The Vast Valley Of Sinister

September 15, 2019

Sure, I played Gloomhaven again and the Sentient boardgame.

Sentient comes across to me as elegant but dry.  Math is something I see a surprising number of gamers struggle with, so I figure some will get turned off by how much number manipulation there is.  Reminds me of playing Splendor in that it’s about acquiring synergistic cards.  I’d play it again, but I don’t know how much I’d want to keep playing it as it seems fairly repetitive just from one play.

But, that’s not the inspiration for today.

I’ve been watching a bunch of The Big Valley episodes this weekend due to a marathon.  Yes, the 1965-1969 western.

Top things I recall from watching some episodes when I was young (some episodes, wasn’t like other shows where I watched a lot of episodes when I was young)?

Young Linda Evans.

Well, actually, Lee Majors being in the show before his Six Million Dollar Man stint (interestingly, I watched a couple of Six Million Dollar Man episodes in recent months) was more memorable as Heath had way more going on than the orphanage loving, dancing driven Audra.

Tangent time (TM).  There were some really good looking people in shows from the ’60s.  May seem like an obvious comment, but whether it’s how shows were filmed or some other aesthetics related reason, the beautiful people from the ’60s stand out more in various cases from the beautiful people of the ’70s, ’80s, etc.

Miss Barbara Stanwyck.  Not that the youthful me had any idea about her movie career or that she was such a big movie star in the ’40s.  The white hair and strong show presence made her more notable than Nick and Jarrod.

Then, a dropoff to the other sons.  Well, other sons besides Eugene.  I had either forgotten or never knew that Eugene Barkley was a Barkley boy.

What I don’t recall at all from this show I didn’t watch a lot of was how sinister their world was.

I kind of have in mind that westerns from that age were more positive and black and white.  I watched more Bonanza than The Big Valley, I think, but I don’t really remember Bonanza very well, so it may have been darker than I thought, too.  The Wild Wild West was, I thought, far darker in tone than the norm.  Though, I watched a good amount of TWWW in my 20s, so it’s hard to remember what I thought when I watched it at a younger age.  Interesting that they both ran the same years, though …

According to the internet, in all of it’s pristine perfection of precision, the reason TBV got dropped was the desire of TV execs to phase out westerns for other stuff.

Anyway, sinisterism.  These episodes aren’t the easiest thing to watch as my nostalgic interests are in watching comfort shows like shows about WW2 prison camp prisoners who occasionally impersonate Hitler, et al.

Now, having the rather reserved Lee Majors actually speak lines of dialogue is kind of interesting.  But, the show just seems harsh on mains and guest stars.

Finally, we get to how this relates to gaming.

So, obviously, you want to challenge PCs in a RPG.  Now, dungeon crawling doesn’t come across as terribly sinister unless you do insane stuff like use level drain effects … or rip out the eyes of a PC … or have a PC sold into sex slavery (if curious, a male PC) for some food.  Not that those last two were in a dungeon crawling campaign, but I digress.

TBV had a seemingly large amount of episodes with serious challenges.  Sure, there are some weird endings, like when a kid gets orphaned but is happy at the end of the episode or where science saves the day in a rather hokey way.

So, I gets to thinkin’ ’bout how a western campaign would be run.  Fistfights and fast draw.  Ahem.  Fistfights & Fast Draw (TM) will now be something I totally passed on to posterity as a game name, a campaign name, a defining term for a genre of entertainment, and whatever else I won’t get paid to slap the term on to.

And, young Linda Evans (or Dynasty Linda Evans).

Anyway, these shows that I just kind of think of as being formulaic and similar to each other probably aren’t so much either … except in those cases where some show was.  Can mine them thar T-V for gold.

But, would it work?

Would what work?

Would it work to try to steal a lot of ideas for sessions of a campaign from TBV or another western?

Jarrod’s legalin’ seems like a NPC role.  Nick and Heath do the bulk of the F&FDin’.

Guest star William Shatner before he Kirks?  I found it funny how people term him young in 1965.  Would have been around 34 years old when he guest starred in TBV.

Martin Landau as a scuzzy Mexican friend of the Barkleys?  One worries about the parody factor.

I quite liked TWWW, but, then, I quite liked James Bond stuff and always found Robert Conrad’s characters appealing.  Now, that show got fairly ludicrous at times where it mixed casual death with silliness.

I think it would work for the obvious reason that the reason you play a western RPG is because you liked westerns, for a lot of people the westerns that were on T-V back in the day.

