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:


  1. I don't think I understand the table you made very clearly. Is it supposed to mimic the potential for some weapons to miss and others to hit during an attack? If so, I like that aspect of it. I just didn't understand your analogy of an Atlas wasting firepower on a Stinger. How does this table change that? Isn't the Atlas still required to fire at one target per turn? I suppose with this, the Stinger might survive a round, which is good for the stinger, but bad for the Atlas. Is the "Attack Factor" simply the attack rating of the mech?

    1. This wasn't my best thought out post. It was actually kinda from the hip as somebody had asked me what I meant. Sorry about that.

      I am not sure what the Atlas wasting firepower comment was meant for. I know I had around that time detailed out a company of Wasps vs an Atlas, but the 5 atlas damage vs 4 wasp armor+structure doesn't account for that. However, in *battleforce*, where your 1 counter is actually 4 mechs, if the atlas did 5 damage it could spread that around, while in Alpha Strike it can't.

      My main point is that the whole roll 2d6, and do ALL your damage, vs NONE of your damage, when each turn is really 3 BT turns, really breaks the system IMO. BattleTech isn't a game about 1 shot killing your enemy, its about grinding away around. So, its my very strong opinion that a missile table like variable damage should be used for inflicting damage, instead of the current all-or-nothing approach. The to-hit modifiers would just modify the roll on that table, which is far more appropriate.

      There are still some very broke things though. For example, if you have 3 large pulse lasers at 10 damage each, you actually do 4 damage per turn in Alpha Strike, as somehow, in 3 BT turns, the pulse weapons actually increase their damage output when the damage output is already based on 100% impacts. I think there should be a PUL #/#/# factor which is much like the FLK #/#/# vs aircraft, when you miss your to-hit roll by 1-2 points the PUL can still inflict up to that amount on the enemy.

      The other big issue I think is rounding. Rounding up to the nearest 10 is killer. Lets take my little tank, with a single MG. It does 2 damage per turn in BT, or 6 damage if 3 hits over 3 turns. That represents about 20% of an armor point. However, since we round up, it can actually do 100% of an armor point, or 500% more damage than it should be able to inflict. In fact, even a lone 1 point damage weapon, does the same damage as an AC10 in Alpha Strike. Though it doesn't always matter much, if often matters quite a bit. Normal rounding, combined with a 2+/3+/4+/5+ system to represent <1 damage, helps greatly with that imbalance.

      I guess I should revisit this and put more thought behind it :)