“BattleCards” add some of the annoying uncertainty of actual combat to Battletech. When they’re used, you never quite know if all of your units are really going to make it to the battle, when a malfunction may occur – or even if your supplies of ammunition will suffice. Of course, there are pleasant surprises as well – even if quite a few of them are due to individual pilots or technicians disregarding the regulation book. Battlecards can be divided in several ways; Common, Uncommon, and Rare cards refer to their occurrence in the deck. Rare cards occur once, Uncommon ones twice – and Common ones three times each. Attack Cards affect one or more enemy units, usually in an unpleasant fashion. Many attack cards, such as those which indicate a unit has unrepaired damage and / or malfunctions, allow the target to make a “resistance roll” to see if the technicians found and corrected the potential problem in time. In general, truly expensive units have higher maintenance priorities, and thus a better chance to resist. Tactical Cards affect major “elements” of the battle. Strategic Cards affect the entire battle – and possibly others – while Enhancements only affect a single friendly unit. Enhancements may or may not obey the usual rules for a unit; Technicians and Pilots are always coming up with weird and unique ways of doing things. Of course, there are always penalties somewhere else – usually in the realm of requiring continual maintenance and tinkering – but that rarely matters during the course of one battle.
Most of the cards are fairly self-explanatory – but a few categories and individual cards are deserving of special note;
“Limiting Terrain” indicates that the approaches to the battlefield hinder particular types of units – and thus restrict their presence on the battlefield. Such terrain types include; “Abrasives and Barriers”, “Reefs, Rocks, and Shallows”, “Soft Surfaces”, and “Rough Terrain”
“Limiting Circumstances” indicates that the battle- field is subject to conditions especially hindering to some type of unit. Such conditions include; “Night / Poor Visibility”, “Broken Terrain”, “Fuel Shortage”, and “Poor Morale”.
“Weather” indicates that the battlefield is subject to some type of “weather” sufficient to interfere with military operations. Such “weather” includes; “Massive Storm”, “Electromagnetic Storm”, “Severe Weather”, and “Heavy Rain”.
“Reinforcements” indicate that someone on your side – scout, quartermaster, general, or whatever, has come up with something to help out. These include “Minor” and “Major Reinforcements”, “Minor Assistance”, “Artillery Support” (Normally cheap rocket-shells – but it’s much better then nothing), and “Launcher Support”.
A “Parts Shortage” affects all weaponry of the type specified, on both sides.
“Entrapment” generally doesn’t affect aerial units, and isn’t necessarily total; it merely represents some form of natural barrier that will hinder retreat. This does not make it impossible; some barriers don’t block some types of units (E.G.; Hovercraft and oceans), while others can be gotten around – whether by luck (Finding a pass), engineering (Building a bridge), raw military force (Blowing a passable rift in the side of a chasm) – or cleverness. The exact odds of success in such an endeavor should be set by a neutral player.
“City Combat” generally indicates that a small town or some such happens to be on top of a strategic spot. Still, even a small town fills quite a few map sheets.
A “Glorious Victory” ordinarily indicates that this particular battle was “filmed”, reported, or otherwise “made the news”, quite favorably. The user looks good. He or she also (D6) 1; Receives an offer from an Inner Sphere Observer who wishes to buy some units, designs, or exotic technology (Make 1D6 MCr), 2; Attract a clan fragment (1/4’th Company). If their leader is defeated in a contest of champions they’ll join you, 3; Attract mercenaries, as per Politics, 91-95, 4; Attract a tactical military personality, 5; Gain Interstellar Fame/ Reputation (+1 to Politics), 6; Acquire a 1D6 bonus to the base Morale of your troops. No one player may use this card more then once every four turns. Optionally, a neutral player must agree that the victory was quite impressive before this card may be used.
“Project Thor” is actually a fairly old, and simple idea; you take some tough heavy metal bars with points on them, you attach a rudimentary guidance package – and you drop them from orbit on things you dislike. This is very nasty; the impact velocity is several times as fast as a rifle bullet, and the mass is roughly 2000x as great. More then enough to punch a very big hole thru almost anything. This particular gadget was, in fact, largely responsible for the disappearance of the major military units of the past – aircraft carriers, larger tanks, and massed formations. The scattered, few, and wildly varying signatures of “modern” combat units are considerably harder to target then the “old-fashioned” stuff – but not impossible. Still, when it’s combined with their rapid movement, it does make the idea a bit uneconomic. They are, however, so cheap and useful against fixed defenses that most invasion forces bring a few packs along anyway – and if one just happens to be in the right place.
A “Natural Fortress” is a great pile or outcropping of rocks, ore, coral, or some similar substance. As a large-scale feature of the landscape, it’s effectively immune to “damage”. Units small enough to find shelter behind boulders or in crevices (Infantry or miniunits) take only 1/4’th damage from external attacks. Other types of units may not enter the area at all.
The “Battle Objective” card indicates that the attacker or defender has something important to defend. Exactly what it is can be determined as below (D6) 1; A supply convoy / dump (750 CP worth of maintenance supplies if captured), 2; A “minor command center” (+2 Battlecards for the next battle in this campaign), 3; An extremely “strategic” point (+2 Battlecards to use now), 4; Some technicians and a temporary repair “facility” (If this gets lost repairs may not be made until after the next battle), 5; Rocket Artillery Launchers (Allows one use of the Artillery Support card), or 6; 5000 CP worth of salvaged, standard-design, battlemechs. Unfortunately, they’re in severely damaged condition and aren’t running at all.
“Unstable Geology” can be played before play begins to alter the landscape presented on the mapboards. The card entitles the “user” to one major – or up to three minor – alterations in the terrain, such as a chasm, a small lake, or an avalanche zone. Alternatively it can be played during the game to cause a minor earthquake. All standing mech’s will require a “+3” piloting check to remain standing.
Resistance is straightforward; it’s a 2D6 check and is rolled whenever an “appropriate” Battlecard is used against a unit. If the result is equal to, or greater then, the resistance rating listed below, the card has no effect and is discarded.
Battlemech: Ultralight 11, Light 10, Medium 9, Heavy 8, Assault 7, and Superassault 6.
Fighter: Light 8, Medium 6, Heavy 4.
Infantry: Standard 10, Armored 8, Combat Armor 6.
Vehicle: Drone 12, Mini 11, Ultralight 10, Light 9, Heavy 8, Superassault 7.
Special Modifiers : “Omni” Design -2, LAM Design -2