Author Topic: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars - Part II  (Read 2336 times)

Frabby

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Wayland the smith - good catch! I hadn't made the connection (being sidetracked by Weyland-Yutani).

ComStar involvement - this is spelled out in no uncertain terms in the prologue of Riposte, where Waterly is chewed out by Tiepolo in the First Circuit for her careless approach to the Silver Eagle affair and leaking info to the Kuritas.

No DEST - the DEST are carefully selected teams tailored for specific missions, not some quick response commandos on standby. I guess Indrahar simply didn't have a DEST readily available.

Ki - No.
;)
Author of the BattleCorps stories Feather vs. Mountain, Rise and Shine, Proprietary, Trial of Faith & scenario Twins
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Mendrugo

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Intelligence Operations backs you up about ISF having non-DEST commandos:

Quote
Since the elevation of the ISF Director to the High Command, the ISF has used Draconis Elite Strike Teams on many occasions, but Wolfnet believes that the agency also operates non-military commando units.

However, I'm not seeing anything in Intelligence Operations that indicates that DEST teams aren't on standby for rapid response.  It notes that the ISF dispatched large numbers of DEST operatives to seize ComStar's HPG stations during the roll-out of Operation SCORPION.  Since they had to move fast, that would argue their use in a rapid response capacity.  Intelligence Operations estimates that 4,000 - 5,000 DEST members are in the field at any given time, with another 500 at ISF HQ on Pesht, and 400 on Luthien to guard the Coordinator.  If we assume that the DEST unit in "Far Country" is standard, a typical team is 12 members, split into four three-person "sections."  That would place the number of active DEST formations at between 420 - 500 (with 41 on Pesht and 33 on Luthien).  The fact that the DEST unit in Far Country has a number in the 6,000s, while the ones in "Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight" are numbered 1 and 2, suggests to me that numbers are retired when units are wiped out, and there's been a lot of attrition over the years (particularly during the ISF "shadow" civil war at the tail end of the 2nd Succession War). 
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Dubble_g

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Elite jump infantry sounds pretty military for non-military commandos.

Wouldn't it make sense for super secret commando units to be numbered non-sequentially? To confuse the enemy about just how many such units exist.

Mendrugo

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I think Intelligence Operations meant "non-military" in the sense of being under the ISF umbrella rather than the DCMS.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Dubble_g

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As an adjective the word military means of or relating to soldiers, not necessarily the armed forces. Non-military commandos sounds like asymmetric warfare units, terrorist cadres or the like, but the point is it's a slightly silly wording. Like a nonviolent bomb or minor major.

Mendrugo

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Date: May 23, 3027
 
Location: Styx

Title: Warrior: En Garde

Author: Michael A. Stackpole
 
Type: Novel

Synopsis: Captain Stefan von Breunig, Andrew Redburn and "Joana Barker," along with several other Silver Eagle passengers, meet with Danica and Clovis Holstein in the command center of the mine complex.  Danica tells the assembled group that a Combine ship has appeared at the Styx system's nadir jump point and dispatched a Fury troop-carrier DropShip towards the asteroid mine, on track to arrive in two days. 

Melissa tells Andrew that the troops onboard are probably ISF jump troopers.  Andrew conveys this observation to the Holsteins and suggests planning a defense to hold them off.  Clovis calls up diagrams to explain how difficult it would be to defend the maze of mining tunnels.  Danica suggests negotiating with the ISF to turn over whoever they're after. 

Andrew volunteers to surrender himself, if he's the Combine's target, but von Breunig swears he will never surrender his passengers.  Melissa reveals herself and swears nobody should die on her account.  The Heimdall staff and passengers all drop to one knee.  Clovis breaks the silence by noting that a second JumpShip has arrived, carrying a Combine Overlord

Notes:  Unless the meeting went ludicrously long, there's a glitch in the timing.  At the outset, the Combine DropShip is said to be 48 hours away.  When they later discuss trying to flee and jump out of the system, Von Breunig shoots down the idea by saying the Combine ship is only 12 hours away, and they'd be caught in space.

Von Breunig is perhaps being overly cautious regarding the charging.  If they charge 75 hours (one more day, more or less), they could try to jump out with a TN of 5.  Even if they get a snake eyes, the worst thing is loss of 60% of the charge - there's no chance of damaging the drive coils.  The ship has already been charging for around 48 hours.  If they do have 48 hours more before the Combine ships arrive, they could charge for one more day and try to jump out.  If it fails, they're no worse off than before.

I'm kind of surprised to see the Combine ships here so quickly.  It's been less than a day since Takashi and Subhash discussed the issue and decided on a plan of action.  While both Dieron and Nashira are within one jump of Styx, such a rapid response would have required near instantaneous HPG transmission of the orders (while ComStar can rig up a pony express of transmission relays for rapid relay of messages, the cost must have been astronomical). Then, there must have been fully charged Invaders standing by at pirate points in orbit around Styx and Nashira, as well as fully fueled, crewed, and ready-to-launch DropShips available to mobilize. 

All I can say is that the Arm of the Dragon can really hustle when it wants to. 
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Date: May 24, 3027
 
Location: Chara III (Pacifica)

Title: Warrior: En Garde

Author: Michael A. Stackpole
 
Type: Novel

Synopsis:  The Kell Hounds give Master Sergeant Nicholas Jones a raucous surprise farewell party.  Per their plan, they promote him to Captain just before his mustering out so his pension pay will reflect the higher rank. 

