Monday, May 10, 2021

Battle Report: Glittering Void- ID and Engage

 


If you are in desktop version, on the left hand side of the blog you will see a WIP section of the blog.  That is where I put various games I am still working on and adapting for play.  Today's game is called Glittering Void and it can be found in that section of the rules.  

The trading contract for the Freehold of New Arcadia will expire and come up for re-negotiation in the next rotations.  Traditionally, these contracts have been held by corporate interests aligned with the New Olympians, and New Arcadia was considered within the New Olympians sphere of interests.  However, the free hold is located in the Asteroid Belt, which the Earth Alliance views at its territory.   

With the contract set to expire, elements of the Earth Alliance have begun aggressively courting New Arcadia.  They have offered lucrative incentives, and coupled them with veiled threats.  In fact, some smaller trading and prospecting vessels from New Arcadia have gone missing in the region.  The Earth Alliance has cited this as a prime reason to change contracts, as the New Olympians have failed to properly protect and enforce the expiring contract.

The powers that be on NeOlympus have deemed it necessary to reinforce their alliance on New Arcadia.  To this end, they have deployed a patrol ship and a compliment of suits to New Arcadia space.  A Carrier arrived and dropped off just such a ship before continuing on its route.  The New Olympian commander on the scene has pledged to find the cause of the missing prospecting vessels.    

 Investigating the last know location of one of these New Arcadian Prospecting ships, the New Olympians had unusual activity on their scopes.  Interference was being thrown out by a large Radiation Band in the area.  Therefore, a patrol of Suits was deployed to investigate further. 

Forces

New Olympians

3 Ares Space Combat Suits

1 Ares Space Combat Suit

- Upgrade #2: Dual Heavy Beams

Unkowns

1 Polemarch Suit

- Upgrade- Combat Shield

4 Hoplite Suits

- 1 Upgrade- Rocket Tube

Unknows on the Left, New Olympians on the Right

Of course, today's play test will be featuring my (in)famous Paper Templates!   

I use dice to raise or lower their altitude.  On the table is Alpha, 1 dice is Beta, and 2 dice is Gamma level.  

I also made some small paper circles for future games that will be used to show the direction travelled.  A key part of this game is that you can travel one direction, but face another.  Facing is based on the Front (marked with an F on my templates) and the direction of travel will be based on the triangle on the marker below the template.  Make sense? 

Mission:

Today's mission is found in the main rulebook.  In this scenario, unknown blips have been detected and combat units have been deployed to identify the unknowns and determine who they are.  You can score additional Victory Points by using your sensors to "ID" a target as well as normal combat processes. 

Set-up

Today's game will be on a 48 MU x 48 MU board with 1 MU being one inch.  There is a Radiation band that goes across the board at Alpha and Beta level.  This radiation band has been making long range Identification of the unknowns difficult.  It is 12 MU wide and arcs across near the center line of the board.  I am using pipe cleaners to differentiate the edges.    



The Unknowns are on one side of the Radiation band, while the New Olympians are on the other.  All suits are deployed up to 6 MU from the board edge.  The New Olympians are at various altitude bands and speeds.  The Earth Alliance are all at Alpha level and coming on at full speed.       

Turn 1:

The "Unknowns" have more units, so they can activate a unit first.  Each player chooses the Maneuver cards for their suits and marks it on the H.U.D. along with their speed and altitude. 

Movement:

Both sides speed towards the radiation belt.  However, no one breaches it this turn.  Two New Olympian Suits are above the Radiation Belt at Gamma altitude, but none of the Unknows are there to match them.  

Shooting: 

No one has the range for shooting yet.


You can see the height and direction indicators in action!

Turn 2:

The Unknowns still have more Units, so have the Initiative.  

Movement:      

Unknown H3 breaks the Radiation Belt at Alpha.  He is met by A6 speeding up and maneuvering into the belt at Beta, while A7 (with his dual Beam Cannons) escorts him in and drops to Beta as well.  Unknown H4 tries to maneuver into the Belt, but is just shy at Beta Altitude.  

The New Olympian A5 breaks the edge of the Radiation Belt, and he is met by two incoming unknowns at Alpha level as well.  One rotates away from him, while the other stays close by.  A5 is covered by A2 at beta level.  

Finally, Unkown P1 enters the edge of the Radiation Belt and pivots towards A6, both at Beta.  



Shooting: 

Unkown P1 has Pilot skill of 4+ and Initiative, so they attack first.  A6 is in the proper arc and medium range. The Unknown hits once, but the New Olympian suits shrugs off the blast with its armor! 

The New Olympians have a higher Pilot skill than the remaining Unknown suits, so they shoot next.  A7 with the dual Beam cannons targets H4 and thanks to Extra Damage blasts the suit into inert junks!  

Ares suit 5 fires on Unknown H2 at range, but the shot bounces off the Suits armor.  A2 fires at Unknown P1 at range, and hits; blasting off the suits combat arm!  Ares Suit 6 does not have the right arc to target H3.  

The Unknowns fire back!  H3 fires on A6, but misses due to radiation messing with his gun sights.  H1 also streaks by targeting A6 and his Mass driver tears into the enemy suit and damages its thrusters.  Despite getting attack himself, H2 is out of range of the attacker! 



Turn 3:

Both sides have the same amount of models, so they dice off.  The "Unknowns" have Initiative.  Everyone chooses maneuver cards.   

Movement:

Suits scattered as the fighting intensified!  H3 and A7 rocked past each other at Beta altitude.  Meanwhile A6 dodged out of the opposite side of the belt, but facing the wrong way and ending at altitude Alpha.  H1 tried to pursue, but was too slow.  A2 and P1 both ended up going high and breaking out of the Rad Belt, but unable to draw a good bead on each other.  Finally, A5 and H1 got very close and started circling each other at Alpha level. 



