Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Time of War Companion Quick Review

First, I love new BT products, even if I don't really even use them.  There is something seriously wrong in my head I think.

Anyway, a quick review of the latest release. 

If you play the RPG, this book is mandatory.  Its filled full of new rules.  I'm sure there is a table of contents out there, and I'm not going into too much detail on stuff.  Here is what I thought was kinda cool though:

  • Rank tables, both old and new for all factions
  • New rules for battlesuit combat, including a critical sheet for battle armor that looks just like the mech criticals (6 slots per limb, 12 in body, etc).  
  • Advanced creature creation... maybe I can write a computer program to randomize critters?
  • System generation rules.  Some very simplistic ones anyway, but it beats the old ones in Explorer Corps.  I'll write a version that'll do it for you on the computer maybe this week.  I know I wrote an old one that I think is still around, so this will replace it.
  • Rules for personal vehicles, basically some really simple stats (table, not a TRO) of the vehicles you see behind the infantry in TRO 3085.

I need to dig in and see how well the combat system works.  I had more fun playing Battletroops in about 1989-1990 than I have ever had playing Battletech.  With all the new rules in this book, if I get rid of extra stuff, rip out a few dozen pages, I may just have BattleTroops 3!  Hope so anyway.

And the negative.  I noticed quite a few pics in the book I'd seen somewhere before.  Not that big a deal  tho.  Page 272-273 is an add for battlecorps.com, which I was stupid and joined, and it is a waste of money (oooo, 5% discount, saved me $2.73 on this order).  And my biggest beef, the $60 for the book+PDF.  I go to amazon, the book is $30, i have to pay $7.50 through battlecorps for shipping, freaking outrageous (and they usually ship 1 book in a big empty box with lots of peanuts).  My biggest problem is I bought the hardcover, why in the hell am I also paying for the PDF????  I can see why you'd sell the PDF for $15 and the book for $30+, but if you buy the hardcopy, you should get the PDF for free, period.  Otherwise I see it as basically charging me twice for 1 product.

If you buy a physical book, the PDF should always be free, otherwise its just not ethical IMO.

But I buy it anyway, cuz I'm nuts, and I know I make more than most people who play this silly game and want to support it, but ugh, that is just wrong.

Anyway, enough ranting.  If you play the RPG a lot, I'd recommend buying this book, but I'd recommend buying the PDF as you can search it easier and it won't fall apart on you.

Oh, one more thing.  They do now have a map for planets, its the typical 20 triangle icoshedron that Traveller I think started decades ago.  It looks nice, but I had really been hoping that Interstellar Operations wouldn't make planetary level combat stupid, and this map really hints that it'll be lame.  First, there is only 1 size of map, meaning all maps will have different sized hexes, meaning that movement and stuff will be so abstracted to lose all sense of fun.  There is only 6 different sizes of planets (8000km+1d6*1000km).  The planet given is about 25 hexes in diameter.  On average about 450km per hex.  They could very easily have made 6 of them, from 20 to 32 hexes or so in diameter, so the hexes could be consistent and your regiment move at the same speed on every planet you land on.  Another thing, there simply isn't *enough* hexes.  North America would be at most probably 4 hexes across, and 2 hexes vertical, meaning all of North America is only about 8 total hexes to fight on.  How are you going to fight the retaking of Terra by Kerensky or from the WOB when all of NA, with divisions of divisions of troops, is on EIGHT hexes?  May as well just give you a counter per regiment, with an attack and defense, and really dumb it down.  Plenty of games follow that model and work I guess.  This is how I know that the planetary scale of BattleForce in Interstellar Operations will suck, just like the Planetary Assault rules from BF2 sucked.  Hopefully I'm wrong, and perhaps IO will come out with regional maps, where it is a "megahex" with perhaps 10-20 hexes across, and each represents a single hex on the planet.  A system like that would be cool as you may only be fighting in a few of them at a time, and each could probably fit on an 8.5x11 sheet of paper, and dozens could be create pretty easily (1 per terrain type on the planet).  If a system like this is done, there is still hope I think, otherwise imagine how non-fun it'll be to drop 8 counters on Tikonov in 3029, against 8 other counters, where you maybe move 1 hex per day, and no terrain really matters.  I sure hope they don't do drugs and decide to give units on this scale a range of combat, that'd just make me go ballistic.

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