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Made in us
Battlefield Tourist




MN



I have had the Battletech 25th Anniversary box set sitting on my shelf for a long time. I remember getting it, reading the rules, and then deciding that Battletech just wasn't the game for me. I was a bit daunted by all the lore, the Mech builds, hex maps, the old-school mechanics and the very knowledgeable and passionate community itself. In truth, I was not "in love" with the mech designs or the mechanics. Therefore, I painted some mechs and used them in other games instead! The boxed set sat on the shelf and collected dust. I was not convinced I wanted to take the plunge into another "Life style" game like 40K had been.

Then, one day out of the blue, my daughter and I pulled it down off the shelf and decided to give it a go. She didn't know anything about it, and I didn't remember much about it either. I pulled out the Quick Start rules and gave it a read. The rules focused exclusively on the basics (so no Heat, Crits, Pilot Checks, etc), and even had some special "beginner" Mech record sheets. We set-up for the initial Green Training Scenario.



This pit an Enforcer vs. a Hunchback on a relatively flat map with some woods on each side. My daughter played aggressively with the Enforcer, as I hung back behind some woods. She did some damage closing, but I let her approach. Then, I burst around the edge of the woods and pummeled her at close range with all my weapons. I blew the arm straight off the Enforcer, and it was all down hill from there. We chased each other around the board a bit, before I finally destroyed her. Her hits ended up mostly scattered across my mech, while mine pretty consistently hit her in the right arm/torso until it transferred over into her Center Torso.

To be honest, it really wasn't that much fun. There were not enough decisions, too many dice rolls, and we spent more time calculating mods and filling in bubbles then actually playing the game. Plus, one-on-one meant there were no synergies and we were at the whims of the dice. It was a game of stacking or unstacking mods.

Despite this, we decided that I would go back and read the fuller intro rules and come back and try again with a few more mechs. I went off and read up and did my homework. I skipped the fluff and what not and just focused on the rules. Therefore, this battle will just be an extension of my previous Mech games that used other rules.




Polanksi's Lancers were contracted to harass operations on the Planet of Mundos. The primary export was timber and wood products. Therefore, the Lancers were focused on attacking executives, storage facilities, and other infrastructure. Their employer Lacstar Inc, was in negotiations to purchase the timber rights from the VolSaab Corporation, and any disruption to supply would cause the stock price to drop. This would make buying the rights much easier.

VolSaab was wise to such actions. Therefore, they had contracted out to two mercenary units to operate on Mundos to help protect their investment and get the best sale price of the rights. The Rose Guard and Thor's Hammers were providing security on Mundos.

Careful recon by Polanski's Lancers allowed them to map multiple patrol routes taken by Thor's Hammers. The Hammers adjusted their routes regularly, but eventually an algorithmic analysis allowed the Lancers to predict likely paths of travel. The Manager-Commander of the 14th Uhlans of the Lancers decided to try and set an ambush for the Hammers patrol using this intel.


Forces:

Polanski's Lancers- 14th "Uhlans"

Quickdraw
Enforcer
Hermes II
Trebuchet

Thor's Hammers- Elements of the 3rd "Hard Strikers"

Dragon
Hunchback
Zeus

All pilots will be assumed to have Pilot Ratings of 5. I could not find in the rules where it dictated starting or how to generate starting Pilot Ratings.

Both of us got our Mech record sheets ready, our quick play sheets, pencils, and our own sets of dice. The Introductory rulebook was handy and ready to play.

Mission:

Today's battle will be a straight forward fight to the death. Units that leave the board will be considered retreating and destroyed. Otherwise, the normal rules apply.

Set-up:

I will be using Hex Map #2, the same one we used for the Green Training Scenario. Pretty much flat with some light and heavy woods on both sides.

Dragon is placed in the center with the Hunchback and the Zeus within 3 hexes of it. The Lancers can be placed anywhere behind the tree lines, on either side of the board. We assume that the Mechs were prone, but have successfully stood up to begin the attack.



