Monday, September 30, 2013

BattleTech Tripod Record Sheets? Yeah, I got em!

First of all sorry for the last few days without updates, it isn't like I wasn't doing anything BattleTech, I just wasn't updating the blog :)

I've made a few more changes to the Alpha Strike card generation algorithms.  Fixed a few "bugs", though I still have yet to design out the single universal card template that'll work with everything.  It is hard :(

I did re-enable all the record sheet generation for mechs, fighters, and combat vehicles.  There are a few bugs (mostly with armor slots showing as blank, but I'll fix that this week).  I'll also try to get small/medium support vehicles implement this week, and *maybe* something else like dropships or buildings.

However, what I have done was get Superheavy Tripods working, mostly.  The record sheets come up, and work, but there are a couple bugs.  One is the number of weapons, which I need to support up to 25-30 types and/or ammo, when right now I'm only supporting 20.  So when you pull up a superheavy tripod (one of the few canon ones) the weapon listing overwrites itself.  I'll figure it out.  Another feature not yet implemented is removing the 3rd crew block if the tripod isn't over 100 tons.  There is also an extra number down by the right leg structure that I *think* I have no removed.  Plus, the head criticals aren't 'canon', though that really doesn't matter.  Oh, and the tech rating, availability, and rules level aren't displaying correctly.  The sheets *are* usable though, the armor circles and crit diagram are correct.  The bipedal superheavy's still work, like they have for quite a while.

However, I *still* think my hexagon based armor/structure circles look 'cooler' and are easier to use, and they will be  easy to implement as an option.  Which do you prefer?

View on the Record Sheet

View on the Record Sheet
(notice some of the 'gray' on the CT/RT/LT is gone, sorry, I had no good template for the Tripods yet and had to mspaint one from FM3145)

And just FYI, the Poseidon, Ares Omni, and Omega are the only canon superheavy designs that exist right now, if you want to view the record sheets on the BattleTech Encyclopedia site.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How to Fix Alpha Strike

- When rolling, instead of Skill+2d6, just use 2D6 and use the difference between skill as a bonus.  Natasha Kerensky with 0 gunnery skill would 2d6-4+modifiers, while a green pilot would be 2d6+1+modifiers.
- Rolling less than a 2 is treated as a '2'
- Rolling a modified greater than 12 is treated as a '12'
- Minor table change:

OPTIONAL UPDATE.  If you really prefer the whole "rolling higher is better" thing, then reverse the sign on every modifier.  A +4 would become a -4, a skill of 2 would become +2, and use the following table (identical to the one above, just inverted numbers) instead.  If people prefer this one, I can redo the hit charts to show all the new modifiers.

Again, please let me know any thoughts or results.

OPTIONAL RULE:  Subtract (or add) the difference in force initiative as a modifier to your rolls.  This represents the greater chance of getting in, or out, of a good firing or target position.  

<Original Message Continues>

First of all this isn't an all encompassing article, I have lots of ideas, many of which I'll list below, but the ONE thing that I think makes all the difference in the game I've mentioned lots of times.

That ONE thing, is instead of rolling 2d6, adding all the movement/terrain modifiers, and doing ALL your damage, or NONE of your damage, instead take that exact same roll, and look it up on the table I have below.  This makes *much* more sense, and while it does add slightly more time to the game (well, until you have the table memorized, which doesn't take too long), the end result will be far more fulfilling.  It'll help fix the folks turtling, and keep so many units from getting obliterated so easily (lets face it, an Atlas vs a bunch of stingers each turn sees the atlas wasting much of its firepower overkilling stingers).

So, take your base skill, add all the modifiers just like Alpha Strike tells you.  Just use the following table to determine the amount of damage you do, based on your attack factors:

For the mathematically astute of you, you'll see that the table is just the percentage chance to hit based on the 2d6 bell curve.  A 7 would hit 21 out of 36 times, or about 58.333%, which is multiplied by the attack factor and rounded normally.

The various modifiers to hit for alternate ammo apply just as always, including their effects.  Flak ammo would simply do a bit more damage (-2 to your roll) if the target is flying.  Simple!

Now, for those of you wanting a REALLY fast game, and just hate rolling dice, don't!

Use the 7 row for your damage, and you don't even need to roll dice to attack anymore!  This would truly be the average damage your unit would do, over 3 BT turns, with any number of weapon systems.

