Saturday, 24 November 2012

Dragonmeet 2012 in One Week


As I have mentioned elsewhere, I am helping to run the OGRE demo at Dragonmeet that takes place on the 1st of December at the Kensington Town Hall. I go most years to this show, and this year I am providing the miniatures for rolling out the new 6th Designers Edition of OGRE.

On that note here are some more pictures from when I went to Cambridge in August to help out Daniel Jew, the new line editor for OGRE, running demo games at Congenial. First up Saturday, where I arrived around midday.

And then it goes KaaBooom... Gareth is holding back the laughter. It's just the way I tell them.
A case of studied anticipation by all three parties,with me being patriotic, and all, in my Stars & Stripe top. I was helping Peter, the player on the left, against the predations of Gareth's Combine Ogre incursion into the Pan European Area of Operations on the Saturday afternoon. Gareth has a cunning plan, judging by the smile on his face.
And here we have a sequence that goes something like me "and then we do this and that, ". Peter smiling "that sounds good". Me, "Ooh, I've just seen something... we could reach out and crush all our enemies that stand before us in one swell swoop".

Sunday I was there bright and early and bushy tailed dressed in black to better fit in with the prevailing colour palette at the convention.

Sunday, wishing that I had an OGRE T-shirt like Gareth's wearing. Anyway, I'm pointing out to one of our first time players where I thought he should go next, and explaining the why's and wherefore's of the choice. It's all about using ridges to block the conventional forces. I have no doubt that Gareth on the left is of course trying to think of counter moves.

This picture is one of several that Daniel took over the weekend that just shows how much fun I was having. Gareth was a great MIB agent to be with. The games were just a blast to play. Using Daniel's miniatures for the demo games really made the difference for me, especially seeing how he used magnets for the turrets etc..
Daniel on the left, off to be the line editor, and Gareth on the right, at the end of Congenial. Smiles say it all really. Oh how we laughed at the fact that Gareth had become a zombie, having had the top of his head cut-off earlier in the day.
 So, I hope to see all those who can make it at Dragonmeet on Saturday the 1st of December.
  

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Thanksgiving 2012



My partner is half American, so we celebrate Thanksgiving here at the Paint it Pink household. So have a good one, we did.
   

Monday, 19 November 2012

Pan European Infantry: New Pictures Added


I had painted the infantry a basic green, but then I found myself thinking that they looked a bit boring, and I didn't want to go down the route I took with my 10mm House Steiner infantry, as that would be even more boring.

Fortunately, I saw a post on the SJG forums and some really nice paint done on some infantry, which I found quite inspiring, and can be seen here. Scroll down to see the finished infantry. So here are mine ready for the Dragonmeet demo on the 1st of December.


Here you see 60 stands of infantry, divided into three battalion's, representing the infantry component of my 7th Demi-Brigade Légion Étrangèr (7DBLÉ). For those of you who are interested, after the French Revolution the use of the word regiment was frowned upon, because the "regi" part of the name come from royal, and anything royal was out of favour, hence demi-brigade.



Each battalion has eight one shot heavy weapon stands. The game specifies three 18 man platoons per company, with four company's per battalion. Strictly speaking therefore, in game terms, the battalion is six figures short of being a full strength unit, which would be about 36 men in real life. Close enough for me, and quite in keeping with historical precedence, as very few units run at their full paper strength.

II got this much better result when I re-took the picture. Still learning how to tweak the digital camera's settings to get the results I want.

One gets variant poses, which can also be tweaked a bit to add some more variety.



An extreme close-up of one the three figure squad representing an 18 man platoon, which has made me  go back and re-read my camera manual on various aspects of colour balance and exposure and retake the pictures here.


Two figures on a base for casualty reduction tracking.


And the last of the unflattering extreme close-ups on one figure, which is also for casualty tracking. By my calculation these pictures of my figures are at five times their original size.

Thought I would add a picture of the heavy weapon stand too.
So all the infantry are now painted and ready to rock on December the first when I'm helping the MIB run an OGRE demo game at Dragonmeet. See you on the bounce.
  
