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Turn-based tactical 'Mech combat set in the classic 3025 era of the BattleTech Universe. From the creators of the Shadowrun Series!
41,733 backers pledged $2,785,537 to help bring this project to life.

Prototyping Turn Order


Hey Everyone! Jordan here!

In this update I’d like to talk about our turn order design for the game - how we handle turn-based moving and shooting. We’ve been following your discussions on the BattleTech forums and as game developers, they’re always really exciting to see. We learn a ton by reading your different points-of-view, so thanks!

The Grizzled Designer
The Grizzled Designer

We were originally going to wait a little longer to talk about Turn Order so we could actually show it to you in-game and in-action - but we can see how passionate you guys are about this topic and we don’t want to leave you hanging. As your forum threads reflect, we all understand that tabletop and computer games are two very different animals, even when they are trying to simulate the same fictional reality.

Translating Tabletop

Whenever I’m at a game convention, I’m always asked, “Why don’t you just port the BattleTech tabletop rules to the computer? They’ve worked great for 30 years!” For the answer, let’s start with the obvious - tabletop games have the enormous benefit of in-person social interaction. Being around the table with your friends is entertaining all by itself and taking more time to resolve game results is not necessarily a negative. On the other hand, waiting for a remote opponent in an online game can be frustrating at worst and boring at best. Even if your opponent is your best friend, it’s just not the same as being the table together. 

Beyond social interaction, another key difference between tabletop and computer games is how you absorb information. For example, during a tabletop game, every move and every die roll you make (along with all the moves and die rolls of your opponents) happen at a speed that allows you to process that information. And don’t underestimate the tactile and social fun of rolling dice or the visceral feeling of filling in armor boxes on a ‘Mech’s record sheet. It is the tactile power of those experiences that helps us understand and retain the game information conveyed during the event.

BattleTech’s turn order is a good example of a tabletop design element that doesn’t port well to the computer. The tabletop design attempts to reflect the fictional reality of 'Mechs and vehicles moving and shooting simultaneously by splitting movement and combat into two different phases. Movement order is based on initiative, and then alternated between players. Combat is resolved simultaneously - players take turns rolling damage, and then that damage all takes effect at the same time. This works great for tabletop, where it’s easy to accept the nonlinear abstraction. Even though my attack may have destroyed your ‘Mech, I know you’ll still get to roll for its damage to mine. This is much harder to present on screen, where a certain linearity of events is expected!

So, now that you understand the basic design challenge, we’ll start where HBS always starts - at the goal level.

Design Goals

Our design process starts with explicitly stating the goals for every system, so that we have a way of evaluating if the system design is not just “cool” but most importantly achieves its design criteria. The design goals that impact the turn order system are:

  • Fluid play in both singleplayer and multiplayer game modes  - This is actually a bigger deal than you would think because our emotional reactions to a turn order system are quite different with a computer opponent that takes zero time to make a decision and a human who takes considerably more than zero time.
  • Make Light 'Mechs useful and versatile - Light 'Mechs were included in the game to be used as scouts, flankers, and forward observers. Historically, these roles have appeared in BT fiction more than in game play, so one of our major goals is to make Light 'Mechs really useful.
  • Don’t overwhelm me with information - BattleTech is a very information heavy game. Previous computer / video games have handled this in one of two ways: greatly simplify the game, or overwhelm the player with too much information. We want to find a balance that allows us to maintain the depth of the simulation while making sure that the information provided is digestible and actionable.
  • Provide me visceral feedback on my actions - When you perform an action you should see a satisfying result to that action, and most importantly you should understand the results of the action.
  • It’s gotta feel like BattleTech! - This one might seem obvious, but it’s important to make it explicit - the results of the turn order system should feel like BattleTech.

Rapid Prototyping

Working from an established set of design goals for a system, we like to move directly into rapid prototyping. As designers, it’s always tempting to engage in lengthy debates, waxing poetic about the merits of different approaches, but we’ve found that it’s by far more effective to simply try out each compelling idea! Our designers and engineers jump right into Unity to quickly create crude working versions of design concepts that we can play right away. These prototypes look ugly, and are missing a lot of bells and whistles, but they’re enough for us to really get a feel for how the design element plays in both singleplayer and multiplayer scenarios.

This approach has made working on BATTLETECH a great deal of fun for for the entire team as we can all discuss the merits of each approach from an informed position. Even more importantly, the rapid prototyping methodology has allowed us to vet the game design many months before a fully architected code base would allow us to.

We have built and played the hell out of seven (7!) different approaches to turn order, from a completely linear XCOM-like system to a completely simultaneous action system with many variations in between. Since a simultaneous action approach is a natural one to gravitate to for BattleTech, I’m going to take some time to outline how those particular prototypes went in a bit of detail.

Our first simultaneous action prototype was one in which players plotted both movement and combat secretly and then watched as the round unfolded. The biggest issue with this prototype turned out to be with targeting and weapon selections for each 'Mech. In the prototype, players could target enemies with specific weapons while plotting their movements and then, during a simultaneous resolution phase, they’d see their choices play out in real-time action.

Sound great, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, things often went very differently than folks anticipated. Watching everyone’s plans going awry is supposed to be part of the fun of a simultaneous action system but instead, players felt frustrated watching one of their MechWarriors slavishly waiting to shoot their designated target rather than unloading in the rear armor of an enemy 'Mech that wandered right into the line-of-fire. To compensate, we started to give the MechWarriors the ability to override the player’s targeting and weapon selections in specific circumstances and... eventually it just started feeling like the player was losing control of critical decisions. So much for Simultaneous Action Prototype #1!

Our next attempt at simultaneous action was to break the round into two phases, Movement and Combat - with both phases being revealed simultaneously. The idea was that player would plot movement for all their 'Mechs and then everyone’s movements would be revealed simultaneously. The players could then use a scrollbar like a video “scrubber” to roll time backwards and forwards to determine when to fire during each 'Mech’s movement, who the target was, and which weapons would fire. This prototype was interesting, and returned complete control to the player, but was a slow and laborious system to interact with.

Both of our simultaneous action solutions also really failed on the information overload and visceral feedback goals I mentioned above. Because so much happened so quickly, you often found yourself needing to dive into each 'Mech’s data after the action just to understand what happened in the previous round. As you can imagine, that wasn’t very fun. The other goal these prototypes failed at was actually the most important - they felt like you were commanding fighter planes, not BattleMechs. They didn’t feel like BattleTech.

I won’t take you through the pros and cons of all seven Turn Order prototypes we built and played the hell out of and instead cut to the chase by introducing you to the turn order system we finally embraced and are building the game around.

So - Where Did We End Up?

Here’s the basics:

  • Each weight class of ‘Mech has an Initiative value. Light ‘Mechs are the fastest, with an Initiative of 4 and assaults are the slowest, with an Initiative of 1.
  • Combat rounds are divided into 5 Phases, counting down from 5 to 1. ‘Mechs are allowed to act during the Phase that matches their Initiative. (That 5th Phase is the province of extremely skilled MechWarriors piloting Light ‘Mechs.)
'Mechs in a turn order
'Mechs in a turn order
  •  Each Phase, each side takes turns choosing a ‘Mech to Activate. When a Mech is Activated, it can both move and then fire its weapons. However, once the ‘Mech fires, its turn is over and it can’t act again until the next Round of combat.
  • After you Activate a ‘Mech and take a turn, the game attempts to give the next action to the other side. If the enemy has units available to use in the current Phase, they get the opportunity to activate one of them. If, on the other hand, they have no more units they can activate in the phase, and you do, you’ll get to go again.
  • This means that if you and your opponent are both using full lances of assault ‘Mechs, every Round will be pretty predictable: You’ll go, then your opponent will go, and so forth until all eight ‘Mechs have been Activated and have taken a turn.
  •  When the game finishes counting down Initiative values and Phase 1 units have taken their turn, the Round ends. The Phase counter resets to 5, and every ‘Mech is ready to act again.

And now the really cool part:

We think this is a neat system because it reinforces and distinguishes between the different weight classes of ‘Mechs - but the place where it really becomes really interesting is when you start reserving ‘Mechs’ Phases for use later in the Round.

Any ‘Mech that isn’t an assault can be held in reserve when its turn to act comes up. That temporarily sets its Initiative Value one lower. So a Light ‘Mech that normally acts in Phase 4 will instead act in Phase 3.

With this system, you can keep reserving your ‘Mechs’ actions, holding an entire lance of ‘Mechs until Phase 1, if you wanted to.  

What’s so interesting about reserving actions? First of all, consider the case of a whole lance of Light and medium ‘Mechs being reserved until Phase 1, where they’ll get to act right at the end of a Round. Then, when the round ends and a new Round starts, they’ll immediately get to act again in Phases 4 and 3! (This tactic isn’t theoretical - in a recent battle, I snuck up behind our Lead Designer Kevin’s Centurion with a Jenner I’d reserved to Phase 1. Then, on Phase 4 of the next Round I got to make a full alpha strike right into his back armor.)

