Wednesday 26 March 2014

Luthien Campaign Update


Scenario 5: The Battle of Katsura River Valley

Historically, two companies of 2nd Genyosha and a company of 3rd Otomo mechs were sent to strike the rear of the advancing Smoke Jaguar invasion force. They moved along the river bed to avoid detection before engaging the 32nd Jaguar regulars. All of the Kuritan mechs were heavily damaged but they left eight Clan mechs face down in the sand.

To represent this we both took 155 PV of mechs. The Clan force was commanded by an elite mechwarrior in a Timberwolf Primary (Skill 2), and included a veteran mechwarrior in a Warhawk Primary (Skill 3), a Mad Dog Primary, Summoner Primary and a Stormcrow B. The Combine forces included 2 lances of Otomo mechs and a heroic Genyoshan mechwarrior in an Atlas (Skill 1).

We agreed that the mission objective of the Clan force would be to exit the right side of the board. Each mech that achieved this would receive its PV in VP. The VP for IS mechs destroyed was halved to balance this (1x instead of 2x). The Clan force would enter the board from the left side and attempt to cross the river by a randomly determined bridge (from left of pic below: 1-3 left, 4-6 right).
The Timberwolf, Mad Dog and Stormcrow B entered towards the left and made for the closest bridge. During the course of the game I set up 3 turns of great firing in an attempt to thin the defenders, but rolled horrendously. Three sets of snake eyes at 6+ and 8+ to-hit bury your chances pretty quickly in this game! With numerical superiority the Draconis mechs dealt significant damage even at higher to-hit numbers. The Timberwolf was destroyed whilst the Mad Dog and Stormcrow B escaped after 5 turns, having only stripped a Dragon of its armour between them.

The Summoner and Warhawk entered to the right of the board edge and were ambushed by a lance of mechs (Hunchback, Cicada, Jenner and Trebuchet) supported by a Catapult. The Warhawk had a golden chance at 6+ to bury the Jenner but missed. The Warhawk took the brunt of the firing for a few turns and fell. The Summoner went on to destroy the Hunchback and Catapult (trying to claw back some VP here), but succumbed to the Jenner at the bottom of Turn 6, one jump away from escaping.
The game was over in two hours and when we counted the VPs it was obvious that the Combine forces had achieved a major victory. It’s nice to be historically accurate (and I had shocking luck), but we both agreed that the Draconis mechs were under costed. Using a formula posted by iamafan on the Classic Battletech forum, I calculated a 100 point difference between the two forces, which would have made a significant difference. Next game we are going to use this alternate formula for PV and see if it is a more even game. Overall, we decided to give the Draconis force a score of +25 according to our campaign victory conditions.

Scenario 6: The Hounds Teeth

Despite victories against the Smoke Jaguars, The Combine units struggled to contain the Nova Cat advance. With blatant disregard for the Jaguar attack plan, the Nova Cats pushed deep into the Waseda Hills, attempting to reach the Imperial City before the Smoke Jaguars. They pushed towards the Kado-Guchi Valley unsupported. ComStar intelligence had suggested that the area was defended by militia, but the Cats ran into three regiments of Wolf’s Dragoons and Kell Hounds who stopped the clan advance cold.

Wade took a potent but slow Wolf’s Dragoon force, which included a mandatory Catapult armed with an Arrow IV artillery system. Backing it up was a Hunchback armed with the customary AC20 and some pulse lasers. It had dropped a medium laser for a TAG. He also had a Griffin (one of my favourite mechs) armed with an ER PPC and LRM 20.

Knowing I had to get some points or risk falling irrevocably behind in the campaign, I picked some real bruisers for my Nova Cat force. A Mad Dog B (3 Medium Pulse Lasers, 2 Streak SRM 6s for short range and 2 ER Large Lasers and an LRM 20 with Artemis fire control for long range), a Nova A (2 ER PPCs and a Medium Pulse Laser) and two points of elementals. The elementals were worth very little under the victory conditions but could do a lot of damage.
The game started off with some serious long range sniping from both my Mad Dog and the Catapult and Griffin. Even when using the standard Arrow IV rounds, Wade had a knack of sticking the shots, managing to scatter on my Elementals on 3 occasions! The Hunchback waded in and dealt some damage with its AC20, whilst simultaneously tagging my Mad Dog for Arrow IV homing rockets. I returned fire, tearing strips off the Hunchback with my Streak SRMs and Pulse Lasers, until it finally took enough engine hits to go down.

The Griffin successfully evaded fire whilst my remaining Elementals harassed the Hunchback and Catapult. Meanwhile, my Nova was jumping from cover to cover trading ER PPC barrages with the Griffin. Having finished off the Hunchback, my Mad Dog trudged over and managed to box the Griffin in, putting the last nail in the coffin. After running out of Arrow IV ammo, the Catapult withdrew from the field essentially undamaged. Both Clan Mechs were still standing, though the Mad Dog had sustained a massive 136 points of damage. The major victory gave the Clans a reprieve in the campaign standings with -50 VP.