Shooting: 

P1 gets to try to shoot first, but he has no targets!  

A5 manages to scan Unknown H2 as he lashes out with his combat arm!  He misses!  The New Olympians are our of shots.  

H2 tries to attack A5 back, but fails to land his punch.  H1 uses his Mass Rifle on A7 one altitude up from him.  He snags the Dual Heavy Beamed Ares but not enough to take it out!     

Turn 4: 

The Unknowns continue to have Initiative.  

Movement:       

The two sides are beginning to break apart, and will need to maneuver back in to continue the fight.  However, there may be some opportunity fire.  



Shooting: 

A2 fires a long rang beam shot at H1, but misses.  A2 and H2 exchange fire, but fail to find the mark in the Radiation Belt.

Turn 5: 

The Unknowns continue to have initiative. 

Movement: 

H3 and H2 move back into the belt to engage at Beta and Alpha respectively.  P1 also drops back into the belt to Beta.  They are met by A2, A6, and A7 all coming back into the fight.  H1 and A5 are dueling beyond the belt.  


Shooting: 

P1 fires on Ares A2 but misses.  

A7 fires his dual Heavy beam Cannons at H3, but some how he flies on through the blast!  A2 also targets H3, and damages his controls! A6 also fires but misses.  A5 fires on H1, and knocks the pilot unconscious with a blast to the cockpit, taking its Pilot rating above 7+ and taking it out of action. 



H3 returns fire on A6 but misses as well.  H5 flies by and fires on A6 and blasts the suit into atoms with his Mas rifle!       

End: 

The Unknowns have lost 2 suits, to the New Olympians 1.  The New Olympians also got 1 ID on the Unknowns.


Turn 6:         

This time, the New Olympians snatch the Initiative.  

Movement:

The remaining Unknowns swarm Ares 2 in the Radiation Belt at Alpha level.  A5 tries desperately to get back into the fight, while A7 is at Beta and can not provide covering fire.  This could be the last firefight of the game. 



Shooting: 

A2 gets a clean ID of P1 and H3.  He then fires at the unIDed target.  The close range firepower is too much for the suit, and leaves it drifting lifeless in space. 

P1 fires up close at A2. The close range Mas Rifle fire is enough and totals A2.  From outside of the Rad belt, A5 fires his Beam Rifle at P1, and manages to score a hit that causes internal damage and reduces P1 Thrust by 1.    

H3 no longer has any shots as A5 is too far away and A2 was destroyed.  



Turn 7- Disengagement Turn

The Unknowns regain the Initiative. 

Movement: 

P1 and H3 try to break off back to their home base.  However, A5 goes head-to-head with the retreating H3 at Alpha level.  A7 continues to stay at Beta and try to cover the retreat back to their patrol ship.  

Shooting:

A5 opens fire at close range on H3 and blasts the enemy suit to pieces.  Boom! 



Conclusion

New Olympians win 75 VP to 40 VP.  

Even before the patrol returned, the Intel crew were analyzing the signature IDs sent back to the Patrol Ship.  It was clear that the Unknown Suits that had been engaged were Earth Alliance models, but that wouldn't be enough to pin the missing prospecting craft on them.  The Earth Alliance sold their hardware to anyone with enough resources to buy them.  They could just as easily been pirates, mercenaries, or rebels.  More work would need to be done if the New Olympians were going to prove that the Earth Alliance was somehow involved.  

So, how did the game play.  If White Star/Red Star is intended to make the "flying" part of the game easier, this did the opposite!  You have to carefully use your thrust to rotate facing, rotate direction of movement, AND choose the right Maneuver card to get into a position to use your weapons.  

Thankfully, the 3 altitude makes it mush easier, with most suits being able to shoot up a level as well.  Therefore, the "engagement" radius is pretty large but there is also a lot of maneuver you can do to try and avoid combat for a bit.  It is all about careful planning and the order of activation.  

The Radiation Belt made the fighting up-close and personal.  I reduced the speeds to 1 MU instead of 2 MU per rating (accidentally) and that helped on a 48 MU x 48MU board.  Plus, the Rad Belt slows suits down too.  They could be zipping all over the board otherwise!  I do not have a problem with that!  

The game was supposed to capture the feel of an Anime dogfight, and I think it does that pretty well!  Suits are zipping around all over the place.  Guns are blazing.  Suits can get special damage that impact their performance.  Finally, there were several cinematic moments in the game as Mecha suits fired as they flew past each other and away, they tried to hit each other on a few close passes, and the closer you got the more deadly everything was!  

I want to try playing through it a few more times before I pass final judgement.  maneuvering was a bit more intensive than I normally like, BUT those maneuvers do capture the right feel of the game.  The H.U.D. was also invaluable as an off board tracking system.  I think I might be able to ditch the maneuver cards, but I need to try some non-suit only games before I decide.  The cards seems like they will make non-suits maneuver more realistically.  Finally, there are a couple niggling details to iron out as well just to smooth out play.    

Another W.I.P. game managed to hit the table this year!  I am pretty happy about that! Give Glittering Void a try for yourself, and let me know what you think in the message board.      



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Monday, May 3, 2021

Review: Gangs of Rome- Warbanner/Footsore Miniatures

 


I picked up the Gangs of Rome PDF during a Black Friday sale at Footsore Miniatures.  I didn't download the PDF until January of 2021, and then I did not get a chance to read and absorb them before now.  Therefore, they have been sitting in my "inbox" for a while now.  

