ScrapYard Armory

A BattleTech weblog

Dec-18-2008

Strategic Operations – Review

Strategic Operations is out now in PDF form at least.  For those of you wondering if this new tome is worth the money, I’m providing my humble opinion in this review.  This is a huge book to be sure, so I’ve broken down my comments by section.   Enjoy!

General Rules

The first few sections of the book are devoted to some lesser known yet useful rules covering both the mundane (Moving Cargo) to the hotly requested (Search and Rescue).  While not every gamer will take to every rule, some will be the missing link for gamers looking for a nagging answer to their peculiar gaming quandary.  Yeah, we’ve got a rule for that now…

I am very disappointed in the fatigue, morale, and linked scenario rules.  They are, except for the occasional proof read edit, a direct copy-paste from Combat Operations.  There is no value added in these rules for anyone who already has this FanPro product.  I wish they would have at least provided some additional innovation to make it fresh and unique.  A brief example in the same flavor of those provided in the Starterbooks would have gone a long way.

In order to use these rules, players will have to put pen to paper and patch all of the holes before they fire the first round.  Otherwise, players will find themselves arguing intent of the rules mid game.  There is no faster way to kill the fun in any game when you have to take a station break for rules arbitration.  This has nothing to do with a lack of creativity on the part of the player base in case you were going to suggest.   Beer and pretzels, enough said.

The Linked Scenario rules could have at least had an example to convey the intent of the writers and play testers.  This stuff was play tested right?

Advanced Aerospace

Aerospace combat, the way it was meant to be played.  Strategic Operations ushers in the true embodiment of deep space combat with Warships, Dropships, and Fighter Squadrons.  These rules are a gem and I can’t wait to try them out.  For the Aerospace enthusiast, this section alone is worth the cost of the book or PDF.

I have already commented on some of the advanced rules that were provided as previews.  With the full picture in place, I am now very anxious to get some Warship action on.  I hope more people in the CBT community feel the same.  It is the only way we will be seeing more games promoted by the Demo Team.

Maintenance, Repair, and Salvage

I’m honestly not a huge fan of AccountTech.  That’s why we have the Warchest system after all.  However, I’ve given the rules a good read.  They are about as detailed and complete as we the players are going to get.

Just a little snippet if I may;

It is recommended that players reserve optional rules for situations where each player is responsible for only a small number of units.

Translation: We are not responsible for those who would run an entire company (or more) using these rules.

All through this section there are plenty of good examples that flesh out the rules presentation making it palatable.   Very well done all around.  I might be tempted to run a force using these rules but would probably be more interested in creating a tool to assist in the record keeping instead.  The extra flavor text in the examples make even the most mundane rules, such as those involving the acquisition of replacement parts, fun to read.

Orville fails the Availability Check and swears that next time he buys a new fighter, he’s going to buy Free Worlds League.

Battle Force

BattleForce is a fast play rules system to fight large scale Battletech universe games.  We are talking Battalion versus Battalion for a normal game.  Regiment on Regiment becomes the new long format.

The rules are solid, providing a way for players to integrate every form of Battletech unit in their games.  This includes Warships and Fighter Squadrons by the way.  That recreation of Case White you’ve been thinking about running all of a sudden is looking more and more feasible.

The real kicker that is going to make it easy for players to give the game a try is the included playing counters.  These are available for free from the Strategic Operations product page.  Once again the developers at Catalyst have shown quite a bit of good will to the players.  They have clearly presented a strategic image for the game.  You get a sense from reading the rules the grand scale that BattleForce is.

The included counters are going to make things very easy to get started.  Bravo.

Miniatures Rules

The miniature rules as presented are a straight copy-paste from the free edition available online.  They even reused some of the pictures that debuted in the Battletech Compendium: The Rules of Warfare.  Other pictures were updated, why not all of them? Since this is already provided free, I don’t see the value here.  When the book was pushing the page count, why would they add in these rules that are already provided elsewhere?  Catalyst could have used that space for something new, like a Linked Scenario example or two.

The last quick addition to the book, and seemingly the cherry on the top of a wildly varied sundae of Classic Battletech goodness is the Quick Strike rules.  Essentially, take two parts Miniature rules, one part BattleForce, and a dash of Click-Tech MechWarrior, shake well and serve chilled.  These rules can make an excellent bridge for converting players.  Makes me very glad I already have a healthy selection of MechWarrior figures.

Verdict: BUY

Strategic Operations will be one of the best volumes out of the Core rulebook set.  If you had to choose between Tactical or Strategic Operations, go with Strategic Ops.  I imagine the average Classic Battletech player will find Strategic Operations rules they will use much more frequently than those provided in Tac Ops.

This one was worth the wait despite it’s flaws.  Here’s hoping that Interstellar Operations can bridge the gap to truely large scale warfare in the Inner Sphere.

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  1. Quigs Said,

    So basically what I said a year ago, with the product not needing to be split over 2 books, and filled with re-used sections of combat ops. Awesome.

  2. Brian Said,

    You are probably close. The Combat Ops material with the Miniatures rules don’t really take all that much room in the book. I doubt that Interstellar Ops would fit in that space if they were left out.

    That said, Interstellar Ops has to do a better job refreshing the Combat Ops Inner Sphere in Flames rules. I’m going to be bummed if they screw that up like they did the linked scenarios.

  3. quigs Said,

    Yeah, I remember the trouble you were having trying to get the broken rules they printed out to work, and TPTB response being “Use your imagination and fill in the blanks.”

    Gee, thanks jackass. Next time they wonder why the battletech torrent gets bigger with the release, they should use their imagination and fill in the blanks where their money used to be coming in.

  4. Dan Said,

    Nice review Brian. I was going to buy it anyway of course, but now I’m really looking forward to it.

    Also, I thought you would like to know I added you to my blogroll.

  5. Brian Said,

    Thanks for the comment Dan! I’ll be glad to add you to my blogroll as well if you don’t mind. Just give me till after the holidays to sort out a few things.

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