Friday, July 23, 2010

RPG Podcasts - Helping Commutes and Boring Workdays One 'Cast at a Time

I'm going to diverge from my "Campaign Catch-up" posting to talk about RPG podcasts.  It is through these podcasts that I got into Battletech, even though none of the ones I listen really even talk about Battletech at all.  The beauty of RPG podcasts is that it can keep you connected to the hobby even if you don't have a gaming group at the moment.  They're great to listen to while commuting or working. 

I got into RPG podcasts while on an RPG gaming hiatus.  I had no group and was just playing EVE Online (awesome MMO) and was just learning about the game.  So I started listening to a podcast about EVE.  While I was searching, I found this site called RPGpodcasts.  This site basically accumulates all sorts of gaming podcasts into one central location. 

From this site, I found quite a few awesome podcasts.  My three favorites are Happy Jacks RPG Podcast, Fear the Boot, and Postcards from the Dungeon

Happy Jacks was my first RPG podcast.  I started listening to them literally from the beginning.  They had two episodes out when I latched on.  Probably my favorite group to just listen to their banter.  They have some great advice for new GM.  They are currently on their 3rd season.  Also, if their show gets 2,000 listeners, one of their female members will show her boobs.  So, if there wasn't already a great reason to listen, that is even more.  They do not edit their language, so keep that in mind when listen to them.

Fear the Boot is my close 2nd favorite.  This podcast has been out since May 2006 and has a ton of episodes.  They talk about anything and everything.  They have very intelligence discussions about a RPGs from both a player and GM perspectives.  They also do a lot on setting building.  The cast changes over the years, but the main guys are consistent.  The chemistry regardless of the group's dynamic is always great. 

My 3rd favorite podcast is Postcards from the Dungeon.  They are actually linked to Fear the Boot, which is how I found out about them.  Their earliest episodes are a little rocky, because there is some shift in members.  But they've really hit their stride.  They focus on how to take concepts and ideas from all sorts of media (movies, books, etc) and utilize them in your gaming.  Primarily focuses on setting and campaign creation through the use of media, but also has practical applications for PC generation.

These are just a couple of a ton of great podcasts out there.  It's sad that there's not Battletech only podcast...or well at least a current one.  Anyway, I highly recommend the above podcasts and I believe I've learned a lot about RPGs through these podcasts.  It will definitely help you in your future gaming.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Campaign Background

I wanted to give you all a feel about the campaign I'm playing in.  It's my primary BT gaming experience on a regular basis, so I be discussing it often. 

The original campaign started by the GM many years ago set in the pre-Jihad.  We play as mercenary groups that work together as a "collective".  Meaning, we each operate our own lance, company, etc, yet on a mission by mission basis, we are deployed together.  The orginal campaign had the merc's on Outreach as the Jihad kicked off.  Eventually they made their way into the Capellan Confederation, and were deployed in Operation: Sovereign Justice.  At the end, they were made House Sponsored Mercenaries.  That's when the GM moved to my neck of the woods and looked to restart the campaign.  Him and his wife's merc units were still house merc units, but the new guys that joined, started as basic mercenaries being deployed in Operation: Thunderstrike.

For initial unit creation, we were given 275 tons to create a lance of battlemechs.  On a mission by mission basis, we get Tons instead of C-bills to streamline logistics.  Additionally, we get to salvage 'Mechs depending on the mission and as time allows for salvaging.  Repairs and refits cost their cost in tons.  From my experiences thus far (about 5 months), its working out pretty well.  We alternate taking turns as OpFor with the GM creating the scenario and determining what the OpFor units consist of.

To create my unit, I spend about 2 weeks evaluating my options.  I wouldn't classify myself as a power gamer or min-maxer, and if you know battletech, its very hard to cheese your units.  However, with my experience in gaming and wargaming, I have a good eye for what mechanics of a game are important and what options take advantage of those mechanics.  With that in mind, I choose the following mechs for my lance for Piotrowski's Predators, my merc unit:

2 Falconer FCL-8R
1 Shadow Hawk SHD-7M
1 Griffin GRF-6S

Bear in mind, I hadn't played Battletech in about 6 years, so I wanted something fast, mobile, and could pack a decent punch.  That way I could ease my way back into game, relearn the mechanics as they play (not in theory) and hopefully have decent sucess.  All the 'Mechs I took are 5/8/5 in movement.  Meaning, I could get +2 to +3 movement modifiers, making my forces hard to hit.  This also gave me 3 ERPPCs, 2 Gauss Rifles, a Light Gauss Rifle and 2 LRM 15s, giving me great range and a decent punch. 

The lance worked extremely well, but was never truly outstanding.  Often times, I was perched in cover pushing the range on my weapons to medium or even long.  As such, my overall contributions in the form of damage weren't great.  Probably no more than a kill or 2 a game.  But my lance usually took minimal damage.  If any of my snipers were pressured, they could manuver out of danger.  As I look back at the performance, the lance was a great setup lance.  At long range, I could pour all my fire into one or two targets that the rest of my teammates were going to target.  Since most of my weapons are "can opener" weapons (they do a lot of damage to one location), I would fire first.  Then, my teammates would pour fire into those units hoping to strike where the armor was weak.  Overall, I was really impressed with my lance because I look little damage and was able to save a lot of my income for expanding and upgrade and not on repair bills.

My next post will discuss how my inital merc unit transformed from a 4 'Mech lance into almost a company.

Introduction Post

Hey all!  I'm new to the blogging world, but I am intrigued by the idea and want to see were this new found interest takes me.  Before I get blogging about my real topic of Battletech, I wanted to give you all some insight as to who I am and what to expect from this blog. 

I decided to do a blog about Battletech because it is one of my favorite sci-fi settings.  In middle school, I used to play the 2nd edition board game with my friends and read all the novels.  I swear we probably didn't even know the rules, but I loved it.  I played occasionally with my friend through high school, but primarily played a lot of ADnD and vampire (no I'm not Emo).  In college, I played other wargames like Warhammer Fantasy and 40k because I couldn't find anyone who played Battletech.  After graduating and moving back to the Chicago suburbs, I decided to take up the search again and found an awesome group to play with.  We play in campaign every other week. 

So with that said, that's my background in Battletech.  I'm rejuvenated and always reading and learning more about the game, and thus I want to blog about it.  I want to explore topics such as analyzing the tabletop game, strategy, unit design, games, and the campaign I'm playing in.  Hopefully some of you will find my blog useful and interesting.  I want feedback and question which I will attempt to answer.  I am definitely interested in hearing others' opinions.