At that moment, Meg Lang hacks into Pacifica's central computer and jiggers it so the calendar will skip over the 25th, going directly from the 24th to the 26th - allowing Jones to depart on the 26th (per his orders) but still make rendezvous with the Intrepid, which is scheduled to jump out on the 25th. 

Notes: As appears to be the case with most of the jump mechanics in the Warrior Trilogy, the Intrepid must be at a pirate point in close orbit over Pacifica. 

We also see another mention of a planetary "central computer."  While this is probably just a reflection of the pre-Internet period in which it was written, with dial-up modem access to connect remote terminals to mainframes at universities and laboratories, it actually makes a lot of sense in the BattleTech universe - explaining how so much knowledge was lost - if the central computer is taken out (by nukes, fuel-air explosives, 'Mechs, or ROM's HOLY SHROUD agents), then all the knowledge therein gets wiped out and all the connected terminals go dead.  Looking at how much Lyran businesses are shown to rely on interconnected databases and networked transactions, the destruction of the central computer would bring the planetary economy to a grinding halt, even if the environment remained hospitable. 

The hardware could be replaced, given time and resources, but replacing the data would be nigh impossible without a backup memory core.  (And given the fact that the discovery of the Helm and New Dallas memory cores were universe-changing events, it seems like off-site data storage was not a standard practice.)

If Kell Hound techs find it child's play to use a remote terminal to hack into the central computer and muck up something as elemental as the date, then perhaps HOLY SHROUD had an easier time of it than we thought - with ComStar's resources, one agent with access to a public terminal could delete the entire technological resource base of a colony in an afternoon's work. 

On the other hand, perhaps the Kell Hounds had a contract that made them the titular rulers of Pacifica for the duration of the garrison contract (not unusual for mercenary units), which would explain why they had an all-access pass to the central computer's operating system.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Date: May 25, 3027
 
Location: Chara III (Pacifica)

Title: Warrior: En Garde

Author: Michael A. Stackpole
 
Type: Novel

Synopsis:  At five minutes after midnight, in the hidden Branson's Swamp bunker, Chu-i Oguchi nervously reports to Sho-sa Akiie Kamekura that the computers report it is now May 26th.  Kamekura orders the attack to go ahead as planned, with the ninja infantry scheduled to blow up the Kell Hound jump trooper barracks and slaughter the MechWarriors in the bed. 

In the aftermath of the party at the Kell Hound base, Dan Allard points out to Cat Wilson that half of the jump infantry are drunk, and the rest are asleep, and expects it will be rough on them in a few minutes when their sergeant rousts them for a pre-dawn patrol. 

Allard notes that an infrared sensor on the northern sector perimeter has gone out.  Salome Ward takes over in the comm center, while Allard and Wilson gear up to go check it out.

They go first to the 'Mech hangar, and Allard spots a shadowy figure near his Valkyrie.  They sneak up on the intruder, but hold their fire when they see it's only Nicholas Jones, who'd come down to the bay to say goodbye to the 'Mechs. 

A massive explosion marks the destruction of the jump infantry barracks, and a secondary blast takes the 'Mech bay door off its hinges, letting black-clad figures pour in.  Wilson opens fire with his sub-machine gun, taking down three ninjas in one burst.  Allard takes a shot to the chest in return, but his bulletproof vest stops the bullet.  The Kuritan ninjas draw their katanas and charge.  Allard and Wilson fend off their initial charge, then dive for the floor as Jones fires an inferno launcher at the ninjas, sending two missiles at them, killing half and setting the rest alight.

Salome Ward runs in and reports that assassins also hit the MechWarrior barracks.  Guards killed them all, but one stabbed Patrick Kell and collapsed his lung.  She reports that the missing Panthers are inbound.

Kamekura exults as he sees the Kell Hound complex ablaze as his company approaches to visual range.  Oguchi leads a lance to the 'Mech bay, but his triumph turns to terror as a Kell Hound Marauder emerges, PPCs blazing, with the rest of the Hound 'Mechs following behind.  Seeing Oguchi's lance torn apart, Kamekura orders the rest of the company to withdraw.  Under heavy fire, the withdrawing Panthers run into an ambush laid by O'Ceiran's jump infantry, and are wiped out.

As dawn breaks, Dan Allard supervises the loading of non-jumping 'Mechs aboard the Lugh, and the jumping 'Mechs into the Nuada Argetlan.  Salome Ward reports a Combine JumpShip has arrived at the nadir jump point and DropShips are incoming.  The Kell Hounds are going to evacuate aboard the Cucamulus, which Captain Janos Vandermeer will bring in close to the planet at a pirate point. 

Later that day, aboard the Cucamulus, the Hounds' command staff reach the Command Center, deep in the heart of the Cucamulus.  Captain Janos Vandermeer sits in the center of the spherical room, suspended in a magnetic field.  He notes a display showing Kurita DropShips reorienting their vectors towards the Cucamulus.  Lt. Brand reports eight Combine Slayers coming in hot, ETA two hours. 

Vandermeer warns that, if the Combine planned the operation to wipe out the Hounds, all the jump points at nearby worlds are probably covered by Combine fleets.  He orders Mr. Harker to load up "Jump Plan Four," and tells Mr. Garrison to jettison spare helium and agrodome debris.  The ship jumps, leaving behind debris that Vandermeer hopes will make the Combine forces think the ship self-destructed in a misjump.  He cheerfully informs the Hounds that they've jumped into Kurita space.

