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.