Artistic Character

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Klaus Scherwinski, artist, illustrator, and way-cool guy.

Last we met, we’d figured out our scope and direction, sketched out our character ideas, and begun sorting out the method of our medium. I’d like to expand on that for this installment, as it’s probably the most-asked question I’ve fielded since the rollout of the IHProPath project.

Why not photographs?

Part of the answer goes back to a concept I mentioned previously: “future forward.” By placing our characters and their scenes a bit forward in the future, we would not be beholden to the stricter details of today. I realized this early on during our character design brainstorms – one of my experts asked me what type of gas chromatography mass spectrometer devices we’d have shown in our student scene. I balked at that, because I first had to look up what that terminology meant!

It became fairly evident rather quickly that aiming for the ‘here and now’ was not going to work. It would mean slavish adherence to every detail, to make sure we got it all absolutely correct. That process alone would add months, if not a year or more, to our tightening timeline.

It would also impact how we presented the images. Photography was the first consideration but it was soon pushed aside after the above implications. Never mind constructing the ‘perfect’ scene with all details covered – finding the right subjects would also increase the project’s time. (And budget!) Rather than go into such mind-boggling detail, I turned to a mainstay I have used in my ‘other’ life as a game freelancer: illustrative art.

Art Trumps Photography

Using artwork has a number of benefits, the biggest being the ability to create a future reality with regards to workspaces, equipment, and backgrounds. By using real-world elements in combination with more futuristic stylings, we would cement the image with identifiable material for the audience while still conveying the idea of just-beyond-the-horizon technology.

ecp-clipUnsure what I mean? For an easy illustration, look at the tablet in the hands of Melinda, our Early Career Professional. The shape, size, and obvious use of the device easily tells you of its function. But by making the screen holographic and transparent, we’re seeing a common tool of today ‘futurized,’ adding to the scene’s more advanced bend.

Notice the other object in the background, to the left of our futuristic tablet? You can easily identify it because it has a familiar shape and is a common item found in setting of the piece – a fire extinguisher. You automatically processed its presence without actively searching it out, and that helped cement the entire scene for you.

So then, my next question – how difficult would it be to recreate this entire scene as a photograph? And if we could, imagine the cost! The illustration conveys a much richer and complex snapshot at a fraction of cost that a photograph could do.

Enter Klaus

Of course, you need to make sure you’ve hired an artist with such skill and capabilities. Fortunately for AIHA, I have a few in my arsenal of contacts.

I quickly put together a Call for Artists document, which gave an outline of the project and a request for a (very) rough sketch based on a sample scene I provided. The Call then went out to several illustrators who have worked in various entertainment-oriented industries, such as comics, animation, video games, and tabletop games. While I did have a shortlist in mind, I wanted to see what this community could come up with.

A few artists responded to my proposal, about half submitted sketches and follow-up questions. Much to my surprise and delight, Klaus Scherwinski, an artist I have worked with extensively on game product in the past, was one of the respondents. He requested a Skype call, during which he proceeded to not only ask great questions about the project as a whole, but also gave some creative suggestions that we’re incorporating in Phase II, coming in 2017.

Klaus is an accomplished illustrator, working as a creative artist for more than a decade. Based in Germany, he’s worked on comic books, game publications, video game art, and at the time, had just begun branching into full-blown animation. When I found out he was not only available for the timeline of our project, but also excited about participating in something revolutionary in a completely different industry, it was a no-brainer to tap him as our lead illustrator for the project.

It would be up to him to give life to our burgeoning vision.

Deconstructing Campaigns

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Welcome back. So, the question we left off at:

Would we make the GenCon print date?

Probably.

During the process of building this book, we had one big speedbump that altered the composition of the book. [Edited to add more information that I’d forgotten. Thanks for the reminder, Ray!]

The cover for the book obviously changed:

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As writing wound out and began the edit process, a BIG problem popped up.

We had no ready artists in the pool who could tackle the full-page illustrations that normally divide the chapters. These pieces of art are heavily tied with the fiction pieces. With time winding out and a “let’s see if we can make GenCon” mentality, there was no time to find or schedule quality artists for that task. (The pool is shallow, and our usual suspects were booked up with other work.)

