September 12, 2016 by crew
Good afternoon, Beasts of War. This journey into the fusion-powered fury that is BattleTech has certainly been a wild ride. Tapping into a blend of 80′s nostalgia and excitement for upcoming releases in 2017, we’ve uncovered a massive BattleTech fan base here on Beasts of War, ready to carry on the fight for the Inner Sphere.
If you’re just joining us, please take a moment to review the previous three parts in our series. In Part One, we took an overview of BattleTech and its place in wargaming history. Part Two sketched out the oceanic depths of this franchise’s setting and backstory, and Part Three reviewed some of the base mechanics of the core games.
But for now, it’s time to put everything we’ve discussed to the test. We’ve whipped up a battle between myself (playing Clan Ghost Bear), BoW member @gladesrunner (my girlfriend Jennifer) playing Clan Wolf, and BoW member @aras (our friend Alex) playing the Free Rasalhague Republic.
Incident at Dehgolan (3054 AD)
Our first task was to come up with a time and location for our battle, a best fit for (a) the factions everyone wanted to play, (b) the ‘mechs and vehicles everyone had, and (c) the background lore and timelines. Of course our selection won’t be perfect (so please be gentle), but we think we’ve come up with a serviceable spot for our battle.
After the Clan Invasions were halted at the climactic Battle of Tukayyid (3052 AD), tension continued to smoulder along the borders of the Clan occupation zones. Although the defeat had imposed a 15-year truce upon the clans, we’re imagining that some of the more militant “Crusader”-minded clan warriors wanted the invasion to continue.
Still a hardened “Crusader” clan at this point, a breakaway faction of the Ghost Bears has struck at the Dehgolan star system, along their border with the Free Rasalhague Republic. Of course the Rasalhague army will defend the world, but they’ll be assisted by unlikely allies: a detachment of Clan Wolf, determined to check the Ghost Bear aggression.
The reasoning behind this Clan-on-Clan conflict is complex. One, these two Clans have never gotten along even before the invasion, the Bears supported the invasion and the Wolves initially opposed it. Two, the Wolves remain a “warden” clan at this point, more aligned to protecting the Inner Sphere states than invading and conquering them.
Third, the Wolves are honour-bound to enforce the cease-fire imposed by the Battle of Tukayyid. They probably see this Ghost Bear attack as a gross affront to Clan honour (a very big deal in the Clans), and defending an Inner League world speaks directly to their “ancestral mission” passed down from the days of Kerensky himself.
I will be playing a Clan-style “binary” (roughly, a small company of two “platoons”), part of the 357th Assault Cluster (Omega Galaxy, Clan Ghost Bear). My light ‘mechs are two Locust IICs and two Bear Cubs, with a custom-designed “Scarecrow” medium ‘mech in support. My heavy ‘mechs are two Grizzly heavy ‘mechs and two Mad Cat-As.
Alex (@aras), meanwhile, has a mixed force of the Free Rasalhague Republic Army, specifically the 2nd Freeman Regimental Combat Team (RCT). He’s fielding a Shadow Hawk and a Wolf Trap, both medium ‘mechs, backed up by two immense “Demolisher” heavy tanks.
Finally, we have Jennifer’s (@gladesrunner) force, a “star” (roughly a platoon) of the 3rd Wolf Lancers (Delta Galaxy, Clan Wolf). With a Raven light ‘mech, a Cyclops assault ‘mech, and a Cataphract and Catapult heavy ‘mechs, she rounds out her force with a Clan Wolf classic: a Mad Cat-A exactly like the pair I’m bringing on the board.
In all, both sides are deploying about 14,500 “BV” (build value) points worth of equipment, and the scenario is a simple smash-‘em-up meeting engagement. I’ve loaded out my ‘mechs with a lot of simple, direct-fire heavy weapons, while my opponents have opted for many long-range missiles they can fire indirectly via “spotter” units.
The Battle Begins
My Ghost Bears begin their advance. Rather than have a “weak” wing and a “strong” wing, I’ve decided to mix my heavy and light “stars” (roughly, platoons) into two equal forces. I’m being very careful here, partly because Jennifer and I have wagered a week’s worth of washing the dishes on the outcome of this fight! The stakes are high, indeed.
All too soon, contact is made and the first volleys exchanged. On my left flank, I lose my first ‘mech (a Locust IIC) when Jennifer’s Cataphract jump-jets behind him and shoots him in the back.
On the right, my ‘mechs are soon pinged with a “TAG” system (Target Acquisition Gear), which allows indirect LRM (long range missile) file to be thrown at them from all over the board. The worst of these are the “Thunderbolt 20” missiles from Alex’s “Demolisher” heavy tanks, powerful enough to blow some ‘mechs apart in a single hit.