But, as seemingly with so many other genres, need discipline.  Star Wars fails so often (in my play) because there’s no discipline when it comes to RPGing it.  Not coherent thought put into Force use versus doing other stuff.

I could see quickly spiraling out of control if you overplayed the illegitimate son PC’s hang ups about joining an existing family or if you got too much into economic politics of being an obscenely rich family with fairly liberal leanings (odd in a way due to Ruby Stevens supposedly being rather conservative, but we are talking about the late ’60s).

Then, what do you do about guns?  I mean, for any western campaign, what do you do about guns?

Oh, I’m sure systems deal with it.  A 7th Sea philosophy (with hopefully a more intuitive mechanic) of superficial wounds from taking bullets in various locations would be an assumed way to go, with mooks being mowed down like, um, six-shooter fodder.  I haven’t looked at how Western Hero or Deadlands or whatever deals with it as I don’t often RPG westerns.

One thing about TBV is that the episodes I’ve recently watched aren’t all about the same thing.  Oh, sure, there are similar themes of moral ambiguity and family relationships and similar scenes of punchin’ and ridin’ and shootin’ in the vicinity of someone.  Don’t want a game to just keep repeatin’ the same thangs unless of course you are dungeon crawlin’ or whateverin’.  Too much bouncin’ ’round, however, smacks of how I have a hard time focusin’ on just one idear long ‘nough for them thar players to be feelin’ all comfortable like.

Discipline.  Yup, that’s what this blog has in … spades.


Gaming From 2019/9/7

September 8, 2019

I feel like I’m missing something.  I used to have a really hard time making time on weekends for miscellaneous gaming.  Now, I’m not currently running a RPG campaign, so that is a lot of preserved time, even if that time was lying around musing about sessions.  But, Rokugan 1600 wasn’t the only thing that was impacting my weekend time earlier this year.  Maybe it was that the first seven months of the year were travel heavy, where the post-Gen Con world is heavy in not getting to non-gaming tasks in a timely manner.

Anyway, I got together with an old friend and his gaming group yesterday.

While we waited for others, we played Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective where the particular case seems to want a whole separate storyline developed.  We started Gloomhaven and a third player appeared halfway in.  We succeeded at the mission even though our approach was a mess as we didn’t understand it very clearly early on.  I have finally played my new character and it was quite different from my first experience, where the decision tree seems much more complex due to more options.  Exhausting quickly appears relatively easy as I’m inclined to use cards for their one time effect early on.  I’ll have to ponder how to time losing cards versus recycling them.

Before dinner (a longer day than my recent gaming forays, more akin to the days of yore), we tried learning The Ninth World, Numenera auction game.  We didn’t try playing it.  Wasn’t what the recent buyer had in mind.  After dinner, we played Dice Town with expansion.  I had lots of money and lots of ranches.

Which of these is the best game?  A good game?

Gloomhaven is going to be the one in people’s minds for best, methinks.  Let’s come back to this.

Consulting Detective has been more fun than I thought it would be after glancing at my copy that I got long ago.  The Cthulhu version is better in that the decisions Holmes makes for the cases seem ridiculous compared to the standard in the Cthulhu version.  Is it a good game?  It’s the sort of thing that appeals to certain interests and does a solid job of it, but, whether it’s the translating to English or not of the current stuff, just feels clunky and too dependent upon one line of thinking.

I don’t see being that excited by playing The Ninth World even though I seemed more interested than anyone else.  Probably because I had zero expectations, it didn’t confuse me that it was an auction game.  I have a vague sense that it would feel like playing Modern Art even though the details are rather different.  I’m pretty neutral on Modern Art.  I generally like auction games, but I don’t feel like my decisions in Modern Art are all that interesting.

Dice Town with expansion was a pleasant experience for people, possibly for me because I crushed even when I made poor decisions.  It’s a difficult game to take the decisions all that seriously.  It has party game appeal, I suspect.

So, is Gloomhaven a great game or just a great concept?  I think it’s premature for me.

It’s rather fiddly, but, then, RPGs are rather fiddly much of the time (well, home play, anyway).  I’m not a fan of the exhausting mechanic even if it is essential for forcing action and controlling looting.  It doesn’t really feel like a RPG to me.  There’s something of a competitive aspect when it comes to loot, which seems weird.  The all or nothing decisions for card encounters are reminiscent of games that aren’t really remotely like RPGs and don’t even provide for individual choice like some boardgames do.

