• State of the MechWarrior: Age of Destruction Game, by GuppyLips

    I love playing me some MechWarrior. But what does that mean now, so many years after the game has ceased production? I'm going to take you guys down the path I went, and hopefully give you something to freshen up your own games.

    The group that I primarily game with is Clan Mutant Sea Bass (look us up on Facebook). We are still active, though it has eased down from weekly meetings to a game every month or two.
    In the early years after production ceased, our local group came to fully exploit a few game imbalances that WizKids left us with. The two primary examples I can list are the Aggressive Stance pilot ability (Wolf Spiders Major P-A28) and Merc Faction Pride (F-022).

    Aggressive stance is terribly undercosted. If it did not have a special ability, a 2/3/0 pilot for a heavy 'Mech should cost more than 30 points. Add to that the fact that not only does it make the DF DI Schmitt tank drop more powerful, but the attack bonus can be added to artillery attacks. And it stacks with other P-A28 pilot cards! I don't know how another pilot gets put in a heavy ‘Mech.

    I don't have a problem with Merc Faction Pride except for one thing: capture attempts. This is entirely too game changing.

    One of the more powerful armies we have seen is a Merc Faction Pride army with two heavy ‘Mechs both with Aggressive Stance pilots, featuring Paladin Defense Systems and infantry. It’s just crazy.

    It seems like everyone ends up making their own house rules at some point. One of ours was to change the base cost of P-A28 to 45 points. We also adjusted the benefits of Merc Faction Pride so that they did not apply to capture attempt modifiers.

    Some would argue that R.I.S.C. gear should be included in the fixable mistakes, but the chancy nature of the cards are fine with me. I think applying another click of heat on successful activation of damage-type R.I.S.C. gear (such as Hyperlaser, Advanced Pulse Module, and Continuous Fire Mode) would go a long way in making the gear more balanced. Hyperlaser (G-148) is the worst of the lot to me because it gets so crazy with the range.

    Our other area of potential trouble was the SC/DF Situational Alliance (SA-001). With the super-accurate DF DI Schmitt Tank and crazy ranges for the NC Nova Cats and NC Vixens, this one gets pretty intense. A change we are still talking about is making leveled fixed costs for the "Scrub" Locust with Matt Vanek (GS-A20), since the current high cost, though balanced, makes playing the piece prohibitive. So far we haven't done that yet.

    After applying these fixes, our games have “felt” more balanced.

    While we were doing this, we also attempted to make some fun, custom pieces. Our local group, Clan Mutant Sea Bass, would have Clan events such as Bloodname trials and tournaments. I used a pricing program from “Soothsayer” to create our own dials. They were broken trophy pieces originally intended for Solaris VII events, usually the Bloodname trials. Then the people who had the 'Mechs wanted to play them in regular MW:AoD games. Then everyone wanted their own custom 'Mech. And then power creep the likes of which WizKids could never hope to achieve on their worst day set in.

    Our Huntsville, AL, group has hosted a huge MechWarrior event every June since 2007. When I say huge, we tended to have 15-20 players, with 33 as our maximum attendance. Tom “Valiant One” made some great customs for an event that we had in Birmingham, Alabama, in 2008. He made a Blood Asp, Mauler, Grizzly, Storm Crow, Puma, and Bushwacker, years before such sculpts existed from fan sculptors. He also painted up a nice Davion Atlas.

    We had several years with nice prizes, and some really great matches. “Lord Nth” generously sent us pieces from sculpts he was selling, every year I think. We would try and get a few pieces ourselves.

    By far, 2012 and 2013 were our best years for the prize ‘Mechs. We had some great sculpts for those years, and Dale “AsburyGrad” came up with some really great pilot ideas for historical characters in the universe. Since I had many of the pieces painted in faction colors, we just went ahead and paired historical pilots in the available ‘Mechs. Which led to a lot of questions such as, "When did Victor Steiner-Davion pilot a Warhammer? Why did you put Yorinaga Kurita in an Atlas instead of the Warhammer? Are you guys that dense?" Still, it was a pretty nice spread, with the pieces being good, but hopefully not game-destroying.

    Eventually, Dale and I undertook to make a whole set re-released with new stats. We chose Falcon's Prey, because of the sheer volume of ‘Mechs with horrible stats. For the most part we tried to keep the heat dials the same, so that all people would have to do is change the sticker for stats on the bottom dial, and add to basic stats on the top (range, faction, etc.) Sometimes more was required because the heat dial was occasionally so bad.

    We also fleshed out some MW:AoD factions. Comstar, Clan Hell’s Horses, and Clan Sea Fox got some serious love, though there was something for every faction. Another thing Dale did was create new Situational Alliance cards for various factions discussed in the Era Report 3145 sourcebook, which would have been impractical for introducing as full factions in the game. The Fidelis, Clan Snow Raven, Free Worlds League, Senate Alliance, the Nova Cat/Katana Tormark rebellion, Clan Protectorate, Draconis March, and Clan Wolf-in-Exile all received a nod in this manner. These cards will be released soon.

    We have a website dedicated to our Falcon’s Prey Upgrades project and the various Champions prize ‘Mechs - http://mechwarrioraod.wix.com/upgrades. We try to run all ideas by former WizKids playtesters to keep things from getting out of hand in regards to game balance.

    Dale called for 3 levels of play for tournaments. Level 1 is WizKids official releases only. Level 2 adds everything from the Falcon's Prey Upgrades website, including the 2012 Champion ‘Mechs. Finally, Level 3 is meant for our local gaming group with the Clan Mutant Sea Bass pieces in addition to the others.

    It is our hope that some of the community will want to try playing with the Falcon's Prey Upgrade pieces and cards. It’s been years since we've had new pieces to try and exploit. We created a rules insert and faq that covers the rules changes I mentioned earlier, as well as declaring Bannson's Raiders a recruitable faction in the same style as the Wolf Hunters, though they do not get to use the lower cost for Merc Faction Pride. Give it a try and see what you think. It was a pretty massive project.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Takar's Avatar
      Takar -
      Great Article and very well written. I too would like to see "Scrub" Locust with Matt Vanek fixed and repriced to make him playable. Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing the next writeup.
      Roll Well !!!