- Aralakh neutralized the mech defenses of the merc dropship and blew open one of the loading doors. The lance then called in their strike team, led by the temporarily dispossessed Drevan, who proceeded to board the vessel for capture.
- After Naran and Helios finished their rest, Helios suggested they investigate the bubbling pool which he found to be breathable while Naran did not. While Naran spent some more time investigating the machinery in the hollow of the island, Helios ventured down into the water-filled chambers below where he found what appeared to be a city populated by enormous frog-people. He also met up with the bird-man they'd first encountered, who returned to the chamber with him.
- Ronin, Ganthet, and Piper, meanwhile, attempted to cross the gravity-less chasm with their power-core while avoiding harassment and attack by the vanishing and re-appearing serpent. Unfortunately, their counter-attacks eventually agitated the creature to the point that it disrupted the null gravity field, sending objects plummeting into the chasm. Noticing the signs, Ronin managed to push Piper and the power core to the relative safety of the far wall, but in so doing failed to reach it himself - and fell into the darkness below...
- As NAR began engaging the mercenary force sent to take them out, Aralakh's partial lance emerged from their concealed location, making their way to the merc's LZ in an attempt to capture their Union-class dropship...
Some barriers to break down.
Battletech has a pretty significant "barrier to entry". This fact is pretty well-known amongst gamers. The rules of the tabletop game - even if you don't get into some of the advanced/optional stuff - are crunchy and fairly complicated at first blush. There's like 3 different steps to do anything. Also, the fiction and history of the setting (which is awesome) is pretty vast and somewhat convoluted. And there's just so much stuff out there pertaining to Battletech, that it can be intimidating to anyone wanting to pick it up (I know, I was there a couple years ago) - I mean, where do you start? But there is another aspect to this barrier that I hadn't previously considered.
First time in the cockpit.
Tim and I introduced Rucht & Tony to this wonderful world of giant robots last night. It was our usual night to play Rucht's D&D 5e game (which is fantastic, by the way - we're a party of halflings!), but a few people had to cancel and we didn't reach critical mass for the game to occur, so I brought my Battletech stuff and we decided to blow up some stuff.
I set up a map with my spiffy hex terrain, some of my best painted units (color coded by teams), and got out the sheets, dice, etc. I have a pretty solid setup, I think. We played 2-on-2: Tony and I against Tim and Rucht. A Catapult, Enforcer, Rifleman, and Dervish, respectively. I think our side had a slight edge in battlefield value, but I've found balancing lances in Battletech to be really, really difficult, so I don't usually agonize over getting it perfect, and I didn't choose the sides.
Rucht likes minis games and, I think, enjoyed this one about as well as any other. He would probably play it again on occasion, but didn't seem super enthusiastic. Tony tends to like games that are a bit more straight-forward. He really liked kicking Tim's Rifleman in the shins of course, but I think he would have prefered a bit less computation in order to do so. He said he had a good time with it, but wasn't something he'd be interested in as an ongoing thing. We only got through about half of the engagement, but we all had fun and I think it was a decent intro.
After the game, Tim and I were talking about how it went. Tim is, so far, the one person I've introduced to this game who is really into. He and I have been doing a kind of single-player strategic-level merc campaign - Aralakh Company - using some companion rules I made to handle non-mech-combat stuff. We're about 15 sessions in, and we've been absolutely LOVING it. We got to talking about why the game didn't seem quite as fun to our friends as we think it is.
And then, we remembered.
Before you walk, you have to crawl. Really, really slowly. Over gravel.
It could simply be that the game is just not their thing, but I think there's a little more to it than that.
Here's the thing we decided about Battletech: You have to like some crunch in a combat system for sure, and you have to have some guidance as to where to start (thanks to Dan, Chris, and Fear the Boot, by the way), but you ALSO have to have a fair degree of patience. You just have to really like the idea of Battletech in order to get far enough into the game to fall in love with it.
Many games become increasingly fun to play as you get to know the rules, but Battletech takes this to a certain extreme. Not only does the game not reach "peak fun" until you know it well enough that the phases and calculations come somewhat naturally and chart-referencing is an "only some of the time" event, but learning it that well takes a while, and the game can be almost oppressive before you get to that point. I totally get how many people would feel that the slog just isn't worth it when there are so many other games out there that are a bit easier and more fun up front.
Tim and I both agreed that when we first started playing, the games were slow and clunky and not nearly as much fun (even if we were playing with people who knew the rules pretty well), but we both loved the concepts around the game so much that we put up with the less-than-smooth gameplay long enough to get to the point where we knew it well enough to enjoy it as much as we do now.
Unfortunately, if you're not truly enamoured with the ideas from the start, you're probably not going to stick with this game long enough to really enjoy it. If the game has a flaw, this is surely it.
|Monday April 24, 2017 at 8:00pm||numenera, mysts of the ninth world, game session notes||Comments (0) »|
- Naran and Helios investigated the top of the tower, where they found an hive of bugs averse to bright lights and some control panels that seemed designed to operate the tower's machinery.
- Piper, Ganthet, and Ronin escaped from several pursuing monstrous centipedes and found some time to rest. Attempting to find their way back out of the ruin, they happened upon a vast chasm which seemed devoid of gravity - and also contained some form of ephemeral, shape-shifting serpent...