You can read all about my first real game of Battletech that I have ever played in my three decades of gaming on my blog....

https://bloodandspectacles.blogspot.com/2021/04/battle-report-classic-battletech-ambush.html

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/04/19 14:42:09


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Made in au
Cocky Macross Mayor





Adelaide Australia

Hmm, I'd say your experience with BT is not dissimilar to accounts I've seen by other experienced gamers who encounter the game later in life.

It's true that nostalgia plays a lot in BT's popularity amongst we grognards. I certainly play it with a wry smile on my face.

But, I do sincerely believe there is something very satisfying in filling in the 'bubbles', and rolling on the hit location tables. The granularity is very suitable for a 4-a-side Lance fight, but it becomes a struggle when you get to the company level.

Some of my most memorable gaming moments have come through BT, and the universe is absorbing. That helps to keep me getting out the hexboards and ignoring that machine guns in the year 3055 have a range of 90 metres.


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Versteckt in den Schatten deines Geistes.

Shame.

BattleTech is great.

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Made in us
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MN

 H.B.M.C. wrote:
Shame.

BattleTech is great.


I think it just isn't what I personally want in a game anymore. I have a feeling if I ran into it 25 years ago, I would be a BT fanatic. Then, I would not want any of it to change.

However, running into it after seeing how wargame design has evolved, and I can not help but want to streamline it because I am too stupid to recall all the minutia of the rules and the time investment is too much for me now.

Eventually, I want to give Alpha Strike a go to see if that is more what I want out of a "modern" Battletech wargame. I have watched some reports and such, read various reviews but I am really not sure what to think of it.

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Versteckt in den Schatten deines Geistes.

That is the difference. I love the minutia. The crunchiness of BTech is one of the reasons I like playing it.

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Servoarm Flailing Magos




United Kingdom

I love the lore, the video games and some of the minis - but I stopped playing 6-8 years ago (and even then I was playing the Quick Strike / Alpha Strike rules).

I've backed their Kickstarter, but I'm not sure which rules I'm going to be using (if I even start playing again).

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/04/20 14:48:25


 
   
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MN

 H.B.M.C. wrote:
That is the difference. I love the minutia. The crunchiness of BTech is one of the reasons I like playing it.


Which I totally get! I can see the appeal.

Plus, so much delicious and juicy lore! I do not know much about it, but that is what keeps me looking back over my shoulder at the game again and again. I really would like to try a Battletech themed RPG one day too.

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Versteckt in den Schatten deines Geistes.

I got into BattleTech long after I discovered the universe. My entry was, for a lot of people my age, Mechwarrior 2 on the PC, plus its expansions. The game I adored the most however was MechCommander, as there you could control many 'Mechs at once.

I didn't actually play the tabletop game until mid-2000, right around the time FASA was shutting up shop, so I rushed to get a few things off of eBay and whatnot. It's also when I started reading some of the novels and really getting into the lore and learning everything I could.

I had put away all my 40k stuff and Necromunda stuff years ago due to a lack of time to play it, and thus had never actually played (the far more simplified) 3rd Ed. So my experience was the more complex (and complicated) 2nd Ed 40k.

This game seemed even more detailed. And it was nice to have something new to play that didn't take up too much room.

During my university years (2002-2005) I got back into 40k, but this time 3rd Ed, but continued BTech alongside it. Basically one was the simple game that we could throw together quickly, and the other was the super-crunchy game that satisfied the itch for something with a little lot more depth than 3rd Ed 40k.