As you’d guess, there’s also a lot of value in using this tactic to locally outnumber an opponent. You want your engagements to be uneven in your favor, and you want to be able to fall back from any engagement in which you’re outnumbered. Focusing your forces in one spot when your enemy is spread out is right out of Sun Tzu.

Our initiative system, which allows you to reserve units, means you can locally outnumber your enemy in time as well as space. If you can take three actions in a row, and all three actions are effective fire on a target with no chance for it to respond by moving or returning fire… you’ve essentially made part of the turn a 3-on-1 battle.

Conversely, reserving your faster ‘Mechs to break up long sequences of enemy action with opportunities to respond can be useful in preventing your own forces from becoming focus-fired.

We’re reinforcing the role of Light ‘Mechs in other ways, but this system is a significant component of their value. Light ‘Mechs get to choose where and when they engage, and if used carefully can be exactly the tool you need to get out of a bad situation. Heavy and assault ‘Mechs pack a much bigger punch, but the tradeoff is that they’re inherently more predictable - and thus are more often reacting than acting.

The Results

This turn order system is the one that made us immediately say, “Yes, that feels like BattleTech.” (Randall Bills, who’s in charge of BattleTech at Catalyst Game Labs, had the same reaction, which is obviously a good sign!) It captures the feeling of the world in that 'Mechs feel like 'Mechs, not aircraft or stationary gun platforms. It really helped to emphasise the difference between the various weight classes of 'Mechs. The tactical choices are interesting and the results are immediate and understandable.

And this model also clearly fulfilled all of our design goals from above:

  • Fluid play in both singleplayer and multiplayer game modes - Because control frequently passes back and forth in this model, singleplayer flows smoothly while still giving the player a variety of tactical options and there’s almost always something to watch or do in multiplayer.
  • Make Light 'Mechs useful and versatile - As explained above, this system gives Light ‘Mechs an inherent initiative advantage which can be used in many different ways.
  • Don’t overwhelm me with information - Focusing on moving only one unit at a time, and allowing both sides to clearly see the results of JUST that action, really helped focus the amount of information being presented to the player on a moment-to-moment basis - all the complexity of BattleTech movement and attacks is still there, but now it’s being presented in a very digestible way.
  • Provide me visceral feedback on my actions - Plotting a ‘Mech’s action and immediately seeing the damage done by your attack is really satisfying!
  • It’s gotta feel like BattleTech - While this admittedly a subjective criteria, this turn-order model immediately elicited this response with the team.

Now, we know you can’t play this system yourself yet (we’re working as fast as we can!) so you’ll have to trust on this one, but our play experiences tell us that this turn order system hits the right balance for both singleplayer and multiplayer game play.

You can head over to the forum now to discuss all the crunchy details with your fellow BattleTech fans here. 

And, be sure to tune into the DEATH FROM ABOVE show on Hyper RPG’s Twitch channel to see how it plays out in their live-action BattleTech RPG. The #DFA team thinks it’ll make their livestreaming combat more engaging and understandable. Should be fun!

Talk to you all soon - Jordan

New BATTLETECH Dev Q&A Incoming 

Starting at 2pm PST on April 13, we’ll be answering any follow up questions about the Turn-Order System discussed in the update and your burning questions about Interstellar Travel. You can ask your questions in this thread on the BATTLETECH Forums or, if you’re able to join us live, you can also ask any other questions in chat - although we can’t promise to be quite as forthcoming on those.

And, in case you missed our first Dev Q&A, you can find it here on the Hyper RPG Youtube channel at the 1:00 mark.


Haven’t visited the BATTLETECH Forums in awhile? Mitch and Kevin regularly answer questions in the Ask the Devs sub-forum, we’ve seen some amazingly creative work in the Fan Art & Creations sub-forum, a lively General Discussions area as well as a BattleTech tabletop section where Randall from Catalyst answers questions and a Tabletop Discussion area.

We encourage you to check out the community over there when you get a chance!

Death from Above Update

But! Death From Above is more than a show to watch! Each week the audience can directly influence the game by donating weapons, buffs, the chance to use a special ability and more to either our heros or the opposing force they’re up against.

In case you haven’t seen the show yet, here’s a quick synopsis of what’s happened to our intrepid mercenaries so far!

After breaking Lord Commander Garrilac out of the prison planet of Hastur II, the Mercs have started to earn a reputation as they make their way from one battlefield to another in the periphery. They have formed an alliance with a Lord in the Periphery and found a piece of valuable Lostech.

However, a shadow hangs over the newly-christened Mason’s Marauders. The team’s mysterious benefactor continues to hold the team under their thumb with threats to what they care for the most. The Marauders now find themselves locked in a conflict with House Davion, having taken a contract from House Marik. Will the Unit live long enough to discover who their benefactor is? Or will their next drop onto the battlefield be their last?

