Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Piotrowski's Predators - Organizational Chart

I wanted to do a post of my organizational chart for my mercenary unit, just to give a feel for each of the lances that I've constructed, my thoughts over them, and some potential thoughts on expansion.  Thought salvage and some random luck on regular pilot hiring, I've added aerospace support and a heavier brawler lance.

Organizational Chart
C3 Command Lance - Slasher Lance
Falconer 8D-C3 [4/4 pilot]
Falconer 8D-C3 [4/4 pilot]
Shadow Hawk C3M [4/4 pilot]
Wraith TR1-C3 [4/4 pilot]

This is my "all-comers" versatile lance.  With speed, range, and heavy hitting weapons that should have increased accuracy due to the C3 network, it can handle any type of work.  The Wraith is an excellent spotter, keeping a high mod via runs or jumps when in the thick of things, it can also deliver back shots like a dream.  Since we are Capellan, there is never a shortage of ECM to be run as ECCM to counter any would be blockers of my network.  I'm thinking of adding some VTOL support, maybe Hawk Moths or Cavalry would blend in nicely with this unit.

Aero Triple - Shredder Triple
Defiance (LB-10X, LPL, 3 MPLs) [5/5 pilot]
Defiance (LB-10X, LPL, 3 MPLs) [5/5 pilot]
Defiance (LB-10X, LPL, 3 MPLs) [5/5 pilot]

My aerospace contingent is well funded, despite the lack of quality pilots.  Finally getting their piloting down to 5 is really going to help secure favorable dogfighting rolls to keep them off my backs and put me on theirs.  The "standard" configurations I've given them are useful in nearly all situations.  However, I still have the power to customize based on the mission.  Standard load outs will have them equipped with one Arrow IV Air to Air missile and one Arrow IV homing missile (as long as we have TAG'ers deployed).  They are high risk, high reward units that can deliver potent strafes, strikes, or dogfights, but are always one control roll away from crashing like a lawn dart.

Recon Lance - Pouncer Lance
Puma  (Refit)[5/6 pilot]
Hellspawn L7 (Stealth Custom) [5/6 pilot]
2 Bandit (Custom Refits - removed cargo, TAG, 3MLs, 2 SSRM4s & ammo) [5/5 crews]
2 Regulators (Arrow IV) [5/6 crews]
2 Fa Shih Squads w/ Light TAG (rides on Bandits) [4/6 squad]

My Pouncer Lance is probably one of my favorite lances because I'm always of the tactical mindframe that speed kills.  This lance works well with others who might be fielding LRMs, since TAGs + SemiG's is very nice.  The Regulators can dictate distance, and provide surgical heavy hitting prior to the start of combat.  Additionally, 1 ton of ADA ammo makes them a beast against any air support threats.  The new Puma is a medium laser boat with a TarComp, giving me improved accuracy for the jump, shoot, jump routine this guy will probably be doing.  I think this lance is my favorite to play because it requires very elegant play to maximize it.  It's capable of isolating and taking out high priority targets that would otherwise hard to take down due to the speed and power this lance can bring to bear.

Heavy Lance - Mauler Lance
Thunderbolt 5Sb [4/5 pilot]
Grasshopper 6K 6S [5/6 pilot]
Orion ON1-M [4/5 pilot]
Flashman 8K [4/5 pilot]

I kind of stumbled into this lance.  I call it my Mauler lance since it reminds of a bear.  Big, powerful, and slow.  The Grasshopper and Orion were both peices of salvage I picked out quite a few sessions back.  The Thunderbolt and Flashman were both acquired when hiring some experienced pilots (pay 50 points, roll a d100, get a 4/5 pilot and a 'Mech).  I lucked out with some decent 'Mechs and figured I could throw this hodgepodge together and see what happens.  I'm thinking of turning this into another C3 lance, or maybe a C3 Company Command lance.  The T-bolt and Flashman are easy swaps to get C3 slaves in. I'm trying to decide if I want the Orion to become the master, or try and get something else.  Overall, the lance seems to be fairly effective, but not outstanding. 

Support Units
Griffin 6S-C3 (ERML swapped for C3 Slave) [5/6 pilot]
Sha Yu 2B [5/6 pilot]
Commando 7S [no pilot]
Sentry SNT-O4 [no pilot]

2 Platoons of Mechanised Infantry w/ LRMs
2 Platoons of Foot Infantry w/ dual Light Gauss Fieldguns
Cavalier Squads w/ Small Lasers

These units make the up the rest of my forces.  I do have enough 'Mechs to form another lighter, mixed lance.  Alternatively, I could attempt to modify those 'Mech into some sort of niche role.  The infantry units are there to augment any lance depending on the scenario.  Primarily, they are there for fluff purposes.  The Griffin is a reserve useful for the C3 lance or to fill in as mobile fire support elsewhere. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Moving On.....to Vestallas

After our multi-staged mission on Brighton, we've been able to grab some R&R.  However, we've received our next orders, clear the enemy from the capital of the planet Vestallas.  Hopefully we'll be bringing some new units to the board for this upcoming urban conflict.  I'm not sure what I'm going to bring yet, but we'll see if I add any new units to the roster.  Stay tuned, because we're playing Nov. 20th, so I should have a post up by Sunday while I'm watching football.

Monday, October 18, 2010

After Action Report: Seige of the Underwater Base - Oct. 16, 2010

So we finally finished the Seige on the Underwater Davion base on Brighton this Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010.  I previewed this scenario a week back in this post http://klinktastic.blogspot.com/2010/10/campaign-scenario-preview-seige-of.html.  One thing of note, all pilots were equipped with water survival gear so they survive the underwater assault encase of breach.

Davion Forces: 3 x Support Machine Gun Infantry w/ Heavy Armor, 3 x LRM Infantry w/ Heavy Armor, 4 x Cavalier BA, 2 Rommels, 2 Pattons, JagerMech JM7-D, Templar (Custom), Blackjack Omni F, Atlas AS7-D, 2 Neptune Subs, 4 Sea Skimmers, 1 Cargo Sub

Mercenary Forces: See preview post

The Setup:
The GM deployed my forces in the SW corner of the map.  The lake comprised a majority of the map sheet.  My forces were deployed to cover every side...so 360 degrees around the lake.  Additionally, some rivers and forests cluttered the map, giving some good cover, but limiting the manuverability of my conventional forces.  Additionally, all of the vehicle crews were green, meaning they were not going to be very accurate, especially with the lack of ranged weaponry.

The Mercenary forces deployed to the north.  From west to east (facing me) were Shengli Armed Asset Protections, Jerry's Force, Bethlen's Irregulars, Warlock Fusiliers, and Lords of the Night.  As initiative was rolled, they declared their 3 fold strategy: 1) clear the northern conventional forces; 2) disable the Neptune Subs; and 3) destroy the base.  The basic outline of their strategy entailed Shengli to sweep down the western flank.  Warlocks and Lords to swing down the eastern flank, with Bethlen's trudging down the middle and Jerry's and the rest of Bethlen's providing fire support.

As a fun aside, there was a cargo sub that was carrying 80 tons worth of materiale from the base.  They were supposed to try and capture it.  Not even I knew what was inside.

The Action:

Turn 1 - The first turn was pretty uneventful.  Obviously they advanced and I tried to reposition some of my rear forces to the north (which wasn't going to happen fast).  We exchange some long range barriages, which they had more of and put some damage on my forward Rommel tank.  In response, the Rommel thru-armor critted the damaged Hunchback, knocking out the LB20X cannon it housed.  My lack of ranged support was noticable, and I braced for some close combat. 

Turn 2 - The second turn got a little more exciting.  Again they close, staying out of close range of the Rommel.  They focus fire on the Rommel, as it is a deadly and easy to hit target, killing it.  Remaining laser fire targets the light woods my infantry inhabit.  Three out of four infantry units are killed by the flames.  I retaliate by headcapping  a Ti Ts'ang with a gauss shot from the Templar.

