July 15, 2011

Battletech vs. Warmachine

So I managed to get my first real game of Battletech in this week after a fifteen year gap in playing. I have to say it was great. Now I should preface this by saying that it really does reflect some 80's game design and while that is fine there are a lot of ways to streamline this that sometime in the future should be considered. As I played I was reminded of Warmachine quite a lot. In my mind a lot of ideas for Warjacks are very similar to Mechs. The armour for instance is the exact same system but in much less detail, so are systems. However both games are attempting to emulate very different things I noticed. Battletech is a naval game, pure and simple. I was suprised I never noticed it before. Warmachine is more of a standard wargame albeit on a skirmish scale. In Battletech I find myself playing completely for position. Indeed the most important phase of the game is the movement at the start to achieve the 'weather gage' on your opponent. These opening moves determine a lot and as was seen in the game this week I had a strong advantage due to some bold moves early in the game. I rushed my opponent pinning him on a downhill slope while I was on the opposite side of the valley, also on a downhill slope but with my Mechs entrenched in a wide river providing some cover. Interestingly I committed my heavy support Mechs too far forward and having weathered their fire my opponent was able to cripple one causing me to have to abandon my position to seek safety.

Warmachine has a similar need for board control and careful positioning but it doesn't, at least for me, feel the same. The forces in Warmachine are all glass hammers. They can deal out a lot of punishment but they can't take it very well. The 'jacks will stand up to some and I mean some repeated punishment but any true application of force takes them down. In Battletech the Mechs are able to take this beating and return the compliment. It gives an interesting feeling of mighty dreadnoughts of the sea whereas the 'Jacks feel more like they are represented as six ton steampunk robots! Warmachine does a nicer job of individualising the 'jacks whereas a lot of the Mechs feel very similar. They only vary in weapons loadout whereas 'jacks have induvudual rules such as chain attacks and such that flavour them a lot better. The interaction between units, Warcasters and everything else that Warmachine has ensures that it will remain a superior game but Battletech is still rewarding to play.

So I am still looking forward to playing more Battletech. It offers me something that Warmachine doesn't that being a second gaming group. I play it in work with some colleages and it is fun even if the game takes four to five hours to resolve.


  1. You are not the first to compare BattleTech with naval wargaming, as their is a lot of similarity in the mechanisms of this game to those of the Fletcher Pratt naval wargame. Certainly I think that the feel of "dreadnought" units battling it out makes for one of the nicer features of BattleTech.

  2. I neve even heard of the Fletcher Pratt game, maybe I should check it out as I am reading the Patrick O' Brian novels at the moment. I was shocked how naval Battletech feels, it is fun though.

  3. Here is a link:



  4. I remember many fun nights spent filling in little bubbles on mech diagrams. We also played renegade legion a few times and that took the damage charts to a whole new level with 2d damage templates for the weapons mapping to facing and columns on 2d representations of armor and component locations.

  5. Try the Quickstrike rules (either in Strategic Operations or download from classicbattletech.com) for faster streamlined game play. We can finish a company level game in about 2.5 hours.


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