Tune in to Death From Above on the Twitch channel, Hyper RPG Tuesday nights for role playing and Friday nights for battle at 6 PM to find out.

And, for you Shadowrun lovers out there, Wednesdays at 5:30pm PST you can watch a motley crew of Shadowrunners on Corporate Sins!

Bye for now!


CaGeRit, Trendane, and 165 more people like this update.


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    1. Paul Emerson on July 1, 2016

      I've not been keeping up all that much, but this sort of turn system would have worked very well on the tabletop, as well, I feel. Maybe that's what Loren's looking for... a means of re-building the tabletop version with an updated work like you guys are building?

    2. RC on May 20, 2016

      The most recent dev Q&A from May 5th is on Youtube now ^_^…

    3. Missing avatar

      Adam Froehlig on May 19, 2016

      I understand the goal of streamlining the turn-by-turn play, but for those of us who are purists, can there be a game option that plays the turns just like the tabletop version?

    4. Joey Blade on May 14, 2016

      @joel fox: if you played the table top then you would understand the strategies that the light mech bring to the battlefield. and they are not just "sitting ducks" if you know what you are doing.

    5. Missing avatar

      Mad Squ on May 12, 2016

      A great and very informing post! Jordan, you seem to be not just a great guy but you also know what you are doing. I am very happy to have spend my money on this. Even though I am not yet completely sold on the movement system because I still think Jagged Alliance 2 is still the best so far I will trust your experience. The only thing I am not so sure about is if and how combined fire can work with a system like this.

      My favourite tactic in a lot of turn based games has always been to get my units into position and then take out the enemy units with combined fire (artillery, air units, tanks - good old Panzer General days...). This seems to be quiet hard if the sucker can run away after my first strike...

      But anyways, I am very much looking forward to the finished game and I am sure you will come up with something awesome. And even if not I am happy I gave my money to a great guy like you. Could have spend it for worst causes.


    6. Joel Fox on May 6, 2016

      @James: right, but that means the light mechs will be sitting ducks in the subsequent turns if you use them as scouts. I think a better approach might be to split the turn into sub-turns like this:

      1. Only light mechs can move.
      2. Only medium and light mechs can move.
      3. Heavy medium and light can move.
      4. Everyone can move.

    7. Talizvar on April 29, 2016

      Sounds interesting: Early initiative for the light mechs so you can hide them from shooting or to finish off a mech from the last round. It does allow the big mechs to have "the last word" but light mech gorilla tactics seem viable. Delaying a phase seems interesting gives some options like other games have for "overwatch" or "ambush".

    8. Jacob Lingwall on April 28, 2016

      Great post, good insight into the design process!

    9. RC on April 25, 2016

      @Adam There's been a huge discussion regarding the turn order prototype update on the forums. You may want to take some time to read through it, as there have been many different opinions from long time BattleTech fans, and good feedback from the devs at HBS.

      I highly suggest not responding to posts you read in the middle of the thread until you've caught up on the whole discussion. And, some of the BT community members have been modeling the turn order HBS presented in BattleTech tabletop via Roll20, and others have been testing out related portions of the discussion in Megamek too. There's a wealth of information there that we won't see in the Kickstarter comments, because the comments section here is too limited to branch off discussions, and the functionality isn't great ^_^…

    10. Adam Diran on April 24, 2016

      Skeptical Battletech fan is Skeptical.

      I've been playing the game since it was Battledroids, and when you talk about a system where turn order tricks allow one unit to act multiple times before the enemy can react?

      A. That's not Battle-tech... AT ALL
      B. That sounds Lame. Having units suddenly warping across the board with other people unable to react? Sorry but thats tacticly un-fun.

      You want to warp across the map, get a Locust, or better yet a Savannah Master. Are we getting tanks? Eventually getting tanks? Cause I like me a Good Savannah Master (Or Saladin)

    11. Missing avatar

      Jabrwock on April 21, 2016

      There was a WWII turn based game I played that did "simultaneous combat" well, but in that case the mechanic was that you were the overall commander issuing commands to squads. Things like speed, experience, morale and distance from commander units affected whether they would do as you asked (would they run through gunfire to the next cover, or turn tail and run?), would react well to unexpected enemies (like running out from cover only to find out they run smack into an unexpected tank).

      Downside was that you waited forever for the opponent to plan out their whole setup, so it was best suited to "play by mail".

      Considering you're controlling individual mechs instead of squads, I think this initiative turn system is a good compromise to speed up multiplayer.