  

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Warfare 2012: Reading

 

Another Warfare show, and I felt a very good one this year with a good selection of games and traders to buy stuff off. No one was grumbling. My plans involved giving Jon at GZG some Hound Dogs that I had reworked so he could cast them up, if he felt that they were good enough? Expect variant models to be added to the range, and you heard it here first.


Jon very kindly said nice things about them, and I reassured him that it didn't matter to me if he had to cut them up to mould them. I got given a box with two Takara F144 VOTOMS as a present, so Xmas sometimes really does come early! I was really pleased as the two models were ones I don't have. I will post pictures when I have assembled them in due course.


I also saw these rather nice grav sleds with lots of gribley detail. I'm not a big fan of anti-grav stuff, as I think it is the technological equivalent of magic, but these look very nice. Also spotted in passing were these rather lovely WW1 aircraft on offer from Skytrek. Couldn't afford to buy them, or at least buy them and then have to make and paint them. No wonder Wings of War/Glory sell so well.


Then Timecast blew me away, and got me to open my purse, with their new 10mm Vietnam riverine monitor range, which I was told was specifically made to fit with Pendraken figures. I was going to make some masters of these monitors for Pendraken, but there is no way I could make anything better, so I've given up on that idea.


I bought the command and control boat, which is the third from the left. I really wanted to buy a whole bunch of these, but my budget is tight, and buying six more would have been too extravagant a purchase at this time. So my plan is to buy one each time I go to a show where Timecast are trading. The added bonus for me was that I could see me using this for my Mummerset campaign too. Oh yes, I will have to write a post on riverine operations for the blog now.

I also bought some paint, and got a show deal on six bottles for six pounds. I also bought some D4s and D20s for the next Mummerset game, as I only had one of each at the last game, and using dice for missile allocation is just so much quicker than reading off a table. Also, while perusing the stands, one of the traders had some cheap Takara 1/144 tanks, so I bought a German Porsche Tiger for parts. Big spender me.

Moving on to the games I saw.

First off was the Spectrum versus the Mysterons game called Scarlet Thunder - Road race with Violence. Dum, dum, dum... I spoke John and Peter  from South London Warlords, as I've known them both for many years. It was good to catch up and have a chat.


Lots of lovely toys on a rolling terrain table, which I thought was a nice homage to the original Gerry Anderson shows that used rolling roads for their car chases. I talked to Peter about the toys, and stuff from Konami, and a super 1/50th scale Terror Fish kit he had found. John, was looking a lot slimmer from having had major surgery. Good to see him in fine form though.
 
Another SF game that caught my eye was from the RAF Wargaming Association called "Blinkin' Cakewalk" they said!


Very nice work on the terrain for this game, and much fun was being had with opening and closing doors to escape the opposition. Next, was Space Vixens from Mars, run by Gary Mitchell as part of the Southbourne Tabletop & Board Games society. A busy table with lots going on.

 

Spent sometime talking to Gary, who is the author of the Dark Horizons column in Miniature Wargames. He is also a member of the SFSFW, which I have shockingly allowed my membership of to lapse, and me being one of the founder members on the original committee and all. Anyway, Gary made some kind comments about my review of Firestorm Armada Planetfall by Spartan Games that appeared in Battlegames issue number 32.

So, a nice show, which is well worth visiting. I was there for five hours and still didn't get to see all the games as I started to flake out and needed to drive home.
   

Friday, 16 November 2012

Epiphany & Omega


Quite recently Randall Bills blogged that 12 years ago that he had worked for a year on producing a set of tabletop miniatures rules for BattleTech quote:
"Not to mention I still have on my hard drive, 12 years later, the fully playtested and developed BattleTech Omega rules set that utterly reshaped BattleTech into a pure tabletop miniatures game, tossing the entire current game system out the door.  A rules set a year in the making and at the end I spent almost a month of 12+ hour days finalizing…all that work and effort and it never saw the light of day."
No CGL employee wants to comment on Omega, other than to say Quick Strike is better and trust us, we are professionals.  Fair enough, but that rather leaves Omega open to idle gossip and speculation.