Notes: So...ninja infantry?  I wonder if these were intended to be DEST.  "Ninja infantry" seems an apt descriptor for DEST, compared to the standard Combine brownjackets. 

The panic shown by the Hounds (loading up and fleeing within two hours) seems somewhat unreasonable, given that the nadir jump point is a nine day transit from Chara III. 

Blind luck once again saves the day for the Kell Hounds - with the timing of the Combine assault thrown off by the date change, and surprise pre-dawn maneuvers saving the lives of the jump infantry. 

The Combine forces - supposedly the elite products of harsh training (including killing a Pesht Predator Ape with their bare hands, for the DEST cadets) that produces the best of the best of the best - go down like Cobra cannon fodder to the guns of the Hounds. 

Trying to piece together the original Combine plan, it seems like the Combine JumpShip was supposed to appear in system on the 25th and send DropShips in towards Pacifica.  And then, at 4:00 AM on the 26th, the Panther company and the DEST team were supposed to hit the Kell Hound barracks.  And then the Kurita reinforcements would have landed on June 4 to help the Panthers mop up any survivors and set up a new government?  Wouldn't the arrival of the Combine ship on the 25th have put the Kell Hounds on high alert, making it less likely that the sneak attack would have succeeded on the 26th?

Clearly, the setting's rules/conventions for system transit were not worked out when this was written (or at least, not applied).  There's no way those Combine ships could make a nine-day 1G transit from the nadir jump point in four hours (well, sure, by making a transit at 54 Gs...and arriving as spam in a can.  LUDICROUS SPEED...GO!!!)
« Last Edit: 13 March 2017, 03:40:43 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Dubble_g

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The Kell Hound scenes remind me of the Battlecorps submission guidelines:

"It is unlikely that we will purchase vanity stories about personal units"

And this from Jordan Weisman himself, in the intro to shrapnel:

"...the Japanese storylines left my Western mind unsatisfied ... I wanted all the sides in the fight to be shades of grey, as opposed to a conflict between good and evil."




Mendrugo

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Date: May 25, 3027
 
Location: Chara III (Pacifica)

Title: Warriors of the Night

Author: Jim Brunk, Dale L. Kemper & Michael Lee
 
Type: Scenario (The Kell Hounds)

Synopsis: At 4:30 AM, Salome Ward and a Tech named Madsen discuss the possibility of Kurita ninjas being attached to the Combine company that went missing after the earlier raid over coffee in the main building's kitchen.  Madsen's "how many ninjas to change a lightbulb?" joke is interrupted as a ninja bursts through the window and decapitates him with a katana. 

The attackers are ISF Unit Ten, aka "The Dragon's Hidden Hand."  There are 24 of them, each with a laser pistol, sword, and light body armor. 

The Kell Hounds able to respond to the incursion are Patrick Kell, Anne Finn, Cat Wilson, Bethany Connor, Salome Ward, Mike Fitzhugh, Diane McWilliams, Mary Lasker, Daniel Allard, Austin Brand, Meg Lang, and Eddie Baker.  Allard and Wilson are fully geared up and in the 'Mech bay.  Salome has a pistol, knife (and a mean cup'o'joe) in the kitchen, and the rest are asleep with only a knife and laser pistol at the ready. 

ISF Team Ten gets 10 points for killing a regular MechWarrior, 15 for a Command Lance member, and 20 points for Patrick Kell.  The Hounds get 10 points per Commando killed.

The battlefield is the ground floor of the Kell Hound barracks/administrative building.  A floor plan is provided, along with a key identifying each room and what weapons may be found in each. 

The commandos enter in Room 7 (Commanding Officer's Office), Room 1 (Reception Room), Room 6 (XO's Office), and Room 11 (Kitchen).  They must search each room before moving on. 

The Hounds may move freely, but the asleep ones remain asleep until woken either by noise nearby, a perception check, or the alarm going off.

Notes:  The infantry are explicitly described as "ISF commandos."  But what is the difference between DEST and ISF commandos?  Did Brunk, Kemper, and Lee not know they were reinventing the wheel?  The illustration of a "ninja" bursting through the window shows a helmet with a faceplate very similar to the ones shown in use by DEST on the cover of "Far Country," down to the serrations on the sides.  With 24 members, they'd seem to be equivalent to two DEST teams, assuming the structure of the team in "Far Country" is standard, with 12 troops in four three-man sections.

So Allard and Wilson left Salome to watch the comm center.  Half an hour later, she's in the kitchen making coffee, leaving the comm center unattended.  Perhaps lax discipline is to be expected for a unit that combines staff meetings with poker games.

Strategy-wise, the ISF commandos' best bet is to spend the first round searching (they have to), and then head out into the corridors and charge pell-mell down the corridors without entering any other rooms to beat Salome Ward to the security room (so she can't sound the alarm) and to the armory.  If their commando in the kitchen can take her out, he can get the key and then they can seize the armory, then sweep the building for the poorly armed Hounds.

Salome just has to evade the one commando in the kitchen (the scenario more or less suggests stabbing him with a kitchen knife or clubbing him with a frying pan, though Salome does start with a laser pistol), and get to the security room.  Then all the Hounds will be awake, and can storm the security room and gear up to fight back.

As described, the scenario seems like a pushover for the ISF side.  I think there may have been some poorly worded bits of the setup - it would make much more sense for the ISF commandos to have to open every door they come to, enter, and sweep the room.  Otherwise, they can just charge down the corridor to Salome and seize the most critical parts of the complex long before Wilson and Allard arrive as the cavalry.  That will slow them down long enough for Salome to save the day and for the Kell Hounds to have enough gear to make a fight of it.

