New Characters: Patrick & Roland
- As Isaac and Thaddeus began their conversation about which contracts to opt into, Fyodor Vostok, the commander of Vostok's Hijackers, approached and attempted to convince Isaac to sell Mjolnir's Wrath to him for 50M. The offer was arguably low, and Isaac still had higher hopes for his budding company, so he declined - visibly irritating Vostok.
- Dresden and Nathaniel arrived and joined the conversation. The group tried to get more info out of the Major and Hollaster about the recon mission they'd been tipped to, but had only limited success.
- They were later approached by Samuel Gallager, head of Gallager's Minutemen, who suggested they work together on one of the offered Search-And-Destroy missions. He seemed interested in their company, and insisted Isaac tell the story of how he'd once single-handedly taken out a Battlemaster in his Hatchetman. After some further internal discussion, they decided they'd take him up on it.
- It was a while later that they noticed the blue confirmation light on their mission slot revert to a "pending" white as Fyodor placed his bid on the previously-full mission...
System: Battletech / Mechwarrior Basic 2e
Setting: The Capellan March, Inner Sphere
Players: Tim, Adam
Schedule: Occasional Thursdays
- Mjolnir's Wrath was invited by their contact, Lt. James Hollaster, to a sort of "contract party" hosted in the Fortymile system. The AFFS was apparently planning a military campaign that was going to make significant use of merc units, and a number of the best in the region were present in the large hotel conference hall.
- The officiating major welcomed the various units and presented 8 potential contract offers with few details for which they could offer their services, including planetary assault, search & destroy, and reconnaissance. The evening was to be spent in negotiations and socializing over horderves, dinner, and champagne. Hollaster had privately suggested they take one of the low-paying recon missions, but his motives are not precisely clear and something with a bit more cash and action seems more attractive...
|Thursday May 23, 2019 at 8:30pm||new campaign, battletech, capellan march, game session notes||Comments (0) »|
For a variety of reasons we decided we'd start a new Battletech campaign rather than continuing Aralakh. We spent a session making new characters with some slightly different rules. The new gang will be a Davion-aligned merc unit operating somewhere near around the midpoint of the Capellan march.
As of a little less than two weeks ago, Catalyst finally released their awesome new Battletech Box sets. And, from what I hear, supplies are already running short. Also, as part of my "yearly gaming order", I picked up a handful of units from some "unofficial" third-party manufacturers which have been added to my already decent collection of plastic minis from other production runs. Because there are some notable differences between them, I thought I'd do a little comparison here. Such a thing would have been useful to me, I think.
Battletech 3rd Edition
While I only really got into the miniatures game 4ish years ago, my oldest Battletech minis harken all the way from 1994. I am, of course, talking about the Battletech 3rd Edition Box Set. The 3rd Ed set came with 14 plastic minis of fairly poor quality. I mean, that was like 25 yeas ago - your expectations probably shouldn't be *super* high. There are a fair number of holes and warped/mis-shapen surfaces. My Warhammer was actually missing part of the shoulder such that the right arm couldn't be attached. Most of this was readily fixable (the rebuild on the WHM's arm was a bit arduous, but turned out well), but it's not indicative of superlative production quality.
The thing is, however, basically all of the 3rd Ed box minis, shabby as they are, are also Unseen minis: if you want an official, old-style Marauder or Warhammer in plastic, this is pretty much your option. Also, I found that good paint work can really make a so-so sculpt look good. My Crusader from this set is, I think, still one of my best minis.
The scale of some of these minis is a little wonky, tending toward overlarge size compared to the later box sets (though not the most recent, see below) - particularly the lights and mediums, such as the Phoneix Hawk, which seems comically oversized for a 45-ton medium, especially standing next to the Battlemaster from the same set.
Battletech Introductory Box Set
The next box set with plastic minis arrived via Catalyst in '07. This one had 24 plastic minis, plus two "premium" plastic minis. While the "premium" minis were nice, the other minis in the set are, well, pretty poor quality, suffering from most of the same problems as the 3rd Ed box, but without the appeal of Unseen units. Still, if you were just getting into the game, 26 minis would give you a lot of play for $50-$60, even if it wasn't particularly "pretty".
The sculpts on these are what some would characterize as "classic", and what others might deem "silly". The two are not mutually exclusive. The units are modeled around older designs, and some of them show their age more than others.
I have a set of the minis from this first intro box set production, but I haven't bothered painting any of them. I have, however, let my 7yo paint a few, in her typical rainbow fashion.
The scale of these is what I use as a baseline, as the sculpts and sizes are similar to the metal minis of the time. In general, the scale seems "normal", though some units are maybe a little too big or too small.
In addition, this set came with some really nice folding cardboard maps. I have two sets of these, and they are what I prefer to play on. After having the thick boards, playing on creased paper seems like a downgrade.
Battletech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set & Alpha Strike Lance Packs
This one - the one with the Atlas on the cover - is what I would refer to as the Holy Grail of plastic Battletech. The "premium" minis in this set are different units from the previous and, ironically, maybe not quite as good - but the other units are the *real* story.
This set contained the same impressive array of units with identical sculpts as the previous release, but with a major improvement in quality. Aside from the "premium" units of the former release, these were probably the first "good" plastic minis for Classic Battletech. I have two full sets of these minis, and they form the backbone of my collection through sheer numbers. The Alpha Strike Lance Packs had units of the same quality (all of them including at least 2 units from the box set), and at ~$15, they were a decent value as well. To this day, if you see a copy of the 25th Anniversary Box Set for anything even close to MSRP, it's a great value.
Since they're the same sculpts as the original Intro set, the scale evaluation is identical. There are a few minis from the Alpha Strike packs - like the Stalker - that seem to be a bit "off", but overall the line feels *fairly* consistent.
Battletech Beginner Box and A Game Of Armored Combat
And that brings us to Catalyst's most recent offer: the new, much-anticipated box sets that came out just a couple weeks ago.
The sculpts on these units are pretty amazing. Maybe not *perfect* quality, but they are definitely the best to-date. The only "complaint" on I have on these minis - and it's a comparatively small one - is that they monkeyed with the scale. The minis from the new sets are noticeably larger than they should be - some, like the Awesome and the Catapult are pretty dramatically different. While they are taller, mostly the new units are just thicker - beefier.
