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Author Topic: Talk to me about Roles  (Read 337 times)

beachhead1985

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Talk to me about Roles
« on: 21 February 2019, 17:42:41 »
Okay, so I first saw these in Alpha Strike...Wasn't sure what they were about, but I figured...some part of the meta? Although why complicate a simple game for no other reason? Or maybe to make it "easier" for newer players?

But then I saw these are in campaign operations as well and I read them as optional. Because naturally; I run a campaign I'll use whatever I have and the OPFOR will do the same.

But seemingly these have existed for a long time now. I remember something like this for understanding what mechs were built for what purpose back in like Tactical Handbook or some other really old book. But I had the 4th Ed Boxed Set and BMR and neither came up that I saw.

So what are these? What is the thinking behind them? Why do we need this?

Full disclosure; I'll be ignoring them. Mostly they don't even make sense to me. Like "Sniper"? How do you have a sniper in a game without a decisive long-range weapon? "Brawler"? Okay, but aren't they all, mostly?

But I'd like to know what the thinking behind this is? Maybe I'm missing something; I just read the stats and I know what it's going to be good for and thanks to the way BT has always been laid out; that isn't very hard to figure out.

Thanks for your time.
« Last Edit: 21 February 2019, 17:46:00 by beachhead1985 »
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

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The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
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And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
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worktroll

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Re: Talk to me about Roles
« Reply #1 on: 21 February 2019, 17:53:32 »
They were initially provided just to give new players some idea of the sort of function a 'Mech was usually going to have in a game.

So for example, "sniper" doesn't mean "sits on a hill 5 miles away with a telescopic sight", it means "tries to stand off at longer ranges and use direct-fire weapons". The general intent that goes with this is "I should be firing at my medium ranges when he's firing back at me at long ranges" sort of thing.

"Missile boat" - similar, but with missiles rather than direct-fire weapons. Hiding behind a hill and using the services of a good spotter also applies.

Now the Atlas has an LRM-20, but isn't a missile boat. Its weapons loadout is about getting in your face, while its size & armour help it get there. Hence it's usually considered a Juggernaut. Brawlers are the lighter cousins of Juggernauts - they work best up close, but need more help (or luck) to get there & survive there.

And so on. People who've been in the game for a long time have no problem deriving this from the stats, but the newer players can find this useful.

When Alpha Strike came along, they decided to use these to add some flavour. A formation - eg. a lance - of 'Mechs which all work the same sort of way will do better than a mixture. So if your formation consists 3/4 of Missile Boats or Snipers, then it gets certain benefits. If they're mainly Missile Boats with indirect fire capabilty (MRMs need not apply), then you could have a different benefit, & so on.

So it's just a flavour thing there, but one I and other people happen to enjoy playing with.

Helps?

W.
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nckestrel

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Re: Talk to me about Roles
« Reply #2 on: 21 February 2019, 17:58:10 »
History: First Strike! I think was the first with them.  And Box Sets from that time on generally had them. (classic Battletech box set was possibly the first of those.  Fourth edition came out same year as First Strike! and I think First Strike! was a companion to that and introduced the roles). Those give us the initial reason for existence, those were introductory products aimed at new players. Before you play, you need to have 'mechs, and how do you pick which ones..

What are they?  They say how they are generally used.  A Sniper sits still at long range. A Juggernaut relies on armor and short-range weapons to create a (small) bubble of doom.  A Striker relies on speed for defense.  A Skirmisher has a mix of speed and armor. 

To this point, they were just rough guides for new players.

Alpha Strike Companion made them a little more significant by tying them in with Formation Types, and those Formation Types gave useful bonus abilities.  So Roles were suddenly more important in qualifying for those Formation bonuses.
Campaign Operations made the same system (Formation Types and Roles) available for (Total Warfare) BattleTech.
The Roles still don't do anything themselves, they're only important as far as they qualify for Formation bonuses.  If you're not using the formation bonuses, then roles don't do anything at all.

I just read the stats and I know what it's going to be good for and thanks to the way BT has always been laid out; that isn't very hard to figure out.
Then don't worry about it.  I don't think anybody was thinking of you (in the general sense) when they wrote it.
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http://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=1219.0

beachhead1985

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Re: Talk to me about Roles
« Reply #3 on: 21 February 2019, 18:09:51 »


So it's just a flavour thing there, but one I and other people happen to enjoy playing with.

Helps?

W.

Eh, I guess?

I think it's unnecessary myself at best and misleading at worst.

I mean; you still have to explain to a new player how a mech works. That will suggest how to use it; they aren't stupid.

But with labels like "Sniper"; that will tend to mislead a generation of people who think Sniper = one-shot kills, which is what any other gaming experience will tell them; especially FPS. We don't really have that in BT. More the opposite with the tradition of weapons losing punch with longer range. It's like this; my earliest BT experience was in the manual for Crescent Hawk's Inception and Revenge. It had a rating for each entry describing the unit's firepower at a given range. But earlier in the book they explained what all the weapons were; so you didn't need that and the game was basically programmed with BT rules anyways, so it was just this stupid over-selling of a the game. You had me at giant fighting robots, why are we still talking about this?