I have to admit, the concept for this game intrigued me greatly.  A "historical" gang fight game set in the Eternal City in the days of the Senate?  Intriguing.  I have always had a soft spot for gladiators and the like.  I knew that gladiators  were often hired out as street thugs and toughs for the favor of their patron.  I had been doing a lot of research on Ancient Rome for Wars of the Republic and The Games: Blood and Spectacles.   The period of the Gracchi brothers and the cold war between the Optimates and the Populares, and even earlier the Plebians vs the Patricians and the political infighting was a source of much interest.  A low-level game to help play out such political turmoil using the ideas of the Roman patronage system and shadow power seemed very intriguing to me! 

In addition, the game promised spectacle!  Rome was the city of Brick and Marble.  It was the growing power of the world, and was constantly growing, building, and changing.  In a way, it was like an Ancient Underhive as it grew larger, more populous, and more divided.  The boards for a game set in Rome promised to be interesting, unique, and dense.  I doubt my wallet or talents could do it justice.  

Finally, I had actually had a similar game in my Concept Folder to build.  I sat on it, as I grew intimidated by the research I would need to do for it.  However, it looks like my hesitation will be rewarded as someone beat me to the punch! 

Let us explore the streets of Rome together! 

From the Rulebook PDF for Gangs of Rome


Prelude to Gangs of Rome:

Before we get too far, I think it is important to discuss the "novel" approach this game planned to take with their miniature releases.  They intended to sell a model that came with a randomly generated card with a name, stats, and bit of information about the fighter such as where they hailed from and what gods they worshipped.  This would also come with 4 Denarii (or coins) that would map to gear in the game, 2 common, 1 uncommon, and 1 rare.  Even if you bought 10 of the same Fighter 5 pose, you could have completely different stats and equipment become available from those exact same models.  

This is referred to as the Hand of Fate in the rules.  In a way, it was like a combination of collectible minis, collectible cards, and blind packs but you knew exactly the sculpt you were going to get.    This was a ..... novel approach.  I feel before I get to far into the game, it is very important to understand this aspect Gangs of Rome and it may shed insight into why the rules are built the way they are.

I will save my thoughts on this business model and product decision to the end as I feel it is separate from the game mechanics themselves.  Lately, I have found that game design and product design are two different sides of the same coin.  

From the Gangs of Rome Rules PDF

What I Liked:

Dice rolling is simple and easy.  You are looking for successes and a 4+ is a success 90% of the time. Each stat is a pool of dice you use for your tests.  Test are either against a target # of successes if unopposed, or opposed with the highest number of successes winning.  Simple and just the way I like my dice rolls.  However, injury removes dice from your pool, so too many injuries may keep you alive but just really bad at doing things! I like! 

On the cards, it states where a fighter is from and who their gods are.  This is relevant in the game.  Fighters from the same place have advantages over fighters from different locations.  They do not block Line-of-sight or movement.  Therefore, if you randomly get a couple fighters from the same location you have a decision about how you want to use them.  This is a simple and elegant little bit of Chrome to bring Strategic choice to your little warband. 

As for the gods, a Model can choose to spend their activation praying to their gods.  They make a roll and a success allows them to gain a bit of inspiration.  They type of inspiration also varies based on the gods that they follow.  Therefore, a model can always try to do something useful whenever they are activated, even if they are not fighting.  

The game use a bank of coins called a Denarii.  You get a collection of Denarii based on the size of your gang, and the rarity of the Denarii you have selected.  These are weapons, special abilities, and equipment that can be shifted around between your gang as the game progresses.  You shuffle the Denarii in an out of your bank as a form of resource management to help off set the abilities of your foe, off set your model's weakness, or capitalize on their strengths.  The bank is also depleted as you use it, and will not recycle until all Denarii are used.  This is one of the unique resource management elements of the game and acts as a deck of abilities and powers you can use and assign to various fighters and swap them around during the game as well. 

The game also assumes that the city of Rome is full of people!  Therefore, there are various Mobs of people moving about that act as a complication, terrain, and more.  The good side is the added value and options these Mobs can bring as they go from ordinary to angry and vice versa.  They can be used as a tactical element as well by forcing them to panic or drawing them closer to you.  On the down side, it starts to make a skirmish game rather model heavy!   

One of my favorite actions is to Blend.  With this you can move up to a Mob Base and essentially disappear into the Mob.  A fighter who has blended may later return to play from ANY mob marker on the board.  This is a great little mechanic!

From the Gangs of Rome Rulebook PDF


What I Did Not Like:

The game uses a blind bag draw system for activation.  This is a perfectly serviceable method that allows for randomization and uncertainty of activation order.  Many games have used it to good effect and it is a tried and true game mechanic.  I personally am not a huge fan of it as I prefer to make decisions that impact order activation preferably on a risk/reward continuum.  I am thinking games like Blood Bowl or Hail Caesar with their push-your-luck method or even The Men Who Would Be Kings  where there is a default action if you fail the activation role.  Even Turf War where you get a base action and then trying to do more risks losing initiative.  

The game has a number of specific actions or combinations of actions.  For example, you can Combat + Move, or Charge Move + Combat; but there is no simple Move + Combat.    Another interesting note is the more wounds you have received, the slower you can move, but charge distance is tied to their fighting score and not based on Flesh.  This feels a bit like a If This/Then That type of rule and the kind of thing I always mess up when I am actually playing the game!     

There are a surprising amount of rules for moving through and over terrain in this game.  Detecting folks coming up a ladder, ambushing them at the top of a climb, cut a rope, etc.  They take up about 2 pages in a 36 page book with a lot of illustrations.  Moving over terrain can require a lot of dice rolling and injury to go from point A to Point B.  I am not sure how I feel about this yet as it seems really cumbersome and full of Niche cases, but I am sure it is intended to add "flavor" or "tactics" to the game.  It just looks hard to remember.  

From the Gangs of Rome Rulebook PDF

 Meh and Other Uncertainties 

The game is played on a 3x3 foot board, which is nice as it will be hard to fill a larger board with the appropriate terrain.  This is a terrain heavy game.  

Similarly to moving, there are also two types of attacks.  Blood that cause physical injury and reduce a foes ability scores is one.  The other is called Brawl and impact a models placement on the board.  The default attack is a Blood attack, but Brawl could be useful for positioning purposes.  Blood is Fight vs Defense, while Brawl attacks are Attack vs Agility.  In theory, I like the idea of the two kinds of attacks as it adds decision making and some tactics, however I feel like other game systems have done it simpler and better.  Specifically, I am thinking about Dracula's America and their "Shove" mechanic.  However, this game system is trying really hard to add tactical depth once melee has been engaged and not be just a stand and roll dice affair.     

If you lose a game, you are required to print and sign a Personal Influence Marker.  This is essentially a campaign point that you can use against this opponent in the future.  You can collect several of them to be raised to the Senatorial class OR you can cash them in and use them for an advantage in the game.  They are a form of very personalized campaign scoring.  I think this could be a hoot in a small gaming group or club, but is a bit clumsy.  The rules require you to make, retain, and hand off these Personal Influence Markers in order to use them.  

The PDF rules I purchased had 3 scenarios included, and index, and a QRS. 

From the Gangs of Rome Rulebook PDF

Final Thoughts:  

CCG, with Collectible Miniatures, meets wargaming.  That is my basic summary of the rules for Gangs of Rome.  Personally, it is not to my taste at all, but I can see its appeal as a "product" to be sold in a package.  After all, you have randomly generated fighter cards and special abilities when you buy a pack.  The game also has extra monetization built in with pebbles, pebble bags, measurement devices and custom dice, which to be fair you do not NEED to play the game.  However, you do need the cards and the Denarii coins that come with the models.  I have no idea how many different common, uncommon, and rare Denarii coins there are.   

It is essentially the X-wing "product" model but with Historical models.  

That being said, there is a difference between "Product Design" and "Game Design".  Game design is focused on the mechanics and choices that players must make in game to successfully complete a game.  In this aspect, there are several design aspects I like.  It is a pretty solid game system that is trying really hard to provide choices in melee and movement.  In some areas I think it is trying a bit too hard, but there are also some nice ideas hidden in there as well.  

If you are wondering what the big draw is mechanically I think there are a couple of ideas:  

  1. Mobs as a tactical and complicating element of the game
  2. Using a "deck" to augment and empower models as a resource and fog-of-war
  3. Injury impacting ability 1 for 1  
To me, those are the big "Innovations" in this ruleset as a game.  

However, much of this game is really "Product Design" and dabbling with new ways to monetize the wargaming hobby, especially for skirmish level games.  In that sense, it is trying to take the successful X-wing model and apply it to historical skirmish.  As far as concepts go, it is not a bad one.  However, I think to be truly successful they would need Pre-painted models and Terrain packs.  In addition, they also need special rules associated with the terrain packs they created similar to Marvel: Crisis Protocol.  

I think I will save further discussion about Product Design vs. Game Design for a different entry.  Suffice it to sat that I find this trend in monetization and product design in the industry to be.... sub-optimal..... for my tastes and preferences. 

Overall, not a bad game but not one I see myself playing due to the terrain needs and the monetization model associated with the game.      





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Monday, April 26, 2021

On The Painting Table: Early Republican Romans- Romans are Done, Onto more Romans!

 

2021 was the year of the Romans.  With Wars of the Republic coming out in November or so of this year, I needed an army!  This army has been being built over the course of the year, and now it is finished.  At the end of my last post, all that was left was the shields.

I left off with a question.  Sometime during the Second Samnite War the Romans adopted the new Triplex Acies formation to replace their older "Greek" style phalanx army.  The triplex Acies did not use a line of men, but instead a checkerboard like approach to the battlefield in three lines.  This allowed the Romans to feed in fresh troops at the point of contact in a way that other armies could not.  

In addition, the basic unit of the army changed into the maniple, which was a group of 100 to 80 men (on paper).  The maniple allowed greater flexibility and maneuver in the hilly and rocky terrain found in the Samnite homelands.  The phalanx formation could not match this flexibility in rough terrain and therefore the Samnite had managed to thwart the Roman armies.  The Maniple system was designed to help the Romans to come to grips with the Samnites hit-and-run style.  

At this time, the Roman army was still composed of freeman farmers who supplied their own equipment.  Often times, when you look at Roman armies, there is a shocking amount of uniformity in Republican Roman forces.  This makes sense in the days of Marius and after.  At this point the armies' ranks were opened and the state provided standardized equipment.  However, in the Second Samnite War, this was not true.  Therefore, it made sense to me that the Romans would have a more..... unique approach as they were all providing for themselves.  I decided that they would not have matching tunics or shields at all!  In addition, I decided to use no shield transfers at this time either.  

Here it is all based and with shields.....


In the fore is the Skirmish line of the poorest Romans.  The last to get the spoils of war, but with those spoils they can upgrade with the equipment to be Heavy Infantry and fight in the bulk of the Triplex Acies.  The Skirmishers would screen the Roman's as they formed into battle line, act as scouts, and harass the enemy upon approach.  

Skirmishers out! 