Turn 3 - It was a bad turn to lose initiative.  Their artillery arrived from off map this turn, and whatever got TAG'ed this turn was going to be in a world of hurt.  They close around my defensive perimeter so I push my hovers out behind them, hoping to get rear shots on already damaged 'Mechs.  My Templar gets TAGed and eats 4 Arrow IVs, but does not go internal anywhere.  They split their fire primarily on the Templar and Atlas, heavily damaging both.  They also take out a Fulcum.  In turn, I knock down the Cestus and ravage the Crab and Ostol, both of which are internal in a few locations.  It's looking grim, as their volume of fire is just too much for my ill-positioned forces.  They are going to be chewed up peacemeal.

Turn 4 - This was an even worse turn to lose initiative.  My remaining forces get circled and TSM'ed 'Mechs get into position to kick me in the face.  The Templar get's demolished by Arrow IV.  The Condors get splattered by the fire support.  The Atlas and JagerMech both die by head kicks (I remained in partial cover because getting out of it, I would have been plastered by ranged fire, I took the odds on the kick).  More infantry get eviserated by a Phoenix Hawk's MGs and my Cavaliers who were attempting leg attacks got dominated.  In return, I continue to pound on the Crab and Ostol, critting an engine hit on each, but failing to bring them down.  My BA land a leg crit on the Cestus, but it's not a hip and it doesn't fall.

Turn 5 - This was a lull in the battle.  My conventional forces are pretty banged up or dead at this point, so they jump into the lake.  I circle my subs back to unleash their attacks, but fail to breach any 'Mechs.  My LRM infantry finish of the Cestus via side torso destruction of XL fusion.  They are wiped out by the Phoenix Hawk immediately afterwards.  The only other significant event of note was that the cargo sub escaped.

Turn 6 - The battle is finished during this turn.  They overwhelm my 2 subs with most of their intact forces.  Both of my subs are breached and were finished.  In response, I landed shots on both a Ti Ts'ang and Wraith, breaching torsos for both.  With my forces destoryed or scattered, the scenario ends here.  Another short and brutal affair, as any good raid should be. 

Conclusion and Analysis:

The results were pretty weak for me, the Davions for this scenario.  I managed to take out two Ti Ts'angs and a Wraith (all of which were priority targets).  My lack of ranged fire support, location of units, and type of units, put me in a very bad situation.  Due to my lack of range, I had a hard time focusing my fire.  Meaning I keep whittling away at the Crab, Cestus, and Ostol, but could not apply enough, fast enough to take them down. 

In return, they killed everything except the escaped cargo sub, two units of infantry (which were never in the fight) and a Rommel that was moving 2/3 by the end of the game.  Ultimately I felt like I played poorly because I did not know that tracked vehicles could not move through heavy wood, which delayed 2 of my tanks.  Additionally, I should have moved my JagerMech into the water much early in the game (it was stuck in the extreme SW corner, and was useless the whole game. 

My most effective move was to reserve my hovers until they had most of their line 'Mechs committed and then rush in behind for rear shots.  Unfortuately, they were 3025 standard variants, with no bells or whistles.  I managed to inflict some damage, but the lack of heavier weapons hurt. 

Given that my forces were spread out, they adopted a solid strategy of rushing their health 'Mech at my scattered forces, saturating me with poor target options.  With my lack of speed, they would maintain perfect distance and pummel me at range while I was ineffective.  Slow and lacking range weapons is a horrible combo.  Additionally, it really opened my eyes as to how ineffective conventional forces are in highly forested and movement hindering terrain infested map sheets.  Heavy armor infantry is not good in open battlefields, but should be reserved for urban defenders and field gun infantry.  The lack of mobility, minimized their effectiveness.  It really highlighted why 'Mech rule the 31st century battlefield. 

I know that I had poor units and poor placement, but I definitely did not live up to my personal expectations.  I definitely blundered some movement of my rear forces delaying them and it ultimately hurt my ability to take out more 'Mechs.

Well there you have it.  I have some pictures, but am out of town for work this week.  I'll add some pictures into this post this weekend when I get home.  Stay tuned, the 4th phase of this mission has still yet to be played.  With our assault on the underwater base complete, we must disengage and return home, unfortunately, the screening forces we broke through are going to be looking to retaliate and hamper our return home.  Can we make it through another blockade with the amount of damage we sustained over the past 3 missions?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Siege Delayed, Set for Saturday Oct. 16th

Sorry to leave you all with bated breathe, but due too some illnesses, we had to reschedule.  Our entire group is feeling better and committed to slaughter this Saturday.  Again, sorry for the delay, and look for the write up early next week.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Campaign Scenario Preview - Siege of the Underwater Base

Two weeks ago I tried a scenario preview post and it seemed to go pretty well, so I'm going to continue on that trend. 

So to pick up where we left off, our overarching mission is to destroy a Davion underwater command post on Brighton.  This is to be a multi-stage mission, with the past two scenarios were breakthrough missions (see the after action reports for breakthrough 1 and breakthrough 2).  The third mission is going to be the seige on the underwater base.  And the final mission is a retreat to our operations base. 

We find ourselves at the seige of the base and it looks like I'll be running the OpFor for the scenario.  I don't have a detailed list of my forces for defense yet, but I understand its going to be comprised of 'Mechs and vehicles...including submarines.  The forces that I had during the breakthrough scenario are going to be deployed as a "rear guard" for story purposes, and will not partake in the seige.

-Jerry's Force (JF): Penetrator, Shadow Hawk, Archer , Marauder II
-Warlock Fusiliers (WF): Cudgel CDG-2A, 2 Huron Warriors HUR-W0-R4L, Lao Hu LHU-2B (moderately damaged)
-Bethel Irregulars (BI): Cerberus, Griffin, Caeser,  2 Warrior VTOLs, Atlas AS7-K, Cestus CTS-6Z, Hunchback HBK-5S, Victor VTR-9D
-Lords of the Night (NL): 3 Ti Ts'angs, Wraith TR1, Phoenix Hawk PXH-4L
-Shengli Armed Asset Protection (SLAAP): Crab Custom (damaged), Lancelot, Ti Ts'ang 9J, Ostsol 8M (damaged), Thunder 2L (damaged), Daikyu, Braghest Custom, Templar Custom, 1 Platoon of Grenadiers BA on a Badger, 1 Platoon of Trinity BA w/ Plasma Rifles

Additionally, they willl be supported by two Danais and two Demolisher Arrow IV variants.

So the mercenary coalition forces are going to have about 8 lances worth of stuff deployed for this scenario.  And we are playing it on a 4 mapsheet (2 by 2) battlefield.  So the battlefield is going to get very congested very quickly.  We actually moved our gaming to Saturdays now, so we can start earlier and play later if necessary, which will really help in general, but also specifically for this scenario since I think it's going to take some time. 

Since there will be an underwater component of the battle, we will be using the underwater rules (probably in Tac Ops).  I have not read them, but I understand all missile and ballistic weapons are useless.  Lasers can be used, but have 1/3 their typical range.  Missile launchers can be refit to torpedo launchers, but it's not an easy change, and none of the Merc forces made any swaps. 

As OpFor, my high priority targets are the Ti Ts'angs, since they are laser zombies with TSM, which would wreck the base very quickly.  After those 'Mechs, its really a crap shoot.  I'm torn between just trying to punch holes in every 'Mech so they can't get in the water, or trying to knock them out of commission. 

Looks to be a pretty intense slug fest.  Hopefully we can keep the game moving quick.  Check back on Sunday, I should have a full report up while I watch some football.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Finally Figured Out What To Do With That Puma/Adder

A couple missions back, I ended up salvaging a Clan Adder (Puma).  It was missing a leg, so I didn't really think of what I was going to do with it.  It's still missing its leg, but I hope I'll be able to fix it soon.  And sense it's in the repair bay, I was thinking of adding a few special modifications to it.  For those of you who don't run clan tech often, and don't know, the Adder/Puma is a 6/9 35 tonner, with 16 tons of Omni pod space, plus a clan flamer. 