With that in mind, and because upper-level people decided to pair the book with stuff being put out by the computer game license holder Harebrained Schemes (and their in-development BattleTech computer game), the decision was also made to feature two old-school things: the redesigned Marauder (a nod back to the game’s inception and ‘Mech art more than two decades ago), and a mercenary unit that was popular among fans many, many years ago. (Said merc unit has been deceased in the game’s timeline for the last 15 years.)

The intent was to capitalize on HBS’s perceived success of their current project among the older, long-time fans by offering a product that would tug on the nostalgia strings.

And, as you can probably guess, it’s not a decision I necessarily agree with. The reasons are vast and veer a lot into NDA-area topics, so I can’t nor won’t detail them here. But it’s also a decision made above my head, and thus irrefutable. (Normally, the project developer has a lot of say with regards to cover and interior art, as well as content.)

This decision, however, cascaded into the book itself. We now had a cover that did not jive with the story being told inside. Normally, it’s not a terrible issue because we do have rulebook covers that don’t quite mesh with interior fiction.

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But because the epic story being told within the book is set at a time that is more than 100 years in the future from HBS’s game content – and with the book being tangentially tied to that company’s game property – the fiction was ultimately deemed too jarring for the nostalgia crowd.

Combined with the fact we didn’t have interior art, the painful decision was made to completely cut the fiction from the book.

Thus, Campaign Operations will be the only core rulebook that lacks story fiction buffering the chapters.

Good news, though! Philip’s story will be told through different means, most likely as a soon-to-be-released novella. Julian Davion’s story is very compelling and deserves to be out there for fans to enjoy, so we’re working hard to make sure that still happens.

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Aside from that, we did some interior switching and tightening. The Advanced Linked Scenarios morphed in the writer’s hands to a more narrative ruleset. This is an easy-to-follow campaign structure for those players who don’t care to spend hours playing “AccounTech” but still love linked games that tell a story. We then obliquely altered the Map-Based rules to expand on that, followed by the more complete Custom Chaos rules.

I also made sure that the Chaos Campaign rules included were as up-to-date as possible, folding in errata that popped up after the Total Chaos debut in 2012. Additional tweaks were made as well, based on suggestions by various players around the world. While not all 3,000+ Options, Objectives, and Special Rules were included, a sizeable portion did make it in so that GMs could find inspiration for their own games and stories.

And, as a nice little extra, I built and included a track that covers an incident involving Clan Coyote in 3103. A hint for the future? Time will tell.

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Finally, we slammed the book through editing and layout, with some key playtesters checking over examples and functions. Because much of the book was cut material from other rulebooks and supplements, they had already suffered multiple rounds of review. (Mike Miller’s solar system rules, in particular, went through FIVE review processes over the course of the last five years, due to it being assigned and then dropped from various products.)

And so now? Yes, we will make the print deadline. Copies will, barring printing or shipping calamity, be available in limited amounts at GenCon. The digital release is slated for the July 4 weekend. And we’ll probably see this in local stores coming this fall.

Preview the Table of Contents and Intro.

What does that mean for me? Well, it means that I’ve pushed out the fastest core rulebook of the series; less than a year from idea proposal to print. It also heralds what may be the last of my BattleTech projects. (There is one other in the wings that may or may not see the light of day at this point; time, money, and other factors will determine its fate.)

My writing debut in the line started with the Chaos Campaign ruleset. If this proves the end, it’s fitting to cap my run with BattleTech by sharing my inner thought process on track creation with fans and players. Story creation is what I love most; putting together a rulebook that will impact players for years to come is a fitting milestone.

Enjoy.

Constructing Campaigns

A year or so ago, I received an email from Randall Bills, the de facto Line Developer for BattleTech (and my “boss” in as much as a freelancer can have one). “We’ve got a bunch of stuff we had to cut from Interstellar Operations,” he said. “We want to add one last rulebook to the core line, and it’s all about campaigns. Interested?”