There's some discontinuity between the scenario and the book, since here Wilson and Allard come to save the day five turns after the attack, while in the novel they're heavily engaged over at the 'Mech bay, and don't even know about the fight at the barracks until Salome comes out and tells them all the attackers are dead, with the only serious injury being Patrick Kell's collapsed lung.  And, even then, Patrick is still able to pilot his 'Mech in the 'Mech battle.

There's no time limit, and the victory is determined by who scores the most points.  Thus, if you just want to win on points, wait until your side is ahead and then flee the building.   Perhaps a time limit, or rules about withdrawal should have been included. 

That aside, it's a pretty decent MechWarrior 1E scenario, though replicating the nearly bloodless outcome of the novel will be very difficult.  Combat in MW1E was treated much like 'Mech combat, with body armor points marked off first, and then internal structure (skin/bones) taking hits, with critical hit tables listing "perforated spleen," "collapsed lung," "severed foot," etc.  No wonder artificial limbs were so prominently featured in TRO:3026. 

With the Combine troops outnumbering the Hounds two to one and having good weapons and armor, and better stats than the majority of the Hounds - who are in their underwear and armed with popguns and cutlery, it'll be a slaughter unless the rules are adapted to require the commandos to do a room-by-room search instead of sprinting directly for the security center.  Even if the Hounds do manage to win, they'll likely be in no shape to fight off the incoming Panther company.

There's also some confusion about how many commandos are in the scenario.  It states that there are 24 troops, but only give deployment data for 12.  Presumably the other 12 were the ones that got barbecued out in the 'Mech bay.  If there are only 12 in the barracks, then the Hounds have more of a fighting chance, especially if they can get the thermite grenades from the security office into play. 

Even so, if they can get ahead on points, the Hounds should really just fall back through the tunnel towards the 'Mech bay, where they can get into their 'Mechs and render the ISF team's sidearm superiority moot.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Date: May 25, 3027
 
Location: Chara III (Pacifica)

Title: Trick With Time

Author: Jim Brunk, Dale L. Kemper & Michael Lee
 
Type: Scenario (The Kell Hounds)

Synopsis: Mike Fitzhugh provides the setup - noting that he was awakened around 4:00 AM by the sound of shots fired in the 'Mech bay, and used his assault rifle to kill six "ninja dudes" in black robes en route to his Catapult, joining the rest of the Hounds in their efforts to repulse the Combine Panther company.

According to the sourcebook-style setup, the Combine plan was for a full Combine assault force to land on Pacifica on May 27.  The panthers were to strike at three agricultural centers to lure the Hounds into the open, and the newly arrived battalion would destroy them.  Kamekura changed the plan - opting to assault the Hounds' base at dawn on May 25 - led by "elite Kurita shock troops, who many called ninjas."

The attacker is Kamekura's Company, First Battalion, Second Sword of Light.  12 Panthers.  420 tons, C-Bill value of 29,828,520, and a BV of 8,400.

The defender is the Kell Hounds battalion - 12 'Mechs, two jump infantry platoons, and two mechanized infantry platoons.  620 tons, C-Bill value of 53,122,289, and a BV of 12,223.  And that's not even counting the infantry platoons.

The two sides fight until there are no units of one side left on the map, then total points.  The Combine forces may withdraw, but the Kell Hounds may not.  The Combine gets 5 points for each Hound 'Mech killed and 1 point for each infantry platoon, and the Hounds get 3 for each Combine 'Mech downed.

If played as a follow-up for "Warriors of the Night," the Hounds only are able to field 'Mechs whose MechWarriors survived the fight in the Hound HQ.   

Notes: Fitzhugh explains the Hounds' role in manipulating the date in a 3030 interview with Lyran historian Thelos Auburn.  I wonder if this interview caused Jones to get busted for mustering out a day early - costing him his signing bonus retroactively.  Oops.

The sourcebook description doesn't jibe with the novel scene, since Oguchi set his alarm for 12:05 AM on the 26th, not the 25th.  The plan had always been to attack on the 26th.  Also, how was the Combine battalion supposed to land on the 27th, if they came in at the nadir point on the 25th and had a nine-day transit ahead of them?  Were they coming in at 4.5 gees to make the 9-day 1-G transit in two days?  The Combine troops would barely have been able to stand, let alone fight, after a ride like that.  (For reference, the Space Shuttle got up to 3-Gs during launch, for about 8.5 minutes.)

If played as a straight-up stand-alone scenario, it'll be a slaughter.  The Combine forces are outgunned, outnumbered, and outskilled.  The only way to make this scenario at all entertaining for the Combine player is to do the linked scenario, so that the Hound numbers can be whittled down by pilot kills, courtesy of the "ninja infantry." 

As usual, I'm surprised that the Sword of Light troops are such bad gunners and pilots.  Their skills are rarely better than baseline for Regular, and several appear to be Green.  I was under the impression that troops don't get assigned to Sword of Light regiments straight out of the academy, but instead are placed into Regulars regiments, and the best of the best become candidates to join the elite Sword of Light.  So how did Dean Towers and Tim Eagen (both 5/5 stumblebums) get in? 