The clanners use the 'Mech as fire support light 'Mech...which is possible when you have clan weapons.  The problem I was running into was Inner Sphere weapons are significantly heavier.  I really wanted to use this 'Mech in my recon lance:

Recon Lance - Pouncer Lance
2 Regulator Arrow IV Variant
2 Bandits (Custom)
Sha Yu 2B
Hellspawn 7L Custom
2 Fa Shih Platoons w/ Light TAGs
However, at 6/9, the Puma just isn't fast enough to hang with this lance.  Additionally, in order to pack decent firepower into this 'Mech, I will be forced to take a majority of short ranged weaponry, which is complementary, since I'll definitely want to include TAG on this 'Mech.  So I got to thinking about how I could make this 'Mech "better" or at least more suited for the purpose of this lance. 
First, I needed to fix the speed.  To do that, I could replace the engine, which would be stupid, since its a Clanner XL, which is lighter and has less crits.  My other two options are MASC or a Supercharger.  Rewiring for MASC is a little excessive, so it looks like the Supercharger is the answer.  My thoughts are to move with the main forces at normal speeds.  If I need to close the distance, I can sprint 12.  Once I've closed the gap, I can use the Supercharger to get into rear arcs, with a suprise burst.  I'll probably only use the Supercharger once, maybe twice a game.  It also gives the 'Mech some decent breakaway speed.  And the nice thing about the Supercharger, it only weights a half ton, which is a bargin.
One weapon I really wanted on the Puma was a Snub-nosed PPC.  It's a great weapon at 6 tons, and has a nice short range.  Its also helpful for punching holes in lighter 'Mechs and can ding heavier 'Mechs.  However, the pilot is most likely going to be a 5/5 pilot.  Since the accuracy is a little weak, I wanted to fine a way to improve the accuracy.  A TarComp wouldn't be weight effective, and they are very rare on the market, so that's out.  However, A.E.S. is available.  So I'll drop A.E.S. into the right arm.  It's not pod mountable, but that's not too bad.  In the future, I'll just have to mount weapons on the right arm.  So I'll plug the SN PPC and a TAG on the A.E.S.'ed right arm. 
To round out the weaponry, I want some more Streak SRM.  I have a hard on for Streak SRMs, I'm not sure why, but they just strike me as so efficient.  So I added two SSRM 4s with one ton of ammo.  Since there is clan CASE, I feel ok putting ammo in this expensive 'Mech. 
At this point, I have .5 tons left.  There's nothing I want to put on the Puma, so I'm going to dump it into more armor.  Since I have the crits to play with, so I added the half ton to the 6 tons of armor the 'Mech already had.  With 6.5 tons of standard armor gets you 104 of 119 armor points and 87.39% coverage.  However, if I upgrade it to Ferro-Fibrous, I can get 116 of 119 armor points and 97.5% coverage.  I'm not a fan of the FF armor, but the additional coverage is too much to pass up, especially for a 'Mech that's going to be in the mix of the close quarters combat. 
I finally got the Puma fitted up in what I'll consider my Prime configuration and in the end, this is what I came up with PUMA OF DOOM!

Based on the structural changes I made to the Puma, the A.E.S. and Supercharager, I wanted to create a second variant that could jump and still take advantage of those internal changes.  For a jumping TAG 'Mech, I wanted to max my jumping capabilities.  So I stripped off the two Streak SRM 4s and the corresponding ammo giving me 7 tons to play with to start.  I added 6 jump jets for 3 tons total, leaving me with 4 tons. 

I debate the merit of the SN PPC and decide to keep it, as well as the TAG in the A.E.S.'ed right arm.  So with 4 tons to play with, I consider medium lasers of all types, regular, pulse, and ER.  Since I'll be up close, jumping, and running a little hot, two medium pulse lasers look really appealing.  Pulses aren't great for 2/3 pilots, but they sure help 5/5 or 4/4 pilots, especially while jumping and running around.  This means that all of my weaponry will have a -2 or -1 to hit, which is pretty nice.  Additionally, this 'Mech is now ammo independent, which is good for many missions while on a campaign. 

So the end result is the PUMA Mark II.

Note: Due to available crit locations in the Arms, I've added lower and hand actuators. This adds to tactical flexibility. It makes available options like careful stand and other things.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Battletech Theory - Fusion Engine Discussion - Compact Fusions

Based on some of the comments I received in relation to my discussion of the various common types of fusion engines: Standard, XL, and Light.  I omitted talking about Compact Fusion Engines because I really have no experience with them.  There are not many Canon 'Mech designs that actually use the Compact Fusion Engine.  Therefore, which a small sample size of Canon 'Mechs did not feel qualified to talk about Compact Fusions.  However, since it was brought up, I decided to design some 'Mechs using SSW to see what I could come up with. 

Logically, the Compact Engine's value is that it reduces crit slots of the Engine, which means it's harder to take out via crits.  Additionally, it allows one to add a lot of weaponry to the center torso, meaning that you can retain combat effectiveness even after loss of side torsos.  In theory, this increases durability of the 'Mech because it will most likely die to center torso destruction before the engine is critted out.  However, this durability is only effective if the center torso is packed with weapons, equipment, or heat sinks to provide some crit padding.

So for the benefits of increased durability, the cost is fairly significant.  The cost comes in the form of lost tonnage, by which the engine's weight is increased by 50% of Standard Fusion Engine's weight.  So an 8 ton engine goes to 12 tons.  The problem is that due to the signficant increase in engine weight, you are losing out on either speed, armor, or weaponry, all of which make you an easy target. 

So here's the analysis.  The difference between a Standard Fusion and a Compact Fusion is negligable.  The difference in durability is not much.  At the point when your center torso has gone internal, you're one or two shots away from being finished anyway.  The cost associated with the increased durability, which is a debatable increase, is just really not worth it.  Additionally, there is a substantial increase in the cost of C-bills.  In my opinion, the cons definitely outweight the pros, and a Standard Fusion Engine is the way to go for optimization of durability when considering other factors such as tonnage, cost, etc.

Monday, September 27, 2010

After Action Report & Analysis - Victoria War 3105 - Sept 25, 2010

*Link to Picture Here - Disclaimer, I didn't take these picture, someone on my team did.  In the picture with the people, that's my campaign group...I'm on the right*

I prefaced the battle a couple days ago HERE!  We meet at the gaming store at 10 to organize and divy out 'Mechs.  It worked out that there where about 10 players per team, so everyone got a lance.  I'm going to apologize now because the game was very hectic and there were a lot of people moving around, so it was hard to document the battle very accurately.

The Setup:
The battlefield was set up and was about 8 feet long by 3 feet.  The map was heavily populated by level 2 terrain, with only some sparse woods scattered around.  The deployment was along the small sides of the board, making the board very long. 

The Capellan's held a quick strategy meeting and assigned 'Mechs and players to each of the following groups: fire support, cavalry, and skirmishers.  I was called on to lead the fire support contingent, with one of our campaign players and then a serious liability player (who grabbed the King of Hearts assault lance) before we had a chance to break out the 'Mechs properly.  Jerry (one of the guys in our campaign) took the 10 of Hearts assault lance.  I took a hodgepodge of the remaining 'Mechs assigned to the fire support group, including: Marauder 5L,. Catapult C6, Osprey 26, and Blackjack 3.

The Action:
Jerry's troops held down a hill on the left side of our deployment zone.  While mine and the other guy's troops held the right side, which was to be our anchor.  Our cavalry and skirmishers deployed scattered all over.  Turn 1 through 3 were uneventful, except a headcap from Jerry's Gauss Pillager against a Davion Argus. The Davions approached primarily down the right and left flanks, hiding behind level 2 cover to block LOS through most of the first 7 turns. 

Our cavalry and skirmishes ran back and forth to continue to generate move mods.  Of course, the liability on our gun line broke formation and ran forward to shoot at long range just because they couldn't shoot back.  He needed 11's to hit and misses everything.  Then in later turns, he gets chewed up, losing his Battlemaster and Sunder by turn 9.  The only good thing he did was push an Enforcer off the board. 

