Thursday, August 4, 2016

Campaign Operations in progress (or OH MY GOD WE ACTUALLY HAVE FORCE CONSTRUCTION RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!) Pt. 1

Okay, Battletech Fans, today we’re going to be taking a look at the Campaign operations rules for constructing a Force, and trying out the nuts and the bolts.  So starting on page 8 of the campaign operations book, we’re going to go step by step through the process.  As an aside, I wanted to build a force that I could represent for the most part on the table top with the battlemech minis that I have, so I will be attempting to field multiple mechs of the same design.  

Stage 1:  Defining the Force
So for part I, (Defining the Force), we have two questions that need to be answered.  First, we need to select a force type, and then select a force background.  We have to answer a couple of other questions that will help out with that, but for now let’s examine our choices.  We have three force types available: Government, Mercenary, and Pirate.
The Government Force type represents a unit that is commissioned by one of the major powers in the Battletech universe.  Units ranging from the Davion Brigade of Guards, The Kuritan Sword of Light, The Capellan Death Commandos, The Free Worlds League Guards, and the Lyran Skye Rangers all represent forces of this type.  In most eras, Comstar’s Com Guard units also are represented by this force type.
These forces can be as large as the Davion Brigade of Guards, Which contains nearly a half a dozen Reinforced battlemech regiments and supporting infantry and combat vehicular formations, to as small as the Fox’s Teeth, a battlemech company that often performs detached duty from its parent regiment, the 7th Crucis Lancers.  The Defining feature of this unit from an in universe perspective is that they have a single employer who sends them on missions of their choosing.  

The Mercenary Force type represents a unit of independent operators that work on a contract basis to perform a specific task, and then move on to a different contract.  These soldiers occupy an interesting place in the battletech universe and often have histories and lineages of their own.  Units like McCaron’s Armored Cavalry, The Grey Death Legion, Hansen’s Roughriders, the Kell Hounds, and Wolf’s Dragoons occupy the upper echelon of Mercenary commands.
Units like Wolf’s Dragoons (which sports 5 independent regiments, supporting formations, and dropship and jumpship assets) are among the largest privately hirable armies in the setting, but at the other end of the spectrum are units like Carlyle’s Commandos or Mason’s Marauders which sports a single lance of battlemechs.   As many mercenary commands are founded by the sheer luck of finding a cache of lostech on a backwater planet as by an overriding drive to achieve vengeance on an enemy.  
Pirate Forces are the people in universe who had an extremely unpleasant fall from an otherwise normal life.  They are operating at the very edges of known space (peripheral to the Periphery in most cases) and using equipment that is barely operational, Pirates eke out a living kicking down other people’s doors and taking their stuff.  Some are gentleman pirates, but there are far more pirate and bandit kingdoms operating at the edge.  
Redjack Ryan, Hendrik Grim and many other pirates operate bandit kingdoms or control entire planets but there are unending hordes of pirates who manage to keep a single ship barely operational so that they can move about the stars and take what they want.  

Now, for the unit I am putting together, I am looking at building a Comstar Force (mostly because in the time period we’re likely going to play in they have some interesting pieces of hardware available to them).  My Force type is a government force, as they operate directly at the beck and call of Comstar.  Having chosen my force type, (Government) and my background (Comstar), I also need to take a look at the era we’re going to be running these guys in.  I know that Drewbacca and the other people who are working on this project together are likely going for a 3rd/4th succession war feel, leading up to the clan invasion.  We have selected 3025 as the starting year of the campaign, so I have my era selected as well.
Stage 2:  Determine Force Size
Step 1: Determine starting budget
This step is going to determine how outlandishly fun we can get with the units we’re picking. Reaching for our handy dandy dice, we get a decent 3D6 roll of 16.  This gives us a base starting value of 210,000,000 C-Bills to start with.  That’s almost the recommended starting cash for an assault battalion  in the 3025 era.  We do have three different modifiers that we need to apply before we can calculate our final budget.  
Step 2: Modify the Budget
The Eras of battletech represent historical periods that encompass boom and bust cycles of economic prosperity.  As a result, the era in which a force is constructed can have a dramatic effect on the availability of resources We’ve selected 3025 as our starting point, which puts us firmly in the 2901-3049 era, and it has a modifier of 1.0.
The second modifier relates to the faction we’ve chosen to use for the unit we’re building.  In this case, pre-schism Comstar is listed as a major power, so it gives us a budget multiplier of 1.2.  The choice of which faction you’ve chosen during step 1 can have a massive swing in the available capital you have to purchase your force.
The third modifier is related to the wealth of our faction, and given Comstar’s broad economic power, a player could make the argument that they should get the wealthy modifier.  I am not going to make this claim and am happy without taking a modifier for this section.  
So i take my starting budget of 210 Million C-bills and start applying modifiers
210 Million C-Bills x 1.0 (Era modififer) = 210 Million C-Bills
210 Million C-Bills x 1.2 (Faction Modifier) = 252 Million C-Bills
252 Million C-Bills x 1.0 (Wealth Modifier) 252 Million C-BIlls
My final starting budget is 252 Million C-Bills, which should let us to buy a bunch of things that are going to cause some problems for the neighbors.  
Stage 3: Procure Equipment and Personnel
Step 1:  Buying Stuff
This stage is probably going to take the longest of all the potential parts of the unit design process, and it involves a lot of dice rolls and chart referencing.  The Master Unit List ( is a godsend for this part of the process.  Between the faction breakdowns by era and the complete listing of all available unit types that a force has access to, the MUL can save a player a chunk of time and energy in the unit design process.  I used a spreadsheet for my unit write up, rather than the one provided in campaign operations for two primary reasons.  Firstly, it was modifiable, and i could freely make changes as moved units around and tinkered with ideas.  Second, it let me add a column so i could include unit cost while i was moving through the process, something i think that the master sheet in the campaign operations book didn’t have the space for.  
Before i started to plot out the units i was going to use, i took a hard look at the collection of battletech minis i had available.  Since i plan on painting up and posting the completed unit when i was finished, i looked towards units that i had available in my collection before i started with the MUL.  
If the unit creator doesn’t have the money values for the specific units that he wants, then he has the option of buying generic slots for equipment.  I strongly recommend that players take the time to dig up the prices for specific units that they have in mind because the calculations and cost multipliers can swing wildly out of proportion for most units.  The MUL, in most cases, has the specific cost of units but the unit creator has the option of manual calculation as a final solution.  
I had an idea of the units i was going to be angling to collect with the force i was building, so it was time to take a look at the availability chart and roll some dice.  
For the purposes of building my unit, i rolled availability by lance, as that was probably the smallest unit size i was going to roll for, and it gave me the options to roll for units with specific compositions if i were so inclined.  Technically, i know i should be rolling units in groups of six rather than four, because of the comstar organizational scheme, but i went with four to keep up with the appearance of being a mercenary force.  
Stay tuned for our next article to see what exactly we came up with for our units.  At some point down the line, we’ll actually have pictures of the ‘mechs painted in the color scheme i decided upon.  

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