Yet, I get why people want to play it.  It’s HeroQuest/Descent/whatever at a far more sophisticated level that solves many problems with RPGing, though I have yet to see aspects beyond a dungeon crawl boardgame.  Now, as someone who created a bunch of material for the HeroQuest boardgame, I do enjoy me some dungeon crawl boardgaming.  Doesn’t feel beyond the box, yet, whereas even BattleTech feels beyond the box with mech customization thoughts.  Even HeroQuest was beyond the box for me as I created my own scenarios and a host of special abilities that could be bought and additional heroes.

So, what would I prefer?

I don’t know.  I keep feeling like no specific thing is engaging me highly, currently.  I also wonder if lifestyle changes have led to being too busy to latch on to any one thing and being more in the “what will other people play?” mode.

Belabor Day

September 2, 2019

What a sweet title for such a prosaic post.

So, this weekend was a convention.  It is not a convention with a lot going on.  Which would explain why …


I walk to the convention, get my badge, and go out to dinner with friends.  Peanut butter pie was better than my bangers and mash.  I retire for the evening after we get back.


Plan to get together with friends and play boardgames, then go to youth hockey game.  Sickness took out married couple and, instead, hung out for a few hours talking about stuff before heading to youth hockey game.


Alrighty!  Con-time!!  The time of conning!!!

I run out to get some painter’s tape.  We use painters’s tape to put Traveller posters on wall.  We Traveller for my first four hour block.  Eat burritos.  Three-player Traveller for my next four hour block (with a late gunsling).

While there’s not much concept to winning demos, especially when the demo is actually a demo, it was funny to win playing Scout precon off of Bulk Hauling (can see cards at with two cards remaining after encouraging my opponent to pirate me on the last round.  Very close to doing enough to bankrupt me, but a lot of my high EV cards were at the end of my Captain’s deck.

In the three-player, which was not a demo, there were many Fragmentation Grenades, Body Pistols, and Laser Rifles, with two of us decking to where I took off two rounds in the game to preserve resources.  I still threatened to win, with 17 VPs at the end, but Jeff won when I didn’t try to hop on the same contract he was going after due to my lack of money.

In the gunsling, I pulled ahead when my opponent had to leave.  Almost, Padawan, almost.

Went for food/drink, where I mostly wanted a drink, ended up at a new Malaysian place where I ended up drinking water as nothing they had to drink sounded like what I wanted.


While the con continued, I went to a Labor Day party that, in theory, could have had gaming but was pretty much food and conversation.  As one of the non-parents there, always kind of odd as I knew the hosts through gaming (well, duh), not through children or work or neighborness or familyness.  Homemade BBQ was good, but the most notable food thing was a sesame bread.  Burnt on the bottom, but the rest of it was really interesting.

The Great Game

I spent a three day weekend with a convention going on for four days playing games (outside of solitaire at home) one day.  Yet, I know Brad, Eric, Tom, Kevin, Jeff, Kevin, Gary, Anna, Massimo, Earl, Lynette, their kids because of gaming.  I may be a gamer weirdo, but I do manage to exist outside of gaming (and fantasy novels and Arrowverse shows and …) to some degree.

Almost back to the work grind.  Just take a moment to read Technical Readout 3050 again just for the entertainment value as it will be months before the KS rewards show up and will want to make use of them in some way.

So, after I get over my BattleTech kick, which should be a couple more weeks of nostalgia, what, then, mechwarrior?  I don’t know.  I don’t need to worry about ordering True Dungeon for a while, the next great forum argument will be over transmute recipes for 2020.  I don’t see RPG stuff happening any time soon, unless we Fresno some HoR4.  I am committed to Gloomhaven next weekend.  V:TES is dependent upon others.  Shadowfist will continue to be the main play, while Traveller Tuesday nights and maybe Wednesday nights will continue to be a weekly commitment.  I feel a void that could be filled by various pleasing things.  I feel like there are stories to compose, fantastic stories or, possibly, scienti-fic stories.

Of course, I should work on non-gaming things in my meager amounts of disposable time.  But, then, something to play will come along and it will be irresponsible manchild time again … one hopes.

Enter The … Virtuous Rangers!

August 25, 2019

So, played Gloomhaven for the first time.  Used resources perfectly in that I ran out of cards right after we cleared the scenario.

Last Shadowfist game had my Chi Sucker/Bonebow Army deck play only one Chi Sucker who got evented off the table.