I ran the table to 20, so *something* does at lest 1 point of damage while rolling a '12' (representing about 2.8% accuracy)

HOWEVER, the down side, this means if you had 12 medium lasers, and fired all of them in each of 3 turns, and rolled as '12' on the chart, you would only get 1 hit during those 3 turns.  That isn't quite right.  Though it does feel more Alpha Strike, it isn't a decent representation of 3 turns of BattleTech.

So instead, here is another table you could use.  This one assumes you usually roll about average over the 3 turns, sometimes more, sometimes less, but <4 or >10 aren't so common, and aren't consistent.  I assume a '2' means you had about a 90% success rate over those 3 turns, a '12' means you had about a 15% success rate.  This table means you pretty much always hit with *something*, and rarely hit with *everything*.  Good units with a skill of 0 are, of course, extremely effective.  They often hit with nearly everything, while horrible pilots never do, but usually hit with *something*.  This means the super fast, hard to hit units, fighting from cover, still take *some* damage, and a point or two to them is usually pretty critical.  Thus, they are better off maneuvering.

I highly recommend this table for your games, and would love to hear any feedback from your attempts at using it:


First, I haven't done much the last couple days.  The cards mostly work, but I'm having to think up how to do the new cards.  I think I have it now, but gotta spend time on the designing of them.

Anyway, played around a bit tonight...

So I welcomed superheavy mechs.  Unlikely most games, where the new bigger thing would be uber-munchy, these aren't.  Tripods or Bipeds, it doesn't matter, you don't get a very good design.  This is mostly as engine weights over 400 are just too much, so they are just slow lumbering beasts.  I spent a couple hours trying to see how good I could get one, you know, to see if they are useful....

Here is my monster.  As these are large targets (the Omega right now has "LG", so I presume all superheavies would) they are going to be easy to hit, always, by everything.  That just has to be accepted, they *will* take damage.  The good news is you can make one take a freaking LOT of damage.  Up to 42 armor with hardened, though I chose Ferro-Lamellor and 25.  I also went with a standard engine, giving it roughly 15 structure (I'm not 100% sure, they didn't update Strategic Operations conversions to include superheavy designs).

So, here is the rundown:
200 Tons
Inner Sphere, but of course most stuff on it is Clan, so its Inner Sphere Mixed
1/2 Movement (just sit there, really, no point in moving)
39 tons, 624 points, of Clan Ferro-Lamellor armor.  25 armor points.
Standard engine with endo-steel structure gives it about 15 structure, though again I can't be 100% sure.
12 Clan iATM9s with a total of 133 shots of ammunition
It has 37 Clan double heat sinks.
Clan Laser AMS, Clan ECM, and 2 C3 Booster Master computers
No slots, actuators, or tonnage left.

This is a whopper, check it out for yourself:

Now, the point value I completely guessed at.  I have no idea, I didn't tally it up.  But it'd be up there, ATMs are BV expensive!  Ignoring the point cost I think it is *extremely* close to a valid design.  I'm not 100% sure on the IATM5 ability, and had to guess at it based on the Turkina Z.  The CR is given because of the Ferro-Lamellor, MHQ12 for the 12 tons of C3 Boosted Masters.

So, at long range, this kills pretty much anything except an assault mech, and many of those.  At medium range, well, it dies with 1 hit.  At short range, heck, there is so much firepower there, that even most support vehicles die.  It sucks doing that much damage, as most of it is overkill.

I would take a company, or battalion of these mechs, toss them in a high thrust cargo dropship and leave them at strategic jump points.  When you get word of an invasion, they jump into the system, do a high-G burn to the planet, and land outside of your important bases.  They are essentially instant build pill boxes.  A dozen (all in a single C3B network of course!) could easily hold off an assault battalion, or most mech regiments.  Heck, a dozen of them would have 144 battlefield intelligence points, and pretty much guarantee a never lose initiative bonus for you as well!

This mech should have like a -1 gunnery or something to account for the 3 crewmembers.  I tried some configurations with a dozen medium lasers instead of the 2 C3BMs, but the heat spiked up, overall damage reduced >4 points at short/medium, and overburn was 4, so it was pointless.  I could probably tweak it a bit more, reducing ammo for a missile or two and still allowing rounding to get me those high numbers, or maybe dropping a couple heat sinks, but this is a legit design I'd take in a heartbeat in any BattleTech game.  I wonder if we'll see the tripod miniatures???

If anybody wants to let me know the BV I'll update the card (I may knock it out tomorrow).  If anybody knows what the IATM# ability does and how to calculate it I'd appreciate that too.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Need Input

I need some input to determine which direction I continue with.

