variety is the source of a great expressiveness for skilled players, and consternation for new ones. In this visualization, some things become quickly apparent that may help new players identify general solutions to the movement problem.

The visualization was created by first calculating the list of moves via the this script. Note that the move list is comprehensive, and various redundant combinations ove movements like turning left than right again are abound. There are edge cases where some of these otherwise inefficient moves may be desirable and so were left in for this version. The list was then loaded and drawn in a processing.

The quality of the move is contingent on a number of factors: how much of the available movement the piece used, the final facing of the piece, and the number of spaces traveled (ignoring turns). Other factors include the possible moves in the following turn, the distance to other friendly and enemy pieces, and the potential maneuvers of other pieces who haven’t yet moved.

As a weapons platform, mechs retain some stability when using up to two thirds of their total movement. In these cases they are considered walking. A unit the expends more than this is considered running. Each are signified by a line or an arc respectively. In the case of runs, the radius of the circle corresponds to the number of movements that make up the move.

The final facing of the unit (in one of six directions), is indicated by the direction the line or arc points or faces.

A basic metric for the quality of a move is whether it makes it more difficult to shoot the player’s piece than it is for the player to shoot their enemies. The color of the moves indicates the ratio between these two factors. Green signifies the move makes the piece more difficult to target than it is for it to attack others; Turquoise indicates a balanced trade off; Orange, a tradeoff in favor of an enemy; Red moves are indicate a significant unbalance the enemy’s favor.

  • There are only two walking moves that result in a beneficial ratio. Note that one of these is directly behind the unit, a fact that new players may not consider.
  • There is a ring of placements, roughly three spaces out, that make up the majority of walking moves with both satisfactory ratios and flexible options for facing.
  • There are a variety of satisfactory walking moves behind the piece.
  • It is difficult to maneuver into an adjacent space without suffering a poor trade off.  The moves that do result in a satisfactory ratio require running and result in the piece facing opposite of its initial direction.
  • The vast majority of moves with beneficial ratios are forward advances.
  • Within three spaces, the better options may be walking moves instead of running moves.
  • Beyond three spaces out, a variety of facings become increasingly difficult to achieve.
  • There are a number of beneficial walking moves that seem impossible — unless a combination of forwards and backwards movements is considered.

 UPDATE: New images for fewer movement points:

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Information Design

Hit Location Chart

One common use of graphic design is to aid in the learning and recall of information. Today I’m taking a break from many things to play with one of the most frequently (and earliest encountered) charts. Mastering this chart alone can speed up the resolution of attacks so players can spend more time on actual decision making. (Less favorable alternates, along with attempts to include side and kick locations can be found here.)

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Information Design