Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fourth Succession War: Skondia Part 11 - Battle Day

The day of the big game came and went. It was a very informative and a fun gaming session. My friends gave a lot of constructive criticism on the special rules and objectives at play in the scenario. My intention is to use this scenario in May for the 2011 Kublacon, so any feedback I get is critical to running a fun and memorable game. We played until the outcome of the battle was considered inevitable. I, however, would have liked to have played longer just for fun, but I felt the player’s attentions were waning. Therefore, I called the game with the promise from the players that, if I tweaked a few things in the rules, they would play it again.
The game day got off to a rocky start. I held the game at a friend’s home who had a lot more room then my apartment, so I wanted to get the board over to his home before the game day. Unfortunately, Patrick was sick, so we did not move the board over until early Sunday morning, and then we realized the board would not fully fit in his van. Ultimately, we secured it with bungee cords and let it hang out the back of the van. Once we set it up, I went about touching up the minor damaged spots on the board, and began setting up the buildings, roads, and trees. I was running about an hour behind. In the future, I must do a better job of making the board in segments, because hulling a 7.5’ X 5’ board around is the last thing I ever want to do again.

Moving on with the day, it improved. The players were very excited and eager to learn how to play. Fortunately, Dylan, who introduced me to the game in 1985, reintroduced himself to the game and learned the miniatures rules too, so he taught the other players how to play while I finished setting up. The turns progressed slowly; put picked up once the players understood the miniatures rules which complicated the standard Battletech rules to gain a hex free pretty board.

Moving on with the day, it improved. The players were very excited and eager to learn how to play. Fortunately, Dylan, who introduced me to the game in 1985, reintroduced himself to the game and learned the miniatures rules too, so he taught the other players how to play while I finished setting up. The turns progressed slowly, put picked up once the players understood the miniatures rules which complicated the standard Battletech rules to gain a hex free pretty board.

The Lyran forces were allowed to set-up first anywhere south of the river and south of the first ridge on the western edge. The Draconis forces set-up in the extreme northeast along the highway. Check out the map to the left.
The two lances of mechs from the Skondia Mech Piloting Academy flanked rapidly to the left in order to control the bluffs on the western edge of the map, while most of the tanks of the 2nd Skondia Infantry Regiment remained scattered in the southeastern quarter of the board with the exception of the Goblin lance which set up on the first western ridge in order to control the highway coming south. In addition, the two Demolishers slowly moved up and over the bridge and then turned north. They were accompanied by a Zeus piloted by the planetary militia’s commander. Finally, the infantry company hid in the heavy forest by the bridge and the helicopters went north to begin bombarding the Draconis mechs with LRM fire.

The Draconis mechs fanned out each with their own objectives. Charlie Company’s Command Lance engaged the Skondia mech lances with long range missiles. The Support Lance cautiously took the central hills with the intent of destroying the radio antenna for victory points. Lastly, the Recon Lance moved along the game map’s eastern edge to skirmish with anything that might come over the hills.

While the first two rounds were largely uneventful maneuvering, the Draconis artillery began raining down on several Lyran locations; namely, the radio antenna and the base’s tarmac where a Karnov Air Transport was evacuating noncombatants from the base both of which were worth victory points. On the third round a hit was scored on the Karnov destroying its rotors, so Kurita picked up a victory point there. The radio antenna had a different outcome. None of the artillery was able to score a hit on it but, in the four rounds of artillery fire, almost all of the missed fire drifted to other Lyran targets. A Scorpion was destroyed, half the infantry were wiped out, the bridge over the river was destroyed, and finally, in a spectacular explosion, another Scorpion was destroyed along with three homes and a Manticore was severally damaged.

