Top Image

Top Image

Monday, March 21, 2016

Back to the 80s with Battletech

After the intensity of the Quinto CoC campaign, this week Fritz and I just wanted to throw some minis down on the table to fight it out.  Although I'd played a tiny bit of Battletech back in the early 90s, it was Fritz that rekindled my interest in the game and setting.  I'm working on my own combined arms force for Battletech (we're planning a campaign), but in the meantime we're using Fritz's minis.

Ostensibly, we have an unnamed mercenary company in service to House Davion defending against some other mercenaries working for someone or another. Kurita maybe. But yeah, we just wanted to blow some stuff up.

My forces:

There was a tiny bit of larger agenda on the table, as Fritz and I are planning a more serious campaign sometime in April, and we're acclimating ourselves to the sometimes Byzantine Battletech rules bit by bit. This week, we each took a relatively light lance, with one assault mech bringing in the firepower (my Stalker and his Awesome).  But we also each have a Patton/Rommel tank,  a Scorpion light tank, and four units of jump infantry (jump packs).  It's the last I'm most interested in, as I have a strange masochistic desire to fight giant robots with the most humble of units.

Deployment: I separated my forces into a small group on the right, larger group on the left, and a lone Jenner at the middle, to dart where he's needed.

The enemy:

As the game begins, Fritz dashes his light mechs behind the hill and decides to find out if a single Patton tank can hold off a Stalker.

After some maneuvering and ineffective long range fire, the battle is coming into focus. The hill at the center of the table is clearly the main area of contention.

Infantry move up on the left flank, supported by armor.

While I only have two platoons on this flank, Fritz has his whole 4-platoon company advancing, covered by the awesome power of the... awesome.

Silly name. Very 80s though. There should be another mech called the "Totally Tubular" with, you know, lots of missile tubes. 

Funny thing about Battletech... I love it, in fact I love it to a surprising degree given its clunky rules and often ugly mechs.  But damn some of the mechs are ugly, and worse, hard to tell apart. I had an Enforcer and Commando, and I totally confused them. Ultimately, I had to switch models, as I had the one without jump jets jumping around up on things the whole beginning of the game.

I think my favorite mech is the Jenner, although it is indeed up there on the ugly scale. Here the Jenner has gotten around the rear of the enemy Assassin and cut right through its rear armor. Meanwhile the Commando/Enforcer (I'm not really sure which!) hits him from the front. 

Meanwhile the enemy infantry approach while my own dig in inside the ruins.

The Stalker vs. Tank battle on the right is pretty inconclusive. The tank has too much armor, but lacks the firepower (and hot dice) to do much to the massive assault mech. I'm sure that if we'd kept plugging away at each other, the mech would have triumphed, but as it stands we only succeeded in some minor damage to each other.

Meanwhile the action on the hill was heating up.

My Commando/Enforce (no the other one, the one with jump jets), took a nasty hit to his left arm, knocking out the weapon.

While on the right, the infantry finally got into range of each other. Distracted by the mechs at the center, the Awesome ignores the infantry and tanks as beneath his notice.

My infantry were at a 2:1 disadvantage, but were better covered by tanks. The anti-infantry weapons of the tanks were able to catch the enemy infantry in the open, and while I took some terrible casualties, my men were in cover and came out the better for it.

An interesting moment - with the enemy winning initiative, Fritz was able to get into head-to-head combat with my Jenner. Both mechs fired everything they had at each other at point blank range.

And both utterly missed with everything.

Meanwhile the enemy Cicada used its superior mobility to get behind my Stalker.  The Stalker, like the enemy Awesome, had begun to turn its attention to the decisive mech battle at center, and also exposed its rear to the enemy Patton/Rommel tank. While it was nothing its armor couldn't handle, the combo managed to destroy one of the Short Range Missile packs in the shoulder.

However, with a win to initiative, I was able to turn the table and really pound the smaller mech.

On the left, the enemy infantry, after losing two whole platoons, had jumped into cover themselves. It helped, but didn't save them from continuing machine gun and flamer attacks from the tanks. I too lost one platoon, but a second continued to fire from the other side of the wall.

Ah, the moment of glory. As the Cicada ran up to once again engage the Stalker, it got too close to my infantry who pounced. One platoon managed to begin to climb the mech, waiting to do some serious swarming damage next turn.  The Cicada, it's arm blown off and smoking, was in real trouble.

As the Cicada slowly succumbed to the infantry tearing out its engines and the other mechs pounding it, the second infantry platoon moved to catch up to the Assassin, which had been surrounded by light mechs. It too succeeded in climbing.

With infantry swarming two mechs and all of their light mechs taking damage, things were not looking good for the attackers.

Finally, the Cicada fell, taken down from a shot by the Enforcer after having taken terrible damage from the infantry assault.

With that, we were forced to call the game as we were out of time. But it was clear that the attackers were repulsed. They'd lost the Cicada and three infantry platoons, and it seemed unlikely that the Assassin and other light mech would survive the next turn, as they'd taken extreme damage.  Fritz declared that the Awesome and the tanks would have immediately tried to slink away.

My defenders were in better shape.  I lost only one infantry platoon, but had taken some damage to my mechs, including one missing limb. Yet nowhere near the damage done to the enemy. Another Victory in the annals of House Davion.

CONCLUSIONS?  Well, I'm greatly encouraged by the way infantry played out. If you're careful (and take the necessary upgrades for infantry), then infantry can be a real threat, even to a mech.  My full-strength platoon dealt more than twice the damage of a large laser to the mech it swarmed for instance, and further, a full-strength platoon, dug in, is hard for a mech to destroy, taking a fraction of the damage from most weapons. Most mechwarriors probably ignore them in favor of other targets, but I think if used skillfully, those mechwarriors ignore them at great peril.

Next time, we'll be trying out aerospace fighters and possibly some VTOLs to get a handle on that aspect of the rules.


  1. That takes me back....
    Great post.

  2. I picked up the 50th Anniversary box set a while back. Then I got intimidated by the background and weight of supplements. I got too scared to try and get any of my regulars on it. Silly me.

    1. If you have the box, give it a chance sometime. Maybe take 1-2 mechs per side and slug it out.

      The background has been developing over a quarter century, so it's dense, but you don't need to worry over it too much. It's just an excuse have big stompy robots blow each other up.

      We're not big fans of the clans and all the late tech that really complicates things, so we stick to 3039 or so.

    2. Yeah, I wanted to do pre-clan Succession War type stuff,