Monday, September 28, 2015

Meka Tac – GSRE: the Game

The previous article introduced the mecha in Meka Tac - GSRE. This one gives an overview of the rules. 

The compass; showing weapon arcs and a d6 direction randomizer.

 << Forward >>

If you’re reading this, then either you’re into fighting battles between giant, stompy robots, or you’ve played other mecha combat games and seeing if this one is worth your time. I get that. I’ve spent the better part of object permanence trying to find an easily playable, easily teachable, tabletop game that gives the feel of the combat scenes in the mecha anime I’ve been watching since breathing became necessary: Macross, Dougram, Gundam, VOTOMS, Tetsujin 28-go, etc. I’ve played RPGs wrapped around reasonably good mech combat systems, beer-&-pretzel mini games, home-brew systems, card games, self-described “combat simulators”, and needlessly complex games about plodding anthropomorphic tanks with overheating issues that completely ignored the source material. Then I stumbled across Mr. Lloyd Krassner’s original Meka Tac rules and found a good game that just needed a bit of fleshing out.

<< The Game >>

The game is broken into turns, and each turn is divided into three phases.

1. Draw Phase: This is when unwanted action cards are discarded and players draw up to their hand size – usually one card per mech currently under their control. Action cards break the rules, granting special one-shot benefits or hindrances for attacks, defense, and movement that can be played on any mech on the table. The action card deck is only gone through once in a game. Luck only lasts for so long. Action cards are also completely optional and can be left out of the game if it seems a bit too CCG for the players. If so, skip this phase.

Action cards. 

2. Initiative Phase: Roll a d10 for each mech still in play and add their initiative modifier. That’s their initiative number; the order in which all the mecha will activate in the turn, from highest to lowest. Small mechs will most likely go before bigger mechs. Initiative rolls are public knowledge. 

3. Action Phase: Each mecha gets to activate when their initiative number comes up. During that activation a mech may maneuver across the table, make attacks with any of its weapons, and perform other actions.
Movement - Both forward and backward movement is allowed, just spend the move points. Terrain affects movement, and there is a short list of how many extra move points it will cost to move through various types of terrain. Jump jets allow extra movement, letting mechs skim across the ground and temporarily let the mech to fly, but it must be on the ground before the end its activation, or it will crash into the ground. Flight systems allow unrestricted flight, but there’s not a whole lot of cover up there.

Attacks – Each of the mech’s weapons may be used to make an attack once in an activation. If you've got line of sight, it’s in range, and you’ve got ammunition, then shoot it. Or punch/kick/hack/etc. Pre-measuring is allowed, as most of a mech’s cockpit is concerned with how far away the enemy is and how fast are they moving. The base to-hit roll is 7 or higher (7+) on a d10, and there are modifiers for terrain, cover, range, and types of movement for both the attacker and the defender.

If the attack is successful, roll the damage dice: from 1d4 to 4d10 depending on the weapon. Some continue to do damage on following turns. Inflicting 10 or more points of damage on the target in a single damage roll causes a critical hit and special damage or some other misfortune has occurred above and beyond just having chunks blown off. Critical hits are a faster way to destroy your opponent’s mecha. All damage is applied as it happens, so going before your intended target is recommended.

Special actions – Searching, scanning, picking up items, and all the odd things that your victory condition(s) might require.

Players are able to mix movement and attacks in the same activation; move some, shoot, turn, shoot another weapon, then move some more. Coming out from behind a hill, making all your attacks, and moving back behind the hill again in the same activation is a legitimate tactic.

When all the mechs have activated, the turn ends, and the next turn begins.

<< Other Cards >>

Strategic support cards. 

Strategic Support – Building a force doesn’t just have to be about fielding units. Strategic support cards represent off-board artillery, better reconnaissance, faking out the enemy, experienced pilots, and other advantages or disadvantages, and these cards can be purchased like systems for your mecha. Any unspent mech size points can be converted into strategic support points at 1 mech size point to 10 strategic support points. Just buy what you want.

Pilot skill cards. 

Pilot Skills – Buying a veteran pilot from the strategic support deck gives one mech’s pilot a special, randomly selected skill. These tend to be a weapon specialization by type (with a +1 to hit bonus), initiative bonuses, bigger action card hand size, etc., though with a single use per turn limitation.

BOOST - Some strategic support and action cards have the word “boost” in big, red letters under the title. These cards are sufficiently powerful to need a limit on how often they can be used in a turn. Multiples of the same card may be played on the same mech during turn, but only one boost card may be played on any particular mech each turn. 

<< Random Thoughts >> 

Heat - None. Absolutely no micromanaging heat. The only reason the stand in water is because it grants some cover or it looks really cool. And there is also a complete lack of flowcharts.

Fluff - In the works. You’ll get a taste of it as more mech articles are posted. Though I tend to play mechs as military hardware along the lines of classic, old school anime, players can still game superbots. Or steampunk titans. Or mecha gladiators. Or racing bots. Or post-apocalyptic stomp-bots. 

<< Conclusion >> 

Meka Tac – GSRE works for me. The mechanics are readily recognizable to experienced wargamers, and easily taught to new players. I’ve run it at various conventions and could walk away from the table at turn 3 and the game still went on – even with nothing but first-time players. The record keeping is kept reasonably light, and the control sheets are simple enough that each player can run multiple mechs in the same game. Mech design is fast, and players can use mecha miniatures already in their collections. The action cards are fun, but can be left in the box and still have a good game. 

<< Links >>
Meka Tac - GSRE will be run at HMGS-E's convention: Fall In! Game number F: 307 Giant Stompy Robots - Rumble In The Rubble. 

The current version of Meka Tac – Giant Stompy Robots Edition is available IN THE DOWNLOADS SECTION, in the GIANT STOMPY ROBOTS portion of as well as PDFs of all the cards and counters, quick reference sheets (QRS) and other resources. All for FREE! The second edition is also in the works.

 A portion of Giant Stompy Robots Forum (parallel development) has been set aside for discussing Meka Tac! Please stop by and post your questions, after action reports, and photos of your games!

 << END 108 >>

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    I am trying to download the rules, but the Meka Tac – Giant Stompy Robots Edition doesn't work. Could you tell me an alternative?