Originally posted at : https://lastredoubt.substack.com/p/alpha-strike-setting-up-and-getting

Initial setup

What do you need to play?

First: Rules

You can get a lot of mileage out of just the main Alpha Strike rulebook. There's a "quickstart" set of rules as well that are freely available. The QS rules are worth downloading because they have print-and-cut templates for various terrain types, and some cut-and-fold standees reminiscent of the original folded cardboard and plastic stands.

Second: Components

For a number of reasons, while I did get into Warmachine and Mailfaux briefly, and still have a copy of the 1st edition of descent, I never got into collecting a bunch of minis and terrain, though Jon over at the Joy of Wargaming is bringing me around. I certainly on't expect anyone else not already bought in to have a bunch of minis around.

If you have terrain, it likely will work. If not, paper cutouts and felt in different colors also works. Alpha strike is intended to be played with minis and bases on a tabletop, bit can also be played on a hex map board like the original battleltech. All you really need is hex-shaped bases with a clear front and back edge.

For our example, I'll be using a tabletop simulator module. There are plenty of maps and options, but the _BattleTech (Classic & Alpha Strike) Master Set_ by MagnusEffect has pretty much everything needed with plenty of models, cheat sheets, and terrain.

The short version is that whether you are playing with friends across the country or in person, you have a lot of options to get started in play without investing a small fortune, and whatever you buy or build will stay useful a long time.

Unlike a certain other Sci-Fi game with ever changing rules and army lists that has repeatedly nerfed and eliminated units, as well as entire armies and factions.

Selection of Mechs.

We won't be using these...

The above diagram with a heat track, internal structure, component placement, and so on is a quick but effective encapsulation of exactly how crunchy the original Battletech rules are.

Instead, we will be choosing these:

Each side will get the same mechs for our purposes, so we’ll break down the Warhammer mech.

PV: the battle point value for scenario buy and balancing purposes.

TP (type) : BM - battlemech.

SZ: 3 - a heavy mech. The firestarter is a light mech.

TMM: Target Movement Modifier

MV: The Warhammer moves 8” . For the firestarter, the “j” means that it is jump capable, able to leap over terrain.

Role: Brawler. This is elaborated more in the Companion book, but defines the general role that the unit plays, such as ambusher, skirmisher, etc.

Skill: 3 - the base for all to hit roles. Skill can be modified up or down with veteran or green pilots, affecting the PV. The normal default is 4.

Damage (S/M/L) - the damage that the mech does at various broad weapons ranges (0-6”, 6-24”, 24-. The Companion has advanced rules for variable damage, but either way, this is highly abstracted and determined by the mix of weapons the mech carries. It factors in the range of different weapon systems, and further downgrades damage based on ammo carried as an abstraction to account for limited supply and resupply. Finally, it assumes a balanced usage of weapons that doesn’t allow the mech to overheat.

OV and heat scale: an abstraction for firing even more weapons, and thus generating more heat than built in systems can dissipate, plus a tracker.

Armor and Structure: Basically hit points - the total damage, internal and external the mech can take. Internal damage can cause critical and sudden failures. Note that there are no separate damage areas, or front/back facing values.

Critical Hits: After armor is worn off, or due to other special effects, reducing the capabilities of the mech. Speed may be reduced, firing weapons may inherently raise heat.

Special: Any special tags or abilities. “ENE” means that the Warhammer uses almost exclusively energy weapons, so it can’t have an ammo explosion as a critical hit result. The firestarter has flamethrowers, so in addition to the direct weapons damage, it also adds one heat to the target mech at short range, but not medium or long range. The Hatchetman has a melee weapon so does additional damage on melee attacks. Since we’re not using special autocannon ammo, the AC special ability to make a separate attack instead of the normal one is irrelevant.

Finally, our map: