MECHALYTE

a cheapskate wargame for 2 players

by Nathan McCoy

revision 0.81 (beta) - feedback@nmccoy.net

YOU WILL NEED:

YOU MAY ALSO WANT:

THE GIST:

Each player secretly designs the build plan for their army (using the aforementioned pencil and paper), then pits their army against their opponent’s in an attempt to secure victory by capturing the enemy headquarters.

PREPARING FOR BATTLE:

The Battlefield

Lay out some cards in the following pattern:

Each card represents one zone. Each zone can contain up to 3 mechs per player. The three zones closest to you are special: The left and right ones are your Factories, where you will build new mechs, and the center one is your Headquarters, which you must defend at all costs. 

The Build Spec

At the start of the game, each player secretly writes down a sequence of six letters on their scrap of paper, then both players reveal them simultaneously. These six letters make up that player’s build spec for the game. The build spec determines which modules will make up the mechs in that player’s army. There are five types of modules in Mechalyte, each represented by a particular letter:

P - Power

Each P in a mech’s configuration increases its Power rating (and thus the number of damage dice it rolls in combat) by 1. Power modules are important because they will help you take down heavily-shielded enemies.

S - Shield

Each S in a mech’s configuration increases its Shield rating (and thus the number of hits it can sustain in combat) by 1. Shield modules are important because they will help your mechs survive multiple combats while remaining at full strength.

M - Mobility

Each M in a mech’s configuration increases its Mobility rating (and thus the number of zones it can travel per turn) by 1. Mobility modules are important because they will help you seize important zones and get reinforcements to the front lines faster.

I - Initiative

Each I in a mech’s configuration increases its Initiative rating by 1, making it attack sooner in combat. Initiative modules are important because they will help you take down enemy mechs before they get a chance to shoot back.

A - Armor

Each A in a mech’s configuration adds a layer of ablative Armor. (Armor works a bit differently than other modules, and will be explained in the combat section of the rules.) Armor modules are important because they will enable your mechs to survive attacks that their shields can’t stop.

A build spec consists of six of these letters written in a particular order: for example, “PMISAA” or “MIPASA”. The letter positions are considered to occupy numbered slots. These modules get added to mechs in the order they’re written down, with higher-level mechs getting correspondingly more of the modules: a mech of level N has the modules in slots 1 through N. Thus, if your build spec is “MIPASA”, then your level 2 mechs have “MI”, and your level 4 mechs have “MIPA”.

Mechs

There’s no such thing as a level 0 mech, but if there was, it would have 1 Power, 0 Shields, 1 Mobility, 0 Initiative, and no armor. A mech’s modules increase these base values accordingly. Going with the “MIPASA” example again, a level 1 mech would have 2 Mobility and 0 Initiative, a level 2 mech would have 2 Mobility and 1 Initiative, and so forth.

A mech is represented on the battlefield by a single die, with its level corresponding to the number on top.

Build Points

Build points are a resource that you will expend to construct your army over the course of the game. By default, each player starts with 60 build points. These can be represented by either a number written on your build spec paper scrap, or by ten dice with the 6 side facing up placed in a tidy arrangement near your build spec. (If you use the latter method, be careful not to roll your build points accidentally!)

PLAYING THE GAME:

Setup

Lay out the battlefield as described in the PREPARING FOR BATTLE section. Each player should write down their build spec, write down or set aside dice for their build points, and keep their remaining spare dice in a distinct area or container. Players then alternate taking turns, with the player who won a game (any game) least recently going first. (Disagreements about the meaning of this rule, what constitutes a game, and so forth shall be settled by rock-paper-scissors.) A turn consists of three phases: Build, Move, and Combat.

Build Phase:

You can build a mech by spending a number of build points equal to that mech’s level and placing one of your spare dice onto one of your two Factory zones, with the upward side showing the mech’s level. Since you can have up to three of your mechs in a single zone, it’s possible to build a maximum of six mechs per turn (assuming you started the turn with your Factories empty).

Movement Phase:

During your movement phase, you can move each of your mechs once, moving it a number of zones less than or equal to its Mobility rating. Every zone it moves through must not already contain three of your mechs, even if it doesn’t end its movement in that zone. On the first turn of the game, the player who goes first is not allowed to move past the imaginary centerline.

If one of your mechs leaves a zone that contains enemy mechs, this triggers an opportunity shot against that mech, described in the RESOLVING COMBAT section below.

Combat Phase:

For each zone that contains both your mechs and enemy mechs, you may choose whether to initiate combat in that zone.

RESOLVING COMBAT:

1. Charge Shields

For each mech in the combat zone with one or more Shield modules, apply that many layers of shielding to that mech for the duration of the combat. (You may want to use glass beads or some other small marker as a reminder of how many shield layers a mech has.)

2. Find the highest Initiative of the mechs in the zone

The initiative countdown starts at this number.

3. Resolve an initiative round:

3a. Ready

Each player totals up the Power value of all of their mechs in the zone whose Initiative value equals the initiative countdown. (If a mech has had its Initiative decreased due to Armor loss, it gets counted in the total only if it has not already acted in this combat.) This total determines the number of attack dice that player will roll. For example, if you have two “M” mechs and one “MP” mech acting in this round, your total power is 4, and you will roll four attack dice in this round.

3b. Aim

Starting with the player whose turn it is, each player assigns their attack dice to whichever enemy mech or mechs they wish to target. (It doesn’t matter where the attacks are coming from; nothing that happens in this round will change the number of dice being rolled.) For example, if you had four attack dice to assign between three enemy mechs, you might assign three to the strongest, one to the next-strongest, and none to the weakest.

3c. Fire

Starting with the player whose turn it is, attack dice (borrowed from that player’s pool of spare dice) are rolled on a target-by-target basis. Each attack die’s result is assessed individually, as follows:

6: Critical Hit (crit)

If the target has no Armor modules, the target is destroyed. Return it to its owner’s pool of spare dice. Otherwise, the target’s level is lowered to the slot below the highest-slot Armor module. (For example, a level 6 mech with build spec “PMAIAS” loses its outermost armor and becomes level 4.) Rotate the target’s die accordingly. Note that even if a shield module is lost by this process, the target retains any layers of shielding it had. (If a mech would be downgraded to level 0 by this process, it is destroyed. Yes, this makes armor in slot 1 effectively useless.)

5-4: Hit

If the target has any layers of shielding, it loses one layer. Otherwise, resolve the hit as for Critical Hit above.

3-1: Miss

The attack die has no effect.

3d. Decrease the initiative countdown by 1, and repeat step 3 until all mechs in the zone have acted.

Opportunity Shot

When a mech leaves a zone containing enemy mechs, all of the enemy mechs in that zone fire upon it simultaneously. The fleeing mech charges its shields, then the enemies roll all of their attack dice at once against it. If the fleeing mech survives, it can continue its movement, provided that it still has the Mobility to do so.

WINNING THE GAME:

You win the game immediately when one of the following conditions is met: