Dan, otherwise known as Monkey Doctor on the CBT forums came around for a game at my place. We set up the terrain board through the simple expediency of laying down one tile of our choice, starting at opposite corners, which made for an interesting challenge in and of itself. Placing certain tiles required that one thought about the next adjacent tile and the need to match up with it. At the end of placing 15 tiles we rotated a couple around so that we got the maximum use of the terrain feature on the tile. We were using one inch equals one hex for the game, and therefore the table was the equivalent to a 30 x 50 hex map.
The Scenario Recon in Force
The primary objective was to get one mech over to the others sides baseline, and roll 8 or better on 2D6, to successfully observe the enemy rear line. We then said that the objective from this was to withdraw all your mechs off the board. Victory points based on the mech battle value (on hindsight not the best choice).A draw was any result within 10% of each others scores, a marginal win at 50% or better, and a total victory if the result was more than 100% more than your opponent. All pilots were standard pilot 5, gunnery 4 skill.
Initial Deployment of Forces
You can see the deployment of all the mechs in the above picture. Nearest mech on the table, this side, are my lance.
Starting with a Wolverine WVR-9XP, which was a custom 3132 level 3 Clan tech mech worth 2508 bv (move 5-8-5, armour 182 points). Loadout 1 x ER-PPC, 2 x ER SLs, 1 x Streak SRM6, 2 x ER MLs all wrapped up nicely with a target computer.
Next along was a custom 3025 Inner Sphere level 1 Battlemaster BLR-1PJ worth 1779 bv (move 3-5-3, armour 248 points). Loadout 2 x LLs, 6 x MLs, and 1 x SRM6.
Next was a custom 3025 Inner Sphere level 1 Thunderbolt TDR-5PL worth 1326 bv (move 4-6-0, armour 208 points). Loadout 1 x LL, 2 x SLs, 1 x SRM2, 3 x MLs, and 4 x LRM5s.
Finally on this side, was a Spider SDR-7K2 Inner Sphere level 2 3132 era mech worth 886 bv (move 8-12-7, armour 90 points). Loadout 1 x ER LL.
Opposing me were Dan's mechs. Starting with the nearest which was a Inner Sphere level 2 Valkyrie VLF-QD1 3062 era mech worth 878 bv (move 5-8-5, armour 96 points). Loadout 1 x ER ML, and 1 x LRM10 with Artemis IV. Represented by a Wasp proxy miniature.
Next was an Inner Sphere level 2 Enforcer ENF-5D, 3050 era mech worth 1308 bv (move 5-8-5, armour 161 points). Loadout 1 x LB10X, 1 x ER LL, and 1 x SL. Specified mixed cluster and standard ammo.
Next along was Inner Sphere level X Warhammer WHR-9S 3067 era mech worth 1653 bv (move 4-6-0, armour 208 points). Loadout 2 x ER PPC, 2 x ER ML, and 1 x Steak SRM6.
Finally, Dan's Inner Sphere level 2 Pillager PLG-3Z 3058 era mech worth 2697 bv (move 3-5-3, armour 307 points). Loadout 2 x GR, 2 x ER ML, and a Guardian ECM. Represented by an Awesome proxy miniature.
The above picture (probably turn 3) shows my Spider (hard to see but at the top, roughly in the middle of the frame), having made it to Dan's deployment zone, and I've successfully rolled 8+ on 2D6. The problem for me, at this point, is my left flank where Dan's Pillager and Warhammer were in firing range of both my Battlemaster & Thunderbolt, and if I turned around and ran for it I was going to lose both mechs. On my right flank my Wolverine was facing the Enforcer & Valkyrie, and I really want to stop him getting either mech to my side on the board to make their recon rolls.
First Mech Down
On the right hand side of the above picture you can see that Dan's Valkyrie has been destroyed. He had lost initiative this turn so was at a disadvantage. He ran past my Wolverine and hoped that his speed, and the threat from his Enforcer, would be enough for me concentrate on it. I ignored the Enforcer, and blew the Valkyrie away in one combat round.
On the left hand side of the picture you can see my Thunderbolt, which was being fired on by the Pillager and being hit by 15 points of gauss rifle goodness in the right torso. This would motivate me to move the Thunderbolt for the next five/six turns to do a "run Forrest run" manoeuvre. My Battlemaster has closed the range on the Warhammer, as I really needed to spam him with my six medium lasers to stand any chance against him, and I had pretty much reconciled myself to losing the Battlemaster, as it was too slow to get off the table.
Second Mech Down
In the turn prior to this one, I had said to Dan that my objective was to get all my mechs off the table, and that perhaps we could both agree to withdraw. My Spider had withdrawn off table, due to having lost its only weapon, and having served its function of dam fast nuisance mech. Also, because discretion is definitely the better part of valour. However, Dan chose to carry on, as he feared I would rip his mechs to shreds if he turned to leave.