Skipping-skipping-skipping…

Ten months ago, I accepted the request I manage this new rulebook concept called “Campaign Companion,” which was to be a softcover supplement much like the Alpha Strike and A Time of War RPG Companion books. Within a week, it was then turned into a hardcover book. And after another week, I was told the new name would be “Campaign Operations.”

At this point, I had only seen three sections of this new product idea.

If you’re familiar with the BattleTech core rules series, you’ll know that each section is separated by a short story that nominally addresses the in-game fictionalized aspect of the following rules section. So I had to immediately figure out what that was going to entail, as well as sort out the rest of the material. This was slated for a summer 2016 release (a la GenCon), and these core books are notorious for being sloooooooow to push through the pipe.

Fortunately, I had a few aces up my sleeve.

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First, I had three already-written sections: Mike Miller’s bounced-around Solar System construction rules (originally written in 2011); Formation Building, which covered a bunch of AS addendum rules; and a partially built Combat Effectiveness Rating formula (because that’s what it was) for Creating a Force. That last one, in raw form, was well over 20,000 words, highly mathematical, and contained enough granular detail to construct a seaside beach.

Second, I immediately decided to go the fiction route I’d built for A Time of War, where the stories were all interconnected. I figured this was a great spot to further the current plot of the 3145 era, and combed through the constructed timeline to see what was what. I needed a major invasion incident that had some major players involved, in order to make it interesting and worth having nearly 24,000 words written about.

The retaking (and subsequent loss again) of New Syrtis. Perfect. That was a Julian Davion story – a fan favorite character.

Rather than farm it out to a bunch of different writers (like we did for ATOW), this one needed a solid, consistent voice. As Jason Schmetzer was otherwise occupied, I knew Phillip Lee was the perfect choice. I jumped quickly and got him locked in.

But what else was needed?

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Ever since the debut of the Chaos Campaign ruleset and tracks back in 2004, fans of the game have been asking for rules on how to construct their own tracks. For various reasons, we’ve never had the opportunity (or desire) to put them out there – but now was the best window we had. So I slated that as a primary section for the book, and assigned it to myself.

Still wasn’t enough stuff to fill a core rulebook, though. Imagine that, we were actually lacking for material! (I had put my foot down earlier and restricted Randall’s mathematical and table-heavy treatise to 8,000 words (that’s 10 pages).) Since we had these beautiful isometric world maps in various digital products, why not consider something for those? And what about players who don’t like doing a lot of math and record keeping, but just want to blow stuff up in a story environment?

Thus, the last two sections came together: the Map-Based Campaign, and the Advanced Linked Scenarios.

I selected my writers, assigned the work, and off we went.

I’ll spare the details of various delays; they’re not all that interesting. The biggest question that evolved: would we still make the GenCon print date?

 

BattleTech: A Strategic and Tactical Primer (Pt 7)

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Continuing my sharing of the Strategy and Tactics Guide from the defunct Clan Box Set. This is from a first draft written in 2008. All errors are my own, including bad writing. 😛

SCOUTS (RECON, PURSUIT)

‘Mechs in a scouting role are by nature extremely fast, using speed to achieve their objectives and to avoid the enemy. Use them when you need to reach an objective quickly (such as “capture the flag” games) or when you expect the opposition to also field fast ‘Mechs.

Most scout ‘Mechs are protected by light armor – but this doesn’t make them defenseless.  Keeping these ‘Mechs moving close to top speed makes them much harder to hit as it forces opponents to overcome an impressive target movement modifier. Scouts with jump jets should do so as often as possible and head for the heaviest woods available to use as cover.

Many scouts are equipped with several anti-battle armor weapons such as machine guns and small lasers; including one of these in a force where battle armor is expected can help neutralize that threat.

