Friday, June 9, 2023

A non-wargamer reads Battletech Quick Start

As promised, I downloaded and read the quick start rules for Battletech.

I’ve read a lot of quick start rules over the years, admittedly for RPGs, not for war games. I feel like a quick start should try and do three things: give you the flavor of the system, give you enough to be able to play the basics of the system and make you want to play the system more.

And, I think the Battletech quick start rules gets 1.5 of those goals right.

Its biggest failure is not goving you a sense of the flavor of the game or its setting. It’s the future and people fight in giant robots. End of story.  Since I started looking into Battletech, I’ve found a surprisingly rich setting and timeline. I don’t expect to get all that from what is effectively a brochure. However, at least identifying the sides and emphasizing the ‘real robot’ aspect of the system would have been good.

The actual rules were pretty good. I particularly appreciated that it includes a small map, two standers and the stats for two standees. More importantly, the rules do their fundamental job very well. They lay out how the game works step by step. If I had seen these quick start rules back in the 80s, I’d have eaten them up.

The actual rules themselves didn’t excite me that much but I am pretty sure that’s ‘Seinfeld isn’t Funny’ trope at work. Battletech helped define giant robot gaming and science fiction war gaming. Of course it’s going to have an old hat feel. I’m sure the rules have been refined a lot over the decades but I’m also sure they didn’t fix what wasn’t broken.

So, really, what I want, what I think is painfully missing, is two paragraphs of fluff to make me care about Battletech’s world.

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