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Author Topic: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March  (Read 655 times)

Tangoforone

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Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« on: 02 November 2020, 17:05:50 »
What would the effects be on mechs and vehicles, and their pilots, after a forced march?

Scenario: a defender, in favorable terrain, is losing ground to an overwhelming attacker, but it's expecting reinforcements to arrive around this time. The defender must hold out at the location they are at; perhaps a day or so away are the expected reinforcements which can travel at full speed to meet up and push back the attacker, but they need to travel through the night, and need to maintain maximum speed to get there in time.

If i, more or less, redline my vehicles or mechs for an entire day, would anything happen to them? I assume the pilots would get exhausted at the very least, but I am curious if there is lore/stories/(rules even?) of commanders having to do this, and what the effects were or would be to the equipment.

Kerfuffin(925)

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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #1 on: 02 November 2020, 17:44:07 »
The mechs itself should be fine, aside from more RPG/lore style quirks (the myomer being active so long causes this centurions shoulder to lock up).

Vees depending on their engines would be fine, or running low on fuel.

I’m sure it happens often enough in universe although I can’t think of a good example.

As for rules they cover moral rules in Tac Ops (at the tactical [battle] level), and they have strategic moral (the campaign) in Strat Ops under the battle force rules.

AToW or destiny might give you some ideas too, concerting fatigue/non-lethal damage into how it might affect someone.

To make it easy I might just give them either a pilot hit or apply a minor negative quirk to their mech/vee to show how running a mech that long might be affected. Maybe combine it with a negative modifier on the moral checks if you use those.


Adastra

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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #2 on: 02 November 2020, 18:03:33 »
Well, you'll likely see a number of "losses" from simple mechanical wear and tear. Most real-world military vehicles require several times as much maintenance for each hour in use, but most of that is preventative maintenance, aka looking at stuff and replacing worn bits well before they break, so it's more of a question of probability. "redlining" is liable to be far less of a problem, since on most designs the motive system is far from the most energy-consuming/heat-producing component, and even modern engines can run pretty much indefinitely as long as you don't push them too hard and keep em supplied in fuel and oil. ICE engines will likely need one or more refueling stops.

Tires will pop, tracks will be thrown, hovercraft skirts will tear, one could guess that myomer can wear out and mech ankles can be twisted wrong. Someone will get bogged down in mud, or veer into a ditch, or just plain get lost. Obviously, in this case the group can't just stop and wait, so the busted unit will need to be left behind, perhaps even requiring some escorts/engineering units. Those units aren't really losses, but they'll arrive late, possibly too late to participate in the battle.

This of course, assumes you're traveling cross-country and not on a road. If you have a good-quality road, then the biggest problem is likely going to be crew fatigue rather than mechanical trouble. Also, assuming your reinforcements are traveling as one big convoy when possible, they can only travel as fast as the slowest units. So the faster elements won't need to push themselves that hard.

A simple houseruled method would probably be to have most of the force arrive on time, and a fraction  trickling in piecemeal afterwards, representing units that fell behind for one reason or another. The harder the push, the more units you would want to have coming late.

Tangoforone

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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #3 on: 02 November 2020, 18:48:09 »
Interesting takes.  So perhaps this leads to a more generic question about the lore; how much maintenance is required on myomer, actuators, etc, specifically the legs?  Coming from an engineer mindset, the myomer bundles are constantly cycling, just like human muscles, when they are moving.   Is it hand-waved away that myomer doesn't wear out, or would it be that it just takes literal decades?

The reason I bring this topic up is for a campaign setting; say an opposing force has invaded a planet.  The defenders dig in, but obviously have to redistribute armies based on the threat.  If I need to hold out on a location, I may force march equipment from another location with the expectation that it arrives during the tail-end of the day of the assault.  Force marching my reinforcements could have consequences for the campaign; i.e. equipment loss or breakdown that needs to be accounted for in later battles.

I definitely agree that the pilots would be affected somehow; perhaps they are more likely to retreat, so maybe there are modified forced withdrawal effects in play for the exhausted pilots.

Colt Ward

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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #4 on: 02 November 2020, 18:59:23 »
Mech pilots will be more fatigued than vehicle drivers- the vehicle crews can rotate drivers to move 24 hours . . . but riding in a military vehicle for a long distance is not conducive to rest though it is a learned skill.  Some of the worst cricks in the neck were sleeping in the back seats of humvees in convoys stateside.

