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Multiplayer Battletech CCG

Here are the rules we use for our multiplayer, dual-stockpile version of Battletech CCG (by Chris McKitterick).

These days, I almost always play multiplayer Battletech. Without sanctioned tournaments, there’s really no reason to focus on deadly one-on-one decks. Friendly games with a bunch of buddies can be much more fun, anyhow. My play group and I have been playing with these alternate multiplayer rules for years now, and we're always looking for ways to combat multiple enemies -- it's not as straightforward as you'd think! First I’ll talk about some new rules we’ve come up with, and then offer some suggestions for a competitive multiplayer deck -- an older design, because I build a new deck almost every week! It's good to keep the play environment dynamic when you have a small group of players.

Anyone can block an attack (if they're fast enough). This really helps balance a multiplayer game! For example, Joe goes after Bill with six Gladiators, enough to wipe all of Bill’s ‘Mechs off the battlefield, and Bill can’t even kill two of the Gladiators. You want Bill to stay competitive to save your own skin – and you want to see another Gladiator bite the dust – so you join in the fray. You declare your intention to help block after Bill declares his own blockers but before Joe and Bill determine Initiative. So you add your Moderate-speed (you need to be a speed faster than normal to block for another player) Man O' War to the fray, providing enough extra attack to take out a second Gladiator. You can’t block Fast ‘Mechs unless your Fast ‘Mech has an enhancement or pilot that makes it able to block one speed faster. Also, the third-party member of a battle loses one Initiative, but adds any beyond that to the blocking group’s total Initiative. The third-party blocker cannot play Mission cards, but determines how his own ‘Mech’s damage is assigned. So now Joe’s evil plans are foiled, and he becomes an easier target for your seven Mad Cats to attack.

Two decks: Try playing with a Resource Stockpile in addition to your 60-card Stockpile. This is another way to balance multiplayer games, and all but eliminates Resource- and Asset-hosing (sitting around for an hour or more watching others play isn’t as fun as it sounds). In fact, playing with fewer than three Assets becomes a waste! Being guaranteed Resources also allows you to finally play with the kinds of ‘Mechs appropriate to multiplayer, those expensive Heavy and Assault ‘Mechs gathering dust in your card boxes. Here’s how you build a two-Stockpile deck:

The Resource Stockpile can have any number of cards, but all of them must have the keyword “Resource.” You can put Resources in your regular Stockpile if you want, and I've seen players do that with special Resources like Solaris Contacts or Black Market Connections. The Resource Stockpile can be attacked (which is why I play with so many Resources) just like the regular Stockpile, but only eliminating the regular Stockpile counts toward victory. Because you can draw from either deck, going to zero cards doesn’t mean instant death (going below still knocks you out of the game) until the start of your next turn, but your ability to continue fighting is seriously limited if you can’t deploy new Battlemechs. Design your decks with three Assets in mind, more if you’re packing War Funds, so you can play a wide variety of ‘Mechs and Commands. Don’t put a lot of little, cheap ‘Mechs in your deck unless you intend to drop Daishis as a surprise. We allow all the banned cards, but they must be played as Uniques (only one in play or in a deck). You can play six of the Dasher D if you want.

Cards that allow bonus draws let you draw from either or both decks. "Restock" only means the regular Stockpile (unless it's a Resource card you're restocking, which only goes to the Resource Stockpile); essentially, you can only restock cards into the deck they came from. However, you can scrap Resources from your hand using Black Market and then pull a 'Mech from your Scrapheap; this can really help when it's getting down to the endgame.

Salvage rules: If you knock out an opponent (we play that as meaning taking them below zero on dual-stock, or to zero in single-stock), you get to try to salvage all his remaining Units (including enhancements, but excluding pilots). This way, an aggressor is rewarded with equipment he can use to replace battle losses and then take on those wimps who just sat back and watched the carnage! The way to balance this is to make the victor roll for each 'Mech he wants to salvage; on a 5 or 6, he gets that 'Mech (tapped). Here's where you might be glad you're using Field Command Post, or Double Time Offense (so you can use those salvaged 'Mechs right away!).

Here’s a sample two-Stockpile deck:

Solaris Clan Deck
Resource Stockpile:
9 – Assembly
2 – Black Market Connections
9 – Politics
5 – Solaris Contacts
6 – Tactics

Regular Stockpile:
6 – Banshee BNC-55
6 – Gunslinger GUN-1ERD
6 – Linebacker C
6 – Man O’ War Prime
2 – Zeus ZEU-95

1 – Arc-Royal Defense Cordon
4 – Bearer of McKennsy Hammer
1 – Morgan Kell
1 – Natasha Kerensky
1 – Phelan Ward
6 – Redline Pilot
3 – RistarMechwarrior
6 – Training Facility
1 – Vlad of the Wards
1 – Wolfgang Hansen

3 – Force of Will
2 – Overrun
3 – Relentless Assault

Draw from the regular Stockpile until you get a ‘Mech and a pilot, and then start drawing from the Resource Stockpile. You can pull one at a time from either deck, so look before you draw next. Now draw only from the Resource Stockpile until you get Politics (you need it because of the Alliance), Assembly, Tactics, and Solaris Contacts. This might take a while, but you’ll need them all. If you finish your ‘Mech under construction, draw from the regular Stockpile until you get another ‘Mech, but this should be pretty easy because you have 26. Use Solaris to drop free pilots on your ‘Mechs right away, even if it’s a Redline Pilot on a Man O’ War: Training Facility adds +1 attack and +1 Initiative to piloted ‘Mechs, Wolfgang Hansen untaps piloted ‘Mechs after a battle, and Force of Will adds +4 attack while preventing one damage to a piloted ‘Mech, so no pilot is a bad pilot!

Deploy Training Facilities whenever you get ‘em. There’s little as beautiful as a Banshee with Redline Pilot, three Training Facilities backing him up, and a hand with Relentless Assault, Overrun, and Force of Will: Suddenly, your ‘Mech is dealing 19 attack and preventing three damage – so now you survive a brutal defense while smashing all blockers... and untapping with Overrun to do it all over again! Include another ‘Mech in the battle that’s piloted by a Ristar Mechwarrior, and you might just keep those Missions for a second assault. Combine the Bearer on an Assault ‘Mech with a Ristar-piloted ‘Mech, and your opponent is in a serious world of hurt! Even better is attacking with four piloted Gunslingers: You’re almost guaranteed to eliminate all blockers while dealing eight Long-Range damage, so Overrun is awesome. If your opponent blocks with enough to kill your Gunslingers, you’ll probably wipe out all of his heavy metal, too, using all your potential bonus attack. And Vlad allows you to attack any ‘Mech, regardless of speed, so now your Gunslinger can hunt down Fenrises, safe because of a handful of Missions. Just watch out for Moderate-speed blockers running across the table....

Missions are critical to this deck, as are combinations of pilots and Training Facilities. Keep a pile of Man O’ Wars back to protect your Stockpile while your heavy machinery guns down all opposition on the table. Have fun!


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