2006-11-06 : Mechaton campaign battle plan

Okay. We've set up the three factions so we're ready for the next step.

J, you're still on the dealer's left, so you set up the first battle. Here's what we need from you:

1) What's the special station?

2) Which of the three objectives does it represent: society & conscience, economy & jobs, or security & law enforcement?

3) Where on the map does the battle take place?

4) What are the circumstances of the battle and what constraints, if any, do they place on the mechs we field?

Then we go to our calendars to schedule. Sweet!

1. On 2006-11-06, Vincent said:

So if it were my turn, maybe here would be my answers, for example:

1) A popular and influential Mukun schoolteacher and revolutionary. I'm doing a kidnapping raid.

2) He represents society & conscience. (This means that if I hold him at the end of the battle, my S&C multiplier will go up to x3; J, if you hold him, yours will go up to x4; and Em, if you hold him, yours will go up to x2.)

3) In the neighborhood of the safe house in the top corner of B4. (My faction doesn't know where the safe houses are in particular, although we know the neighborhoods.)

4) I'm going to be fielding a murder squad as one of my units. J, you need to field some armed human beings too, for this guy's bodyguard. Em, you can field whatever you want. There also have to be people as cover on the field. It's a daytime raid.

So. J?


2. On 2006-11-06, Emily said:

How do we interface with the soft-shelled humans?


3. On 2006-11-06, Vincent said:

3 or 4 armed humans on a plate is, ruleswise, a mech. My murder squad for instance gets 2 white dice for being a mech, one blue die for being able to scatter, one green die for being able to pass through cover a mech can't pass through, and other dice depending on how it's outfitted.

Unarmed humans on a plate is, ruleswise, cover. This is my most favorite horrifying rule.


4. On 2006-11-06, Ben Lehman said:

Can the unarmed humans move?

I think you should be able to commit a green die showing 1-2 to move them that far.



5. On 2006-11-06, Vincent said:

I might make a deck of cards for them. At the end of every turn, flip a card for each group of people to see how they move. In addition to hexwise or compass movement, there could be cards for "away from the nearest mech," "toward the nearest nonhuman cover," and "toward the nearest other group of unarmed people."


6. On 2006-11-06, Vincent said:

And "in whatever direction the owner of the nearest mech wants."


7. On 2006-11-06, Vincent said:

Actually I'm liking that for the general rule. After all the mechs go, all the unarmed people move 1, in whatever direction the nearest mechs want them to.


8. On 2006-11-07, NinJ said:

I like that, too.


9. On 2006-11-07, Vincent said:

Let me say the implications of choosing to have the battle be in space or underwater.

A normal mech in space gets no white dice.

To get your white dice, you have to have a space attachment. This uses up one of your four attachment slots. It doesn't give you any colored dice, just your two white dice.

So the effect of setting a battle in space will be a slight reduction in dice, across the board.

Same with underwater.

If you want to set a battle on an environmental boundary - between space and an orbital platform, on the riverbank - that's even cooler. Say who's acting from which position when you say the design constraints.

So if you attack me out of the river, you'll put underwater attachments on your mechs, natch, and I'll have to choose: if I do put underwater attachments on mine, I'm good; if I don't, I have an edge over you on dry land, but if you draw me into the water I'm screwed.


10. On 2006-11-07, Vincent said:

Oh and plus in space we'll use vector movement. Woot!


11. On 2006-11-07, NinJ said:

OK! Let's see what comes out my head.

1) I'm kidnapping the shit out of Emily's Prime Minister. He was a member of the Tarkut Democratic Nation-State (NB: "democratic"is a bit of a misnomer) government and we've got a beef.

2) This is a coup for us ??? it shows that we can strike anywhere at any time. This is S&C.

3) He's coming out of one of the Legislative Offices in D3.

4) He's being driven in a limousine.  (He's a moving Special. I think we're cool on rules for that, right?) Vincent, you've got a mob of people protesting the PM's presence, let's say two stands of them. They can have Reds, but not Blues - mobs don't fare well in this kind of thing.

There are news reporters and civilians around.

Other objectives:

??? A police station belonging to the Rasili
??? A market belonging to the Tarkutliya
??? Two trucks that brought the Paktali Ptimanya to the field of battle, probably disguised as farm vehicles or something.