About the only way for the Combine to achieve a victory in a stand-alone scenario is to take advantage of the Panthers' ability to make massed long range PPC attacks.  Have them deploy as far north as possible in a firing line and, and jump over the ridges to block line of sight to the Hounds.  Keep bouncing back until you reach the woods on the northern map. As soon as any Hound comes into your long range, mass fire on them.  Ideally, you'll take one down, and then you can bounce back off the map en-masse and win on points.

There'll probably be infantry in your rear area, but massed PPC and missile fire will do for them, too. 

For the Hounds, I'd look at where the Combine sets up, and then put all the infantry hidden along the most likely path back towards the northern edge.  When they make their initial jump, you'll be positioned for a point blank attack from hidden units, and can possibly kill one or two.  They'll have jumped, and their PPCs will have minimum range issues, so you're likely only to take scattered missile hits.  That'll put you up on points, so the Combine 'Mechs can't withdraw until they drop some Hounds.

If that is the case, lead the charge with your heavies that have good long-range attacks.  Your LRM units can out-range the Panthers' PPCs, so move up to the outer edge of long range and bombard the Panthers from out of their effective response zone to soften them up.  Then charge forward with your most heavily armored units and mass fire on enemy Panthers.  With superior firepower and armor, you'll get the better of any exchange (especially once you've emptied your LRM racks into them). 
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Frabby

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Jones didn't muster out early. As far as I recall, the Hounds reasoned that Morgan Kell being local duke gave him the legal power to adjust the date, giving Jones' "early retirement" a genuine legal leg to stand on. It's Morgan Kell who would have to answer questions, not Jones. I also seem to recall there was something about the date having to be adjusted anyways, just not so early.

What we've seen from the 2nd Sword of Light so far is a curious idea of an "elite" unit. They're pathetic backstabbing sycopa(n)thological brownnoses who will let mercs or subjugate units do all the real work for them and only step up to deliver the killing blow and reap all the glory. Simply being the 2nd SoL means they have the clout to steal other units' victories for themselves. By contrast, whenever they have to achieve on their own without another unit holding the silver tablet, they fail comically-catastrophically.

Average MechWarrior skills don's surprise me in this unit; I guess their resume, family ties and wealth are far more important factors for this particular unit.
Yet they're not totally incompetent and have a heavy 'Mech roster with a top-notch technical staff, that goes a long way.
Make no mistake, they are a very dangerous unit - you'll only face them if you're guaranteed to lose. They like to pick fights with inferior or decimated enemies, and then bask in the glory of mopping the floor with these and calling it a victory.
Author of the BattleCorps stories Feather vs. Mountain, Rise and Shine, Proprietary, Trial of Faith & scenario Twins
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Skyth

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In the 3025 House Kurita SB, one of the SoL regiments (8th I think?) is listed as Green/Fanatical I believe.

Mendrugo

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I'm just looking at the House Kurita sourcebook sidebar on the Sword of Light:

"To be accepted into a Sword of Light regiment, a candidate must have spent at least five years in a lesser 'Mech regiment and have scored in the upper five percent of a rigorous battery of political, religious, and military tests.  Those who manage to make their way into a Sword of Light regiment are the creme de la creme." - General Malvos Steinburg (LCAF ret.)

Also, the ComStar summation (from the text of the report): "The main requirement for a MechWarrior's admission to a Sword of Light regiment is fanatical devotion to the Kurita family, demonstrated by at least five years' flawless service in another 'Mech regiment.  The applicant must then undergo a rigorous examination of his mental, physical, spiritual, and political abilities. 

Field Manual: Draconis Combine says "For three hundred years the Sword of Light has remained among the Combine's most skilled BattleMech forces.  The Sword of Light was forced to accept Regular and Green warriors to rebuild the regiments shattered by the Clan invasion."  (This explains the Green SoL regiment)

Circa 3025, the 8th Sword of Light is listed as "Regular," though the 5th and 2nd are Elite, and the 7th and 1st are Veteran.

Since the rules establish the baseline skillset for Elite troops at Gunnery 2 and Piloting 3, I reiterate that the skills of the Panther company aren't up to par, especially for the "Elite" 2nd.  Of course, this scenario is from just a few years after the scenario that gave the Black Widow a G/P score of 4/4. 

My guess is that the examiners' priorities have shifted over the centuries.  Whereas at first, they probably prioritized the necessary skills, by Takashi's era, they'd made political loyalty the primary criterion, letting gunnery skills slip. 
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Dubble_g

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I think the Kell Hounds scenarios illustrate the challenges of integrating BattleTech the wargame with MechWarrior the RPG. Most fights in an RPG are by design one-sided, unless a sadistic GM is trying to lose friends. But in BTech, the cold unfeeling hand of statistical probability says every once in a while you're going to get an AC/20 to the head.

So the Kell Hounds scenarios sound like they're designed to be run like an RPG, with the GM controlling the OpFor and managing difficulty to keep the players from being wiped out.

Incidentally, this was always my issue with the old scenario packs: one player gets to play the cool, elite stars, the other player gets stuck with a bunch of faceless nobodies.
« Last Edit: 13 March 2017, 00:00:55 by Dubble_g »

Wrangler

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I think calling a bridge elite depends on when it is.

Troops are withered down overtime. Perhaps the Panther Company was disposable troops that were attached the Sword of Light.  I personally think the talk of SoL being elite of the Draconis Combine is true to sense of propaganda.  It's like baseball team, you win the World Series one year and next you have new bunch of good skilled players who are green in-comparison to the vets who had left team previous year.

