Battletech: Lessons Learned from the Second Solaris 7 Amatuer Circuit

Howdy everyone. As you may recall, at the beginning of 2023 I hosted a tournament, the Solaris 7 Amateur Circuit. Well, time is a circle and after the most stressful summer of my life, I have hosted the Second Solaris 7 Amateur Circuit, implementing lessons learned from the last event. We had about the same turnout as last time, but it was a completely different set of players, and it would have been double or triple the turnout if I hadn’t’ve decided to host the event the weekend after Thanksgiving. Lesson learned. All that said, I managed to find new and exciting ways to cause problems for everyone who played, so lets go over that.

The Format

There were several major changes from the previous tournament going in to this one. For one, we went up to 10,000 BV, from 5000. Even with this change we still managed to finish ahead of schedule, but there was perhaps a little bit too much on the field, and a couple of games easily could have gone much longer if it weren’t for TACs or headshots. It might be better to split the difference at 7500 or 8000 going forwards. In addition, I made the decision to allow up to 3 combat vehicles, 3 stands of battle armor, and 5 protomechs, but with a minimum of 3 mechs in each list. This led to a really varied field, with a pair of pure mech lists, a couple of combined arms lists, our champion from last event returning with even more Protomechs, and the appearance of a Gulltoppr superheavy tank.

It is hard to get across how titanic the model was for the Gulltoppr.

Two other rulings were the banning of superheavy protomechs, as apparently CGL has officially recommended they not be used in tournament play, and artillery being allowed. The protomech change didn’t have a huge impact, as the Delphyne is a perfectly adequate replacement, but the artillery change was probably a mistake. I didn’t put a limit on the amount of artillery that could be taken in a list, which led to our first place list (sort of second place, we will get to that) taking 3 artillery helicopters that were a complete menace. I am more than likely going to be limiting lists to a single artillery piece going forwards in future events.

I also capped mechs at 30 SRM tubes each. The list that won the previous tournament had 48 streak SRM tubes on a single mech, and was shockingly unfun both to play and to play against due to the sheer amount of rolls required to resolve each shooting step. The player who had played that list agreed that it needed to be banned somehow, and this was the solution I ended with. The overwhelming majority of mechs come in with less than 30 SRM tubes, so this did a reasonable job of only banning the boatiest of the SRM boats. In addition, I ruled that you needed a method of fast dicing multiple hit rolls. This was a fantastic decision and is probably a large contributor to the games mostly finishing ahead of schedule.

Overall the changes to the format were a big improvement. More BV led to less skew-y games and lists, though I can easily see how some of those games could have gone too long so I will likely be scaling back slightly on that. The biggest improvement was to the missions. All 3 missions had some form of objective, with a capture point mission, an adapted version of Blake’s Will from the Goonformat, and then a “Capture the Salvage” mission that was intended as a fixed version of the capture the flag mission from last game. I ended up overcorrecting though, and rather than creating a grinding slog where no one scored, instead nearly every game was over in about 45 minutes with the player who got on the objective first scoring uncontested. Missions that focus on moving objectives around with units do not seem to play nicely with tournament Battletech. The other two missions were a lot more fun than last event though, so I can probably just scrap the capture mission and add a third variation on objective marker control.

How I stopped worrying and learned to count

We had a bit of a learning experience with this event, as I had to disqualify the person who won the event. What had happened was that, when I checked his list for legality, I didn’t realize he was setting up his mechs for a C3 network. In addition, because the C3 section of the rulebook is a fucking catastrophe, he didn’t realize that he had to pay for it at all. This led to him effectively having 2500-odd extra BV compared to the other players. This was an understandable knowledge hole on his part and a catastrophic cockup on my end, because I really should have realized what he was doing and asked him about it. This was doubly bad as I didn’t have to play this time, so I was looking at all the tables and taking things in. Be sure to check lists closely if you want to run an event of this type, because without checking each record sheet you will let things slip by you.

Battletech is a gigantic game unit choice wise, and limitations and bans are important to make sure that a competitive event is actually fun. There are a lot of ways to win games without allowing your opponents any counterplay other than taking the same broken unit as you, and it is better to have a varied and wide set of units be viable, rather than a small subset of the most edge-case abusing nightmares.

Ye Olde Battletech rear arc conga line


The big takeaways from this event, for me and for anyone else who is thinking about running a competitive Battletech event, are to check each list carefully, and to have a requirement for a fast dicing method. Most players brought paired, separately colored D6s, and it really helped get games done on time. It was a less dramatic event than last time as the format was a lot tighter, but there was still plenty of room for improvement. It was also great fun to see all sorts of unit types on the table, and I genuinely do think that, with caps/limits, tanks and other conventional forces add so much to the game. I would still probably shy away from conventional infantry though, just due to the rules nightmare that is infantry.

List wise, the big takeaway for me was that if you have access to non-mech units, it is probably in your best interest to take a couple of them. Battle Armor are great for holding objectives, and tanks/helicopters are excellent ways to add a little extra gun for a very low price. The winning list had 3 helicopters and 3 stands of Battle Armor, and I was really surprised how much his Battle Armor got done for just being basic Inner Sphere tech suits. Generally when I think of effective Battle Armor my mind goes to Fire Elementals, Kopis’, Golems, and the like. He brought Fa Shih support suits, which are comparatively slow and brittle, but they still got work done.

Also, Inferno SRMs are your new god if you are playing into conventional forces, please take more Infernos. All Hail Inferno.