This entire post is sparked by page 13 of the Battlemech Manual, which describes an optional method for tracking movement and the associated target modifiers. After playing with this method once or twice, we thought there was some opportunity for improvement.
The MAD-3R Marauder (gunnery 2) is firing at the CTF-1X Cataphract at short range. The GATOR would be 2 + 1 (MAD-3R's yellow die) + 2 (CTF-1X green die) + 0 + 0 = 5+ target number.
In the heat phase, the yellow die tells us the mech jumped, but the red die reminds us just how much heat needs to be tacked on.
Common Penalty Markers
When you're playing games of BattleTech that involve more than a couple mechs per side, it is not uncommon for players to make an honest mistake and forget about a movement or gunnery penalty that - if remembered - may have prevented a mech from getting atop a bluff, or caused a killshot to stray wide. Some players use markers or chips to reflect a heat level, but we like using blank translucent die of different colors to notate some of the key heat levels and effects.
Translucent Yellow: Indicates a movement penalty (5+ heat). This die can also be used to reflect persistent MP penalties as well, like actuator damage and motive hits. When a mech is marked with a yellow die, it reminds the player to check the record sheet for the correct MP amount as well as any limitations associated with actuator/motive damage.
Piloting Skill Rolls
If you have a handful, feel free to stack up die for each additional -1 the mech has to take (i.e. a -2 penalty results in 2 dice placed in front of the mech). Alternatively (or for absurdly high penalties), a dry erase marker can be used to jot down the penalty right on the face of the die. Either way, having that die in front of the mech is a quick and easy way to remember that PSR.
Mechs and their pilots suffer from a few status effects, whether persistent or temporary, throughout the game. Most notable are engine and gyro hits, but we also track things like forced withdrawal. Having a unique marker to represent each of these status effects is important for remembering when and where to apply the rules, but also as players strategize during movement and shooting.
Solid Black: Indicates the mech has taken at least one gyro hit. When a mech is marked with a solid black die, players should always ensure they are modifying PSRs correctly and applying the appropriate movement limitations.
... and that's it! All of the dice we use are 12mm (a little less than a half inch) and should be easy to find online. Hopefully this marker system speeds up your gameplay and also helps with remembering all of those different modifiers and status effects at a glance.