- This article is about one specific product. For the series of game boxes that served as the core BattleTech product, and its iterations over time, see BattleTech (boxed set).
|Type||Core Game Set|
|Primary writing||Patrick Larkin (background)|
Steve Peterson/Hero Games (technical background)
|Cover Artwork||Alan Gutierrez (front)|
Dana Knutson (back)
Karen Vander Mey
|Era||Succession Wars era|
|Followed by||BattleTech, Second Edition|
Published in 1984, the Battledroids board game was the very first incarnation of what was to become BattleTech. The successful game was soon renamed for BattleTech, 2nd Edition (Battledroids being considered the 1st Edition) because of George Lucas' trademark on the term "droid".
Unlike the spelling later established for BattleTech, Battledroids is consistently spelled with a lowercase "d".
From the back cover
|“||A Dark Age has befallen mankind. Where once reigned the United Star League, five successor states now battle for control. Wars' destruction ravaged the once-flourishing worlds and left them in ruins. The advancement of technology has not only ceased, but the machines and equipment of the past cannot be produced by present-day worlds. Now, the Succession Wars are fought over water, ancient machines and spare-parts factories, for control of these elements will lead to the final victory and domination of all known worlds.
The battlefields of the Succession Wars are dominated by the most awesome war-machines in man's history, the BATTLEDROIDS. These huge man-shaped vehicles are faster, more mobile, better armored, and more destructive than a battalion of 20th Century tanks. Now, you can control the BATTLEDROIDS, infantry, and tanks in this exciting game of warfare in the 30th century Successor States.
Often considered a percursor to or the "prototype" BattleTech game, the Battledroids rules feature some notable differences from the 2nd Edition boxed set which is usually considered the baseline BattleTech product.
Battledroids rules levels
Battledroids provided Basic, Advanced and Expert level game rules.
- Basic Battledroids
The basic ruleset does not track heat, nor does it differentiate individual weapons. Instead, it uses unified hex range brackets (1=contact, 2-3=short, 4-10=medium, 11-21=long) and factors a Battledroid's individual weapon ranges and damage potentials into a single damage value for each range bracket, from 0 (Wasp and Stinger at long range) to 16 (Warhammer and Marauder at short and medium, and also the Crusader at medium range). Consequently, weapons are not fired individually; attacks are resolved by rolling a single attack. Base to-hit on 2d6 is 4 for 'contact' and 6 for all other ranges. Movement and terrain modifiers apply. Although the Advanced rules claim that both light and heavy woods would block the line-of-sight entirely under Basic rules, the actual Basic rules state this to be the case only for intervening heavy woods.
Armor is similarly summarized into a single Armor rating for each Battledroid (between 5 for a Wasp or Stinger, and 11 for an Archer), which is reduced by 1 for attacks from a (rear) side hex and by 2 for attacks from behind.
Following a successful attack roll, the damage value for the range in question is cross-indexed with the target's armor value, resulting in a target number. Only if a second roll meets or exceeds that target number, damage was caused and a third roll then determines the exact nature of the damage (Battledroid destroyed, Weapons destroyed, no movement or firing for one or two rounds, or permanent movement restrictions).
For each Battledroid, the Armor value and four Damage values (one for each range) are presented in a table. The numbers are somewhat arbitrary, and no rules are provided to determine these numbers for custom-built designs.
- Advanced Battledroids
The Advanced ruleset is very similar to the standard BattleTech rules. Unlike the Basic Battledroids rules it does not summarize and simplify weapons, armor and damage and introduces heat, torso twists, more terrain features, individual weapons (with individual ranges) and physical attacks, armor points, hit locations and internal structure, and ammunition expenditure.
- Expert Battledroids
Expanding upon the Advanced rules, Expert rules add injuries for DroidWarriors, dropping down/falling of Battledroids (piloting skill rolls), critical hits, aimed shots and pushing attacks.
- Optional Rules
These include clearing woods, fires (both accidental and intentional), clubs, variable DroidWarrior skills, infantry (including tanks and jeeps), and design rules for custom Battledroids.
Compared to the later CityTech rules, the rules for tanks and jeeps are very simple: They can spend 4 MP each turn, or 3 if they intended to fire weapons on that turn (jeeps: 6/5). They can ram like a Battledroid charge for 3 points of damage per hex moved (jeeps: 1 point/hex), taking 1 point for every 10 tons of target mass in turn, and have similar movement restrictions (no water, heavy woods or fire hexes; only 1 level elevation change between two hexes).
All tanks have a uniform armor distribution of 20 points to the front, 10 to the sides, 8 to the back, and 5 to the turret (if applicable). Three different tanks designs are provided:
- SCR-8N Scorpion - no turret, 3 SRM-6 with 15 shots per launcher installed in the front
- HNT-3R Hunter - no turret, one LRM-20 with 18 shots installed in the front
- VDE-3T Vedette - AC/5 with 40 shots and machine gun with 200 shots, both turret-mounted
Jeeps mount either an SRM-2 (5 shots) or a machine gun (10 shots), and can fire in all directions. They are at a +1 penalty to hit and have no hit locations; instead, they are destroyed by suffering more than 5 damage, with excess damage carrying over to another jeep in the same hex if applicable.
