Big news for fans of BattleTech, the newest of the long running series and the latest project by Harebrained Schemes. For those of you who don’t know, the BattleTech universe is one full of near-constant warfare and feudal political intrigue, where noble houses squabble for control over worlds and unflinchingly slaughter one another with giant robots, constantly shifting the balance of power from one to another. What’s not fun about that?
It’s based off of the tabletop wargame of the same name, and we’ve finally learned a little something about the actual game mechanics, something fans of tabletop games like to know about when their game goes digital. The developers state that they’ve gone through seven turn order prototypes before settling on this current one.
In BattleTech each unit has an Initiative Value. Light units are the fastest, with an Initiative of 4 and assaults are the slowest, with an Initiative of 1. Combat rounds are divided into 5 Phases, and units are allowed to act during the Phase that matches their Initiative. Each Phase, each side takes turns choosing a unit to activate. When a unit is activated, it can both move and fire but once it fires, its turn is over. But the place where it really becomes really interesting is when you start reserving a units phase for use later in the Round. Any unit that isn’t an assault unit can be held in reserve, that temporarily sets its Initiative Value one lower. So a Light unit that normally acts in Phase 4 will instead act in Phase 3. With this system, you can keep reserving your units actions, holding all of your units until Phase 1 if you really wanted to.
While we still don’t know much about BattleTech, and have seen even less, it’s nice to know that the core game is shaping up nicely.