Turn 7 was the turn that won us the game.  It was this turn that the Davions had to decide to hide one more turn and creep forward or break cover and rush our entrenched positions.  As per our battleplan, half of the Davions posted up and stalled and the others got impatient and rushed forward.  We divided our fire severely damaging a T-bolt, Falconer, and Rakshasa and killing a Valiant (that had a 1 move mod).  This damage came at the expense of a Wraith and Duan Gung which prematerally jumped into the mix to help draw the opponents out of cover by providing tempting targets.  It was this turn that we were effectively shooting 100% of our firepower, mostly on decent to hit rolls, while they were limited to about 50% at bad rolls.

The next turn (number 8), the Davions broke their cover to advance on us.  Our skirmisher and cavalry elements rushed forward to overhelm and to over-saturate them with targets, knowing that they would be picking targets independently and not concentrating fire.  We finished off the T-bolt, Falconer, and Rakshasa, as well as pushed an Enforcer off the board and crippled a Hammerhands and Valkyrie.  This turn we had no casualties, and we can see our strategy has now worked wonders. 

Turn 9 is more of the same, with the Davions losing a Dart, Victor, the damaged Hammerhands, the damaged Valkyrie, and another Valkyrie.  In exchange, we lost the Thunder and Battlemaster.  I charged my Marauder 5L out to help the other fire support lance that was getting overwhelmed by elements of the Queen of Spades and 8 of Spades forces, by TSM kicking the leg off of a Dervish. 

It was at this point that victory was in our hands and it was getting fairly late (around 6 PM) and I decided to hand my 'Mechs over to one of our campaign players to finish off the game.  I had been there for 8 hours and was heading out to meet some friends to watch UFC 119.

The Conclusion & Analysis:
That night I got an email from my teammate Sheng, saying they had called it quits once we had killed 15 to their 7 'Mechs.  We had downed nearly 4 lances worth of 'Mechs to their two and it had gotten late so they called it.  It was a significant victory for the Capellans. 

This was the first large scale game that I'd participated it, and it was great fun; abet, it was very slow and time consuming.  I'm not a psychology guy, I took Psych 100 in college, but I've always been a good study of how people act.  And this was no different and it was very interesting to observe the behaviors of everyone at the table. 

Everyone was impatient!  And impatient is putting it mildly.  Everyone wants to be the "allstar" and do their own thing.  Forget that you are playing a TABLETOP STRATEGY GAME and just run around trying to kill things on your own.  It was very evident in the Davion players because they had no overarching leadership or universal strategy. 

Now what was even more interesting was the frustration of the some of the Capellan players who wanted to do the same thing.  So bear in mind, only about 50% of the Capellans were from my campaign group.  We were the ones who formulated the strategy.  The fill-ins wanted to rush in as well.  We held them back fairly well except the dude on my command team, who ran his assaults around and end up getting most of them killed and shot up.  Would he have listened, his troops would have been fine. Instead they got caught out in the open.  And was was really funny, was every turn after he broke rank, he was frustrated with the position he found himself in and took 10 minutes to move his 4 'Mechs because he had no good options.  Another moment to prove my point is when our CO of skirmishers jumped in the Wraith and Duan Gung a turn too early and lost both.  When I questioned his move, he said he knew what he was doing, but it was clearly because he was bored and hadn't rolled any dice yet.  And what happened to his 'Mechs?  Well they both died and did absolutely no damage.  Had they not jumped, another 20% of the Davion force wouldn't have had anything to shoot at.  So by jumping in, the allowed them to shoot more of their forces that wouldn't have been able to otherwise. 

It was the impatience of one of the Davion players, who was running the 9 of Spades heavy lance that broke the game wide open.  He had a later move in turn 7 and he broke the loose Davion formation and got his T-Bolt, Falconer, and Rakashasa shot up and later killed the next turn.  It was hilarious really.  As soon as he started moving from cover, I looked at William and we both just started laughing.  We knew the game was won just because someone wanted to roll dice. 

And that discussion on player psychology brings me to my ultimate point.  The larger the game, the more strategy matters.  Due to the sizes of the forces, the laws of averages starts to reach economies of scale.  Meaning that because there are so many dice being rolled, the actual rolling of the dice no longer matters.  The only thing that matters is whether your forces are shooting higher volumn (aka 100% of your 'Mechs are shooting) than your opponent and whether you are focusing fire to bring targets down, to eliminate return fire in subsequent turns. 

In small games, the dice matter a lot more.  Because there is less rolling, a few "good" or "lucky" rolls can often win the game.  This is due to the smaller population of total rolls.  A few high roll outliers, actually makes a huge different in a lance on lance game.  However, in a 10 lance vs 10 lance game, the dice will start to pattern a normal distribution curve, and thus have a significantly less impact on the game.  So in effect, the players who are impatient because they want to roll dice are misguided in believing that that will ultimately matter in the course of the game.

Herein is why the Capellans won the game.  Althought the terrain was not ideal, we stuck to our plan.  We had 3 main avenues in which the Davions would come, and we set up with our fire support to cover those lanes.  Our cavalry and skirmishers moved about in the general areas of those attack corridors.  We had a few skirmishes run up to bait, but with stealth armor up, they were never hit, but it gave the Davion players a chance to roll some dice, and it got them hooked on it and wanted more (dice rolling).  To our suprise, they actually moved coherently and used cover to prevent a lot of our very long range sniping.  However, they did draw some of our gun line forces out of their designated areas, which hindered our overall plan.  Fortunately, the Davions lost their meddle, and finally approached in a hodgepodge formation, allowing us to open up with our fire support and move our skirmishing and cavalry forces into play to block any significant advances, which gave us a nearly always 3+ move mods to their 2+ and allowed us to bring all of our forces into play while they had some out of range or still behind cover.  I firmly believe, that had our gun line held and if our skirmishers hadn't jumped a turn too early, we could have come away with even a more staggering victory.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Battletech Theory - Fusion Engine Discussion

Hey all, I just wanted to talk about a hotly contested and debated topic in Battletech....engines.  There are three main types of fusion engines used to power 'Mechs: standards, light and extralight (XL).  Most players have very strong preferences related to each type of engine.  I fall into the "I like them all" catagory, so I feel like I have somewhat of an impartial view.

Pre 3050, the engine debate is pretty unimportant.  Pretty much everything is standard fusion, with Star League relics might have an XL.  However, at 3050, with the Clan invasion, the TRO's went pretty crazy with XLs, especially after 3055.  It seems logical that the Inner Sphere, would want to put XLs on everything so they could pack more weapons, armor, and speed on these new 'Mechs.  However, fluff and mechanics diverge, like they always do and the debate rages on.

Mechanically, the main trade-off between the various types of engines is reduced weight, which free up more tonnage, and durability. Standard engines are heavy, but take up less crit spaces, meaning it makes the 'Mech more durable, since 3 engine crits cripples a 'Mech.  XL engines are light, but take up more crit spaces (6 more, 3 per side torso), making the 'Mech much more fragile to the 3 engine hit death.

Personally, the trade-offs and advantages and disadvantages of each type of engine is dependent on the role in which the 'Mech is designed to fulfill. 

Standard Fusions - This engine type is very vital in the modern battlefield.  By only taking up crit slots in the CT, it means that the 'Mech can survive side torso destruction.  'Mechs equipped with standard fusions are best served as soldier/brawler types.  Because they are typically slower and less heavily armed, they excel at making meat shields or "tanks".  You lure your opponent into attacking these 'Mechs by making sure they are easier to hit in comparison to other 'Mechs. 

XL Fusions - This engine frees up a lot tonnage.  This tonnage can be reinvested into a 'Mech in two main categories:  Weapons and Speed (bigger engine). There are two ways that XLs can be utilized.  The first, is to increase speed, significantly, in order to increase it's survivability.  Allowing the 'Mech to have a higher move mod, it increases the durability by damage mitigation (ie. missed shots).  The second, and more popular, is to pack more weaponry into a fire support platform.  Ideally, you don't want your fire support 'Mechs engaged in close combat, so the fragile nature of the XL engine is mitigated.

