Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stand Down from Red Alert? Ummm... sure.


Well, it looks like Lee will take on additional work for another piece, the CM-33 Ammunition Carrier. It needs surroundings to look its best.

I apologize for the somewhat frantic tones of the previous post. No, this is not solely in response to all the folks out there who were waiting for word from The Powers That Be (TPTB) and, when they got it, immediately shouted “SEE?! WE TOLD YOU IT WAS ALL LIES/EXAGGERATION/SLANDER!” Apparently the fellow who reveals the dirty goings-on by way of a few publicized departures can have nothing but the most base of motives. Motives which appear to be manufactured on the spot if evidence for them is somewhat lacking.

This of course conveniently ignores the question which immediately comes up – namely, if some poor disgruntled ex-employee can publish misinformation simply because he’s no longer gruntled, what prevents TPTB – who are, after all, wicked men like the rest of us – from publishing opposing misinformation of their own with similar motivation?

And it does not help that the company site and its forums are all saying the same thing. Essentially, 'Show's over, folks. Nothing to see here. These aren't the battledroids you're looking for. Move along, move along.'

And the sheep obediently move on, totally failing to understand what has just happened. Or, far worse, they know perfectly well and nod with approval as they move along. "I won't let them catch me like that when I get to the top', they think to themselves, for they are secretly wolves inside that sheep's coat.

Homo Homini Lupus *

It appears some folks have faith in a company and its reps just because it is a company and its reps.

Gosh, they have more money than me. They must be right.

Gosh, they have their name on countless books and are legend among the BattleTech pantheon. They must be right.

Gosh, if I say anything suspect they will never publish my fanfic – or look at my art – or let me play alongside their Inner Ring – or consider me one of the Loyal Fans. They must be right.

This requires a curious sort of faith in people and institutions that I simply don’t share. Here's an example why:

Made Men...

Back in the days when I was a sailor, I watched a Chief cut to the head of the beer line on the flight deck over and over and over, getting extra beer for his buddies and drinking himself three sheets to the wind. Never mind that the rest of us had not had a beer in three months – or that we were restricted to a large and a small can on Beer Day and our names recorded so we could not pass through the long line twice. Nor were we allowed to give our beers away.

But this Chief not only cheated, he did so with the blessing of his fellow Chiefs, who sat there marking names off the lists while winking at his perfidy. The bastich even came down to the divisional office and bragged about it, inviting us up to watch him do it so we would understand what being a Made Man was like.

This was not the 1940s I speak of, people. This was 2003. It is still out there.

And frankly, I see Mistah Coleman as just another Made Man. As anyone who ever saw the movie ‘Goodfellas’ can tell you, regular folks don’t screw with a Made Man. So none of us has. However, his fellow Made Men appear to be willing enablers. The ones who weren’t, bailed the hell out at the first opportunity. And now a lot of players and readers and other folk who depended on the character of the writers and artists and management… well, we feel betrayed.

The Debate on the Various Forums

I was once accused by an atheist of employing ‘blind faith’ (what in Heaven’s name was he using?) Neither of us had any incontrovertible proof – which he saw as justifying his stance, and which I saw as a necessary condition for free will. He considered his feelings to be just as valid as any logic I could bring to bear – a curious reversal of our presumed roles - and it was eventually a case of live and let live.

The arguments going back and forth in the gaming community are something like this – either Catalyst Game Labs is absolutely a company and immediately suspect, or the naysayers are just absolutely unhappy fans with too many rejection slips. Both sides act as their viewpoint were an unanswerable finality whose very existence ruled out the possibility of an opposing opinion. It seems like there is no middle ground, but that is an illusion. Both parties could have valid points. I think if you can give the company some credibility, you should extend the same to the fellow who comes along with bad news. And vice versa.

The trouble is that, as with God, we have few clues and a lot of impassioned shouting going on around them.

-=[The Truth about Us and Catalyst Game Labs]=-

The truth is sobering. We players, readers and so on will not have any say in this series of events. We are - and always will be - spectators. It seems to me that the real lesson to be taken away from all this is: don't place too much faith in an institution or its components. People fail. So do companies. If we feel betrayed, it is because we expected a certain degree of moral perfection from CGL and its members that they simply cannot have. They make the game and do it well. This does not necessarily mean that as individuals they are more honest or chaste or temperate than the rest of humanity.

I mean no slur on the reputations of the various people who work for CGL, but there are plenty of examples outside the gaming community - men making millions of dollars, captains of industry, who go home and abuse their wives and children. There are talented movie stars, celebrities who can sing the telephone book and make it sound good, who cheat on their spouses and hop from bed to bed while fudging their tax returns. When ego is given its head, it corrupts everything, and that eventually includes reason and the instinct for self-preservation. Why would CGL be exempt from this? They are men and women, too.

Meanwhile, none of us has lost a dime. Or the chance to play BattleTech.

In Conclusion....

I will still buy BT product and play the game, no matter who produces it. The effects of having another company concoct the stories and maybe produce new rules is just too far above the level on which I play. It doesn’t affect me. Give me a three year period of time – 3060 to 3063 – and I can produce a Technical Readout, write reams of stories and play with giant stompy robots with delight for the rest of my life. That is the glory of the game we have chosen.

I want to remember that, not the Inner Ring and the lawyer-ese and the passionate snark from outraged fans with too many posts to their credit.

Operation Rat!

We played in Redmond today. My son was along for the ride. He had a good time, finding a lot of tactics in the game reminiscent of the methods he uses in his video game Call of Duty. I was tempted to cheat at least a half dozen times, but took only one and it was a re-roll of a questionable ‘cocked die’. So maybe I didn’t really cheat.

