úterý 28. listopadu 2017

[BattleTech] My First Tournament!

or, Not bad, after five games...

I got lucky. There's a wargaming club beyond the borders that is still relatively close, and some of its members are fond enough of BattleTech to organize a tournament. I got even more lucky and could schedule a whole day for the event, so there was no hesitation as to whether to go or not. The journey there was not too adventurous, but still gave me enough time for sight seeing.

Trencin Castle. Definitely  L4-5 fortified terrain.

It was nice to meet other players from all at least three distinct regions. The atmosphere was friendly, as was the tournament itself - it was a fair competition without any waac attitudes. Unfortunately, the games started little later than expected, so only two of three rounds were played, but at least it allowed me to get home before midnight.

Having unpacked my mercenary lance "Ronin's Tonnes" I felt satisfaction for all the evenings spent painting and those nerve wracking decisions on paint scheme. Even composing the lance was a tremendous fun in itself: I could field any 3-5 mechs totalling 5000 BV2, and although proxying and borrowing were options, I used mostly what minis I had available:
  • Archer ARC-5W (70t, 1337 bv2): heavy missile boat with reasonable speed and armour
  • Charger CGR-3K (80t, 1656 bv2): typed as skirmisher, this was my all-purpose heavy mech.
  • Wolverine WVR-7K (55t, 1331 bv2): medium brawler, fast, well armoured and deadly at close range
  • Owens OW-1D (35t, 655 bv2): scout, whose purpose was to tag enemy targets for indirect fire and grab distant objectives. I had to proxy it by a plastic Jenner.
Archer, Charger, Wolverine, Jenner

Game 1

I knew this game was going to be tough. My opponent was more experienced and well equipped, having a nice mix of mechs from a slow 100t beast of Fafnir to a small and nimble Snow Fox. Fafnir was extremely intimidating, fielding weapons that could rip a heavy mech apart in just one round. Avoiding it would be a good strategy, however, the scenario awarded points for controlling objectives on each starting line and most importantly in the middle.

Round 1-2: Glorious synchronized advance

Round 2-3: Deploying to position, Owens running from the beast.
In the first few turns, everything went according to the plan: Archer was in cover, raining death on those tagged/spotted by Owens, Charger and Wolverine intercepted enemy light mechs on the flank. The same mechs then dashed past them and threatened to occupy or neutralize my home objective.

Round 3-4: Enemy lights attempt abreak through, Owens tagging Rifleman.

I did not want that to happen, so both Charger and Wolverine chased them, managing to down a Raptor. The Snow Fox was too cunning and quick to suffer any serious damage, and I had to reinforce the center, so I sent Wolverine to chase it away, and Charger back to front. I belive this was the first serious mistake I made - I should have done it vice versa, as the Fox easily escaped the cc oriented Wolverine.

Round 4-5: Raptor's a toast, WVR securing the rear, CGR returning to the fray.
In the middle all went from ok to horror as Fafnir came to range. I managed to rough opponent's Rifleman, but my Owens had an arm shot off and scurried beyond the hills. My Archer got between Fafnir and Rifleman, falling under the weight of fire. It managed to stand up and advance, only to get shot in the back by the Fox. With reactor shielding breached, Archer was out of action.

Round 5 ends: Archer shot to pieces by Fafnir and SnowFox.
As a last ditch I ran my Charger to the top of the hill, hoping to kick the head off the Fafnir - never got the chance as it was shot to pieces.

Round 5-6: WVR and Owens securing objectives, Charger goes banzai (and boom).
Having lost two mechs and both center objectives I could only console myself with my and enemy rear objectives and a single light mech destroyed. Even then, it was a great, exhausting game.

Game 2

This game's scenario was nearly identical, only differing by a single middle objective. My opponent for this game (son of my previous opponent :) brought two heavy missile boats supported by two light mechs acting as spotters. This time, I believed I had a stood a reasonable chance.

Round 1-2: Both sides advance in good order.

I did not expect my opponent to go for the objective with his heavier mechs, so I rushed in as fast as possible. Fortunately, my JennOwens got to the objective first, and I didn't mean to abandon it. Enemy Raven hid in the forest, while Gambit rushed to meet Owens. Both spotted, tagged and shot each other, and following semi-guided indirect fire obliterated them both. Fine, no more lapses in calling Owens a Jenner! And also, hooray for an exchange of 600pts for 700+ pts and limiting enemy options!

Round 2-3: Owens and Gambit playing a game of TAG. They both lose in the end.

The only active mech my opponent had after the first blood was the Raven. Though it was not as sneaky and fast as the Snow Fox, I held back my Wolverine in case of a breakthrough attempt and sent Charger to flank. This time, the decision was right, because Wolverine had more armour that Charger, and I was sure it would be needed to hold the central objective, which was now secured by Archer.

Round 3-4: Charger flanks, Archer holds, WVR deters Raven.

Raven wasted its time running around the hill tagging my mechs, while the Charger got his sights on opponents Yeoman. Wolverine and Archer stood on the hill like Old Guard, getting shot by 60+ missiles each turn.