I think it's matter its a in-universe publication produced with perhaps propaganda mixed in like the Jihad books.
Grant you. This is from early source book vs Field Manuals we seen in 3085 and later 3145.  It's has writers with a completely different mind set behind them. 

Frankly, I'd would have found it rather boring as heck to have everyone of the regiments (even main and figurehead ones) nothing less than elite pilots straight through.  Heck there been regiments with even lower skill sets than 4/5 or 5/6 and being called regulars.  I think it was game balance and just away to make it beatable for an apposing player who going at them like their OP Force.
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Mendrugo

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I think the Kell Hounds scenarios illustrate the challenges of integrating BattleTech the wargame with MechWarrior the RPG. Most fights in an RPG are by design one-sided, unless a sadistic GM is trying to lose friends. But in BTech, the cold unfeeling hand of statistical probability says every once in a while you're going to get an AC/20 to the head.

So the Kell Hounds scenarios sound like they're designed to be run like an RPG, with the GM controlling the OpFor and managing difficulty to keep the players from being wiped out.

Incidentally, this was always my issue with the old scenario packs: one player gets to play the cool, elite stars, the other player gets stuck with a bunch of faceless nobodies.

I'm not sure the Hound scenarios were too heavily slanted in favor of the heroes.  The battle with DEST in the corridors of the HQ has huge potential to cripple or kill a significant portion of the MechWarriors, and that (by extension) can result in the fight against the Panthers being more even. 

The Sorenson's Sabres scenarios are among the hardest I've seen. 
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Decoy

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An old battleforce rule to consider was that one third of a force was a level above their rating (unless capped) and one third of a force was a level below. This would mean that the 2nd Sword might have four veteran companies with four regular lances.

Mendrugo

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I think calling a brigade elite depends on when it is.

Troops are withered down overtime. Perhaps the Panther Company was disposable troops that were attached the Sword of Light.  I personally think the talk of SoL being elite of the Draconis Combine is true to sense of propaganda.  It's like baseball team, you win the World Series one year and next you have new bunch of good skilled players who are green in-comparison to the vets who had left team previous year.

I think it's matter its a in-universe publication produced with perhaps propaganda mixed in like the Jihad books.
Grant you. This is from early source book vs Field Manuals we seen in 3085 and later 3145.  It's has writers with a completely different mind set behind them. 

Frankly, I'd would have found it rather boring as heck to have everyone of the regiments (even main and figurehead ones) nothing less than elite pilots straight through.  Heck there been regiments with even lower skill sets than 4/5 or 5/6 and being called regulars.  I think it was game balance and just away to make it beatable for an apposing player who going at them like their OP Force.

Both the original 3025 Kurita book and the 3059 Field Manual are fairly consistent in regard to the rigid qualifications for Sword of Light membership.  I don't think it's propaganda, since we have quotes from the LCAF, DCMS, and ComStar independently corroborating the requirements. 

In the case of the Elite 2nd (and the Regular 8th), it may be the case that personnel inducted had no demerits for five years, was fanatically loyal to the Coordinator, could quote verbatim from the Dictum Honorium, and were masters of the tea ceremony, but had spent those five years on a backwater garrison posting with no live fire engagement.  The Combine equivalent of a Lyran social general.  Looks the perfect samurai, but can't hit the broad side of a barn.  (Skill advancement is, depending on the ruleset, tied to the number of engagements survived or the number of kills scored, so a backwater posting would have little opportunity for getting better.) 

For the 2nd, perhaps the command staff recognize the existence of such shakai busō senshi, and assigns them Panthers, leaving heavier, better armed 'Mechs for pilots with the requisite gunnery skills.  By burning through those mooks ("Welcome to the Sword of Light.  Here's a nice suicide mission for you.") they can maintain their average Elite rating.

I don't think the engagement would have been boring if the Panthers had been better gunners.  The Hound player, despite being heavier and better armed, would have had to approach very carefully - knowing that the Panthers would be jumping for a +2 defensive modifier and still able to reliably hit at range - a storm of 120 points of highly accurate long range fire at any Hound that pokes its head out.  The maneuver phase would then become critical in surviving/winning, rather than it just being a race to splatter as many hapless Panthers as possible before the survivors can bug out.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Date: May 25, 3027
 
Location: Styx

Title: Warrior: En Garde

Author: Michael A. Stackpole
 
Type: Novel

Synopsis: Melissa Steiner, Clovis Holstein, and Andrew Redburn review the holographic display of the mining base, trying to figure out where the Combine forces will try to enter.  Redburn feels frustrated with a situation suited for infantry, and him without a BattleMech.

Following Melissa's revelation, the Holsteins had confessed to being Heimdall.  Working together, they determined that Aldo Lestrade was behind the plot to have Melissa vanish from a Davion-controlled world, souring relations.

Melissa receives a report of an atmospheric leak from the small docking bay.  She orders Echo One to retreat back to Echo Two's checkpoint and ready a trap.  All non-essential personnel evacuate to the Silver Eagle

Redburn grabs a rifle and tells Melissa he's going to join Team Tiger, leaving Melissa with her bodyguards in the command center.  She pleads with him to remain, saying she's not ready to be in charge of 750 people.  Redburn tells her she has a responsibility to the people who believe in her. 

Clovis reports contact on Echo Level.  Echo Team springs its trap, and the sound of rifle fire comes over the communication system.  Baker One and Four report a large breech, with infantry pouring through.  Melissa dispatches mobile Teams Panther and Leopard to support Baker. 