So, by the time of the above picture, Dan's Enforcer had led my Wolverine a merry chase across the board and I had been unable to stop him from making a successful recon roll, in spite of him having to take an extra turn to do so due to repeatedly firing and failing to finish him off. This meant that it was now down to the damage points we could inflict on each other, for either of us to have a chance of getting anything better than a draw, thus making the likelihood of a victory very uncertain.
My Thunderbolt by this time (having pretty much run all the way across the board) had turned around to face the Pillager. After previously reaching the hill (on its right rear side in the picture), where I had able to use the terrain to block line-of-site, and turn to face the Pillager without being shot at with no modifiers. I was then able to advance the mech to the cliff face you see it at here. My intention at this time was to climb over the hill and get the hell out of Dodge. I had lost count of how many gauss rifles rounds had just missed me as Dan's Pillager had shot at the Thunderbolt every turn bar one by this point. Lucky for me, dam unlucky for Dan. By this point in the game the Thunderbolt had earned the nickname "Forrest", as it seemed rather apt.
Finally during this turn, I got a rear shot on the Enforcer from my Wolverine, at the same time as my Thunderbolt laid some large laser love, and LRM salvo on it, which finished it off, so they claimed a joint kill.
Meanwhile the Warhammer and Battlemaster had been slugging it out. First with the Warhammer coming down the hill, then retreating back up the hill, while I followed him up for some close combat kicking goodness. We both did Alpha strikes at one point, which left me slightly hot, so my Battlemaster jumped behind the Warhammer as it was my only viable option for an effective move. After turning to face me Dan Alpha striked the Warhammer again, whereas I took the chance on surviving and only returned fire with some of my medium lasers and the SRM2, getting a critical hit on the Warhammer's hip actuator to add to its misery. As you can at this point the Warhammer had fallen over due to shutting down after his Alpha strike.
Third Mech Down
The shutdown Warhammer was easy meat for the Battlemaster, which used medium laser spam and the SRM2 to "crit" it to death. I also started to take advantage of the opportunity to cool down whilst doing this. Dan's Pillager had manoeuvered to prevent my Thunderbolt from having an easy shot at it, and took the opportunity to send loads of love down range at the Wolverine, for two turns, missing with all but one gauss rifle round, which hit my left torso. Dan called the Wolverine "lucky", which then became its nickname.
Fourth Mech Down
As you can see here, my Battlemaster had spent two turns running down the hill while the Wolverine and Thunderbolt poured the love onto the Pillager. "Lucky" my Wolverine was shot at again by Dan's Pillager, which had missed again. Whereas the return shot from "Lucky" hit the head of the pillager for wince inducing 15 points of, oops headlessness ventilation.
All Dan's mechs destroyed.
My Spider took 44 points of damage, which include 2 points of internal center torso damage. It also had one engine hit, and one hit on the ER large laser. A suggestion that it be nicknamed "Colander" was resisted. "Forrest" the Thunderbolt took 15 points of damage to the right torso. Meanwhile "Lucky" the Wolverine took a total of 38 points of damage across the torso's and right arm. Finally, my Battlemaster 134 points of armour damage, and 19 points of internal structure damage (left & right torso's). Proving yet again that a Battlemaster just has that certain je ne sais quoi?
Don't use assaults and heavies for a recon in force mission. Battle value seems to work okay. You must have well defined retreat options in pick up games. Due to the victory points for mechs being based on their battle value, it actually made sense to stay and duke it out. Had the the victory points been based on their tonnage, then there would have been less incentive to kill mechs. Hell, maybe no victory points for killing mechs might have been better still? Just points for achieving the scenario goal, and for retreating mechs off board, might have been better?
Unfortunately I lost count of the number of turns we got through in the six hours that the game took to play. We were having fun, it seemed to go at a reasonable pace to me, but if I had to guess then it lasted around 14/15 turns, which seems low on retrospect to me, but this is nearly two and a half turns an hour with eight mechs on the table. So not too bad. Towards the end I had certainly slowed down a bit, but I never felt that the game was slow as such.
Anyway, my first game of BattleTech in about 20 months, as it was for Dan too. We were both a bit rusty with the rules, but we are both keen to run a campaign, as neither of us likes pick up games where there is no incentive to conserve forces. The miniatures on the terrain worked really well too and seems to makes for a more relaxed game, as you can't count hexes, you need to be laid back about the odd half inch, and firing arcs are not so easy to judge etc.
I hope you enjoyed this After Action Report? See you all on the bounce.