Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Why Nobody Played CityTech

Okay, this is pretty simple.

It doesn’t matter if your a fast ‘mech or a slow ‘mech. If you are inside of a CityTech building-scape and you lose initiative, you get as much distance and as many buildings as possible between you and anyone that is liable to shoot at you.

So even fights that begin in good faith in a city will see the combatants leaving town fairly quickly in order to duke things out where there is a little more breathing room.

Jump capable ‘mechs could conceivably flee into the city if they cannot expect to stand toe to toe with their opponents outside of town. If the attackers lack mobility, then they will have to maybe enter the city from several directions… risking one-sided ambushes or being defeated piecemeal. Without some sort of scenario defined time limit or objective, the attacker will simply turn all the buildings into rubble.

CityTech does not include any scenario rules. Most people that manage to dip into this expansion at all will go back to playing vanilla BattleTech before they would have developed an engaging scenario with its new game elements.

So most people most of the time never bothered to do all that much with this set. Its prime feature is a game design puzzle– and not anything that readily makes BattleTech more fun.

It’s a turkey, y’all!



Battle Cry Isn’t Commands & Colors: Ancients

The more recent edition of Battle Cry tightens up the rules of the game by a fair amount compared to the original. I can’t say I care for the “big box of plastic” approach to the game, though. The block wargames look classy and consistently turn heads. The stickers on Battle Cry’s units will be falling apart on anyone’s game that sees any significant amount of play.

The game play is much more different from Commands & Colors: Ancients, which I have played a lot more of. In ancient warfare, generals lead from the front. In the civil war game, they… just don’t seem to do all that much. (Aside from a few odd cards, the only thing you can count on from them is their ability to ignore a retreat result. In a game where retreat results actually can help you!) Combine that with everyone having effective ranged attacks and nobody having an automatic “battle back” action, and yeah… this is a completely different game.

If you play this Civil War game in the same way as you would the the Ancients one… you will die ingloriously. Tournament grade play will feature units mostly hanging back in some kind of cover and taking mostly one die and two die pot shots at things. Charges tend to result in the slaughter of your own men, not anything remotely approaching glory.

It’s brutal.

There are only four unit types. There is less variety in the units. Formation and leadership have almost no impact on the tactics. And winning tactics are decidedly un-epic. Mostly… it just looks tacky.

If you only get one of these Richard Borg battle games… I have to recommend against your getting Battle Cry.

The Mummy (1932) Is Awesome

If you haven’t seen the original Mummy film, you’re missing out.

  • It has a plot that could have come straight out of an A. Merritt story.
  • The opening vignette has a guy that goes insane Miskatonic University style.
  • Best of all, it features an actress that looks like she walked straight off of a Margaret Brundage Weird Tales cover.

If you were thinking it would be about some dude in bandages wandering around killing people, you’ve got the wrong movie. The real thing embodies all of the elements that made the pulp masters of the twenties and thirties so appealing: Romance! Thrills! Wonder!

It’s epic. Recommended.

A Brief Encounter with CityTech

It’s a harsh truth of gaming. Eighty percent of  gameplay from a particular line is going to be taken up with fraction of its supplements. With BattleTech, this means that most people are going to play just with the core set and the technical readouts. Practically speaking, CityTech and AeroTech are going to end up gathering dust alongside Truck Stop, Boat Wars, and the weirder Star Fleet Battles modules…!

So I count myself lucky to have gotten to play CityTech. But 100 ton ‘mechs are cool, so we played it with units that… well, that don’t really work well with the system.

Above you can see my opponent realizing that a ‘mech with lots of LRM’s is just not going to do well in this environment. Meanwhile, my ‘mech loaded with short range weapons had no way to take advantage of the initiative to place any reasonable shots at all.

The L3 building is extremely tall but can be turned to rubble with just three medium laser hits.

With slow assault ‘mechs without jump jets, it’s still a problem. Looks like a city battle just isn’t going to happen!

My opponent just can’t allow me to get in close, so he felt like he had to do everything he could to keep the distance up. Unfortunately for him, I could climb a hill to score a single large laser hit.

This shouldn’t been that great of a setback, but this is BattleTech. I rolled a 2 for hit location, scoring a critical on the center torso. This turned out to be an ammo explosion, ending the game rather earlier than expected.

Next: Probably something involving jump jets!

Assault ‘Mech Duel in the Crimson Desert

This game was nuts.

We took 100 ton ‘mechs because 100 ton ‘mechs are awesome. My opponent went with two PPCS, two large lasers, and plenty of heat sinks. I ran with two LRM-15’s, three large lasers, and one SRM-4.

I was able to leverage some sweet spots to get some easy hits with the missiles. My opponent wasn’t going to accept those odds forever, so he opted to close. He got lucky with a PPC shot that hit my head early on and I went through the game expecting him two roll those box cars on the location roll one more time.

The game was brutal, though. Whoever got initiative had to think carefully about what range to select. Even without us going into the sinkholes on the map and no water or tree hexes, position really counted for a lot. When I’d wore down my opponent’s right leg, I went in close and kicked it in order to open the way to victory. When I ended up with a similar Achilles heel, I backed off.

We both ended up with damaged leg actuators and destroyed heat sinks. An engine hit early in the game really cramped my style– and a gyro hit at the end could well have been the end of me. But then I scored two large laser hits in my last chance for a win. One took out my opponent’s right leg. The other hit his head. Adjudicating the fall, he went backwards… onto his head.

It was an epic victory in a game session that had kept us in suspense for a solid couple of hours. Though I took some fall damage that turn two due to my banged up gyro. Nevertheless, I was able to limp off the battlefield….

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the weird pen drawings on the map…. We picked these map sheets up as a surprise bonus with our 1986 AeroTech. The flip side has somebody’s hombrew work on them. Whoever they were, they were really into this. Though they didn’t do much with their CityTech set: the ‘mech counters had been punched, but never played with! Our game tonight was the first time these Rifleman and Archer figures ever saw the table…!