Melissa checks on Echo, and hears only silence.  Clovis reports the radios are dead.  On the tactical display, Echo's icons wink out, as do Baker's, Panther's, and Leopard's.  Melissa directs Jaguar, Puma, and Bobcat to the fight on Baker level, and Tiger to Echo.

On Echo level, Redburn's team gets into a firefight with ISF ninjas, and are forced to fall back in the face of superior firepower.  A satchel of explosives arcing towards him is the last thing he sees before the world goes black.  In the command center, the Tiger icon disappears.

Notes: I still don't know how Lestrade expected to benefit from soured relations between the Federated Suns and Lyran Commonwealth.  Coordinated attacks through the Terran corridor stand to expand the holdings in the Isle of Skye. 

I'm guessing Melissa's "infantry training" was purely theoretical - strategy, tactics, and logistics.  She mentions that arranging the deployment of the defense teams was "like a game," so that's probably how it was handled during her training. 

In her position, I'd have had teams on the outside in suits.  Once the ISF boarded, a strong (and unexpected) counterattack on the surface might have been able to seize control of (or at least cripple) the Fury.  The rest of the Heimdall and Silver Eagle passengers could have then booked on the Monarch and the Bifrost, and the Fury would have been unable to follow.  That still leaves the issue of the Overlord, but it takes the ISF out of the equation.  If the Fury was captured, it could be plotted on a collision course with the Overlord, with escape pods launched at the last minute (for pickup by the Monarch).
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Date: May 25, 3027
 
Location: Galatea

Title: I'm Watching Zach's Every Move

Author: Tom Sloper
 
Type: Encounter (SNES MechWarrior)

Synopsis: Herras Ragen returns to Club Zero-Zero, and discusses the political situation in the Inner Sphere with the maitre'd, Cearle Jamist.  Checking his inbox, he finds a message from Roden Wull, his paid informant, who confirms that Zach Slasher is a member of the Dark Wing Lance and is en route to Cawdor.  Ragen also gets a report from MIIO Agent Lana Mann, who calls Ragen "Sir" and says she's infiltrated an underground network on Puxi.

Notes: Mann's use of "Sir" by Lana Mann, given the fact that Ragen lacks an official rank in the AFFS, seems to support the speculation that Ragen is actually an undercover troubleshooter for the MIIO. 
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Dubble_g

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I'm not sure the Hound scenarios were too heavily slanted in favor of the heroes.  The battle with DEST in the corridors of the HQ has huge potential to cripple or kill a significant portion of the MechWarriors, and that (by extension) can result in the fight against the Panthers being more even. 

... You just said as a one-off scenario it's heavily slanted in favor of the heroes??? You also mentioned the need to artificially slow down the commandos to keep the battle fair. Which sounds like the role of a GM to me.

The second point about scenario packs isn't the difficulty level, it's the fact that one player controls the guys with detailed backstories and interesting history, the other plays a bunch of faceless nobodies. So it was a lot less fun for whoever was the OpFor. At least that was our experience, which is of course subjective.

However I note subsequent scenario pack-like products have moved away from pregenerated teams to letting players use their own forces, which might be a result of the same feedback among the wider player base (access to maps, minis also...).

Mendrugo

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The first (MechWarrior) scenario is, as written, heavily slanted against the heroes.  The second (as a stand-alone) is heavily slanted against the Combine.  As a pair, a strong performance by the Combine in Scenario 1 can make Scenario 2 much more equal, or even a blowout by the Combine if Scenario 1 turns into a massacre. 

The reason I suggested a modification to the Combine rules is that the scenario just about defaults to a massacre that the Hounds can't survive if the Combine doesn't have to check every room they pass.  The Hounds have a supposed advantage that they can move freely, knowing where everything is, while the Combine has to stop and search every room they enter.  But the player, of course, will know exactly where the Hound bunks are located, so there's no incentive to check any other rooms - just race straight to the barracks, overwhelming and killing Salome en-route.  I was just arguing that, as written, the restriction on the ISF forces had no real impact, and it should be reinterpreted to work as I believe the author intended.  If played as written, my guess would be that Scenario 2 would almost always pit the four infantry platoons and two 'Mechs (Allard and Wilson) against the full Panther company.

The MechWarrior engagement is not the most unbalanced scenario I've reviewed (the worst one would be the Black Widow attack on Anton Marik's compound - where the Widows can easily kill Anton in about two turns, before his guard 'Mechs even have a chance to power up.)  And, as with any linked scenario, having one side pile it in early on can ruin the balance of succeeding scenarios. 
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Date: May 26, 3027
 
Location: Solaris VII

Title: Warrior: En Garde

Author: Michael A. Stackpole
 
Type: Novel

Synopsis: Fuh Teng, Tung Yuan, and Justin Xing take an early morning stroll through Montenegro to Gray Noton's warehouse, where his personal Rifleman, Legend Killer, awaits. 

Later, at the set of "Pregame Palaver," Xiang and Philip Capet sit for a pre-fight interview.  The host, Kevin Johnson, introduces Capet as the reigning Open Class champion, with 24 kills in the arenas.  He introduces Xiang as having fought and killed seven foes, all from the Federated Suns.  During the commercial break, Johnson exhorts the two fighters to make it entertaining.  He asks Xiang what 'Mech he will fight in, but Xiang says his contract doesn't require him to reveal that information. 

