MechaStellar VER 8 – Tabletop Gundam Gameplay Example – Setup and Round 1

Tabletop Gundam Tactics

In this series of posts we are going to do a Gameplay Example for MechaStellar using units from Mobile Suit Gundam. We are using some fan favorites from the 08th MS Team including Shiro Amada, Karen Joshua, and Terry Sanders Jr, who will be referred to as Shiro, Karen and Sanders for short.

On the Zeon side we have an assortment of Zaku IIs, Zaku Cannons, Doms all being led by an amphibious Acguy. You can look at the Mecha Unit Profiles for the Federation and Zeon on the downloads page. The Gundam models used for this playtest are from the Gundam 1/400 collection.

Below the break we will cover the game setup, deployment, and the 1st round of a 5 round game of MechaStellar. We will go by turn by turn each round and include some insights into the Gundam Tactics.

Terrain Setup

First off we set up terrain. Using a kitchen table that is roughly 4ft by 4ft, we spread a gamemat across it providing a nice backdrop. From there we gather terrain and give each player an equal amount to place on their half of the battlefield.

Dom Acguy Zaku II

The 3d Printed Trees are from thingiverse; they were spray-painted forest green with a quick brown coat applied to all the tree trunks and some white dry brushing to highlight the trees.

Sanders Gundam Ground Type 180mm cannon

The players talked it over and thought it would be fun to put most of the trees down the center line, obscuring a lot of Line of Sight (LOS) unless someone got on the high ground. Each player then placed hills and rock formations where they thought it would benefit them the most.


Dom Acguy Zaku II Zaku Cannon

Each side deployed their forces a distance from the table edge equal to the unit’s Sensors range. Currently the only weapons that can reach across the board are the artillery cannons, so each player had to consider whether they would want a unit to be visible or not during deployment. The Federation player only wanted Shiro’s Ez8 Gundam to be visible due to his Commander trait (see below).

Karen Gundam Ground Type Beam Rifle Shiro Ez8 Gundam Machine Gun

The Federation player put Sanders and his artillery cannon equipped Gundam behind a large rock formation. The Zeon player did the same with one Zaku Cannon while the other perched on a hill behind cover. Most Zeon units were placed near cover; the rest were placed near the edge of the map on a flanking route.

Federation Army List and Tactics

Federation 500pts Starting Momentum 3

  • Shiro’s Ez8 Gundam with machine gun (150pts) with Ace Pilot upgrade (+50pts)
  • Karen’s Gundam Ground Type with Beam Rifle (150pts)
  • Sander’s Gundam Ground Type with Artillery Cannon (150pts)

Shiro’s Commander Trait – Galvanizing Display – Gain 1 Momentum any turn your Commander is attacked.

With this trait the Federation player will always try to put Shiro out front and visible to the enemy. Skilled and Ace Pilots may target any unit on the battlefield, but all other units must target the nearest enemy. So as long as Shiro is the closest model they will have to attack him, which generates Momentum for the Federation team.

Since each member of the team is at least a Skilled Pilot they all have access to the universal pilot skill “Make it Count” which gives them a bonus critical hit when attacking the enemy at the cost of 1 Momentum.

With the Ace Pilot upgrade Shiro can use the “Flawless Evade” skill which lets him evade any hits on a Shooting attack, but the skill cost increases each round.

In MechaStellar Skilled and Ace Pilots also gain access to Pilot Traits. These are passive abilities that provide a powerful boost to that unit.

Karen has the “Seasoned Veteran” Trait which provides a bonus hit against level 0 units, which is the entire enemy army; this will come in handy with her beam rifle.

Sanders is the best shot in the group and has the “Gunnery Expert” trait which lets him either extend his range or improve his hits.

Last but not least we have Shiro who by default has the “Idealist” trait which offers him additional protection when he is below 50% HP. It also gives bonus Momentum if the Federation player is unlucky and Shiro is destroyed. With the Ace Pilot upgrade the player opted to give Shiro “Fighting Spirit” to represent him refusing to give up at the end of the series, this trait also kicks in below 50% HP and gives bonus Momentum or a Focus Action.