But, this post is really another BattleTech Arms Race post.  I was reading my scenarios and realized that some of them were more clever than the combined clever of the deities of cleverness.  I also considered how putting out posts of one scenario at a time when these have already been written and mostly played is weak blogsauce.  Better to just dump.

So, couple of things came to mind when I was thinking of this post.  One is that stories matter … well, to me.  I tell stories from game experiences, including quite often from CCG play.  I could tell the story of my flawless record at the Dune Boardgame, but having someone else tell it is more impactful.  In order to relate stories, necessary to have them in mind in the first place.

The second is, um, er, hmmm, what was it?  BT is a good setting for stories?  That seems to be all part of the first thought.  That emergent storytelling happens?  I don’t think so.  I lost my caravan of thought, plus I gamed yesterday and other ideas, like what does caravanroading really mean and when does it not matter (or, maybe, that has more to do with a RPG adventure review I read recently, *sigh*)?

Anyway, the story (sans ending) of the Virtuous Rangers:

Arms Race 9 – 2014/7/27 “Hawk v. Dove”

The Red Lions have contracted to defend the corporate interests of Earthwerks Limited, which has been working on producing a new mech design for the Capellan Confederation.

A Lyran Commonwealth house unit company went rogue and proclaimed themselves mercenaries, though, they immediately set to bandit activity. Crossing the Inner Sphere to prey upon the “weak and wealthy”, the Virtuous Rangers have been attempting to hit various corporate interests, hoping that making enemies of corporations is less painful than governments (the Virtuous Rangers commanding officer, Gunther Greystone, is an idiot).

The Virtuous Rangers have something quite unusual for a bandit/merc unit – newly produced mechs – and something even more unusual – aerospace assets. A full lance each of Zeuses, Hatchetmen, and Commandoes are supplemented with two Seydlitzes.

Planetary, corporate, and Red Lion forces have managed to reduce the raiding party of the Virtuous Rangers to two Zeuses, a Commando, and a Seydlitz. As the skirmish for corporate facilities is fought, the Liao airforce will manage to drive off the Seydlitz.

Each round of the 10 round skirmish, the skirmish is scored as either a draw or as advantage one side or the other. One VP is possible for each round. Either side can retreat a mech off their side of the board. That mech cannot return.

The attacker’s goal is to destroy the defending mechs so that the corporate facilities can be raided, including a prototype of the new Liao mech design. The defender’s goal is to drive off the attackers without having the corporate facilities taking significant damage. The attacker will only attack buildings if they are used by the defender for advantage.

Buildings have 30 CF. On rounds 1, 3, and 5, the Seydlitz will strafe the defender (5+3) from a random board side trying to catch multiple defenders. On rounds 6, 8, and 10, the attacker will have to deal with two bombs (10 each).

Round Winner

Attacker VPs:
+5 – removing all defenders.
-1 – each building destroyed *if* all defenders removed.
+3 – each defender mech salvaged.
+1 – each mobile mech at the end of round 10.

Defender VPs:
+1 – Destroyed/incapacitated attacker mech.
+2 – Captured/salvaged attacker mech.
-2 – each building destroyed.

Gunnery: Piloting:

Virtuous Rangers: Zeus (80), Zeus (80), Commando (25), total (185)
Red Lions:

Arms Race 11 – 2014/9/7 “Escape From New Macao”

Unbeknownst to pritnear everyone, the backer of the Red Lions has been able to get a Comstar pilot to defect. This defection follows a convoluted chain of events that don’t need to be fully detailed at this time.

First, the Virtuous Rangers are both in need of wealth and vengeance against the Red Lions. On the planet of New Macao, Comstar has contracted the New Warriors On The Block to provide security to a corporate partner, also known to be a supplier for the Red Lions. This single lance of medium mechs – Griffin, Shadow Hawk, Phoenix Hawk, Hermes II – was supplemented by a two mech Comstar patrol on the day the Virtuous Rangers (soft) rocked their world. Step by Step, the mostly intact company of the Virtuous Rangers rolled over the New Warriors.

The two Comstar mechs were venerable, a Rifleman and a Guillotine. Not much was thought of the “refitted” Guillotine still having some Star League tech in its construction as the ability to reproduce Endo Steel has been lost, even to the great houses. However, the Guillotine that was supposed to be on the mission was switched with a standard Star League configuration. Regardless, orders were for the pilot to self destruct his mech should there be any chance it could be lost. Orders ignored when the VR smashed into the noble defenders of the megacorporation’s facilities.