Koshi Prime

Highly maneuverable, the Koshi Prime is loaded with short- and long-ranged missile systems for quick fire support. With no minimum-ranged weapons, the Koshi can be quite the nasty surprise if positioned in an enemy’s rear arc; the multiple missile packs and machine guns can rip open and cause critical damage in one round to the rear of most light ‘Mechs. Keep it moving, however – standing still is an invitation to destruction. (Jade Falcon, Steel Viper)

Koshi A

The Koshi A retains the same movement curve as the Prime and is just as lightly armored. The main difference between the two is in the offensive loadout – the Koshi A carries nothing heavier than two machine guns. Use this ‘Mech as a dedicated battle armor delivery system and to hunt enemy battle armor; if you find yourself facing down another ‘Mech, use your mobility to retreat. Fast. (Snow Raven, Fire Mandrill)

Dragonfly Prime

A medium ‘Mech with an incredible movement curve, the key to using this scout ‘Mech is its jumping MP. By jumping 7 or 8 MP, you generate a +4 movement modifier (+3 for the 7 hexes and +1 for the jump). The two pulse lasers help minimize the jumping penalty on your attack roll (giving you a -2 modifier to your target number) and the SRM 4 system carries enough ammo that you can risk low probability shots at will. (Ghost Bear, Cloud Cobra)

STRIKER (RECON, PURSUIT, STRIKER)

Slightly slower than scouts, these ‘Mechs sacrifice a little speed for more weaponry. Their purpose is to unload a massive barrage of firepower, then back off to find another opening and do it all over again. Bold tactics work best with these units; many a battle has been lost or won based on how they are used.

In order to survive long enough to close in with your opponent, you need to keep strikers moving, using terrain to provide cover until you reach medium or short range with your target.

Dragonfly A

Just as mobile as the Prime version, the Dragonfly is a great striker ‘Mech. Use its jump to maximum effect by landing in an enemy’s rear arc and unloading all five ER medium lasers with a SRM 6 follow-up. While it will test your heat scale with such a high-risk attack (a +3 added to your to-hit roll because of the jump), you have the mobility to jump a distance away into cover and cool down before repeating. (Hell’s Horses, Blood Spirit)

Fenris Prime

Just as fast as the Dragonfly, the Fenris lacks the other ‘Mech’s jumping mobility but makes up for it with slightly more armor and a heavier ER PPC. The Fenris is good for hanging back and covering other striker units and is fast enough to take advantage of an enemy’s rear if the opportunity presents itself. (Wolf, Coyote)

Ryoken A

One of the best strikers of the Clans, the Ryoken has better-than-average speed, is moderately armored to withstand at least one devastating attack from a heavier ‘Mech, and mounts enough weapons to cripple or destroy most light and medium ‘Mechs at medium and short range. (Snow Raven, Goliath Scorpion)

Loki Prime

A heavy ‘Mech with a decent weapons compliment, the Loki should never be used as a lone striker unit. The Loki is quite capable of dealing significant damage from medium range and considering that the Loki has a lower speed curve than other strikers, it is best if you kept it at medium range of your opponents. The Loki’s weak armor coverage – most medium ‘Mechs have better – is a serious weakness that can quickly be exploited. (Jade Falcon, Fire Mandrill)

SKIRMISHERS (PURSUIT, STRIKER, SUPPORT)

Skirmishers are versatile ‘Mechs that combine mobility, armor and firepower to take the fight to the enemy and inflict serious damage. Unlike most ‘Mechs described elsewhere, skirmishers can be used in a variety of ways depending upon the situation and terrain.

Excellent at harassment tactics, use these ‘Mechs at the vanguard of your force while your more specialized forces get into position. Do not use these for direct assault, however. Their firepower – while respectable – is usually not capable of taking down heavily defended positions or assault ‘Mechs.

Black Hawk Prime

The capability of this ‘Mech lies in the tremendous firepower it brings to bear. Unloading every weapon on the ‘Mech (called an “alpha strike”) has the potential of doing 84 points of damage, which can practically cripple a heavy ‘Mech in one volley. However, using the Black Hawk in such a way guarantees it will shut down from the tremendous heat output. Use the lasers judiciously and alpha strike only sufficiently defended by its teammates for the next turn; a shutdown ‘Mech cannot move or fire until it cools off! (Hell’s Horses, Cloud Cobra)

Vulture A

While the Vulture A has two long-ranged weapons in the ER PPC and LB 5-X, the key to this ‘Mech is to get in close when the target’s armor is heavily damaged. The six SRM 6 launchers can deliver a devastating volley and each missile has a chance for critical damage if they hit an unarmored location. The armor on the Vulture is weak however, so keeping it in the thick of the fight for any period of time is not a wise idea. (Hell’s Horses, Star Adder)

