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Author Topic: Alpha Strike: An Attempt at the Quickstart Scenarios  (Read 2086 times)

Ascension

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Alpha Strike: An Attempt at the Quickstart Scenarios
« on: 21 November 2015, 00:06:45 »
As I have mentioned elsewhere on the forums, I'm an ex-MWDA/AoD player living in a rural area. I'm very interested in getting into Alpha Strike, but I no longer have a game shop nearby, nor do I know anyone I could easily try to rope into a game... except my dad. And teaching my dad new games isn't exactly easy. Buuut I pitched it to him as a way to get my old WizKids 'Mechs out of storage, and managed to talk him into a test game with the Quickstart rules.

He surprised my by asking way more questions about the circumstances of our battle than are established in the Quickstart scenarios, so I expanded the basic premise of the scenarios into the following briefing:
Quote
Intelligence Report
ATTN: Col. Ray [Redacted], Raymond's Wreckers


Aldebaran V
November 13, 3030


   The star it orbits may be an orange giant, but Aldebaran V is placed just right for that to mean little more than spectacular sunrises and strange tides. Taken from the Capellans early in the Fourth Succession War, the planet has been Federated Suns territory for two years now, just long enough for the nobles to stop worrying about popular uprisings or external threats and start worrying about which one of them is going to get to call it theirs. Its BattleMech manufacturing plant is still in good working order, and that's going to be a feather in someone's cap.

   Your employer, Duke Edmund Blackadder, wants the factory on Aldebaran V secured in his name, and he's not afraid to use deniable assets (in other words, you) to do it. Unfortunately, it seems his adjutant, a gentleman by the name of Baldrick, failed to understand that the point of deniable assets is that you're supposed to deny them. Indications are that his chief rival, a Duke Bertram Wooster, has taken the precaution of employing a local mercenary unit, the Tikonov Rangers, to safeguard the facility.

   The Tikonov Rangers have a solid mix of 'Mechs on the ground, similar in composition to your force. We've seen no sign of air, artillery, or vehicular support, probably due to their hasty deployment. You're looking at close to an even match.

   Keep in mind, the Rangers are fighting for money, same as you are. If you bloody their nose bad enough, they might just decide to cut their losses. At the other extreme, in a worst case scenario... Duke Blackadder has given discretionary authorization for Plan E: “If I can't have it, no one will.” He would consider the destruction of the factory a partial victory.

   Good luck out there, Colonel.

He became palpably less interested in the game when I mentioned the printable counters, so I promised him we'd use my minis... which meant that I had to get creative. I used IICs as proxies for the Warhammer and Marauder, and even then I couldn't lay hands on a second Warhammer or Firestarter to do the second scenario, the lance vs. lance mirror match, as laid out in the Quickstart. Trying to keep things 3025ish, I grabbed the Griffin's stats off the MUL and made the lance vs. lance scenario two Zeus/Marauder/Griffin/Hatchetman lances. I also made the lance fight the final fight over the factory, both because I didn't think he'd handle the added complexity of a company vs. company engagement well and because I would have to strain to come up with two companies' worth of MWDA/AoD minis from my collection that would all be available in the Succession Wars era.

He handled my explanation of the rules well up until my first mention of Charge and DFA attacks, at which point he locked up, and I decided to just drop trying to explain them, since they're rarer events. He also only let me give him an abbreviated explanation of terrain (basically just what it does, without numbers attached). Then he wanted to get started.

As suggested in the QS, I placed a single patch of woods and a single pond, both printed from the Quickstart's terrain, in the center of the board for the opening bout. They were both small for our 'Mechs, since we were using N-scale minis rather than the paper cutouts from the Quickstart, but I figured they'd still work, and I couldn't find my old MWDA terrain templates. I took the Marauder and Firestarter, since I figured their interaction with Heat, and the Marauder's reduced damage at Short range, would require a little more finesse, and gave him the Warhammer and Hatchetman. I didn't take notes, but I'm pretty certain it played out like this:

Turn one:
I won initiative. He made a short advance onto the board, with his Warhammer coming up behind the woods and his Hatchetman behind the water, and I made a longer advance, mirroring him, with my Firestarter on the woods side and my Marauder on the water side. The Firestarter ended up within medium range of his Warhammer, everything else was long; in the firing, the only thing that connected was a lucky hail mary from my Marauder to his Warhammer.

Turn two:
I won initiative again. He made another short, casual advance, while I jumped my Firestarter into the far edge of the woods and moved my Marauder very near the water. I believe all the shooting missed.

Turn three:
I won initiative yet again, and used it to help get my Firestarter into his Warhammer's rear arc. My Marauder moved up into the water. I'm not really sure what his Hatchetman did. In the shooting, I successfully backstabbed the Warhammer with my Firestarter, taking it down to one armor and heating it up at the same time. I don't think any of the other shooting hit.

Turn four:
I won initiative again, using it to keep my Firestarter on his Warhammer's rear arc when he tried to advance on my Marauder. His Hatchetman nearly based the Firestarter (which, I understand, would've prevented it from making a ranged attack), but fell less than an inch short. I had the MAD stand ground, counting on the partial cover bonus of being submerged. In the shooting, my Firestarter backstabbed the Warhammer a second time (taking it down to Structure, scoring a Fire Control Hit, and raising it to 2 Heat), but took a hatchet in reprisal, stripping its armor. The Marauder was hit by the Warhammer (...kind of... I realized at the start of the next turn that we'd forgotten to take the Warhammer's heat into account, but I felt like my dad needed some kind of a win, so I didn't mention it), and missed its return shot.