The Guillotine pilot, Arnold Benedict, managed to flee the skirmish, taking heavy damage to his mech. His stated goal is to join up with Liao planetary forces on New Macao. However, his real intent is to join up with the Red Lions. This has caused both the Red Lions and Liao forces to converge upon him. The Virtuous Rangers are too busy gathering up their loot and hightailing it offworld to potentially face both their hated enemy, the Red Lions, as well as house mechs.

When the Red Lions and Liao forces arrive, Arnold has ejected from his mech and holed up in a secret rendezvous point. His Guillotine, however, lies as salvage upon a field of battle. Whose property that is remains a point of contention. The Red Lions have specific orders to put up a fight for the mech but to not damage it further. The command lance of Emerald Company of WHK, minus Emily, arrives to “return” the mech to Comstar, being conveniently near the planet.

Each round, the skirmish is scored as either a draw or as advantage to one side. Advantage for this scenario is determined by judgment. One VP is possible for each round. A mech can retreat or be driven off any side of the board. That mech cannot return. If there are any functioning mechs for Liao after 10 rounds, Liao recovers the Guillotine.

Bonus VPs:
+1 – each mech salvaged from opposing side.
+1 – each mech with no engine/gyro crits at the end of 10 rounds, including mechs that retreated (but not driven off).
+2 – to whomever controls the battlefield before round 10 ends.

Liao: Grasshopper (70), Dervish (55), Wolverine (55), total (180)
Gunnery: 6 Piloting: 9

Red Lions:
Gunnery: Piloting:

Round Winner

Arms Race 13 – 2014/9/21 “Go Big Or Go Home”

A Lyran Commonwealth house unit company went rogue and proclaimed themselves mercenaries, though, they immediately set to bandit activity. Crossing the Inner Sphere to prey upon the “weak and wealthy”, the Virtuous Rangers have been attempting to hit various corporate interests, hoping that making enemies of corporations is less painful than governments (the Virtuous Rangers commanding officer, Gunther Greystone, is an idiot). With incredible arrogance, Gunther turned his back on the enemy and lost his Zeus to an ammo explosion. Eventually, he was able to secure a Banshee-S by trading in some of the mechs the VR acquired from the New Warriors On The Block to act as his command mech. He has a particular hatred of the pilot of the Red Lions’ Black Knight.

The Virtuous Rangers are looking for an opportunity to punk the Red Lions. While some of the Red Lions are performing light garrison duty for corporate interests, the Virtuous Rangers threaten one of the planet’s cities and call out the Red Lions. The Virtuous Rangers (defenders) are able to set up in the city shortly before the Red Lions (attackers) arrive.

Each round of the 12 round skirmish, the skirmish is scored as either a draw or as advantage one side or the other as determined by judgment. One VP is possible for each round. Either side can retreat a mech off any side of the board. That mech cannot return.

The attacker’s goal is to destroy the Virtuous Rangers, especially Gunther and his Banshee. The defender’s goal is to embarrass the Red Lions. The best way to do that is to salvage their mechs, but destroying mechs is cool, too.

Buildings have printed CF. After 12 rounds, the Virtuous Rangers call in aerospace support and their dropship and book it, unless the skirmish has ended before the end of round 12.

Round Winner

Attacker VPs:
+2 – destroying the Zeus or Hatchetman.
+1 – Zeus or Hatchetman flees.
+3 – destroying Banshee.
+1 – each mobile mech at the end of round 12.

Defender VPs:
+2 – Destroyed/incapacitated attacker mech.
+3 – Captured/salvaged attacker mech.
+2 – More rounds won of the round scoring (even if ended early).

Virtuous Rangers: Banshee (95), Zeus (80), Hatchetman (45), total (220)
Gunnery: Piloting:
Red Lions:

Arms Race 21 – 2014/12/14 “Forced Impairment”

The Virtuous Rangers are back. Somehow, Gunther Greystone survives to lead the most hated bandits, er, mercenaries in the Inner Sphere. With the Davion half of the Federated Commonwealth focused on crushing the Draconis Combine, the Capellan March is rather open to aggression by the Capellan Confederation. Warrior House Kamata has just completed a successful, if bruising, mission on a contested world to drive out Davion forces, which was all part of one scruple-lacking Davion official. Having hired the Virtuous Rangers, the VR ambush the WHK forces when they are at their most vulnerable, seeking to claim as many mechs as possible from the Liao unit.