Man-o’-War A

Equal in speed to other skirmisher ‘Mechs, the Man-o’-War is one of the faster assault-class ‘Mechs in the Clans. Solid armor protection makes it a good ‘Mech to use in a longer engagement, which might be needed as the Man-o’-War A only mounts a Gauss rifle, an LRM 10 and a SRM 4. Use it to snipe at range as you approach, then cover its teammates as they retreat from delivering their salvos. (Wolf, Goliath Scorpion)

BattleTech: A Strategic and Tactical Primer (Pt. 6)

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Part 6 of the Strategy and Tactics Guide from the cancelled Clan Box Set. Errors are my own, as this is straight from a first draft.

BATTLETECH FORCES

Not every ‘Mech is appropriate for every type of scenario, so match the machine to the mission when choosing BattleMechs. This section will help you do that by providing a feel for the strengths and weaknesses of the various units available in BattleTech. This information is particularly helpful when you get to choose the ‘Mechs you will use for a scenario, but it also can help you make the best use of your forces when you are assigned a particular mix of ‘Mechs, all of which are not necessarily ideal for the task at hand. The best commanders make the most of what they have and expertly fit square pegs into round holes.

For the sake of discussion, we have divided the ‘Mechs available in the BattleTech into seven broad categories: duelists, scouts, strikers, skirmishers, brawlers, snipers, fire support and juggernauts.

The ‘Mechs assigned to each category are deployed in a similar fashion by virtue of their movement capabilities and weapons complements. Each category description provides a discussion of the characteristics of ‘Mechs included in that category and their use in game play, followed by brief comments on each specific ‘Mech. If players purchase any of the various technical readouts that include many other BattleMech designs, they only need to compare each design’s relative characteristics to those found here to find in which category they belong.

The Clan names that appear in parentheses after each ‘Mech description indicate both an Invader Clan and a Homeworld Clan that most commonly uses the ‘Mech.

Military Organization

Within the BattleTech universe, the smallest organization of a Clan force is the Star, which consists of five units – one for each point of a star. A Clan Star can be comprised solely of BattleMechs, battle armor, or a mix of both. One ‘point’ of battle armor is comprised of five troopers, so if you have a Star of battle armor, you have five points of five troopers, or twenty-five battle armor suits [5 x 5 = 25]. A mixed Star can contain any variation of ‘Mechs and battle armor, such as three ‘Mechs and two battle armor points (ten total troopers), or four ‘Mechs and one point of battle armor (five total troopers).

Generally speaking, Stars carry a name that is equal to their combat purpose, usually based off of what units comprise the Star. For example, a unit containing nothing but Strikers (see below) would usually be referred to as a “Striker Star,” while a Star of Scouts would be referred to as a “Scout Star.”

In parenthesis next to each of the eight category definitions in this section, one or more Star names are provided. Once again, note that these are not hard and fast rules but instead are general category names that players can use to help organize forces as they start building and fielding their own lances.

Battle Armor

Referred to by the Inner Sphere as “Toads” and called Elementals in Clanspace, battle armor troopers are the pinnacle of infantry-style combat. These power armor suits can be carried across battlefields by Clan OmniMechs and dropped off for close-quarters combat and additional support. (All the ‘Mechs in this box set are OmniMechs and can carry Toads.) These Toads move as a group, jumping up to 3 hexes a turn, which gives them great mobility across most terrain. Unlike ‘Mechs, they have no facing and can fire in any direction. In addition, they carry two shots of SRM 2 missiles apiece; a full salvo can severely damage a light ‘Mech and give much pause to medium and even heavy ‘Mechs.

Each Toad suit is also equipped with a small laser; while the range is small, they can be a welcome addition in a close-quarters battle. Additionally, because battle armor can conduct swarming and anti-‘Mech leg attacks, they can cripple an enemy unit unlucky enough to have them nearby.