Where I think the XL gets a bad name is the liberal use by the canon 'Mech designers (freelancers) employed by the various entities that license the Battletech brand.  There are too many instances of XLs being dropped into slow and heavy brawler or light 'Mechs.  Either type die too quickly to side torso lose.  Only in certain circumstances, such as the Falconer, are great uses of XL to get speed and long ranged fire support, which keeps the 'Mech durable.  I'm not going to discuss specifics Mechs which illustrate bad ways to use XL engines, but I'm sure everyone knows a handful or two. 

The Light Fusion, is sadly a night widely used engine, mostly due to it's relative newest to the Battletech universe, I believe coming into the fold around 3062.  The lovely thing about this engine is that it has only 4 extra crits, not 6 like the XL.  Meaning, that side torso lose does not immediately cripple the 'Mech.  While this matters little for one-off battles, it is extremely important for campaign play, where a crippled 'Mech might have to left for dead, while one with a light fusion can still manage itself off the board.  The downside to the light fusion is that it's typically not enough saved weight to both increase speed and firepower like the XL.  You really have to pick one aspect to enhance.  It's easy to fall into the though process that you can improve both speed and firepower, but typically that's when light fusions end up looking bad. 

To summarize, all types of fusion engines are good, when used properly.  Fusions are great for enhanced durability.  XLs are great for 'Mechs reliant on speed (scouts and flankers) or are niched in the fire support role.  The light fusion is useful to add a little more zest to a 'Mech while still keeping it survivable.  That said, I'm interested to hear what everyone thinks about the various versions of the fusion engine.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Upcoming Game: Victoria War 3105 - Sept 25 2009

So this weekend we are taking a break from the semi-monthly campaign to participate in a Catalyst event at Games Plus in Mount Prospect.  The game is a reenactment of the FedSun invasion during the Victoria War around 3105.  It was designed to allow us to use some of the new TRO:3085 'Mechs (but we end up not using all that many).  This post is to just to prep the game, provide unit lists, and discuss our strategy. 

So its going to be 10 lances vs 10 lances (battalions with a command lance) with probably around 25 people participating.  For these big games, we assign a card (from a deck of cards) as its initiative card.  Every turn, the cards are shuffled and pulled to determine initiative order.  We might end up assigning cards to each player if we have to start breaking apart lances due to participation.  Also, our campaign participants will be playing on behalf of the CCAF (obviously), and are hoping our practice playing together will help coordinate our tactics.

CCAF Force List

A♥ Command Lance, 1st Battalion, 3rd CRC
JN-G9CC Jinggau "Ming the Merciless"
LHU-3C Lao Hu "Tiger Lily"
HEL-6X Helios "Celestial Chariot"
GOL-3L Goliath "Hebrew Hammerer"

1st Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd CRC
K♥ Assault Lance
BLR-4L Battlemaster "Sun Tzu You"
VTR-10L Victor "Hanse's Nightmare"
SD1-OA Sunder "Ivan Grozny"
Y-H9G Yu Huang "Huang 'Em High"

Q♥ Strike Lance
JN-G8A Jinggau "Defalconer"
WHM-5L Warhammer "Chillin' like an Anvillain"
CRD-8L Crusader "Celestial Sunbeam"
THR-2L Thunder "Thunderbus"
J♥ Pursuit Lance
PXH-5L Phoenix Hawk "Xin Sheng"
ABS-3L Anubis "Jackalope"
D9-G10 Duan Gung "Ghost Pressure"
RVN-SS Raven "Edgar VIII"

2nd Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd CRC
10♥ Assault Lance
EMP-6L Emperor "Jiajing"
XNT-5O Xanthos "Trojan Horse"
PLG-4Z Pillager "Ghost"
STK-6M Stalker "Love Blimp"

9♥ Heavy Lance
CTF-5MOC Cataphract "Naomi"
CPLT-C6 Catapult "Emancipator"
VND-3Lr Vindicator "City of Tikograd"
OSP-26 Osprey "Republican't"

8♥ Pursuit Lance
TSG-9H Ti Ts'ang "Skull Smasha"
MS1-OD Men Shen "TWIN-01"
MS1-OF Men Shen "TWIN-02"
SYU-2B Sha Yu "Landshark!"

3rd Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd CRC
7♥ Heavy Lance
OSR-4L Ostroc "Ostroc Your World"
MAD-5L Marauder "Stealthy Foxtrot"
GRF-5L Griffin "G-Man"
BJ-3 Blackjack "The Prodigal Son"

6♥ Medium Lance
EYL-45B Eyleuka "Canopian Jupming Bean"
EYL-45A Eyleuka "Horizontal Mambo"
SNK-2Br Snake "Foxhunter"
HUR-W0-R4N Huron Warrior "Tomahawk"

5♥ Light Lance
TR1 Wraith "I Was Never Here"
D9-G9 Duan Gung "Onward to Capella!"
D9-G9 Duan Gung "Fat Lady Killa"
RVN-4Lr Raven "Stark Raven Mad"

AFFS Force List

A♠ Command Lance, 1st Battalion, 1st Crucis Lancers
VTR-9KCC Victor "Floreat Etona"
BL-12-KNT Black Knight "Hammer of the Liaoists"
CES-4R Caesar "Sex Bob-omb"
MAD-5R Marauder "Rope-a-Dope"

1st Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Crucis Lancers
K♠ Assault Lance
DVS-X10 Devastator MUSE EARTH "TESTBED-05"
WHM-8D Warhammer "Sammy the Whammy"
PTR-6T Penetrator "Predictable Pun IV"
TLR1-O Templar "Sans Peur Et Sans Reproche"

Q♠ Medium Lance
ENF-6M Enforcer III "Dirty Harry"
DV-9D Dervish "Mad Mahdi Machine"
SHD-5D Shadow Hawk "Shatterband"
VLK-QD4 Valkyrie "Leaping Lady"

J♠ Light Lance
OSR-3D Osiris "God-King"
V4-LNT-J3 Valiant "Mutt"
SCB-9A Scarabus "Jeff"
ALM-10D Fireball "Doom Egg"

2nd Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Crucis Lancers
10♠ Assault Lance
MAD-6D Marauder II "Big Bad Daddy"
HMH-5D Hammerhands "Archilochus"
GHR-7K Grasshopper "Sifu Slayer"
ENF-6H Enforcer III "Disco Don't Die"

9♠ Heavy Lance
FLC-8R Falconer "Tony"
MDG-2A Rakshasa "Hindu Hellion"
TDR-9NAIS Thunderbolt "Blinding You With Science"
RFL-6D Rifleman "Nothing LAC-ing"

8♠ Medium Lance
ENF-6G Enforcer III "Clint Eastwood"
CN9-D9 Centurion "Diocletian"
LGN-2D Legionnaire "Fabius Cunctator"
STH-2D2 Stealth "Contains No Stealth"

3rd Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Crucis Lancers
7♠ Assault Lance
NSR-9J Nightstar "Great Vishnu"
STK-7D Stalker "Dead Zeppelin"
GOL-5D Goliath "King David"
TDR-10M Thunderbolt "Zeus III"

6♠ Strike Lance
Rifleman IIC 8 "Clan Tin Can"
FLC-8R Falconer "Handsome Harry"
CTS-6Y Cestus "Clubber Lang"
RFL-8D Rifleman "Lead Rain"
5♠ Fire Lance
AGS-2D Argus "All-Seeing Eyes"
DV-8D Dervish "Khartoum Killa"
VLK-QD1 Valkyrie "Brunhilde"
DRT-6T Dart "Lawn Dart"