The Virtuous Rangers are the attacker and focused entirely on acquiring mechs, at least at first. Their Commando has orders to only attack mechs that seem likely to lose either the ability to move (highly damaged leg) or ability to fight (weapon systems largely gone) or whose pilot is vulnerable (head damage). Ammo explosions and engine/gyro crits are to be avoided as much as possible. The defender has to deal with having a bunch of damage from fighting Davion forces and limited ammo. Realizing the focus of the pirates, any WHK mech that loses a leg or otherwise can’t feasibly stand will have the pilot eject, as will any mech that loses all of its main weapon systems. If the VR hold the battlefield at any point, they acquire any mechs lying around.

The defender sets up within 9 hexes of the “Western” edge. The attacker enters from that edge. Either side can retreat mechs off of their edge of the map. A retreating mech cannot return.

Attacker VPs (Banshee 2/2, Hatchetman 2/3, Commando 3/2, 165 tons, G7, P7):
+2 – each defending mech that can’t stand, loses all main weapons, or otherwise has pilot eject.

Defender VPs (Wolverine 3/3, Dervish 1/3, Jagermech 2/2, Archer 3/4, 245 tons, G9, P12):
+2 – each attacking mech that is destroyed (not just disabled).
+1 – each mech that retreats off of the “Eastern” edge.

Round Initiative Notes

BattleTech – Arms Race 6

August 24, 2019

First explicit use of round by round scoring to allocate VPs.  Still doesn’t define how you determine a winner in a round, later scenarios sometimes do that.  We may not have known at this point what we considered important and just judgment called it.  I do remember at least once judgment calling a round based on amount of damage dealt.

While not every scenario used my faction and Gary’s faction (this scenario may have us on the same side, maybe the mercs are just somebody else), having a setting provided context to when I was doing things like playing non-player forces.

In the next installment of my lazily drawing upon past brillianceosity, I’ll post a scenario involving the Virtuous Rangers!!

Arms Race 6 – 2014/7/6

The Free Worlds League has been encouraged to take action against House Liao. The scheme is a combination of punishment and trying to use up Liao mech resources under a guise of a political insult along the border that cannot be ignored between the two nominal allies.

The punishment raid of FWL forces against the planet of Shiba went off as planned with a good amount of armor and a few garrison mechs destroyed, but the response didn’t. Rather than send in some of their new designs, just recently made possible by LosTech, Liao has sent a relief force of older mechs to supplement the remaining defenders.

Meanwhile, the mercenaries have been given orders to target the FWL forces and ignore the Liao forces (if possible).

The defender is the FWL heavy lance of the Atrean Hussars, who receive +1 Initiative and may “Force the Initiative”, gaining a bonus from the net destruction of mechs from the previous round.

The attacker consists of two Liao garrison mechs and two heavy mercenary mechs. Liao armor isn’t mobile enough to keep up with the mechs, and the other lances of the FWL are engaging lighter mechs elsewhere. Given enough time, Liao can rally atmospheric fighters and armor to tie up FWL forces until additional Liao mechs can jump in to the system. Due to the lack of cohesion between the forces, the merc and Liao mechs cannot finish movement less than 4 hexes away from each other, unless one of the mechs has fallen or is immobile.

The map setup is 1.5 maps with the defender on the board, within three hexes of the edge and the attacker coming from two opposite corners (3 hexes of corner).

Each round, the skirmish is scored as either a draw or as advantage one side or the other. One VP is possible for each round. Either side can retreat a mech off their side of the board. That mech cannot return. The FWL cannot retreat a mech until at least one of their mechs has been incapacitated or destroyed. For each FWL mech that retreats, the FWL receives -1 to Initiative.

Rounds (10)
Attacker VPs:
+2 – Each destroyed/incapacitated enemy mech.
+1 – Each retreating enemy mech.

Defender VPs:
+1 – Destroyed/incapacitated Liao mech.
+2 – Destroyed/incapacitated merc mech.

Gunnery Pool: 12 (FWL)/12 (attacker)
Piloting Pool: 15 (FWL)/15 (attacker)

FWL: Rifleman, Orion, Grasshopper, Archer (275 tons)
Liao: Vindicator, Catapult (110)

*** Bonus Section ***

I guess I should at some point post the alt history beginnings of the Arms Race campaign.

Plus, increases word count and everyone knows how important high word count is to blogging.  Every wan.