I'm not sure why they did this. Perhaps the larger size made controlling for errors in the plastic easier or less expensive. Or perhaps they're looking to make more and they're seeking to "invalidate" previous models. Given the not-quite-consistent array Battletech seems to have with regard to scale anyway, the different unit sizes are likely only to be distracting when fielded with the same units from other productions. So, while not a "perfect" addition to existing mini collections, they're acceptable - and, again, the quality on these is outstanding, and the sculpts are considerably cooler than their predecessors (especially that Thunderbolt).
The new paper maps in these sets are pretty nice - the shading on the levels makes a flat map way more playable. That said, I'm unlikely to use them as-is: the cardboard maps are just too nice, and I like the hex terrain levels I've made. I will probably chop these maps up to make more hex terrrain. I *did* find the inclusion of some cardboard tiles with terrain bits on them a nice surprise - this can add some additional variation to the otherwise static maps.
The quality of the other materials in the box are all superb as well - rulebooks, fiction, etc - but the minis are what I came for.
And now we move on it 3rd-party and "unofficial" sources for Battletech:
Some time back, Palladium made a Robotech miniatures game called Robotech Tactics. From what I understand, it wasn't a huge success. However, several of the miniatures for this game were perfect stand-ins for Unseen Battletech 'mechs claiming the same design. By the time I discovered these, they were getting to be hard to find. I'd still love to find a Spartan/Phalanx (Archer/Longbow) set for $Decent, but alas, those seem to be long gone. I did, however, pick up a Tomahawk/Defender (Warhammer/Rifleman) box - and, as of the time of this writing, you can still find these here and there.
These minis are good quality, but they are a nuclear pain to assemble. One miniature of this scale should not be composed of more than a dozen pieces, especially when those pieces have precious few tabs or sockets to help with their assembly. They also leave some gaps in unwanted places.
That said, once you've won the assembly battle, you've got some pretty nice-looking units, and the scale is pretty near identical to the original Battletech minis - at least for most units.
When I ordered my set off Amazon, I noted that it had 5 reviews. Three of them mentioned that they were bought for Battletech. I wonder what percentage of Robotech Tactics minis ever see a Robotech Tactics game.
I follow the #battletech hashtag on Instagram, and through this discovered that you can get some unofficial and/or 3d-printed minis of newer sculpts (such as MWO versions) from various places online. Warhansa seemed to be one of the better liked sources.
Given that the company is in Russia, it takes a minute to get deliveries here in the states. That said, they have a pretty impressive catalog of "Robomechs", scaled to the same(ish) size as standard Battletech minis - so I ordered a few minis unavailable in plastic from anywhere else.
Overall, the quality is good, but there does seem to be some variance from unit to unit. I don't know if some of their models are just better than others, or if the production of said models is inconsistent, but I found that my Black Knight, Crab, and Urbanmech are pretty precise, while the Highlander and King Crab have considerably more...fudge...in the rendering. Still, they'll all look good once they're painted up.
The minis come disassembled and with a bit of material to be trimmed, but they're quite easy to put together - probably the easiest I've done to-date.
Scale seems to be fairly accurate to standard Battletech overall - which is to say, a little bit smaller than the current sets. One or two might be slightly too big or too small, but again, within standard deviations.
The names Warhansa gives to their minis are obvious tongue-in-check references to official Battletech units: the Crab and King Crab are "Shrimp" and "Jumbo Shrimp" respecitively, the Black Knight is a "King Arthur", the Highlander is a "Mountain", etc. It does make identifying them fairly straightforward in most cases.
Strato is a Polish company that makes some generic-ish sci-fi minis of a generally comparable scale, but some of them are obviously inspired by Battletech units. These minis might be the best looking ones I own. Very precise casting over 95%+ of the surfaces. And the sculpts - particularly the one for the Marauder (which they call "Bull Shark") - look amazing. When I saw that, I knew I'd be giving them some cash.
These minis come disassembled and with some material to be trimmed - particularly from the bottoms of the feet - but they're not too bad to put together, and the final product looks great.
The Stratominis scale is a little bit too big, but that actually puts it in the right ballpark for the current Battletech minis from the new sets. While those units are really "beefy", most of the Strato units are sleeker - just tall.
So, there you have it. My findings in the realm of non-metal Battletech miniatures.
- With armor all but completely blasted away from both sides, each hit began to have a real impact. While Aralakh and the attackers both took quite a bit of critical damage in recent exchanges, the key turning point came when the newly-arrived reinforcements managed to take the 95-ton Banshee out of the fight.
- Having lost their heavies, Aralakh found itselve in a seriously-out-gunned 2-on-4 match. They spent a couple of rounds in defensive maneuvering before getting word that half of Garret's Bluesabres lance was coming in to assist them.
- The arrival of the Clint and Orion didn't exactly even the playing field, but it did add significant strength to their previously-desperate position. Even so, they had poor fortune overall in trying to inflict significant damage on their foes...
- Aralakh's good fortune couldn't last, perhaps because it was too good. Now realizing his opponents were a significant threat, the Marauder began to check his overconfidence and think more tactically. Though he'd been hunting the Phoenix Hawk, its defensive maneuvering began presenting him with more ideal shots against the Crusader and the Warhammer which he no longer blindly ignored. This change in tactics from their most dangerous opponent - combined with gravity and some bad fortune - resulted in the loss of both units over the subsequent exchanges.
- Their primary heavy units now disabled and the Phoenix Hawk starting to show some wear, Aralakh's position is beginning to look more desperate. Hopefully reinforcements will arrive soon...
- After a rough initial contact, Aralakh's forces began to rally. A few decisive rounds exploited their dangerous enemies' poor fortune and lack of effective coordination. As the result of concentrated fire, the Banshee has lost its AC/5 and a signficant quantity of armor while the Marauder's left arm PPC has been destroyed.
- These scores didn't come freely, however, as the Banshee repeatedly pummeled the Crusader with its powerful fists, and the Phoenix Hawk is starting to show some wear as well. Still, the tables have drastically turned in Aralakh's favor and an engagement that was starting to look desperate looks much more promising.