I can totally see why the granularity and crunch can turn people away. Interestingly, it's kinda the same reason why I dislike Alpha Strike. It's too simplified and, to me anyway, that's just not BattleTech. I don't like reducing the capacity of a BattleMech to a single firepower number. I like all the different sub-systems, and that they all have an effect. I like small 1-on-1 engagements (Solaris matches on the Solaris Maps with custom 'Mechs are a complete blast, especially in multi-player free for alls), and company sized engagements. And I adore the hex maps because of how it makes everything so digital (in range, or not, move X or Y, never slightly in between, in LOS, or not - none of the ambiguity or potential human error that comes from 3D games like Alpha Strike or 40k), so it scratches an itch that 40k never can.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/04/20 16:09:34


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Second Story Man





Astonished of Heck

I was introduced to the concept of Battletech in high school when a friend brought an Atlas miniature. I didn't see much more of it for a while, but it was in the back of my mind the entire time.

When I was in college in 93-94, I was perusing the sci-fi stacks in the library when I came across the Jade Phoenix trilogy. I read it and was hooked even more.

Later, after getting my first full-time job, I started buying my own books, and I started finding the TROs and boxes at the local book store. I was buying everything I could get my hands on. Then a friend said he had played it earlier and we started getting together to build mechs and pound each other with them.

Then in late '97, I left for a mission and what I didn't leave to a friend, I sold off to a second-hand bookstore. Hadn't had a lot of time to develop it since, but I managed to get a few pieces here and there, and a new store opened up really close and a few people are playing Battletech there. Got in a few games last Friday, but they both ended on time, but still fun.

I have to agree with HBMC that the detail of the systems is great and Alpha Strike seems too little. The hex system is a little clunky, but it is very easy to make determinations with.

On the other hand, Easy E has a point that there is too much detail at times, and that's not even considering how many advanced rules and very advanced rules are available in the game. A lot of that detail actually slows the game down, even without considering all the chart lookup. The health pools of a Medium Trooper Mech can actually be quite large, and the degradation of accuracy means more shots will miss than hit. When you add all the chart lookup on to that, a 4 model game can take hours. Then if you consider looking up odd rules that no one has used (or used recently), it can slow down even further.

I've been tempted to try and develop a middle-ground ruleset to work between them, but I haven't worked up the will to dedicate the time to it.

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MN

I would be interested in learning more about the Solaris setting of Mech "Gladiator" combat. 1-on-1 seems like it could be pretty fulfilling in that setting.

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Astonished of Heck

 Easy E wrote:
I would be interested in learning more about the Solaris setting of Mech "Gladiator" combat. 1-on-1 seems like it could be pretty fulfilling in that setting.

It's actually more refined in time than regular Battletech where weapons will have cooldowns, with the heavier ones taking several turns to fire again. If I understand that right, at least. I never really studied the rules for it, so I could be wrong.

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Versteckt in den Schatten deines Geistes.

The original Solaris rules were very detailed about the one-on-one stuff, and as mentioned above, included weapon cycle rates.

So, IIRC, you could end up firing the same weapon multiple times in a single turn if it's cycle rate was very high, but of course then comes the heat!

The latter Solaris rules nixed a lot of that stuff in favour of just the standard rules, but the maps themselves were unique parts. Fighting in The Factory was very different than fighting in The Jungle, or in the Kuritan underground caverns. The terrain is far more 'extreme' than regular BTech maps.

Playing lots of Solaris bouts taught me not to fear overheating so much.

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Armpit of NY

While it no doubt has its fans, I find Alpha Strike so bland that it is an utter bore. It strips away so much of Battletech that it loses almost all of the 'feel' of the parent game. In Alpha Strike, it feels like they could be literally anything blazing away at each other, instead of giant Mechs.

At the same time, I can see why some people would be turned off by the original game, especially people that came later. I started playing just after BattleDroids became Battletech in 1985. Games of that era were very different, and haven't aged all that well. Car Wars, Star Fleet Battles, Advanced Squad Leader, etc. were all rules-heavy, lots of record-keeping and dice rolling affairs. If you grew up with them, you probably have a certain tolerance for that. But it seems to mostly leave those kinds of titles to 'grognards' these days. The younger, the less patience or interest in those kind of mechanics there seems to be.
   