We were the Capellans, attacking a large domed building with fortified walls. The Davions were to guard it and keep us out. They failed, despite the building having only a single two-hex-wide entrance and plenty of cover inside. My son would have placed all the Davion units inside, spread out and waiting behind cover. I would have set four ‘Mechs at the door and made the enemy destroy them all to gain entry while shooting the piss out of them with my remaining units as they attacked.

As my son pointed out, there were answers to both of these strategies, but we’ll never know if they would have worked, because we were the attackers and our foe did nothing remotely the way we’d have done it.

The Davions lined up single file inside and shot at anything that approached the door. We sent a single Stalker up the middle outside to give them something to shoot at, discouraging them from venturing outside while we worked our way up either side to the entrance. It worked. We lost the Stalker. However, in a single turn we squirted into the building past the two badly mauled defenders they belatedly turned out to block us.

My Capellan Charger with a 2/3 pilot and an AC20 stepped into the doorway and in three turns, stripped the armor completely off the center torso of a Davion Thunderbolt and a Warhammer, as well as ripping the left torso and arm off a Dervish. I got some good SRM shots in as well, but the Warhammer pegged me with inferno rounds and I was rolling to avoid ammo explosion very quickly. Fourth Succession War ‘Mechs have single heatsinks. Brothers and sisters, it does make a difference.

My Charger went down. Meanwhile, I accomplished my private goal of getting a machine into the enemy’s backfield with a fast Javelin. Two SRM-6 launchers may not seem like much, but by the time I engaged, the enemy was full of holes. My son’s Catapult was the last to enter the building and put paid to the Warhammer and Thunderbolt with well-placed LRM-15s. He has become a crack support ‘Mech player and it showed in this game. His Ostsol was in the thick of it, but the enemy decided my Charger and Dan’s Cataphract were more pressing targets. Meanwhile, John cleaned up on them.

We got inside, we killed four of their eight machines with two more on the ropes – it was a moderate victory as we’d lost machines of our own, but a win is a win. The best part for me was that we managed to pack eleven turns into a mere four hours.

It’s good to be playing again.


* Latin for 'Man is a wolf to Man'.


Doug said...

Any who... like the comic style pictures. ...and I do pay my taxes (sales, income, payroll, state, federal, etc)... I still will play CBT. Now be a good dad, don't cheat your kid.

Could you jump over, or shoot over that wall?

Single heat sinks is the only way to go... it is like driving a manual transmission...

The Catapult is one of those cool mechs that can dance up close as well with those 4 MLs, and it can jump (depending on which exact model you are using).

Steven Satak said...

Hey, the only time I cheated the boy was when I stole some of his fries while they were still in the bag.

No, the wall (and indeed, the dome) were super-duper-reinforced. We would have gone faster digging under the darned thing. Just think of the Superdome, only this one is four levels high.

Which, by the way, restricted my Javelin to a jump of four.

My son actually disparaged the four MLs, though I believe them to be more effective than he gives credit for. See, John thinks a support 'Mech like the Catapult has no business engaging anything close enough to be reliably hit by an ML.

Who knows, maybe he is right. Most folks, when they think 'Catapult', don't immediately think 'infighter'. It has the tools, but something vital to an infighter is missing.


Doug said...

Well, get at 7 hexes and:


Well, your an old Navy salt, just start a lesson with "When I was in the Navy..." to convince him about using those MLs.

Steven Satak said...

It is not the MLs, it's volunteering to get close enough to use them. He is not willing to close like that unless it is absolutely necessary. Most of his firepower is in the dual LRM-15s. In 3028, that is a hell of a beating waiting for an opponent. And it works best at range, where you can hit the foe but he or she cannot hit you.

I agree with him. Why waste the range advantage if you don't have to?


Doug said...

You know, the Catapult in the standard 3025 model does only have 8 shots per LRM, so it does not have a lot of staying power, if you fire in pairs like I would with and LRM mech. Then it is either MLs, or leave the scene of the crime. You have a lot of armor in that suck and JJs to boot... hey death from above, 65 tons of airborne assault, 'crush head like grape' :).

Doug said...

What would he do after he runs out of ammo?

Steven Satak said...

Well, our game lasted eleven turns. We spent the first three sneaking up on the doorway. The boy commenced to fire after that, and used his lasers once.

He had a few rounds left in the bins, but by that time he'd pounded the hell out of the larger targets and was working his way down to the small stuff.

I am sure that he would switch over, but at that point four MLs would make sense, considering the condition of the remaining targets.


Blasted said...

I think that this is one of the better posts on this little fiasco. I'm finding the thread on the btech forums a little grating in their flowers and ponies view.
Not that I blame TPTB for heavily moderating it, but it's become sycophantic.

Glad to hear you finished a game - I can't remember the last time I actually got a result in < 6 hours :(
FWIW at my table, all cocked dice are rerolled.

re. the catapult. I think that it's the lower weight heavy most suited to close combat from 3025/28/39. It's got the mobility, armour and heat sinking to make it quite the threat.

Paint it Pink said...

The Catapult is a surprisingly good mech as it is better than the sum of its parts.

Oh yes, CGL...

Remember what you can control, and what you can't. Happiness is accepting that limitation of life.

Steven Satak said...


Thank you for the kind words. I have no idea how many places have comments of this sort, but precious few pop up with a Google search. It's interesting to see the speculation on the RPG forums and the absolute slavering devotion trotted out on the company site. Of course, the mods on the company site would quash anything else.

I really would like to meet Mr. Trollman. He seems knowledgeable, pertinent and has a fine way with words and a short fuse with dunderheads.

My kinda guy. I wanna be him when I grow up.

No, really.