I'll leave the remaining Objectives to you guys.

(Am I correct that I can't have "I assassinate the dude" as an objective? I don't see how that would work.)


12. On 2006-11-07, NinJ said:

OK, then, in space, with vector movement (which is to me the awesome), if you leave the board, you roll your Greens. On a 6, you come in where you left, right?

Also, we should go back to hexes for space. Otherwise, we'll lose our vector markers (unless they're big, I guess).


13. On 2006-11-07, Valamir said:

To do Vector Movement on the table top without hexes and without the multiple leapfrogging counters technique (which would get very confusing in Mechaton) I recommend d20s.

Set the number to the velocity and use the triangular face like an arrow to point the vector.  Set the die near the mech.

When its time to move, measure that distance from the mech in the direction of the arrow.  Move the mech.  Then apply your thrust etc.  Then measure from the die left behind (close enough) to get the distance and use the measuring tape as a guide to line up the arrow.  Move the d20 with the new number and new vector next to the mech.

Works very well, though you do have to be very careful not to bump the d20s...especially by rolling dice on the table.



14. On 2006-11-07, NinJ said:

Ralph, that's a good idea. I think we should try it.

It sounds really error-prone, though, given the number of dice on a Mechaton table. A given mecha already has a blue die for a Current Defend, maybe a Yellow if it's been targeted, maybe a Purple if we use some sort of command flag thing, very likely another mecha or two in HtH, and then a die that we have to carefully not move. I dunno.

In practice, maybe it's no big whup.


15. On 2006-11-07, NinJ said:

Oh! One last spec for the battle: we each get four Rockets, just cuz.


16. On 2006-11-07, CarlR said:

Will Mechs in Space remove their legs in favor of prehensile anii?  Shock crossover!

Maybe Mechaton campaigns could adapt the Cheap & Cheesy Adventure Generator from "In a Wicked Age" for creating scenarios?  Or is it unwise to cross the streams?  (If so, too late, we've already discussed locally mixing Dogs with Mechaton.)

It's interesting that for this campaign the Mechs seem to be powered armor size, if humans are two bricks tall.  I'd been musing over rules for infantry using 1x1 bricks, that made the mechs really massive.  Infantry only got 1 white die: move, spot, defend, attack hand to hand, choose one.  And after you step on them you replace them with a 1x1 plate. :-)

I like the space and water combat rules - simple but interesting.  Will those be in the final PDF?

For vector movement in space, you mean like Mayday had, where you have a token to represent your previous position, then you place a token for your future position along the same line and distance as from previous to current position, and adjust it's location by the amount of your green die?  Are you also going to use vector movement for missiles (so they keep going if they miss) or are they time-fused so if they miss, they go off instead of being a battle field hazard?

Space minefields would be nifty, but maybe that's too fiddly.

With the new and improved cover damage rule (5's vs. a target in cover damage the cover instead) has anyone tried the tactic of moving a mech with low armor value (or a high spot value) behind a mech with high armor value, in the hopes the third player will shoot it up and do damage to the mech in front as well?  I'm assuming you can't target your own mechs, though.

Do stations provide cover?  If so, can you blow them up by accident?  How about intentionally?  Boiled peaches again!


17. On 2006-11-07, NinJ said:

That might be the most surreal, if enthusiastic post I've ever seen on this blog.


18. On 2006-11-07, CarlR said:

Hey, what's this talk of purple command dice?  Did I miss something?

I did consider letting each side roll all its initiative dice and then assign them (instead of rolling for each mech), but it seemed likely to be REALLY slow as people dithered about optimal order.

Something Space Hulk had that I really liked was that the Space Marine player got 3 minutes to move all his marines, less 30 seconds for each sargent killed.  Perhaps a command mech (or station) could get an extra initiative die to assign to any mech on its side, but perhaps that should require an attachment.


19. On 2006-11-07, NinJ said:

The purple dice are hypothetical. Something we were talking about a while back. I don't know if they work, or what, or not.

An assignable initiative die isn't worth an attachment, I don't think. That space could be doing or preventing damage. Initiative gets overridden in the normal course of play anyway.

My most recent thought on the matter was that it could simply be the converse of Yellow dice, that a particular model gets to use the Command die instead of the normal number of dice for damage.