My own experience of writing a rule set is that one can easily spend a year working on a book, have something that plays well with the play testers, then take it to print only to find that one has produced a game that no one really wants to buy and play.

Rick Priestly, funnily enough, has written a piece in Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy this month on why there are so few second editions of rules? I quite like WS&S, though I prefer Battlegames for my wargame magasine fix. However, I always browse WS&S, and buy it when a good article catches my eye. However, I don't think that Mr Priestly is right, because I can think of lots of games that have gone into multiple editions.  BattleTech and Ogre just happening to be two of my favourites, and neither can be written off as garage/back of shed productions either.

Anyway, coming back to CGL and Omega, I interpret "trust us" means that they didn't think the rules would sell, and "good reasons" stands for "this wasn't the game we wanted."  I say this because I think that the thing that stood out for me was when Randall Bills said that the "rule set utterly reshaped BattleTech into a pure tabletop miniatures game...".

That rang several warning bells to me.

First off, while the BattleTech miniature rules that were printed in the past make a fair stab of converting the hex based wargame into a tabletop wargame, to me it is very clear that the writers backgrounds are in boardgames. The next thing that springs to mind is that when BattleTech was originally designed it was inspired by Japanese animation. I'm currently watching a fansub* of Fang of the Sun Dougram, and it is interesting to compare the game with one of the shows that were around at the time.

My partner and I find ourselves making comments while watching Fang of the Sun Dougram like, "oh look a death from above attack just like in BattleTech", or "oh look a head hit" etc., etc.. The story of Fang of the Sun Dougram has those elements that Jordan Weisman didn't like, namely the youngish cast of characters that typifies the Japanese obsession with youth, and the changing of society values.

So, my point here being that BattleTech was inspired by anime** and captures the essence of what made such shows attractive to audiences. If one forgets to touch base with what makes something attractive, one can easily forget the core values.

So what are the core values of BattleTech? In my opinion they are:
It is a game where you play the pilot of a giant walking combat machine.
It is a game where the heroes are game changers, even if defeated, or broken by events.
Hence from the start BattleTech has the feel of an RPG. It is a universe where armour is better than guns, because that was a way of keeping the heroes alive in the game. The whole weapons range thing that bugs so many people is again driven by the need to keep things up-close and personal. Change these things and one is in peril of losing the things that makes the game appealing.

All of this serendipitously connects to what I've been writing about in three recent blog posts. The first on scale conundrums, followed by more about scale, and hexes versus terrain all discuss the various problems that come from trying to convert a hex based boardgame into a tabletop miniatures wargame. Nothing I'm writing is particularly novel, or even Earth shatteringly inspiring, but it remains something that is worth discussing all the same, because taking it all for granted just leaves us playing mindlessly.

Bottom line it all comes down to what is the game all about? What is the story being told? The answers to these questions will determine ground and time scales, combat resolution, and how the game feels and plays. This is why I started my own BattleTech house rules called Epiphany, because it came from a light bulb moment "Keep It Simple".

*fansub: a fan produced subtitled translation of the original Japanese language broadcast.
**anime Japanese animation shows.
  

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Mecha Meme



I can't make this stuff up, I promise. The Taiwan army recruitment advert.



One day soon we shall see mecha in action.
   

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Scale 3: Hex Maps Versus Tabletop Terrain


Carrying on a bit late from the first and second part of this articles, I'd like to conclude my musings for the time being. For me, there are three basic things that one can do when, for instance, when playing BattleTech using miniatures on a tabletop with wargame terrain:
1) Change the size of the area fought on
2) Field more models
3) Change the range of the weapons. 
Area

Using a smaller table is by far the easiest solution that comes to mind. Playing a game on a table top of 2' x 1.5' offers little advantage over using the map boards of the same size. However, making the table larger means that you will probably want to have more models on the table, otherwise four mechs per side tends to look a bit lost.

More Models

BattleTech combat tends to slow down as you add more models. So much so that I wonder whether there is much to be gained from the effort required for the work to set everything up? You need an awful lot of time and patience to play a very large game of BattleTech. So if you want to field more  models you would need to streamline the rules to allow a quicker resolution for each turn.

Weapons Range

Altering either the ground or time scale appears to offer some hope.

Changing the time scale will increase the movement distance, but not the weapon ranges. Whereas changing the ground scale increases the weapon ranges, but doesn't alter the time scale.

However, this can lead to problems, as related earlier, with changing the emphasis of the strategy and tactics. It can all lead to the situation where either mechs race around the battlefield unable to hit a target, because they're not in range, or targets can be hit, but it takes so many moves to close that shooting has become far more effective than the original game designers intended.

If it takes ten turns to close on a target, each turn say is only 5 seconds long, then you've effectively doubled the weapon damage, since you are now firing the equivalent of twice per turn.

Conclusions

As  can be seen, from examining the the various factors above, the increase of space needed can preclude, for some people, the opportunity of having the ground scale the same as the figure scale, because every hex would translate to four inches. This would mean that a table would have to be 60 inches by 68 inches per hex map board.

This only leaves the time it takes to play a game and the scale time it is supposed to represent.

I think the ideal miniatures game would be one where the actual time to play was equivalent to the time the game turns added up to, where the ground scale were equal to the figure scale, and each model represented one of its kind. However, I wouldn't hold your breath trying to achieve this goal. The last point is one that we are unlikely to be able to resolve, so we will have to live with a compromise.

One out of three hardly seems a good batting average, but I think you have to remember the nature of what we are trying to do.
   

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Remembering Yesterday


Today is Remembrance Sunday. I watched it on iPlayer this morning before going out for the afternoon. A sobering realisation is that it will soon be 100 years since the start of the Great War...

Anyway, yesterday I spent all day, and I do mean all day, nine hours in total, creating the record sheets for 27 different vehicle designs that I might need for the Mummerset campaign.  It's what I should have done at the beginning of the campaign, because by not doing so I have effectively run roughshod over the vehicles, to their detriment.

Of course my players may come to wish that I hadn't designed the vehicles, because in spite of my best efforts to limit their capabilities, they are a whole heap tougher than what they've been facing so far.

Therefore what the players have faced what are effectively the equivalent of technicals; field expedient equipment. Yes, I know that I listed Vedettes, but the truth was that they were not running with their full armour allocation. So imagine some wrecks that had been imported, and had standard steel plating, rather than proper armour applied to fix them up. A bit like what has happened in history. For instance during the Great War Britain actually field training tanks with boiler plate steel to the front lines, because that is all they had. Needless to say they didn't last long under enemy fire.

I can rationalise this to some degree by supposing that the Freedom Army of Mummerset has also been conserving its best equipment for what they see as the main problem. Namely the forces under both General Whales and General Spencer.

I can also  imagine that House Steiner were seen as offworlders who can be dealt with after the real enemy has been eliminated. After all the Mummerset Freedom Paarty want to rule the planet and gain the benefits of offworld trade. Just probably not with House Steiner is all.

Anyway, the work I've done will go a long way to redressing game imbalance around vehicles. All I have to do now is sort out the battle armour and infantry.
  

Thursday, 8 November 2012

True Wargamer


From The Wargaming Site, which I got from Tamsin's Wargaming Girl blog.

There are many steps you must go through before calling yourself a true Wargamer. To genuinely call yourself a Wargamer, then you must have done most or all of the following;

* Spent at least £500 on figures/tanks - and you get extra kudos for every £500 you've spent

Yes, but I assume over the last year, rather than all time total? Either way, yes, but really does spending money make you a true anything?

For me what makes a true wargamer, rather than board-gamer, is playing games using miniatures on terrain boards. Anything less, is well, less really. I accept one buys stuff to make stuff, and if you have not talent for painting them getting others to paint for you is okay, but the point is the intent to play with miniatures on the tabletop.


* Pricked your finger or thumb on a pike block - several times

Yes, but not pike blocks, but certainly I've been bitten by the aerials on my vehicles and mechs. One blogger I read took exception to the specificity of this question in a rather pedantic way. I suggest understand the intent of the question, which is to show a common bond.