      One thing I would suggest though is that certain situations might let a lower initiative mech get in a "snap shot" if the higher initiative unit does something that would allow it, like exposing a flank, moving through a threatened area, moving at speeds that would reduce ability to dodge, etc. Or perhaps allow units to 'reserve' action into the next round, or set up ambush areas that would let them go sooner if an enemy moves into those areas (at the cost of initiative perhaps, so an initiative 2 unit could go on stage 3 if an enemy moves into his front arc, but if that doesn't occur he can't move until stage 1)

    12. RC on April 18, 2016

      @Sacha The 1st BATTLETECH Q&A is on Youtube here:… it starts at time code 59:20

      Here's the longform URL for the above without the timecode pre-inserted…

    13. Sacha Wilberg on April 15, 2016

      2nd? Can't even find a writeup of the first on the forums.

    14. RC on April 15, 2016

      The second BATTLETECH Dev Q&A is up on YouTube now, MechWarriors! ^_^…

    15. Levi R. Fay on April 14, 2016

      I won't lie, I'm trying to ignore this project best I can so it's a surprise when it comes out, but your updates are awesome and fun! I was engaged the whole time reading the update and was very intrigued and excited about the turn order layout.

      Stop making the updates so cool so I can glide by until the game is released!

    16. Missing avatar

      James Edwards
      on April 13, 2016


      Having the initiative advantage means I ALWAYS know I can go first, or delay till we are equal and alternate movement.

      I no longer have to worry about a die roll giving you the ability to move before me next turn.

      I can move units first to finish off a damaged mech, preventing it from doing any damage.

      I can force you into piloting rolls and knock you down before you move, crit you and destroy weapons, blow up your mech with an ammo explosion if I'm behind you or facing a side with little or no armor remaining.

      I can run away if I'm in a bad spot, duck into cover or behind cover.

    17. Joel Fox on April 13, 2016

      I don't really see how initiative gives light mechs much of an advantage, aside from the minor advantage of moving first. For example, if you and your opponent both of mechs in every weight class, that would leave your light mechs unable to move or attack for 3 full enemy turns--making them sitting ducks.

      Maybe I'm just not understanding something?

    18. Sacha Wilberg on April 12, 2016

      As a TT veteran, I just fail to see the "advantage" of the proposed system over the established "movement, weapon fire, physical attacks" one.

      Especially considering the raised concerns in the forum thread about piloting skill checks due to 20+ damage taken or death from above.

      As to the forum question about ammo explosions:
      Most times we agreed on "2=7" rule which means a 2 isn't a crit chance when there's armour left on the 7 location. And on "you may have less than the full amount of ammo in your bins". So you'd often have a Phönix Hawk with just 20 shots of MG ammo or even less, or a Grasshopper with 5 shots for its LRM launcher.

    19. RC on April 12, 2016

      Reminder: Live BATTLETECH Q&A tomorrow (Wednesday, April 13th) at 2PM PDT / GMT -7

      Livestream will be here:

      The same channel also has a live BattleTech RPG session on Tuesdays at 6PM PDT - AND - BattleTech TableTop Wargaming on Fridays, with some of HBS's devs as cast and GM. ^_^

    20. Joey Blade on April 12, 2016

      But we all want a tabletop mechanics

    21. Joey Blade on April 12, 2016

      really excited for this game

    22. Lee Sweeney on April 11, 2016

      I hope you are correct, I do not want 2d6 rolls and Conga lines.

      But to each his or her own.

    23. Lee Sweeney on April 11, 2016

      I would almost want a weapon the have a charge timer on it,
      It Fires and can not Fire again until that count is done.

      So you can not move Last, Fire and then Move First next round and Fire again.
      It is supposed to be x amount of time passing, the computer can do this with little effort.

      Would love the game to be WEGO, but that is too much for most players.
      As it will not produce the Conga lines of death.

      Just unlike GA use the computer it is OK to have the to hit have 10 or more factors including deflection, as it does not slow things down.

      The Concepts are not hard to show, if Target is running directly towards you or away, it is easier to hit than if it is at an angle, the more you have moved the last few turns the harder to hit or be hit.

    24. RC on April 10, 2016

      Tyler from HBS, aka: HBS_Adarael has posted some further insight regarding the initiative method HBS is testing and a little background on what led to some of their design choices ^_^

    25. Dunan on April 9, 2016

      The one thing I don't like is that firing weapons induces the end of turn.

      It should end either manually or when you use both movement and firing options.