Turn five: He finally won initiative. I retreated my Marauder out of the water, and he... turned his Warhammer on my Firestarter's non-final position, suicidally giving the MAD his back. I moved my Firestarter to the Warhammer's rear as well, but was based by the Hatchetman in return. In the shooting, my Marauder put an end to his Warhammer (winning the fight, by the intro scenario's rules), but his Hatchetman finished off my Firestarter, making it a pyrrhic victory.

The final state of the battlefield (please pardon the blurriness; my phone is a poor camera):


After slightly more than a Futurama episode's worth of downtime, he told me he was ready to get back to it, and I set up the full lance vs. lance fight for the fate of the factory. He won initiative to start. We both entered the map fairly carelessly (his mechs in a single tight group, aside from his Griffin, which entered at the far corner, and mine spaced pretty evenly across the board, but without much thought to sight lines), and he was taken aback when I started sighting for attacks, having forgotten how long "long range" is.

My lines of sight were clearest to his Hatchetman, so I opened up on it with my Griffin, Zeus, and Marauder from long range. The Marauder missed, but the other two got lucky, which was enough to take its first point of Structure, scoring another Fire Control critical. I then stood back to let him determine his shooting...

He informed me that the Hatchetman was his favorite, and proceeded to unload everything from all four of his 'Mechs onto the factory in vengeance, or in what he termed an attempt to teach me "not to get cocky around your elders." Since I'd kept the lance vs. lance fight at Skill 3 across the board, since his 'Mechs were all within medium range of the central factory building with no intervening terrain, and since it was a stationary target, he couldn't miss. It went up in flames, and he declined to continue the fight after securing the draw, instead walking off to go watch Hogan's Heroes.

The final state of the battlefield (not pictured: the smoking crater that had been the main factory, dead center of the table):


Closing thoughts:
Overall I think my initial view of the system is positive, though I found it a little tricky to remember every possible modifier on every attack roll when I'm new at this myself, and my dad was barely even trying to keep track of any of the numbers. It seems a lot easier to get into each other's rear arc than I thought it would be when just reading the rules, at least when you're both trying to bring short-range and/or melee weapons to bear. That makes maneuver an even bigger factor than I expected.

Back years ago, when I tried to teach him MWDA, he was intensely frustrated by having fewer orders to give than units on the field and by needing to decide whether to move or to shoot, and the way AS turns play out eliminated both those concerns, so that was nice. Thankfully, he was able to come up with the analogy of home field advantage in baseball letting the home team bat in the bottom of the inning as a way to comprehend how initiative works, so that didn't even prove to be a stumbling block.

Maneuver, along with his unwillingness to try to use terrain to his advantage, was what sunk my dad in our first game, moreso than the dice. Losing the initiative on every turn but the last certainly didn't help in that regard, but he never really attempted any strategy more complex than simply getting closer to me, either. That let his Hatchetman get in a couple of hard licks, but left him vulnerable in return.

Dad tells me that he did enjoy himself, and that he'd be willing to play again tomorrow without blowing up the factory immediately out of spite, but I recognize the pattern from pretty much every time I try to teach him any game. He won't really enjoy himself until he wins, and he never takes it well when I hurt his favorites (a lesson I should've learned over a decade ago, when my attempts to teach him the Pokemon TCG were permanently ended because I knocked out his Pikachu), but he'd recognize it if I tried to throw a game. I don't really see any long-term future in us playing Alpha Strike together.

Alpha Strike in general, though, I do like. I'd like to see a little more differentiation between weapons, but bringing more specials into play would definitely help with that. Were I to find a group, I'm sure I'd enjoy playing it.

nckestrel

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Re: Alpha Strike: An Attempt at the Quickstart Scenarios
« Reply #1 on: 21 November 2015, 08:04:27 »
Nice Intel report write up.
Maybe the factory scenario needs a turn limit, can't attack it till turn 3 or 4?
Alpha Strike Introduction resources
Left of Center blog - Nashira Campaign for A Game of Armored Combat, TP 3039 Vega Supplemental Record Sheets

Ascension

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Re: Alpha Strike: An Attempt at the Quickstart Scenarios
« Reply #2 on: 21 November 2015, 10:57:00 »
Thanks.  :)

Blowing the factory early, when it's indefensible, wouldn't be a problem if both players were truly playing to win, since no one can win with it taken off the board. You could try to formalize a limitation on that action, as you suggested or by firmly saying that you can't go after the factory until you've already become unable to secure the primary victory condition (destroying half your opponent's force before they destroy half of yours), but I think my inclination would be to alter the scenario itself if I knew going in that my opponent would be trying to destroy the factory as soon as possible, rather than trying to capture it.

If the factory were placed near the defender's table edge and the defender started deployed on-field around it, as a better-prepared security force would likely be, then the defender would have a fighting chance to shield it against early fire, which could force the attacker to actually deal with at least some of the defenders before going for the jugular. You could even screen it with initial terrain placement if that proved still too easy for the offense.

At the end of the day, though, I think it's more of a social contract issue than a rules issue. We've talked it over a bit, and we may run it again soon. I think the factory, and his Hatchetman, will survive the first turn. Probably. ^^;