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[Mechaton/MFZ] Strategy & General Discussion

Mantisking

BosTan Cat Herder
Validated User
If someone wanted to start an MFZ/Mechaton strategy thread I'd surely be interested!
Here it is! :D

To start it off, I'll make an admission. When I'm playing I primarily go after my opponent's mechs. His stations are secondary to me. I know this is a problem in terms of points swing but, it's just so satifying to crush an opponent's mechs. :)

This is probably the best article on strategy for Mechaton.
That's a really excellent article!
Yes, yes it is.

Okay, now for the general discussion part. Here's a negative review of Mechaton. Now I think I see the holes in his arguments but I'm not sure. Or does he have valid points about problems with the game?
 

Malcolm Craig

Ich Bin Ein Auslander
No doubt there are issues with the first edition of the game. Issues which Vincent et al are well aware of.

However, I do think that the reviewer goes (ever so) slightly over the score. One of the big things for me is that, after the preamble, he never again refers to taking stations. Taking stations is absolutely key to the whole game. Take stations away from your opponents and you boost your points, simple as that. Flattening mechs only reduces their points and is no actual guarantor of victory.

Personally, I think a 12-long ruler is too much of a Mechaton/MFZ game. In games I've played in, we have always used a 9-long ruler, with 4-stud increments. That means with the luck of the dice, you can move through a direct fire zone in two turns.

And artillery? Crikey, in most of the game I've played artillery is a relative rarity compared to direct fire, melee, movement, and defensive attachments. Maybe one or two mechs with artillery but seldom more(as Simon points out in his strategy article, a mech with artillery and melee is a remarkably good station taker and at the same time a long-range harrasser while it is closing on a target station.)

Melee attachments are increibly useful. Vital, I would say, for driving the opposition off their station. Remember: a damaged mech giving up a station only loses the points value of the station. Letting the mech be destroyed defending the station loses double that amount. Sometimes, you just have to give one thing up to keep the other.

Have a plan and stick to it. That, for me, is the key to playing the game (and maybe winning.) Aim for a station, concentrate your forces into two groups (one to go for s station, the other to harrass the crap out of the other sides), and concentrate your fire on damaged mechs.

Anyhow, I think this thread serves a more useful purpose as a repository for tactical thought than for the critique of one review. Although, the review does raise very valid points for discussion.

Cheers,
Malcolm
 

Mantisking

BosTan Cat Herder
Validated User
No doubt there are issues with the first edition of the game. Issues which Vincent et al are well aware of.
Very true.

However, I do think that the reviewer goes (ever so) slightly over the score. One of the big things for me is that, after the preamble, he never again refers to taking stations. Taking stations is absolutely key to the whole game. Take stations away from your opponents and you boost your points, simple as that. Flattening mechs only reduces their points and is no actual guarantor of victory.
I've only played one game with more than two players, so my experience is that destroying your opponent's mechs is enough to win. Then again, most of the games I've played are pretty close in terms of starting points -- because they're pre-set con games -- so destroying one or two mechs is enough to move a point total.

Personally, I think a 12-long ruler is too much of a Mechaton/MFZ game. In games I've played in, we have always used a 9-long ruler, with 4-stud increments. That means with the luck of the dice, you can move through a direct fire zone in two turns.
People use the ruler? I've always used a tape measure.

And artillery? Crikey, in most of the game I've played artillery is a relative rarity compared to direct fire, melee, movement, and defensive attachments. Maybe one or two mechs with artillery but seldom more(as Simon points out in his strategy article, a mech with artillery and melee is a remarkably good station taker and at the same time a long-range harrasser while it is closing on a target station.)
In the games I've played generally there's only one Artillery mecha per team.

Melee attachments are increibly useful. Vital, I would say, for driving the opposition off their station. Remember: a damaged mech giving up a station only loses the points value of the station. Letting the mech be destroyed defending the station loses double that amount. Sometimes, you just have to give one thing up to keep the other.
If you give up the station without being destroyed you can always try to retake it on a subsequent turn.

Have a plan and stick to it. That, for me, is the key to playing the game (and maybe winning.) Aim for a station, concentrate your forces into two groups (one to go for s station, the other to harrass the crap out of the other sides), and concentrate your fire on damaged mechs.
I'd add one thing to that; be very careful where you place your mechs at the start of the game.

Anyhow, I think this thread serves a more useful purpose as a repository for tactical thought than for the critique of one review.
Fair point.

Although, the review does raise very valid points for discussion.
Which is one of the reasons I brought it up.
 

ROU Xenophobe

Retired User
I actually crunched the numbers on table size (because it's important to know how big scenery, etc. should be) and you really don't want to play the game on anything larger than about 30-40 units to a side. Beyond that, and you end up hauling ass all game only to not get to the station before the clock runs out.
I can totally see how that's a) not obvious from the rules as written, and b) completely game-breaking. When you can't capture stations or close on the enemy, shooting the other guy from the edge of the map *is* the only way to win - and because killing other robots doesn't score you any points (it just loses the other guy points) that also explains the victory-point problem he's having - when more points can trade hands faster, you're all much warier of each other, and ganging up on the defender doesn't last as long. Especially if the defender is Vincent and keeps making "hey, he's getting pretty close to your station there - are you just gonna let him do that?" comments.

TL;DR: get some masking tape, mark off a 2.5' diameter circle on your table, and play in there.

J, you wanna weigh in on this?

From a strategy standpoint, I tend to hew to a 3-1-1 ratio of grunts, artillery, and a specialist (close combat, scout, etc) as a design principle, because you can hack it down to 3 and crank it up to 7 or 8 without too much fuss. And specialize like hell. I fielded four all-around generalist designs in my first battle and Joshua took me apart on points and on the field. His army was just that little crucial bit smaller, giving him a points advantage, and just as if not more effective. I don't take weapons now without doubling them up, because if you can shoot at something you should maximize your chances of killing it - not just because you can wipe out an enemy faster, but because being equal or superior in power to anything in range creates an exclusion zone that the other guy wants to move around rather than through.
 
