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 Post subject: DragonMech Battles: Designer Diary #2
PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 12:45 pm 
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Or “DragonMech Battles is not Battletech”

It seems like DragonMech Battles was barely announced before it was being compared to Battletech. It’s a natural comparison on the surface. They’re both tabletop battle games involving giant mechs stomping around shooting at each other. While we would certainly love for DragonMech Battles to enjoy the popularity and longevity of Battletech, DragonMech Battles is not Battletech.

One of the first things Matt and I did when we started this project was to turn to the classic Battletech rules for inspiration. We examined the rules and each decided what we do and don’t like about them. We were very impressed with how they fit every rule you need in 48 pages. We loved that with the quick start rules you could basically just open up the box and start playing. We liked the cool visual mech schematic sheets, but didn’t like the level of bookkeeping and chart consulting during play. We weren’t fans of the idea that a battle could end suddenly on the basis of the dice alone (I’m talking about ammo explosions and pilot kills…while certainly realistic, we feel it takes away from the fun of the game).

This isn’t to say we’ve designed a “perfect” game with no bookkeeping, no dice rolling, and no chart consulting, but we’ve striven to have as little as possible while still having a dynamic battle game. We’ve kept the idea of having an easy-to-learn basic game and adding rules to it to form the advanced game. Luck of the dice will still have an effect on the outcome of the battle, but there will be no instant victories.

Design philosophy aside, the mechs of DragonMech and the mechs of Battletech are just so different that we need a lot of new rules. The settings are vastly different as well. The obvious dissimilarity is that DragonMech includes magic, but it also has cool fantasy tech, boarding parties, and lunar dragons (which will be in the game!). Battletech mechs are sleek perfections of future technology, while DragonMech mechs are clunky steam-driven contraptions. A DragonMech mech cannot change facing instantly as many times as it likes. That alone alters the tactics a significant amount.

DragonMech mechs are also different from Battletech mechs in another important way: they have to be crewed by more than one person. You need crew members to stoke the furnace and feed the boiler, you need someone to pilot the mech, gunners to fire the weapons, and coglayers to make sure everything runs smoothly. If you start losing your crew, you have to make choices about which parts of the mech will function fully and which won’t. There is a path to victory that doesn’t involve shooting your opponent; your crew can be used to form boarding parties and kill your enemy’s crew or disable their mech from the inside.

The tactical challenges and opportunities provided by the DragonMech setting gives players more options than Battletech, both in mech design and in game play. And speaking of choices, we’re designing the rules so players have more choices there too. But that’s a subject for another column.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 2:47 pm 
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I'm not sure what it is you've mentioned in this article, but now I'm excited about this release. :D

I've never had much luck finding interested parties to play these types of games, unless they were someone so into the particular game that they totally out-classed me. So my enthusiasm has always been muted....

But the idea struck me that my son is perhaps just about the right age to be interested in and capable of playing a game like this -- so why not this one?

I think he'd like it. I think I'd like it. And it would be at least a change from his trouncing me a chess. :?

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 9:19 pm 
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Dieter,

Thanks for the update! As a big fan of the setting, I'm glad that all the cool stuff (clunky mechs, the importance of crews, tactical magic, lunar dragons!) will still be key parts of the game. I'm looking forward to the editing assignment. :)

I'm sure the regional factions (the Stenian Confederary, the Legion, etc.) will be well represented. How will the game handle the racial makeup of the crew? Will players pick from a pregenerated set of crew members?

--Ken

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 12:58 pm 
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*chomps at bit*

Can't wait for this to be released.

//H

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 1:16 pm 
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Ken Hart wrote:
Dieter,

I'm sure the regional factions (the Stenian Confederary, the Legion, etc.) will be well represented. How will the game handle the racial makeup of the crew? Will players pick from a pregenerated set of crew members?

--Ken


The factions will be represented much the way the factions are represented in Battletech: mostly as flavor (but remember, this game still isn't Battletech. :wink: )

We're still working out the various rules for the crew (and I don't want to give too much away), but I feel comfortable talking a bit about the generalities. By default a mech's crew will probably be pretty generic...people who just hang about stoking furnaces, firing weapons with average ability, and getting in the way when boarders arrive. Players will have the option of getting specialist crew members for their mech that have various special abilities they can use. These specialist crew are not by any means as detailed as an RPG character and their abilities are not the sorts that can instantly win a battle for you, but they are important enough that they will make a difference in most battles. Once we have the rules fleshed out better and playtested a bit, there's a good chance we'll devote an entire Designer Diary to crew.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 9:44 pm 
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Not Battletech........ OMG

No actually that is good, Battletech has kinda worn itself out over the years. As fun as it was, it just doesn't have the magic it used to. I will always have fond memories, but its just hard to play these days. :oops:

My previous comments about needing a "new battletech" were meant to be very general. As in we need a fast moving, easy to play game, with lots of destruction (and some cool mini's). In that regard you guys really seem to be on the right track and I have every faith in you to make this happen.

I am very excited about the different aspects of the game such as varying mech scale, magic, and dragons. I can't wait to see how it all works out.

Keep up the good work. :D


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 6:51 am 
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I think the most recent publications in Btech (Total Warfare and TechManual) have revived BattleTech rather significantly ... but one thing outside the rules that Btech does spectacularly is art and fluff.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 6:25 pm 
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I'm glad to hear about the specialist crew. Please tell me the elves will have some sort of battlemage capable of being part of their boarding party. Please :mrgreen: Also, I'd like to point out I've never done any sort of minis game before, and I haven't even been all that interested. Until now. DragonMech Battles, ahoy!

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2008 10:25 pm 
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I'd wondered if we'd get to see the famous psionics-in-DragonMech person here. Welcome aboard!

Ironically enough, just a few minutes ago I finished a (hopefully final) revision to the rules for putting special characters like sorcerers into boarding parties. It's kinda tricky to integrate individual characters into squad-sized units like boarding parties, but we're getting there. Hopefully you'll like the results...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:41 pm 
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walrusjester wrote:
I'd wondered if we'd get to see the famous psionics-in-DragonMech person here. Welcome aboard!

Ironically enough, just a few minutes ago I finished a (hopefully final) revision to the rules for putting special characters like sorcerers into boarding parties. It's kinda tricky to integrate individual characters into squad-sized units like boarding parties, but we're getting there. Hopefully you'll like the results...

Woah, I'm famous? Awesome! I'm glad to hear this special revision is in place. I'm certain it'll work well. Do you think the DragonMech battles rules will be compatible enough with the regular DragonMech rules to resolve larger battles and the PCs roles in it?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 4:44 pm 
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Depends on the status of DragonMech in the 4e landscape. I think the combat system will integrate pretty well with the core rules, whatever they turn out to be. It'll be a hybrid solution, since we don't have access to any 4e stuff ourselves, but we're deliberately making the game simple and flexible. That should help with adapting it.

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