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Battletech Alpha Strike Box review

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Hey Ordo, 

I just received my new Alpha Strike box from Catalyst games. I did buy it thru amazon for about $60 and being a prime member, had the free shipping (next day even), so a good value. The box comes with figs, 3D terrain, a quick start book, a primer book (most excellent), a short novella, dice and cards.

The first thing I want to talk about is the Primer. It is a nice booklet that tells you a brief history of the Inner Sphere and the Clans all the way up to the ilClan stage which is around 3160 or so I think. One of the coolest aspects is that they have assigned icons to each major period in the history. So you have the Star League, Succession Wars, Clan Invasion, Civil War, Jihad, Dark Age, and ilClan. What is great about this is that on publications and the unit cards, they have the icons which state which period it is about, or can be used in. So that is really nice that you can easily play a game of Succession War period by making sure you only choose mechs that have that icon. I will go on to say then that it is most likely that you can have multiple cards for a single mech to take it thru the various time periods and tech advancements. I'd assume a Warhammer for instance with only the Succession Wars icon would be less powerful than a later Jihad Warhammer. Can't say that for sure yet though. But the take away is, the Primer does a good job of giving you info over the whole history of Battletech and helps you navigate the products. Alpha Strike has the ilClan icon on it.

It comes with both IS and Clan mechs, 13 mechs total. The new plastics they have been putting out are based on the MWO and Mechwarrior5 designs (or very closely resemble them). I'm sure they will paint up just fine. There are three types of cards with the game: mechs, pilots, and support. So the mech cards are fairly straight forward, gives you stats and points for the various mechs in the box. The pilot cards are an extra layer of strategy added on giving each side one pilot in a mech that has a special ability and typically better skill levels. The Support cards are off map attacks basically...optional and allow you to try to inflict a little more damage via air support or artillery.

The 3D terrain is all card based, with rectangular boxes of various sides with "building" art printed on them. They do give you a good amount though. On thicker card stock they give you trees in a basic X pattern to stand up. Full color and they do the job. 

You also get a nice thick cardstock reference sheet.

The rules themselves are fairly straight forward. They do a fairly good job of covering what you need to know. The game basically flows with alternating activations of mechs for movement, loser of initiative goes first, then once all movement is done, loser shoots all mechs first, then winner of init. However, effects from shooting don't apply until after all shooting is done. This way the winner of init gets to see exactly how his opponent acts and can then change tactics if needed. Rinse and repeat. I think it does a good job of capturing the feel of battletech while really slimming down the time it takes to play. It even includes an optional rule so that the damage mechs do is mitigated a bit and I think will actually bring a bit more drama to the game.

The rules also describe formations. These are special perks you get from including certain combinations of mechs. For example, if you include a lance made up of mechs with the sniper rule (not all, but most), then some of them will get reductions to target penalties for range.  Again, just a nice little extra layer of strategy added to the game.

My only complaint so far is that some of the mech cards have special rules on them which are not covered in the quick start rules. That being said, I already plan on getting the Commander's edition book which will cover all of that. The figure packs that are released come with Alpha Strike cards and Mech Pilot cards as well. I'm very impressed with how well thought out all of this has been by Catalyst. Its nice that this figures can be used for both Battletech and Alpha Strike with no extra purchase necessary. That being said, they also sell card packs for some of the periods too. I know I'll be buying the Succession Wars card pack because that is my favorite period.

With a retail of $80 and all the cool stuff you get, its a very good value. I think this is an excellent entry point into battletech and a decent game all on its own. Most lance packs are going for around $20-$25, and they are just about to start a new kickstarter for Mercenaries and I think really bring in support pieces like tanks and infantry. Looking forward expanding this game and Battletech all at the same time.

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2 hours ago, Brother Glacius said:

I will go on to say then that it is most likely that you can have multiple cards for a single mech to take it thru the various time periods and tech advancements. I'd assume a Warhammer for instance with only the Succession Wars icon would be less powerful than a later Jihad Warhammer.

Yes; All BattleTech units are built according to the same formulae, so all ‘Mechs are priced balanced with all other ‘Mechs. The current system is Battle Value 2.0 and the official points are listed in the unit write ups on SarnaMaster Unit List. There’s also a process for converting BV to Alpha Strike, but I’m not precisely sure what it is. 

For example, the “standard” Warhammer is the WHM-6R model that was introduced in 2515 and was a workhorse of the Star League Era and Succession Wars. It’s 1,299 BV. All the way out on the other side of the timeline, the newest Warhammer variant is the WHM-11T, debuting in 3084, it’s got all sorts of shiny advanced weapons and costs 1,698 BV.


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  • 1 month later...

Popped into Guardian Games last night on my way home from Ordo, I was hoping to find the A Game of Armored Combat starter set… They didn’t have it. So I picked up the Alpha Strike starter.

Excellent value, just for the ‘mechs alone. The game itself looks like a lot of fun too… All the giant stompy robot action of classic BattleTech, but in a format that makes it possible to have company level conflicts that don’t require a full weekend to play. 

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