- NAR prompted Aralakh to go raid a Capellan noble's compound for much needed hardware and supplies. The group was only able to send a few mostly-repaired light mechs as the others were still in bad shape, but their target was not believed to possess mech forces. They engaged a trio of tanks, a pair of helicopers, and some turrets. As they finished loading up their plunder, however, they were pressed by a pair of aerotech fighters and a pair of approaching mechs. In the end, Aralalkh took significant damage but managed to escape with most of the desired equipment.
This session was the first to use my simplified Battletech vehicle rules mods. Tim and I both thought it went very well.
|Tuesday April 18, 2017 at 8:30pm||numenera, mysts of the ninth world, game session notes||Comments (0) »|
- Ronin, Piper, and Ganthet found their way up into a chamber containing what they believed to be the complex's power core - the device they had come to retrieve. As they approached it, however, they found themselves confronted by a monstrous, transdimensional, crustacean-like entity guarding and feeding off the power source.
- After Naran's discovery of the portal book, she and Helios decided they should find their way to the top of the tower to try to reactivate the dormant machinery. The managed to open the iris at the top of the underground chamber, granting them access to the tower once more. What they did not notice, however, were the two bird-men lying in wait. The ambush jolted them both with electricity, and caused Helios to fall back onto the platform at the top of the chamber, which began wrenching free of its supports due to the impact.
- The monstrous creature the group had found by the power core began attacking the intruders with its massive claws and spewing a burning, plasma-like substance from its dozen or so eyes. The group used several artifacts and cyphers they'd acquired since entering the complex to fight back, shattering bits of its thick armor and occassionally punching through. Ganthet decided to use the green detonation artifact Polious had given him, which caused a thick and animated forest to suddenly spring up in the area. The aggressive plant growth slowed the creature down, but proved to be more dangerous to the adventurers - especially to Ronin who was moving amongst them - as the group had to contend both with the hostile plants and with the fires set by the crustacean's dripping red-hot plasma.
- While Helios attempted (with some difficulty) to climb back into the tower from the failing support, Naran did her best to fight off the bird-men, trading bright blasts of forceful light with the electrical arcs firing from the avian's energized spears. After Helios managed to re-enter the tower and Naran had incinerated the last of their foes, they looked up at the large vine/tree structure and the crystals growing from it, suspecting that it could be used to gather energy from the world's hot suns if they could figure out how to reactivate it.
- Just as Ronin was stabbed by some sort of poisonous plant which rendered him unconscious, Ganthet's final shots against the monster managed to penetrate the armor under its head. Shrieking, the beast collapsed to the ground, spewing plasma from its eyes - which in turn further ignited the plant matter beneath it.
- Ganthet and Piper darted past the growing flames into the area beneath the power core. Ganthet made some efforts to revive Ronin, but seemed only to make his fallen friend's condition worsen. Acting quickly, Piper successfully connected a power regulator she had constructed to the conduits feeding the power core, and then began the delicate operation of detaching the core from the surrounding eqipment. Unfortunately, the group didn't have time for "delicate". Piper did what she could to prevent any instability due to the disconnect before slicing through the adjoining cables. She held her breath for several moments before the dim blue glow returned and stabilized in the core's interior.
- The group entered Under The Bed and met Lady Von Snoot, an old ghost who asked for their help entering her home (the cemetery called Dead Center). They also heard some strange, distant voices that turned out to be the mountains they were on asking for help finding their third twin.
- Upon arriving at the cemetery, the group found it to be the site of an ongoing investigation. Inspector Grumbles told(?) them that all the flowers had been stolen from the graves (this had upset Ms Schnauser horribly).
- When they looked around, they found some paperclips, thumbtacks, bent stables, and a post-it note that read: "Bob - Bob bob bobob bob bobobobob bob bob. - Bob"
- The inspector recognized this as the work of Bobgoblins. He asked(?) them to go to the goblins' corporate HQ to talk to Big Wig and get the flowers back.
- Then things turned ugly. An LRM volley from Riley's Trebuchet destroyed the Hunchback completely, but Steiner's Blackjack was too close to avoid damage from the reactor explosion it triggered and it fell when it lost its gyro. Aralakh then attempted to negotiate a mutual withdraw, but were unable to convince their attackers. The Banshee's continued press on the damaged Trebuchet took down the smaller mech with a kick that obliterated one of its legs and then charged over to finally incapacitate the fallen Warhammer - which was still firing PPC blasts - with a kick to the head.
- Seeing little alternative, Aralakh surrendered. It turns out that their attackers were self-described freedom-fighters attempting to liberate the planet and remove the nobles' predation on the world's resources at the expense of its atmosphere.
- The New Andrin Resistance press-ganged Aralakh into their service - promising that if they helped the rebels kick the Capellan nobles off-world, they would return them their mechs and the two could part ways.
- As the exchange continues, it becomes clear that neither side can keep this up for long - but neither side has a clear advantage either. The battle has moved away from the Warhammer such that it has some difficulty engaging, and the Blackjack is greviously wounded. On the other side, the Banshee is pretty beat up, but its toughness is keeping it at the top of the threat list. The Hunchback now has only a small laser, but the relatively-untouched Wolfhound has started to have an impact on the fight.