For Karl's birthday last week, we got together to play Armor Grid: Mech Attack!, a fast-play skirmish wargame for sci-fi wargames featuring — you guessed it — BattleMechs, along with assorted infantry and tanks. The game is designed for paper miniatures, but you can just as easily use classic BattleTech figures, Reaper CAV models, or in our case a bunch of re-based MechWarrior clix.
Karl has amassed an impressive collection of MechWarrior clix (infantry, vehicles and mechs) specifically for this game. These are prepainted figures from the WizKids game, and most of them look quite nice on the tabletop — especially when removed from the clicky base and put onto a proper miniatures base, complete with drybrushed desert sand.
At 13 pages, Mech Attack is most definitely rules-lite. Like the other skirmish games that our group regularly plays — including Song of Blades & Heroes and Wastelands — Mech Attack is designed to be played with anywhere from 5 to 15 models, depending on the size of game. We played two games, the first being five mechs vs. five mechs, the second being combined arms with light mechs, a vehicle and a couple infantry squads.
Both games were a lot of fun. Players take turns moving mechs and firing their weapons, which include lasers, cannons, machineguns and missile launchers. But be careful — moving and firing generates heat, which can cause your mech to overheat if you try to do too much in a turn. I never played classic BattleTech, but I understand that heat and heat dissipation was a big part of that game. As it was, heat is certainly a unique mechanic in Mech Attack, and it really forces players to carefully consider how they use their mechs on the battlefield.
The most innovative part of Mech Attack is the armor grid (from whence came the publisher's name, no doubt). Picture a big grid of boxes, with each vertical column numbered 1-10. Each type of weapon (cannon, laser, missile, etc) does a different damage "shape" (I'm talking Tetris pieces here) that is applied to the armor grid based on a dice roll. In this way, you gradually fill up the armor grid columns by dealing damage. Once filled, these columns force critical damage, which in turn causes the mech or vehicle to lose weapons or get destroyed outright.
Anyway, the armor grid was far and away the most interesting part of the game. Some weapons are good in combination with others, combining their shapes to create devastating damage patterns on the armor grid. Infantry weapons are applied to the armor grid as well, giving infantry a real chance of harming mechs by peppering them with relentless small arms fire. In the picture below, an Ocelot mech tried to assault a dug-in unit of light infantry, only to be destroyed by a lucky critical result on the following turn. (That made the game for me right there — I heart games where infantry has a valid role to play on the battlefield.)
Overall, Mech Attack looks to be a great excuse to fiddle around with bucketloads of prepainted MechWarrior clix. For a slightly more strategic gaming experience, I'm planning to use these same re-based MechWarrior figures to try out Future War Commander (which has plenty of reference points for classic BattleTech players).