Friday, June 15, 2012

Endless Battletech at NTRPG Con

Strolling through the convention Saturday morning, I came across a guy (whose name I have forgotten) looking for players for a game of Battletech.  He had a verrrrrry long board set up, and needed at least three players to start the scenario.
The map had elevations up to Level 44 (most BT maps have maybe a Level 3 or 4 hill at the most) and represented a peak with a crashed starship at the top containing valuable technology.  Of course, each player starts with his forces at the bottom of the mountain.
I asked how long the game would take, and the game master, a nice guy who drove into the Dallas-Fort Worth area from Lawton, Oklahoma, told me twelve hours.  I told him I would stick around for maybe half that.  After a couple of other players showed up sometime past noon, we picked our starting forces (all 3025 era mechs, for you BT fans) and rolled for where we came onto the map.
By luck of the rolls, the other guys came on first and started shooting at each other.  I entered the board in my black-and-white mechs after everyone else--and ended up right between the two factions.
Luckily for me, the red player left his Battlemaster (a big, bad model that's one of the more powerful units in Classic Battletech) all by itself, facing away from where I could enter the battle.  Feeling mean, I put all my units right behind him and attacked from the rear.
My combined fire blew off the mech's arm and knocked it over, but it wasn't out of the fight.  Having a feeling I might need an ally, I proposed a truce with the Reds as we decided to join forces against the black mechs.
Good thing we did, because as we made our way up the board (and up the mountain), the GM popped up a fourth set of combatants that had been hidden on the hillside.  All three players called a ceasefire among each other and united to take on the green menace.
Although I enjoyed Battletech back in the day,  I'd forgotten how damn long it takes to play the game.  Factor in new players, house rules, and questions to the referee about lines of sight between Level 11 and Level 0 hexes, and the game starts to slooooow dooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwn ....
When I finally left the table, after more than five hours of play, our mechs had barely made it one-third of the way up the map/mountain.  I left to do other con things (we had other players show up to take over my mechs), and when I wandered back by around 11:30, they were still playing--but they had not progressed much further than halfway!  All in all, it was a cool idea for a scenario (and I hope the GM eventually makes a 3-D version of that map), but I'm too old for marathon game sessions like that.


Arkhein said...

The Boy absolutely loved the game and jumped in every chance he got. I had played my fill of Battletech back in the 80s, so I took the golden opportunities to sit down on a nice, comfy chair and let my mind go blank until the next rpgs started. :)

- Ark

Allandaros said...

I love Battletech - the mechs, the (early) setting - but am less than thrilled by how long even regular combats go on. A 12 hour game sounds dire.

CounterFett said...

This is why I graduated to BattleForce. That game's slogan should be "Because sometimes you want to finish a 'mech battle."

Maj. Diz Aster said...

A 12 hour scenario? Ouch! And back in the day when I was heavily into Battletech, I thought a 4 hour game was just too monotonous- part of the reason I quit playing. I could paint and decal three Trinaries of Clan mechs in 12 hours!