Vehicles also practice . . . eh, I forget the term . . . but basically cycling through stations in a field so the convoy can get back moving.  Drive by the tankers, fill up . . . drive by the supply truck, get tossed MREs . . . next supply truck, toss them your trash . . . next supply truck, get replacement water . . . drive forward to your position in the convoy line in the field next to the road so your formation can get back on the road in proper order once the last vehicle is taken care of by support.
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Adastra

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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #5 on: 03 November 2020, 06:49:37 »
Mech pilots will be more fatigued than vehicle drivers- the vehicle crews can rotate drivers to move 24 hours . . . but riding in a military vehicle for a long distance is not conducive to rest though it is a learned skill.  Some of the worst cricks in the neck were sleeping in the back seats of humvees in convoys stateside.

Vehicles also practice . . . eh, I forget the term . . . but basically cycling through stations in a field so the convoy can get back moving.  Drive by the tankers, fill up . . . drive by the supply truck, get tossed MREs . . . next supply truck, toss them your trash . . . next supply truck, get replacement water . . . drive forward to your position in the convoy line in the field next to the road so your formation can get back on the road in proper order once the last vehicle is taken care of by support.

Almost like forming a wagon circle drive-thru.

And no kidding on the ride quality. Especially if you're traveling on rough terrain, only the soundest (or most practiced) sleepers are likely to get any rest. Apparently there's a lot of evidence that prolonged travel in vehicles with a lot of vibration can cause nerve damage over time. Even without the chronic issues, rattling around in the seat of a tank for 24 hours is going to leave you, well, rattled.

I'm not entirely sure with mechs. Depending on how good the "suspension quality" is, it might be more comfortable than a car. You wouldn't get any sleep, but at least you're not being vibrated for 24 hours.

For simplicity, I might just say that all the forced marchers have a +1 penalty to all gunnery and piloting skill rolls. It's pretty harsh, but then again, so is going on a 24 hour drive.

As to myomer's lifespan, while I don't know of any in-universe explanation, but I would guess it wears out eventually. It's a polymer material under constant strain and heat load, it's not going to last forever unless it has magical self-healing properties. Which it might actually have, given that living bacteria are involved in the production process. It's possible that myomer is kept "wet", like many modern polymer "muscles" need to be, and the bacteria inside are still active, continuing to maintain the material.

My guess though, would be that myomer needs to be replaced eventually. But given that mechs are supposed to be kings of the battlefield and whatnot, I would wager that it's more likely to be "replace once a campaign just to ensure it doesn't fail at a critical moment" than "replace after every mission".
« Last Edit: 03 November 2020, 06:54:44 by Adastra »

Colt Ward

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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #6 on: 03 November 2020, 11:49:08 »
Well, the mechs are supposed to have field chemical toilets, so when the vehicles are stopped you do not have to worry about crew heading for the woodline with shovels.  Cuts down on contamination by sanitation & disease vectors (quit ****** pissing just outside the tent you dirty frackers, it might be the middle of the night but . . . yeah, the comment one morning briefing) . . . hrm, baby wipes is still a viable business in BTU's future!
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Insaniac99

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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #7 on: 03 November 2020, 12:29:51 »
Well, the mechs are supposed to have field chemical toilets, so when the vehicles are stopped you do not have to worry about crew heading for the woodline with shovels.  Cuts down on contamination by sanitation & disease vectors (quit ****** pissing just outside the tent you dirty frackers, it might be the middle of the night but . . . yeah, the comment one morning briefing) . . . hrm, baby wipes is still a viable business in BTU's future!

Even better  than that (or worse, depending if you are IS or Clan) they are fully functional flush toilets that incinerate the waste.  Clan mechs have no toilet though.
Quote from: Tech Manual Page 41
Waste Systems
Speaking of seats, many Inner Sphere BattleMechs provide one other seat in the cockpit: a foldout toilet. The abundant energy of a fusion reactor allows easy waste incineration with microwaves or an electrical arc. Most ’Mech toilets capture the water produced by this incineration for flushing—since the dry toilets never seem to work despite all our advances in super-slick coatings and sonic cleaners. Without a storage tank to overflow, the endurance limit on cockpit toilets is how much toilet paper the MechWarrior has.
Go ahead and laugh.
Note again that the Clans’ spartan and compact cockpit styles rarely incorporate this feature, leaving their warriors to depend on bottles, baggies or self-discipline. Think on that concept for a while, and you may see why the Clans come off as such an irate people.