DUELISTS

These ‘Mechs are normally not part of any strict Star formation – indeed, a Star made up primarily of duelists is more of a weakness than a strength, particularly because each ‘Mech is more geared towards the ritualized, individual combat between enemy warriors and not necessarily geared towards teamwork. Thus, you may find a duelist in nearly any type of Star, but not a Star comprised totally of duelists.

Designed and used primarily for personal combat, these ‘Mechs can compliment other Star members in a sniper, fire support or even a brawler role but excel mostly in single combat against an equal or greater foe. While challenging and beating a lesser opponent isn’t frowned upon, it does not confer as much honor to the warrior as defeating a greater opponent would.

Uller Prime

The Uller is not as fast as other light ‘Mechs, nor is it as heavily armored. It does mount an array of weapons across its frame, however – a missile rack, lasers, and an autocannon – and all are smaller-scale damage weapons. Ideal for taking on a similarly-sized opponent, it does not last long against most other ‘Mechs due to its light armor load. If using an Uller Prime, squeeze as much MP as possible during its move. (Jade Falcon, Blood Spirit)

Fenris A

Lightly armed but incredibly fast, the Fenris A is a favorite of many Clan warriors for dueling. The armor protection will survive most initial large weapon attacks, enough to allow the pilot a second chance. Its LB 2-X gives it incredible range to strike from, but the small autocannon will take a long time to penetrate most ‘Mechs outside the light weight classes. It is important to utilize the Fenris A’s incredible speed and outmaneuver your opponent, rather than rely on sniping from long and medium ranges. (Wolf, Coyote)

Thor A

The Thor A only mounts three weapon systems but can use all of them every turn without turning up the Heat scale. Highly maneuverable with jumping 5 MP, the Thor mounts excellent armor coverage. It is an all-around solid design, capable of defensive and offensive tactics. The only weakness is its limited ammunition; make sure each Gauss rifle shot has a good chance to hit, as 8 rounds go very quickly in a fast-paced duel. (Jade Falcon, Steel Viper)

Gladiator A

Heavily armored, the Gladiator A is a decent dueling ‘Mech but can also be used in a brawling mode if necessary. The MASC gives it a bit of an edge in speed, which can open up opportunities to sneak in rear arc shots or allow you to close quickly into a developing skirmish. The large number of lasers on the Gladiator A can quickly drive the heat up on those players not careful; poor heat management can find this ‘Mech exploding due to the ton of machine gun ammo being carted around in the torso. (Ghost Bear, Coyote)

BattleTech: A Strategic and Tactical Primer(Pt. 5)

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Part 5 of the Strategy and Tactics Guide from the cancelled Clan Box Set. Errors are my own, as this is straight from a first draft.

PHYSICAL ATTACKS

Don’t overlook the chance to inflict a few extra points of damage by making physical attacks. Though Clan warriors tend to frown up such actions, it is not forbidden and in some Clans, actually encouraged against Inner Sphere foes. The main risk in making physical attacks is that you must be adjacent to your target to execute kicks, punches and other such attacks, which usually puts you at risk for physical attacks in return. Also, if you and/or your opponent decide to make a weapons attack at such close range, all the weapons are likely to hit – a potentially deadly situation.

While physical attacks are rare for Clan warriors to use, it is always wise to understand what these attacks may entail, since Inner Sphere opponents have no compunction in using them against Clan foes.

Punching

Punching attacks have numerous advantages. First, a punch is one of the few types of physical attack that does not cause damage to the attacking ‘Mech. But, perhaps more importantly, you roll the attack’s hit location on the Punch Hit Location Table, which offers a 1 in 6 chance to hit the target’s head. That means a punch is six times more likely to hit a ‘Mech’s head than a regular weapons shot!

Because you cannot make a punching attack with an arm that fired a weapon during the current turn, you must decide to punch before you declare your weapon attacks. A ‘Mech can punch once with each arm in a single turn.

