When we first put together MechaStellar has a fun set of combat rules for our miniature Mechs we put units into a few different categories. Previously we had Versatile, Gunner, Hi-Mobility and a close-combat Brawler.
The all-purpose Versatile role good at just about everything; Gunners which includes support types with artillery, snipers, and any suit that focused more on ranged combat than melee; Hi-Mobility were for the units that were still versatile but sacrificed some offense for more speed and defense and lastly the close combat type who would trump anyone in melee with a bit of enhancement movement to go along with it.
It was a fun categorization that lasted a long while from 2017 till 2020 but once we switched over to Version 5 we also took on a new system. You see there were definitely some flaws in the old system. Each of those four would modify Shooting, Melee, Evade, and Movement and in VER 2-4 they also modified Action Points. Two of the roles, Versatile and Hi-Mobility, were spread out among each category. Gunner was entirely focused on Shooting (and previously Action Points) while Battler was solely on Melee with some movement.
Balancing these proved to be tricky, make one too good at shooting and it invalidates the point of Hi-Mobility evasive units. Battlers were often ineffective if they couldn’t get into melee, but if you bumped up their evade you began stepping on the toes of Versatile and Hi-Mob units. Versatile and Hi-Mob were a bit too similar as well.
Eventually I got lucky and stumbled across a post on MechaTalk, one of my favorite forums that I’ve been lurking on for over a decade. It’s a fantastic place to learn about nitty gritty details of various kinds of Mechs especially the Gundam franchise. In the post it talks about how various Mobile Suits are classified in the Japanese sources. You have an Fighter Type, Attack Type and a Bombardment type as well as a few specialty ones like Assault, Sniper, and Reconnaissance. What I had found fascinating was how many suits in Zeta Gundam were labelled as Attack types as opposed to Fighter types.
It’s one of my favorite threads; from a design perspective and I’ve been referring back to it for years to see if my thoughts on a Suits role match up with the official sources. When I had hit that brick wall with balancing I was lucky to stumble on that post again when I was trying to gather some information on how different suits performed. I thought what better time than now to adopt this system. So we transitioned to the following:
Versatile & Brawler -> Fighter types (Named Battler in our system)
Hi-Mobility -> Attack types (Named Raid in our system) or Interceptor types
Gunner -> Bombardment types (But we kept the name of Gunner)
So with these four combat roles it gave a bit of extra design room. Battlers would be good at Shooting and Melee, with some added evasiveness to set them apart from Gunners. Raid types would be fast with decent shooting, melee and evade. Interceptor types would have the best Evasions with decent everything else. While Gunners would focus only on shooting, with a trick up their sleeve to account for the fact they were poor at Melee, Evade and movement. Mathematically it looks like this:
Battler – Shooting+2, Melee +2d10, Evade+1
Raid – Shooting+1, Melee +1d10, Evade+1, Movement+3
Interceptor – Shooting+1, Melee+1d10, Evade+2, Movement+1
Gunner – Shooting+2 and Gunner’s Gambit
Gunner’s Gambit: You may give up your chance to move in for a free Aim action (Shooting+2) or a free shooting action with an Overwatch or Indirect Fire weapon.
Gunner’s Gambit was written specifically because we wanted the Gunner combat role to encompass Sniper types, Cannon types, and those with multiple weapon system. Aim for the Snipers, doubling up on Indirect fire for the Bombardment types (Guntanks, Xamels and Missile boats) and Overwatch for those with multiple weapon system allowing you to fire your primary weapon and then also fire a Machine Gun or Beam Pistol. It’s been a favorite of playtesters so far.
Lastly the specialty suits like Melee and Sniper were added on as Special Frame types in addition to the Heavy Arms, Indomitable and Assault we had previously. This allowed for some fun like making the G-Line suit a Melee Gunner making it even more versatile. We’ve also tried giving Sniper to certain units that are adept at dancing around the battlefield and striking key targets even during the maelstrom of war, in particular we decided on the Hyaku Shiki for this.
Overall, the new Combat Role system has been a great success. In the past we had a lot of trouble with roles stepping on each others toes, now by giving several of them a similar base and letting them excel at one particular thing (Battlers – Offense, Raids – Movement, Interceptors – Defense, Gunners – Action economy) it’s made the gameplay very fun and distinct. As always thanks for reading!