20. On 2006-11-07, JamesNostack said:

If I can interject here, on behalf of the potential customers:

This is cool & all, but part of what I liked about Mechaton is that it seemed like a fun, quick, simple entry-level war game involving Giant Lego Death Robots.

It seems like every week the rules get a little more "wrinkly."  That's kinda cool, but at the same time, c'mon.  If you've got people, why not jeeps?  Why not planes?  Why not hovercraft, which are like boats crossed with jeeps?  Or give special rules for your various "stations"—artillery, mech factory, teleporter node, etc.?  There are an infinite number of possible improvements/realistic-thingies/etc. that could be added, and delay my spending of cash for (potentially unnecessary) rules.

But—in my opinion—this gets further and further away from hot, quick Giant Lego Robot Death.


21. On 2006-11-07, JamesNostack said:

Oh, and obviously that's only an interjection on behalf of ONE potential customer.  Others likely feel differently.


22. On 2006-11-07, Uriel said:

ooo... space battle... shiny...

I've used command dice of two kinds when tinkering around some with the game this summer. My first idea was that you could reroll any dice by taking a -1 to you score, but, as NinJ pointed out at the time, this was kind of stupid.

I played one game where you could buy a pool of command dice at the beginning of the game for 2 points each that could be used as white dice but once used were gone. I don't know if it was a good idea, might work, but might not.

Then I played one game where we tried a bunch of crazy stuff, including falling, pushing and sliding rules, were one mecha could take a Command attachment, in this case a walkie talkie, which when rolled could be given to another (advice for the rookie) mecha for it to use as a white dice with that value but commander mecha would also have to remove one of its own dices of equal value -2 (because of the commanders attention being all over the place). I can't say if this worked either because that game was just crazy with new variants added every round.


23. On 2006-11-07, Vincent said:

James! This is all just campaign rules we're making. The core game will always be itself.

It may look like this stuff is delaying me putting the game up for sale and download, but it's not. Other stuff is delaying that.


24. On 2006-11-07, NinJ said:

James, these rules are fundamentally unchanged. In principle, they're the same. In practice,they're the same.

You'll notice that the "people" rule has to obey all normal rules for a piece on the battlefield. That they're people is color. It doesn't change anything. We wanted to go for this gnarly, Iraq/Afghanistan war thing (Gasaraki and VOTOMS being inspiration), and that was our decision. You might go for Gundam or Macross flavor. Whatever!

That it's a hovercraft, jeep, or a dude with an RPG only matters insofar as it affects the color. And that's stuff we agreed on at the outset. Your group will probably agree on totally different color.

There are principles to the rules of Mechaton. They are unchanged. You still build your guys and give them dice for what you've got. You still play for victory points against the Doomsday Clock. What we're doing here is making fun color and situation. A pickup game is still entirely possible, but there's other stuff you can do with it, too.


25. On 2006-11-07, NinJ said:

(xpost w/V.)


26. On 2006-11-07, Valamir said:

If I were to do a Command Die rule, I think I would make it a universal White Die.

i.e. replace any White Die for any unit on your side (except its own)

That's useful enough to be worth an attachment.  Simple enough to use in practice.  And "simmy" enough to be justified as superior command / control.

For campaign purposes, one can also provide Non Mech based attachments representing orbital resources.  Purple Command Dice, Yellow Spotting Dice, and Red Artillery Dice would all seem to be appropriate.  They'd work just like their mech based equivalents except have no range requirements and no Initiative order.  Just roll em and use 'em at the beginning of each turn.  Would give a reason to select a space battle in order to fight over control of orbital facilities.

One could treat them as Facilities "Spy Sattelites" worth 2 Yellow Dice, "Orbital Missile Packs" worth 2 Red Dice (or hell...4), "Command Center" worth 2 Purple Dice...or whatever.  Control of those facilities at the end of the battle would provide those dice to the owning side for rest of the campaign...until somone launches a space attack to take them away.

On d20 Vector Dice:  If bumping dice becomes an issue, the game Hard Vaccuum had a supply of small bright orange triangular numbered counters that work equally well (except swapping the counters is slightly more fiddly than rotating the die).  They work pretty slick and easier to maintain than the leapfrogging counters for larger battles.  Vector Space battles is my Thang.  The B5/FullThrust variant being a particular fave.