Forum poll here
Please go vote, it can change the future of my site!

Until then, I finished inputting 3145, and here are the Tripod Superheavies to prove it!  Granted, things like TSEMP I am not sure how to implement yet as we have no rules :(

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mechwarrior Online & Stuff

So I am a sucker for BattleTech stuff, and purchased the Legendary Founder's pack a long time ago for MechWarrior Online.  I played a few of the beta's, and it was terribly boring and horribly uncreative.  It didn't progress much, but I tried to do my part in the beta.  I purchased wacky configurations, went into games with no armor, and did all sorts of things to help them test the system.  11 months ago they sent an email saying no more resets.  It was still a very early Beta, but apparently I should have stopped beta-testing at that point.  I didn't, and blew all that cash I gave them on stupid shit to help their "beta".

End result, all the money I blew was for nothing, as they won't give it back, citing "technological" reasons for their immorality.

So, MechWarrior Online is dead to me.  Its a shitty game anyway.  The interface is bland, the game as uncreative as Angry Birds, the engine mediocre, and it is nothing like BattleTech anymore.  Heck, they even did the stupid crap some games do now, which basically rewards you against other players if you spend more time in the game.  If you jump into a MWO game now, against somebody who has blown 40 hours a week for a year (yes, people do that), you simply can't win against them.  They shoot faster, turn faster, cool down faster, and you have no hope.  Adding cool skins sure, maybe neato looking effects, hell I'd be ok if playing more got you a higher resolution tree mesh.  But making your Awesome better than your opponents Awesome because you spent 500 hours of your life in it, and they spent 5, is just idiotic.

And unfortunately, MechWarrior Tactics blows too.  Browser based games always do :(

Now, off my soapbox.  I've been doing a huge amount of work with Alpha Strike conversions, well, and many other things that don't apply to Alpha Strike.  Just about every unit will produce a card, though many still aren't right.  Today I fixed the HT ability, added support for the new CR/CRW/RFA/RCA abilities, fixed PPC capacitors (which *reduce* your damage in Alpha Strike, seriously!), fixed long range damage calculation to no longer look at only short range weapons (which is so barely even a change, as hardly any weapons shoot to only SR anyway), added the IF ability, fixed Hardened/Ferro-Lamellor armor, added MML to the LRM and SRM factors, oh heck, I just made a butt-load of changes.

I am randomly picking units, and fixing everything on them I see broken.  If you want to help out, go randomly pick stuff (or let me know if you want a random unit feature like the MUL has) and let me know what you see broken, or different than the canon MUL!

The following I *know* have issues:

  • Infantry that were NOT in the 3085 books.  I don't know the primary/secondary weapon types and counts.  Eventually I'll try to reverse engineer them.  Plus, I am not looking up the infantry armor type yet, so if it has special abilities and a damage divisor the stats will be wrong. I am also including field guns in the standard attack, like ALL other units.  Not sure if that is bad or not.
  • Buildings and Mobile Structures do not support multiple hexes yet.  Well, they do, but not on the record sheet.  So only a third of their boxes show up.
  • I need to re-input the items on most vehicles, large support vehicles, and structures.  Most are probably ok, but some may have items off.
  • I am not automatically calculating BV yet, so if there is no PV in the MUL or when the unit was published, it is probably 0.
  • I am not multiplying speeds by 2 yet.  Not sure why, maybe because its so easy :)
  • No coolant pod support yet, not a big deal.
  • Right now everything is as canon as possible.  I have added support in code so you'll eventually be able to say "use Bad_Syntax' optimizations" or not, but for now its just canon.
I am working on some new cards.  All dynamic so you can define stuff (including the colors, to save toner, or identify factions).  I don't think they look great, but I can fit everything *except* the larger warships on it:
Notice the text is more courier new, that is all text is the exact same size (so a W and I use the same screen real estate).  This makes it uglier, but makes various things work a bit better (movement, attacks, etc).  This supports 2 attack types, with up to 4 arcs.  So a large support vehicle with a sub-capital laser *OR* a sub-capital missile can fit on there, but add another weapon and it breaks it (types are standard, CAP, SCAP, and MSL, plus 4 arcs for large support vehicles, 6 arcs for space stations, and 8 arcs for warships)..  The heat area would go away for units that don't track heat.  Point value/Tech Rating would go on there somehwere, hopefully the year in service too, but I don't know where.  I was thinking of merging the AP/SP into a single row and just making the SP darker.  I'd like more on there but the card is already very crowded.  Optimally, I'd have 1 card for every unit type, but my artistic ability and excessive need to show everything cripples that idea :(

Anyway, things are coming along.  I've also started prototyping a new point value calculator on the Forums!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Medal of Honor Recipients


While creating names for my Mech unit today, I went with Medal of Honor recipients.  If you are needing some names for your unit, how about using real heroes?  There are 3096 names (32 are duplicates) as of today, and here is a little EXE to download and run until your rosters are full:

Medal of Honor Name Generator

No frills, but it'll require .NET 4.5 so make sure you have it, if not, well, update your machine, if you are still having issues I'll downgrade the .NET requirement.


