Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Battletech: No Morale Means Kamikaze Mechs

I've been having more fun with Battletech, doing 1-2 missions in a night before I knock off and do some actual work.

One thing I don't like is the lack of a Morale system.

Well, there is one, but it's not the kind I mean. All enemy units - and friendly ones, too - fight to the death unless the scenario dictates otherwise.

It's actually something that makes the game a bit less fun.

Enemy mechs sometimes go down swinging, and damage or cripple one of your mechs as they die. So be it. But why do they go down swinging when they have a chance to retreat with their mechs and their lives?

Usually, though, they just die. I had a limbless and nearly armorless enemy light mech - with no weapons - run up to and melee a medium mech standing in a crowd of four medium mechs. It did a little damage, and then the pilot was killed when we shot the leg out from a mech and then another mech stomped it flat. What pilot would do that? It was also a pirate mech, so what pirate throws himself into a kamikaze attack on enemy forces to inflict slightly more monetary pain on victorious mechs?

It's maddening to have to hunt down and kill an enemy who is so clearly outclassed they can't hope to win unless I deliberately let them.

Especially when I get missions pitting my four-mech lance against, oh, two light enemy mechs, each physically seperate from the other. Why do they attack me? Because . . . I don't know. It's a combat game I guess but it's more fun when foes don't all fight until slain.

I'd actually like a system where enemy - and friendly - mechwarriors have morale.

One thing I like in X-Com: Apocalypse are the morale rules. Having friends and foes panic, go berserk, drop weapons and flee, temporarily refuse orders, etc. isn't great for chessboard manuevering but it feels more realistic. It adds verisimilitude, if nothing else.

It would cost loot, but who cares?

One thing I liked in Basic D&D was the easy built-in morale system and the expectation to use it. It would be a tough, but nice, addition to Battletech.


  1. They're just like the mobs in every RPG; just there for the players to have fun killing, unless they are there to serve a special purpose. I've been enjoying Battletech too, often too late into the night.

    1. I find that it makes it less fun - I'm not playing to win a mission, but to efficiently exterminate all enemy forces, even as they attack despite the situation. It takes away from the fun rather than adds to it.

    2. I agree that it is a drawback. NPCs don't often think or act like real people would.

  2. Simple and fast rules somewhat cribbed from Stargrunt 2. Assign morale dice to each unit, D4 to D12. You can base that on mission parameters, unit experience/skill, etc... His morale is 0 to start. Add one and roll the die each time one of the following conditions happens; Lose all armor on a location, take an internal critical, take a pilot hit, etc... Adjust/add to get the feel you want. If the die roll comes up less than morale unit must pull back. If the die roll is 1/2 or less of morale number unit turns and flees. Has worked well for us in the past and only adds 2 numbers that are easily tracked.

    1. If it was only so simple - it's a video game, I can't implement that . . .


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