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Design Diary | Mech Battle 08/01/2021

ELEVATOR PITCH Mech Battle is a competitive robot building game where 2-6 players each build teams of 3 custom Mechs and duke it out on a hex grid terrain with varied biomes. The last Mech standing wins.

This is a design diary of my thoughts, efforts, and decisions that went into designing my first board game: Mech Battle (title work in progress).

Another playtest was done on the 8th and was more successful than the first. There was actually headway, and it felt like a legitimate game was starting to shape up from the playtest. This feeling of improvement should be noted. I need to trust my gut and observe the excitement against the disappointment of the previous playtest. It should mean that I'm on the right track. Maybe?

Anyway, here's a screenshot of the end game:

Red Team won by quite a margin. It should be noted that Red Team was also the team that claimed the 4th Action token, which may be only a slight advantage at the start of the game, but the longer the game, the wider the advantage becomes.

Changelog after this playtest:

  • Add text to dodge die ability: "keeping the new result"

  • To mitigate first player advantage, the first player should only have 2 actions

  • State that Overwatch ability is an immediate interrupt

  • Stats require a 0 value as well

  • Update all terrain effects

  • Remove all LoS rules. Replace with the word "Range" where necessary

  • Include salvaging rules

  • Remove 4th Action Disc on middle tile

  • Work on upgrading weapon mechanic

  • Revise Load

  • Implement ordinances at the start of the game

  • First player advantage, 2nd player decides on spawn zones

Terrain Biomes

After playing some more, we realized that Mountains are the most advantageous terrain by a Mile. Also, the other 3 terrains were disadvantageous to be in. Slowly fixing that, the new updated Terrain effects are:


Mechs targeted by any Attack in this biome +1 Defense Die.


Ordnances require 2 Actions to be used.


Movement originating in this Biome -1 space (min 1).


Ranged Attacks originating from this biome +1 Range.

Also, I've decided that I will not call it Biomes because those are slightly different things. Though, I have taken note of Earth's 7 biome types to include in a more complex map. I'll save that for another day.

Load Level

In general, combat mechanics needed to be streamlined. Adding and reducing dice was difficult to count from the Mech board, including multiple Terrain abilities, and then factoring the Load penalty for 5+. It was to be omitted completely, resulting in:

0-1 Load

3 Spaces when moving

2-4 Load

2 Spaces when moving

5+ Load

1 Space when moving

Mech Board (Squad Board)

I've decided to also change the name of the Mech Board to Squad Board, as I would like to move more into the philosophy of squad movement rather than single bot movement.

With a few changes in design and structure, the new Squad Board with updated Load was built.

Action Economy

The biggest challenge I'm facing now is how Actions work in the game. I have 2 contenders for how action works in the game.

  1. Pool of Action Discs, activating individual actions. Each player gets 3 Action Discs a turn. These discs can be placed on any Mech part to activate it. Legs to move up to its movement speed, arms to attack with the main weapon, etc. This action economy method allows me to try cool things like "Action Discs stack on a Charging weapon, which fires upon recovery of Action Discs".

  2. Single Action Disc, a small list of varied operations. This is what would be similar to Scythe or Spirit Island, where the player is given a list of things they can do, and they choose the best operation that fits their need. An example Operation would be "Move 2 mechs, Attack with 1 Mech." or "Move 3 Mechs. Move 1 Mech again." This would make the game feel more squad-like.

It's a conundrum, and I cannot decide. I'm going to take a short break and get back to the drawing board!



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