- Aralakh continued their fight against the FWL attackers, but fortune seemed to be against them. Rip's Crusader nearly had its cockpit bashed in by the 95-ton Banshee, and Drevan's Warhammer has been so battered and shot-up that it has only a single medium laser remaining. The company has managed to return some of the damage they've received, and while they've burned off a good chunk of armor, they haven't managed to inflict any real damage on their opponents.
- Orion's Assassin is virtually untouched but Aralakh's biggest ace is the lostech Phoenix Hawk, which is also still in good shape. Will it be enough to turn the tide? And how is the rest of the planetary defense shaking out?
- Having altered their contract by doubling their pay, the Lysidas Barony secured Aralakh's services to help repel the coming planetary assault. Deciding they would meet the FWL forces on the plains to the northwest, the company set up their defenses.
- Aralakh's primary lance met the spearhead lance of the assault: a Vindicator, Dragon, and Banshee led by the defected Marauder pilot they'd previously encountered. All of them skilled mechwarriors, the skirmish promised to get brutal very quickly.
- The forces traded missles and long-range potshots as they closed. The first real exchange chewed off some armor from the Vindicator and dented the Maruader a little, but it was the second salvo that proved more significant: a face-off between the Warhammer and the Marauder. Drevan led with a lucky PPC headshot that almost destroyed his foe, but the Maruader came back with a series of strikes that pounded through its right torso, destroying his SRM/6 and its ammo bin. A split-second premonition before the hit prompted Drevan to dump the missiles, keeping his unit from being ripped apart from the inside only moments after initial contact...
- With the Marauder's arrival, Aralakh's recon lance now found itself severely outgunned. Needing to drop some heat, Steiner maneuvered his Blackjack around some rock formations to avoid line-of-site to the big guns. Unfortunately, this left Riley and the Hatchetman totally exposed and the only viable target for the Marauder as well as the Vindicator. The 45-ton 'mech could normally survive a round or two of that sort of barrage, but one of the Marauder's PPCs landed a direct hit on the unit's head, totally destroying it.
- Instantly down another unit and believing Riley to have been killed, Steiner gave the order to retreat. The Marauder's pilot demonstrated impressive skill by continuing to score solid hits against the fleeing units, but the remaining three were able to escape with their info.
- Meanwhile, Rip and Toulonne visited the small, run-down port town of Urngen. There they noted some FWL sympathies and a certain hesitance by the locals to engage certain topics of conversation: the two eventually determined that sections of the town showed signs of 'mech presence and damage, but no one was talking about it. As they left the town to drive back to Lysida City, they could see the tell-tale thruster glow of a pair of dropships descending to the south...
- Steiner took his Blackjack with Riley in the newly-acquired Hatchetman, Orion in his assassin, and Morgan in the Jenner into the western badlands to look for signs of 'mech activity related to the terrorist cell they'd been hunting.
- After some time in the badlands, they began picking up weak radio transmissions and began to notice sensor interference in their 'mechs. They ended up in a boxed canyon where they found a Flea and a Clint and a few semi-permenent structures.
- Engaging the units was more difficult than it should have been, largely due to whatever was causing the sensor scrambling. As they fought with the lighter units, Steiner realized that their foes were painted with obvious FWL colors, rather than the hodge-podge, bandit schemes they'd so far encountered on this contract. Further, the area they were occupying was almost certainly a dropship LZ.
- The lance managed to take out the Flea, but the threat increased significantly when reinforcements showed up in the form of a Vindicator who landed a couple PPC hits right out of the gate.
- Morgan turned his attention to the building the suspected of housing the sensor-jamming device in an attempt to remove that edge from their enemies. It was pretty heavily armored, but with some help from his allies, a couple rounds of sustained fire destroyed it and the interference they'd been experiencing cleared instantly.
- It was then that Steiner's sensors pegged their biggest problem: a 70-ton Marauder closing in on their position...
- Drevan, Toulonne, and Braeggan flipped over the steel table and took cover behind it, returning a few shots with their pistols as they decided what to do. The building was on auto-lockdown, but the back door had been opened moments before the alarm was raised and wouldn't seal until it closed again. They attempted to give some covering fire while sending Braeggan out the door to (relative) safety.
- Moments later, the truck that had rammed through the wall exploded violently, killing many of the attackers while the rest ran away further into the building. Drevan and Toulonne pursued one down the hall and discovered that the stairwell doors - which should have been locked - were open. When they returned to the mess hall, security teams and medics were already on site. As the incident wound down, the two were asked some questions and allowed to leave.
- When the rest of the company returned, they found out from Riley that about 20 minutes after they left the battlefield continuing their escort mission, a Marauder and a Cyclops arrived on the scene. They all spent some time doing field repairs (enough to get the Whitworth moving again), and the group of them headed off to the west. Consulting the satellite maps, to the west was largely plainsland. Beyond this was a rugged badlands region, the compound of a wealthy noble, and the small port town of Urngen.
- The group also got word of the Bluesabres returning to the city and decided they wanted to find out what they knew. Steiner and Orion caught up with a couple of them at The Militiaman, and learned they'd found little in the mountains to the north, but that they had intercepted a Hermes II heading east and were currently working to salvage it. They figure the Hermes was heading into the forest, and they're planning to hit that area next.
- The company did some quick repairs to get a deployable recon lance and sent them to the badlands to the west while Rip, Toulonnne and a couple of crew went to speak with the noble.
- Aralakh managed to keep the advantage in their struggle against the raiders, but as the trucks pulled away and the enemy force split they were forced to make a decision: would they stay with the trucks and ensure they arrived safely at their destination, or would they fight it out and try to recover their downed Panther? They ultimately opted for the former, bringing their mission success/failure record and units gained/lost both to 1:1.
- Meanwhile, Drevan and Toulonne were back at the garrison at Lysida City talking with Braeggan (their master tech) in the mess hall about repairs to the Grasshopper, when they suddenly found themselves attack as an armored vehicle smashed through the wall and automatic gunfire sprayed into the room.
- Though slowed and badly damaged, the trucks made it back to the road. Both Aralakh and the attackers have sustained significant damage from the continuing firefight, but both sides seem determined not to back down...