* Tried at least 10 different rule sets and vowed never to play half of them ever again

Yes, at least ten, but I thought that the reason I play so few was because I was crotchety and set in my ways?

* Bought an army off EBay

Yes, my MechWarrior Dark Age collection started by buying a whole load of Clix infantry.


* Sold an army on EBay

Never, my preciouses...


* spent months painting an army - then used it in anger once

Maybe? Really can't remember. I have sold on armies that fell out of favour. I say on balance no.


* tried several different periods and genres

Yes, but not in the last year, but over the years I've done quite a bit. Ancient Greeks, WW2, WW1 (aircraft and land forces for both), Vietnam, SCW, African Wars, SF.


* dropped a box of figures on the floor from a great height

No, I can't ever recall doing that, but I'm sure it can happen.


* lost a battle on the last throw of the dice

No, not on the last roll, can't recall that happening, but I've lost plenty enough battles.


* made at least one enemy for life

Probably, but that's a bit of a sad thing really.


* had a proper, stand up argument over a wargamers table

Yes, but not for a long time, but it has happened in the past when I was younger.


* thrown a dice across a room

Yes by accident, but not deliberately. I will tend to walk away if angry.


* rebased an army for a different rule set

Oh yes, the pain, the suffering, the doubts about was it all worth while?


* inflicted a whopping defeat on an opponent

Yes, as I have a bit of a reputation for pulling victories out from the jaws of defeat to my opponents chagrin, especially when I've been playtesting Phil Barker rules.


* suffered an embarrassing defeat due to a stupid tactical decision

Yes, on many occasions.


* joined a wargamers club

Yes, but no longer a member of one. That's because I think I've become old and crotchety, and can't get along with clubs anymore.


* bought a ton of lead that remains unpainted

Yes, but I like to call it the Maturing Phase.


* been to a wargamers show

Yes. Regularly been to at least three shows a year over the last four years.


* have more dice than is logical or necessary to own - and have used most of them

I don't understand the point? What has logic to do with the necessity to have lots of dice?


* have taken boxes of troops down to a club just to show them off to your mates

Yes, but not recently, and usually only a few choice figures.

So on balance more yes's than no's, but that is not really the point of these questionnaires really. For me they are about the narrative. Am I experiencing the same problems as other people? Are we in the same group? Do I belong?

The answer to that is definitely yes. Unfortunately, I tend to think that wargamers become crotchety as they get older too.
  

Monday, 5 November 2012

BattleTech Infantry: Player Offside View

  
Today a guest post by my good friend Clive who sent me a very apposite set of observations that pointed out the Elephant in the Room about infantry in BattleTech. Over to Clive who hopefully won't mind the bits of editing and pruning I've done to turn his email into this post?

The problem with infantry is as follows:
1) Lack of Mobility (by comparison to everything else)
2) Fragility
3) Artillery
4) Mechs
Numbers one to three have been the PBI problem since the Stone Age, and they still seem to be important, even today. BattleTech has gone out of its way to make them unimportant, when compared in the modern era, where it is possible for an infantryman to carry a weapon that will total a MBT 1000m+ away

So BattleTech has from day one emasculated the PBI, because otherwise they get in the way of fighting it out mecha-a-mecha, because combat is scaled to battlemechs. Given the premise that battlemechs are masters of all they see, and basic infantry are one hit wonders, everything that isn't a battlemech ends up just being so much roadkill.

In my opinion infantry are only capable of two jobs; holding a building , or observing the enemy and bringing down an artillery strike

Given that agroup of powered battle armour (not basic infantry) attacking a battlemech did frankly derisory amounts of damage over several rounds, at no point did I get the feeling the battlemech was in any real danger. The main balancing in most cases is that mechs don't normally have a whole load of anti personal weaponry.

In the last battle the queen of battle, artillery, was back with a vengeance, but 20 points will wipe anything but a battlemech. Given an artillery strike of 1 will kill basic infantry, logically you would set the burst up to 20 times the size, or at least spread it out by N, where N is the number of guns in the battery, and accept an attack of 20/N. Perhaps one of the first things that could be tried is to tie the FO cards to how many actual artillery battery cards have already been dealt, which would cut their impact by half, or so?