When adjacent to other ‘Mechs, large BattleMechs should almost always punch rather than firing arm-mounted weapons with a minimum range. For example, the Gladiator Prime mounts a Gauss rifle in its left arm and two ER large lasers in its right. Firing both ER large lasers will do plenty of damage if both to-hit rolls are successful, so punching with the right arm is an option only if heat is a problem (the lasers each generate 10 points of heat). Firing the Gauss rifle will do 15 points of damage for 1 point of heat, but a Gauss rifle fired that close to a punchable target also gains a +2 to-hit penalty due to its minimum range. In this case, it may be preferable to not fire the Gauss for the easier punch attack with the left arm. Before slugging away, however, keep in mind that missing or damaged arm actuators adds a +1 to-hit modifier to punching attacks (see Intro Rulebook p.XX). In the example above, the Gladiator would have only a +1 modifier to its punch attack, as opposed to the +2 for the minimum range modifier for the Gauss rifle attack.

Clubbing

‘Mechs rarely use clubs to attack opponents, because players rarely fight scenarios in which suitable clubs are available. Other ‘Mech’s limbs make good clubs, for example, but few attacks result in a limb being blown off. ‘Mechs can uproot trees to use as clubs, but must spend a full turn doing so. Finally, a ‘Mech must use (and have functional) two hand actuators to wield a club. Obviously this attack offers few advantages over a punch attack.

Physical Weapons (Hatchets)

Though none of the ‘Mechs in the Clans come equipped with hatchets (or any other physical attack weapons), you may face an opponent using an Inner Sphere ‘Mech that does. These massive weapons function just like a club, except a ‘Mech can wield them with one hand.

Pushing

The best situation for using a pushing attack is against a ‘Mech standing at the top of a hill or on the edge of the map. Though some players would recommend a charging attack under these circumstances, a push can be just as effective and causes no damage to the attacking ‘Mech.

Most scenarios call for the “destruction” of any ‘Mechs that leave the map, either intentionally or accidentally. If an enemy ‘Mech is standing at the edge of the map, a push off the map can “kill” the ‘Mech for game purposes, causing no damage to your ‘Mech.

A successful push attack may also cause the target BattleMech to fall; this is a particularly effective attack if the target ‘Mech falls down a hill. Especially for a heavy ‘Mech, a fall down a hill can be more damaging than two punch attacks. It’s true – the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Kicking

Successful kick attacks can cause a lot of damage, often effectively crippling a ‘Mech. Kick attacks offer a good choice for additional attacks in a turn. (A ‘Mech cannot kick with a leg that fired a weapon in that turn, but few BattleMechs have leg-mounted weapons so this is not much of a restriction.) As an added bonus, a ‘Mech that is kicked successfully must make a successful Piloting Skill Roll or fall down.

On the down side, if you miss a kick, you must make a successful Piloting Skill Roll or your ‘Mech falls. This is a good reason for not making a kick attack if the attack requires a high to-hit number. If your MechWarrior has a poor Piloting Skill or the ‘Mech has suffered damage that affects Piloting Skill Rolls, you may prefer to make a punch attack rather than a kick attack.

Charging

A charging attack can be tremendously damaging to an opponent, especially when the attacking ‘Mech possesses a combination of speed and weight. Fast, heavy ‘Mechs such as Gladiators and Mad Cats make good charging attacks, as do Pumas  and Fenris on the light and medium weights. A charging ‘Mech cannot make any weapon attacks in the turn it charges, however, and so the player must weigh this disadvantage against the potential damage the charging attack might inflict.

In general, charging attacks have a low probability of success and cause damage to the charging ‘Mech as well as its target. Only if your ‘Mech is damaged or has lost its ranged weapons should you consider a charge, and then only if there is a good, clear path between your ‘Mech and the target.

Death From Above (DFA)

This attack is very difficult to pull off and decidedly rare. It can cause your ‘Mech serious damage. That being said, DFA is one of the most dramatic, enjoyable moves you can execute in BattleTech, and nearly always earns the admiration of your opponent and onlookers if it is successful. It is considered good form to yell out “Death from above, surat!” when attempting this bold maneuver. You may even get a round of applause!

In practice, you should only make a DFA as a last resort. Use it primarily when your jump-capable ‘Mech is severely damaged or in danger of being destroyed soon anyway. This attack allows you to go out with a bang, instead of a whimper.