    26. Missing avatar

      daquack on April 9, 2016

      Bad syntax. Yeah your right. I'll hope for a good mech game with a btech flavor. Not a good battletech game and be satisfied I guess

    27. Bad_Syntax
      on April 9, 2016

      By the time this is done, it'll only resemble battletech because of some models, and because it has things like "LRMs" and "PPCs".
      In all other ways, its simply doing its own thing. Much like MWO. Also much like every other mecha game on the market that isn't battletech.
      Still can't wait to see it, but I have absolutely no faith at all this will "feel" like battletech to me. Hopefully I'm wrong :(
      The real reason not to model the TT game is because of the freaking DAUNTING amount of rules... the core rules are easy, but with multiple core books with over 1000 pages of rules, with HUNDREDS of pages of errata, you simply can't current take everything printed and convert it without CGL answering a *LOT* of questions. It is far easier, as a development team, to just do their own thing and take inspiration from those core rules.
      Still looks nice so far, anxious to see some game play footage.

    28. Missing avatar

      daquack on April 9, 2016

      The thing people aren't getting. Not all light mechs in btech are scouts
      And not all scouts are light mechs
      There were medium mecha in the scout or scout Hunter role.
      Look at 3025 book
      There were light mechs that were definately not scouts. Panther urban mech come to mind as slow high firepower. Valkyrie was lrm support

      Medium mechs.
      Cicada is a scout
      AssassiN is a scout Hunter
      Phoenix hawk was the ultimate scout
      QuickDraw ostroc fast heavies that were up armored mediums
      The charger a fast assault.

      Please don't assume every light is only for the scout role every heavy is slow firepower.
      You could design slow high firepower lights that were cheap to buy and maintain either Bv or cost wise

      You could make really fast mediums and heavies if you wanted to sacrifice firepower. And make survivable scouts.
      When XL engines came out this became more pronounced

      In btech the universe is in a downward spiral technology wise. People used light mechs and medium mechs in all roles. Scout. Support. Defensive firepower. Because in the dark times that's all they could afford or had left

      If you only treat lights as scouts you get everyone in spiders and jenners and all the other light chassis are basically ignored. This is fine in a twitch game. But it loses a lot in a campaign game rpg ish.

      Again why should a panther react faster with its PPC than a trebuchet with a lot more speed. Or the urban mech react faster than a Phoenix hawk
      Why do you see less lights on a table top game. Because everyone optimizes there teams because they can. In the fluff jenners and spiders were rare and you used what you could get. And you used Panthers and urbies on the battlefield because you couldn't get hunchbacks and vindicators
      You used a hbk4j because you couldn't afford it requisition stalkers
      Anyway really rant over and I'll quit pestering

    29. Missing avatar

      Baudolino05 on April 9, 2016

      Great update, guys. Turn order settled by an initiative value + being able to delay my actions it's always the best solution in a turn based game, at least to me. I hope there will be also some kind of interrupt/overwatch/call-it-whatever-you-like option in the final game.

      I also have a suggestion (if I may) to further enhance the role of light mechs as scouts: Allow them and only them to move AFTER they have fired, provided they still have unspent movement points. This way they could be used for hit-and-run tactics more effectively than any other mech category.

    30. Missing avatar

      on April 8, 2016

      I somewhat share daquack's sentiments. I think one commonly overlooked problem with turn-based combat in general (in computer games, at least... this update made abundantly clear the differences between tabletop play and computer play) is the pace of things. You're always just trying to get an action in before someone else, and you don't want this to be too rigidly done. Even if there are options to make your light mech a 5 instead of a 4, or change a slower mech up to a 2 from a 1, etc... that doesn't change the fact that, at the battle level, the turns are always going to go in the same orders.

      I mean, don't just randomize it or something, but some element of chance, or at least elements of further control that are unknowns to your enemy, would be nice. For example, even if you don't randomize an initiative bonus at the beginning of each turn (like a lot of games do), what if, when mech A (who's at 4 initiative) encounters mech B (who's also at 4 initiative), mech B has options (at least under certain circumstances) to, perhaps, go ahead and make his attack? Maybe if he gets within weapon range of mech B, mech B gets an initiative roll (since they both have identical initative, it'd be like a tie-breaker sort of), to see if mech B gets to deploy any reactive measures?

      I dunno. But, I've always liked what overwatch brought to the table in turn-based combat games like this (as opposed to no-overwatch, for example), but have felt like, while you usually get some sort of pro-active option like that, you don't get very many RE-active options in these games. That's part of the reason lots of people dislike turn-based combat. Because you just go "Aww man. I'm ONE square out of range to attack this turn. I'll just have to wait 'til next turn to do anything." I wish you had a bit more agency in deciding precisely when your units take what actions. I mean, when you go one-at-a-time, you're already abstracting the fact that everything's happening at the same time, but we only do it for offense and not really for defense. I mainly just would love to see more options to defer actions, and/or take actions on someone else's turn. Kind of like instant-type cards in a lot of card games. You can restrict them however much you want. You can limit when they're used, penalize accuracy (if it's a shot in reaction to an enemy coming at you), etc.