Back on the air, Johnson gives an overview of the Ishiyama ("Stone Mountain") arena in the Kobe District, a three-dimensional maze of tunnels, hidden passages, and movable walls.  Capet last fought there eight months earlier, but it will be Xiang's first time.  Xiang needles Capet about the destruction of his home village on Uravan, prompting Capet to charge towards Xiang.  Johnson intervenes, but Capet drops him with a roundhouse punch, and swears Xiang will die in the upcoming match.

The match begins, and Xiang marches his Rifleman into the arena.  He maneuvers through the maze of tunnels using infrared sensors to try to spot his foe, also piloting a Rifleman, in the darkness.  Xiang's heat spikes after the first exchange of fire, and Xiang proceeds cautiously.

When he spots Capet again, Xiang opens a channel and tells his foe that the match has ended.  He is answered by Capet's mocking laughter as a Firestarter and an UrbanMech emerge from the darkness, flanking Xiang's position. 

Xiang evades the trap by pushing the Rifleman forward off a ledge, dropping 20 meters and scouring off his rear armor.  Elevating his lasers, he targets the Firestarter's fuel cells, causing it to explode.  The UrbanMech jumps down into the crevasse after him, only to be cored by Xiang's alpha strike.

Limping and overheated, armor in tatters, Xiang again challenges Capet to come face him.  Xiang walks the Rifleman backwards along the corridor, with his gun arms reversed.  Capet emerges from a side tunnel and alpha strikes into what he believes is Xiang's thin rear armor, only to have it absorbed by the still intact front armor.  Xiang laughs, and centers his fire on Capet's cockpit, annihilating the Fedrat warrior with laser and autocannon fire.

In the locker room afterwards, Xiang finds a gold and black silk robe waiting for him - a gift from Tsen Shang.  Two of Shang's tong henchmen escort him to their boss, waiting in a Feicui aircar outside.  Shang conveys the gratitude of the entire Capellan Confederation and they share a celebratory drink.  Shang provides Xiang a set of fake documents in the name of Thomas Yuan.  Xiang then passes out, due to drugs in the drink.  The last thing he hears is that this is done on the orders of those who find Quintus Allard's son too valuable to kill.

Notes: The exposed fuel tanks on the flamer assemblies in TRO:3025 really seem to have spoken to Stackpole.  This is the second time in Warrior: En Garde that Xiang has defeated an enemy 'Mech by targeting the fuel pods. 

Theoretically, Ishiyama is run by representatives of House Kurita.  With Xiang establishing himself as anti-FedSuns, why would the arena staff have permitted a FedRat champion to bring extra 'Mechs into the arena.  I imagine that in the eternal Kuritan balance between ninjo and giri, a healthy wad of C-Bills goes a long way towards tipping the scales.

There's no evidence of any special "LosTech" equipment on Legend Killer in this engagement, despite rumors that it was enhanced, somehow.  It seems to have the standard overheating problems inherent to the standard 3N (and 2N) models, so it probably doesn't have double heat sinks.  He notes a short supply of autocannon ammunition, so the ACs may be Ultra models.  Hitting Capet in the cockpit with both the lasers and the autocannons suggests some sort of targeting computer, but that's ClanTech, not LosTech.

I can understand the use of an UrbanMech for the ambush - especially if it is one of the UM-R60L models with an AC/20 (great for close-quarters ambushes).  But why a Firestarter?  Medium lasers and flamers, plus a heap of jump jets in constricted tunnels?  Why not a Hunchback?
« Last Edit: 14 March 2017, 03:55:04 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Date: May 26, 3027
 
Location: Solaris VII

Title: In the Champion's Shadow

Author: Bryan Nystul
 
Type: Scenario (First Strike)

Synopsis: Quoted in Hard Luck Stories of Solaris VII, Volume Ten, Bart "Quasimodo" Marston tells why he hates Justin Xiang.  Marston's big, career-making match was scheduled at Steiner Stadium opposite the Xiang/Capet grudge match in Ishiyama.  The stands were half-empty, with Solaris City's attention focused on the "monkey business" over in Kobe.

Amid the rising and falling walls and pylons of the Coliseum, a two-on-two match pits the Mavericks against the Bad Bloods. 

The Bad Bloods are the Marston siblings (Angela and Bart) in a Jenner and a Hunchback, while the Mavericks are Jason Yasbek and Hohiro Tanaka in an Enforcer and a Panther

The Mavericks have 85 tons with a BV of 2,172.  The Bad Bloods have 85 tons, but a BV of 2,068.  Pretty close, but (as the scenario setup says) making the Mavericks the favorites. 

Historically, the Bad Bloods won handily, their 13th straight victory.  However, the lack of betting and terrible ratings resulted in a miniscule purse, and the Marstons were forced out of the dueling circuit for financial reasons shortly thereafter.  Even in 3052, Marston is bitter against Xiang for having inadvertently ruined his career.

Notes:  This scenario is included in the First Strike scenario pack, intended to give new players an introduction to the variety of venues for combat.  Most of the setup repeats the rules from the Solaris VII boxed set on how Steiner Coliseum works, and how to replicate it on a standard BattleTech map.

In the close-quarters fight, Marston's Hunchback is poised to dominate with its AC/20.  On the other hand, all the other 'Mechs are jump-capable.  Initiative will play a major factor in the fight, and the Mavericks should stay away from "Quasimodo" until they win initiative, and then jump in behind him for back-shots. 

I wonder if Bart got his own interview on "Pregame Palaver?" 
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.