So, what is the correct use of the PBI in Battlemech?

I think the only use they appear to have is to stop the other side easily acquiring buildings to hide their infantry from all the things that kill everybody's infantry, or have I missed something really subtle?

So as they say, let the discussion begin.
   

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Mummerset Reflection & Overview


It has been more than a year since I last ran a game, which makes me ask what do I and the players want, or expect from playing the game? A better question perhaps is what makes it so hard to run regular games? I guess that as I no longer go to a games club each week the opportunity to play games is reduced, and that all of us have jobs and family commitments, which all leads to less games played. I will have to think about a new plan of action that addresses this problem, as the current one is not delivering the goodies.

Some of players have asked me is the Mummerset campaign based on Vietnam? No, not really, though it has some shout outs to Vietnam, like airborne formations and riverine operations. The genesis of the Mummerset campaign is rooted in the inter war period, especially the Spanish Civil War, with bits taken from the Russian Civil War. I like the whole feel of the period with its ad hoc use of armour, and mix of old and modern tactical doctrines. And yes House Steiner is a nod towards the German support for Franco, as played by General Whales. Saying that though, the campaign is not meant, or set as a Nazi Germany parable. The real villains are a blast from the past that have only just been revealed.

The campaign falls under Operation Sandbox, because it is my sandbox where I can kick around ideas. I use BattleTech rules, but these really focus on battlemech combat, and presents a vision of combat that is rooted by the constraints of being board game based. My goal is to develop rules to help speed up the amount of time each turn takes, and play games where the focus of the game is on combined arms where the battlemech is important, but doesn't work alone. The focus is also on playing with the miniatures on nice terrain too.

Currently I want to polish up the artillery rules, and write them up for the blog.

Then I want to work more on the infantry rules, which are proving to be problematical. This seems to be down to a combination of the size of the figures, which makes them hard to see clearly, and a lack of understanding of how to deploy infantry in BattleTech? The basic BattleTech rules for infantry are really rather simple, all things considered. Platoons get an attack value based on size and weapons. It all leads to rather bloody combat. I want to get players to enjoy deploying infantry, rather than them being some after thought that gets in the way of the battlemech action. I can see that I'm going have to rethink the organisation into squads/sections and make it easier for the players to understand and use.

When we do the next AAR role-play debrief, and plan the next phase of the campaign, I will sit and talk through the problems the players are having with using infantry. Meanwhile I shall go and jot down some notes and think about how to base the figures so that the organisation tracks both the number of casualties, and allows one to calculate the attack values without having to use a record sheet.

Finally, I've been thinking about using the BattleTech introductory rules from the box set that eliminates all the critical hits and internal structure from play. However, a part of me loves the detail, so I'm caught by the desire for fast, yet at the same time, detailed games of giant battlemechs fighting it out. I know that if you reduce the stats for the battlemech too far you end up with something like BattleForce. Quite frankly this doesn't satisfy me as it seems to me that there is still too much paperwork, with none of the atmosphere that comes from the details of playing a regular game of BattleTech.

I enjoy the feel of a game where the battlemechs are having bits & pieces shot off and degrading slowly under fire. If I can keep that, and get the game to run with a battalion per side in under four hours per game, I will have cracked it.
  

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Mummerset 10.28.12: The 3rd Battle of South Boring AAR


The set up, and all is quiet with House Steiner forces with hidden deployment.
The players plan was to hide their mechs in hidden prepared positions, and wait for the anticipated attack by the Freedom Army of Mummerset on the day when the next pirate jump point opens.

Background

The Freedom Army of Mummerset have a four part plan to bring their ten year campaign to a successful conclusion.

