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Author Topic: Alpha Strike: Breakthrough! 400 pts  (Read 1975 times)

Tai Dai Cultist

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Alpha Strike: Breakthrough! 400 pts
« on: 26 July 2015, 13:48:45 »
Fellow forumite Thorvidar and I have been trying to resurrect a regular BattleTech scene here in Colorado Springs through Alpha Strike.  This week's offering was trying out a scenario.  We selected Breakthrough.  We'd continue our usage of variable damage, forced withdrawal, Lance formations, and also added non-lance given SPAs.

For my company, I selected lance formations I hadn't used before.  A striker lance (No-Dachi, 2 Rokurokubis, Hitotsume-Kozo), a pursuit lance (Jenner, Nyx, Hitman, Wasp), and a battle lance (Orion, Hatamoto, Avatar, Victor).   I had enough points for a single Sabre for top cover.  I munchkinned out the No-Dachi with 3 skill so he could grab Fist Fire and Melee Master.. he'll do 9 damage with his mighty sword in close combat!

Thorvidar was the defender and spent his bonus 25% PV on quality rather than quantity.  His Command Lance, Artillery Lance, and Recon Lance were all liberally spiced with clantech and 3 skill level pilots.  He had a few squads of battle armor, and 2 Sabres to my 1 in the skies.  The only SPA he took that was of impact on the game was antagonizer on a stealth-armored raven.  We agreed to use the version proposed as erratum.

My thoughts pre-game:
I didn't think the scenario was fair to the defender.  All the attacker has to do is combine forces onto one point, and sprint to the other side of the board to win.  Sure, the attacker is bound to lose units, but I couldn't imagine the defender could possibly kill enough in the short amount of time he'd have to score the win.  Plus, the defender gets 100 points for attackers that withdraw back on their own side of the board; he's incentivized to let withdrawing units live (and keep shooting) rather than picking off retreating attackers... 5 points for a battlemech kill, weighed against 100 points for making it withdraw!?!  We agreed to use PV=Victory points for kills, to help balance things in the defender's favor.  Still didn't address how much more valuable it was to let the attacker retreat rather than killing him, but whatever.

I planned from the start to punch my opponent's line along the left table edge, allowing me to put my backs to the edge with no enemies behind them.  I set up my speediest Pursuit lance on my right to encourage my opponent to spread out to the right as much as possible, and use their speed to just flow left and hit the line at the same time as the slower, heavier lances all in one massive hammer-blow.

The scenario rules didn't give my opponent much leeway in setup.. he was forced to string out in a thin line.  He didn't know where I'd be hitting him, so he tried to cover everywhere.  Smart for him, since if he bunched and left large areas weakly defended I'd just be going at those vulnerable areas instead.

My plan executed with only a couple wrinkles:  He dashed an incredibly fast locust behind my lines.  It kind of worked out for me I think, since my pursuit lance was given a reason to flow left without telegraphing that I was going to hammer everything left.  I even managed to kill the locust with my light pursuit mechs! The massing of force resulted in my killing his Orion, leaving a Whitworth and a Catapult as his only forces holding the line against my wedge.

What didn't work out so well was the Stealth Raven backing up to 24" away and antagonizing my No-Dachi.  It was forced to break formation and head straight into the teeth of his ready defenders.. naturally his fire missed the STL raven and also unsurprisingly got savaged out in the open by his battle line.


His antagonizing Raven kept kiting my No-Dachi straight through his lines and away from the support of my wedge.  It didn't matter how I faced my melee monster, being behind his battle line now he could fall any number of mechs into position for a back-shot.  My No-Dachi died without ever getting to thump somebody with his sword.

My opponent sent another sacrificial light fast unit behind my wedge for spotting.  I was too busy with the flow of units to remember to use the probes on my pursuit mechs to identify where his infantry was hiding (they had previously been under the Raven's ECM umbrella...)  I got over-excited and let my Hatamoto use a building for cover before scanning it.  Of course battle-armor was hiding inside.. they ambushed and got a movement crit.  Sigh.  That's a mech that is guaranteed to not escape over the other side of the board now...

His Orion managed to NARC my Victor before I killed it last turn, and it got some satisfaction from the grave as the Victor got savaged by indirect fire and artillery.  I didn't even manage to kill his Spider.

In the skies above, his Sabres split up so I could only engage one of them.  He scored an engine hit on me, I scored a weapon hit on him.


