For most of 2022, I’ve had an idea for a BattleTech play format bouncing around in the back of my mind. The idea started when I was in a conversation about how BattleTech really doesn’t have a standard set of force building rules like you’d encounter in most other miniatures games. For new players that can be a bit of a stumbling block, and even for experienced players it means the start of any game is spent on negotiating which battle value, unit types, and optional rules the game will use.
After months of iteration, I’ve decided it’s time to actually publish my idea. I’m planning a series of posts that will walk through the format and some of the design decisions that I’ve made in putting it together.
What’s A Format?
A format is a standardized way to play a game. It establishes a common set of expectations between players so that it is easier to communicate about different ways to play the game.
BattleTech is a game that offers a huge number of options to customize your play experience. That lets players tweak and adjust their games to fit their own tastes and is one of the great strengths of the game. A downside of these options is that players who want to try out a game need to do more work to get on the same page before playing together. With widely shared, community-driven formats, hopefully that can be simplified to a player asking, “Anyone want to play a ’Mech Brawl 3030 game this Tuesday?” and other players in the group knowing exactly what sort of force they’d need to bring, which rules will be in effect, and what sort of scenarios might be played.
No format is meant to be the only way to play a game, and not every player will be interested in every format. The goal is simply to encapsulate and standardize one set of options so that players who like that sort of game can share a baseline. (For some other formats, see this post: BattleTech Play Formats)
’Mech Brawl 3030
The ’Mech Brawl 3030 format is for casual games of BattleTech featuring BattleMechs fighting against each other in roughly the year 3030. If is intended to stick to less advanced tech, but it is not limited to only Introductory tech or rules. A player with the BattleMech Manual should have all of the rules needed to play the format. Alternatively, rules can be found in Total Warfare, Tactical Operations: Advanced Rules, and Campaign Operations. A small number of allowed designs make use of construction options or equipment not included in those books, but those rules will only be needed by a player who wishes to include one of those units in their force.
In order to keep things relatively simple, I decided early on to center my format on the Late Succession Wars eras. This meant that games would mostly feature Introductory tech, but for a narrative format, I wanted to focus on in-setting availability rather than just limiting options by tech level. That means that some more advanced designs, like a Super-Wasp are allowed, while later era designs aren’t allowed even if they only make use of basic technology.
I originally set the year at 3025. That nicely aligned with nostalgia around Technical Readout: 3025. As I iterated on the format though, I ended up feeling like that cutoff made me miss a few designs that would be good to include like the Wolfhound, the Banshee BNC-3S, and the Cataphract CTF-2X. In order to allow players to use those, I ended up adjusting to 3030 which means the format does a good job representing the battlefields of the Fourth Succession War.
The other big simplification that I decided to make was only allowing BattleMechs in player forces. That meant that players would only need the BattleMech Manual to play, and it cut back on the number of rules anyone would need to remember during play. Based on what players generally bring to my local store, it also aligns with how most people like to play.
In my next post, we’ll take a look at the force building rules for ’Mech Brawl 3030.
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