Adastra

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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #8 on: 04 November 2020, 12:34:40 »
I like to think that most IS mechs have like, a little broom closet-like space behind the seat. Enough to stand and stretch out, as well as providing space for the seat to recline so you can sleep in it better. Then built into the walls are utilities like a sink, ration heater, fold-out toilet, etc. Perhaps access panels in the floor to get at some systems. Max utility for minimal space.

I also wouldn't be surprised if mechs had an auto-walk function for long trips. Along the lines of "walk towards this point, avoiding obstacles and stopping/sounding an alarm if there's anything blatantly dangerous". Perhaps even a "follow the leader" mode, so that one or two pilots in a lance can lead the others while their pilots are resting.
« Last Edit: 04 November 2020, 12:37:51 by Adastra »

Tangoforone

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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #9 on: 04 November 2020, 21:28:40 »
At what point does it make sense to board a dropship to travel in place of driving your unit, battlemech or otherwise?  I assume it isn't as simple as the videogames make it out to be, as you probably have to lock everything down, ensure proper shutdown of the equipment, then all the fuel used to lift off, not to mention are you using Aerodyne or Pod (egg?  Dunno) dropships.  I imagine it is extremely time consuming to put everything into an Overlord or something like that, lift off, exit atmosphere, then reenter somewhere else.  Probably a bit more efficient for the Leopards, but still...Once you have boots on the ground, do they stay on the ground till planetary operations are complete?

Kerfuffin(925)

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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #10 on: 04 November 2020, 23:35:31 »
If you are a small unit, walking a few hours to drop ship behind the enemy seems fine. But a lone drop ship, ostensibly behind enemy lines with its supporting forces gone away makes a much easier target than one behind an armed and armored space port, reinforced by the local militia. And even still, there is the offloading process and the march from the drop zone to the engagement site. For much of the IS history I assume there were very few units skilled enough in low altitude hover drops to have that be a real option, and for much of their history lacking the easy to add Omni, the general lack of JJ would make that an even dubious prospect.

Also for larger units, or single drop ship units that carry vees or
Mechs as cargo that delay in loading offloading might spell the end of the counter offensive before it starts. Or even worse as it’s starting.

Also there are fuel concerns. If you just burned in a few days and need to move your forces moved a few days later, will your drop ship be able to escape the combat if it comes closer and still make the JS after picking up what’s left of the ground forces? If you are a merc company the much greater cost of their own (or employers) drop ship is it worth risking it? Or having to pay for a second use of fuel? 

I think returning to a drop ship is more a desperation move than a wise tactical choice in this instance. Not that it always is that way.

MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #11 on: 05 November 2020, 03:51:18 »
Mechs are fluffed as being extremely resilient as far as maintainence goes.  If you're limiting yourself to walking speeds, expect to be able to travel for days or possibly weeks without serious problems unless you're in a mech that's noted for actuator trouble (like the Stalker) or there's particularly harsh terrain.  Traveling at running speeds for long distances, however, puts significantly more strain on a mech's legs and makes the chance of damage much greater.
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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #12 on: 05 November 2020, 04:06:45 »
The mechs itself should be fine, aside from more RPG/lore style quirks (the myomer being active so long causes this centurions shoulder to lock up).

Vees depending on their engines would be fine, or running low on fuel.

I’m sure it happens often enough in universe although I can’t think of a good example.

As for rules they cover moral rules in Tac Ops (at the tactical [battle] level), and they have strategic moral (the campaign) in Strat Ops under the battle force rules.

AToW or destiny might give you some ideas too, concerting fatigue/non-lethal damage into how it might affect someone.

To make it easy I might just give them either a pilot hit or apply a minor negative quirk to their mech/vee to show how running a mech that long might be affected. Maybe combine it with a negative modifier on the moral checks if you use those.
TacOps also has rules for Fatigue, those should probably be in effect. And a lot of the older fluff 'Mechs where over heating because of things like this, so maybe give the 'Mechs a heat floor, like they can never drop below 5 heat, to represent this.

Well, you'll likely see a number of "losses" from simple mechanical wear and tear. Most real-world military vehicles require several times as much maintenance for each hour in use, but most of that is preventative maintenance, aka looking at stuff and replacing worn bits well before they break, so it's more of a question of probability. "redlining" is liable to be far less of a problem, since on most designs the motive system is far from the most energy-consuming/heat-producing component, and even modern engines can run pretty much indefinitely as long as you don't push them too hard and keep em supplied in fuel and oil. ICE engines will likely need one or more refueling stops.
Barring the fuel and maybe lubricants, BT breaks this into a thousand tiny pieces in order to have it's Mad Max aesthetic, ignore it. Like a 'Mech only seems to need regular maintenance like once a year.

