Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Vulture Droids

No not the things in the Star Wars prequels. I'm talking about one of my many guilty pleasures.

It's been a looong day folks. Not that they aren't all long days these days, but most of today I felt less than stellar (I'm fighting some sort of hay fever or something). And the only thing going through my head this afternoon was the Vulture mecha, aka the Clan omni-mech Mad Dog.

Now, I should probably note that I haven't played an actual game of BattleTech in so many years ago it was before there was even such a thing as Clans.

"Back in MY day," says the Old Geezer, "we used cardboard cut-out figures and maps with little hexagons; none of these new-fangled miniatures and terrain model."

I never bothered keeping up with BT over the years. I've picked up the BT Compendium (used) and I've read up on the "on-going timeline" via the internet, but I wouldn't know a damn thing about the clan mechs themselves if it wasn't for video games.

Yes, I do play video games...or I have. Haven't played any for many months now (the amount of free time remaining to me is near zero), and that's just fine. Like television, you rarely miss it when it's gone.

['course I'd probably spring for a new 360 if they came out with a Rock Band disk containing the music of Queensryche's The Warning...I've had that one stuck in my head for awhile now]

Video games can definitely be fun, especially for games like BattleTech; that is, war games with a ton of minutia (critical hits and hit locations and weapon variation and special options, etc.). But for the table-top I want something simpler (like my War of the Mecha game). It demands a faster pace...even when I played BT in the past it was least if you were using more than a couple mechs on each side of the engagement.

But sometimes I miss that minutia...endo steel structures and ferro-fibrous armor and the distinction between pulse lasers and beam lasers. Mech construction is one of those little "games within games" that is so much fun. I've used snatches of this and that off the web to deconstruct Clan mechs using the BT Compendium even withOUT the actual Clan stats.

Yes, I am a big nerd. You don't have to tell me.

Unfortunately, having deconstructed ' the ultra-cool Vulture/Mad Dog...I simply have no desire to do anything with 'em. I mean, I'd like to drive one and blast shit, but actually playing BattleTech sounds so tedious. And frustrating. Trying to play the way the game is written (as opposed to using my micro-version) would consist of me spending a lot of time teaching someone...or me getting totally pwned by someone who's an even bigger nerd than me.

[I have a similar issue with other table-top war games...Warhammer 40K, for example]

Anyway, that's just what I'm thinking about...and I really wanted to post a good pic of the Vulture. Tomorrow, I've got some orcish scenarios to finish statting out.

G'night, folks.
: )


  1. Well, for what it's worth, MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries was released for free a few months ago. That's actually what got me hooked into the Battletech setting, and it contains *just* the right ratio of mech construction minutiae to stompy blasty goodness, IMO.

    And yes, you can roll with the Vulture. (I stick with the Warhammer and Marauder; something about those two just clicks with me.)

    As for the tabletop game, I've tried running a few games over the past year or so. I think that the slowdown really comes from acquiring system mastery, rather than the game system itself. Maybe running a few 2v2s with stock light mechs, no customization at first...(and then I promptly disregard my own advice and bring out the gigantic assault mechs.)

  2. @ Al: The problem with the Vulture is that it IS a Clan mech and thus gives an unfair advantage over most Inner Sphere mechs...even assault class ones!

    The Warhammer definitely holds a special place in my heart...but then, so does the Thunderbolt and the Atlas. I like the LOOK of the Battlemaster, but I could never get it to perform like I like to play.

    If I had my druthers, I think I'd roll with a retrofitted Rifleman...something with more armor and heat sinks and less autocannon. It would probably end up looking a lot like a Vulture, actually.
    ; )

  3. Battletech/Mechwarrior are the games I played most after AD&D2e.
    Though as you say, the BT rules can really be tedious. So what I did in the past, was to simplify them somewhat to speed up play (especially when playing Mechwarrior.) Or completely changing game, like using DP9's Jovian Chronicles.
    Recently the Classic Battletech copyright holders have published a set of fast-playing rules, where mechs have only a few stats. It's called Quick Strike and you can download it for free on the Classic Battletech website.

  4. My one solid departure from Dragonquest was BattleTech during the mid to late 80's I was deep into the game until the Clan invasions and then lost interest in the new layer of book keeping that the Clans brought. Too bad FASA’s freely lifting of mech designs have lead to the “Unseen” category. Many of my favorite mechs are gone. No more Archers or Marauders.

  5. Now, I should probably note that I haven't played an actual game of BattleTech in so many years ago it was before there was even such a thing as Clans.

    Ahhh, the fighting over the one good eraser, the wahoo boxcar crits, the suspicious glaring at armor diagrams and the heat... my god, the heat!

    1985 was one great summer.

  6. have you checked out MegaMek

    I was going to run BT with a friend on maptools but this program came to the rescue of trying to remember the tons o crunch.

  7. @ Seven: I believe I have but it didn't do what I wanted (if I remember correctly), I'll take a 2nd look to make sure.

    @ Padre: You can still build 'em using the construction rules, right? Do you just miss the pictures? I mainly use the "unseen" ones myself...those destroids (like the warhammer) weren't good for much in the Macross cartoon anyway.

    @ Antonio: I'll take a look...but I am about to publish WotM 2E, free-of-charge!

    @ Vince: You put a smile on my face, man!
    : )

  8. I thought pictures were pretty cool. You got me thinking about trying to find an old copy of Battle & City Tech on Ebay.

  9. Re, Mad Dog:

    Are you sure you aren't thinking of the Mad Cat? (Side-note: It "suffers" from that same unfair advantage you talk about with the Vulture. (Which makes sense since it's a Clan mech (Argh... it sounds almost like we're talking about how US history might have been different there were giant robots).) Anyway, as I was saying, I think I could take out a Daishi in one (with my personally-tested-tweaked-for-hours-at-a-time loadout, of course, so there's certainly a gap))

  10. @ C'Nor:

    The "Vulture" is the I.S. name for the Clan heavy (60 ton) mech Mad Dog. The "Mad Cat" is the I.S. name for the Clan mech Timberwolf. When the clans first invaded the IS defenders didn't know the actual names of these "mystery mechs" and gave them their own Code Names. Later, these I.S. names were adopted for certain variants of the clan mechs.

    At least, that's my understanding.

    For me, I like names and the naming of things (that's why all my new B/X classes have level titles). Sure, you can call a plane an A-10, but isn't "Warthog" much more descriptive?

    As for your Daishi...I don't think I'd feel comfortable going up against a Clan assault mech with anything short of a full lance of Awesomes, piloted by the sharpest of sharp shooters. Ugh!

    You know, how WOULD U.S. history be different with giant robots? That's not a bad topic of mental exercise?
    : )

    @ Padre: All I can say is: DO IT. Just make sure you're getting the board/pieces if possible.
    : )