- As the engagement continued, both sides traded pot-shots as they attempted to maneuver for better position. When the firefight resumed, it was the heavier mechs that were in the fore. The Wolverine and the Phoenix Hawk both took significant armor damage over the following exchanges, though neither has yet lost internal structure or critical systems. The trucks continued around the hill back toward the road as Aralakh did its best to keep their lighter adversaries from damaging them further.
- Though initially outnumbered, a stroke of incredible good fortune allowed Aralakh to completely incapacitate the opposing Whitworth with a pair of lucky headshots. The Wolverine managed to mostly return the favor a bit later, however, when it blasted off their Panther's right leg, taking it down. Both sides having downed units on the field has upped the stakes on this engagement considerably.
- Meanwhile, the Commando continues to harass the trucks they're escorting and their Phoenix Hawk is only now catching up to it. The company's Jenner is also running hot after continued attempts to swat the Wasp buzzing around it.
- Meanwhile, Steiner, Riley, and Morgan were escorting an overdue shipment to a neightboring city when they, too, were attacked by the bandits. Deficits in units and overall tonnage will make this a tough fight, but they are so far holding their own. Whether they can keep the attackers from destroying the trucks might be another question entirely.
- The Thunderbolt survived long enough for the pilot to regain consciousness and become a threat, but a lucky shot to the machinegun ammo cache caused a massive explosion which ripped the unit apart. The Hermes II, meanwhile, had managed to take out one of the Assassin's legs before changing its tactics. Its heavier support gone, the Hermes began destroying the repair trucks still working on the damaged facility. Using the terrain and speed to its advantage over Aralakh's remaining heavier units, it was able to destroy all three trucks and escape the engagement area - securing a technical victory.
- Aralakh's objective to protect the crews repairing the power station was a failure overall, but they did manage to salvage the remains of a Thunderbolt chassis.
- As the battle continued, the Assassin chased after the HermesII which had maneuvered behind the facility and was preparing to attack the repair crews. This left the Centurion and Crusader to engage the Thunderbolt. After a few rounds of concentrated fire, the Thunderbolt made a dramatic charge at the Crusader, inflicting brutal damage to its center torso and damaging its engine shielding. In so doing, however, the T-bolt took some unexpected damage to the head which KO'd the pilot!
- After pulling out of Holt, Aralakh continued on to their original destination in Lyran space: the Lysidas Barony in the Fianna system. They met briefly with Baron Hepstein who informed them on the particulars of their issue with a local terrorist cell. He'd already hired another small merc company which was currently engaged in the north - the first company to eliminate the threat would get a significant bonus. The most pressing outstanding objectives were to establish a visible presence within the city, to escort a shipping convoy to a neighboring city, and to defend repairs to a final power station outside the city - so Aralakh distributed their forces across these areas as they saw fit.
- The company's Crusader, Assassin, and Centurion had been dispatched to protect repair trucks at a previously-attacked and severely-damaged power station about 10 miles northeast of the city, where they engaged a Hermes II and a Thunderbolt who'd come to disrupt the operation.
- The company engaged the bandit forces, but it quickly became apparent that fortune wasn't on their side. They established a new set of LZ coordinates with the contingent returning to the site, and made to lift off. The ship's aft suffered structural damage when the bandits detonated the mines that laced the area, but critical systems remained intact and they were able to pull away.
- Aralakh finished their resupply and left Hassad for the Fianna system in Lyran space. On the way, however, they decided to stop at Holt to meet with a potential buyer for their stolen experimental weapons. They realized a little too late they'd been set up, however, and now their forces are split and their dropship is under attack.
- After concluding the mission, the company jumped to Hassad back in FWL space to regroup. Aralakh claimed a Grasshopper, Hatchetman, and Jenner from the pool of salvaged 'mechs recovered from the operation - an impressive haul. They regrouped, repaired, made a couple of new hires, and settled on a fairly well-paying contract in the Lyran Commonwealth as their next op.
- Jyun and Orion continued their guerilla tactics against the badly-damaged Capellan remnant, avoiding their biggest guns and pressing each tactical advantage until they were able to disable all of the resisting units. They emerged by no means unscathed, but the job was completed successfully enough to score a followup contract offer from the FWLM (should they choose to continue in its employ), and the salvage haul should be worth it.
- Meanwhile, Drevan hacked his way into the Phoenix Hawk and carry out some of the Lostech weaponry he'd found along with it, but its sensors detected some approaching units. He decided to walk it all the way back to the safety of their dropship, but by the time he returned, he found his powered-down Warhammer being approached by an Orion and a Vindicator. The ensuing firefight was brief but brutal; in the end the Orion was forced to withdraw and Aralakh was able to claim the remaining movable Lostech, as well as report a Vindicator for additional salvage.
- Knowing they are outgunned but not necessarily out-armored, Aralakh adopted a strategy of long range sniping from deep woods positions, hoping to draw the Capellan units to them and gambling that they can eliminate the biggest threats before they get close enough to be a problem. Damage is significant on both sides, and while the Capellan mechs are running hot, they've still got some big guns - and Aralakh's Centurion is feeling the loss of its AC/10.
- Upon engaging the crippled units, Aralakh's Assassin and Centurion found there were several others nearby. They destroyed the Jenner outright and have hammered a few other units over the ensuing exchanges, but they still face the Wolfhound and the mobile turret as well as a Clint that came in from the Northeast as well as a Hunchback and a Rifleman that were powered down in nearby woods along with some geurilla forces. Their opposition is badly damaged, but it remains to be seen whether they can withstand its firepower long enough to neutralize it.
- Aralakh made some hasty repairs to their units in preparation for their second, cleanup mission - a sweep across the surrounding countryside looking for stragglers and salvage. Most notably, Drevan found a cache of Lostech - including a pristine Phoenix Hawk - while chasing a pair of crippled units into a thick forest. Meanwhile, Jyun and Orion happened upon a limping Jenner, a mobile turrent, and a Wolfhound undergoing field repairs...
- Though their Warhammer got caught out away from the heart of the firefight, some good fortune allowed Aralakh to not only come out of the engagement on top, but also to earn some impressive salvage on the operation.
- Aralakh took out the damaged Jenner and continued to inflict significant damage to the Hatchetman, which is now barely operable. The Grasshopper and Dervish still remain significant threats, but they, too, are wearing down and nearby friendlies are keeping additional units from venturing into the sector. The FWLM trucks continue to load supplies from the located munitions depot, apparently safe from major threats.