27. On 2006-11-07, NinJ said:

The sharable white die was actually the original idea for Yellows. I think it doesn't drive things enough. Vincent had stronger feelings about it but I don't remember what they were.

Vector markers are a good idea.


28. On 2006-11-07, Ben Lehman said:

d8s or d10s might be better vector markers (more stable, easier to read) than d20s.



29. On 2006-11-07, Valamir said:

You don't think a shareable white is effective?

I don't know...seems to me that if you have a bunch of light mechs with few attachments the value of the white dice increases proportionally, so the value of a command die increases accordingly...which would make sense.  Light units are typically deployed in greater numbers than heavy units and so are harder to command and so the benefit of having command assets is greater.

If one command attachment provided 2 purple dice...I think you'd pretty regularly see that get used.  Especially if there was no range limit.


30. On 2006-11-07, NinJ said:

Guns are the only things with two dice. Changing that indicates a change in game philosophy, which is what James is worried about. Two Command dingers - a walkie talkie and a flag or something - is perfectly reasonable. I can see a commander having a Green (gotta keep up with the guys under your command), a sword, and two flags or something.


31. On 2006-11-07, Valamir said:

Personally I don't see much difference between:
"Guns are the only things with two dice" and
"Guns and command attachments are the only things with two dice". But maybe that's just the grognard in me.

But you know's an idea I like better.  There are no "command attachments".  You just designate a unit as a commander and he rolls purple dice INSTEAD of white dice.

Option #1:  The purple dice can replace any white dice on your side, but can't be used for yourself...making the command mech vulnerable and thus freely letting players choose to designate mechs as command if they choose

Option #2: The purple dice can replace any white dice on your side, and CAN be used for yourself...making purple dice inherently superior to white dice and requiring a limit.

A good limit might be "only during campaigns" with each side having a limited number of command mechs available that if destroyed are NOT replaceable during the campaign.

I'm liking that option #2 quite a bit actually.

IIRC there's also been some talk about Ace mechs getting extra white dice...Ace Commanders would be pretty nasty...and huge targets.


32. On 2006-11-08, Andrew Kenrick said:

Coming to this party late, but going back to the unarmed human movement - why not have them move directly away from the closest mech, rather than in a direction of the mech's choosing? Makes sense to flee in terror from the giant death robot after all.

And treating them as cover ... nasty!


33. On 2006-11-08, NinJ said:

Ralph, what's an Ace?

Andrew, if we did that, they'd flee effectively and then be out of the game. If they run around in a panic, they'll retain their relevance. This isn't a simulation issue, it's an issue of not wasting pieces.

Now, it might be that they don't move fast enough to get out of the game before it's over, but I bet it's more fun this way.


34. On 2006-11-08, Vincent said:



35. On 2006-11-08, Thomas Robertson said:

Your left or my left!?



36. On 2006-11-08, Vincent said:



37. On 2006-11-08, Valamir said:

Am I misremembering?  I thought there was some talk about distinguishing veteran/experienced mechs with an extra white die in some thread or another.

Maybe I was imagining it...or mistaking my own fevered house rule musings for an actual thread...


38. On 2006-11-08, Sydney Freedberg said:

Red Three-Six, stop stomping on the damn civilians, they're impossible to clean off afterwards.


39. On 2006-11-08, NinJ said:

Oh, yeah, Ralph. I remember. I dunno; we haven't really looked back on that idea.



40. On 2006-11-08, NinJ said:



41. On 2006-11-08, CarlR said:

For a campaign game, I like the idea of giving rookie pilots only one white die, and if they survive their first mission they get the standard two white dice.  After scoring five kills they're aces and get three white dice.

It would be extra overhead to track pilots, but could be extra trash talk fun.  Perhaps they should be able to bail out of their mech before it's destroyed and become a puny human scampering to safety.  Stompy stomp!

Optional Anime Rule: Teenagers who unexpectedly find themselves piloting a mech are rookies for their first turn, then aces.  Go figure.


42. On 2006-11-08, NinJ said:

I'm not comfortable monkeying with the core mechanic of the game (even if they were my rules, which they're not. I just keep demanding stuff and Vincent keeps giving it to me). White dice aren't bonus dice or anything like that. They represent options that you have as a player. They don't represent anything! Adding color to them by knee groining or whatever is fine, but that's not what they do.