Fixed a lot more bugs today, just about every unit now should come up in the BattleTech Encyclopedia, though many will still be wrong.  Fixed some of the big ones I noticed yesterday while posting the teaser list.  

Here is a new teaser, which threw a dozen or so errors while creating... I'll get it fixed:
Need a comma before the ARTAIS-6, need better support for  up to 3 hexes on buildings, TP broke, need to shrink the name, no points, etc, etc... but almost :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lame Teaser

Since my last post was a lot of words, and very little pictures, this time I'll show pictures.  After an absolutely daunting amount of coding time this weekend (wife is sick), I am making significant progress getting everything working.  

Here are some examples of my not yet finished cards, but I think accurate data (please point out anything that isn't).  There is a lot missing from the Strategic Operations conversions, like what if I have a long tom on the rear of a vehicle, but more BV up front, does it become a worthless item?  

Anyway, here are a few ugly pics of a work in progress, of my totally dynamically created cards, with *no* optional rules of mine:

I think this one is a first.  I made stuff fit, but it got a bit small.  The Luftenburg has even more armor and I'll be making the card double up in size when the circles get too small to use.

I haven't implemented the IF ability yet...

Oooooo, scary.

One of the more complicated tanks, and kinda scary too :)

The mech I lost in 4 die rolls over the weekend.  Die roll 1, landed ok.  Die roll 2, missed with my charged HPPC.  Die roll 3, rolled '2' for my supercharger. Die roll 4, rolled '12' for criticals taking out 3 engine slots.  Quickest game ever!

My original favorite.

And the Royal SLDF version.

I think the points may be wrong on this one.  I kinda think that the armor/structure should be split by entities.  So, if you did 5 damage, you would kill 1 with 1 armor and 1 structure hit, while the other 3 was wasted as you focused on 1 target... I dunno.
An old favorite... this one looks good and may be right.  Oh, my point values will eventually include the tech rating beside them (so 18C or something in this case). This is so when you play games, you get a gist for just how advanced your force is.

The doors are wrong, I just fixed that code.  Looks like I shouldn't have the LRM/FLK in there either (that is an optional rule of mine).  Also gotta work on the fonts in the attack block, and figure out why ER isn't showing.  The 2nd attack is capital missile, it'll show a "MSL" after the bracket typically.  "DT" is damage threshold btw.
Again, doors not right, but check out how perfect the nose fit in the gap!
Many warships *do* work, though obviously some have FAR too much armor.  This one fit ok, though I'm not sure why I don't have TP defined, the doors/cargo are broke, and the attacks are a bit small.  The first attack I believe is capital, the second capital missile.

 And what happen when things go wrong, very very wrong.  The attacks are overlapping (and still not showing ER for some reason.. it *used* to work!).  The armor is just, well, too much at 2000 points.  The structure of 99 is even pushing it.  There is just no way to fit 2000+ points of armor on this little bitty card.  I'll be checking for this in the near future, and if the number is too high the height of the card will be doubled.  The extra room will be used for more armor/structure.  I *might* instead double its width, move the special up beside the top and middle blocks, and make the entire bottom row a big armor block.  The image will get a bit smaller and be placed up top to the left of the PV.  Lots to do to make the Leviathan II work, but it does create the card with only a couple minor errors (my bay door format is broken for pretty much all DS/WS/JS/SS and large SV right now, so I gotta redo those units).

Again, these are *NOT* finished yet.  I'm pretty sure the Jormungand is 100% right, as I was using it to test against the example in Strategic Operations (which was wrong, with no errata, ugh).  I have a lot of minor typo's to fix in my database to get more up and running, and a few sequencing thing.  If I can be productive again over the week, I may have a roughly 90% success rate by next weekend.

