21 November 2011

Greetings, Mechwarrior!

You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the Inner Sphere from the Clans!

Oh, wait, wrong series!

Well, Last week, I played Battletech with my second oldest daughter (Rene', 13 y.o.). I was using the 1st scenario from the 3e boxed set. 3025 Tech, a Wolverine and Stinger against a Wasp and Griffin. there was time spent explaining things; she's been gaming since she was 8ish, so it wasn't  too hard to get some of the important things across...heat, movement, etc.

The two medium mechs are built on the same basic chassis (armor and internals) but have different weapon load-outs. All four mechs are jumpers.  The Wolvie is a close-in scrapper (with AC/5 and SRM/6 backed up by a medium laser) while the Griffin is a sniper with a PPC and LRMs backed up by a medium laser. The Wasp and stinger are similar enough to be near identical (SRM/2 vs. MG, both with medium laser).

Another difference is heat buildup. Jumping and firing all weapons with the Griffin is Not Good (tm). Rene's AC/5, however, does minimal heat and that also told in the encounter once she closed.

The first few rounds, Rene' was pretty cautious, trying long-range shots with her Wolvie against the Griffin. I had the advantage and fired a few times scoring minor hints. She sent her light off to fight my light, so I obliged. I even tried a "Death-From-Above" attack with my Wasp against her stinger to show her why this is a Bad Idea (tm) with light jumpers. almost snapped my fool leg off.

Finally however, she decided to close and I was in trouble. The PPC and LRMs took penalties close-in while her AC/5 and SRMs didn't. Once she got in close, with identical movement (and she kept winning initiative!), it was impossible to shake her. the only thing that saved my mech was the fact that she had to leave for a party at school.

Anyway, a fun time was had by all. The next scenario, that we'll play this week, pits a Thunderbolt against a Crusader. Yep, it's a heavy mech slugfest. We'll play it twice, switching mechs to get a feel for the two.

18 November 2011

Goodreads | Anthony Emmel (Overton, TX)'s review of Warrior: en Garde

Goodreads | Anthony Emmel (Overton, TX)'s review of Warrior: en Garde:

'via Blog this'

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Warrior: En Garde is the first installment of the Warrior Trilogy of the Battletech fiction. first published in 1988, it was one of the first Battletech novels.

3 stars. The writing is solid from a technical standpoint, both from a descriptive standpoint and also from a translation standpoint (i.e., rules/game play converted to fiction). There are a few problems in the translation (firing arm-mounted lasers immediately after a punch, for instance), but, in general, things follow the rules of the miniatures game upon which this fictional universe is based fairly close.

Much as I like Michael A. Stackpole's writing style, he suffers from a major problem. There is way too much deus ex machina and coincidence in the story. House Kurita just happens to attack the Kell Hounds on Pacifica at the same time that the Bifrost is hijacked? The Kell Hounds techs are able to "hotload" a jump engine without blowing it up just before a Kuritan patrol can reach them? They then jump to the system where the Bifrost is located and where their old nemesis, Kurita Yorinaga, is leading his newly-formed unit in an attempt to capture the Bifrost.

It just seems this subplot in particular is driven by happenstance. If one thing is out-of-whack, the whole house of cards falls apart. Not good, in my opinion and makes the whole things seem implausible.

The other problem I have is the "fade effect" that both Kurita and Morgan Kell exhibit throughout the series. It just feels too mystical in a universe that is fairly hard sci-fi. Yes, there are giant mecha and jump ships; there are mystical ki abilities used by some characters, but nothing really beyond the normal (current) human experience. This is an ability which effects electronics and that is a difficult pill to swallow.

Please do not get me wrong, though. I enjoy this book. There are excellent subplots in espionage and action that make for the problems I have. But the things that are wrong are so disturbing to me that this book in the trilogy does take a rating hit.