- While they remain largely in control of the battlefield, Aralakh is anything but unscathed. Their next challenge will be in securing the area and completing their objective before one or more of their own units is crippled by enemy fire.
- The encounter with on-world Capellan forces continued as Aralakh engaged the newly-arrived Grasshopper & Dervish more directly, while the damaged Jenner circled back around and began harassing the trucks that had arrived to clear out the munitions depot. Several exchanges resulted in critical damage to both sides, and it became apparent that clearing the sector wasn't going to be as easy as they'd hoped.
- Aralakh continued their push into the city, destroying a weapons factory, locating a power station, and pushing back the mounting resistance. They destroyed one tank and crippled the harassing Jenner, which fled the field. A Dervish and Grasshopper arrived in the sector causing them to regroup, but a lucky shot blew off the advancing Hatchetman's leg, further securing their advantage.
- As they made planetfall, Aralakh was briefed on their objective: they would be entering a sector of an urban industrial area looking for targets. Any supply depots were to be held until they could be cleaned out. Production, research, and repair facilities were to be destroyed to cripple the Capellan war effort in this region. Resistance was expected to be light to moderate; mech forces were known to be on-planet, but probably not in large numbers. As they approached the edge of the city, engagements had already begun elsewhere. Thus far, resistance was a bit more than anticipated, but not problematically so. They were also warned of incoming contacts to their position, and that guerrilla forces had been observed.
- In their initial advance, Aralakh located a factory and a munitions depot, destroyed a 20-ton Stinger and a building concealing a laser weapon, and maimed a retreating tank.
- Aralakh met up with the so-called "Capellan Insurgency" holding their crew members hostage. The situation clearly being under their foes control, the company decided to go through with paying the ransom after ensuring their crew would be returned and they could all walk away.
- After resolving that situation, the various merc companies being employed by the FWLM forces were briefed on their mission: they would be lifted to the Yunnah system where they would be looking to destroy newly-developed research and repair facilities on a backwater world 2 jumps into Capellan space.
- As the Centurion joined them, the company took a quick look at the destoyed tanks. Finding nothing salvageable, they decided to withdraw and chalk up the win instead of pressing their luck by assaulting the compound in the mountains above.
- Short on funds, the company sent a priority message to their next prospective employer, a FWLM division, saying that if they would spot them the c-bills, they could take it out of their paycheck. After some brief negotiation, they agreed.
- Aralakh arrived at a military base on the world of Ohrensen some weeks later. They were advised to stay on the base as the city outside was known to have some problematic criminal elements. Their ship's crew, however, wanted to take the leave while they could get it, and convinced them to go into town.
- The evening went well for most of them, but a few disappeared as the night wore on - only reappearing later in hostage photos of the so-called "Capellan Insurgency", delivered to the base with a demand for ransom. The irate sergeant told the company to "handle this" or their contract would be terminated.
- Meanwhile, Rip arrived at Galatea and met with Magistrate Brandt about the dispensation of liquid assets from the defunct Buller company. While not a negotiator by nature, Rip managed to dig up a few pieces of info that helped his cause, and ultimately left the meetings 1.75 million c-bills richer.
- After a couple of months of rests and repairs, the group sends Rip to Galatea to pursue his share of the defunct Buller Company's liquid assets. Needing to replace their lost unit, the company decides to pursue Jyun's suggestion of travelling to Phact where he happened to know of a Centurion posted just for show.
- On arriving in-system, the plan was to use a small mech force to draw out the compound's conventional defense forces while Jyun and a small contingent approached stealthily on foot to climb into and steal the mech.
- The tank forces Aralakh's Panther and Assassin encountered were more competent than expected, and they took some significant damage before they could adjust their tactics.
- On visual, Jyun was surprised to find someone preparing to take the Centurion down to engage in the ongoing battle - and moreso that he was speaking to the pilot of the Whitworth standing across from it. Knowing that these pilots would not only keep them from acquiring the Centurion according to their plan but would also be seriously bad news for the battle raging below, Jyun and his companions opened-fire on them.
- After quickly felling the pilots with some fortunate shots, Jyun ran for the Centurion, activated, and escaped with it - though not before losing an arm and his heavy weapon to AC/10 fire from the compound's turrets.
- By the time he met up with his companions' units below, the Panther and Assassin had gained ground and the tanks had withdrawn. Though they took some pretty significant damage, the mission was overall a solid success - their first in some time.
- While the two stranded 'mechs managed to escaped their pursuers and made for the designated LZ, Aralakh's desperate bid to clear the zone for the battered dropship took a turn for the worse. As damage mounted, Steiner attempted to intimidate the opposing units into surrunder, but they knew they had the upper hand. Riley's Trebuchet sustained critical damage to the reactor core - which exploded catastrophically - and Jyun's Panther took some unfortunate leg hits which all but remove it from the field. Fortunately, the forced-retreat of one of the Clints and the massive damage the enemy Archer had taken were enough for the opposing force to reconsider the assault and withdraw.
- Aftermath: Riley's Trebuchet was a total loss, though Riley herself was able to survive the incident (albiet in poor spirits). Steiner is having some growing doubts about the viability of the merc company long-term. That said, the beneficiaries of their rescue have brought a Union dropship to Aralakh, as well as a Crusader and an Assassin with their pilots and techs. In light of this, the company has decided to release the Leopard from their service on good terms. They are now going to spend some time resting and repairing before taking on a new contract.
- Having successfully captured assets for NAR, Aralakh was finally released on so-so terms. Their most pressing concern was treating Drevan's injuries, so they took their chances staying in-system and going to the hospital. The company repaired what they could, but were short on supplies.
- A few months later, they jumped back into Free Worlds space to a more populous planet where they were hoping to repair and resupply. On their way in-system, however, they picked up a distress call from a merc dropship in orbit around one of the system's planet's moons.
- In exchange for the distressed company's remaining liquid assets, Aralakh agreed to get the company's surviving units out of trouble on the planet. They made a few low-passes in the target area before directing the survivors to a promising LZ northwest of their position.