Look, the campaign rules don't effect the rules of play. They lend color to what you're fighting over but they don't change how you fight. If they did, it would change the fundamental ways the game works.

Vincent, I want to know your judgement on this kind of thing. Do I get an extra White for using consistent heraldry on a guy or something? Does that break your vision of the game? Oddly, adding a White doesn't break my vision, but taking one away sure does.


43. On 2006-11-09, Vincent said:

Strategizing for this battle

Okay, J and Em. Here's what we do and my thoughts about it.

1. An army is 3-8 mechs plus 2 stations. J's already given each of us one of our stations, so that's cool. What we need to do is decide for ourselves which of our units we're going to field.

2. The defender starts out in control of this PM guy. The defender's the one with the smallest, weakest army; we'll find out which of us that is at the beginning of the battle. So if you want to start out holding the PM, aim for the smallest, weakest army you think you can win with.

3. Holding the PM at the end of the battle matters. So does winning victory points. Winning victory points plus holding the PM at the end of the battle is best, but giving one up to maximize the other is good if it's the best you can get.

4. This is a society & conscience battle. Right now, J's S&C is 3, mine is 2, and Em's is 1; whoever holds the PM at the end of the battle gets the +1.

If J holds the PM at the end, he really solidifies his S&C lead. I'm not comfy with that. Probably you aren't either, Em.

If I hold the PM at the end, I take J's S&C lead away from him. I bet you aren't comfy with that, J.

So Em's in the best spot. If I have to throw the PM away, I'm going to want to throw him to Em. If J has to throw the PM away, he's going to want to throw to Em too.

J's in the worst spot - if Em has the choice, she'll probably throw the PM to me, not to him. That way she'll have to win only two future S&C battles to tie, not three.

This is all subject to our on-the-spot strategizing about victory points, of course.

5. Okay! The PM is a moving station. Here are the rules:

a. After all the mechs go, before the unarmed humans move, the PM moves 3. The PM can't pass through cover.

b. The PM can't leave the field until doomsday.

c. By default, whoever holds the PM moves him.

d. If the PM comes under fire, though, someone else moves him. It's the person with the highest spot on him. (If you hold the PM, you can have a mech spot him, for just this reason.)

So if you want to control how the PM moves, here's how: attack him (or let someone else attack him) and put a high yellow die on him. The attack doesn't resolve, it only opens him up to outside control. I'm thinking of it as confusing intel on his limo's onboard nav; whoever has the best comms relationship with the limo has the most influence over how it drives.

We might want to figure a couple extra yellow dice into our armies, for this reason. It's up to us individually.

Those are my thoughts!


44. On 2006-11-09, Vincent said:

If we ever do ace pilots, we'll give them free colored dice, not extra white dice. "This is Captain Mary! She's EXTREMELY STABBY. She gets a free red die at hand to hand." "This is captain Mitch. He's awesome at spotting. He gets a free yellow die."

Purple dice for leaders, meh. Yellow dice include communications as well as surveillance; I think yellow dice are good for leaders. "I do the flag semaphore that says 'see that guy over there? To the left? Yeah him. Kick his butt for me, thanks?'"


45. On 2006-11-09, NinJ said:

Re: extra dice for aces: That makes sense. One extra die for being an ace?

I'm comfortable using Yellows for command flags and stuff and I've done it before.

Re: Attacking the PM: I don't get it. Don't the Yellows dictate where he goes? Or do higher attack results do that, too? (both make sense to me).

Re: objective modifiers: Interesting. You'll always have to fight hardest for the stuff you want the most. Worldwide Jihad, here we come!


46. On 2006-11-09, Vincent said:

If the PM doesn't come under fire, he goes wherever he wants to go, as determined by whoever's flag is clipped to him. If he comes under fire, then he starts to do stupid things like drive toward the giant robot who's shooting at his bodyguards.

After the first attack on him, there's no reason for anybody to attack him again that turn. All the attack does is switch his chauffeur from "I go where Mr. PM wants" to "HELP ME WHERE DO I GO OH GOD PLEASE GET ME OUT OF HERE, AUTOMATED LIMO SATELLITE NAV SYSTEM!"

This is for the benefit of the player who holds him. Say you hold him. You get to drive him around a) if someone shoots at him and you put the highest yellow die on him, or b) if no one shoots at him, no matter what the yellow dice are. So if you can keep us too busy shooting at your mechs to spare a shot at him, you get to drive him, even if we're spotting the tuna salad out of him.


