Tuesday 25 June 2024

What's the Point of a Campaign?

One-off battles are fun in MAC Attack, but what if you want a campaign?

Before writing anything resembling a campaign system I wanted to think about campaigns. I mean, what's the point in them?

For me I look for a few things out of a campaign:

  • Battle 6 should feel significantly different to Battle 1
  • There should be opportunities for fun between the battles
  • Losing the first few games shouldn't kill my fun for the rest of the campaign

So here's what I have for MAC Attack as it stands.


A series of battles can be linked together to form a campaign. The most straightforward way of doing this is to agree to play an increasingly large series of battles (say starting with 40pts and adding 12pts each battle) and agree that the first player to win a number of battles (i.e. 3) wins the Campaign.

The individual battles can be planned out ahead of time or generated using the Scenario Generator, with the winner of the previous battle playing as the Red Force. Randomise this for the first battle.


Bespoke battles can be designed with specific forces, battlefields, deployment rules and objectives.

They can use combinations of the variant rules provided and new rules created by the scenario designer.

As a guideline, the player who designed the scenario should explain their creation to the other player and then allow them to choose which side to play as, or agree to play the scenario twice, swapping sides between games.


Oh yeah, and there's this.

Much like I did with The Doomed I wanted to reward the winner with more options, while keeping the overall power levels of each force equal.

Of course, there's also a much more old-fashioned option.


Another way to play the game is to have one player act as the Gamemaster, essentially a neutral referee or host.

The Gamemaster is free to concentrate on managing the rules of the game, the specific scenario, and the ongoing campaign. They can create bespoke scenarios and make immediate judgements to modify things as events unfold.

For some battles the Gamemaster may take control of neutral units that exist outside of the players’ forces. They have a responsibly to use these units in the manner that feels most realistic to their type and current situation.

When there is doubt the Referee can roll a die to decide between different courses of action that a unit might take.

In running the game the Gamemaster should ensure they are acting impartially. They want the players to have fun, but owe them no favours.


Yeah so this is a bit of a toolbox approach, especially when combined with the various "other ways to play" in MAC Attack. You've got Profit Mode, Scrapheap Mode, Blip Mode, Hazardous Worlds, Battle Events... It's definitely a toolkit.

I talked about wanting the campaign to have fun that happens between battles. Of course part of that is tweaking your Force, building new MACs, but why not enjoy the experience of planning the next battle with your opponent? Of course there's a random scenario creator, but I want players to use the "you cut I choose" system to make more bespoke matchups.

And yeah... I'd love to see more people play this with a GM. If you haven't played a wargame with a GM before then I wholeheartedly recommend giving it a try. You might be surprised how much fun it is for both player and GM.


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon.

Wednesday 19 June 2024

Conflicted on Hard Counters

New MAC Tech just dropped!

(in my version of the doc, that is. I won't be adding them to the Google Doc till I've done some tests)

Let's see what we've got.


ECM: This module ignores hits from G and M weapon types.

Mesh: This module ignores hits from B and R weapon types.

Reflector: This module ignores hits from P and D weapon types.


Frag (F): Calculate TN using the target’s Class in place of their Motion.

Demolition (D): Each Hit causes Hits equal to the target’s Class.

Rapid (R): You may make a second attack with this weapon, for 0 Heat, against a different valid target within 6" of the first target. 

These weapons require dice to track Chem (yellow die). Like Heat, this starts at 0 and cannot go higher than 6. All Chem is removed at the end of the Move Phase.

Chem (-C): x2 AD. For each Hit, instead of resolving normally, the target gains 1 Chem.
In their next Move phase they either let the attacker move the unit using a Hold or Advance Move or take 1 Hit for every Chem. The unit’s owner still sets facing at the end of the move.

Kinetic (-K): Each Hit increases the target’s Motion by 1.

Nano (-N): Hits cannot be nullified, reassigned, or ignored by any means. Cannot attack targets in Cover or Buildings.

SF3-K QuakeWave
AR3-C AcidRain
LD2-N SingularityBeam

With MAC Attack I don't want to just create new weapon types and hardware for the sake of it. The core weapon types/subtypes are pretty solid right now and give you plenty of options for how to equip your units.

So what's the point of these new types?

More opportunities for MAC/AU customisation of course!

With the original options you've got 144 possible weapons. With these new additions that goes up to 504 and I think they're all viable.

Well, that sounds very much like "creating new weapons for the sake of it" but yeah... I guess MAC Attack does indulge in a little of that. Let's not fight it.

