Monday, September 19, 2011

Getting Repeatedly Shot in the Head

A CPLT-C1 Catapult, my all-time favorite BattleTech 'mech (and in the classic Ral Partha style), on the hex based map that came with BattleTech before FASA folded.
     It had been a while since I had played what is now known as Classic BattleTech.  I remember Mike Pempek having some of the supplement books for it – if not the rules – in 1985, and we were playing within a few months of learning that it could be a game.  Hell, I remember us slugging it out, Battlemaster vs. Crusader, as we repeatedly made mistakes as to just what the rules were (for example, I sure shouldn't have been able to pick up the Battlemaster's arm and beat the Crusader with it).
     When I was supposed to be getting an education, or at least going to class, I was playing BattleTech with my roommates in Iowa.  Okay, in the interest of accuracy, I got involved with playing while I was still being vigilant about attending class and stopped going for reasons that had nothing to do with the game.  Each of us put together a lance of mechs, and my unit wan named the Ice Demons (using the English D from the Detroit Tigers as the logo).  I played that unit, in tact, for almost three years.  I didn't lose a 'mech (giant robot tank) until a what-if scenario battle between (now Dr.) Jeffery Bergman's Ghost Bear Clan force and the combined forces of Snow Rangers (which included the Ice Demons) and Dave Jendrusiak's forces.
The modern CPLT-C1, nowhere near as fearsome (no matter what is written on the flaps)
     So, after a trip to Mt. Prospect to visit Games Plus, I spent part of my Sunday teaching someone the basics of Classic BattleTech.  How it isn't about just having the most firepower or the heaviest 'mechs.  It is about positioning and timing.  It is about skill, sure, but also about audacity.  But what I forgot to mention was that, much like life, you can win if you just repeatedly shot the other guy in the head (this assumes that the other guy, in both life and the game, is an enemy who would just assume do the same to you).
The CPLT firing in flight
     And that is how I came to be humbled.  To be laid low by someone unfamiliar with my many tricks and talents.  Shoot the Catapult in the head and kill the pilot.  Hit the Awesome in the head four times until the whole structure is gone.  Even the Enforcer, which stayed away from the heavy fighting, took a shot to the head.  I lost two 'mechs with their full compliment of weapons and most of their armor – my opponent's 'mechs were in much worse shape! – simply because I could do nothing about being repeatedly shot in the head.
The AWS-8Q Awesome done up like a Marik 'mech.  Mine had it's head blown off.
     But I still had a good time.  There is something about BattleTech that just speaks of enjoyment with pettiness ad bickering to me (though, to be fair, I do avoid tournaments and the crazier players).  It is a reminded of simpler times.  And it is how I think war should be fought: over folded maps of colored paper with miniatures representing fighting robots.

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