Colt Ward

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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #13 on: 05 November 2020, 11:34:01 »
Barring the fuel and maybe lubricants, BT breaks this into a thousand tiny pieces in order to have it's Mad Max aesthetic, ignore it. Like a 'Mech only seems to need regular maintenance like once a year.

Well . . . . my old unit operated vehicles that were by the book considered 'deadlined' for having something that did not function but would not majorly impact the mission of the vehicle.  We did not get a lot of spare parts down the pipeline b/c we were a reserve unit, so we technically used vehicles during training that were supposed to be repaired.

Flash forward to 2003 and the unit is mobilizing to go play in the sand . . . the parts pipeline suddenly flooded the tech section with all the things on backorder and waiting list.  BAM . . . all those vehicles with known problems that were being overlooked are suddenly marked deadlined and the mechanics are working really long days on things the vehicle crews cannot repair themselves.

Military equipment is built with a lot of redundancy and to be 'GI proof' -aka ruggedized- which allows it to keep functioning.  So while a mech or tank might have had some breakdowns and problems crop up (like the primary heat sensor on the left leg myomer thigh bundle for your diagnostic system) what it most likely means is that you are going to be paying a x2 or x3 maintenance cycle in time/manhours.
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whistler

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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #14 on: 05 November 2020, 13:10:19 »
As this thread has demonstrated you can be as detailed as you like. Given my own experience running campaigns I tend generalize things a bit more and 'make the GM call' rather than go 100% by the book, because sometimes I can't figure out where the rules are or how to implement them properly. And sometimes I just don't want to spend hours 'playing' AccounTech by myself.

In my mind there is a difference between a forced march and lets just say a difficult transit. I realize that the real life veterans here might see this differently but remember this is just a generalization for the purposes of making  running these scenarios a little quicker and less painless. To me a 'forced march' is an emergency situation where you have no choice but to run or die, while a 'difficult transit' is an organized and supported (even if at a breakneck pace or in hard conditions) operation to get to your objective.

The biggest factors in a forced march, as laid out, are the lack of repairs for already damaged machines and the inability for soldiers to rest. Lets say a company of mechs was cut off during a battle and are now on the run. Until they link up with their command they are essentially cut off from their supply train. You are caught without spare armor or munitions, let alone the tools to do the work. That means that between scenarios there are no repairs and all crits will persist. I dont think I would force the machines to break down further, because that's already a rough point to start from for the players. You are on the move without proper rest, so pilot hits do not recover. Pilot morale will also probably be in the gutter. So what is the impact of all these factors? Whenever players roll for morale slap a -1 mod to their result. Also, all piloting checks are receive a -1 mod to their rolls. That pilot mod can add up and degrade performance without making the players feel like they've really been unfairly hobbled. If you really want to emphasize how bad things are (and dont mind if your players shun you for a while  :P) you can make them roll a morale check at the start of the game. Anyone who fails has their P/G downgraded by a level. I would advise against that though as the players are already going to be having a hell of a time and the goal is to make the mission a challenge, not frustrating. Maybe give the commanding player a chance go make a rousing speech at the table. If they do, remove the morale penalty but keep the piloting one.

A difficult transit is much less severe. I would make players choose between repairing all their armor or removing a crit. If they have a leg crit they must repair it instead. After all the point is to get from A to B as quickly as possible and you can't do that with a busted hip. I would also apply the morale penalty from the forced march. The notion here is that they are tired but not so physically and mentally drained that they can't fully operate their machines.

In summery:
Difficult Transit: an organized and supported trip over long distances and/or rough terrain.
- Between battles units may repair either all armor damage or a critical hit. Ammo is replenished.
- If they have leg crits they must be repaired instead.
- To represent travel strain, apply a -1 modifier to all morale rolls until the unit has had time to slow down and rest.

Forced March:
- No repairs may be conducted between battles and ammo may not be restocked.
- To represent physical exhaustion, add a -1 modifier to all player piloting rolls.
- To represent travel strain, apply a -1 modifier to all morale rolls until the unit has had time to slow down and rest.
- If the players are in a most dire situation, have them roll a morale check at the beginning of the battle for each unit. Every unit that fails downgrades their pilot/gunnery for the battle. Give players some kind of opportunity to remove the morale penalty first, like a Rousing Speech at the table or a more pedestrian command roll. Use sparingly.