      I've always loved the different tiers of actions you can take in a lot of tabletop games. Maybe you can't move a significant distance or attack again this turn, but you can still reserve an action or do something that could be neat (some quick action, like activating a trap or speaking a magic word, etc.) during someone else's turn.

      I also greatly enjoy how Shadowrun tabletop does it, where at the end of each combat phase (might be the wrong term, but it's the idea that counts) you subtract 10, I think, from everyone's initiative, then whomever still has initiative goes again. That's very similar to this 5-phase idea, and could be considered. Just for example, if Light mechs with good pilots were at 5 initiative and got to essentially take 5 turns during each round, but they did 15% of the damage that heavier mechs did, then even in all 5 turns they wouldn't be at a numerical advantage. They'd just get a lot more movement (for scouting) and a lot more actions (for cool tactical stuff like placing mines or damaging certain components of enemy mechs, etc.). So, something like that might be worth considering.

      I like the turn-order scheme you've arrived at, I just wouldn't want you to stop considering the best ways to tweak it is all. :)

    31. Warner Scroggins on April 8, 2016

      Thank you for this excellent insight into the design and development process!

    32. RC on April 8, 2016

      Also, Kevin the BATTLETECH lead designer posted the following... ^_^

      "Someone on the KS asked why we're discussing on the forum instead of the comments on KS; the answer is actually really simple. I can comment here, and I can't comment on the KS, so I'd have to relay all my answers through Mitch, and Mitch is a busy man."

    33. RC on April 8, 2016

      @Ragnarok Hilariously, you just did a great job with the double-posting proving why they use a forum

      Kickstarter's comment system just isn't that great. If you watch the HBS Dev Q&A's, Mitch explained somewhere in 'em why they went with a forum instead of focusing on the Kickstarter comments section. It involved some cursing and disgust, along with love for KS, but not the piss poor features of the comment section ^_^

    34. Ragnarok on April 8, 2016

      Making us go to a forum is not the best way to handle feedback. This is where the game was funded. This should be the primary method for feedback as well.

      I am of the opinion that 3-5 mechs being phase 1, 4-6 +5-8 being phase 2, 6-9+7-11 being phase 3 and 8+ being phase 4 would be a better fit. Speed matters and lighter or less armed mechs who focus more on speed and maneuver for their weight class should get to enjoy that bonus.

    35. Ragnarok on April 8, 2016

      Making us go to a forum is not the best way to handle feedback. This is where the game was funded. This should be the primary method for feedback as well.

      I am of the opinion that 3-5 mechs being phase 1, 4-6 +5-8 being phase 2, 6-9+7-11 being phase 3 and 8+ being phase 4 would be a better fit. Speed matters and lighter or less armed mechs who focus more on speed and maneuver for their weight class should get to enjoy that bonus.

    36. Ben Funk on April 8, 2016

      This method SOUNDS really cool. I can't wait to get my hands on it, but I know that's still down the road. I get more excited about the game whenever there's an update - which is dangerous. I don't want to create unrealistic expectations. Still, the idea of tabletop BattleTech just gives me a warm fuzzy.

    37. RC on April 8, 2016

      Also, a very relevant comment by Kevin, HBS's lead designer on BATTLETECH ^_^

    38. RC on April 8, 2016

      @Robert Graham

      I think it's due to their goals for the game. From the front page of the BATTLETECH Kickstarter -

      "Our goal is to craft a combat system for BATTLETECH that’s the perfect blend of tactical depth, speed of play, and meaningful unit customization. As we did with our Shadowrun games, we intend to capture the *spirit* of the original tabletop rules, while designing the best PC game we can."

      "On the battlefield, you'll command a Lance of four 'Mechs in turn-based combat. We’d like a typical skirmish to be complete-able within about 30 minutes, without sacrificing the tactical depth that any BattleTech game demands. All of our systems will be designed with a “layered” approach in mind - surfacing the information you need for quick decision-making, while also allowing you to drill-down into detailed stats and unit management options."

    39. Simon Beal on April 8, 2016

      I'm really liking how the turn order works. Its also great that you have spent considerable time and effort to get it right as the rest of the combat is really going to hang of this framework. Keep up the good work :)

    40. Missing avatar

      Ross Whalen on April 8, 2016

      This is great! I love the concept, so many possibilities!

