Sunday, May 13, 2012

Games that intrigue me (Episode 1; The Return of the Mechs)

Hopefully this will be the first of a couple of entries of games that interest me, but I might not be ready or willing to jump into right away.

And unsurprisingly I will break the mould of what these entries are all supposed to be about right from the start.  I had this article written quite a few months ago, but for some strange reason, I never published it.  Here we are, a couple months later and the game I had originally written about has gone from something that intrigued me, to a minor side project.

Without further adieu, on to the actual game!

A couple days ago I ventured to Kingston's FLGS with my good friend Mike, author of the never updated blog A Mere Matter of Painting and I decided to take the opportunity of fantastic weather to make a trip into town from the University.  With no real plans in mind or a shopping list, we browsed the ever increasing selection of non-Games Workscrap products available.  While lamenting that it has now been almost two full years since we have joined forces to do a joint-project, we stumbled upon the starter box set for BattleTech.  Now, I had never played the game before, but it has aways been just under the radar of my "next big thing" project list.  Mike on the other hand had extensively gamed the system back when all of the intellectual properties were owned by FASA, but has not painted or played BattleTech for over half a decade now. (The BattleTech intellectual property is now owned by Catalyst Game Labs and the miniatures are produced by Iron Wind Metals)

Splitting the cost of the starter box, we excitedly returned to campus and the wargaming club to open it up and feast upon classic wargaming goodness.

The box set minus shrink wrap (lasted all of 10 seconds after opening the doors to the club...

Big pile o'plastic.  The two boxes above the pile each contain a "premium model".  Multi-part and made of plastic, these are rather nice and easy to assemble.  Very crisp and clean details.  Sadly, this cannot be said about the rest of the models.  They are not in the same scale as the "premium" Loki and Thor BattleMechs, but rather halfway between that of the BattleForce game (think 1 model = 1 lance and are in about 3-4mm scale) and the actual 6mm scale that BattleTech is played in.  The casting on the models is quite pathetic really and not even a fantastic paint job can really save them.  In any case, Mike and I have decided that we are not going to bother even painting them, instead using them to serve a dual purpose of allowing us to get a hang of the rules before we pick up proper metal Mechs and once they have been superseded, we can use them along with the included hex boards as a board game when we really really don't feel like taking out loads of terrain.

Speaking of hex boards, here is the fully contents of the box!  The major upside of the starter box is its value for money, considering Mike and I split on it.

The hex mats themselves were the pleasant surprise of the whole box.  Made out of nice and heavy cardstock, they feel very nice and the printing quality is very good.  Being double sided, the two mats included in the box give the gamers a good amount of versatility in "terrain".

Mike trying to remember how BattleTech is played.  We got a good four games in that day and now have a hang of the basic elements to the rules.  Unfortunately, the ruleset included in the box is more of a introductory type book and does not cover all of the elements of the game (especially with equipment).  No matter, I picked up the 3rd Edition of the rulebook while on a "me time" trip into town.

Being rather bored of painting ImagiNation models non-stop for the last two months, I decided to switch gears per-say and built and painted my "premium model" from the starter box:

I present to you Loki.  This mech is not the greatest designed mech in the game as I quickly found out in a game.  While its armed with silly amounts of high power weapons frontlined by two Enhanced Range Particle Projection Cannons, if it were to fire all of its weapons in one turn, it would almost max out its total heat capabilities (EVEN with 22 points of heatsink...).  In other words, it will be most effective sitting in a river or lake and blasting away with its considerable firepower.

Not exactly the best painting job I have done over the last year or so, but to be honest, I wanted to sit down and paint a model from start to finish in one sitting.  This also happens to be the first non-organic model that I have painted up in a LONG time.  Interestingly, Mike noted that even my Spaceship project was organic.

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