Arms Race History


Hanse Davion and Melissa Steiner announce their wedding plans, “I give you … the Draconis Combine!” Rather than the odd going in separate directions of canon, Davion and Steiner both assault their mutual enemy with the intent of controlling most of the Inner Sphere once the Combine is part of the Federated Commonwealth. With no enemy at their “backs”, they can easily crush the remaining, inferior houses.

While horrible for the Draconis Combine, this has led to a number of opportunities. For the Free Worlds League, their allies desperately need any supplies and technology. It has also enabled the FWL to push against the Lyran Commonwealth. The Capellan Confederation has made what efforts it could to support the Combine, but other than sending McCarron’s Armored Cavalry and certain other units, there was not much the CC could offer. It did give Liao an opportunity to improve things internally, and the demand for supplies has improved their financial situation, as well as the relocation of numerous corporate facilities out of the primary line of fire.

However, the FWL and CC alliance has suffered from the FedCom’s focus on the DC. The FWL doesn’t feel like the CC is offering enough to prevent the collapse of the DC nor is pushing hard enough on the Davion front. For the moment, the FWL and CC need each other, but, if somehow the FedCom invasion of the DC collapses, both might hope to strengthen ties with the DC individually and be able to return to fighting between each other.

The Periphery has mixed views of the Fourth Succession War. Some among the Periphery look forward to the DC collapsing, as it has always been assholeish towards everyone and the administrative issues with controlling 70% of the Inner Sphere will be extraordinary. Others fear the collapse of a house that helps to keep things in balance, figuring that the Periphery will eventually get the FedCom’s focus. Periphery powers on the other side of the galaxy are trying to gauge whether it’s better to work with the FWL and CC or against. Many clandestine moves are being made to build military force within the Periphery.

Comstar, of course, was not remotely happy at the FedCom’s move and has been doing everything possible to prop up the DC. To appear neutral, many backoffice moves have been made to get more forces into the DC as well as numerous assassination attempts have been made. In other words, much of the effort made in the canon 3030’s had to be done in the late 3020’s.

While Federated Suns forces have been effective at taking DC worlds, the Lyran front has been more mixed. The historical ineptitude of Lyran command along with the Lyran inclination to defense along with trying to work with FS forces has led to more modest progress. Numerous merc units flooding in backed by Marik or Comstar c-bills have blunted the combined invasion, as well. Many of the crazy/psychotic commanders among the DC have been killed, where greener troops have been thrown in front of the FedCom military machine in a war of attrition.


Technological advances in mech components have started to reappear. Some of this is due to leaks in the Comstar technological advantage, whether by pressing Star League era mechs into service without complete retrofitting to inferior technology or espionage. Both the FWL and CC have had an opportunity to research weapon system advances. Oddly, it’s the CC that has had the most luck, some believe with some help from the Periphery. The FWL is both the economic engine keeping the DC from collapse as well as the house best situated to attack its neighbor, so it has been too busy to develop superior weapon systems.

The recovery of the ability to produce the LB 10-X autocannon is Liao’s greatest triumph and something that it is hoping to hold on to long enough to mass produce new mechs that can take advantage of the superior weapon system. The Cataphract design is Liao’s primary military project, with the house hoping that both mercenary units passed to the DC and both neighbors ignoring it give it the time to not only produce the new design but produce it in such numbers that the CC can finally strike effectively at the FS. Meanwhile, more and more of Liao’s numerous UrbanMechs are being refitted with the LB ACs, with Liao figuring that it’s unlikely that such mechs will get scavenged, especially when the refitted mechs are part of a substantial planetary garrison.

Enter the Red Lions. Where numerous other merc units are looking at the opportunity for pay and salvage on the DC fronts, the well-funded Red Lions have been poking around in the CC backyard. What drives the unit is unclear, with too few having time to worry about such things.


Technology should spread. How the CC can best take advantage of a short term technological advantage is unclear. Already, the FWL is suspicious of their allies and inclined to blame their allies for what is going on with the DC. The holding back of technological advances may end the alliance between the two weakest houses.

Comstar’s involvement with the DC may have similar repercussions to their involvement in canon in later years or may have different repercussions. Whether the DC survives largely intact or survives at all is unknown. Assassinations can always turn events, as can the crazy or lack of crazy of the inbred leaders of the various houses.

The Periphery is a great unknown at the moment but will likely explode on to the scene to try to reshape things one way or the other. When that will occur is unclear. The powers ending up fighting each other rather than allying to deal with a reshaped Inner Sphere is always a possibility.

