Thursday 13 October 2022


What am I looking for in a Mech game?

My wishlist was something like:

1. Field every type of unit from infantry squads up to huge mechs

2. Have unit and weapon types feel different without extra subsystems to learn

3. Have enough Mech detail that they feel like real multi-part machines to be built and destroyed piece by piece

4. Make heat and movement important factors to manage for your own Mechs and exploit in your opponent's Mechs

5. Have a simple, fast turn procedure and straightforward mechanics for each phase, with minimal rules reference needed

6. Allow for fast, intuitive calculation of your chances of success on a particular attack

Having tried a number of Mech games recently I've found a lot to like, but nothing that quite scratched every itch.

By my assessment Classic Battletech succeeds at 1, 3 and 4 but not the others. Of course there's the argument that it all becomes very simple when you're experienced with the system, but I can only speak to my own experiences and the viewpoint of somebody just entering into the game.

Meanwhile the streamlined Alpha Strike succeeds at 1 and partially some of the others. In parts it's way simpler than Classic Battletech but almost does the opposite of what I want. Units feel simple but some of the subsystems feel complex in an out-of-place way.

In short, for a Mech game I think I'd rather have somewhat complex mechs in a very clean system than simple mechs in a somewhat messy system.

So in the spirit of giving these things stupid names, I present TITANIC BASTIONMECHS.

(The name is really a test to see whether GW or Catalyst Game Labs will send me a cease and desist first).

As with any of my projects in this early stage I'm messing with this constantly, but the core seems to work well for now. Probably some explosive bugs in there I haven't found yet and naturally lots of gaps to be filled in later.


Mechs have a list of Modules including Weapons, Hardware, and Reactors. Hits are assigned randomly to modules. The first hit is cosmetic but the second destroys the module. If you end up without a working Reactor then you'll blow up in the Meltdown phase.

Bigger Mechs get more modules, and their higher numbered modules are protected at first, so you need to chip away at them to get to their juicy reactor.

When you move you place a Speed Die next to your Mech, showing 1 pip for each 4" travelled, rounding up. Moving faster means you'll be harder to hit, but also makes your attacks less accurate.

Rushing, jumping, and firing fancy weapons all generate Heat, tracked on a second d6, the Heat Die. If Heat would ever go above 6 you take a Hit instead, so make sure you manage your heat passively through packing enough Reactors or Heatsinks, or actively by Venting in place of moving or attacking.

When you attack you roll a number of dice based on your weapon, each excelling at a particular range category. The target number is your Speed Die plus the target's Speed Die, with a +1 if they're in cover. Each die meeting or beating the target number causes a hit. That's it!

There are 15 weapons across 5 types. Each type has a special rule so Basic weapons like cannons don't generate heat, Lasers can cut through modules in a single hit, and Explosives cause chain reactions with each module they destroy. The classic tactic of "open them up with lasers then blast them with missiles" carries over here.

Mechs are the focus here, so non-Mech units (Auxiliary Units/AUs) ignore a good chunk of their rules like heat and modules. They aren't quite relegated to tokens, but they're intended to operate in little squads. So for each Mech you can have a handful of tanks or a platoon of infantry. There's even a Protomech knockoff in there.

Things like Scenario Generation and Points Values are in there, but awaiting some proper attention from me at a later date.

Go and check out the full thing as it stands if this sounds interesting to you.



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  1. I rather like this - I think the "simple system, complex mechs" approach is really strong for a skirmish game with a lot of flavor built into the units.

    A question, and then a comment:

    First, what's your thinking on "highly recommending" card-based initiative? I have a few guesses, but I can see the pros of both card-based and choice-based alternating initiative, and I'm curious what play experiences you've had.

    Next, a comment: reading this inspired me to look again at the Epic 40k rules, which I never got to play, but I remembered admiring. They seem a little more heavily weighted toward infantry and conventional vehicles than Titans, with a lot of emphasis on reliability of units, maneuver, and suppressing fire. I'm not sure how appropriate these are to a mech-focused game, but the rules that stood out to me the most are action tests, holding the initiative, and blast markers. If you've already reviewed these, my apologies, but for anyone else who may not be familiar, maybe this will be intriguing.

    Action tests are a rule that units have to test their initiative (morale, basically) in order to execute the order they're given. Otherwise, they take a reduced action (one movement or one shoot, or try to rally). This is affected by the quality of the unit (Space Marines are very likely to execute, orks not so much), but also by whether the unit is damaged or suppressed. I could see this maybe making comms more important as a possible piece of hardware.

    Holding the initiative builds on action tests - after you activate a unit, you may attempt to activate a second one by "holding the initiative", but it makes the action test harder for the second unit. I like how this encourages risk taking and coordinated actions while still maintaining the alternating activation scheme.

    Lastly, "blast markers" represent the disruptive effects of fire, whether or not they cause lasting damage. Getting targeted by fire at all gives a "formation" a blast marker, and it gets more blast markers as constituent units are destroyed. When a formation gets too many blast markers, they break, and they can be removed by taking rally actions. This would maybe be overkill in a game with heat tracking, but I rather like how it simulates the importance of suppressing fire in real-life military tactics.

    1. There's a lot of cool stuff in Epic 40k. Would really love to try it out by the book one day. I'm slowly amassing enough 6mm stuff that hopefully I'll be able to proxy some armies together at some point!

      Regarding Card Initiative, I've found it does a great job of moving things forward, though of course this comes with the cost of removing a decision from the player. Choosing which unit to activate (and in some games choosing how or even whether to activate them) is often a key tactical choice and can make for some really interesting moments. I enjoy those moments, but for this game I'm aiming for something that can run quickly, allowing for games that can be larger, be completed in less time, or even multiple games to be completed in a single evening.

    2. Ah, okay, that makes good sense. I hadn't considered the speed advantage of removing the choice.

      Perhaps a hybrid where mechs/auxiliaries belong to a squad/formation and the card indicates "activate a unit from this squad" might be an interesting compromise? Hopefully deliberating between a handful of mechs would be faster than between your whole side, but maybe it's not enough of an advantage to be worth it.

      The other thing that card initiative brings to mind is that you can start introducing some other stuff, like battlefield events, variable turn length, or making activation of some units more likely than others. If you haven't seen it, "Conflict of Heroes" is a WWII platoon-to-company-level skirmish board game of the very crunchy variety, and it has some interesting stuff going on with card-based initiative.

    3. Yeah slipping in some extra cards for scenario specific events could be a lot of fun for sure.

  2. I might be misunderstanding the attack rules, but how do you destroy an enemy mech's reactor if hits cannot be dealt to modules higher than slot 6?

    1. I need to improve the wording on this section! Adding in some examples of play will really help with that.

      If you hit a module that's already destroyed then the hit moves down the list (ie to the next highest number) until it hits a non-destroyed module.

      So say your Mech looked like this:
      1: Plate
      2: Gun
      3: Gun
      4: Jet (Destroyed)
      5: Heatsink (Damaged)
      6: Gun (Destroyed)
      7: Reactor

      If I hit you and rolled a 4 for location it would hit the Jet, but as that's destroyed the hit moves down to the Heatsink, which is now destroyed.

      If you get hit again later and roll another 4 the hit would now transfer from the Jet past the now destroyed Heatsink and the destroyed Gun in slot 6 to hit the Reactor in slot 7.

      Hope that makes sense!

    2. That does make sense. I was looking at the mech in ascending order, with 7 at the top, thanks for the clarification.