Thursday 10 November 2022

Making MACs

My mechs have are now referred to by a silly TLA because it's the law.

I'm this close to renaming the whole game MAC ATTACK but I wonder if it's a step too far.

(does look pretty cool though...)

EDIT: Since I wrote this last week I went ahead and changed the name because it grew on me and it's a lot of fun to say out loud. 

But either way the game has warped and shifted as I've worked on it. While it's still drawing heavily on Battletech (in feel if not in actual mechanics) I'm now aiming to give it some of its own identity. 

This is a similar process to The Doomed, where I wanted to keep things broad enough that you could throw together a game using primarily GW (or in this case Battletech) miniatures, while allowing the game to have an identity beyond an alternative ruleset for somebody else's world.

So you can bring your Battlemechs, but they'll need translating into MACs. 

All of the sample MACs in the game started out as one of the Battletech miniatures on my shelf. As the factions emerged they took on new identities, so some are now less recognisable than others. 

But what if you just want to bring the miniatures from your Game of Armoured Combat starter box and play this game?

Easy, let's go. 

I'll go through the process of converting one of these Mechs to a MAC, then I'll just write up a few more as a starting point for anybody that wants to try this game out. 

SHD-2H Shadowhawk

This guy is kind of a Jack-of-all-Trades in the medium weight class. Though that cool looking shoulder cannon is actually a somewhat ineffective autocannon 5, and he's kind of slow compared to his peers. For this conversion process I'll be walking a fine line between trying to recreate the Mech as it exists in Battletech vs how I'd like it to exist based on its appearance and fluff. 

I certainly think trying to replicate the Mech 1:1 is futile when the systems are so different. Think of it as an opportunity to create your own version of the classic. 

Starting with the easy stuff, the four Battletech weight classes correspond to the four MAC classes here, so this is a Class 2 MAC. 

Class 2, Move 5"

We've got 8 modules to fill, minus 1 for the Reactor. Let's start with the essentials:

  • It has a somewhat stumpy jump, so we'll give it a single Jet.
  • That shoulder cannon could be the railgun-like Accelerator, replicating the long range fire role of the AC5 with a bit of extra punch. You could also make arguments for it being a Cannon or a Howitzer. As I want to keep it as a direct-fire Kinetic weapon we'll make it a Cannon. 
  • We could make the Cannon an XL version, as it's clearly modelled to be the primary weapon of this Mech, but let's keep it as standard for now as we've got more weapons to go.
  • I like that this Mech has a wide variety of weapons, so we'll replicate them as  best we can. Our laser, SRM, and LRM will be a Pulser, Frags, and Missiles respectively. 
  • We're down to our last two modules and with all these weapons we'll pick up an extra Heat Sink to keep things manageable. 
  • For the final module we could go for the safe route and give it a Plate for added protection, but looking at the Design Quirks of this Mech in Battletech I see it has Battlefists. While this is a relatively minor benefit in that  game I like the idea of giving this Mech an extra bit of punch (pun intended) so let's give it a CCW. 
  • The order of the Modules does matter. Modules higher than 7 are protected from initial damage, and certain modules like Plates and Turrets care a lot about which module they're adjacent to. Here we're going to focus on protecting that main cannon so we can keep firing it. 

Shadowhawk (16pts)
Class 2, Move 5"
1. Jets
2. Pulser (B) C1 S2
3. Heatsink
4. Frags (C) C1 S2
5. Missiles (C) L2 A1
6. CCW (K) C3
7. Cannon (K) S2 L1
8. Reactor

So we've got a MAC that can fight at all ranges, whether blasting missiles over the horizon or punching you in the face, but isn't anything special with regards to mobility or armour. Sounds about right for a Shadowhawk. 

You might prefer the idea of bumping up the Cannon to an XL-Cannon, or taking an XL-Accelerator instead to lean into the long-range firepower. Making it easy to swap out individual modules like this is key to what I'm trying to do with this game, so don't feel like your Shadowhawk needs to be the same as mine. 

Now, as promised, here are are few more:

Locust (12pts)
Class 1, Move 10"
1. Servo: Take 1 less Heat for Shifting or Rushing
2. Frame: +2" Move but this module is destroyed by any hit.
3. Flak (K): C1 S2
4. Pulser (B): C1 S2
5. Frame: +2" Move but this module is destroyed by any hit.
6. Heatsink
7. Reactor

Wolverine (16pts)
Class 2, Move 5"
1. Rockets (C): S2 L1
2. Jet
3. Cannon (K): S2 L1
4. Ioniser (B): S2 L1
5. Jet
6. Plate
7. Heatsink
8. Reactor

Thunderbolt (20pts)
Class 3, Move 4"
1. Pulser (B): C1 S2
2. Pulser (B): C1 S2
3. Ioniser (B): S2 L1
4. XL-Missiles (C): L3 A2
5. Frags (C): C1 S2
6. Plate
7. Heatsink
8. Heatsink
9. Reactor

Awesome (24pts)
Class 4, Move 3"
1. XL-Accelerator (B) S2 L3
2. Heatsink
3. XL-Accelerator (B) S2 L3
4. Heatsink
5. Pulser (B) C1 S2
6. Plate
7. Plate
8. Tracer: -1TN when firing at a target you have already attacked this turn
9. XL-Accelerator (B) S2 L3
10. Reactor


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  1. Some anime mecha fans will be familiar with the MAC II, the coolest heavy artillery destroid, featured in Robotech. As an aside, the MAC II has a passing resemblance to the M50 Ontos used in the Vietnam War. Anyway, Robotech was an American resplicing of 3 distinct Japanese shows, one of which was called MACROSS, from which some of the mecha designs for Battletech were pilfered. I don't know if it's intentional or not, but using MAC in the title of your game has a nice circular reference to it. All the best with it!

  2. MAC Attack is also one of the main ways your body kills antibody-bound cells:

    Which is cool, I think, and will let all three of the immunology-and-battletech fans out there make bad complement jokes, so great choice!

  3. I'm actually working on Weird/abstract "Mecha" kind of game built on top of my own Into the Odd-based game Maximum Recursion Depth (, so it's cool seeing you working on this! (I promise there's questions here...)

    Most recent play report with links to back-catalog

    One issue I ran into for a long time, is that I do feel like Mecha should "feel" different than regular PCs, and should maybe be a little crunchier, but every time I'd try to do that, I found it tedious and overly limiting and bringing in all of the things I don't like about crunchier games. Also, I wanted the game to encourage a roughly 50:50 (I'd say actually more like 65:35 in practice) on-foot vs. in-Mecha experience, so it was especially important that they feel different, and aren't overly-coupled mechanically (like not having to choose between being statistically better on-foot vs. in-Mecha).

    I eventually landed on using Saker Tarsos' Concept Crafting as the basis of my Mecha:

    And blog post where I describe my version of it (although I think the more recent play reports above with examples of Mecha Conflict maybe demo it better):

    This turned the process of creating a Mecha, customizing its Gear, and even Mecha-combat itself, into something that was still structural and mechanical, but also a creative process in itself.

    It looks like you're going altogether for more of a wargame/Battletech kind of approach, but I'm wondering if you have any thoughts about my approach specifically, or in general how to differentiate these two scales (on-foot vs. in-Mecha) while still allowing them to feel different, and also not be too crunchy?