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Author Topic: Alpha Strike Experience  (Read 1111 times)


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Alpha Strike Experience
« on: 25 October 2016, 17:08:10 »

I decided to start this thread to chronicle our Alpha Strike experience and hopefully get comments and suggestions on how to improve our games.

There are a few things we are doing differently right from the start.  First, we are playing on hex maps and not using inch-based terrain.  Second, we are using advanced rules to distinguish between Light Woods and Heavy Woods, if nothing but to determine LoS.

So today was the first day we got to play Alpha Strike for real.  I had been reading the book over the past 3 weeks but couldn't start playing because my printer was running low on toner and there were problems getting replacement toner cartridges.  Anyway, I got the printer working beautifully again the past weekend and printed out some sheets and cut them into card-size.  My youngest boy, age 7, was curious about all the cutting I was doing and when he realized that it was for the "cool book" I was reading lately, he got really excited and wanted to play so last night, I tried to get ready as best I can.

On our first game, I pit him against his older brother, aged 13, and they went one-v-one with a Grasshopper each.  I explained movement ("It's half of whatever is printed out as its MV"), facing, range brackets, attacks, damage, and armor/structure.  However, they were very timid with their attacks; neither of them wanted to be shot at which also meant they were in no position to shoot anyway.  We were playing with the Open Terrain 2 map and they were at either ends, hiding behind the forests.  After a few rounds with only about 2 hits to show for it, I stopped the "simulation" and had their instructor (me!) pit them against two senior MechWarriors.  We restarted the game but now it was a 2-v-2 with a Grasshopper and a Jenner on each side, with me piloting both mechs for my side and my eldest on the Jenner and his brother on the Grasshopper.  Again, they both started by hiding behind the forests so I set up my guys on the forest at the middle of the map which drew their mechs towards the middle of their home edge.  I then tried to be aggressive and try putting the Jenner on a flanking attack but that didn't work out and my Jenner was promptly destroyed by a few awesome rolls.  The 2-v-1 that resulted seemed to boost their confidence and they started entering their forest to see if they could get LoS to my Grasshopper and take it out.  Their Jenner started to come down the middle of the map to try and flank me so I had no choice but to move out of the forest and try to engage his Grasshopper before he could take me out.  No such luck and they won the game, gloating about "I thought these were senior MechWarriors!"

I decided we could try a lance-on-lance fight so I brought out a Grasshopper, Catapult, and Jenner for each side and they picked a Panther for their fourth while I went with a Clint.  Same map, same configuration.  They parked their Catapult on the corner of the map, clearly intending to make use of its IF ability even though they didn't even know how to work it out at that point.  The rest of their force deployed behind the forest again.  For my end, I placed the Jenner and the Grasshopper to the left side, aiming to take the center forest again with my Catapult on the right side behind the forest with the Clint getting ready to act as spotter.  He brought his own Jenner and Grasshopper to the center of his home edge to try and meet my mechs and for some reason, managed to scrape off the two units of armor from my Jenner.  I made a retreat and brought my Clint forward to try and take out his Panther, stopping just outside his forest area and brought my Jenner that way to see if it can contribute to the firepower.  I also parked my Catapult in  my woods to see if I can make some direct fire attacks.  My positioning seemed to scream "flank me!!" and he brought HIS Catapult out in the open to flank my two light mechs.  Three crappy rolls (rolling just one below the TN) robbed me of 10 points of damage which delighted my boys to no end.  They made quick work of my light mechs and it seemed that they would get a clean victory.  Luck was not all on their favor though, as I managed to crit the Grasshopper and get an ammo explosion, his Jenner went down to missile fire from the Catapult, and it was only due to unlucky initiative rolls that they manage to finish off my forces.

The first two games highlighted a few changes that felt very odd.  First is the fact that facing is now free, and so is turning.  Second is that a mech can move only 2 hexes, but still get the full TMM.  Third is that forests no longer seemed to give the advantage that they did in Classic BattleTech.  We also realized we were doing a few things wrong --- we obviously weren't playing with the Forced Withdrawal rule and while we were alternating mech activation during the movement phase, I totally forgot that one side would activate and fire **ALL** his mechs during the combat phase. We "fixed" this on the third game.  Reading the errata afterwards made me realize there were changes to the rules regarding jumping... during the first games, it felt wrong jumping the Grasshoppers everywhere and there being no penalty for doing so for either attacker or defender.  I was glad to read about the rules for jumping mechs, and also the Standstill rule.

I told the boys about this and they seemed excited about the changes.  They clearly wanted to play again and when I told them they must shower and brush their teeth before we play again, well, suffice to say the never got ready for anything that fast before!

Our first games made me realize this "kill everything" games were not their thing.  I needed scenarios, some stimulus or motivation for them to be aggressive or defensive.  I decided we were going to play Capture the Flag, Forced Withdrawal rules in effect, and set up the BattleTech map and the Open Terrain 2 map, long-edges together with the Open Terrain map being their home edge.  I put a d12 die in the middle of the map, called it the objective, and ruled that it would take two points of movement to "grab" the objective.  I also ruled that Jenners and Clint only needed 1 structure damage before they would be Forced Withdrawn.  They didn't need more explanation than that and we set up our forces.  The new ruling on jumping made quite an effect straight away, as they were trying to sort out whether jumping or running would be better.  Losing initiative on Turn 2, they used their Jenner to grab the objective but only managed to enter the center forest of their map while I had my own Jenner in close range with my Clint and Grasshopper taking Standstill the previous move phase.  Good rolls meant his Jenner went down quick which he wasn't prepared for.  I used the next turn to grab the objective and run out into the open --- but in the direction that meant he wouldn't have LOS for two of his mechs.  That was it, really.  With my Clint and Grasshopper just standing still and sniping, I was getting TNs of 7s or 8s and his Catapult and Panther just melted under accurate fire.

While it was nice to win my first game, I realized I needed to be careful with this game as I don't want them losing so often that they'd be disillusioned with the game.  My eldest in particular was more keen on playing a "campaign" while the little one was more interested in rolling dice and doing damage.  We stopped the game after that, but four games over the course of an evening was really more than I hoped for and I'm very happy that they seem to be very excited for the next game.

I'm thinking of having them pick out some mechs and build a company-sized force and we'll start a "planetary raid" campaign, then we'll add in some "special abilities" and progression rules so that they'll be a bit more invested in their pilots and mechs.

Whew!!  Apologies for the wall of text there, but a lot of good things has happened this evening and I just wanted to share.  I've got a lot more reading to do... took a look at the Sword and Dragon book and for some reason I thought I remembered it as an Alpha Strike book so I was surprised to find out it's a CBT book.  It's using a lot of mechs not in the starter set anyway so I guess it's for the best that I can't use it outside of "for inspiration."  I am holding off buying the new Mercenaries book because I want to add it to my BattleCorps collection but since I'm not getting any help retrieving my account, I may have to start a DTRPG collection.  I'll talk to my FLGS tomorrow as well, see if he can source the dead-tree version from the distributor.

I can't wait to play more games with my boys and watch them develop tactics and strategies and I'm very happy they seem to love the game a lot!
« Last Edit: 25 October 2016, 17:11:37 by -Ice »

Adrian Gideon

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Re: Alpha Strike Experience
« Reply #1 on: 26 October 2016, 08:54:29 »
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Re: Alpha Strike Experience
« Reply #2 on: 26 October 2016, 14:02:34 »
Glad you enjoyed the game. If you're on Facebook I have a page dedicated to AS also. Battletech international  Alpha Strike.
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