MechaStellar: Playtest Report – Zeta

Zeta Test Units 1
1/400 Scale Gundam Suits – Easy to find and make for great War Gaming

Last weekend we were fortunate enough to playtest a large number of games and game mechanic redesigns.  One large benefit of social distancing and the California stay at home order means we have a lot of time for indoor hobbies.  The pictures above and below show some the units we were using in various tests.

Zeta Test Units 2
I have a few 1/1200 Gundam battleships from our trip to Japan 2018.  Amazingly we got them for under $5 each.  They’re old kits that require glue to assemble but make for fun set pieces. 

This marks the third time we were playtesting Zeta suits and its a refreshing change of pace from the One Year War (OYW) suits that are far less mobile.  It also means we have to revise our tactics because our units are sturdier with a plethora of Gundarium alloy and far more mobile, especially transforming suits.

We started off with small battles of 2 on 2 since we hadn’t played Mechastellar in a bit.  Having powerful high HP units with lots of skill gave us both a chance to make tactical mistakes and not blow up instantly so that was nice.  It also marked the creation of our redesign of pilot skill being used in melee.  You can read more about it here.

After developing a fun melee system to try we used a number of grunt suits.  Most notably the Barzam and Nemo, too suits with very similar stat profiles.  Also an impressive rivalry.

Barzam Nemo struggle

The Barzam and Nemo were skilled up and given a chance to try out the new melee rules at a much more decisive level.  Less Skill Points to wager and far lower HP and it worked out great!  From there we tried out some tweaks the shield rules covered in this post with waves of Hizacks and Marasai fighting Nemos.

Our last test was trying one very powerful suit against multiple grunts.  In this case we used Haman Karn in her signature Quebley facing off against a number of Titans units.  This also gave some more testing time for our funnel rules.  We tried out a weaker version of funnels and a stronger version (higher damage).  From both sets of playtesting we decided on a few tweaks.

  1. Bump up the AP Cost of Funnels by +1 if used on back to back turns.
    1. We see funnels get used pretty regular but it takes time to set them up, and they typically are not firing non-stop.  We set up the AP cost bump to encourage the player to switch weapons every other turn.
  2. Funnels always blindside unless target is a highly skilled Pilot (6+) or a Newtype
    1. Previously, we had it that Funnels would blindside a lower level Newtype, we may try that again but we’re sticking with this one for now.
Zeta Funnels
The d6 were a quick and simple asteroid field for cover.  The lemon is still there from the Colony Laser test.

We also had a chance to try some formative Newtype rules.  Newtype increased a units price by 10pts per ‘level’.  Each Newtype level meant that 1/Round you can do the following:

      1. Reroll any one die (yours or your opponents)
      2. Negate Blindside

We treated Haman as Newtype Level 3 and used Quattro as Newtype Level 1.  So Haman could do this 3 times per round (+30pts) and Quattro once per round (+10pts).  We’ve tried other Newtype systems in the past to varying degrees of success and a few that broke the game.  This one is definitely not set in stone but we’re eager to try it out more and see how it does.

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