The Game of Armored Combat
I recently decided to dive into the game, and even with limited wargaming experience, I found it extremely easy to pick up. It was still able however to scratch my itch for a strategic command game. Here’s what I found was the easiest way to learn, invest and play the game as a beginner. With all the new products launching it can be overwhelming. However, it has never been a better time for a beginner to dive into the game.
The best way to learn to play BattleTech Alpha Strike in my opinion is to watch some introductory videos on YouTube or read the rulebook, then play a match with the intention of learning the mechanics and less actually competing. Here are a few videos that I recommend ( including some referred by a good friend; thanks James!):
-A quick guide
How to Play BattleTech Alpha Strike: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azyeYCOHVEM by SleeplessRonin Plays
-These are the people who created the "House Rules" campaign guide (also known as DFA)
How to Play Alpha Strike: Basic Rules: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05ZGXFAwLKg by Death From Above Wargaming
-Catalyst Games is the current publisher of battletech
BattleTech: Alpha Strike, Where Should You Start?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azyeYCOHVEM by Catalyst Game Labs
Once you have a basic understanding of the rules, you can start playing some practice games against yourself or a friend. You can also find some online Alpha Strike communities where you can play against other people.
Product and Player Support
Your best resource as a player is going to be Master Unit List ( http://masterunitlist.info/ ) . You'll notice the mech cards included in the box contain stats. These stats reflect the mech variants which equate to a point value. each mech has the option to change the skill value of its pilot, which in turn changes the point value of the mech. the easiest way to create a force list and equate for these variable point values is to use the force builder found in the header of Master Unit List (MUL). Make sure you select the Alpha Strike Builder and not the Total Warfare Builder (Classic format). The lore dictates what mechs were available during during specific era's and to specific factions, however balancing the game based on points is going to be the best way to dive into the game. I recommend you create a force of around 120 points. This allows for 1-2 heavy hitters, as well as a light mech or two, or 4-5 light mechs. Once you've created your force, you can save it, or download it as a PDF that you can print. that sheet is then used to track damage, rounds, and pilot/ mech stats. I personally do this for every match and campaign as its incredibly easy to do, and it keeps the table space clean for smoother gameplay. The best part about MUL is that it's officially supported, and completely free. This is one of major reasons I was drawn to the game, as economically the game is pretty efficient.
Essential things you need to have or buy to play BattleTech Alpha Strike:
The Alpha Strike rulebook
A set of 6 sided dice
A battle mat or playing surface (doesn't need to include hexes)
Some miniatures (a wise man I know once said this could be anything including a coin). I recommend leaving this until after your first demo game if you're apprehensive about diving in. Personally after the first match, I went all in, and don't regret it.
The game is intentionally made to have a sandbox style creation and play to it. just verify the rules of terrain, measurement, and line of sight ahead of time to play with whatever is available to you.
You can find all of these items at your local game store or online (https://thegamershaven.net/search?type=product&q=alpha+strike )
Here are some additional things that you might want to buy:
-A mix of black, red, white, and yellow 6 sided dice (preferably 12 mm) or a dice roller app. Dice are used as indicators like tokens for specific game states, and also used to simulate firing in combat. I personally use a brick of 12mm dice, 9 of each color listed above.
-A terrain set. This helps really create an immersive experience and can also assist with visualizing cover and other terrain characteristic oftentimes overlooked on topographical flat maps.
-Mechs, all of the mechs. Jokes aside, most mechs are unique, and add a new play style or play strategy to your force. its also a great way to support one of the few companies in the industry that isn't commonly perceived as greedy or forcing its player base to buy more product through nerfs and rotations (looking at you GamesWorkshop). Coming from AMG (formerly known as FFG) games like X-Wing and Imperial Assault, it feels great investing into a game whose manufacturer can die tomorrow, but I'll still be able to play with friends and at my local LGS.
If you like the game after playing a demo, or you want to just dive in, the best Alpha Strike box to buy for beginners is the BattleTech Alpha Strike Box Set. It contains everything you need to get started with the game, including:
13 plastic BattleMech miniatures
A dozen buildings
A Quick Start Rulebook
A set of Alpha Strike tokens
The miniatures in the box are all different variants of the iconic BattleMechs, the Wolverine and the Griffin. This gives you a good variety of units to choose from and allows you to experiment with different strategies. The trees and buildings provide some basic terrain for your games, and the Quick Start Rulebook is a great way to learn the basics of the game.
The Alpha Strike Box Set is a great value for money and is the perfect way to get started with BattleTech Alpha Strike. You can get yours at your local game store like The Gamer’s Haven, or online here: https://thegamershaven.net/products/battletech-alpha-strike-box-set?_pos=8&_sid=bd3fc01d0&_ss=r
If you're looking for a more advanced box, you could consider the A Game of Armored Combat Box Set. This box contains more miniatures, including a BattleMaster and a Thunderbolt, as well as a more comprehensive rulebook. You can get yours here:
However, if you're just starting out, the Alpha Strike Box Set is the perfect place to begin. Let us know in the comments what your favorite force is, and keep an eye out for our buying guide coming soon! Happy hunting!