Made in us
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Astonished of Heck

 totalfailure wrote:
At the same time, I can see why some people would be turned off by the original game, especially people that came later. I started playing just after BattleDroids became Battletech in 1985. Games of that era were very different, and haven't aged all that well. Car Wars, Star Fleet Battles, Advanced Squad Leader, etc. were all rules-heavy, lots of record-keeping and dice rolling affairs. If you grew up with them, you probably have a certain tolerance for that. But it seems to mostly leave those kinds of titles to 'grognards' these days. The younger, the less patience or interest in those kind of mechanics there seems to be.

Yeah, a time when detail was more important than speed, so greater levels of abstractedness are avoided where possible. Oddly enough, Warhammer grew out of it, but then, Warhammer hasn't changed hands several times since its inception nor ever tried to be a simulation.

As much as I love Battletech and what CGL has done to try to keep the game alive, it does put it in a position of stagnation and being rules heavy.

One of the things that is incredibly different would be removing the range modification. I just don't see that happening without a huge amount of anger.

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Speaking as BT grognard, having started when it was BattleDROIDS (then George Lucas hit them with a C & D as he has copyrighted "droid"), I am okay with the crunchiness. But I admit that is due to nostalgia and many years experience. Now that I'm well into middle age, I've little patience with detail-obsessive rules sets. Which is one reason that I play more Euros than anything else.

Similarly, Car Wars was big with my high school group, but I took it out again about twenty years ago, and played a few games, I was wondering what my younger self saw in it. It struck me as a slow and tedious design with the phased movement. So it is back in storage, unlikely to come out again.

Easy E, I'm sorry that you did not have a better experience, but at least you won't waste your time further. Maybe the Solaris rules might work better (I've never played them or read a copy), or you may find (or currently own) a better set of mecha rules.

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I mean, not every game will be for everyone. That's OK, and it's actually healthy IMHO.
   
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MN

One place where I think B-Tech really stands out is in providing a lot of "Strategic" choice. You can spend a lot of time analyzing Mech load outs, stat sheets, and discussing this vs. that mech.

The same is true of the "lore" in that you can spend a lot of time talking about and discussing the lore of which House is better, who should ally with who, how Merc units operate, etc.

To me, that is a big appeal to BattleTech, and that makes me loath to never look at it again. You can essentially "engage" with the B-Tech Universe and never even play a game in a way that most games simply can not do.

I guess you could call this "Meta Value" or "Strategic Value" as a game?

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Abel





Washington State

To be honest, it really wasn't that much fun. There were not enough decisions, too many dice rolls, and we spent more time calculating mods and filling in bubbles then actually playing the game. Plus, one-on-one meant there were no synergies and we were at the whims of the dice. It was a game of stacking or unstacking mods.


This more than anything else. Calculating the mods becomes faster with more game time. The game can be extremely swingy due to those dice. I hate filling in those bubbles- it just totally breaks the immersion of the game. If the damage silhouette at least resembled the mech I was using, it would be a little more palatable. Movement on a flat hex sheet just feels clunky. But there are no arguments about range or LoS (just remembering how LoS works). Another downside- you can be in a 100 ton Atlas, but if there was a lucky hit that crit'ed, you could be crippled for the rest of the game. There is nothing worse then starting a game, and in the first real exchange of fire, you lose a leg, or a gyro hit, or a lucky hit cooked off the ammo in your left torso, and all you have left is a small laser in your right arm.

I love the fluff, I love the technology, and there is just something about big stompy mechs and saying "Suck LRM's Freebirth!" or "Why don't you eat this ER PPC", or "Did you like that Gauss shot?" But those moments seem few and far between, and the game is just S-L-O-W compared to a lot of modern games. I want to play multiple games with Lances/Stars in an afternoon, not one match. For that, you pretty much have to turn to Alphastrike, which is what I feel modern BTech should be. Reserve "Classic BTech" for arena style games (Solaris Games! Trials of Clan Whatever).

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Willing Inquisitorial Excruciator





Philadelphia

I've played Battletech in its "second edition" by FASA back in the 1985. I still have that boxed set, and use the card stand ins from that and from the reinforcement boxes that came after. The minis themselves were always a bit too pricey for me. Although I picked up the newest plastics. Those are rather nice.

As far as the game goes, I love the crunch, and even without having played the game for some 20 odd years, I know all the weapon charts, mods, heat generation, movement effects, and terrain effects by heart, oh, including the damage location charts. Also know what CASE, C3s and other newer stuff do from memory as well. Once you've played the game enough, it gets to be second nature, and we very rarely look at the rulebook anymore.

The game itself, though, drags. Even 4 on 4, can take a whole afternoon while you circle each other and plink armor bubbles off the enemy. That's the nature of the beast. I don't think BTech is really designed for a "line em up and last one standing wins" types of games. It plays better with time limits or turn limits, or with having some type of scenario built into it. In the lore, Battlemechs are rare and precious commodities, they're not going to throw them in a meatgrinder and let them get slagged. We use "hold the line" type scenarios (trying to prevent enemies from getting off the opposite board edge, recover the pilot, escort duty, etc.and use a combination of damage done and victory conditions to determine the winner. Otherwise, the games just take way too long.

The mechanics are actually rather involved in terms of strategy. You have to balance movement, heat, weapon range, and terrain, trying to build up mods for the enemy to be less likely to hit you, while maximizing your own hit bonuses (walk v run v jump if jump capable), and the turn itself keeps both players involved.

Since the turns are interwoven, and not IGOUGO, there is some strategy in terms of when and who to activate:
Side A wins Init. Side B moves one Mech first, then A moves one, then B, then A.
Then target declaration and then firing is all simultaneous.

We use the Compendium rules for turn order:
Initiative won by Side A
Side B moves one unit, Side A moves one Unit, etc
Side A declares torso twist for one unit, Side B does same, etc. through all units
Side A declares fire and target for one unit, Side B declares fire, etc.
Then all firing is done simultaneously and resolved in any order.

We use tracking sheets (1 page for each mech, or one page for each Lance, depending on scenario), where we mark turn #, weapons to be fired and target, heat generated, etc. Then we circle the weapons that hit, and we can quickly track who hit what, who used what and how much ammo, etc.

So movement, flanking, torso turns (which can affect or provide getting that rear armor hit), getting rear damage hits, etc. all play a huge role in how the combat actually resolves.

But yes, since the rules haven't changed in forever, except for providing new, deadlier weapons and mechs (Clans, Tier 3 tech, etc.), which do drastically speed up the game as well, it doesn't have the level of "abstraction" that many games do now in the interest of speed. But I myself and my group enjoy the level of detail and just know going in we're going to make an evening of it, or a long afternoon.



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Halifax

I started playing Battletech with CityTech 2nd edition back in 1992 or so.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/05/15 16:28:28


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 Tamwulf wrote:
To be honest, it really wasn't that much fun. There were not enough decisions, too many dice rolls, and we spent more time calculating mods and filling in bubbles then actually playing the game. Plus, one-on-one meant there were no synergies and we were at the whims of the dice. It was a game of stacking or unstacking mods.


This more than anything else. Calculating the mods becomes faster with more game time. The game can be extremely swingy due to those dice. I hate filling in those bubbles- it just totally breaks the immersion of the game. If the damage silhouette at least resembled the mech I was using, it would be a little more palatable. Movement on a flat hex sheet just feels clunky. But there are no arguments about range or LoS (just remembering how LoS works). Another downside- you can be in a 100 ton Atlas, but if there was a lucky hit that crit'ed, you could be crippled for the rest of the game. There is nothing worse then starting a game, and in the first real exchange of fire, you lose a leg, or a gyro hit, or a lucky hit cooked off the ammo in your left torso, and all you have left is a small laser in your right arm.

