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.


  1. regarding Psychology 101, IMNSHO, having the advance down a long narrow front makes for a very constrained game where everyone is being funneled.

    Personally, I would have set the game on the diagonal. BTW what ground to hex ratio were you using?

    However, the terrain density sounds challenging, but I think you are going to get quite mixed feedback from the crew on this one, because as you say not everyone got it.

  2. I agree that the long narrow was a poor choice, but with the blocking terrain, it wasn't like we got to take pot shots for 5 turns. And the first 5 turns actually happened rather fast...2 hours or so. I'm not sure on a ground to hex ratio, but the hexs were fairly large, so it really wasn't that many hexes. I'd venture to guess it was about 70 hexes by 25 hexes or so. It was big, but it wasn't unreasonable. The terrain actually favored the Davion's 'Mechs because it gave them cover to advance and get up close, which is were they would have won the game. If our forces were reversed, we would have won using a strategy that involved us moving as one avoiding fire by using cover and then target saturation as we closed the final 10 to 15 hexes and overwhelmed the Capellan forces.

  3. Boredom and/or desire for glory, a dangerous combo for anyone.

    Interesting tactic and an illustration of why concentrated firepower matters.

  4. Large games are a pain, to keep everyone interested is hard work... well done on keeping your sides nerve :)

    Interesting choice on the narrow but deep battlefield. It would seem to make for a long approach battle which exacerbated the boredom factor, and would leave little to do other than go head to head in a slugfest.

    Fortunately your plan worked with that, and theirs broke up!

  5. Talked to one of my campaign-mates, and he said that one more turn would have turned the solid victory into a massacre. We had wiped out their lights, and would have just chased them down.

  6. You have a very creative view of this battle. I look forward to playing you again.

  7. Welcome Chunga! He played on the Davion side of this engagement. I hope you checked it out for the battle report, but continue to follow and support the blog.