Force Analysis:
The CCAF has a nice balance force.  Mix of fire support, cavalry, and skirmishers/flankers.  The AFFS forces are much more oriented to cavalry and brawler type 'Mechs.  Because of this, we have developed, what we think is a good strategy for this upcoming battle.
Based on player composition (we already know who's on what team), we are fairly certain that the AFFS players will be individualistic and disorganized.  Given the nature of the AFFS forces, they will have to close the gap to bring their might to bear.  The basic plan is to divide our forces into 3 distinct groups, but not constrained by lances.  We'll have our fire support/snipers, cavalry, and skirmishers.
Our fire support will take cover and take up firing positions.  Those 'Mechs will focus fire on key targets as they run across the battlefield to engage us. Our cavalry will hang primarily to the center of our line.  For the most part, they'll keep moving to keep the move mod up, shoot if they can, or stay out of LOS and wait for the AFFS 'Mech to get close and then pounce.  The skirmishing forces will hang on our flanks, moving similarly to the cavalry forces.  Keeping move mods up, they should be our main sponge to absorb damage through mitigation and enemy missing high mov mods.  The skirmisher forces will primarily be used to "pack hunt" damaged 'Mechs that didn't have the good graces to die.  Also, they will protect our flanks from any of the speed that the AFFS might deploy on one of our flanks. 
In order to keep our cohesion in the scenario, we are assigning a Captain and two Lieutenants for each of the 3 distinct groups.  We will maintain the chain of command, which will help efficiently use our resources. We'll see how effective this command structure is in actual game play, but I think it should work out well.  For our generic startegy, I think it will work well.  We anticipate that the AFFS forces will be coming over piece-meal.  As they come in waves, our fire support will soften them up, and the cavalry or skirmishing forces will finish them off.  The cavalry will also be able to deploy to either side depending on if the AFFS overloads a side. 
Needless to say, I'm excited and I'll have a nice after action report ready to go, with pictures after this weekend.  Hopefully Halo: Reach doesn't cut into my blogging time too much.....

Monday, August 30, 2010

Breakthrough Pt 1 After Action Report - August 29, 2010

Ok, so the last post I had was a quick one, just to update everyone on our next multi-stage mission.  Our primary objective is to hit an underwater base.  In order to get there, we have 2 separate breakthrough scenarios, that occurring on the same time in game.  All forces that make it though are able to make it to the underwater base and participate in that mission.  Those that do not make it cannot be salvaged if they are incapaciated, but other 'Mechs can fall back and retreat to our base if possible. 

For this particular mission, we are bringing in a special guest to play the OpFor, Peter Smith.  For this mission, each of Mercenary Coalition forces will be sending through at least one lance.  The player for Shengli Armed Asset Protection is bringing two lances this mission, since he will be OpFor'ing the next breakthough mission.

Kestrel Grenadiers supported by Conventional Divisonal Forces:
-Conventional Forces: 2 SRM Carriers, 2 Scorpion Light Tanks, 4 Bulldogs, 2 Von Luckners, 2 Challenger XII,
-Kestrel Grenadiers: JagerMech JM-DG, Penetrator PTR-6M, Nightstar NSR-9FC, Hammerhands HMH-3D, Emperor EMP-6D, Caeser CES-4R, Blackjacks BJ2-0, Rifleman RFL-8D, Warhammer WHM-8D, Marauder MAD-5R, Longbow LGB-13NAIS, Marauder II MAD-5A.

Mercenary Coalition Forces:
-Piotrowski's Predators (PP): 3 Defiance ASFs w/ LB-10X, LPL, and 3 MPLs
-Shengli Armed Asset Protection (SLAAP): Crab Custom, Lancelot, Ti Ts'ang 9J,Ostsol 8M, Thunder 2L, Daikyu, Braghest Custom, Templar Custom, 1 Platoon of Grenadiers BA on a Badger, 1 Platoon of Trinity BA w/ Plasma Rifles, and 2 Danais (deployed off board)
-Jerry's Force (JF): Penetrator PTR-4D, Shadow Hawk SHD-5D, Archer ARC-8M, Marauder II MAD-5A
-Warlock Fusiliers (WF): Tempest TMP-3M, Cudgel CDG-2A, No-Dachi NDA-2KO, Koschei KSC-4H, 2 Platoons of Fa Shih w/ Gyrojet Rifles and Light Recoiless Rifles
-Bethel Irregulars (BI): Cerberus Custom, Griffin 6S, Marauder MAD-5R, Caeser 4R, 2 Warrior VTOLs ('Mechs upgraded with C3)
-Lords of the Night (NL)t: 4 Ti Ts'angs and 2 Demolisher Arrow IV Variants (deployed off board)

Set up We deploy 4 hexes in.  OpFor deploys within 11 hexes on the opposite side.  The side we start on is 2 plains with sparse forest.  The OpFor defended terrain has 2 larger hills with a nice valley right now the middle.  OpFor places 'Mechs primarily on the two hills off the flanks.  The vehicles are focused on holding the middle.

We bring a little artillery support to help us punch through in the form of Danais and Arrow IV Demolishers.  Reliable intelligences says we are going to encounter heavy resistance. 

The Action:
Turn 1 - We run forward as fast as possible. SLAAP runs down the left side using evasive movement rules making him harder to hit.  BI and WF head down the center.  NL and JF hit the right flank, but shift down the right and down the center as well.  The firing phase sees little fire connecting, but the oft ridiculed JagerMech headcaps the Bethel Irregulars' Marauder.  JagerMech takes damage, and a gauss rifle explodes, but doesn't cripple it.

Turn 2 - We move forward again, SLAAP puts pressure down the right side forcing the Davions to respond to cut off his avenue down the sideline with jumping 'Mechs.  The tanks move out to block the center passage.  I elect for a strafing run on the 2 VonLucks, 2 Challengers, and 2 Scorpions down the middle to help soften the center up. 

The JagerMech and both Challengers get TAG'ed.  The JagerMech loses a leg to Arrow IV and the Challengers eat the remaining missiles.  I rack up a ton of damage but don't knock out any of the tanks (probably about 300 damage total),  but immobilze a VonLuck and Challenger.  My 1st fighter takes 50 damage, fails PSR and lawndarts.  The 2nd eats 3 UAC 20 shells, taking over 100 damage but doesn't crash.  The remaining fighter takes minimal damage.  The remaining Merc Coalition 'Mechs fire on the Caeser (on the right flank) and Nightstar (on the left flank) both of which fall.  Additional damage on the tanks, but we don't take any of them out.

Turn 3 - SLAAP gets a 'Mech off the board and the Davions respond by completely blocking the path down the left side forcing him to have to turn.  We punch through the center to engage the vehicles.  Two Ti Ts'angs, the Caeser move to take the right flank, and look to have a clear path out. 

We TAG the Caesar, miss all the other TAGs.  It eats 7 Arrow IV missiles...we don't even roll it.  The Thumpers on the Danais do a little friendly fire to the No-Dachi.  SLAAP attacks Hammerhands and Penetrator that are in his way.  JF focused on the Rifleman as well as 2 Ti Ts'angs and the Caesar out on the right flank.  Everything else is in a scrum in the middle.  The Thunder eats fire from the Emperor, Hammerhands, Penetrator and Nightstar, take damage to various place, but do not penetrator armor anywhere. 

The NLTi Ts'ang in the middle gets focus fired by most of the tanks, suffering multiple crits, 3 of which were on the engine, knocking it out.  The Davion Rifleman eats our concentrated right flank fire and uncerimonusly falls to a medium laser which destroys the head.  No'Dachi takes heavy damage from the Challengers and Longbow, takes two floaters to the center torso resulting in a a gyro and engine hit.  A Ti Ts'ang hatchet the Longbow in the back, hitting the left torso, critting ammo.  Some kicks are exchanged, but nothing of note.

It's a gory turn, with us losing a Ti Ts'ang and a crippled No-Dachi. We took out a Rifleman, Caesar and Scorpion.

Turn 4 - Movement sees SLAAPcontinue manuvering down the left side, dodging the jumping Davion 'Mechs that are trying to slow him down.  Two NL Ti Ts'angs and 2 BL Warriors get off the board.  We continue to advance and they hold cover or drift back to block.  I bring one Defiance on the board to strike the damaged Longbow.  I am now the only TAG on the board, and TAG the Longbow and land all 6 Arrow IV Missiles on the the Longbow.  The first missile takes out the head, reducing it to scrap.  The Danai scatters a shot to the Marauder II, rolls a through armor crit, but fails to successfully crit the center torso.