The first part of the plan is how to neutralize House Steiner's deployment? Over the last year FAoM high command have come to the conclusion that House Steiner forces will use their dropship to deliver forces to stem attacks made against their ally General Whales. Therefore the Circinis Federation dropship will engage the House Steiner dropship in orbit and prevent it from landing during the planned offensive. The plan is to deploy a short-battalion size force with a demi company of battlemechs, drawn from  FAoM and Circinus Federation assets in support. This force will be deployed to destroy House Steiner non-battlemech ground forces that remain in South Boring.

The second part of the plan is to simultaneously attack General Whales in South Boring and reduce his assets so that he no longer has an effective force. It is imperative that his battlemech forces are eliminated, and if possible capture, or kill, both General Whales and last remaining heir to the throne of Mummerset. A second short-battalion sized force, again with a demi company of battlemechs drawn from both FAoM and Circinus Federation assets will be in support. This force will deployed with the objective of eliminating all Royalist forces.

The third part of the plan is to also attack the remnant forces of the Mummerset Republican Guard, defeated at the hands of General Whales and House Steiner allies, who retreated to the capital Clear Water Boring. A third short-battalion sized force will be deployed for this objective with two FAoM battlemechs and one Circinis Federation battlemech in support.

The fourth part of the plan is to detonate the mines that have been placed at Landfall to deny the enemy use of the refueling and repair facilitates that are currently neutral, and supporting both Rufus Marx's Republic of Mummerset government and General Whales Royalists.

In reserve at Newten are a full battalion with air mobile assets for deployment for the follow-up operational phases.

OPFOR Composition (Freedom Army of Mummerset & Circinus Federation Pirates)

Urban Mech UM-R70P custom modified 3062 Inner Sphere tech (move 2-3-2, armour 99 points, and 11 single heat sinks). Loadout 1 x Rotary AC5, 1 x ER medium laser, and 1 x ER small laser.

Rifleman RFL-PAC custom modified 3025 Inner Sphere tech (move 4-6-0, armour 72 points, and 10 single heat sinks). Loadout 4 x Ultra AC2s.

ConstructionMech 30 ton MOD-P custom modified 3132 industrial (3-5-0, armour 48 points, and 1 single heat sink). Loadout 1 x SRM6, and 2 x lift hoists.

Ostol OTL-6PM custom modified 3067 Inner Sphere tech (5-8-0, armour 188 points, and 14 double heat sinks). Loadout 2 x ER PPCs, 2 x ER medium lasers, 2 x ER small lasers, and 1 targeting computer.

Ostroc OSR-4PM custom modified 3067 Inner Sphere tech (5-8-5, armour 179 points, and 14 double heat sinks). Loadout 2 x ER large lasers, 2 x ER medium lasers, 1 x small pulse laser.

Ostol  OTL-5PM custom modified 3067 Inner Sphere tech (5-8-0, armour 120 points, and 10 double heat sinks). Loadout 5 x LRM 10s, 2 x medium lasers, 2 x small lasers.

One Company of vehicles:
4 x Vedette light tank
6 x 3039 GEV APCs each carrying one platoon of infantry
2 x 3039 GEV scout vehicles
Two Companys of Infantry (Reinforced):
2 x Mechanised infantry platoons
2 x PAL infantry platoons
2 x Jump infantry platoons
2 x Foot infantry platoons
Long Tom artillery (off board): 1 battery of 4 tubes

4th Battalion of the House Steiner 4444 Regimental Combat Team

Zeus 2C XP custom modified 3132 Clan tech (move 4-6-4, armour 240 points, and 16 double heat sinks). Loadout 1 x ER PPC, 1 x LRM20 (with Artemis), 3 x ER medium lasers, 4 x ER small lasers, and 1 targeting computer.

Scorpion 2C XP custom modified 3132 Clan tech (move 6-9-0, armour 192 points, and 10 double heat sinks). Loadout 1 x ER large lasers, 1 x ER medium laser, 1 x LRM5, 2 x SRM2, and 1 targeting computer.

Firestarter 2C XP custom modified 3132 Clan tech (move 6-9-6, armour 58 points, and 10 double heat sinks). Loadout 1 x ER Large laser, 2 x ER medium lasers, 2 x flamers, and 1 targeting computer.

