Everybody’s Special In Alpha Strike – Abilities Rules Breakdown

By |2017-03-30T07:30:09+00:00March 30th, 2017|Categories: Battletech, How To Tutorial|Tags: , , |

Battletech Alpha Strike

Hey Game Fans, today we’re going to cover something a little different from our breakdown of the game play.  Today we’re going to show you what the Special Abilities are, and how they work.

We’re going to be covering some of the Special Abilities in the Alpha Strike core rules, next time we hopefully finish up the core.  Let’s dig into the Special Abilities that otherwise break all the rules.

Special Abilities

Special Abilities alter the way units interact with each other on the table top.  Different movement modes, variations in armor, and alternative firing modes are all covered by Special Abilities.  Each Special Ability has a specific code, (which we’ll go over), and they all should fit into the Special Ability box on the unit’s card.  Not all abilities translate directly from the more complex Total Warfare rules, so do your homework before you get started with new abilities.



The List

  • Advanced Fire Control (AFC)
    • This ability represents advanced targeting systems not found on civilian vehicles.  Units with this ability have no penalty to hit when making weapon attacks.  (More advanced units like combat vehicles and Battlemechs don’t need this special ability.)
  • Amphibious (AMP)
    • This let’s a non-naval unit move across water.  They spend 4 inches of regular movement to cross an inch of water, but they travel on the surface of the water.  They can enter and leave water areas freely.
  • Angel ECM (AECM)
    • The Angel is an upgraded ECM system that provides the benefits of two standard ECM systems.
  • Anti-Mech (AM)
    • Infantry units with this special ability can make a special physical attack against ground units, grounded VToLS, WiGEs, and aerospace units they are in base to base contact with.
  • Anti-MIssiles System (AMS)
    •   The AMS intercepts incoming missiles and shoots them down.  In game terms, any unit targeted by IF, LRM, or SRM special attacks reduce their damage by 1 against an AMS equipped unit, as long as the shots are fired from the front.
  • Armored Components (ARM)
    • Armored Components are harder to damage than their unarmored counterparts.  The first time the unit with Armored Components suffers a critical hit, this ability is marked off, and the critical hit is ignored.


  • Armored Motive System (ARS)
    • Units with this special ability have protective equipment for their motive systems.  When rolling for motive critical hits, these units apply a -1 modifier to the die roll.
  • Barrier Armor Rating (BAR)
    • This is a lower grade armor than most military grade units would expect to be armored with.  Any successful hit against a unit with BAR automatically trigger a critical hit check.  (normally, units only check for critical hits when they take structure damage)
  • Basic Fire Control (BFC)
    • This special ability is indicative of very simple controls for firing weapons.  Units with this SA apply a +1 penalty to hit when making weapon attacks.
  • Battlemech Harjel (BHJ)
    • Harjel is a reactive sealant that plugs holes and gaps caused by damage.  In Alpha Strike, this allows the unit to ignore “Hull Breach” critical hit checks.  Normal critical hits are checked for as normal.
  • Battlemech Shield (SHLD)
    • Some units actually carry shields into battle that allow them to sacrifice accuracy for protection.  Units equipped with Shields reduce the damage from most attacks by 1 point (to a minimum of 0).  Heat causing attacks, indirect attacks, and area effect attacks are not reduced by this ability.  The downside is that all weapon attacks incur a +2 penalty to weapon attack rolls.
  • Bomb (Bomb#)
    • Conventional and Aerospace aircraft, fixed wing support vehicles, and some battle armor units are capable of mounting ordnance on external hardpoints.  Units can mount a number of bombs equal to their Bomb value (so Bomb6 can carry six bombs).  Units mounting bombs reduce their thrust value by 1 per bomb carried, except for Battle armor units.
  • Cargo (CAR#)
    • Infantry units with this special ability can be carried into battle by other units with the Infantry Transport special ability (noted as IT#).  The number listed is the amount of space that a given unit takes up, and the minimum capacity that a unit will have to have to carry a unit into battle.  For Example:  A Unit of Jump Infantry has a CAR# of CAR5, meaning that the unit transporting them has to have an IT# of IT5 to be able to carry them.
  • Cellular Ammunition Storage Equipment (CASE)
    • CASE helps protect a unit from ammunition explosions.  Units suffering an Ammo critical hit are not instantly destroyed, but will suffer additional damage (possibly triggering an additional critical hit).

  • Cellular Ammunition Storage Equipment II (CASEII)
    • CASEII is an improvement of standard CASE, and completely protects a unit from Ammo critical hits.
  • Electronic Countermeasures (ECM)
    • Units with ECM systems project a bubble of electromagnetic interference that jams a host of other systems.  This is a 12 inch bubble centered on the unit in question and has a couple of key effects.
      • ECM vs. Active Probes, Drones, Narc, and INarc systems are covered under the advanced options rules, (but the basic gist is that these advanced electronics don’t work inside the bubble).
      • ECM vs. C3 systems are generally not good interactions, because the ECM field disrupts the network links for the C3 systems.  They break connections between C3s and C3M networks, and isolate C3i equipped units from their networks.
  • Elementary Engine or Fuel Cell Engine (EE or FC)
    • Units with this Special Ability represent primitive engines or engines that otherwise aren’t fusion powered.  They’re incapable of operating underwater areas at all without the SEAL special ability.  EE units are incapable of operating in a vacuum, but FC units with the SEAL ability can.  Heat tracking units with these special abilities don’t generate additional heat from an engine critical hit, but the controlling player must roll 2D6 at the end of every end phase.  A roll of 12 indicates that the engine has exploded in spectacular fashion.
  • Energy (ENE)
    • Units with this Special ability are equipped primarily with energy weapons and don’t have explosive ammunition.  These units are immune to the Ammo critical hits.

We’re all ready at a thousand words, so we’re going to sign off here for this week.  Next week we’ll back with some more Special Abilities, and hopefully we finish up this section sooner, rather than later.  Catch you then, Game Fans.

Battletech Alpha Strike

Looking for more info on Battletech?

Spikey Bits Latest

Latest Long War Podcast - Listen NOW!

About the Author:

Trained as a school psychologist, i look at the overlap between education, psychology and games with the direction to utilize the latter two components to improve the first