Then, as I wrote them, I realised I was creating some relatively hard counters. Some more than others.

Frag counters small, fast moving targets and wrecks AUs of all types.
Demolition counters buildings and big MACs.
Rapid counters swarms of infantry and vehicles.

Chem counters units that want to hide away in cover or buildings.
Kinetic throws off the accuracy of artillery and sniper MACs.
Nano is terrible news for heavily Armoured AUs.

I've typically been averse to hard counters in wargames. I dream of a world where you can throw any two armies against each other and have a fun game, with every unit being able to shine in their own way.

I wake up at night sweating about wargames that have shields only offer protection against missile attacks... then discovering your opponent has brought exclusively melee units...

If your all-pikemen army hard counters charging cavalry and I show up with an all-Knight force I want us to still be able to have a good time, even if we acknowledge that we're diverging from a historical simulation.

Of course MAC Attack isn't burdened with history, but I still shudder thinking about loading up on Nano weapons just to discover that none of the opposing force is carrying any form of damage protection.

Yet, if both sides are bringing a bit of everything to the fight then these counters can provide a fun tactical challenge at the table.

I don't want to be too prescriptive with the force composition rules, like limiting how many Class 3 MACs you can bring, or ensuring that every Force has some sort of armour in place, so instead I'm taking a different approach.

These new modules are deliberately tucked away in the "Advanced Modules" section with the other variant rules, because then I don't need to worry about them ruining somebody's first ever game.

If you've already played MAC Attack a few times then you already love it, right?

At that point what do I care if your AU Swarm force gets wrecked by an opponent loaded up with LR1 GatlingArrays?

If your all-Class-3-MAC force gets destroyed by a bunch of buggies with SD2-X ImploderCharges then I guess your gamble didn't pay off. Tweak your list, rack them up, and let's go again.

But if that's your first ever game? I wouldn't blame you for not coming back.


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon.

Wednesday 12 June 2024

Dangerous Worlds

MAC Attack takes place on distant worlds, with HumanityFleet splintered into factions.

Some of those worlds are less welcoming than others.

Strange crystals, plants, and fungus can prove a hazard to those passing through. At the start of the battle note which areas of terrain are hazardous and assign them a type.

At the start of the Meltdown phase MACS within gain d6 Heat.

In the Meltdown phase Infantry within are destroyed unless they can roll 4+ on 1d6.

At the start of the Meltdown phase all within take d6-3 Hits.

These are treated as AUs and assigned a single initiative card.

In their Move Phase all Hostile Lifeforms move toward the nearest enemy unit at their listed speed.

In the Attack Phase they brawl with the number of dice listed, using the weapon type and weapon mod rules listed.

They can be assigned Hardware.

Shard Hornets
12” B1 (i.e. 1AD, Burst)

Brain Lashers
9” P2-V (2AD, Piercing, Volatile)

9” G3, Armour, Cloak

Significantly large lifeforms can be given their own initiative card and require up to 6 hits before they are destroyed.

They count as Class 3 for collision purposes.

Scaled King
6” B6, 6 Hits

Claw Behemoth
6” P4, 4 Hits, Armour

Black Phoenix
12” P7-T, 4 Hits


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon.

Wednesday 5 June 2024

DIRTY MACS the Grand Forge Doesn't Want You to See

Tired of getting crushed by your enemies' finely balanced MACs? Tired of living by the book? Want to bring something special for your next clash?

We hacked Foreman Postello's personal design terminal at the Grand Forge and stole a folder named "DIRTY DESIGNS DO NOT LOOK IN HERE."

These schematics are so filthy, so sordid, that even the Arch-Rector's circuits would blush. 

Use them without shame.
Without mercy.
Because your enemy would do the same to you. 

The Funfhander (12pts)
Class 1 MAC
1: LP4-V GaussCannon
2: Lock (-1TN when firing main gun)
3: Lock (-1TN when firing main gun)
4: Insulant (-1 Heat when firing main gun)
5: Insulant (-1 Heat when firing main gun)
6: Insulant (-1 Heat when firing main gun)

The "five-hander", named because modules 2-6 are all in service of that main gun.
This thing moves into position, lines up the shot, and then fires the biggest MAC-portable cannon in the galaxy with -2 to the target number, cascading hits from its Piercing type, bonus hits on 6s from the Volatile mod, and all snugly insulated to generate just a single point of Heat. 