I just don't see why we needed to add one more layer of categorization into a game that is both granular (thus cluttered) and intuitive (thus easy to grasp).

But hey; you like it. Awesome. Let's hope it attracts more players. I like my boxed sets and the simplified starter rules seem like a good compromise.
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

Daryk

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Re: Talk to me about Roles
« Reply #4 on: 21 February 2019, 19:58:58 »
Beachhead, you're not alone... and thanks to worktroll and nckestrel for the detailed responses.  I was kind of wondering about them myself.

worktroll

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Re: Talk to me about Roles
« Reply #5 on: 21 February 2019, 20:05:25 »
Roles really come into their own in Alpha Strike, because the advantages of making a formation are potentially significant, and because the reduction in detail otherwise blurs a lot of the difference between (say) a Marauder and an Archer. So having Luck (from a Battle Lance) makes a big difference in play from Oblique Attacker (from an Indirect Fire lance).

Given the reduction in detail, Alpha Strike  adds in enough chrome so it still feels like BattleTech at several levels. Roles are a good part of that. But for TW play, you have details and plenty of (related plus different) chrome.
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
* To sum it up: FASAnomics: By Cthulhu, for Cthulhu - Moonsword
* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

Scotty

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Re: Talk to me about Roles
« Reply #6 on: 21 February 2019, 20:18:36 »
I use roles (via formations) extensively at the Alpha Strike events at GenCon and Origins.  For me, they're primarily at that level about allowing players to specialize into their preferred playing style given a diverse selection of units, and to a lesser extent rewarding fluffy choices over efficiency-driven choices.
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Re: Talk to me about Roles
« Reply #7 on: 21 February 2019, 20:20:58 »
I don't know about that... Formations seem to just introduce another "efficiency" drive for choices.

Sartris

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Re: Talk to me about Roles
« Reply #8 on: 21 February 2019, 20:29:59 »
I’d argue it’s both. If you want the bonuses you have to fit the mold (though it’s not hard to fit the mold)

But if you’re playing MUL lists and bv caps you have to make some highly inefficient choices. Those end up being the most flavorful units

Scotty

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Re: Talk to me about Roles
« Reply #9 on: 21 February 2019, 20:41:34 »
In particular, my convention games start with a battalion of units (this year is all 'Mechs, though) and half an hour from the word 'go' to have a company (or so, usually 500 PV) built with any formations the players can successfully put together before the first game starts.

Given a limited selection of units, an objective, and a short enough deadline that crunching numbers is neither practical nor effective the forces some players will come up with are as fascinating as they are believable.
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Re: Talk to me about Roles
« Reply #10 on: 21 February 2019, 21:33:36 »
30 minutes?  That's more than enough time to crunch numbers, even without a calculator...

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Re: Talk to me about Roles
« Reply #11 on: 21 February 2019, 22:07:35 »
For you?  Maybe.  For a group of three players who may or may not have played together with an objective they leaned two minutes ago, picking their forces double-blind against another team with an unknown force and potentially a different objective entirely?  It very much is not enough time to consider the relative efficiency breakpoints of 30+ models and 50+ variants.

Formations and roles are the driftwood players cling to in a situation like that to come up with something that "looks right" for what they're trying to accomplish.  I am continuously surprised at some of the selections that come out of that kind of crunch time.
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Re: Talk to me about Roles
« Reply #12 on: 22 February 2019, 02:53:49 »
I'd be really interested in trying this kind of game out. I usually build a force well ahead of time, using units I'm either familiar with, or are interested in(and thus have at least read about them a bit). Being forced to build my unit using a constrained mini-MUL and a time limit sounds like a fun challenge.
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Re: Talk to me about Roles
« Reply #13 on: 22 February 2019, 05:37:02 »
Ah, group dynamics among strangers... in that case, 30 minutes is probably on the low side.  They'd be hard pressed to get past the "storming" phase...

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Re: Talk to me about Roles
« Reply #14 on: 22 February 2019, 19:48:09 »
I'd be really interested in trying this kind of game out. I usually build a force well ahead of time, using units I'm either familiar with, or are interested in(and thus have at least read about them a bit). Being forced to build my unit using a constrained mini-MUL and a time limit sounds like a fun challenge.

It gets even more fun between games.  At conventions, I run three games back to back to back with the salvage and (modified) repair rules from the AS Companion plus pilot death/injury.

Last year at Origins, Wolf's Dragoons Gamma Regiment was fielding an entire Lance of battered, salvaged 2nd Robinson's Rangers 'Mechs because they were running out of 'Mechs to field;D

The Rangers had half a Lance of 'Mechs to spare, but experienced a 60% MechWarrior mortality rate and didn't have the bodies to put in them.

Fantastic event, I hope this year is half as much fun.

EDIT: but I digress.  In situations where time is short and units are limited, roles and formations can help even experienced players put together a force that feels right without much more necessary consideration.
« Last Edit: 22 February 2019, 19:52:55 by Scotty »
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Kansas City players, or people who are just passing through the area, come join us at the Geekery just off Shawnee Mission Parkway for BattleTech!  Current days are Tuesdays in the afternoon and evening.  I can't make every single week, but odds are pretty good that somebody will be there.