Once a year, my friends I go to KublaCon in Burlingame, California (just south of San Francisco). It is held every year over the Memorial Day weekend. We usually try to pick out what we want to play over the weekend mixing our itinerary with new games and familiar games. Though, like any battle plan, it never survives after making contact with the enemy, so by Sunday we are usually playing a scheduled game that we hadn’t thought of playing or we are playing a new game that one of us bought. We always have a good time regardless.
Every year at KublaCon, there is a large Battletech game with something like two mech companies vs. two mech companies with a couple of lances of tanks thrown in to make it even larger. It’s usually pretty cool, but we have never stuck around to finish the entire battle, because the battles take too long. For example, this year we started at Noon and by 1700 only 60 seconds of game time has transpired. Mind you that for most players at KublaCon, it’s a new game, and for those that are experienced, the game gets boring because they have no investment in the outcome, nor were we able to play using any of the so called level 3 rules. For me, most of the level 3 rules I can take or leave, but I feel that one has to run the game with logical LOS rules not the unrealistic LOS rules in the basic game. Many feel that calculating the LOS, when playing a game that uses hexes, bogs down the game, but I feel it's a pretty simple step to maintain some semblance of realism (at least as much realism that can be found in a game surrounding walking robots 10 meters tall).
Anyway, I have to give the guys that run the big Battletech game each year credit for attempting such a large game and keeping it fresh by presenting a new battle every year. Through their toil, I have garnered a few concepts that I will use in my eventual Convention game. They are:
1. The game must be manageable in size and unit count. It must have a reasonable timeframe for the game. Six hours is about all one can focus on a game without a break.
2. I’m doing away with hexes for two reasons, so that the game board looks as realistic as possible and it eliminates the LOS issues that bug me so much and cause arguments (what a unit can see is what it can shoot at).
3. Because the game is much smaller, I will be able to give a small back ground paragraph on each of the pilots/commanders thereby giving the game a little bit of an RPG feel which enables the players to feel a little more invested in how well they play.
4. Moreover, the battle will have a “historically accurate” opening situation that is rooted in Battletech cannon and will remain cannon regardless who wins.
5. Finally, the game will have discernible objectives for each side that are more then just “kill the enemy”. Just killing the enemy usually digresses into slug fest in the middle of the map at point blank range—a lame and unrealistic situation. The objectives will include, among others, “survive the encounter with XX amount of survivors” or “Survive the encounter with XX percent of your force combat operational” Retreat should be an option as well that will save a few points. There is no objective worth feeding an entire unit into a meat grinder, sooner or later one commander or another will retreat after realizing that the cost is not worth the benefit of continuing the battle.
These are some of the major guiding principles that will influence how I will undertake the design of my Battletech scenario for the 2011 KublaCon. Until I have more, please enjoy these photos from KublaCon 2010.
The Battle of Belchite, 1937, Disposable Heroes.
Overview of the battle, The Republicans are winning!
The Final Push for a Republican win.
Valley of the Thunder Lizards, Caliber .45 Pulp Adventure.
Fighting breaks out between players for the dino prize.
A Fedcom Raid on Groveld III, Battletech
The 8th Sword of Light didn't stand a chance against hordes of missile tanks and fast jump capable mechs of the 42nd Avalon Hussars.
A small portion of the combatants.
Richard Borg shows off his new Creation.
Dylan discovers he is wrong in a game of Settlers of Catan.
A pick up game of Battle Line between Dylan and I.
The Battle of Zambezi River, Triumph and Tragedy
Final defensive line against the Congolese, good luck...
All that gaming makes Patrick thirsty.