My first impressions of Battletech – Alpha strike

Good evening all and welcome to a whatever Saturday where I wanted to talk about my first impressions of Battletech – Alpha strike.

Battletech is described as the futuristic space opera which spans thousands of lightyears of space where the conflict between humans is settled in giant mechanised robots each capable of incredible destruction.

The alpha tech variant is no different with the scale being around 6mm so everything feels massive. It’s a non miniature centric game but having them is part of the fun and whats more, the creators (Catalyst Games) don’t care if you use their minis, cardboard, jellybeans or 3rd party miniatures. This is great as you may only have between 1 and 30 miniatures at any one stage and if its $0.20 cents to print one out its a lot different than the $90 boxes of other wargames. For a single unit..

My first impressions of Battletech – Alpha strike..

So I love mechs. Movies like pacific rim and games like mech commander and battletech cemented this attraction to these monstrous weapons of war. The game itself is simple. You have an agreed point limit, agreed scenario and you follow the basic rules… but… The game has both breadth and depth in what’s available and the additional or in advanced rules that it really is something that would suit just about any sci-fi or mech fan.

The dice mechanics are also simple. Roll 2d6 vs the be target number and if you hit you deal damage to the enemy mech, building, infantry or vehicle. The target number to hit is Pilot Skill + Range/distance + Adjusted values + Target Mech Movement+ Other modifiers, or PRATO. Something like that in anyway.

If you roll over the PRATO then you hit and do damage to the targets armour and then internals, of they don’t have any armour left.

Pretty simple really but with certain weapon types, mechs and their special loadouts/special abilities the tactical depth can be quite deep.

The second thing I like about this game is that the turns are taken simultaneously. That is if your mech gets ambushed they still shoot back as they are destroyed. This makes more logical sense as no living being sits there and waits their turn to fight for their life. This works against you too but it makes the games feel like a fair first fight but with lasers, missiles and heavy calibre guns.

The other thing with this is that scenery matters. Puddles of water cool you down quickly, buildings, ruined or otherwise, can block sight or give you some tactical advantage. Movement is key but the right movement is even more so as that patch of forest or debris slows down walking units but not fliers or those with jump-jets.

Whilst simple the complexity is scary with countless types of weapons, thousands of models (think make and model of cars) of mechs, and pages worth of special abilities that will make you want to scrap your army and build around a single ability or combination. Diversity of gameplay is second only to the love and enthusiasm I have experienced from the community with the lore literally being decades old.

Whilst I love D&D and Warhammer profusely, the quick, small and compact battletech is drawing me deeper into its embrace. So if I continue with this game system in the future don’t forget to look out for those updates and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,

The Brazen Wolfe