Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Alpha Strike Post 1

Forgive me reader for I have sinned, it has been 11 months since last I posted.  But I have a good reason, I have moved to a new country and am building a new group, I hope it's possible to mitigate sins? 

Battletech Alpha Strike is a streamlined version of the classic Battletech, which I believe is called Total War as a differentiator.  For me, Battletech’s weight, as a game, is very similar to Full Thrust, see previous post.  While the mechanics are different, I think the granularity of the rules are similar, with basic core rules augmented by special rules that go for as far as the eye can see.  As well, the model count is approximately the same for a similar game length.  As far as other giant robot games go Alpha Strike is quite like Adeptus Titanicus but all the aspects (move, shooting, robot bookkeeping) are all about half as in-depth in Alpha Strike.  However, neither match Total War.   I am not sure which one I like better as a game.  I think AT has the right amount of crunch for me, sitting between the two Battletechs.  But, as far as real-world cost goes Battletech is about 1/5th the price.  And you don’t need to wait for them to re-release tanks and aerial units because they are all already in the game as optional rules!! Also, because the detail on the models is less they are perfect for printing.

The game we played was a 4-player free for all, something I have never done with AT.  Two of us were brand new and after setup the game took just under two hours (4 mechs each, which is very small) and we were just churning through the turns once you got the hang of calculating target numbers for shooting.


Because Alpha Strike is “Simultaneous” i.e. damage only takes effect in the end phase and movement is alternating (there is an initiative roll, which does become important) it is quite easy to integrate multiple players.


Since it was the first game for half of us, we did not play with all the special rules that the mechs had. So missiles could not choose warheads or shoot indirect, and we didn't worry about heat. In our game we were simply trying to be the player with the last mech standing, with verbal alliances being made and broken constantly. It was alot of fun, and swingy with me loosing three of my mechs off the hop but then sticking it out with a very small and fast mech to the end.


Essentially this boiled down to the last person who moved would try to sneak around the back of the other remaining Mechs and into their blind spots (there is no movement cost for a facing change in Alpha Strike). This also led to the very cheesy situation of sliding down the sidelines, used by those of us not interested in having a good time J


Rules are not the clearest and I am sure that some concept are described by more than one key word and never explicitly linked.  I think when they simplified the Total War rules they made some parts extraneous.  Perhaps like heat and fighting.  It never seems worth it to voluntarily gain heat and a flame weapon seems like it would be really annoying. That said, mechs that can over charge their weapons by gaining heat do seem to cost more.  Close combat seems always riskier then just shooting at short range, even when jumping.  Also, I am very new at the game and perhaps there are special rule synergies we missed out on.  I can see heat being useful when you are playing a run and gun list where mechs overheat and then take cover the next turn, and close combat might simply be an act of last resort once your primary weapons have been destroyed.


I am looking forward to playing in a more narrative style and slowly including more of the special rules.  There do seem to be some neat command and control mechanics where mechs can acquire target solutions for other members in their lance (team) making it easier for other mechs at longer ranges to hit. There is also a mechanic for jockeying the mechs, taking successive hull-down positions each (other?) turn. Hopefully this will be explored in the next post.

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