After stuff gets working I'll start working on allowing you to specify the skill of the crew, the environment your fighting in (so you get a different card for underwater battles, and another if there is high winds, high temp, high gravity, etc, etc).  Oh, and all the settings of the cards are configurable, so if your Davion and print your cards, you can make the back of blocks yellow.  You can add textures as a backdrop, change colors of *everything*.  I'm hoping the color cards can be fully supported with the right user settings.

I updated the Battletech Engineer site with this code, so know most stuff is broken right now.

Go post on the forum!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pieces Coming Together

I haven't been updating the blog as much lately, instead focusing on my far easier to use, and easier for ya'll to reply to, forum at, however, since not many folks are posting there, nor creating accounts to download the latest versions of various apps, I figured I'd throw out a blog posting for the few of you left reading it :)

Well the forum is up an operational.  The original black theme I had the highlighting was screwed up, and polls didn't work.  I reverted back to the default, but it was ugly as American politics.  So I found another more black one, made a little header, and left it at that.  I kinda wanted to move towards the color theme I have on the color Quick Strike cards, but, well, its a pain and I've been spending time on other things.  If anybody knows how to skin phpBB and wants to take it on, be my guest!

As for the other things.  I've been working on the BattleTech Engineer site, quite extensively.  Not many huge code changes, but a lot of minor bug fixes.  See, the way I've been designing things from the start was in a modular manner.  This means I tried to avoid hard-coding anything, created equipment and chassis tables with hundreds of variables, and essentially created a format that would be versatile enough to not require much work when things like superheavy mechs come out.  In many cases, new equipment can come out and I make a simple change in an excel file, run a script, and the application handles it from then on out.

Another thing this modular system allows me to do, that *nothing* else out there does, is design every single type of equipment with almost the exact same code.  For example, I made mechs work first with the Alpha Strike cards.  It took me under 30 minutes to get Aerospace and Conventional Fighters implemented.  It took a couple hours to get Dropships *nearly* done.  In fact, with just a few more days of good programming strides like today, and I'll be able to design, validate, and create record sheets and Alpha Strike cards for *everything* in the BattleTech universe.  I will be the first to get a mobile structure generator out there, the first to programatically determine things like warship factors in Alpha Strike, the first to let you build a city with unique buildings, and the first fully functional support vehicle creators (excluding excel, which is NOT fully functional).

Right now however, the site is an eye sore.  Its ugly as sin, and full of bugs.  I *am* working on it, but the aesthetics are low on my priority list.  For example, many dropships now work and you can see the Alpha Strike cards, in both color and black and white.  BUT, they have screwed up text (the abilities are most of what is screwed up right now).  When I finish the back end code I'll be changing the way I'm doing the Alpha Strike cards.  

Speaking of Alpha Strike, I am going to stop using the canon templates as I find them extremely non-functional with a lot of wasted space (do you *really* need to see "ALPHA STRIKE STATS" in big letters on them while movement is shrunk to tiny text?).  I have been creating a new card drawing system, about 95% done, that no longer uses a big file template.  Instead the entire card is rendered from nothing.  It resizes blocks and scales all the stuff so things can fit.  For example, a dropship can have a capital, sub-capital, standard, and capital-missile S/M/L/E values.  There is simply no way to do that on current cards, not to mention armor points.  My new system will increase the height of the attack block, remove the heat block, and add armor rows as necessary.  This method will actually work with all but the most powerful warships, and I'll be working on a way to programatically create those too.

Oh, and all that garbage underneath the Alpha Strike cards on the Battletech Engineer site is unformatted debug like data.  Eventually it'll show every calculation step on how the final tech ratings, battle value, cost, earliest date, date extinct, date of reintroduction, rules level, cost, all the Alpha Strike data, and the 4 availability ratings (yes, there are 4 now) are determined.  The record sheets may or may not work, they used to work, but I haven't double checked them.  If they look ok (no blanks, missing stuff, etc), they are probably right still.

And a surprise for those of you who have read this far.  If I can get a few people to say they want it, I'll finish another project I started.  This project is a web based Alpha Strike game play assistant.  Basically, create a game, select the armies and players, and then everybody can sign in on their tablets and/or phones and play against each other.  Well, they still have maps and miniatures, but it'll let you track damage, crits, hidden stats, etc with Alpha Strike cards.  This is a preliminary design to test out how I'll be doing it for full blown record sheets later.

Please go post stuff on the forum.  The more people are showing activity around what I'm doing, the more productive and less distracted I'll be towards these projects.  Plus, it'll give you a head start when I start my "he who contributes the most on my forum gets a company of miniatures in the mail" contest ;)