Battletech Gripes - and Games

Battletech Gripes - and Games

I've been enjoying the "Tex Talks battletech" historical overviews and sketches at the Black Pants Legion youtube channel, and more recently, the playthrough - with commentary - of the HBS Battletech game by Tex as the story of Scrombles the Mechwarrior. It's a game that - despite my not liking the PC dressing applied to the campaign, is a faithful interpretation of a game I've loved for decades.

Funny as hell, but it reminded me of what is likely my biggest single complaint - stupid PC crap wedged in for no good reason aside - of Battletech as a game. That the AI and the player in the career and campaign modes do not have the same motives at all.

Lore aside, the assumptions baked into early Battletech, and the era represented in the game, are that the Mechs are a limited resource, difficult and expensive to put together, where one can "win" a mission and have the repair costs be so ruinous that a military or mercenary company might go bankrupt. This is reflected in how the player is treated in the campaign and career modes: you have to pay for repairs, and replacing mech limbs, weapons, and worst of all, whole mechs, can quickly drain any operating balance. Completing a mission with a lost mech is painful, and difficult to replace. Losing two or more, a disaster.

The AI has no such compunctions. Get jumped by a lance of four mechs and two of them get blown away in the opening rounds? No worries, every mech you meet will fight until their last dying breath.

From hell's heart I stab at thee.

So no - there is absolutley no morale check. Wipe out over half a force that outnumbered you two to one and the remainder will never surrender (the sole exception being the target of an assassination mission) or run away to preserve the integrity of their forces.

I know, I know, it's difficult enough for a game AI to beat a human - note how often experienced BT players can mop up a scenario where they face two or more equivalent lances, and weather scenarios where there is no room for maneuver and you're facing two to three times your firepower as you try to whittle the opposing forces down before they crush you. Nevertheless, it breaks my belief in the universe when the forces I face never feel like they need to husband their resources. I seriously wish that it even felt like morale was a factor for the other side, because it makes it obvious the AI is cheating, and the rules only apply to you.

It's one reason I relish playing other people, because even if it's a knock-down, drag out, last-mech standing kind of encounter, it applies to both of us, and both sides have roughly equal point values.

Oh, and the "Up Go" program at BPLs Kerbal Space Program is hysterical - at least if you like KSP - especially the supersonic triplane:

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