My Ghost Bears aren’t taking this lying down, however. When Jennifer’s “Catapult” ‘mech jumps onto a building a little too close to one of my Mad Cats and Grizzly heavy ‘mechs … a volley of gauss rifle, pulse laser, and extended range particle projectile cannons (ER PPCS) quickly reduces this threat to a twisted heap of smouldering metal.
The damage coming back at me, however, especially my “big boy” Mad Cat omnimechs and Grizzly heavies, is ferocious. Especially fierce are those Thunderbolt 20 missiles which, in conjunction with the direct fire of Jennifer’s Clan Wolf mechs, soon blows an arm off my Mad Cat and the Grizzly stumbles and falls after a failed piloting check.
Things on my left are just as bad. Poor initiative rolls and Alex’s good play has drawn my second “star” too far to the left. Alex then cuts inside, penetrating deep to the centre of the board. His Shadow Hawk and Wolf Trap medium ‘mechs soon have my custom “Scarecrow” ‘mech in flames, and left my left platoon completely outflanked.
On the right side of the battlefield, the fighting has become close, bloody, and desperate. Crippled as he may be, my Mad Cat is soon duelling with Jennifer’s Clan Wolf Mad Cat, trading blistering PPC blasts at point-blank range. The armour on a Mad Cat is formidable, but mine has already taken several Thunderbolt 20 hits, and soon blows up.
Even as semi-molten wreckage from my Mad Cat tumbles to the ground in a fiery cascade, my heavily damaged Grizzly is somehow staggers upright beside it. Smoking and limping with damaged internal systems, it scores a head-shot on the Clan Wolf Mad Cat, killing it instantly, even as the Clan Wolf Mad Cat …
… lands the exact same blow on my Grizzly! To score a head shot in BattleTech, double sixes need to be rolled on 2d6, and as God is my witness, both Jenn and I landed “box car” shots at the same time. One can almost picture the Clan warriors aiming their cannons at each other’s heads, eyes meeting for a fateful, respectful pause. “Die well.”
All across the table, the death count is quickly ratcheting up. For the first couple of turns, it seemed as if we’d be pounding on each other all day. But now on Turn Five, most of the armour is gone on many ‘mechs, and it seems as if every shot is causing crits, system failures, ammo explosions, or instant ‘mech kills.
On the left side of the field, Alex’s two Rasalhague ‘mechs (particularly the Shadow Hawk with its rotary autocannon) have just torn open my Scarecrow. But now my left-wing Mad Cat and Bear Cub (finally getting back into the battle after being outflanked) are running them down, ready to shoot them in the back.
Sure enough, my Mad Cat drills the Rasalhague Wolf Trap (with an assist from one of my Locust IICs). Two seconds later, though, Jenn’s Raven “TAGs” in another Thunderbolt 20 missile strike from the Rasalhague Demolishers. One of those 20-point missiles hits my Mad Cat right in the back of the head, decapitating it instantly in a titanic blast.
My left-wing Grizzly, now on some high ground where it was supposed to be covering my Mad Cat and Bear Cub, takes swift revenge on the Raven that was calling in that missile strike, blowing it completely off the roof of the building on which it was perched.
This vengeance, however, is short-lived. The Rasalhague Shadow Hawk leaps away from the Grizzly with its jump jets, turning in mid-air and landing on the roof of a nearby building. Taking a steep risk of jamming, Alex then takes a full rate-of-fire burst from his rotary autocannon and sets off the exposed LRM ammo locker on my Grizzly.
Boom, no more Grizzly. With eight ‘mechs down and only four destroyed on the enemy side, my last Locust IIC (badly damaged itself) scurries off the board. Clan Wolf and the Free Rasalhague Republic have unmistakably prevailed in an epic, well-fought victory.
That concludes this article series on BattleTech, at least for now. As Warren has hinted during a recent XLBS episode, there may be more BattleTech content coming in our near future. If nothing else, we have the supporting thread we always start in the forums, where other mechwarriors can add their own photos, images, and stories.
As always, a mountain of heartfelt thanks goes out to @brennon and @lancorz for always doing such a great job with the web layout and graphics for the articles. Thanks as well to @dignity and @johnlyons for the great interview on the Weekender, and of course to @warzan for the continued support and opportunities to publish on the site.
Biggest thanks of all, however, go out to the community. The response to this series has been absolutely epic, an “Atlas-sized” stomp of pure vindication. Again, we’ve found a lurking BattleTech fan base here on Beasts of War, so don’t let the discussion end here! Drop your comments, stories, and insights below, and thanks once again!
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"Our first task was to come up with a time and location for our battle..."
"To score a head shot in BattleTech, double sixes need to be rolled on 2d6, and as God is my witness, both Jenn and I landed “box car” shots at the same time..."