Carrying on with my grand, nefarious, evil plan to forcibly create a competitive meta for this game, I recently hosted a Battletech tournament. The Solaris 7 Amateur circuit was on Jan 29th, and I learned a ton, both about running events and about Battletech. Honestly, Battletech makes a better tournament than I was expecting, and the games did not take nearly as long as I thought they would. So, lets talk about what happened first, and then what lessons I learned going forwards.
The format for the tournament was 5000 BV lists, with any number of mechs and up to 2 protomechs/battle armor. There was no limit on equipment or era, aside from a ban on artillery and the Boggart 2 Protomech in particular. This somewhat helped, but as you will see when we get to the lists, Protomechs were a bit of an issue. Honestly, I have been sleeping on Protomechs, they apparently just kick all kinds of ass. I also allowed players to each choose one of the two mapsheets that their games would be played on, which was a great idea. It allowed a player to bring a map that benefited their list, and we saw some pretty cool ones. I was really fond of the guy who brought a single huge jumping mech, and a map full of extreme elevation and mud pits for people to get stuck in. It encouraged people to prepare for bad terrain, and was honestly awesome.
The prize was an object most coveted, most prized and beloved. A large statuette of an urbanmech painted gold. The Golden Urbie ended up being a fantastic motivator for people to play well, so I am likely going to actually go and 3d model up a proper statue base and plaque for it for next time.
So, day of, I had been forewarned that I needed to make sure there was water on hand by a few people who had hosted tournaments before. This was the first time I had done one, so it ended up being a bit jankier than I would have really liked. We had an ok turn out for the first event somewhere, 6 people total, which was originally 8 before a couple of people had to cancel. We ended up with a pretty good spread of lists. One player brought a Vulture Mk III C and 2 skill 1 Sprite 2 protomechs, and ended up going completely undefeated and taking home the golden urbie. It turns out that have 8 streak SRM 6s is a pretty good strategy to headshot everyone to death forever, and those protomechs with skill upgrades end up being disgustingly cheap little snipers.
I brought 3 Word of Blake omnimechs, a pair of Malak Infernus’s and a Preta Dominus, which are cool as hell but pretty suboptimal, and I learned the hard way that you really need more can-opener weapons in a list than 2 PPCs. We also had a mad lad rock up with an Ares superheavy and 2 Sprite 3 protomechs. An even madder lad brought a single mech, a 2/3 skill Phoenix Hawk IIC 8, which was a horrible jumping abomination that was impossible to hit and impossible to kill even if you did hit it. Closing things out, we had a list with an Axman, a King Crab, and a Night Chanter, which did pretty well, and a list with a list with an Orion 2m, Wolfhound 3s, Hatchetman 5s, and Locust 3v, who I didn’t get a chance to play against.
It was a pretty varied field, but we ended up learning that super high skill protomechs were some BS, and that only having one mech really is a huge disadvantage. Going forwards, I am probably going to institute a cap on protomech skills, both in future tournaments and in the Goonformat. Because they don’t have to pay for piloting skill, the skill modifier to BV is very kind to them. Some sort of restriction on boating (having a huge amount of one specific weapon) is also probably a good idea, but I am really unsure how to do that, other than going weapon by weapon and restricting the amount you can have, which feels arbitrary.
Another valuable lesson that I learned was that low turn limits and Battletech are not a great mix with one another. I ran all of the scenarios with a 12 turn limit, and we ended up finishing massively ahead of schedule because it does not take nearly as long to do 12 turns of Battletech as I thought it would. I am probably going to raise the limit to 20 in the next event, and likely in the Goonformat as well. It feels like a much better amount of time, still short enough to put some turn pressure on people, but long enough that you can actually kill more than a couple mechs.
The three scenarios were a basic deathmatch/kill mission, a 40k style hold objectives mission, and a “Capture the Flag” type scenario where they had to bring the objective back to their board edge, scoring one point each time. The first two scenarios were pretty good and worked more or less the way I intended them to, but the last one needs some more iteration. I had it where a unit had to end its move on the objective hex to pick up the flag, and then could run it back. The idea was to limit people’s ability to sprint past with a Dasher or something and just leave. In practice though, this led to every mech that went to get the flag having an insanely predictable position that was very easy to camp, and I genuinely do not think that a single player actually ended up capturing in the final round, winning off of the tiebreaker instead. I’ll probably just adjust this so that the mech that wants to pick up the flag just needs to move over it at some point in their movement, but I am still a bit unsure how to fix that one.
I have been assured by the Goonhammer hive mind that people love to hear about the food that we eat at tournaments. We ended up mostly going to an Italian restaurant that was next to the FLGS we were running the event at. It was pretty good, and pretty cheap, but I ended up getting massively sick to my stomach the day after the tournament, and I blame the sandwich that I ate there. I am not sure if it was the culprit or not, but critical thinking is for losers and I will choose to pin the blame on a sandwich rather than take responsibility for my actions.
I ended up learning a ton by actually running an event and playing the game competitively. You see a lot of different things out of the game when you are playing competitively, compared to normally. I hadn’t ever really considered Protomechs before the event, and now I think it is going to be kinda hard to not use them, seeing as they are massively, massively potent and ridiculously tough. It also reinforces what I have been saying for a while, which is that Inferno SRMs are basically mandatory. They are very good at killing protomechs, which are otherwise a little impossible to kill. Overall like, Battletech is not actually a bad tournament game, I just need to work on the ruleset a bit