Conventional Wisdom

Conventional wisdom, or more accurately my patience and sanity, dictated only using ‘Mech units when designing the Successor Lords (SL) game.  So when I first put the system together, it contained the rosters that you would find in the old house source books.  I found this to be very limiting within the game mechanics, especially so when those units were placed in their garrisons.  Once the regiments were placed, it became apparent there were holes in the border defenses you could drive a McKenna through, without even touching the sides.To get around this, I first added in aerospace forces, but this did little for the situation.  However, much as I wanted to add conventional forces, I had to weigh up the pros and cons.  On the pro side, tank and infantry formations have been an un-detailed, but very important part of the canon BT universe.  Their inclusion would enable the accurate depiction of ComStar Divisions and AFFS RCT’s, units which were difficult to model under the original rules set.

The cons for including conventional units, were creating the forces, balancing them to fit in with the strengths of the BattleMech formations and then populating the lists of the various powers, sixteen of which feature in the game, not counting independents, mercenaries and pirates.  So how many conventional units is enough, satisfying the in game detail, but not overwhelming playability?

I knew that these units needed inclusion, but various notes within the canon BT law state that tank units outnumber ‘Mech formations in a ratio of about 3 to 1, with infantry regiments being three time larger again.  With this sort of scaling even a small nation, like the Capellan Confederation in 3025, would have possessed 129 tank regiments and 387 infantry regiments, for a total of 558 units, without counting mercenaries.  Naming and assigning values to that many units makes you want to cry.  So how to find the right balance?

In order to include tanks and infantry, I made the decision to combine then into conventional brigades, containing a tank regiment and 2 infantry regiments.  Each brigade would have the approximate strength of a ‘Mech regiment, allowing ‘Mech units to hold their title as battlefield kings.  Each nation was given about 3.5 times its ‘Mech units, plus or minus a few modifiers, based in the realms industry and historical preferences.  This was just manageable for workload, allowing for tanks and infantry to be added to the rosters of the various powers.  To make conventional units more valuable, they are also 3 times more effective than ‘Mech units in garrisoning captured worlds, making their inclusion in any planned invasion a must, lest you wish to face a rebellious populace that will swarm your precious ‘Mech units under.

Militia were also added, being based on a planets wealth and industry, but being very low quality light conventional forces, with little experience and not much value in small numbers.  However, military factories on worlds added to the strength of the local militia and capital worlds also boasted larger, better equipped and more experienced militia.  None of these changes therefore required drastic rules changes, just hours of leg work getting them ready, something that anyone who has made a game or universe, can attest to there being allot of.

So conventional wisdom said stay away from that level of detail, but I think the effort was more than worth it, as on several occasions conventional forces have altered the outcome of a few notable engagements, as well as becoming a critical addition to any invasion roster.

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