Infantry represent 9-man squads, and up to 10 squads can be stacked into a single hex. Each squad carries either an SRM-2 (12 shots) or a machine gun (25 shots). One point of damage is enough to destroy a squad, but they are at a +2 penalty to hit.
The ten Battledroid designs included in Battledroids were early versions of some standard BattleMechs, most of them with slightly different stats compared to their later canonical configurations:
- STG-3R Stinger (1 ton overweight; 64 armor points distributed H:9, CT:10/4, LRT:7/2, LRA:6, LRL:8, for a total of 69 points)
- SHD-2H Shadow Hawk (no difference)
- ARC-2R Archer (armor distributed H:9, CT:35/10, LRT:30/7, LRA:15, LRL:25)
- GRF-1N Griffin (six jump jets, 144 armor points distributed H:8, CT:20/6, LRT:20/6, LRA:13, LRL:16)
- WHM-6R Warhammer (no difference)
- PXH-1K Phoenix Hawk (armor distributed H:6, CT:25/5, LRT:18/3, LRA:10, LRL:15; otherwise identical to later PXH-1)
- MAD-3R Marauder (armor distributed H:9, CT:35/16, LRT:16/8, LRA:22, LRL:16)
- CRD-3R Crusader (0.5 tons underweight, 184 armor points distributed H:6, CT:30/8, LRT:24/6, LRA:20, LRL:20)
- WSP-1A Wasp (1 ton overweight; 64 armor points distributed H:6, CT:10/4, LRT:7/2, LRA:6, LRL:7)
- RFL-3N Rifleman (oversized VOX 260 fusion engine, no medium lasers)
- The Merlin was used as an example for the construction rules, but the lighter jump jets under Battledroids rules allowed for 12 tons of armor (192 points), distributed H:9, CT:26/13, LRT:19/9, LRA:20, LRL:24.
All of those Battledroids came with the classic art that later became Unseen. The Locust, Wolverine, Thunderbolt, BattleMaster and Chameleon were not included until BattleTech, 2nd Edition.
The Battledroid construction rules are slightly different from the later BattleMech construction rules. The older rules, most importantly those pertaining to jump jets, are the reason for some otherwise illegal designs in the Battledroids set as well as the early scenario pack, Tales of the Black Widow Company.
- Jump Jets
Jump jet mass is always only half a ton, irrespective of the Battledroid's mass.
While the number of jump jets that may be installed on BattleMechs is limited by their Walking Movement rate, no such upper limit was mentioned in Battledroids. Thus, the Battledroids Griffin (with 5 MP) could legally mount 6 jump jets and the Super Griffin from Tales of the Black Widow Company 8 where BattleTech rules would allow them no more than 5.
According to the rulebook, jump jets may be mounted in the "feet or back"; it remains unclear whether or not this is meant to indicate a limitation to certain sections, because neither "feet" nor "back" is a proper section. The (apocryphal) Ostroc Mk II, designed under Battledroids rules, features jump jets in the arms.
- Heat Sink placement
There are no integral heat sinks in the engine, i.e. each and every heat sink (including the 10 free heat sinks on every Battledroid) must be assigned a critical slot. The change implemented for BattleTech, 2nd Edition, created a crippling flaw for many classic 'Mechs because it dramatically increased the chances of hitting an ammunition bin with a critical hit (where previously the presence of extra heat sinks had made an ammunition hit less likely).
The brief description of the game setting left the impression that virtually no functional Battledroid factories remain. Even the Hesperus II factories are described as gutted and dysfunctional, and valuable only for their spare parts depots.
ComStar is not mentioned, nor are crests provided for the described Successor States, Bandit Kings or mercenaries. These are the same as in the 2nd Edition, although with much less text coverage.
- 32-page rulebook (+1 page of tables and 7 pages of blank stat sheets) with rules for Basic, Advanced and Expert Battledroids, stats for 10 different Battledroids, assembly instructions for the included miniatures and cutout tokens, and six pages printed reversible in the back (titled "A Dark Age: The Succession Wars") briefly explaining the setting, technology and timetable of a typical planetary raid
- two 22"x17" full-color mapsheets, identical in terrain layout to the mapsheets used in later editions but with a slightly different artistic style
- two 3" tall plastic Battledroid models (SHD-2H Shadow Hawk & GRF-1N Griffin)
- four sheets of full-color cutout playing markers, including tokens for the various different Battledroids, tanks and jeeps, infantry, fire, extra markers for light woods, heavy woods, rough terrain and water
- two six-sided dice
- Errata leaflet with damage location tables