Next in line would the first line to fight in actual melee.  Young men and farmers who could afford the equipment to be infantry.  They were formed into the Hastati.  They were equipped with the large body protecting shields, pilum for throwing, the Gladius short sword, and various marks of helmet and armor.  


More Hastati....



Backing up the Hastati would be the more experienced soldiers.  The had won spoils of their own and survived their tenure as Hastati.  These men were more reliable in combat and acted as a second line reserve force.  If the Hastati were pushed back, they would naturally fill the gaps that appeared with experience and discipline.  These were the Principes.

The eagle eyed among you probably noticed that all my Hastati were using their Pilums, while the Principes were using their Gladius. 


Finally, the most experienced men were saved for the last line of defense.  The Triarri were armed with spears and shields similar to the older Hoplite style of the pre-Triplex Acies kin.  They could set their shields together and form a hoplite style wall of shields accentuated by spears.  They were the final and stiffest line in the Roman army.  They were expected to hold the line where the other layers had failed.  

I mixed in Greek Hoplite gear to give them a very early Triarri look, perhaps with their old Hoplite gear from the First and early Second Samnite War?  I also did some converting to make sure they all had double Greaves, as opposed to a single. 



With that, the army is done, and it is well before November!  Expect to see these guys on the battlefield soon taking on Greek and Successor rivals first, and who knows who else! 

I have all ready started working on a "later" Triplex Acies army for a more "professional" looking force of Republican Romans.  They will all be wearing Lorica Hamata (Chain Mail) and have a much more uniform appearance and style to them.  I could swap out the Triarri or Principes in Hamata with the Hastati in Pectoral Armor freely to create a more "mixed" look as well.  I could also sprinkle some of these Hamata clad soldiers into this army for flavor, or combine them into one larger army as Romans and Allies at a later date.  

Here is a preview of that force.  It will essentially be a duplicate in organization to this one.  Plus I have 1 unit of wolf-pelt clad Velites constructed to paint up as well.     

Finally, I used some kit bashing of Greek Hoplites, Spartans, Republican Romans, Greek Light Cavalry, Vikings, and other Victrix kits to make enough models to swap my Early Republican Roman Triarri into an Etruscan unit for Wars of the Republic or Men of Bronze.  

I added two "hoplites" with Javelins and two with axes.  When sprinkled in this gives them the unique "disruption" aspect that holds true to the early Etruscan methods of warfare.  Both Javelins and Axes were used to try and disrupt the enemy Phalanx formation before the inevitable clash.  During the push of the shields, a disrupted enemy unit was more likely to break.  These "additions" were phased out in later Etruscan armies.  

I might have enough left over Triarri, Hoplite, and other parts to build a few more early Etruscan units for a full force?  I am not sure, but that will have to wait until AFTER I get those Hamata clad Romans together.  They would fit well in a full Etruscan force, allied with Samnites, and even sprinkled in with Carthaginian forces.  We will have to see what happens. 

The Romans are complete!  Long live the Romans!  Onto the Hamata Romans now.....  


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Monday, April 19, 2021

Battle Report: Classic Battletech- Ambush on Mundos

 


I have had the Battletech 25th Anniversary box set sitting on my shelf for a long time.  I remember getting it, reading the rules, and then deciding that Battletech just wasn't the game for me.  I was a bit daunted by all the lore, the Mech builds, hex maps, the old-school mechanics and the very knowledgeable and passionate community itself.  In truth, I was not "in love" with the mech designs or the mechanics.  Therefore, I painted some mechs and used them in other games instead!  The boxed set sat on the shelf and collected dust.  I was not convinced I wanted to take the plunge into another "Life style" game like 40K had been. 

Then, one day out of the blue, my daughter and I pulled it down off the shelf and decided to give it a go.  She didn't know anything about it, and I didn't remember much about it either.  I pulled out the Quick Start rules and gave it a read.  The rules focused exclusively on the basics (so no Heat, Crits, Pilot Checks, etc), and even had some special "beginner" Mech record sheets.  We set-up for the initial Green Training Scenario.        


This pit an Enforcer vs. a Hunchback on a relatively flat map with some woods on each side.  My daughter played aggressively with the Enforcer, as I hung back behind some woods.  She did some damage closing, but I let her approach.  Then, I burst around the edge of the woods and pummeled her at close range with all my weapons.  I blew the arm straight off the Enforcer, and it was all down hill from there.  We chased each other around the board a bit, before I finally destroyed her.  Her hits ended up mostly scattered across my mech, while mine pretty consistently hit her in the right arm/torso until it transferred over into her Center Torso.  

To be honest, it really wasn't that much fun.  There were not enough decisions, too many dice rolls, and we spent more time calculating mods and filling in bubbles then actually playing the game.  Plus, one-on-one meant there were no synergies and we were at the whims of the dice.  It was a game of stacking or unstacking mods. 

Despite this, we decided that I would go back and read the fuller intro rules and come back and try again with a few more mechs.  I went off and read up and did my homework.  I skipped the fluff and what not and just focused on the rules.  Therefore, this battle will just be an extension of my previous Mech games that used other rules.  



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Polanksi's Lancers were contracted to harass operations on the Planet of Mundos.  The primary export was timber and wood products.  Therefore, the Lancers were focused on attacking executives, storage facilities, and other infrastructure.  Their employer Lacstar Inc, was in negotiations to purchase the timber rights from the VolSaab Corporation, and any disruption to supply would cause the stock price to drop.  This would make buying the rights much easier.  

VolSaab was wise to such actions. Therefore, they had contracted out to two mercenary units to operate on Mundos to help protect their investment and get the best sale price of the rights.  The Rose Guard and Thor's Hammers were providing security on Mundos.  