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monkeyking

Joshua A.C. Newman
Validated User
Your table should be about 4x direct range, by the current Mobile Frame Zero text. If you want to use a bigger table, use a ruler with bigger units, not more units.

That's the big advantage of using a Lego measure, rather than a tape measure, actually: if you want units to be 5 dots long, you use click bars. If you want them to be 6 or 8 long, you use axles with click hinges on the ends.

My favorite armies right now are these:

My group of Ijad recon hoppers, usually 5 strong. All are identical (but for coloration so I can tell them apart, plus the guys inside like different patterns). Each has: 2 hand-to-hand weapons, 1 blue armored dome, and 1 yellow radome. They get a green d8 for not being weighed down with ranged weapons. The idea is that I always have them in groups of at least 2. The larger the group, the more effective they are. The first one attacks, lays a spot, the second one attacks with the benefit of the spot and repeats the process. 3 can often take a robot down in a turn pretty reliably. They're fast and I use their speed to keep them close together most of the time, keeping the fastest guys from running out ahead, cuz remember that they all have to get into the fray to do their devastating combo. They've got another unit with them sometimes who's got an additional green 6 for extra legs, two yellows, and a claw, though I've on occasion replaced it with an Ijad stingbeam to get some range when I need it. Honestly, though, that guy might get reassigned to religious education duty. He's been talking about wanting to go meet some Free Colonists.

Because of their speed, they're great offensively. They can get up in an opponent's grill pretty quick and I often contrive to use them for cover from their own support fire.

My other favorite company right now are Captain Estar's 316th, "The Grinder". They roll in Chubs outfitted to work in fire teams of two. Most have a radio, all have armored skirts, and many have either a grenade launcher (a double-direct weapon) or an assault rifle and HtH weapon — a hatchet in one case, a shovel in another. They're led by Captain Estar, whose Chub uses the head turret from a Rumble Monkey to give her a Yellow, in addition to double armor, and an assault rifle. They're backed up by Lieutennant Mokrani, whose double-artillery rains fire from above and is protected by a single blue from his armored skirt. He's also got a ridiculous gladiatorial hand-to-hand weapon of a reinforced, spiked arm that is his favorite piece of equipment from his arena days.

These guys are slooooow. Their job is to start walking forward in turn 1, taking big defense numbers and walking as fast as they can toward their objecives. They're between 6 and 8 units, so they're almost invariably starting in the losing position, but they do a hell of a lot of damage with their double-direct grenade launchers, supporting each other by radio. Ideally, they'll arrive at their objectives by the end of the game, but most of what they do is reduce the points of others. If I were to tweak this company, I'd give them a guy with speed for base-grabbing and artillery-spotting purposes. Right now, wherever I commit them, they win, but they're so slow that I can find myself overcommitted and don't have a way to call them onto another objective.
 

Malcolm Craig

Ich Bin Ein Auslander
I'm interested to see how the new spotting rules affect one of my favourite specialist units, the double blue, double direct fire 'armoured armour-killer.' Now that spotting is significantly more useful and powerful, there's the potential for the double defence option to be less advantageous. Anyone any experience with this under the new rules? I would be sad to see the back of my heavily armoured, tank-destroyer style mechs.

It is extremely useful to have the optimum play area defined like that. That vagueness was always problematic. Must remember to take a roll of gaffer tape to Conpulsion.

Cheers,
Malcolm
 

ROU Xenophobe

Retired User
...one of my favourite specialist units, the double blue, double direct fire 'armoured armour-killer.'
Ha! I knew somebody else must have thought of that guy too. There's a (potentially game-exploity) variant I want to try that's more or less a walking shield, with a big folding armor screen that other guys can hide behind, so as to maximize the benefit of that double Blue. Maybe swap one of his Direct weapons out for a green so he can keep up.
 

ParadoxBoy

Retired User
TL;DR: get some masking tape, mark off a 2.5' diameter circle on your table, and play in there.
It's not terribly expensive to just get a 30" table top to use. It even rolls, so you don't have to carry it. :D

Other than that, how about getting a bunch of the big baseplates to link together to form a modular play surface that can be toted around without much fuss? I've been playing Heroica lately, and that's how the dungeons are done: pre-built tiles that you slap together when you're ready to play.
 

monkeyking

Joshua A.C. Newman
Validated User
The problem I have with baseplates is that many robots have a hard time standing on them, particularly when they have sssssuch tiny feet. In some cases, you could integrate a 1x1 round plate into the feet of the model, but I don't know how much that would really help.

Captain Estar has two Blues, a Red Dir and a Yellow. The idea is that the two blues make it relatively safe to stand out in a street and give orders and the red means she can soften things up before the rest of the squad shows up.
 

ParadoxBoy

Retired User
The problem I have with baseplates is that many robots have a hard time standing on them, particularly when they have sssssuch tiny feet. In some cases, you could integrate a 1x1 round plate into the feet of the model, but I don't know how much that would really help.
Hmmm. Well, the solution that gaming miniatures and models alike have used to counter this is to attach a base directly to the piece; maybe a plate could be attached directly to the frame's foot to give it stability? (The only other thing that leaps immediately to mind is using smooth tiles over the base plate, but those are slick and likely to result in many recumbent mechs. Also, the largest tile extant is 8x16. Although the idea of getting a bunch of the 6x6 tiles for terrain purposes is appealing. That aqua one over there is a pond, this green one is a wooded area, that grey one is a demolished building, etc.)
 
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