Round 4-5: Archer quite beaten up, WVR joins the hill party.

Much better picture of the hill party.

Meanwhile, the flanking succeeds.

Fortunately, my opponent was enjoying himself too much with Raven acting as spotter, and suddenly he found out that the game is coming to an end and his Raven can't reach my home objective. Too bad. Furthermore, he kept pouring everything into those poor bastards on the hill, almost completely ignoring 80 tons of hurt coming for his Yeoman.

Round 5-6: RVN too slow to capture my base objective, ARC fails to stand up.

You're one dead missile boat.

In the end, the Yeoman was destroyed, but so was the Archer, and Wolverine had very little armor left. I guess that this time I won due to luck (few crits to the Wolverine and I might loose the objective in the last round) and the all-rounded composition of my lance and general utility of its mechs (as opposed to rather specialised list the opponent had).

End: RVN puts ARC out of misery, WVR stands fast, CGR kills Yeoman.

Summary: It was GREAT! Although I ended up on the fourth place, I had lot of fun, with fine people. It is rather fascinating how deep the game experience can be with only eight mechs on board. True, my inexperience meant lot of table searching and few rules questions, but even then I love the game just the way it is. Streamlining it and scaling down the complexity makes it into a completely different game, one that has problems to stand out among today's multitude. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Alpha Strike.

čtvrtek 12. října 2017


Or the obligatory "I'm not dead!" post.

2016 was a good year in general, but regarding the hobby it was rather disastrous, and this year is only marginally better. There is too little spare time - and so many rulesets to try yet! Also, my main gaming buddy switched to multiplayer boardgames, so there you have it. From my little spare time I spent some on boardgames, some on painting (see my orc warband below!) and most on browsing the rulesets and acquiring new ones.

Blurry and Furious!
I have recieved my preordered Rogue Stars, only to decide it would be a pain to teach someone tired enough after day's work, but I still like the idea of really small SF groups thriving through a shady bussiness. Perhaps I may try Void Pirates, or wait for Harder Than Steel? Or man up and finally try the Savage Worlds (Showdown)?

Finally, Battletech happened.

You know Battletech, don't you? I mean, who doesn't? For more than 30 years players pick or design their huge, armoured and weapons-bristling mechs (piloted robots) and send them against each other. While I don't think that huge bipedal weapon platforms can ever reign the battlefield, I like the setting, the feeling and the detail as the bolts start flying, the armour of your mech falls off (or evaporates outright) and the systems fail (or evaporate too). I also like the turn structure, and I just have respect for a game that has changed very little in over thirty years and still gets played! Actually, I think Classic Battletech is like a T-Rex: It's ancient, it's cumbersome, but you simply have to respect it.

That's 100 tons of massive respect on the left,
55 tons of respect in the center,
and 20 tons of "okay" respect on the right.
(Image taken from a wallpaper to HBS computer game )

However, my road to Battletech wasn't as straight. At first I found the rules for Adeptus Titanicus, with the pre-plotted orders, different body parts etc. While I was charmed, there was no reasonable way to play it with something more than self-made paper chits. Then came Imperial Knight: Renegade (itself just an upgrade of Godbreaker Clash, a WD minigame), which I still hadn't purchased, but liked the rules, and gravitated more and more to big stompy robots. What I did was to purchase some EM4 Steel Warriors and Samurai Robots Battle Royale from Ganesha games - not a bad game, and close to my favourite Song of Blades and Heroes, but  ultimately not what I wanted.

Then, finally, Battletech happened for me. On a whim I acquired some second hand plastech minis (Made of evil plastic. Really, not bad - Evil. Because whenever you try to remove the awful moldlines, it just won't let go - and you can forget about using a file...), intro rulebook, maps and record sheets for almost nothing, and talked my friend into trying it.

Phoenix Hawk vs Shadow Hawk
We had started a duel of Hawks  that is yet to be concluded, if ever. (Fortunately, in Battletech, SaveGame is incredibly easy. You just write your mech's position and facing to its recordsheet and you're done.) However fragmented and incomplete, the game impressed me enough to try harder and finally discover another BT player in my area. We had some pair vs pair games, and that's where I got to the slippery slope and just had to have more.

Not only I have purchased more maps and mechs - I wanted a more intense experience. So we went 3:3, and finding out about a tournament nearby I pledged to take part, making it the first ever tabletop tournament in my life. The tournament is still to come, but I'm already having tremendous fun building the list (traditionally, mechs fight in four-member formations called lance) and running simulations. It also means that I'll have to paint some more miniatures, yay!

And more!
To sum up: Classic Battletech is a wonderfull game. It may be a bit oldschool with all its character record sheets, bubbles to cross out, tables, modifiers and time requirements, but in return you get a cinematic experience, coupled with an excercise in tactics. The game has been here for thirty-some years and offers a rich universe to explore, enjoy and smash to pieces with your huge robots. You can start with as little as a free pnp download, you can wait for starter box sets coming the next year, put one together from available map sets, lance packs and paid downloads, or you can scour the bazzars for a good catch. Either way, it is worth a try.