Again I realize some may not like my verbiage but to me it is a bit easier/less confusing to have two different terms than something 'forced march (supported)' vs 'forced march'.
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Tangoforone

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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #15 on: 05 November 2020, 20:23:20 »
So the idea of this came from some Civil War history; the Battle of Antietam was only salvaged for the Confederate Army because of a 17 mile forced march by reinforcements.  I was thinking of a scenario, which then turned this into a planetary campaign feature, hence the questions about overall long term effects.  If I were to implement this into a one game scenario, it would probably be something along the effects of easier forced withdrawal, maybe a morale check at the beginning of each round, maybe a penalty to gunnery/piloting, though that is a bit harsh for a single scenario.  On the other hand, I would imagine that the reinforcements would enter the board and are basically engaging at short and medium range, so a +1 to gunnery may not be the end of the world.

Scenario overview:  the defenders are on one side of a river with a small town on top of a hill.  The attackers outnumber them, but don't know what the effects of the river would be (depth, speed, etc).  So the attackers would need to either use scouts to figure out the composition of the river and decide the best crossing, or just power through and hope for the best.  Maybe there is a single bridge somewhere.

Defender composition:  probably vehicles, on-board artillery, infantry, and a few mechs.  All defender forces would deploy with some form of hidden deployment rules.

Attacker composition:  probably 1.5x or 2x the BV of the defender.  Probably would recommend a lance of scout mechs at the very least.

In any case, definitely a bunch of good ideas and thoughts.  Always nice to learn a bit about lore as well.

whistler

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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #16 on: 05 November 2020, 23:37:33 »
Unless the river is at least five hexes wide on average I dont think it will pose as big an obstacle as you might hope. There are a lot of jump capable mechs out there, after all, and in later eras especially 5/8/5 is the minimum most people want in a medium mech (or heavy mech even) so you could end up with have the attackers over the river without pausing to consider their main impediment.

Also, if the attackers start at even BV (I'm assuming that extra 50-100% you mention would be in the reinforcements) they might be able to quite happily hold their own and snipe across the river if they know reinforcements are on the way. Especially if said reinforcements are going to be popping up at short range.

If it were my mission, I would make the BV more even and make the river quite wide, except for a few narrow crossing points. Give the attackers alot of space to work with so they can circle the base once they cross. Maybe don't even tell them that the cavalry is coming.

Its tough to say. I still remember one campaign where my player's first mission almost wiped out the team. I thought I was going easy on them while they regrouped. Company of mechs vs hovers. It was largely luck but I also had neglected to realize just how much more effective the Deillsons would be given the terrain. (Part 2 of the lesson being Drillsons are '****** effective.)  The last mission had them going up against a floating fortress of a surface warship. I was worried if they would manage. They knocked it out and the other defenders almost anticlimacticly. So even a perfectly crafted scenario can end up being too easy or hard based on things you can't account for.
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Whistler is not only a noted winner, he's a man's man, a generous philanthropist, a noted big game hunter, and a lover and a dancer. If he had a mustache it would be impeccably waxed. When he marches off to war, everyone else stays home.

Tangoforone

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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #17 on: 06 November 2020, 12:57:48 »
Attackers would not start at even BV with defenders, and the river would be fairly large in size, and fairly deep in certain areas, all of which the attacker doesn't know until they are within 3 to 5 hexes of the river, hence the recommendation for scouts. Attackers would not expect reinforcements from the defenders, nor do they have any reinforcements of their own.

Also important to note that the attackers could field a bunch of jump capable mechs, but they may not know what's on the other side. Defenders have hidden deployment, so the attackers could theoretically jump into a massive ambush. I don't think the attackers could snipe at long range across the river, since they won't know where anyone is, unless the defenders decide to directly engage from hidden deployment. I figure the defenders will utilize indirect artillery to prevent that from happening as well.

whistler

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Re: Campaign 'Scenario' - Forced March
« Reply #18 on: 11 November 2020, 01:00:31 »
Sounds pretty fun to me. :) Be sure to post an AAR and let us know how it goes.
Quote from: 3rdCrucisLancers
Whistler is not only a noted winner, he's a man's man, a generous philanthropist, a noted big game hunter, and a lover and a dancer. If he had a mustache it would be impeccably waxed. When he marches off to war, everyone else stays home.