Careful recon by Polanski's Lancers allowed them to map multiple patrol routes taken by Thor's Hammers.  The Hammers adjusted their routes regularly, but eventually an algorithmic analysis allowed the Lancers to predict likely paths of travel.  The Manager-Commander of the 14th Uhlans of the Lancers decided to try and set an ambush for the Hammers patrol using this intel.  

Forces:

Polanski's Lancers- 14th "Uhlans"

  1. Quickdraw
  2. Enforcer
  3. Hermes II
  4. Trebuchet
Thor's Hammers- Elements of the 3rd "Hard Strikers"
  1. Dragon
  2. Hunchback
  3. Zeus

 All pilots will be assumed to have Pilot Ratings of 5.  I could not find in the rules where it dictated starting or how to generate starting Pilot Ratings.

Both of us got our Mech record sheets ready, our quick play sheets, pencils, and our own sets of dice.  The Introductory rulebook was handy and ready to play.   

Mission:

Today's battle will be a straight forward fight to the death.  Units that leave the board will be considered retreating and destroyed.  Otherwise, the normal rules apply.  

Set-up: 

I will be using Hex Map #2, the same one we used for the Green Training Scenario.  Pretty much flat with some light and heavy woods on both sides.  

Dragon is placed in the center with the Hunchback and the Zeus within 3 hexes of it.  The Lancers can be placed anywhere behind the tree lines, on either side of the board.  We assume that the Mechs were prone, but have successfully stood up to begin the attack.  

Hard to see what is what but he blue are: Hunchback, Dragon and Zeus
The Green are Quickdraw, Enforcer, Trebuchet, and then the Hermes at the other woods

Turn 1:

Initiative:  

Since Lancers are on the attack, we decided let them move and then shoot first this turn.  We will go back to normal initiative going forward.    

Movement: 

The Lancers all move closer to their targets.  The Quickdraw begins to move around the wood, while the Enforcer and Trebuchet try to move through it.  The Hermes skirts the woods.  

The Hunchback eagerly moves to get the angle on the Quickdraw and use his Auto-cannon 20.  The Dragon turns and marches at the Trebuchet emerging from the woods.  Finally, the Zeus moves to cover the center.  

Shooting: 

The Hermes uses his Auto-cannon and hits the LRM 10 detonating the left torso of the Dragon and causing extensive damage when all the ammo detonated!  Ouch!  Looking back, we probably should have applied the damage to the internal instead of the armor, but first game problems right.

The Quickdraws Medium Lasers also thwack into the left torso and center torso of the Hunchbacks armor and blew off a heat sink as well.  We definitely did not use the Crit table right on this result, but there it is.  The Enforcer is still too deep in the woods, while the Trebuchet fails to hit the targets with his lasers. 

The Hammer's respond.  The Hunchback rails the Quickdraw with his Auto-cannon and demolishes the right torso of the mech and bleeds over to the center.  However, the Hunchback raised his heat to around 15.  The Dragon also pings armor off the lightly armored Trebuchet.     

Heat: 

At this point, we also had a question about how to use Heat Sinks.  I have a feeling the Introductory Rulebook was a copy/paste job out of other Battletech books as some of the sections do not have proper headings, and other parts do not flow very smoothly between paragraphs.  Anyway, it looks like they work automatically during the Heat phase. 

We had been keeping track of it as we went along as well to make the Heat phase easier to recall.  



Turn 2: 

Initiative:

The Lancers win initiative, so the Hammers will move and shoot first.  

Move:

The Hunchback rushed the Quickdraw.  The Dragon pivoted and walked forward a bit to try and challenge the Trebuchet and Hermes.  The Zeus covered the treeline.  

Meanwhile, the Quickdraw fell back to make space for his LRMs against the Hunchback.  The Enforcer "jumped" to try and move beyond the Hunchback as well.  The Trebuchet also fell back into a covered firing position.  The Hermes darted forward past the larger Dragon and Zeus.  

Shooting: 

The Hammers have limited shots.  The Hunchback tags the retreating Quickdraw with his Medium Lasers, and damages its left shoulder.  Sniping from the Zeus at the Trebuchet misses due to the tree cover. 

The Quickdraw returns fire with a full LRM burst and Medium laser barrage at the Hunchback.  The salvo impacts into the Hunchback's right arm, and mangles it.  It has 1 armor point left.  The Trebuchet also fires a barrage of LRMs at the Dragon.  One barrage misses, but the other connects with its right leg, mangling the armor there, and causing damage to the right foot actuator and upper leg accuator.  

No one else has shots this turn.  

Heat: 

Everyone is able to sink back to 0, but the Trebuchet and the Quickdraw both have 1 Heat. 



Turn 3:

Initiative: 

The Hammers beat the Lancers this time.  Lancers move and shoot first. 

Move: 

The Lancers do a lot of running.  The Quickdraw runs back into the woods away from the Hunchback.  The Enforcer runs to try and get behind the Zeus by the smaller woods.  The Hermes joins him there.  The Trebuchet stays put and prepares their lasers.  

The Hammers see their chance and the Dragon and the Zeus close in on the Quickdraw, trying to isolate it.  The Hunchback turns to cover their rear.  

Shooting:

The Quickdraw pours Medium Laser fire into the Dragon, hitting it in the Torso multiple times and in the empty ammo for the LRM 10.  However, a Gyro is also hit in the attack.  

The Enforcer uses its Auto-cannon and hits the Hunchback in the right arm.  At this point, we also realized we are doing Internal Damage wrong.  In the Quick Play rules, once armor was depleted it moved to the next location.  In the real rules, you blow off the armor, and then go to the Internal Damage before moving on.  Woops!  Too late now! 