While all of the artillery was landing in the Southern area of the map, the Skondia MP Academy mechs quickly closed the distance to the Draconis Command Lance outnumbering the Draconis mechs in that area. The Command Lance was taking fire from eight mechs and a lance of Goblin tanks. The command lance fell back a bit in order to maximize their strength in long range weapons, but upon doing that an artillery round badly missed the radio antenna falling short and directly hitting the Legion’s Whitworth forcing it to retreat because of internal damage to it’s center torso. At about this time, many (4) of the Lyran mechs also had to retreat because of internal damage. Also, at about this time (round 4), the Demolishers and Zeus finally rounded the cliffs in the center of the map and were looking for targets. Only one was available. The Support Lance’s Clint was the last mech through the central hills and the only target available to the Demolishers which attacked it at long range with little chance of hitting it, but one round made contact almost bringing down the mech with one hit. Even with that devastating hit, the Kurita players knew that it was still at least three rounds before the demolishers and Zeus could attack them again because of Lyran’s poor positioning and speed. Charlie Company’s Support and Scout lances were able to destroy the radio antenna and drive off the Lyrann helicopters which loitered in their positions too long making them vulnerable to attack. Though, both were able to retreat. By round five, the Draconis forces had five victory points (Radio Antenna-3, Karnov-1, & two Scorpions-1) to the Lyran’s zero points. The Skondian mechs were very damaged and many of the militias tanks were damaged by artillery while the Draconis mech company had only lost two mechs to retreat and had only three moderately damaged mechs. The entire Scout Lance was unscathed!

At this point, the Lyran players threw in the towel. They thought that they could still inflict quite a bit of damage on the command lance once the Demolishers and Zeus got up to the Legion’s Command Lance, but that was going to take time and in that time the Lyran’s entire left flank was going to collapse as the rest of the training mechs retreated or were destroyed. The Legion’s Support and Recon Lances threatened to leap in mass over the last southern hills and overwhelm the remaining tanks. Perhaps one or two mech would have been destroyed, but all of the tanks and infantry in the south would have likely been eradicated garnishing the Draconis side a lot more victory points. The Draconis players said that once they realized that they could avoid the Demolishers, their strategy was to destroy everything else and out maneuver the large tanks. The Lyran players acknowledged that they should have aligned the tanks on the western edge of the board and let them stay so that they could make better use of their range. Too much time was wasted moving them when the more maneuverable mechs were forced to fight a battle of attrition against more powerful mechs across the river canyon where the Chameleon’s short-range abilities were wasted.

As for the feedback I received, I was mostly asked to make more of the base’s buildings victory points so that more of the fighting could take place there, and that would prevent the Draconis Carbine form getting so many points for destroying the radio tower as the Lyran Commonwealth players have little chance of stopping its destruction. I was also asked to amend the artillery rules to force the Draconis player to bombard one spot instead of spreading out their fire. Everyone acknowledged that the Lyran player was outgunned and could be easily out maneuvered, so only players with experience should play them. I agreed with many of their points and will look to enact many of their ideas. In the coming months, I will let you know what I change and how our next battle plays out. (Dylan, Eric, & Ryan talking over their next move)


  1. Fascinating scenario and one that would challenge any players' ability due to the imbalance. I like it. Good work and well done.

  2. The artillery really throws a monkey wrench in the scenario, to an extent. In theory, the Dracs could just sit back all game and bombard the buildings for points, forcing the Lyrans to run out, spreading themselves thin as they run across the map and get picked apart peice meal. You have a couple options.

    1. I think into order to make the Dracs a bit more threatened, put the artillery on the board. They way the Lyrans have a chance to knock them out and the artillery, then it could force the Dracs in.

    2. Make the VPs from killing stuff from artillery halved.

    3. Or maybe the objective is to capture the facility, and thus need to end the game w/in 6 inches of a building to consider it "captured".

    Just some ideas to maybe even it out.

  3. Actually, I just had a random thought. You could award victory points to the Lyrans for driving off enemy advances. It would be more nebulous, but it would force the Drac's to advance, which is their mission.

  4. Thank you for the comments and ideas. I'm putting together a post on what I might change.

  5. Inspiring terrain and board. I myself ended up using terrain tiles for most battletech games so they could be transported. You can see the tiled layout here:
    You don'g get the same dynamic feel to the sweeping real estate you have created but they are certainly easier to transport and have been hard wearing for the last 6 years. Have we crossed paths on the LOTB forum before? Robin

  6. I don't think I've posted on LOTB, but I have been lurking there for some time. I agree, your tiled layout is much more portable and I think it looks pretty good. I enjoyed the photos too. I'm definitely going the tile route next time.

    BTW: I've really enjoyed following your site. I'm thinking of investing in some 15mm minis in the future.

  7. Glad you enjoy the site, I will be making repeat lurks to yours for inspiration. I am currently designing the "Mech Points and statistic builder" for the Gruntz game, your view would be appreciated on the rules also. I really want to bring mecha battles into 15mm scale, I think it could really work for story type scenarios.