Tempest lands a Gauss and LPL on the heavily damaged Challenger, knocking out the turret killing it.  We immobilize a Bulldog.  SLAAPcontinues to focus on the Penetrator, knocking out the left arm and floating crits the left leg, hitting hip and lower leg actuator, causing it to fall self critting the leg popping it off with a 12 on the crit roll.  The Kochei takes damage and suffers a 12 crit roll on the arm, popping it off.  It eats SRM Carrier missiles, critting the engine twice and gyro.  Falls on its head, knocks out pilot.  Cludgel falls down due to damage and Tempest takes heavy damage, but remains standing. 

We got to call it after turn 4 as it was already past 10 and we all have to work tomorrow.  The following units make it though:
Shengli Armed Asset Protection (SLAAP): Everything makes it through, but the Crab, Thunder and Ti Ts'ang are heavily damaged.

-Jerry's Force (JF): Penetrator, Shadow Hawk, Archer , Marauder II
-Warlock Fusiliers (WF): Cudgel (No-Dachi and Kochei are destroyed, Tempest retreats, the Fa Shih save the pilots and fall back)
-Bethel Irregulars (BI): Cerberus, Griffin, Caeser, and 2 Warrior VTOLs (Marauder was head-capped)
-Lords of the Night (NL): 3 Ti Ts'angs (one was crippled due to 3 engine crits)
-Piotrowski's Predators (PP): None, one crashed the other 2 returned for repair, refit, and refuel.

We knocked out a JagerMech, Rifleman, Caesar, Longbow, a Challenger, a Scorpion.  We crippled the Von Lucks, the remaining Challenger, and a Penetrator.  We also dealt damage to the Nightstar, Hammerhands and some Bulldogs.

My analysis is going to start with our failure to coordinate our attack vectors.  Based on our set up, it would have seemed obviously...2 lances down each the right, center and left.  But we ended up headed down the paths of least resistance, which were both flanks.  Our slowest lance was committed to the middle and our other units abandoned it to run down the flank.

We should have either decided to ignore the center or committed ample troops to bust it wide open.  We initially had the forces deployed to take it, but we didn't hold to our convictions to break through.  Our lack of discipline cost us a Defiance, a Ti Ts'ang, Kochei, Marauder, and a No-Dachi.  We suffered heavy damage to the Tempest, Thunder, a Ti Ts'ang and a Crab. 

We did not strategically place our TAG units.  There were two turns when we completely overkilled targets because we couldn't spread our TAGS out.  They all ended up on the right side, which had minimal targets (Caesar, Rifleman, and JagerMech).  We should have had the Ti Ts'ang support the advance down the center since there were a ton of targets there.  Plus TSM kicks on tanks is fun.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Campaign Update - August 29, 2010

So I'm at our Campaign game and I wanted to post up a general update as to what's going on.  We're about to enter a 3 phase mission culminating in an attack on an underwater Davion base.  So how it's going to work is this week and then again in 2 weeks our forces are going to be running simultantous (in game time) break-through scenarios where we have split our forces (the two break-through scenarios).  The forces that make it through will meet up to siege an undersea base.  With that said, we're about to start and I'll have the after action report up hopefully tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Solaris 7 Website Community

Unfortunately we had a lull in our campaign as we had a member work, another one moving, and MadCap was working on Battletech stuff for Catalyst.  Needless to say, I was sad, but hopefully we'll be playing a make up game next weekend.  So in lue of my semi-monthly after action report, I'm going to talk about one of my favorite online communities over at http://www.solaris7.com/ (which I will call S7 from here on out).

S7 is a website that allows members to post up their 'Mech, vehicle, battle armor, and aerospace designs for review and analysis.  By using software such as Heavymetal Pro or Solaris Skunkwerks, you can import your custom designs for evaluation.  Another great thing is that nearly all of the canon designs have been posted up so if you need a more detailed TRO than what http://www.sarna.net/ can provide, they're just a few clicks away.

The active membership base is very knowledgeable about 'Mech design and they nearly always provide great advice for things to consider and tips to improve your design.  They also emphasize fluff, and will always give prop's for funny or well constructed fluff behind your design.  Once you post up a design, below  is room for S7 members to post comments on your design and grade it on a 1-5 scale (with an abstain option as well).  This allows the poster/designer to easily identify the analysis of their design right along side the TRO you've posted. 

I have become pretty attached to S7 because I believe it was very instrumental in my development as a player through the analysis of my 'Mech designs.  When I was first getting back into the game and was in the process of joining the campaign group I am in, I started hanging around S7.  By having the S7 community members review and analyze my designs, I was able to very quickly learn the strengths and weaknesses of various equipment, speeds, engines, etc.  I would argue that though the feedback obtain here, I learned more about unit selection and how to counter opposing units on S7 than playing Megamek (which I highly recommend).

So if you're like 99% of Battletech player and have a crap load of home brew designs, probably should check out our little community and post your stuff up, have it immortalized forever on the internet.  Hope to see you posting up some of your designs up soon!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Campaign Salvage & Future Unit Expansion Plans - Current Status - Aug. 9, 2010

So our main contract with the Capellans is weighted significantly more on salvage than on base currency (Tonnage Value).  As such, we have started to accumulate a decent amount of salvage.  Most of the time, we end up with a 'Mech who's side torso has been destroyed, critting out the XL engine.  The down side to salvage is that it ends of taking a while to repair these 'Mechs and get them in good working order.  The plus side is that it is much easier to customize a 'Mech who's missing most of their weaponry due to the side torso and arm loss.  As such, salvaged 'Mechs in our campaign seem to be a bit more heavily customized. 

Since Gei-Fu, I've acquired quite a few projects in the form of salvage.  All of the other Merc Units have their own salvage situations too, but I'm not going to delve into that.  I'm just going to talk through what I have and what I think about doing with it. 

Salvage List:
Orion ON1-M
Stealth STH-1D
Flashman FLS-8K
Trebuchet 7M

Stealth - Although I'm not a fan of the Stealth, especially the 1D, I think this 'Mech compliments my Recon lance. It moves 7/14/7 which allows it to fit in nicely.  I'm thinking of a refit such as this - Stealth 2D3.  It would serve primarily as a reserve 'Mech option for the Recon lance, deployed in hilly, mountainous, or other restrictive terrain over the Sha Yu. 

Adder - The Adder is a neat machine, but ultimately limited by is relatively small 35 tons.  It has 16 tons of pod space, but really no great options.  I'm planning on keeping this 'Mech in reserve for my Recon lance as well.  I can then customize it for specific missions such as anti-infantry or anti-vehicular combat. 

Trebuchet - I'm a fan of the Trebuchet, but not the 7M.  NARC is horrible and a huge waste of tonnage.  This particular 'Mech is really just 2 legs, a CT, a RT, and a head right now.  The plus side is I could customize it anyway I see fit.  The downside is that it's going to take a lot of work.  I'm going to have to take a hard look, but I'll probably just sell it off.  The other option is to C3 slave it. 

Orion - I like the Orion, but I don't like the NARC.  I'm considering this 'Mech as a "crit-seeker" to add to my C3 reserves - Orion Custom.  The only weapon it really keeps is the LB 10X.   But the mass MML's gives it some substance over long range, but becomes super crit-seeky once it gets up close.  Some of the other Merc Units are thinking of getting a C3 Company, and this 'Mech might be useful as a bodyguard 'Mech to a Company Command C3 Master.  Worst case, I keep it in my reserves for C3 lance.

Flashman - This is an interesting laser zombie 'Mech.  The un-CASE'ed AMS ammo really bugs me.  One shot can evaporate this guy.  I like the space the Flashman has available, but I really don't have a use for it.   Odds are I'm going to just sell it.  The only other thing I can think of would be to replace the large lasers with Snub-nosed PPCs or Plasma Rifles, just to add a little variety. 

So it looks like I'll be selling the Flashman and Trebuchet to the salvage yards for cash to refit and repair the Stealth, Adder, and Orion.  Since we just began our invasion of Brighton, I doubt any of these repairs will be finished before we finish, but there is a slight possibility if I make some good rolls to get the repairs finalized. 

Expansion Plans

Based on my last update of my Organizational Chart, it really hasn't changed a whole lot.  I have C3 Lance and a reinforced Recon lance, with some supplementary units to be used as "plug and play" units depending on the scenario.  The only additions would be the Adder, Stealth and Orion, but only once they have been repaired completely.