- While the survivors continued to fight off the pursuit mechs that had been hunting them for the past few days, Aralakh attempted to clear the landing site - which, unfortunately, contained a hostile presence formidable in the face of Aralakh's severely-damaged condition...
Adam is joining our game, and we spent this evening making two PCs for him to add to Tim's company: an experienced former House Regular who pilots a 45-ton Assassin, and a newbie Noble who has a 65-ton Crusader.
These characters will a fragment of a decimated merc unit looking to join up with someone else - and Aralakh will be the convenient choice. They will be bringing their 'mechs as well as a beat-up Union dropship into the company's assets.
- Drevan's strike team invaded the dropship. They sustained some casualties, but were ultimately successful in capturing the ship, as well as the damaged Hatchetman in contained, and the two incapacitated Jenners outside - making for a pretty respectable salvage haul.
Continued playtesting on personal scale combat this session. How I ran the session aside, the system behaved well and played out the way I would want. That said, it's a little bit too clunky and I think I'm going to make a few more tweaks to it.
- NAR continued the defense of their compound, eventually destroying 3 out of 4 of the attacking units - unfortunately causing two of them to catastrophically explode, leaving no usable salvage for the Resistance. Hopefully Aralakh's attempts to capture the attackers' drop ship produces a more tangible gain...
Adam continued this encounter with us, and will likely be joining this game on an ongoing basis.
- Using assets "borrowed" from Aralakh, NAR attempts to fight off the mercenary lance sent to destroy them while Aralakh furthers its efforts to capture the merc's Union. The Resistance managed to take out the crippled mercenary Clint and the enemy Whitworth has virtually no armor remaining, but Aralakh's Warhammer is severely battered and the Trebuchet is now out of missles...
Adam joined us for this session, so we decided to play out the latter half of the previously "off-camera" engagement of mercs vs. NAR in order to introduce him to the defining mech combat aspect of our Battletech campaign. After this encounter resolves, we will return to Aralakh's attempts to capture the dropship, which have now moved into the personal-scale boarding of the vessel.
- Aralakh neutralized the mech defenses of the merc dropship and blew open one of the loading doors. The lance then called in their strike team, led by the temporarily dispossessed Drevan, who proceeded to board the vessel for capture.
- As NAR began engaging the mercenary force sent to take them out, Aralakh's partial lance emerged from their concealed location, making their way to the merc's LZ in an attempt to capture their Union-class dropship...
Some barriers to break down.
Battletech has a pretty significant "barrier to entry". This fact is pretty well-known amongst gamers. The rules of the tabletop game - even if you don't get into some of the advanced/optional stuff - are crunchy and fairly complicated at first blush. There's like 3 different steps to do anything. Also, the fiction and history of the setting (which is awesome) is pretty vast and somewhat convoluted. And there's just so much stuff out there pertaining to Battletech, that it can be intimidating to anyone wanting to pick it up (I know, I was there a couple years ago) - I mean, where do you start? But there is another aspect to this barrier that I hadn't previously considered.
First time in the cockpit.
Tim and I introduced Rucht & Tony to this wonderful world of giant robots last night. It was our usual night to play Rucht's D&D 5e game (which is fantastic, by the way - we're a party of halflings!), but a few people had to cancel and we didn't reach critical mass for the game to occur, so I brought my Battletech stuff and we decided to blow up some stuff.
I set up a map with my spiffy hex terrain, some of my best painted units (color coded by teams), and got out the sheets, dice, etc. I have a pretty solid setup, I think. We played 2-on-2: Tony and I against Tim and Rucht. A Catapult, Enforcer, Rifleman, and Dervish, respectively. I think our side had a slight edge in battlefield value, but I've found balancing lances in Battletech to be really, really difficult, so I don't usually agonize over getting it perfect, and I didn't choose the sides.
Rucht likes minis games and, I think, enjoyed this one about as well as any other. He would probably play it again on occasion, but didn't seem super enthusiastic. Tony tends to like games that are a bit more straight-forward. He really liked kicking Tim's Rifleman in the shins of course, but I think he would have prefered a bit less computation in order to do so. He said he had a good time with it, but wasn't something he'd be interested in as an ongoing thing. We only got through about half of the engagement, but we all had fun and I think it was a decent intro.
After the game, Tim and I were talking about how it went. Tim is, so far, the one person I've introduced to this game who is really into. He and I have been doing a kind of single-player strategic-level merc campaign - Aralakh Company - using some companion rules I made to handle non-mech-combat stuff. We're about 15 sessions in, and we've been absolutely LOVING it. We got to talking about why the game didn't seem quite as fun to our friends as we think it is.
And then, we remembered.
Before you walk, you have to crawl. Really, really slowly. Over gravel.
It could simply be that the game is just not their thing, but I think there's a little more to it than that.
Here's the thing we decided about Battletech: You have to like some crunch in a combat system for sure, and you have to have some guidance as to where to start (thanks to Dan, Chris, and Fear the Boot, by the way), but you ALSO have to have a fair degree of patience. You just have to really like the idea of Battletech in order to get far enough into the game to fall in love with it.
Many games become increasingly fun to play as you get to know the rules, but Battletech takes this to a certain extreme. Not only does the game not reach "peak fun" until you know it well enough that the phases and calculations come somewhat naturally and chart-referencing is an "only some of the time" event, but learning it that well takes a while, and the game can be almost oppressive before you get to that point. I totally get how many people would feel that the slog just isn't worth it when there are so many other games out there that are a bit easier and more fun up front.
Tim and I both agreed that when we first started playing, the games were slow and clunky and not nearly as much fun (even if we were playing with people who knew the rules pretty well), but we both loved the concepts around the game so much that we put up with the less-than-smooth gameplay long enough to get to the point where we knew it well enough to enjoy it as much as we do now.
Unfortunately, if you're not truly enamoured with the ideas from the start, you're probably not going to stick with this game long enough to really enjoy it. If the game has a flaw, this is surely it.
- NAR prompted Aralakh to go raid a Capellan noble's compound for much needed hardware and supplies. The group was only able to send a few mostly-repaired light mechs as the others were still in bad shape, but their target was not believed to possess mech forces. They engaged a trio of tanks, a pair of helicopers, and some turrets. As they finished loading up their plunder, however, they were pressed by a pair of aerotech fighters and a pair of approaching mechs. In the end, Aralalkh took significant damage but managed to escape with most of the desired equipment.