By now my plan is obvious and Thorvidar is compressing his forces down on me as fast as he can.  He uses his Raven to draw a Rokurokubi out of position and into the teeth of his lines rushing to stem my flood on the left.  I see how this is going to work.. the antagonizer is going to deny me an escaping mech each turn.  Frackencrack.  I send the other Rokurokubi over to back up his buddy (he wasn't close enough to escape then and there, otherwise I would have.)

I now have my Victor and Avatar in forced withdrawal, and my Hatamoto is technically still in the fight but it'll never make it to the other side.  I'm seeing that I'm in serious danger of actually losing since I'm already down 2 mechs, 2 more in withdrawal, and 1 more that is movement critted.  Coupled with the antagonizer, I'm thinking I'm in serious danger of losing the game.

My only play is to blitz for the far side and hope for the best.

I have to cover what's largely open terrain, so my TMM 0 Hatamoto is a prime target.  It soaks an incredible amount of damage, and would still have lived through the round but it finally suffered a boxcars on a crit roll.  Headshot!

My enraged Rokurokubi is indeed killed, but his backup managed to score a kill on a Koshi in trade.  Probably not a fair trade at this point.  I can't afford to lose any more units if I want to win.  Not even one.

Up in the skies, our continuing dogfight ends with my sabre taking a weapon hit, but I put his sabre in forced withdrawal.  It's one on one now!  His unengaged Sabre got to strafe my Orion.  Neither of us realized at the time this was going to prove pivotal later on.


His Raven finally botched an antagonizer roll!  I'm free to run units off the board willy nilly!  I begin doing so.
Up in the skies, our Sabres clash again.  I score some damage but no crit; he scores a 2nd engine hit on my Sabre.  Bailing out!


It's come down to just my Orion that's hiding behind trees that couldn't quite make it off the board.. it's a mere 2 or 3 inches from escape.  I've run 5 mechs off his side of the board already.  The rest of my mechs are dead or retreating.  It's literally do or die.. either my Orion lives through the round and is free to escape next turn and give me 50% of my force escaping and thus the win, or the Orion dies or goes into forced withdrawal and I fail to move 50% of my force off his board edge and HE wins.  (with all the trees in the way, the Raven can't get LOS on my Orion to trigger Antagonizer!)

He's only able to maneuver 3 mechs into LOS on my Orion.  I survive the fusillade stripped of armor, and only 1 of 3 internal structure marked off.  It literally came down to 1 point of damage.. one more and my Orion would have been in forced withdrawal!

I ended up "winning", barely, by the graces of the dice on that last turn.

But as I was formatting this batrep, I realized that strafe that hit the Orion earlier should have been for 2 damage, not 1.  We halved the damage as appropriate for a strafe, but both of us forgot that ENE is not halved!  So here in this batrep I retroactively decree Thorvidar the winner after all.

Lessons Learned:
The Breakthrough scenario isn't as unfair to the defender as I thought.  It went to the razor's edge and clearly could have gone either way.  Still, the points thing is a little wonky for the defender.  100 points for letting an attacker fall back rather than just killing it for much, much less points?  I don't know what would be an elegant fix for that, but it's just very awkward as is.

It's hard to say how the proposed errata to Antagonizer plays.  It was super abusive in this game, but I think that's because of the nature of the Scenario.  It certainly would have been vastly MORE abusive without the errata, at any rate.  I think a gentleman's agreement is necessary for this scenario with regards to antagonizer: either the defender doesn't use it at all, or an attacker that's otherwise close enough to escaping off the defender's home edge is still allowed to withdraw instead of succumbing to the effect.

Tai Dai Cultist

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Re: Alpha Strike: Breakthrough! 400 pts
« Reply #1 on: 26 July 2015, 13:52:21 »
Oh yeah another thing:

Our last few games have had people boggle at the game we play, either never having heard of BattleTech or expressing surprise that the game is still alive.  This week we had another looker-peeper of that nature.. a "There's no BattleTech after 3025" player was surprised and I daresay intrigued by BattleTech's current state and the playability of Alpha Strike.

Louie N

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Re: Alpha Strike: Breakthrough! 400 pts
« Reply #2 on: 26 July 2015, 22:53:39 »
 Good report. I hope you get more people.

Let those of us who are local know when you plan to run games.