MechaStellar VER 8.3 Released – Stellar Warship Update

For August’s update we putting the Stellar back into MechaStellar. Our Stellar Warship rules for VER 8 have been in testing for a close to a year now, and we are now satisfied with where they are at to start releasing them this month. This month we release the Musai and Salamis from Mobile Suit Gundam. In the future we’ll release additional Stellar Warships from Gundam as well as other Mecha series such as the J-Ark from GaoGaiGar. Below we’ll talk about our Design Goals and the mecha tactics to employ.

MechaStellar was originally a game centered around travelling the stars in your space ship with a personal compliment of MS. As time went on and the game began to focus more on wargaming as a Gundam Tactics game the stellar warship rules sat on the backburner. If you pop over to the gallery the first photo shows VER 3 which focused on using stellar ships as objectives to attack or defend. In VER 3 and 4 these pieces had limited combat functionality. One of the goals for VER 8 was to establish stellar warships as a unit in your army to bring to the battle and support your forces.

Stellar Warship Design Goals

When designing Stellar Warships we had the following design goals.

Firepower and weapons cycling

Battlefield control via M-Particles

Warship weakness towards MS & Titans

Warships and Army Composition

Firepower and weapons cycling

We wanted our Stellar Warships to have a good host of firepower. But we also wanted to respect the lore where Mobile Suits supplanted big ships due to their powerful mobility. Developing a unit for heavy firepower while also ensuring that existing units could unflinchingly take one down was no easy task but a year later we’ve finally managed to thread the needle.

Most Warships will have a large amount of firepower, the next release will have the Magellan class battleship which has more than double the firepower of the Salamis; later on when we get to Zeta Gundam there is the Dogosse Giar which has an exceptional number of weapons.

While warships have considerably firepower, they can only concentrate it against large targets, so other warships for very large units including Mobile Armors like the Big Zam, Neue Ziel or Titans like Golion or Daitarn 3. This means your ships are most effective against other ships (or enemy center-piece units). Now if a smaller unit gets close Warships do have Anti-Air [AA] weapons which are the last line of defense.

When designing firepower we also wanted to consider rate of fire and the cycling of different weapons. Initially we started with a power system like we use for Titan units, but that proved very cumbersome, especially if you build an army with several warships. We switched to an Action system which was easier to manage.

When you watch Gundam the warships often fire off their weapons in barrages or salvos. We also see early on, when a ship encounters an unexpected enemy that it takes time to power up their weapon systems. We wanted to reflect this in the rules for ships.

Warships use an action to charge up and ready a weapon, once it’s ready it can fire for the rest of the battle. Early rounds of the battle typically involve powering up weapons and firing. For instance in the first round of combat a Salamis may spend all its actions powering its weapons and making them ready to fire in the 2nd round.

With a single action a Warship can fire all its weapons at once, in order to fire on smaller targets such as a Mobile Suit a Warship needs to establish a Target Lock which also costs an action, so Warships will have an action economy for the strategic player to consider. The Target Lock is lost if the MS leaves the Sensors range of the Warship, this allows an MS to strike and disengage protecting themselves from retaliation if their movement is higher enough.

Battlefield Control via M-Particles

Speaking of Sensors, Ships may also spread Minovsky particles prior to the start of the battle. When they reach combat density they affect the EM spectrum disrupting radio waves and non-shielded electronics. Minovsky particles are what allow the universe of Gundam to happen, disrupting radar, guided missiles and communications allowed for 18m giant robots with beam sabers to become the forefront of the war.

Either player may decide to spread M-Particles, in doing so any shooting attacks outside of your Sensor range have a -2 Accuracy penalty. This is a great way to protect your units from long range attacks. Warships in general bring several 60″ weapons to the table, so as your units advance across the table it’s good for the enemy to have poor accuracy.

Warship weakness towards MS & Titans

While M-Particles are one way Stellar battles change drastically, we wanted to ensure that MS retained an advantage over warships in the same way that fighters became a revolutionary attack vector during World War 2 towards Naval ships, we wanted MS (and Titans) to become what a warship fears.

On a basic level we implemented a simplified Battle Damage system for Warships where every failed Armor Saves results in a weapon system being destroyed. So a Musai with three twin-linked MPC can find itself without its primary weapons after three failed saves. What’s more, we made Warships unique in that each hit from a Penetrating weapon forces an Armor Save. This way Aces like Amuro and Char can take out a ship singlehandedly using only their beam rifle or giant bazooka. Still, we wanted a way for MS to take down warships using conventional weaponry like machine guns to better reenact major pivotal events like the Battle of Loum which shaped future doctrine and the superiority of Mobile Suits.

We developed several systems through playtesting, and in the last two months we’ve combined them into one unified mechanic which is Outmaneuver / Bridge Attack. Outmaneuver was one of several proposed plans to allow Mobile Suits to gain an advantage over one another, allowing a superior pilot to move through space like a fish in water and get the drop on their opponent, perhaps even Blindsiding them. Outmaneuver was a general mechanic combining several different ideas, including the old “Burning’s Gambit” pilot skill from VER 7. It ended up being quite successful and used for Bridge Attack.

Bridge attack lets a Mech to perform an attack run on the bridge of an enemy warship. Dodging and weaving through the Anti-Air fire they eventually wind up eye-to-eye with the crew on the bridge, if they succeed of course.

Bridge attack allows a Mech to deal massive damage to a ship and even allows weapons without Penetration like Machine Guns to deal Battle Damage and take out weapons on the ship. While destroying a Bridge doesn’t necessarily destroy the ship, after all many of the ships have secondary bridges, it does severely cripple the unit.

Should they fail though the MS / Titan is directly hit by the AA Fire of the ships which is a death sentence for many of the grunt suits. Outmaneuver and Bridge attack are where your best pilots will shine, after all several of the OYW aces like Amuro Ray and Tenneth Jung are responsible for sinking many enemy ships.

Warships and Army Composition

We also wanted Warships to factor into army building. When it comes to space, you need a Stellar Ship to bring your units to the battlefield. While there are several differing sources on operational time, one source mentions that the MS06-R1A, the Zaku II high mobility variant given to Ace Pilots had an operational time of around ~15 minutes. Since the R1A was a noted gas guzzler several estimates have been given that many Mobile Suits have operational time around the 30 minute mark.

As a result, sending a MS into a space battle without launching from a ship carrying it there would amount to a death sentence, by the time it reached the conflict it would already too low on propellant to be a threat. This is why we see Amuro launch on a rocket sled with the Nu Gundam during Char’s Counterattack to reach the Ra Cailum. A space battle can occur around a colony, ala 0080 War in the Pocket, but the majority of battles in space involve the MS launching from a ship.

When it comes to Warships we assigned each unit a Hanger stat, which draws from their overall number of equipment slots. The first two units we are releasing have a modest amount of slots, as they are small cruisers, so if you want to bring a large force you’ll need to bring several ships. Fortunately the Musai and Salamis are evenly matched in points, so for every ship you bring your opponent can easily match you.

We are still testing out rules to bring more Mobile Suits into battle, such as all the GMs and RB79 Balls that were physically strapped to the decks of Salamis and Magellan warships so you can expect those in a future date.

Summary of Updates

  • Released rules for Stellar Combat and Stellar Warships
  • Added two new Stellar Warships – Zeon’s Musai class cruiser and the Federation’s Salamis class cruiser.
  • All-Out Attack Pilot Skill switched from +10 Power for Titans to be double their power rating instead.
  • Persevere Pilot Skill changed to M-1, when below 50% reduces damage by an additional 100.  This broadens the use of the Skill so it’s useful outside of DMG 300 and below attacks.
  • Added note to the Cover section to instantiate that when drawing LOS units obscured receive a cover bonus
  • Added note to AOE weapons that they can only destroy at most 2 pieces of cover to fix a loophole in the Rampage / Defend the City game type.
  • Updated Battle Damage so Main Camera is 2-3 on the d10 roll.  Added -1 ACC to Main Camera damage.
  • Updated several Commands & Events (Self Destruct, Last Shooting, Narrow Escape, Missile Screen)

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