      No joke, this makes me vastly more confident in the project and your process. Not that I was worried exactly, just that BT is so different from Shadowrun and is very close to my heart. It's obvious y'all are the right crew to bring it back into the main stream (not that we had any doubt). :)

      Since it's mentioned in the post that certain pilots would increase the Phase Level of a light mech beyond 4, I suppose that probably applies to expert pilots at other levels in other classes of mechs, yes? That's a cool feature.

      You might also consider adding a permanent Phase modifier to specific mech designs that are famously fast or slow (Battlemaster and Urbanmech come to mind, respectively). Actually, permanent modifiers to mech designs sounds really awesome to me, something to set designs apart so they feel unique and with a cohesive theme/role, instead of a mass of smushed together min-maxed weapons. Mechs in BT have a lot of character, and I think that should be reflected in the game stats.

      Anyways, beautiful update. Keep it coming!

    41. Missing avatar

      Michael A. Atkinson on April 8, 2016

      Excellent, meaty update. Thank you for keeping us in the loop.

    42. Missing avatar

      daquack on April 8, 2016

      I would prefer random initiative rolls each turn with a positive modifier for smaller chassis and another modifier for Pilot skills. Keep it a little less predictable. And the system as described doesn't take into effect heavy scouts and medium scout hunters. Phawk. Charger. Etc.

      Is better than nothing. But I'm not excited by this rigid order just based on size

      A panther shouldn't be that much more faster reading than a QuickDraw or charger. And a urban mech should go when the assaults do

      So meh. Down vote if I could

    43. Missing avatar

      Robert Graham on April 8, 2016

      “Why don’t you just port the BattleTech tabletop rules to the computer? They’ve worked great for 30 years!” and have been succesffully moved to the computer it's called.. Megamek :P

    44. wayne-o-rama on April 8, 2016

      Thanks for this update, you guys rock - I love the way you detail the problems, reasons for certain approaches, the way you're thinking through issues, etc. It's so much better than a non-transparent, "we're doing it this way, stop complaining" approach ... there's a reason I've backed pretty much all of you guys' projects

    45. Krzysztof Zięba on April 8, 2016

      It's hard for me to say exactly why, but this update made me even more hyped for the game! It's probably the combination of you speaking right into my game designer soul with the different considerations, and the fact that you picked a system I'm immediately enthusiastic about. This game is in the right hands, that much is certain! :)

      Also, I'm working on a Battletech/Mechwarrior-inspired board game right now and your considerations about Light Mechs are close to what I'm figuring out right now - how to encourage players to use those types of machines in their squad set-up when heavier models allow you for more firepower and resilience... which is, arguably, the most important thing in combat-focused games.

      Best wishes for your upcoming work and I can't wait to see the first gameplay demos!

    46. Jean-Baptiste Perrin on April 8, 2016

      Wouldn't it have been possible to use an "overwatch" mechanics (à la UFO Enemy within) or an ARO mechanics (reaction order, like in the Infinity miniature system)?

    47. Missing avatar

      david canela on April 8, 2016

      This is a cool update, thank you! I haven't played BT before, but the turn order you chose seems to make sense. I only wonder how it is decided who goes first, but there's a number of ways to resolve that.

    48. Tom Tjarks on April 8, 2016

      This makes a lot more sense than the way Mechwarrior Tactics tried to handle the conversion of the game round from tabletop to digital. I'm intrigued, despite wanting 'classic tabletop rules' implemented.

    49. Missing avatar

      Max Robitzsch on April 8, 2016

      Re light mechs - could them extending the range (or at least the hit likelihood over long distance) of weapons like rockets be their main scouting function?

      I.e. you need to risk you small fast mechs far forward, to make sure your heavy hitters from the back know what to hit.

      Of course lifting a dynamic - i.e. re-establishing - fog of war would also be great.

    50. John McMillen
      on April 8, 2016

      For those of you overly concerned about firing ending a mechs turn, don't. As someone who started playing Battletech decades ago, most of it in the 3025 timeline, a properly played light mech should be damn near impossible to hit most of the time. You survive by using both speed and cover to maximize your defensive bonuses, while flanking to minimize the number of weapons a slower mech can bring to bear. You never stay still if anything has you in its line of sight, NEVER. Even if it means having to run and hide for a turn.

      Personally, I think the reason light mechs got a bad rep on tabletop play was a combination of too little cover and not having a large enough play area for light mechs to let their speed come into play. Many published scenarios were especially guilty of the 2nd one, cramming too many mechs onto too few map boards. The first is usually a problem with someone having a big blank hex map but not enough terrain to provide proper cover.