Scenario 7: River Monitor
Armed with dodgy Com Star intelligence, the Clans assigned the capture of the Arisaka Munitions Complex to a Freebirth Cluster. The militia defending the complex were highly motivated and determined, deploying a naval vessel in a concealed position in the reeds of the Shaidan River. The infantry destroyed the bridges across the river using mines, pinning the Clan Mechs in place whilst the Minikuchi River Monitor vessel and attending ground forces pounded them into submission.
I chose to take a Hellhound, Vapour Eagle and Horned Owl for this battle. I figured the jump capability would increase my options if the bridges were destroyed. The multiple large pulse lasers/medium pulse lasers would mitigate the cost in accuracy due to jumping, whist the Hellhound and Vapour Eagle were packing Inferno SRMs to stifle the IS damage output.

Wade had a Warhammer in command, backed up by a Phoenix Hawk and a Wolverine (WVR-7K). He also had three platoons of rifle infantry on the bridges and a 75 ton River Monitor ship armed with two AC 20s and three SRM 2s. Finally, Wade set up three 15 point mines on the bridges. One bridge was set to take a 15 damage hit, with the closest bridge to the attackers rigged for a 30 point hit. My objective for the game was to capture the bridges and the munitions complex, whilst Wade needed to deny me access to the complex by blowing the bridges and taking down as many Mechs as possible. In the pic below you can see the access the ship would have around the complex.

As the game began I engaged in some long range sniping with my large pulse lasers, targeting both the Warhammer and the infantry platoons. I wanted to eliminate them which would prevent Wade from triggering the charges. Unfortunately, I got a little too close to the river and Wade revealed his trump card. The Minikuchi reared its head and pounded my mech with its two AC 20s. The configuration of the map gave the ship complete access to the hexes around the munitions complex, making it very hard to approach.

With the mines finally primed, Wade detonated them dealing heavy damage to the bridges. With his eyes on the prize, the rest of the units in his force began laying down fire to finish off the bridges. Two collapsed in rapid succession. In an attempt to draw fire away from my objectives, I jumped straight into the heart of the complex. The Horned Owl lit up the Wolverine from behind, but it twisted torso and hit back hard with its arm mounted large pulse laser (I can’t believe it out-pulsed me!). I took a few too many engine hits in that exchange.

A mech down, I went all-out against the Warhammer, taking off one of its legs. A follow up kick caved in the other leg and we declared the Warhammer destroyed (by that stage it had no arms either). I also managed to destroy a few infantry platoons whilst staying out of the LOS of the Minikuchi. Unable to capture the complex, I withdrew into the city to draw the remaining Draconis mechs out. I was hoping to destroy them in the cover of the city, beyond the reach of those AC 20s, but we soon agreed to end the game due to time getting away from us. The Draconis ended up with a score of +35 points, a minor victory tarnished by the loss of their commander.
Scenario 8: Black Thunder Extraction
Wade rocked up with six awesome little trucks painted, so we just had to use them for something. There is a mission in the Luthien campaign book that revolves around a unit of DEST stealing a Union class dropship from right under the Smoke Jags noses. This scenario would explore the fate of the extraction vehicles as they try to escape the area after the DEST team escapes in the Dropship. The Draconis forces would consist of a Warhammer and a Lancelot, as well as the 6 trucks (20 armour points and a machine gun). The defenders consisted of a Stormcrow B and a Mad Dog Primary. The Dracs would get points for each escaping truck, surviving mechs and destroyed enemies. The Clanners were simply out for revenge (set up below: responsible quantities of bourbon may have also been enjoyed at this juncture. Thanks Howie!).

Early on the truck convoy split in two, whilst the clan mechs sprinted to flank the guardian Warhammer and Lancelot. The Lancelot copped an awful amount of punishment from the Stormcrow, which got a good Ultra AC 20 shot in through the rear armour, taking it down. The Mad Dog and the Warhammer duked it out, when the Mad Dog wasn’t popping trucks (or just kicking them to pieces). I made the mistake of letting Wade know he only had to hit my Mad Dog one more time and he would probably win, considering the position of the remaining trucks and damage on the Stormcrow. The next round of shooting I scored three critical hits on his Warhammer’s centre torso AND a head hit. The first CT critical hit pay dirt: 200 machine gun rounds. Good night. Warning to all, if I say you will probably win next turn: start reaching for the ejection lever!

Obviously, the Draconis forces suffered a major defeat this game. Very little thought went into planning the mission, so it was nowhere near as balanced as I would usually make it. Still, Battletech is like pizza: even when it’s bad, it’s good. We decided this scenario would negate the one-sided result of the Alpha Strike game, adding -25 points to the campaign tally.
So, here we are, 8 scenarios in, with an aggregate score of +5 (still a draw). Stay tuned for the next scenario update, which will be shorter now that the back-catalogue is published: In the Dark.

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