The Federation player is outnumbered but she plans on making the most out of her turns. She will be using Sanders to try and pick off the enemy artillery, Shiro up front to draw enemy attention and gain Momentum while Karen will be used to take out the biggest threat in range of her beam rifle each round.

Zeon Army List and Tactics

Zeon 500pts Starting Momentum 3

  • Acguy (70pts)
  • 5x Zaku II with Machine Gun (30pts each)
  • 2x Zaku Cannon (40pts each)
  • 2x Dom (100pts each)

Acguy Commander Trait – Commando – Your opponent may only target your Commander if they are the closest model. Count allied models when determining if the Commando is the closest model. This trait overrides any other targeting abilities such as Return Fire, Pilot Level, or Sniper units.

With this trait the Acguy can move around freely since the enemy Gundams cannot target him as long as any other unit (including other Gundams) are closer than the Acguy. For most game types, your opponent will score many victory points for taking down your Commander so we opted to keep him as protected as possible.

As for the rest of the army: the Doms are a high speed unit with a destructive giant bazooka. The Zeon player plans on using one Dom to move around the hillside to flank, while the other Dom will do hit and run attacks through the tree line.

Since the bazookas are the strongest weapon in his army, he plans on activating those later in the round after the Zakus have drained the enemy Momentum. The Zakus will steadily advance while firing machine guns while the Zaku Cannons will lay down artillery fire onto the enemy.

Key Concepts

Momentum is an army wide resource that represents your armies morale, training, expertise, luck and overall forward Momentum in the flow of battle. You gain Momentum by destroying enemy units, making a melee attack, and surviving the round.

The most common use for Momentum is to protect your units. Lose 1 for each hit you want to negate. Typically Momentum is reserved for high damage attacks like a bazooka or cannon, or versus weapons with high armor penetration such as a beam rifle or beam saber which has a chance to instantly destroy a unit. Momentum can also be used on pilot skills.

Momentum is often expresses as [M+1] or [M-1] which means gains 1 Momentum or loses 1 Momentum.

Return Fire is a crucial part of the activation system and is intended to make the game feel more like a firefight. The way it works is that anytime a unit is attacked, if they haven’t been activated yet you have to activate them next and if possible attack the unit that attacked you. Skilled and Ace pilots can ignore the targeting effect.

Attacks are an abstract concept for each weapon and doesn’t necessarily translate on a 1:1 basis. For instance a beam rifle attack makes 3 shots, you can think of that as three shots in rapid succession or a single well placed shot that would cause significant damage compared to a glancing hit. Many weapons have a Rapid Fire modifier where if the unit gets within 1/2 the maximum effective weapon range they gain more shots (or less shots for artillery and sniper weapons).

Shooting and Evade in MechaStellar the attacker merely needs to declare their target, the defender then needs to roll to evade their attacks. For instance if the attacker makes 3 Shots at Accuracy 10 and the Defender has Evade+3, then they need to roll a 7+ on each die to avoid being hit. A 1 rolled on Evade signifies a critical hit to the Defender, which counts as 2 hits.

Round 1

Starting Momentum Fed 3 / Zeon 3.

Gundam Ground Type

Turn 1 – The Federation wins initiative and activates Sander’s Gundam Ground Type first.  Sanders will strafe between rock formations and attack the visible Zaku Cannon. He uses the “Make it Count” skill [M-1] giving a bonus critical hit on his attack.

The artillery cannon makes 4 shots, so the Zaku Cannon will roll 4d10. Sander’s has accuracy 9, and Gunnery Expert gives +1 Hit, the Zaku Cannon has Evade+2 and so they need an 7+ to evade each attack.

The Zaku Cannon makes a lucky roll of [7,8,9,10] = 0 Hits + 1 Hit from Gunnery Expert and + 1 Critical Hit from Make it Count which totals to 3 Hits.

The Zaku Cannon is behind Cover which will automatically block one hit, the Zeon player chooses to lose 1 Momentum [M-1] blocking a 2nd hit and lastly takes 500 DMG from the 3rd hit.

End of turn Momentum – Fed 2 / Zeon 2.

Turn 2 – Sanders is out of sight so the Zaku Cannon can either fire on Shiro giving them +1 Momentum or skip shooting.  In its current position behind cover the tree line blocks a clear shot onto Shiro. The Zeon player then checks the height, since it’s only an inch the Zaku Cannon can ascend the terrain without needing to burn an action on “Full Throttle” which allows you to ignore terrain elevation.

On top the hill the Zaku Cannon has a clear shot against Shiro. The Zaku Cannon like many artillery types has two actions, they use one action to “Focus” which lets them target anyone on the battlefield within range; their 2nd action is used one a shooting attack. Thanks to Shiro’s Commander trait they gain [M+1] for being attacked.

The artillery cannon makes 4 shots, the Zaku Cannon has accuracy 8, Shiro has Evade+3 so he needs a 5+ to evade each attack.

Shiro rolls 4d10 and gets [3,4,4,10] = 3 Hits.

His shield blocks one, then as an Ace Pilot he has Flawless Evade which negates all the attacks and has a Momentum cost equal to the round so [M-1]. While Shiro would gain benefits from being below 50% HP, the Federation player is wary of losing that much HP in Round 1.

Afterwards, the Zaku Cannon then moves an inch backwards descending back into cover.

End of Turn Momentum – Fed 2 / Zeon 2.

Ez8 Gundam Ground Type

Turn 3 – Shiro uses full throttle which improves his movement to advance further up the field. The trees are obscuring terrain so if there’s a tree in the way of shooting Line of Sight (LOS) the enemy cannot target him; because of this the Federation player leaves most of the Ez8 exposed hoping to get Galvanizing Display to generate more Momentum.

Acguy Zaku II Zaku Cannon

Turn 4 – The Zaku cannon behind a rock formation uses a Focus action to target any model then attacks with Indirect Fire (IDF). IDF normally gives a -2 Accuracy penalty but since they are not moving the penalty is reduced to -1.

The artillery cannon makes 4 shots, the Zaku Cannon has accuracy 7 (8-1) and Karen has Evade +2. She needs a 5+ to Evade each attack.

Karen rolls 4d10 and gets [4,6,6,10]. Only 1 Hit which is blocked by her shield.

Gundam Ground Type

Turn 5 – Karen uses the full throttle action that increases movement an allows her to clear the high terrain using the heavy thrusters in her backpack. Since her model is currently above the head of other models she gains [Tactical Advantage] from being on the high ground. Next round she can continue moving to get a better vantage point or get a better position and use the cliff face as cover.

Turn 6 – The Dom on the right side of the field pushes forward and sees Karen in his sights. Even if Shiro is closer distance wise, since he is not visible he does not count as a valid target. The Dom fires its Giant Bazooka at Karen.

It makes 3 shots and has accuracy of 9, Karen has Evade+3 so she needs a 6+ to Evade each attack.

Karen rolls 3d10 and gets [8,9,10] = 0 Hits, very lucky for her Gundam!

A lot of fun in wargaming are the unexpected rolls and the laughs this brings the players. For this one the players jokingly call the Dom pilot a rookie who lost his cool firing blindly while shouting “It’s a Gundam!”

Dom Zaku Cannon

Turn 7 – The second Dom uses their action on Full Throttle to move further. They stop behind the line of sight blocking forest. This leaves options open for the Zeon player next round where he can do a strafing shot on Shiro or proceed directly towards Sanders depending on how the round goes.

Tabletop Gundam Tactics

Turn 8+ – Since the Federation has no more units left to activates the Zeon player activates the rest of his units. The Zaku II units and the amphibious Acguy all use full throttle sticking behind the forest terrain which obscures LOS.

MS-09 Dom MS-06 Zaku II

At the end of the round each player gains M+1. End of Round Momentum – Fed 3 / Zeon 3.

Click here to see how the battle continues in Round 2.

4 thoughts on “MechaStellar VER 8 – Tabletop Gundam Gameplay Example – Setup and Round 1

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