On a perfect shot this little MAC can land 16 hits on a target. Now probabilities aren't my strong point, but I think that means even a Class 3 MAC is mathematically annihilated. 

Right, that 16 hit shot is kind of unlikely, but you can easily get up to 7 or 8 hits if you manage to roll a few 6s. Just make sure you do that. 

Sure the Heat starts to pile up after a few shots, but at that point are there any enemy left to worry about?

Is this design broken? As in "unfair"? Big threats attract big attention, and if the enemy can disable the main cannon then this MAC isn't doing much of anything for the rest of the battle. 

The Triceratops (20pts)
Class 3 MAC
1: LB3 MacCannon
2: LB3 MacCannon
3: LB3 MacCannon
4: Plas-Cell (weapons generate 1 less Heat. Take 1 Internal Damage when this module is destroyed)
5: Plas-Cell (weapons generate 1 less Heat. Take 1 Internal Damage when this module is destroyed)
6: Plas-Cell (weapons generate 1 less Heat. Take 1 Internal Damage when this module is destroyed)

Okay, so what if instead of putting a huge gun on a tiny MAC we put three huge guns on a huge MAC and loaded it up with Plas-Cells to let it fire them at 0 Heat?

Without needing to worry about weapon heat this big guy can even Rush around the battlefield without running hot. 

It's not as wild as the Funfhander but as a gun platform it's about as efficient as you can get.

Just don't let  any of those Plas-Cells get hit... which can be an issue when they make up 50% of your modules. Good luck!

The Weatherman (20pts)
Class 3 MAC
1: AG4-X MissileRack
2: AG3-X MissilePod
3: AG3-X MissilePod
4: AG3-X MissilePod
5: AG3-X MissilePod
6: AG3-X MissilePod

We put as many missiles as we can onto a big MAC designed to stand back and blast them off at whoever your spotter points at. Just stand still and let these the guidance technology do the aiming for you. 

It's more expensive than just having a formation of mobile batteries or howitzer teams, but you get so much more total firepower compared to those piddly little pods that vehicles and infantry are restricted to. Fire off a single battery each turn and when you're down to your last two just hold down the trigger and pray. 

Yeah you could take off a pod or two and install some actual heat-management modules but that would result in fewer total missiles, which seems to miss the entire point. 

The Junglegym (7pts)
Class 1 MAC
1: LB2-V Autocannon
2: Frame (reduce cost by 1pt)
3: Frame (reduce cost by 1pt)
4: Frame (reduce cost by 1pt)
5: Frame (reduce cost by 1pt)
6: Frame (reduce cost by 1pt)

Behold, the cheapest MAC design that's still technically legal. 

What does it do? It's a MAC! It has a gun and everything. Don't fire it too often, though, it can get hot. 

Wait, are you suggesting you could use this very cheap MAC to exploit the 3 MAC Minimum for building a Force? Then use all those points you saved to surprise your opponent with a horde of over-equipped Auxiliary Units and Remote Assets?


The Rhino (20pts)
Class 3 MAC
1: P2 Club
2: P2 Club
3: Plate (Roll 4+ to ignore each hit to this module)
4: Plate (Roll 4+ to ignore each hit to this module)
5: Plate (Roll 4+ to ignore each hit to this module)
6: Plate (Roll 4+ to ignore each hit to this module)

No guns? All the less Heat to worry about! You can run around all day, crashing into your enemies and pummelling them with your club-fists, all in relative comfort. 

A beautifully elegant statement on the balance of offence-defence wrapped in a big, dumb shell. 

I call it the first masterpiece of MAC design. 

The Cockroach (12pts)
Class 1 MAC
1: G2 Spike
2: Jet (Allows 9” of Jumping)
3: Jet (Allows 9” of Jumping)
4: Jet (Allows 9” of Jumping)
5: Jet (Allows 9” of Jumping)
6: Coolant (Cool 2 Heat, gain 2 Heat if destroyed)

Yeah, running into your target and punching them is fine, but what if they try to stay away from you? Jump 36" across the board and slash them to pieces, cooling down enough for another jump next turn.

You might think this isn't all that effective, as jumping makes it difficult to actually land a hit on your target, but sometimes you just really need to put a MAC in the right place, and that 36" move really comes into its own. 

Seizing an objective? Landing directly on that artillery vehicle? Hiding like a coward to sneak a technical victory?

Now you're thinking like a Cockroach. 

Check out MAC Attack here and make your own broken designs.


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon.