10,000 moves.

mp_5_8

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:

Read More…

Battletech
Information Design
Software
Teaching

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.)

Click for PDF

Battletech
Information Design
Teaching

Side Charts In Hit Location Game

6 comments

You might know your side charts, but flipping between them every roll is harder than you think…

Battletech
Software
Teaching

Basic Battletech

5 comments

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 [citation needed]). 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?

Battletech Basics.
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 [citation needed]). 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..

Battletech
Game Design
Teaching

Hit Location Game

4 comments

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 5.17.49 PMLast week was finals, this week: A small game to challenge your knowledge of the front/rear hit location charts. That is all for now.

Battletech
Game Design
News
Software
Teaching