This session was the first to use my simplified Battletech vehicle rules mods. Tim and I both thought it went very well.
- Then things turned ugly. An LRM volley from Riley's Trebuchet destroyed the Hunchback completely, but Steiner's Blackjack was too close to avoid damage from the reactor explosion it triggered and it fell when it lost its gyro. Aralakh then attempted to negotiate a mutual withdraw, but were unable to convince their attackers. The Banshee's continued press on the damaged Trebuchet took down the smaller mech with a kick that obliterated one of its legs and then charged over to finally incapacitate the fallen Warhammer - which was still firing PPC blasts - with a kick to the head.
- Seeing little alternative, Aralakh surrendered. It turns out that their attackers were self-described freedom-fighters attempting to liberate the planet and remove the nobles' predation on the world's resources at the expense of its atmosphere.
- The New Andrin Resistance press-ganged Aralakh into their service - promising that if they helped the rebels kick the Capellan nobles off-world, they would return them their mechs and the two could part ways.
- As the exchange continues, it becomes clear that neither side can keep this up for long - but neither side has a clear advantage either. The battle has moved away from the Warhammer such that it has some difficulty engaging, and the Blackjack is greviously wounded. On the other side, the Banshee is pretty beat up, but its toughness is keeping it at the top of the threat list. The Hunchback now has only a small laser, but the relatively-untouched Wolfhound has started to have an impact on the fight.
- The company continued to trade blows with their assailants. The Banshee's luck improved only briefly, and Aralakh's opponents may have been considering retreat before the Hunchback, its AC/20 now destroyed, got a lucky laser shot against the Warhammer's already badly-injured leg, taking it down. The Cicada has already met a similar fate, and the Hunchback and Banshee both have significant injuries that have greatly reduced their damage output. Unfortunately, Steiner's Blackjack isn't looking much better, Riley is only just starting to land some hits with her LRMs, and Jyun's injuries have made him less effective.
- Aralakh engaged in combat with their assailants. Steiner in particular has been extremely fortunate that the Banshee's pilot is having a run of bad luck. He was less fortunate with regards to the Hunchback's AC/20. Riley has yet to prove herself, and Jyun is hurting enough from his near-death experience that it is severely hampering his performance. Still, the group has given at least as good as they've gotten thus far...
- A few weeks after the processing plant sabotage, a group calling itself the "New Andrid Resistance" attempted to assassinate a couple of the members of Aralakh company. While the overall attempt failed, it was a miracle that Jyun survived.
- About two months later, the company gets an alert while on patrol: a lance of 'mechs is approaching the compound. They load up and head out, facing a Wolfhound, a Cicada, a Hunchback, and a Banshee...
This was the first session to feature my Mechwarrior Basic rules for personal-scale combat. It is very lethal (as I wanted it to), but it played very well.
- Aralakh arrived on the mining planet and took up their garrison duty.
- One night about 5 months into the job, a few of the small security team Aralakh had subcontracted witnessed an odd exchange between one of the compound locals and some outsiders. Following them, one of the men saw the outsiders give the local a large backpack. The man then proceeded to his job in a refinery. About 20 minutes later, alarms sounded and the place was evacuated. While authorities were attempting to determine what had caused the alarm, there was a tremendous explosion and the building collapsed.
- The Baron who'd hired Aralakh was furious at the sabotage, but the company was able to maneuver around his accusations.
- With the help of the subcontracted team, Aralakh was able to track down and capture the saboteur, who had apparently been paid to place the explosives but knew little of his benefactors.
- Aralakh stepped up internal security in response to the incident.
- Aralakh took their payment and left world, deciding to jump into Capellan space to avoid potential political issues selling "acquired" Free Worlds' military hardware.
- A baron met with them under false pretenses - not interested in buying their mechandise, but wanted to hire them on retainer for guard duty on a secondary planet in-system.
- The group negotiated up to 500k for the year, plus the baron will cover all repairs and normal expenses. Additionally, the baron agreed to hire a broker to aid them in the sale of their unneeded merchandise. The group also has 50% salvage rights, but as there are no other mechs on their world, it seems unlikely they'll get much.
- Aralakh took the opportunity of having a benefactor to bring on a new mechwarrior: a woman called Riley who pilots a Trebuchet.
- Overall, while not especially lucrative (or exciting), it seems like a nice, easy contract...
- Both sides continued to pound each other for several rounds, severely damaging multiple units.
- Ultimately, the pirate leader proposed a deal: they would leave the system and not return - and would leave the merc a prize of valuable military equipment - in exchange for an end to hostilities.
- After considering the situation carefully, Aralakh agreed to their terms. The pirates proved true enough to their word.
- The company's employer was not completely satisfied with their results, though they had technically fulfilled the contract and the pirate threat was gone (at least for the time being). Compensation was renegotiated for half.
- After taking the contract, Aralakh headed out to the mine abandoned moon where the pirates were said to be hiding out. Not liking the hemmed-in approach from the main road to the south, they decided to put their dropship down on the plain to the north even though it meant more rugged terrain between them and their target.
- As they approached the mine from above, first contact was made with the Jagermech perched atop a hill. The Commando entered as the mercs engaged, with the Dervish and Stinger arriving after a couple of exchanges.
- Aralakh took some hard hits early in the confrontation, but have so far managed to avoid being crippled. The destruction of the Commando has evened the playing field somewhat, but they still have an uphill battle. If they don't get a break soon, they may need to pull out or risk more than their contract...
- Though their new recruit gave them an in-system raid target with a decent opportunity to steal a solid battlemech, the company commander decided the timing was wrong and instead ordered repairs to begin on their damaged mechs as they made their way back to the jump point to head out of system.
- Upon returning to their employer, they collected the rest of their pay, finished their repairs, and received two offers for new contracts from others: one involving eliminating a pirate lance in a nearby system, and another recruiting merc units for a larger campaign offensive assaulting an undisclosed Capellan world.
- After some discussion and weighing options, the company decided to go pirate hunting...