BattleTech – Arms Race 2

August 19, 2019

No Arms Race 1?  Well, maybe someday, but AR1 was not nearly as interesting as this.  The italicized portion is actually the AR1 mission.

Here is my writeup of the first really important session in our 20+ session campaign (that, of course, didn’t really complete but just got abandoned like nearly all of my RPG campaigns).  My next Arms Race post I’ll plan on posting one of the scenarios where we used boxing style scoring as that was (as stated in my well-read BattleTech Scenario Building blog post from years ago) one of the best ideas for making scenarios play better that we came up with.

So, what happened?  Well, besides the mercs getting the all-broken Gauss Rifle and House Liao failing to, I have notes written on some piece of paper somewhere with the VPs.  Maybe next time I’ll look for those notes.

Arms Race 2 – 2014/3/30

A mercenary band has been hired by a mysterious patron to raid House Liao’s weapon research facility. Liao is testing some new mech weapon and samples, schematics, and/or scientists are desired by the employer.

After successfully stealing data and prototypes of the LB 10-X and Small Pulse Laser, the mercenary band was given a new mission. A planet that once housed a major population, but that ran out of water, has the ruins of an old Star League era supply cache.

At the same time, House Liao was already planning to send house troops in to explore the ruins, but bureaucracy held up the expedition. Knowing that they have to move quickly, Liao sends one of their own mercenary units in to win the race.

Both bands know that they need to hurry but also that the area is heavily mined and booby trapped. With an emphasis on mobility, both groups have sent in their best pilots and sent mechs with heavy leg armor.

Any hex on the pavement or within three hexes of the pavement may be mined. Roll a d6, on a 1 or 2, the hex is mined.

Damage is in 5pt. clusters
1-2 = 10 damage
3-4 = 15 damage
5-6 = 20 damage

Pilots: Piloting 2, Gunnery 4

Any mech may attempt to loot a building. This prevents any weapons fire except rear torso/leg/head weapons and requires the mech have at least one hand. Each building hex may only have one result.

Results – in combat:
1-2 = No loot
3 = Ultra 5
4 = Medium Pulse
5 = Artemis IV
6 = Roll Again, if another 6 is rolled, Gauss Rifle

Results – combat over:
1 = No loot
2 = Ultra 5
3 = Medium Pulse
4 = Artemis IV
5 = Gauss Rifle
6 = Choose

Rounds: The two sides have 10 rounds.

2 – Each enemy mech salvaged.
1 – Ultra 5/Medium Pulse/Artemis IV
2 – Gauss Rifle
-1 – Each inoperable mech.

Options & Opportunities

August 17, 2019

BattleTech: Clan Invasion Kickstarter is in its last hour.

I was torn.  In truth, just as I don’t do anything with my KS rewards for most of the other games I’ve backed, I don’t expect to make any use of the BT rewards.  So, why back?

Maybe I can sell off that which I won’t use and just keep some miscellaneous pieces.

But, that’s not why.  I don’t like missing out on things.  This is why I am routinely early and feel weird when I’m late to stuff, even though I often have nothing to do for long stretches.  I had the option of getting in on something that isn’t that expensive for me (no, no Full Kerensky for me).  Passing up on blowing dough didn’t feel like an opportunity to use it more effectively some other way.

I would compare with treasure draws for True Dungeon.  I endeavored to accumulate treasure draws at Gen Con, even though the smart money valuation of them would be that quasi-farming was dumbishess.

And, it was mostly dumbishess, as we didn’t pull anything better than a Relic Recipe Fragment in our 350-400 treasure draws at Gen Con.  Really, the dilution of the treasure chests means that you only really score by pulling a legendary at the volumes we were pulling at.  Just last year was a relic and some number of URs in far fewer pulls, the year before that multiple URs.

But, it was an opportunity.  The other options were:  do fewer runs and save beaucoup bucks and look to spend time otherwise, like sleeping or something; sell the pulls if could find someone to take them at $4/per or something similar.

Every day, we get options and opportunities and suffer massive opportunity costs constantly.  Navigating those decisions is where some people have a high life wisdom and where I have an abysmal life wisdom.

I haven’t played BT in quite a while.  I don’t even think it’s a good game. as written.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t have to like everything to like something well enough to embrace it [hello, ladies].  I read and reread books that have all sorts of annoying parts [cough, WoT].  I really like the concepts in BT.  I will likely go reread some BattleTechnology fiction now that I’m in “think BT” mode.

Btw, whining about sucky treasure pulls was one of the things I forgot to mention in my last post.  Score!