Monday, December 12, 2011

Assault on Dextrose IV – Mission 1: Seize the Dam!

This game happened Sunday, December 11, 2011.

I and a friend are playing around with the War of the Mecha rules by JB over at B/X Blackrazor. You’ve probably noticed the postings porting some supplementary stuff from the source. Last weekend we rolled for starting units and put together several mecha using the rules. I rolled well on commands (I had an entire battalion, 36 mecha, to my friend’s company, 12 mecha) and mecha types (my third lance ended up with 7 assault, 3 heavy, and 2 medium mecha in it).

This morning, as my planned G+ game was rescheduled due to the GM having something crop up, I finished putting together the rest of my force and we played the first mission so we could test out our understanding of the rules and see how the campaign rules worked with such lop-sided forces.

[Pictures to follow later, once I get them uploaded.]

The Invading Forces
1/23rd Mecha Battalion:
1st Company: 1 heavy lance and 2 light lances, Commanded by Major Rodger Wilco
2nd Company: 2 medium lances and 1 light lance, led by Captain Emily Yuen
3rd Company: 3 assault lances, led by Captain Macarthur “Mack” Archer

The Defending Forces
The Red-Head’s Own (RHO):
Command Lance (assault lance)
Skirmish Lance (medium lance)
Scout Lance (light lance)

The Assault of Dextrose IV
Jumpships left Tektura Station and travelled one day to reach the system jump point. Transition to the Dextrose system was near instantaneous. Flight time to the planet was four days, during which the aerospace fighters knocked down the planetary defenses (such that they were) and the 23rd Mecha Battalion was landed uncontested.

Mission 1
The Mission: Capture Objective
A river-side power plant near an occupied industrial sector was identified by both sides to be critical to their respective agendas. Both sides sent two lances to seize control of the power plant and keep the other side from claiming it. [We decided to limit the game to two lances on each side as the rule’s allowing a single commander to field a full company seemed more appropriate when there were more than two players.]

The Allocation:
The Captain leading the Red-Head’s Own, knowing the importance of the power plant (and having few options) took his Command Lance and the Skirmish Lance to secure the site. Major Wilco, having plenty of options, assigned the job to the 3rd Company, particularly the 1st and 2nd Lance, the command lance and the point assault lance.

The Battle:
The early portions of the battle were occupied with the forces getting into position. Two RHO mecha got into a pile-up when a medium mecha attempting to cross a river and move past a fellow mecha fell, sweeping the legs of the smaller mecha and causing it to fall as well. [This was the result of several failed Piloting rolls for both mecha.] Both mecha eventually left the river…only to promptly fall on their faces on the banks. The captain made a note to doc repair costs out of the pilot’s pay.

Both forces started converging just north of the objective. The RHO forces were up on a large hill under light cover from a fringe of trees. The 1/23rd forces were faster than anticipated and made good use of cover, running their mecha to within 200 m of the RHO forces before presenting any targets.

Much shooting happened in Turn 4. The first mecha down was a BDG-1E Bodyguard mecha on the 1/23rd side that was forced to signal surrender or be destroyed. This heartened the RHOs, until the “Flashlight” [an assault mecha] ran up to within 60 m of the RHO commander’s assault mecha and fired eight small energy weapons, knocking down the commander’s mecha. Additionally, a concentrated fire on a RHO medium mecha in the river [different from the klutz mentioned earlier] caused reactor damage and knocked that mecha down into the river, where the pilot was able to avoid a shutdown of the overheated reactor.

Surprisingly, the RHO forces concentrated fire upon the Brickhouse mecha of the lieutenant in charge of the 2nd Lance. This destroyed the Brickhouse (killing the lieutenant), but motivated the mecha pilots of the 1/23rd, who piled fire upon the assault mecha of the RHO commander, killing him with several strikes to the cockpit. [Three crits were invoked due to damage done in the round, resulting in two critical hits to the head and one to the arm.] Additional fire also destroyed one of the two RHO heavy mecha.

With their leader dead and their blood up, the RHO forces tried to gain revenge where they could, destroying one of the Bodyguard mecha. However, in choosing to do so, they ignored the steaming Flashlight [currently at 10 heat from firing all those lasers], which again fired all eight small energy weapons on a single target, the remaining RHO assault mecha, killing it. The resultant heat forced the Flashlight to power down, at which time the pilot triggered his surrender switch.

Down to two lights, a medium, and a heavy, the RHO forces started to disengage, but the heavy decided to make it a fighting retreat, attempting to kill another mecha. He failed and was burned down by a hail of damage. The remaining medium took some damage as well, enough that he decided to surrender rather than chance another hit. The last two RHO lights flee at top speed, using the hill as cover.

The 1/23rd lost a “Brickhouse” (assault) and a “Bodyguard” (heavy) and was able to claim a “Slosher” (assault) and a “Paynix” (medium), maintaining numbers if not strength.

The RHO lost everything but two “Sniper” (light) mecha, including their entire command lance. This leaves them with six light mechs (and a serious morale problem) to hold the planet against a full strength battalion. A change of tactics is mandated.

The Assault on Dextrose 4 continues.

The Future:
The next mission happens 4 days after this one and will be…Ambush!

Thoughts on the Game
We were both satisfied with the game system. The campaign system seems to need more than two players to help balance out forces from a game balance perspective. From a verisimilitude perspective, it works fine. After rolling starting forces, we both decided that the RHO forces were clearly on defense and the 1/23rd forces were the attacking forces as the other way around would be improbable.

There is nothing specifically keeping me from just keeping throwing my assault lances in every battle, destroying the remaining opposition mecha after another mission or two. To combat that, I think I’m going to add a rule stating that mecha (or mecha lances) needing repair cannot participate in the following mission. I might add something about loss of leader as well, but maybe not.

I’m split on my thinking on advancement of characters. Strict reading of the rules says only PCs get better. The RHO PC died and the 1/23rd PC was not involved in the fight, so no improvement happened. I’m not certain how I like that.

Finally, after the fight, I discovered that there is no movement cost in War of the Mecha for changing elevation. The only restriction is that elevation changes can only happen when walking. This would have changed a few things. Next game we will remember that and see what happens.

Our next game will be on the 17th and we are picking up a new player. For fairness, His forces should go on the defending side and will probably represent a unit stationed too far away to participate in the first mission, but now arrived. This will complicate my decisions as I am the target of the ambush and cannot waltz it by overpowering six light mecha!

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