I love the fluff, I love the technology, and there is just something about big stompy mechs and saying "Suck LRM's Freebirth!" or "Why don't you eat this ER PPC", or "Did you like that Gauss shot?" But those moments seem few and far between, and the game is just S-L-O-W compared to a lot of modern games. I want to play multiple games with Lances/Stars in an afternoon, not one match. For that, you pretty much have to turn to Alphastrike, which is what I feel modern BTech should be. Reserve "Classic BTech" for arena style games (Solaris Games! Trials of Clan Whatever).


I tried Alpha Strike and it left me very, very cold. Going that level I much prefer Battleforce 2, and that one also has planetary invasion rules baked in.

IMHO, the game that at least for me currently best capture the idea of "Battletech, but made with modern 'technology'" would be the Lancer RPG. It really does feel like a modernized version, in many aspects.
   
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Armpit of NY

If Alpha Strike is the future of Battletech, Battletech is dead. Alpha Strike is barely even a game. Hmm...I make one successful die roll, my mech does 6 bubbles of damage, your mech can only take five bubbles, you die. Next!
   
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Versteckt in den Schatten deines Geistes.

Given the success of the Kickstarter, I'd say we're far from that day.

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Monarchy of TBD

I recently started playing Battletech again as well, and still vastly prefer classic over Alpha Strike- for mech vs mech action.

But the group I found was AS, so I've been playing it regularly. Mech on mech, it is cold, and it puts very little emphasis on individual units- indeed, most of the players I'm with move lances instead of units, so the individual mechs don't matter as much. This is a huge adjustment, as Classic every unit, and every shot counts.

However- once you get deeper than just the mechs, the system unfolds into a complex web of counters, combos and options. Drop smoke so you can advance past that enemy strongpoint? Pop your hover transports out behind a lance of mechs and down them with inferno infantry? All possible. The bolt on, optional rules are what makes the game good.

The appeal's not in the combat, which is basic compared to Battletech- it's in the system itself, which lets you do things that are wildly impractical in Classic.

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Yes, but all that and quite a bit more was already there on Battleforce 2, too, and it allowed to play a full planetary campaing from arrival in-system to the bitter end, while at the same time having a batallion/regiment level battle system abrely less detailed than AS (the units are quite similarly abstracted, but the default unit is a lance, althoug the actual units inside the lance are really similar to AS units).

To me, AS sits at an awkward no-man's land that I'm not very interested in.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/04/22 11:22:43


 
   
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Versteckt in den Schatten deines Geistes.

"Welcome to Alpha Strike, where the rules are simplistic and the 'Mechs don't matter!"


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Wrexham, North Wales

I'm another who loved filling in the damage bubbles - somehow it felt immersive as you watch your mech physically fall apart.

But I guess that was back when I was young (wipes wistful tear) when it was cardboard stand ups, and Robotech designs, pre-Return of the Clans. You know, when it was pure!

When FASA came up with Interceptor and the other TOG games I loved those too. More boxes to fill in - with flowcharts!

But I guess the past is a different country.
   
Made in us
Dakka Veteran





Armpit of NY

I’d rather watch Robot Jox on endless loop than play Alpha Strike...
   
Made in ca
Decrepit Dakkanaut






Halifax

Yeah, but Robot Jox is awesome.

Racism is the little things - Twitter thread by Eric Lang
TITANOMACHINA Now on Tabletop Simulator in Steam. FREE. Armour Piercing Pi, my Titanomachina Development Blog 
   
Made in us
Dakka Veteran





Armpit of NY

I wanted to see it so bad when it came out in 1990...all the local Battletech players had heard about the film. Unsuccessful movies like that did not play in the nowhere zone I lived then, though. And this was well before internet/streaming...It was quite a while later before I saw it for the first time.

I like the film, but can admit it's not good at all. Crash & Burn!
   
 
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