47. On 2006-11-10, Seth Ben-Ezra said:

>"I do the flag semaphore that says 'see that guy over there? To the left? Yeah him. Kick his butt for me, thanks?'"

This quote makes me happy.

Pretend this is Marginalia.  ;-)


48. On 2006-11-12, JamesNostack said:

Vincent: with all this new campaign talk stuff, with fancy social consequences and whatnot, could this be the military side of Red Sky AM?


49. On 2006-11-12, Vincent said:

Nope! Red Sky AM is a whole different game.


50. On 2006-11-14, Tom said:

Oh hey,

For a future game, someone really needs to drop in on E-4 and seize the island there.  Then you'd be able to exercise a lot of control over ground transport within the city.  Plus you get to have a "Pegasus Bridge" scenario.



51. On 2006-11-14, Vincent said:

I made a bad boo boo. In our game, J and Em, an army is three to six mechs, not three to eight. Three to six!

This makes me sad; I've been looking forward to fielding 8 mechs. However I think you'll both agree with me that 24 on the table would be too dang many.


52. On 2006-11-14, NinJ said:

Yeah, I was surprised about that. Too bad. A big furball could have been fun, but probably add an hour.


53. On 2006-11-17, Madu said:

I hope you are ready for fan art, because I have some here.  Whether this is a good thing or a bad one, I leave to you.

Image Hosted by

As for the factions with kewl technology, I am sorry that you get no propaganda poster.  Let me simply say my loyalties will always lie with those who use clunky, ugly, crudely-functional diesel-powered thingies, regardless of race, creed, or species.

While I'm on the subject... what are the general thoughts on drones?  I have a setup with a rogue insurgent in a generation 4.1 ptiman—it has 4 remote-linked hover drones that it controls.  I was thinking a red die (short range) and a single white die for each drone—but that if lines of fire and terrain permit, the drones can pool their dice for maximal effect.  The drones and the ptiman have IFF transponders so they don't accidentally shoot each other, but that's about it.  The rogue has a pocket nuke (stolen from the Nyetchen rebels up north) and his goal is blow up a provisional gov't office, or an invader's army barracks.  Kind of a moving target a la the PM.

Permit me to wind up by saying "Kudos!" to all involved.  I have followed this blog with glee.

Warm regards,



54. On 2006-11-17, Vincent said:


That's the awesomest ever!


55. On 2006-11-17, NinJ said:



I'm finially finishing The World's Longest Project and can make some posts already. There will be pictures!


56. On 2006-11-17, NinJ said:

Oh, hey, that illustration must be of a really top-of-the-link Chucker ??? it's got an enclosed cockpit!



57. On 2006-11-17, Madu said:


Those propaganda boys always gussy up the pix.  I had to talk them out of adding chrome inlays, fuzzy dice, and a pile of severed heads.

Having second thoughts about nixing the severed heads, now.



58. On 2007-08-11, dmq said:

hey, vince(nt)? would it be possible to get a full set of rules in one spot?
'cuz i have some vague idea of the rules and i've been trying to pick up bits from these blogs.
if so, could you post it?


59. On 2007-08-12, NinJ said:

Vincent's pretty busy for the next week and a half, but before I join him, I can point you to the Lumpley Games store.


60. On 2007-08-12, dmq said:

thanks, j, but no thanks
i have no ability to buy stuff online, cuz im 13 yrs. old

yeah, ill just wait a week and a half, i have time to spare


61. On 2007-08-13, Vincent said:

Dmq, email me at lumpley at gmail dot com. I'll set you up with the rules.


62. On 2007-08-14, dmq said:



63. On 2007-08-14, dmq said:

just tried it, i got a fialure notice from yahoo mail, so no do.

perhaps you could post a link to the full rules (are they on the internet?)


64. On 2007-08-15, ScottM said:

The rules are in his store; I think Vincent was being nice and offering to send you a copy for free, rather than charging you.  That's as close as it comes to being on the internet... though this is an awfully good start.


65. On 2007-08-16, dmq said:



66. On 2007-10-29, Traifan said:

I would think that drones would work the same way as squishies, er, humans with guns.  A squad is the same as a mech.  Is that right Vince?


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