My main goal right now is to get my unit up to Company strength.  Additionally, I want to get a little more versatility and mobility in my unit.  So I'm thinking of a trio of Aerospace Fighters, Defiances to be exact.  I'm not an expert on ASF's at all, but the Defiance are only 55 tons, but pack 26 tons of omni-pod space for mission specific customization.  On top of that , they pack 15 tons of armor, which is pretty decent for a typical ASF.  Most likely, I would pack some combination of pulse weaponry and an LB-10X.  That gives them above average Air to Air and Air to Ground weaponry.  Additionally, depending on the mission, I could pack some ADAs or Homing Arrow IV missiles on hardpoints. 

My next step would be to add one more ASF, like a Riever or another "bomber type" ASF, that would get escorted by 2 Defiances.  Probably the 700B with the UAC 20 and massive amounts of SRMs.  This would leave the 3rd Defiance as an alternate incase one got damaged or shot down. 
At this point, I would have 3 lances to make up my Company, plus some support units.  I would have a highly mobile C3 lance that focuses on ER PPC, LRM and Gauss sniping.  A very fast and mobile recon lance supported by Arrow IV, and a ASF trio that would be mission specific customized as needed.  The flexibility and mobility of my forces is going to play a huge roll later on, when we get to planet's where we might be fighting on multiple fronts simultanously.  Meaning, each week will be a different battle, but all battles will be taking place from a game prospective at that same, or similar times.  The more mobile, the better odds you can re-adjust as needed.

Friday, July 23, 2010

RPG Podcasts - Helping Commutes and Boring Workdays One 'Cast at a Time

I'm going to diverge from my "Campaign Catch-up" posting to talk about RPG podcasts.  It is through these podcasts that I got into Battletech, even though none of the ones I listen really even talk about Battletech at all.  The beauty of RPG podcasts is that it can keep you connected to the hobby even if you don't have a gaming group at the moment.  They're great to listen to while commuting or working. 

I got into RPG podcasts while on an RPG gaming hiatus.  I had no group and was just playing EVE Online (awesome MMO) and was just learning about the game.  So I started listening to a podcast about EVE.  While I was searching, I found this site called RPGpodcasts.  This site basically accumulates all sorts of gaming podcasts into one central location. 

From this site, I found quite a few awesome podcasts.  My three favorites are Happy Jacks RPG Podcast, Fear the Boot, and Postcards from the Dungeon

Happy Jacks was my first RPG podcast.  I started listening to them literally from the beginning.  They had two episodes out when I latched on.  Probably my favorite group to just listen to their banter.  They have some great advice for new GM.  They are currently on their 3rd season.  Also, if their show gets 2,000 listeners, one of their female members will show her boobs.  So, if there wasn't already a great reason to listen, that is even more.  They do not edit their language, so keep that in mind when listen to them.

Fear the Boot is my close 2nd favorite.  This podcast has been out since May 2006 and has a ton of episodes.  They talk about anything and everything.  They have very intelligence discussions about a RPGs from both a player and GM perspectives.  They also do a lot on setting building.  The cast changes over the years, but the main guys are consistent.  The chemistry regardless of the group's dynamic is always great. 

My 3rd favorite podcast is Postcards from the Dungeon.  They are actually linked to Fear the Boot, which is how I found out about them.  Their earliest episodes are a little rocky, because there is some shift in members.  But they've really hit their stride.  They focus on how to take concepts and ideas from all sorts of media (movies, books, etc) and utilize them in your gaming.  Primarily focuses on setting and campaign creation through the use of media, but also has practical applications for PC generation.

These are just a couple of a ton of great podcasts out there.  It's sad that there's not Battletech only podcast...or well at least a current one.  Anyway, I highly recommend the above podcasts and I believe I've learned a lot about RPGs through these podcasts.  It will definitely help you in your future gaming.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Campaign Background

I wanted to give you all a feel about the campaign I'm playing in.  It's my primary BT gaming experience on a regular basis, so I be discussing it often. 

The original campaign started by the GM many years ago set in the pre-Jihad.  We play as mercenary groups that work together as a "collective".  Meaning, we each operate our own lance, company, etc, yet on a mission by mission basis, we are deployed together.  The orginal campaign had the merc's on Outreach as the Jihad kicked off.  Eventually they made their way into the Capellan Confederation, and were deployed in Operation: Sovereign Justice.  At the end, they were made House Sponsored Mercenaries.  That's when the GM moved to my neck of the woods and looked to restart the campaign.  Him and his wife's merc units were still house merc units, but the new guys that joined, started as basic mercenaries being deployed in Operation: Thunderstrike.

For initial unit creation, we were given 275 tons to create a lance of battlemechs.  On a mission by mission basis, we get Tons instead of C-bills to streamline logistics.  Additionally, we get to salvage 'Mechs depending on the mission and as time allows for salvaging.  Repairs and refits cost their cost in tons.  From my experiences thus far (about 5 months), its working out pretty well.  We alternate taking turns as OpFor with the GM creating the scenario and determining what the OpFor units consist of.

To create my unit, I spend about 2 weeks evaluating my options.  I wouldn't classify myself as a power gamer or min-maxer, and if you know battletech, its very hard to cheese your units.  However, with my experience in gaming and wargaming, I have a good eye for what mechanics of a game are important and what options take advantage of those mechanics.  With that in mind, I choose the following mechs for my lance for Piotrowski's Predators, my merc unit:

2 Falconer FCL-8R
1 Shadow Hawk SHD-7M
1 Griffin GRF-6S

Bear in mind, I hadn't played Battletech in about 6 years, so I wanted something fast, mobile, and could pack a decent punch.  That way I could ease my way back into game, relearn the mechanics as they play (not in theory) and hopefully have decent sucess.  All the 'Mechs I took are 5/8/5 in movement.  Meaning, I could get +2 to +3 movement modifiers, making my forces hard to hit.  This also gave me 3 ERPPCs, 2 Gauss Rifles, a Light Gauss Rifle and 2 LRM 15s, giving me great range and a decent punch. 

The lance worked extremely well, but was never truly outstanding.  Often times, I was perched in cover pushing the range on my weapons to medium or even long.  As such, my overall contributions in the form of damage weren't great.  Probably no more than a kill or 2 a game.  But my lance usually took minimal damage.  If any of my snipers were pressured, they could manuver out of danger.  As I look back at the performance, the lance was a great setup lance.  At long range, I could pour all my fire into one or two targets that the rest of my teammates were going to target.  Since most of my weapons are "can opener" weapons (they do a lot of damage to one location), I would fire first.  Then, my teammates would pour fire into those units hoping to strike where the armor was weak.  Overall, I was really impressed with my lance because I look little damage and was able to save a lot of my income for expanding and upgrade and not on repair bills.

My next post will discuss how my inital merc unit transformed from a 4 'Mech lance into almost a company.

Introduction Post

Hey all!  I'm new to the blogging world, but I am intrigued by the idea and want to see were this new found interest takes me.  Before I get blogging about my real topic of Battletech, I wanted to give you all some insight as to who I am and what to expect from this blog. 

I decided to do a blog about Battletech because it is one of my favorite sci-fi settings.  In middle school, I used to play the 2nd edition board game with my friends and read all the novels.  I swear we probably didn't even know the rules, but I loved it.  I played occasionally with my friend through high school, but primarily played a lot of ADnD and vampire (no I'm not Emo).  In college, I played other wargames like Warhammer Fantasy and 40k because I couldn't find anyone who played Battletech.  After graduating and moving back to the Chicago suburbs, I decided to take up the search again and found an awesome group to play with.  We play in campaign every other week. 

So with that said, that's my background in Battletech.  I'm rejuvenated and always reading and learning more about the game, and thus I want to blog about it.  I want to explore topics such as analyzing the tabletop game, strategy, unit design, games, and the campaign I'm playing in.  Hopefully some of you will find my blog useful and interesting.  I want feedback and question which I will attempt to answer.  I am definitely interested in hearing others' opinions.