- After a few intense exchanges and significant damage to both sides, Aralakh succeeded in bringing down the Awesome. The pilot of the mech survived and turned out to be an exiled noble of some sort. He offered them information that would aid them in exchange for a place among their company. Aralakh agreed to this on a "trial basis".
- The company bribed and called in the strike team that had been sent with them to round of the remaining personnel at the base. The noble had warned them of fanaticism, but the team still took some losses while performing the task. The group stripped some supplies and equipment from the base and then returned to the primary objective at the R&D facility.
- The strike team recovered 3 experimental/prototype "pulse lasers" from the facility. The leader of the strike team, having been bribed already, offered to sell Aralakh up to two of the lasers recovered for the Duke.
- The company used its Warhammer to carefully (if inelegantly) salvage the fallen Panther for rebuild & refit.
- As they were preparing to leave the system, their new "recruit" informed them that there was another ripe target in-system...
- Aralakh pursued the fleeing light mechs back to the mostly-decommissioned military base. After a few brief exchanges, they managed to take out the Locust and the Hermes - but about that time, they detected an engine power-up in one of the hangers. After a few moments, sensors were able to determine it was an assault mech - an 80-ton Awesome. Despite - or maybe because of - the fact that they couldn't get much salvage from the Hermes after its ammo explosion, they decided to stay and see what they could do against this new foe, particularly when they noticed it didn't seem to be operating at peak performance...
- Tim's company was hired by a Free Worlds League duke to hit a small Capellan military R&D facility on an otherwise-insignificant border world. Intelligence indicated the nearby military base was all but decommissioned and they expect no more than a few light mechs and a pair of turrets as in terms of resistance. Aralakh is to neutralize defenses and allow a strike team (they're transporting) to enter the facility and extract technology.
- Tim rolled rather poorly during contract negotiations and is only being compensated with a forward of 45,000 for operating costs, 25,000 for mission success, a potential 50,000 bounty on significant tech recovered - BUT, they do have full rights to any salvage they have time to pull out, which could pay off nicely.
- The jumpship transporting them says they will remain in-system for 17 days. At the standard jump points, the target world is about 8 days travel at 1G. Aralakh pays the captain an extra 5,000 to jump just a little closer to the ecliptic, shaving a day off the interplanetary travel. They should have up to 3 days on-world. Extra time comes at 10,000/day.
- Upon reaching the site, they found it defended by a Locust, a Panther, and a Hermes II - which is actually a medium mech. After a brief skirmish, they took the Panther down and the two remaining units retreated. Seeing no evidence of additional resistance, the unit held off on calling in the strike team and instead decided to pursue the fleeing units for more potential salvage.
|Tuesday October 18, 2016 at 8:00pm||new campaign, battletech, aralakh company, game session notes||Comments (0) »|
System: Battletech / Mechwarrior Basic
Setting: The Inner Sphere
Schedule: Occasional Weeknights
Aralakh Company will be a strategic-level Battletech RPG/playtest that Tim is helping me with. I loves me some Battletech and I haven't been able to get a full group together to start a game (not for lack of trying) - so, instead, Tim and I are playtesting a "Mechwarrior Basic" RPG companion ruleset I've developed as well as feeling out the logistics of a Succession Wars era mercenaries campaign. Since it's just me and Tim, it will be light on the RP and mostly focused on game mechanics, battletech map combat, and strategic level decision-making.
My version of the Battletech universe is about .5-1 steps removed from canon. I leave most things as-is, but there are a few minor alterations to "the way things are" that improve the setting in my view. In addition to using my own Mechwarrior ruleset, I've made a few minor mods to the tabletop wargame and have come up with my own simplified versions of some other game-relevant areas.
"Aralakh" was the name Tim gave his merc company, having stolen it from a video game.
- "Steiner", a guy born into a merc family who inherited and/or split off to form his own company; Pilots a Blackjack.
- "Drevan", a friend of Steiner's who comes from the family of a house regular; Pilots a Warhammer.
In addition to the two "PCs" and their mechs, Aralakh also has a leopard-class dropship owned by the hired captain, a few techs for upkeep on the mechs & vehicles, and some light support equipment. They're also starting with a small supply stockpile for repairs and reloading, but it won't last them forever.
Character creation rules seemed to work reasonably well, especially the random aspects. The "average" starting character might be *bit* too skilled out of the box, but we'll see how this develops.
When I got home this evening, I noted that the temperature was still above 70 degrees - and that meant it was time to clear-coat some miniatures! I got a couple of coats on all but two of the minis - one because I wanted to do some additional highlights, and another because I somehow got brown paint on it. The others should be ready to go, though. Looking forward to playing!
So, I haven't painted minis in a long time but, due to a series of extremely fortunate events (and a guy I don't really know being generally awesome), I ended up with a copy of the Battletech introductory box set and the 26 mech figures that come with it. And a painting guide for painting them.
I'm not really very good at this, but I think I'm getting a little better. It's one thing to read the guide, it's another thing to be able to actually paint well. I've painted about six of these now, and I've learned a bit.
The Battletech tabletop wargame is a lot of fun - not that I'm good at it, mind you. I've even taught the quick-start rules to a kid I mentor at a local elementary school (...and he's beating me). The tabletop wargame is only part of my nefarious goal, however.
As I have mentioned before, I have wanted to run a Battletech tabletop RPG campaign for for ever. Now that I have minis, the actual tabletop game rules, and several sources of setting info, I'm a few steps closer. I even actually have a copy of Mechwarrior 2nd ed (the published rpg component), but it strikes me as a bit clunky and dated at this point, so I'm working on my own companion rpg system to run in tandem with the wargame for an RPG campaign. It needs to feel like an extension of the wargame, but encompass the plushier parts of character and role.
My one last reservation, however, is that I might not have the right group for this game. It is a pretty heavy military sci-fi setting, and doesn't exactly fit with the "plucky adventurers" feel my group tends to have. What I want to run is a mercenaries campaign wherein the PCs will comprise a mercenary outfit which will have to balance allegiances and personal goals with the bottom line - and all that that entails. There are times that I think my group could have a lot of fun with this, and there are times that I think maybe I should pitch it to someone else. The jury is still out, but there is a better-than-not chance I attempt to get them to at least give it a try at some point in the future. Remember people, if your GM is into it, it's going to be a good game.