The Trebuchet uses its lasers on the Dragon, and blasts through the armor on its right leg to cause internal damage.  Meanwhile, the Hermes uses the Auto-cannon and snipes the Zeus in the head and takes out its life support system!  Ouch! 

The Hunchback fires on the Enforcer and shreds its right arm with the Auto-cannon, and manages to tag the left arm and cause critical damage that disables the Laser there!  Ouch again! That leaves the enforcer almost weapon less. 

The Dragon missed its shots at the Quickdraw due to the other mechs speed and the heavy Woods.  The Zeus however landed hits to the center and left torso with the Large laser and Medium laser, but no Crits.    

Heat: 

Everyone gets to go to 0 Heat, except the Hunchback who is at 2. 



 Turn 4:

Initiative: 

Hammer's win. 

Move: 

The Enforcer jumps behind the tree line for cover.  Meanwhile, the Quickdraw scrambles away from the two Hammer mechs.  The Trebuchet stands firm.

The Zeus and Dragon get ready to shoot it out with the two lighter mechs.  

Shooting: 

The Lancer shooting is mostly ineffectual.  The Dragon and Zeus both lose a bit of armor, but are fully functional.  

The Hunchback targets the Hermes.  Despite the Heavy Wood, the lasers and Auto-cannon tear into the small mech.  It's engine takes a hit and its left arm is completely blown off! 

The Dragon and Zeus also chip away at the Trebuchet and Quickdraw.  

Heat:

The Hunchback is still at 2.



Turn 5: 

Initiative:

Hammers win again! 

Move: 

The various lighter Lancers try to breakaway and converge on the Hunchback with multiple targets of opportunity, but also multiple return shots.  The other Hammers just turn and try to target the Lancers that ran past.  

Shooting: 

The Hermes, Trebuchet, and Enforcer all open fire on the Hunchback, and all miss.  The Quickdraw elects not to take a shot. 

The Hunchback fires everything at the Enforcer, and hits it in the left arm and torso.  The lower arm actuator is damaged, and two heat sinks are blown off.  Thankfully, the auto-cannon missed.  

The Zeus targets the Hermes with everything and pours firepower into it.  The LRMs blast apart the left torso of the Mech.  In addition, the Auto-cannon hits the right arm and freezes its shoulder and blows off the medium laser! 

The Dragon also plinks away at the Trebuchet.  

Heat: 

The Zeus has 1 and the Hunchback has 4.


 

Turn 6: 

Initiative: 

Lancers win! 

Move: 

The Hammers withdraw back to a triangle of firepower, while the Lancers try to converge their fire on the Hunchback.  

Shoot:

The Hunchback just peels off armor, and misses with his Auto-cannon on the Enforcer.  However, the Enforcer loses another Heat Sink.   

The Dragon manages an engine hit on the Trebuchet!  The Zeus peels off a good chunk of center torso armor off the Quickdraw as well. 

The Quickdraws Laser barrage on the Hunchback destroys the medium laser on the Hunch's left arm.  The Enforcer misses, and the Trebuchet hits him in the torso on each side.  The Hermes uses the last of his ammo on his only remaining weapon to peel armor off the center of the Hunchback.  

Heat: 

The Hunchback is at 4 Heat.




Turn 7: 

Initiative: 

Hammers win.  Lancers move and shoot first.  

Move: 

The Quickdraw moves up for a closer firing lane.  The Hermes also runs up to the Hunchback, as I decide to try out the Physical attack rules!  After all, the little guy has no weapons left!  The Zeus and Dragon move out a bit wider for better firing. 

Shooting:

 The Quickdraw fires on the Hunchback, peeling off armor on his left.  However, the SRMs miss.  The Enforcer hits the Hunch in the left leg, peeling off armor.  Finally, the trebuchet fires on the right arm, and causes some internal damage and injury to the shoulder joint.  

The Hunch's small laser hits the Hermes in the leg, but the auto-cannon misses.  The medium laser on the right arm also misses due to the bad shoulder joint. 

The Dragon plasters the Trebuchet in the central torso with the last auto-cannon rounds and its lasers.  It causes a second engine hit, and a Gyro hit.   

The Zeus hits the Quickdraw in the right arm and messes up the shoulder.  Plus, he peels off some leg armor.  There are no crits.  

Physical:

The Hermes runs up and smashes into the Hunchback.  The big machines stagger around to gain their balance but stay upright.  However, the Hermes has no more center torso armor left, but the Hunchback has its right arm smashed off, and takes an engine hit!    

Heat:

Most units can return to 0 heat.  Even the Hunchback and Hermes.  Not being able to shoot makes heat management pretty easy. 




Turn 7: 

Initiative:

Hammers win, so Lances move and shoot first. 

Move: 

The Lancers turn to face their foes where they can.  The Dragon tries to move in on the Trebuchet for a Charge attack, but the damage to its right leg finally is too much, and the machine falls to the ground.  It further damages the leg and is prone.  

The Zeus backs up into the woods for some cover.  

Shoot: 

The Trebuchet and Quickdraw fire on their enemy mechs, peeling off armor.  

The Zeus returns fire on the Quickdraw, causing an engine hit.  The center of the Quickdraw is also in tatters. 

The Hunchback unloads on close range at the Hermes ripping into it with its Auto-cannon.  Its engine takes a hit, but the little machine is still in it!  It's center torso is shredded.           

Physical:

The little Hermes kicks the Hunchback in the left leg and damages its hip, peels off armor, and destroys a couple of heat sinks.  The Hermes can not punch as it has no left arm left, and the right arm has a bad shoulder.  

The Hunchback responds by punching the Hermes with its left arm, and hitting it in the leg.  





Turn 8: 

Initiative: 

Hammers win again.  

Move: 

The Hermes backs away from the Hunchback, who is then immediately engaged in a Death from Above Attack by the Enforcer.  The Quickdraw backs away, but he is pursued by the Zeus.  

The Dragon pulls himself up, and charges into the Trebuchet.      

Shoot: 

The Enforcer and Hunchback exchange fire as they approach!  They peel armor off each other.  The Trebuchet also peels armor off the prone Dragon.  

The Zeus fires on the Hermes and misses.  

Physical: 

The Enforcer lands and crushes the armor off the head of the Hunchback, and causes an engine hit.  However, the Enforcer also falls prone, losing armor.  The Hunchback tries to kick it, but misses.  

The Dragon charges into the Trebuchet and crushes it's engine.  The machine falls down, lifeless as the pilot struggles pointlessly at the controls.  In exchange, the Dragon's right leg finally gives out and the machine falls over prone again.  The right leg it totaled. 

Heat: 

Again, Heat is all under control.  



Turn 9:

Initiative: 

Hammer win.  

Move: 

The Hermes turns and flees.  The Quickdraw stays still, and the Enforcer gets up.  The Zeus moves to engage the Quickdraw in min range of his Auto-cannon.  The Dragon is prone. 

Shooting: 

The Enforcer manages to blast a Gyro on the Hunchback.  The Quickdraw scuffs up the paint on the Zeus.  

The Hunchback and Dragon blow both arms off the Enforcer in a fusillade of lasers and auto-cannon fire.  The Zeus also manages to blast the Center torso of the Quickdraw completely open.  The next shots will be critical hits!  

Physical: 

The Enforcer kicks the Hunchback, considering he has no arms! He kicks the Hunch in the left leg, and it looks pretty weak.  In return, the Enforcer is punched in the left torso and sparks fly as there is no armor left there.  

Heat: 

The Hunch has 1 heat. 



Turn 10: 

Initiative:

Lancers win this time.  

Move: 

The Zeus moves up expecting the Quickdraw to flee backwards.  The Hunch stays put. 

The Quickdraw does flee backwards to stay in short range of his lasers though.  

Shoot: 

The Zeus opens fire on the Quickdraw and blows its left arm clean off!  The return fire is minimal.  The Quickdraws return fire is also ineffective.    

The Hunch uses its last Auto-cannon ammo on the Enforcer up close and riddles him with shots in the torso.  The small lasers also exchange inconclusive blasts.

Physical: 

The Enforcer fails to kick the Hunchback.  However, the Hunchback does land a punch that wrecks the armor on the Enforcers head.  

Heat: 

The Hunch is up to 2 heat.         




Conclusion:

With that, the Uhlans send the surrender codes to their foes over the universal Merc frequency.  They are done here after 1 Mech getting cored, and the rest all taking severe damage.  By the Mercenary Code, details are arranged and the proper protocols followed for the surviving pilots to be picked-up, and the remaining mech to withdraw.  The fallen Uhlan Trebuchet is maintained as a prize by Thor's Hammers.  

Four and a half hours later, we have a conclusion.  Granted, we had to look up a lot of rules as we went, and we pointlessly jockeyed around shooting.  Clearly, we should have just closed and started throwing kicks and punches instead!  

Eventually, Thor's Hammers won! 

Uhlans- 6 Engine Hits

Hammers- 2 Engine Hits 

Final Results for the 14th Uhlans of Polanski's Lancers

Final sheets for the Strong Hammers of Thor's Hammers- Today's winners

Final Thoughts:

Yup, this confirms that Classic Battletech is not the game for me.  There was two much dice rolling and bubble filling in with not enough actual effect.  The decision making I found rather limited, as you mostly just stood there and tried to pound on the enemy.  Heat didn't become much of a factor to limit my decision making either.  I was typically able to do all the moving and shooting I wanted and I had enough Heat Sinks to take care of it.  

Mechs can take a ton of hits and shrug them off, especially if the shots are dispersed across the Mech rather than concentrated.  Even concentrated shots still took forever to actually DO something.  There were the occasional lucky hits, but not enough to actually influence the game, unless a weapon got destroyed.  Most critical hits just resulted in more annoying "Pilot Check" dice rolls or more Mods for me to remember and apply. 

My physical attacks were more powerful than my shooting attacks.  Therefore, I will just close in the next games, I will just close the distance via walking until I get close enough to kick, punch, or charge someone to death.  The boards are small enough where the game will be an inevitable brawl in the middle.  That does not feel very Big Mech to me, but what do I know?  Shooting almost seems pointless.    

I can see why this would be popular in some quarters as all the mods and options make the game appear to have tactical depth.  Honestly, I am not sure it is a very tactical game either as it seemed like standing still and blasting or getting up and kicking seemed like easy choices.  However, it does have a lot of potential for "Strategic" choice in the form of a bucket load of unit types and list building and a lot of opportunity to look for the "optimized" mechs and mech combos.  I am coming to realize that these "strategic" choices are highly valued in the wargaming community and perhaps to a very vocal minority is even MORE important than tactical choices.  However, I am pretty sure I do not know what people like to play so I am probably completely wrong.  

Overall, it was a bit of a frustrating game and frankly did not engage me in the game play.  By Turn 4, I was ready to call it a game even though there was no decisive result at that point.  It wasn't until turn 7 or so when things became interesting with damage levels, physical attacks, and falling over.  The long, slow, slog of the game did not appeal to me.  I could get a similar result with a different game system in about 1 to 2 hours instead.

     

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