Inspired by pauper games in other systems, Fist Full of C-Bills seeks to break the “perfect force” construction and replace it with ad hoc “adapt or die” play! Game play formats like this depend on access to common playing pieces. Like rifling through the “commons” box at your friendly local game store, Fist Full o C-Bills restricts players to sourcing models from the same vendor and under a real-world dollar budget. With the scraps they find, they then pull record sheets and cards in an effort to put together a functional combat unit.
Similar to Escalation Leagues, Fist Full of C-Bills is also a great opportunity to start building a new force or trying out new tactics and ’Mechs while creating exciting (and often humorous) backstories!
These are completely arbitrary optional rules to get players out of their comfort zones and create opportunities to work with new units, formations, and factions. If you and your group have alternate rules for Fist Full of C-Bills, post them below in the comments!
Players agree on a common vendor of mini acquisition. Some examples include: BV Traders, E-Bay lot purchases, and “On Sale” bins at the FLGS or online. In this campaign, players are attempting to emphasizing the ad hoc aspects by not purchasing the latest, newest, and beefiest pieces.
Know Your Limits
Players agree to a real-world dollar limit for the purchase of forces. It’s up to the players’ discretion whether or not to include shipping in this cap. A good range that allows for some diversity of units is between $25.00 and $35.00. Any funds remaining in the real-world pot after purchase may be converted to 1 point per $1, rounded as normal, to be applied to Special Pilot Abilities (SPAs) or Design Quirks (Alpha Strike Companion, p. 52 & p. 62).
Play as You Are
Players play the units as they arrive—paint schemes, missing and broken parts, and all! If parts are missing or damaged, it must be reflected on the record sheet. For example, if your Centurion is missing the autocannon arm, this unit’s card must reflect a “Weapon Hit” critical at the start of play and suffers any related penalties. Pieces damaged in this way do not gain extra points to be applied to other Design Quirks or Special Pilot Abilities. If playing it as such would render it “dead” in game terms, such as broken legs or torso-hip separation, it may be repaired.
These adjustment may require some creativity. For example, if your Atlas is missing an arm, treat it as having a -1 physical attack damage. If your Spider is missing an arm, however, you may have to consider another option. Refer to Alpha Strike Companion, for "Negative Design Quirks" (p. 63) for inspiration.
After the initial game, make repairs (both to models and to the units in game) as normal. If you really want to go for the all-out feel of this style of game, don't repair the model unti you can pay for repairs in-game as well.
Up to one unit per lance with a particularly interesting paint scheme may select the Distracting positive design quirk. This reflects the thrown together nature of machines and personalities in the guns for hire trade. If a unit takes this optional rule, it must retain this scheme for the duration of this campaign to retain the Distracting quirk.
For this example build I used BV Traders with a purchase cap of $25.00. With BV Traders, $25.00 in used miniatures can acquire a relatively competitive Alpha Strike that will require some tactical accumen without relying on a 400 ton wall of steel. You can expect to pay as little as $6.00 for lights and mediums and up to $9.00 for heavies and assaults. Unseens and other rare miniatures can go as high as $15.00 to $20.00 per piece. Considering the nature of the rules set, this higher cost is reflective of the in-game rarity of some of these machines.
Chosing the Miniatures
Coming in at $24.00, my lance consisted of an Enforcer III, Cobra, and Wolfhound. For the last piece, I was torn between a Commando and a Blitzkrieg. I ultimately chose the Blitzkrieg because of the increased speed (14" instead of 12"), hitting power (3/3/0 as oppossed to 2/2/0), and survivability (4A/2S over 2A/2S). While this did increase the PV of the unit (25 for the Blitzkrieg and 15 for the Commando), it did not increase the cost of the lance--both miniatures were $6.00 from BV Traders. With the addition of the Blitzkrieg, this unit took on a very Lyran appearance.
With the miniatures selected, it was time to pick actual variants. Wanting to limit the era a bit (on my own) to the Fed Com Civil War, I chose to use models current from the time. I wanted to base the unit off the Pursuit Lance for Alpha Strike, and focus on a bit of speed and hitting power (ultimately, being able to add the Blood Stalker SPA for the pursuit lance). I wasn't thrilled about the lack of jump for the models I could choose, but the speed curve of the Blitzkrieg and remaining movement profiles were similar to the other models in the Pursuit Lance.
Lance Formation and Abilities
Going in from the start with the intention to build a Pursuit Lance limited some of my choices--you don't see an Atlas or Annihilator floating around in here. This was, however, worth it considering the -2 to hit for the Blood Stalker SPA. With only three long-range units in the lance, I gave the Blood Stalker SPA to each of these.
Because of the paint scheme on the Cobra, this piece received the Distracting SPA.
With the remaining point cashed in from coming in under budget, I wanted to give something to the Blitzkrieg. Not satisfied with the already significant speed advantage it carried, I chose to give it even more with the Speed Demon SPA. This overdrove the move from 14" to 16", making this certainly a unit to not ignore as it can skim around the edges of the board and pop-up in the rear arc of the opposition.
This unit is designed to work with the Cobra as the anchor, the Blitzkrieg as the hammer, and the Wolfhound and Enforcer as the anvil. Using movement, cover, and adaptive fluidity, this unit will do best in open spaces with obstuctions to dart behind, especially when the iniatiative falls in the opponent's hands. It will need to, idealy, operate at long and medium ranges with ample cover because of the relatively low TMM of three of the four 'Mechs. The Blood Stalker SPA, however, will help overcome this to an extend.
With the upcoming publication of Combat Manual: Lyran Commonwealth coming in 2017, I'll return to this post and run a Lyran special lance formations update!
Had I chosen the Commando, along with the other three found on the Mercenary faction list, I could have used the recently published Combat Manual: Mercenaries for formations.
As the Campaign Drags On
After your unit gains some experience and becomes a little less wet behind the ears, you and our group may want to add other optional rules to add more character to the units and game. Some ideas include:
Bitz Box Salvage
Random pulls from bitz boxes to make repairs resulting in game-legal redesigns. For example, that Centurion that lost an AC arm? Replace it with a Shadow Hawk autocannon. In game terms, treat this as a repair that removes the Weapon Hit pre-existing damage.
Putting a complete and painted unit of the board is one of the most satifsying parts of this--or any--table top game. If you can field a completed unit, your lance gains a benefit determined by you and your group. This may be bonus victory points or a +1 initiative bonus. This shouldn't be an advantage enough to unbalance the Alpha Strike system, but enough to encourage players to paint, model, and enjoy the hobby of Battletech Alpha Strike.
Have your own home brew or house rules to add to Fist Full of C-Bills? Post them below in the Comments!
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