Commando 2C XP custom modified 3132 Clan tech (move 6-9-0, armour 86 points, and 10 double heat sinks). Loadout 2 x ER medium lasers, 1 x Streak SRM4, 1 x LRM5, 1 x ER small laser, and 1 targeting computer.

Conventional Infantry Company: 4 platoons (with 4 squads of 7 infantry in each) 
Battle Armor Support (Infantry): 2 platoons (with 4 Squads of 5 BA in each)
One platoon of GEV LRM carriers: 1 platoon of 4 vehicles
Long Tom artillery (off board): 1 battery of 4 tubes 

Initial Deployment

The players deployed their mechs along with their conventional infantry platoon,  one scout and one heavy battle armour squad in support,  and one GEV missile carrier. All hidden in pre-prepared  positions on the board.

Clive looking calm and collected as he plans his deployment. Actually, he was quite stressed by having to work out where to best deploy his hidden assets. The consequences of getting this wrong would have a significant impact on the campaign.
Oliver, our youngest player, was commanding the attackers and chose to deploy on the crest of the hills outside the town and dice for sensor contacts i.e.: spot hidden units. Also, as per my Epiphany posts, the BattleTech alternate I-go then U-go rules were replaced with a card activation system.

Oliver, with his dad Trevor, both a year older and Oliver was incredibly cool, calm and collected about his mission.
We were playing with house rules for the artillery, using forward observer cards to designate targets, and allocating artillery barrages as the cards were drawn. This worked incredibly well from a game perspective, and all the players felt that the artillery was now pretty scary.

That explosion at the front is a House Steiner artillery barrage that has just blown up a Freedom Army Urban mech. The two clumps of infantry that are running away are what are left of two platoons that had to bail out of their APCs after said APCs were hit by artillery barrages. The Firestarter at the back, behind one of the buildings, had then lovingly lit up the survivors with its flamethrowers, along with a mechanised infantry platoon that had been in support..
House Steiner artillery forced the Freedom Army to advance, but it effectively disrupted the attack and caused substantial damage.

Dan rolling for his hit locations on a fleeing enemy mech. His Zeus can be seen on the lower left of the picture with more fleeing enemy infantry platoons that had seen artillery rain down upon them. You can also see that we remove the layers from the buildings that have been hit by artillery, which is easy to do with Fieldworks products.
The battle then opened up with House Steiner mechs being deployed to apply the coup de grâce to the enemy mechs.

Dan's Zeus again with the enemy mech at the left fleeing in the distance.The enemy tank on the right would bug out and have a pop at the Zeus with little effect.
The downside to this was that it allowed the enemy the opportunity to brings its artillery to bear on them, resulting in the Commando being brought down when the center torso was blown out by sequential attacks by artillery.

Though the half the enemy mechs were destroyed by our players, with the one industrial mech actually captured, what you don't see here is Clive's Commando, which had been blown up by three enemy artillery barrages that hit it, and the Scorpion four legged mech, in quick succession. The Scorpion took considerable damage, but was still battle worthy even with a gyro hit, and losing the coffee maker (player in game joke).
Oliver took the whole, you have been ambushed, very well and made a credible fist of the whole engagement. The resulting casualty list was five enemy infantry platoons eliminated, three mechs destroyed and their remains captured. Costs were one Commando gutted, one conventional infantry squad lost, and one scout battle armour both lost when caught by enemy artillery barrages.

Though the players started to turn up around midday for the game, by the time we had lunch, faffed setting up the table, and getting them to decide where to place their hidden units, the game didn't start until 15.00. We played through until 20.00, but I lost count of the number of turns, but I guess about ten were resolved? So five hours of gaming, which is okay, but still too long.

On the other hand a lot faster than just using conventional BattleTech rules, given we had 10 mechs, 16 vehicles, and just over 12 infantry platoons in play. I would imagine we would not have had enough time to lay to a conclusive outcome using the conventional BattleTech rules, especially with five players who were all a bit rusty on what they had to do.

All in all, an outright House Steiner win, and we now have to wait and see what the happens in the other two battles that are taking place simultaneously on this day.
   

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