Battletech Grinder


The Battletech Grinder is the most popular scenario the CDT runs at Gencon/Origins but probably also one of the most popular events our agents run overall worldwide.

The Grinder is a casual event great for all ability levels where players only pilot one mech at a time. The general idea of the Grinder is that players start with a simple, small mech that uses basic weapons and rules. When they die they get a bigger, better mech as it were that has slightly more complicated weapons and rules. This way new players are introduced to the vast rules of tabletop Battletech over time.

There have been many, many variations of the Grinder over time and many agents run many different variants of the Grinder. Also, many agents run a bootcamp/grinder combo which teaches the basic rules during this scenario. There really is no wrong way to run a Grinder but what is described here is what the CDT uses currently at Origins/Gencon.

Questions about the Grinder can be directed to

The Grinder at Origins/Gencon 2019

  • New this year! The Grinder is expanding to 6 levels! This is 12 new mechs in the game along with tweeks to variants and what mechs appear in all the levels.
  • The Grinder is a continually running event during the entire convention. We almost always have room to add players to this event so even if a slot is sold out come by with generic tickets and we will likely be able to get you in.
    • To explain, we sell tickets in 2 hour blocks but the game isn't reset at these time blocks. Instead we just collect tickets from those continuing (think arcade game were you put in more quarters to keep going), take out people leaving, and add people who are joining in.
    • You will get a "Grinder Report Card" which tracks your progress so you can come and go as time allows during the con (so you can play for a 2 hour block, take 2 hours off, and then come back for another two hours, or even on another day). This is also how you track the number of kills you get in the Grinder. There is no prize for this but it is fun.
  • Grinder uses all standard rules from the Battlemech Manual (no floating crits, no tac-op rules) with the exception of the Grinder Kill Conditions as listed below (this speeds up the game slightly and mainly helps ensure that everyone's mech is functional enough that they can still have fun)
    • Grinder Kill Conditions: Cockpit destroyed, head blown off, pilot killed to pilot wounds, 2 gyro hits, 3 engine hits, 3 limbs destroyed, all internal structure in the CT destroyed, not able to do 5 points of weapon damage, or 2 sensor hits.
  • All Supplies are provided: All record sheets are laminated and we use wet-erase markers on them. We will provide a mini, dice, and the charts and tables that are needed for game play but all these must be returned when you are leaving the table. You are welcome to bring your own 2D6 rolling dice but be advised that others at the table may request to use them (per the Catalyst Demo Team Dice Policy).
    • Our record sheets also have a "backside" that we created as a CDT team which give you IronWindMetals order number (in case you want to buy a copy of the mini you have), some fluff about the unit in the Battletech Universe, and a short description of technology rules introduced at that level. This gives players something to read during the turn and can help players be more independent in their play.
  • We typically play on Mapmaster maps (typically 4'x6' or 4'x8') and try to pair up experience level with difficulty of map. We try to keep our tables at about 8 players per table but no more than 10 players per table. This year we may also play some tables on the new grassland maps and/or on the new battlemats.
  • Game Play
    • Randomly Picked Mechs: When you join in the Grinder you will roll a die at the first level and that will randomly determine which mech you will use. Once you have played through all 6 levels of the Grinder (you have died 6 times) you will then start over at the beginning level and be able to pick which mech you want to use.
    • Spawn locations: on the maps there will be numbered tokens. When a new player joins in they roll a die to determine which of the spawn locations on the map their mech will come in on.
    • Card Initiative: We will write a players name on a plastic playing card and then shuffle and deal out cards to determine initiative and firing order. Occasionally, if there are few players on a table, we might do a more common type of initiative (like rolling dice) but we find cards work best in big con settings.

Descriptions as posted listed in the Origins/Gencon Event Listings

  • Short:
    • This is our most popular event for all ability levels. This year it has expanded to 6 levels! This casual game plays continuously all convention.
  • Long:
    • You start with the lowest level mech with the most basic equipment. When you die you move up to the next level which contains mechs with slightly more advanced equipment. Through this progression you learn how to use all the common equipment in Battletech. This game is not paused or restarted at event breaks, we just add/remove players and collect tickets for those continuing then continue play without resetting the board or players continuing on into the next session. Sign-up for as many blocks as fit into your schedule (even if they are not contiguous), you will receive a report card as a way to sort of "save" your progress so you can come back later in the con and continue playing. All ability levels are welcome but if you have never played Battletech before it is recommended that you play Battletech Bootcamp first.