All posts tagged Battletech

I’ve been playing the new turn-based Battletech–the one I trash talked earlier this year–because it’s actually pretty good. It has all of the things I wanted out of a Battletech game. I do not say that lightly. It has the financial mechanics, pilot management, ‘mech repair and customization, and meat ‘n unseasoned potatoes story I want.

Mission: The Second Convoy Strike


I started in the south of a mesa environment with the convoy on an elevated road just north of me. The road twisted around and passed by a slope to the east of me. It was a direct shot for me, but the road was long enough I could beat the vehicles to it and interdict the convoy at a hairpin turn.

Destroying the vehicles and stopping the convoy were two different objectives, so I assumed I could physically stop them, possibly by destroying the cave at the very end of the road, north of the turn. I also had to deal with the escorts.

The escorts were led by a Griffin, with a large laser in its left arm. It entered sensor range with its left arm to me and since its main weapon was on its left arm, I took the opportunity.

Shadycator went east to intercept the convoy. The Shadow Hawk’s missiles would make it strong enough to take down vehicles and the Vindicator’s PPC would pack a punch for the heavier ones. Centaurjack moved in and hit the Griffin with everything they had, snapping its arm off.

But I split my Centurion and Blackjack across a rock formation. Three more enemy ‘mechs appeared, and with the Griffin, they pounded first the Centurion, then the Blackjack while I couldn’t focus my fire. My options were to pull back–away from Shadycator and my targets–or to fight with one ‘mech while the other joined it. The second option put my heavier ‘mechs in the position to support and regoup with my entire lance, so I took that.

My Blackjack took a pounding and hugged its heat curve tightly until the Centurion caught up. I took a lot of structure damage to keep up the damage output and I’m not sure if that was worth it in retrospect.

Meanwhile, even sprinting was barely enough to get Shadycator to the hairpin turn before our enemies. If they’d arrived later, instead of being able to focus fire on each vehicle as they passed through a chokepoint, they would have been in a line abreast and been able to focus fire on my guys.

It was still ugly. The Shadow Hawk arrived first, destroying an enemy vehicle that had already passed the chokepoint before being blindsided by a Manticore. The Manticores I went up against in the Quick Extraction didn’t seem this big, intimidating, or well-armored. I’d walked my Shadow Hawk too far forward and given the other two vehicles line of sight to fire on it through the chokepoint. It had taken some fire in its mad dash over and after a volley of SRMs from the SRM Carrier, it was downed and looking tattered.

The Vindicator’s timely arrival didn’t seem to dent the Manticore’s armor and Centaurjack was on the ropes too far away to help. In an act of desperation, I jumped the Shadow Hawk onto the Manticore–and killed it–but my shot up little Shadow Hawk lost a leg and fell again. Between the falls, and the SRM volleys, its pilot, Graceland, was also hanging by a thread.

The Vindicator took a clutch shot against the SRM Carrier to save its friend…and missed. The next round saw the SRM Carrier unload a full salvo of SRMs into the side of my downed Shadow Hawk. It was impressive to watch…and lethal to experience. Graceland did indeed move on to a land of grace.

An untimely spread of LRMs from my Centurion landed through a break in the road’s cover and eliminated the SRM Carrier. The mop-up was easy and cathartic, but the damage was done.

Graceland was dead. He’d been with me since the start and was my second plankowner to die. The contract covered repair costs, but between pilot damage and ‘mech refits, the 50 days of downtime were going to put VanVelding’s Marauders into the red for that mission.

In retrospect, I should have tried to move my entire lance to the east. Centaurjack could have guarded the six of Shadycator and both could have shifted to support the other as necessary. Ultimately, I made the choice to move in on the Griffin’s vulnerability on turn one. I tried to have my bone and get the bone from that dog in the lake too.

I’ve been playing the new turn-based Battletech–the one I trash talked earlier this year–because it’s actually pretty good. It has all of the things I wanted out of a Battletech game. I do not say that lightly. It has the financial mechanics, pilot management, ‘mech repair and customization, and meat ‘n unseasoned potatoes story I want.

Mission: The Capellan Kiddie Pool of Sacrifice

This was a base destruction mission. Not that I’m still bitter about my base defense mission, but this base had turrets.

