Saturday, October 29, 2016

Battletech Batrep: Raven Feeders' Training day

Chris dropped by for a game using my Battletech box set. Unit identification will be a little complicated by the fact all the mechs are in similar Camo, and not being able to duplicate any mech was a bit of a constraint. However there are 24 mechs in that box set so plenty of choice. Probably enough to do an Alpha Strike force too? I set this at 160 tons, with a 75 ton limit. Any of the 3025-3039  era variants were allowed. As the away team, Chris got first dibs and took the heaviest, the 70 ton Grasshopper. He rounded it out with a Jenner (F version with extra armour), Commando and Spider. I took an Enforcer, Hunchback (AC10 variant), Whitworth and the little 20 ton Mercury  (proxied using a Hermes). This meant I had to give four mechs my speed paint job. I'm still not halfway through the box set... There are a few dice on the table, Battletech fans will know these denote Walking (green), running (red), and jumping (blue). These penalise your shooting. The number on the dice is the total mod to enemies shooting at you. Faster mechs often had the speed to get this up to a three, while the heavier ones generally just got a one but benifited from a more stable platform for their shooting. It would be a test of range vs knife fighting. Who won: Red team or Blue team?

Chris' Blue Lance mechs are milling about in top of shot and the mighty Red Lance has lined up with the Mercury hidden behind a hill and the Enforcer up there on point. The amount of woods on this side of the operations area was interfering with my firelanes but did prevent his one long-range asset, the Grasshopper, getting a bead on anything. In return, the enemy lights were taking a bit of splash damage from those LRMs. 

Chris' Blue Lance got frustrated by my long range edge and opted to close in after a couple of rounds. I wasn't doing much damage but was pretty much doing so with impunity. He led the charge with a Jenner. You take turns to move mechs each round, so this can be seen as an initiative sink to allow him to get his heaviest mech where he wanted.

It quickly turned into a knife fight around my Enforcer. As the mech out front, it was the one that had taken the most damage. Chris really wanted to take it down quickly but Couldn't avoid me getting it near one of his light mechs, The Commando in this case, for some melee action. I'd also managed to get my Mercury on the tail of that Grasshopper. That could do a bit of damage if I rolled to hit torso locations on the rear. That Jenner was proving to be a real pain, holed up in woods and able to threaten either my Whiteorth and Hunchback or turn to help gang up on the Enforcer. We traded fire but we're both just doing a good job of spreading it over multiple locations. I felt I had his Commando in danger, but big deal, it's his lightest mech. 

From left to right: Commando (blue), Hunchback (top of pic, Red), Spider (Blue), Jenner (Blue), Mercury (Red), Enforcer (Red). Now it was a messy brawl. This was the turn I'd finally got initiative and it can be seen by all the Blue team mechs with exposed rear armour. On the minus side of the ledger, that Grasshopper was bearing down on my lone Whitworth on the left wing. I'm sure he can take it though and surely we will get something good on one of these targets, right? Nope. 

The Markers show torso twists. Somehow none of my shots, anywhere, hit the mark. Worse, my Hunchback stumbled and fell under the weight of enemy fire. I'd put everything three mechs had into that Jenner and came up with nothing. 

What about elsewhere on the battlefield? Well fun Battletech fact for the day: the hit location chart for melee attacks has a 1/6 chance of being a head. The one hit my Whitworth had taken all game was to the head. I was pretty ok with that, at the time, as it was unlikely to be hit there with anything that powerful.... but a heavier mech can throw a mean punch and that Grasshopper smashed down the Whitworth with a head shot. 

Well with that first blood, we gave it to Blue Lance. Well played.

Well we got a bit wrong this game but nothing that changed the outcome. I struggled to get my attacks concentrated and really needed this as I'd gone for three midline mechs and a light. Chris' three lights did pretty well in the right terrain, and that heavy then overpowered the medium in front of it. One change I might make is to go with higher gunnery skill shooting was often too marginal and it slowed the game down.

 Chris had also heavily simmed the battle using the free megamek pc Battletech simulator. I still prefer the game with actual models, not to mention the paper character-sheets. I had a bit of a look online for more mechs to give some options / duplicates but this remains a bit of a niche game so hard to buy for without being crucified over shipping. eBay seems the best bet but of course you can easily pay two-three times the cost again in shipping. Shame that. Alpha Strike using my 6mm sci fi tanks might be a good option and I need to read up on this. I think one thing holding me back there is terrain. I love how you can just take a couple of hex boards out of the box and play. 

Cheers for the game, Chris, was good fun.

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