I was on an elevated position with a slope headed up from the right. Again, I’m not bitter about anything, but I checked extra-hard and there was only one broad slope up to my position. The base was in a circular depression below me.

I set Behemoth and her Shadow Hawk back and let her sensor lock turrets while I hit the them with indirect LRM fire from my Centurion and Vindicator. My Blackjack guarded the slope.

After a while, some enemy reinforcements arrived. A pair of Commandos charged, one by one, from the valley. I tagged and LRMed them into oblivion. An enemy Centurion followed into the valley while a Griffin ran up the slope. I shifted back from the edge of the valley and all four of my ‘mechs obliterated the Griffin while cutting the Centurion out of line of sight.

After the Griffin was down, I shifted back to the edge and found the Centurion had its back to me. A few direct-fire shots later and the enemy ‘mechs were down.

The dropship then came down into the LZ and there was one turret left. I didn’t know if the turret could fuck things up for me by shooting my dropship, so I scrambled to finish it off. It was a complete inversion of the Capellan Amphitheater of Death from earlier; I had the high ground and utterly destroyed the opposition and took almost no damage in return.

It was a good day, ‘Tater.

Mission: The First Convoy Strike

I’d never had a convoy destruction mission, but it guaranteed a few vehicle kills. Soft–albeit moving–targets and maybe some escorts. Worst case scenario, I could blow up some civilian vehicles and then run.

The environment was a desert with whirling sandstorms. I wasn’t sure if the storms were actually soaking up my laser shots or if they were just rendering glitches, but my mostly-energy loadouts and the fast, small enemy ‘mechs made the first few rounds of combat embarrassing.

A Locust, Spider, Panther, and Jenner were small enough that I thought I could put them down with three of my guys and send my Shadow Hawk to take down the vehicles. That strategy fell apart after my Centurion received its second devastating backshot and my Shadow Hawk was almost knocked down by the weapons of a convoy comprised entirely of combat vehicles.

Still, I retreated up to a hill and pinwheeled my ‘mechs, a different one pounding the convoy each turn while the other three took down the escorts. It wasn’t harrowing, but it had some surprises. With the surprises of convoy strikes known, I felt confident taking my second convoy strike mission.

I’ve been playing the new turn-based Battletech–the one I trash talked earlier this year–because it’s actually pretty good. It has all of the things I wanted out of a Battletech game. I do not say that lightly. It has the financial mechanics, pilot management, ‘mech repair and customization, and meat ‘n unseasoned potatoes story I want.

Mission: The Hunchback and a Clown Car Full of Panthers

This mission wasn’t boring. I was supposed to sweep through a Capellan base and bust up their noses a little bit. I don’t hate Capellans, but I try to stay on the Magistracy’s good side and the Capellans weren’t hiring, so I tend to take a slightly higher-than-random number of missions against the Capellans.

Now the Taurians, I love fighting Taurians. Fuck those guys. I think those two Commandos were Taurians.

But this one is about Capellans. Base. Bloody nose. Lance-on-Lance. I deployed on a southern road with the base just north of me. The defenders were on patrol, as they often are in this game. There was a rocky peak just west of me and I parked my Shadow Hawk and Vindicator on that while my Blackjack and Centurion pushed forward.

If you’ve noticed the pattern, then we’ll just call those specific ‘mech pairs Shadycator and Centurjack.

Centurjack started getting sensor contacts and pulled back toward the forest on the west of the peak. Two Spiders and a Panther sprinted in, followed quickly by a Hunchback. The Hunchback’s AC/20 is a huge motherfucking weapon that, while short-ranged would fuck up any of my ‘mechs if it hit them. Even my (relatively) beefy Centurion.

I pulled back harder.

My Vindicator was at the front of the peak, which was really peak-y. That meant I had to move Behemoth down and closer to the front for her to get a shot in. I finished off the Panther and began pouring everything onto that Hunchback, taking every precision shot I could at its right torso to take out that gun. In return, the Spiders swarmed my Shadow Hawk and Centurion.

The Hunchback was disarmed, but at the cost of my Centurion’s main gun (its much smaller AC/10) and almost all of my Shadow Hawk’s armor. I pulled Behemoth back so she could continue providing fire support while staying safe.

Then the two other Panthers swept in. Panthers are light and based around a PPC. The PPC is a relatively big gun and I’d focused on the first Panther until a larger gun trundled into the picture. I’d finished it off quickly because it wasn’t heavily armored.

But now I was pushing the heat curve on my Blackjack, my Shadow Hawk was being harried by a pair of Spiders, my Centurion was minus its boom stick, and my Vindicator…well, my Vindicator was untouched but the situation was still tenuous.

My Centurion traded physical blows with the Hunchback until the Hunchback fell. It spent the rest of the combat chasing down smaller ‘mechs and taking wild, drunken swings at them. It occasionally offered up LRM shots when they were too far away to punch.

My precision shots recharged enough to eviscerate another Panther’s PPC, but I had to leave the back armor of my Blackjack open to a beating while it maneuvered to the other Panther’s right side (to increase the odds of a hit on its PPC-carrying right arm).

The Centurion eventually caught a Spider and took it down. The Vindicator took down the unarmed Panther. The Blackjack took down the armed Panther with a withering laser light show. The Blackjack then took down the last Spider, which had finally left the Shadow Hawk alone while it backshot everything in range.

The repairs costs were moderate. I had to replace my Shadow Hawk’s left side, the Centurion’s right arm, and patch up a lot of torso structure on my Blackjack. I don’t think I earned anything after repair costs. Worse, I had one of those upgraded AC/10’s on my Centurion. One with a “+” or two on it. That was lost with the left arm and I had to buy a new, regular, AC/10. I resolved to only buy special equipment that went on torsos and the head from that point forward.

It was the first of some slightly tougher missions that were coming up.

I’ve been playing the new turn-based Battletech–the one I trash talked earlier this year–because it’s actually pretty good. It has all of the things I wanted out of a Battletech game. I do not say that lightly. It has the financial mechanics, pilot management, ‘mech repair and customization, and meat ‘n unseasoned potatoes story I want. All the depth is available, but optional. Also, points for this being posted on the sixth of June.

Mission: The Impossible Base Defense

So apparently, some pirates were going to destroy a friendly base. Sounded alright. I landed on the base with my back to the southern map border. We were on a mountaintop and the east and west approaches seemed clear. The north had a road coming up it, so I deployed around that, reasonably assuming that’s where most enemies would come up.

The Vindicator and Shadow Hawk held back. The Shadow Hawk had long since been configured to carry twin LRM 5’s, so it was a fire support ‘mech and rarely ever called up to bring its medium lasers and SRM to bear. By keeping those two back, they could respond quickly to threats that somehow got past my front line. Glitch in her Centurion and VanVelding in their Blackjack held the top of the road, ready to mix it up with anyone who came up and spot for friendly LRM fire.

I had expected some friendly military support from the mission description and I was irked that the buildings seemed to be at half-health. I conceded to myself that it did take me forever to tear down buildings on my base destruction missions so maybe the mission was just trying to make things fair on the AI.

That wasn’t true at all. One of my, admittedly optional, mission objectives was “lose no buildings to the enemy,” and on the first turn, a pirate Jenner blasted in from–fucking hell, I guess–bypassed my two forward guys and unleashed a volley of SRMs at a base building, instantly destroying it.

It died the next turn. In subsequent turns, LRM fire rained down to destroy more buildings, the Southern border of the map opened up to allow an enemy lance of Locusts and vehicles to land, and I learned I had missed an eastern road up the ramp (mea culpa).

My ‘mechs scrambled to play whack a mole and I wasted at least one turn shooting at Locusts instead of the similarly-armed, but more fragile vehicles they’d landed with. My Vindicator took the eastern ramp and my Centurion provided fire support everywhere with multi-targeting while my Blackjack charged down the northern ramp to clear out seemingly radar-invisible LRM carriers.

In the last round before the base was destroyed, I took down the last vehicle of the vanguard (by accident; I sure as hell can’t tell ‘vanguard’ from ‘reinforcements’ in this game) and that gave me a “good faith failure” after I was done embarrassing myself.

The team did well and we destroyed a lot of pirate vehicle crews who were fanatically, suicidally devoted to destroying a random periphery government base. I wasn’t sharp-eyed enough to see an eastern approach, but I think that pushing back the map and cutting the buildings to half-health were bullshit pulls on a mission that was challenging enough.

I’d be hard-pressed to think of a better lance composition to have dealt with three directions of multiple vehicles striking at soft targets, but I’m taking it on faith and mulling over a better way to approach those missions. I’ll also keep my ear to the ground on signs that a given mission might have vehicles instead of ‘mechs because that makes a huge difference.

Mission: The Artist and The Mountain

This mission required that I save an artist who’d pissed off some local religious idiots who wanted to kill them for the 31st Century equivalent of Piss Christ.

It was the inversion of the Quick Extraction from last week. A wedge of a mountain tapering towards the center of the map and ending in a confluence in three roads. Across those roads was the base holding the artist. My DZ was on the west side of the mountain. An optional objective base was on the east side of the mountain.

Vehicles were immediately visible on my radar. In the Battletech board game, vehicles don’t cover terrain well. Three of my ‘mechs carried jump jets so I opted to pull the vehicles in, pound them with LRMs a bit, then shift my ‘mechs over the mountain to the east. The vees would be abandoned on the west side, I’d have high ground against whatever was on the east and I’d mop up the first set of vees when they came around the mountain’s taper.

That’s what happened.

Sorry to cheat you out of a story. There was a Spider defending the optional objective, but I murdered it. Then the vehicles. But really, things are boring when they go according to the plan. The excellent, excellent plan.

The new Battletech video game is actually really good and scratches a lot of my old Battletech itches. I’ve had a number of memorable encounters with Velding’s Marauders and I’m sharing them here.

Mission: Capellan Death Amphitheater, Take II

I reloaded from save, which was well before the mission start. I reordered my repair orders and that simple change let me replace the Commando with a fully-functional Centurion.

This time I immediately moved to the left ridgeline. The plan now was to look for a break in the line that would allow me to walk the Centurion through. Once I found it, I’d jump the Spider, Blackjack, and Shadow Hawk onto the ridgeline and seize the high ground on the left side of the battlefield.

I found that gap and marked my first enemy kill when their Commando ran through it and was annihilated. I ran my Centurion up the gap, and then jumped my Spider, Shadow Hawk, and Blackjack onto the ridge in order. An enemy Shadow Hawk was shredded as I focused fire and counted my Spider as a fair trade.

When the last two enemies, a Griffin and a Quickdraw, squared off, I focused on the Quickdraw’s side torso, destroying its missiles. Under pressure from the Griffin, I sent the Shadow Hawk its way, but kept focus on the Quickdraw. It eventually succumbed and I turned on the Griffin, who went down in a flurry of vicious kicks.

Except for the Spider, my losses were minimal. Not because of good luck, but because of good tactics and a commitment to them. It was also the result of repairing my mechs in a sensible manner to ensure I didn’t just have four ‘mechs ready at a time, but four good ones. It was the result of only repairing some ‘mechs somewhat instead of all of them at once. That let me coast through payday and have that lance of good ‘mechs ready when I took the mission. I learned the importance of discriminating between what should be repaired and when.

This started a run of good, one-and-a-half- to two-skull missions which were more perfunctory–and profitable–than I’d come to expect.

Mission: Quick Extraction

I started at the top of a wedge of land. At the bottom was a confluence of three rivers and a base that I had to extract some stuff from. I was told after I landed that the resistance would be heavier than I expected. After the last mission, I was braced and twice as wary because I had to leave one of my ‘mechs in an enemy base.

I moved my Centurion, Vindicator (recently repaired), and Blackjack across the western river. My Vindicator was piloted by Shaft, a new mechwarrior I’d hired to replace my previous Spider pilot. Those three would draw in any enemy forces.

Behemoth hung back in her Shadow Hawk. She’d sensor lock enemies, but lay low. Once they were sufficiently distracted/dead, she’d swing in, occupy the base, and hit the landing zone as quickly as possible.

In the end, I only encountered two vehicles. Both Manticores, I think. They landed some hard hits, but I made relatively quick work of them. Behemoth ran into the base, got our objective, and wrapped up the mission easy-peasy.

Mission: Two Commandos

That was all. Just two Commandos. There were some woods. One Commando had SRMs and the other had the large laser. Indirect fire and sensor locks from my Shadow Hawk pilot, Behemoth, make quick work of them.

This was my first mission with Shaft, a new recruit I’d hired to replace the scout ‘mech pilot I’d lost to Grim Sybil. I hdd kept the Spider too close to the fight after it took a ton of damage in the first story mission. Well, maybe it had taken 29 tons of damage when it finally took that last ton. I was hoping to train Shaft up as the missions allowed.

I also bought a cockpit module which would help my morale a bit. I’m curious about the morale system and want to see how trying to leverage it works. I’ve been satisfied so far.

I’ve been playing the new turn-based Battletech–the one I trash talked earlier this year–because it’s actually pretty good. It has all of the things I wanted out of a Battletech game. I do not say that lightly. It has the financial mechanics, pilot management, ‘mech repair and customization, and meat ‘n unseasoned potatoes story I want. All the depth is available, but optional.

I’ve been playing through with the default company name, [MY NAME] + Marauders. “Marauder” seems like a bad name for a professional military unit, but whatever. That’s because I didn’t want to get too attached on my first runthrough. Because of a game crash (it started using tons of memory for no reason), I had to play the tutorial mission twice and lemme express my strong disinclination to ever, ever start a new playthrough.

Regardless, I played through the first story mission, when I was hired on by an old friend who was working with the Magistracy of Canopus to recover some ancient dropship. It was after that point that the game came into its own and I started having fond memories of my battles with a set crew and a steady stable of ‘mechs.

TL;DR – The new Battletech game is actually really good and scratches a lot of my old Battletech itches. I’ve had a number of memorable encounters with Velding’s Marauders and I’m sharing them here.

Mission: Capellan Death Amphitheater

I’m trying to get in close with the Magistracy of Canopus, so I took a mission where Capellans had been sniffing around Magistracy bases. I tend to fight hard, so of my six ‘mechs, two were still in the shop when I had to take this mission and I had to take this mission because the end of the month was coming up and I wouldn’t make it if I didn’t take it.

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I may have mentioned previously the last time I played Warhammer 40k. It may remind you that I used to have a Xanga, that I used to have a Blogspot, that I used to blog, or anything else from ten years ago.

The silver lining to my relocation to Louisiana–my country’s valley where our national sweat collects–is that I can hang with folks. The cloud within that silver lining which is distinct from the other clouds inside of it is that I’m playing 40k and am ready to riot if I shuffle up for another another tediously long or pointlessly short game of Magic’s Elder Dragon Highlander format.

So the 40k thing might become a campaign, and as it just so happens I have over ten years of experience trying to get a Battletech campaign going. We’re in the very simple planning stages of the campaign right now, so instead of getting into that I’m gonna bitch.

-So after five minutes of intense combat, everyone just calls time out and totals up points?

-No one ever disengages. Morale breaks exist, but the system doesn’t seem set up to withdrawal.

I tried to get a Battletech campaign together for ten years.

-For a universe that’s made to spawn thousands of irrelevant, generic battles over faceless planets they are picky about units.

-The scenarios are literally like, “if one force is bigger, do X.” Like, why are the forces not equal? How unequal can they be? Does the X I’m doing scale to the size disparity?” 40k just shrugs and says “whatever unequal. IDGAF, mate.”

-No initiative. First shots can be devastating.

-Jumping off of the last one; games can take hours to set up and play, but you can lose from a few shots in the first round.

Ten. Years!

-I’m going with simple Space Marines knowing they’re the introductory faction and therefore designed to be weaker so folks buy other models.

-Friend A is already talking about buying Scissor models because they currently have Rock models and Friend B has Paper models.

-Do not play this game.

-The upside is that Friend A has already talked with me about maybe making a new tabletop system that uses all of their models, even the non-40k ones. Coincidentally, they’re also the friend I had another brainstorming session with on “Gates,” which is a completely different project, but one that could be complimentary.

-No hexes, so the placement of units is non-quantifed. They would be quantified if the system used hexes. #justsayin’

Battletech has some of these issues, so it’s not 40k-specific. I mean, that’s probably the reason that wasn’t able to get a campaign together, even after all of those years. Maybe my friends are just stupider now.

Anyway, I’ll try to write a bit about the Gates Project for next week (or maybe finally do that “Remain Indoors” RPG mini-book).

Really, it’s not that Louisiana is rainy or suffering from coastal erosion, it’s that the Earth is trying to wash this state away (as it should).