Author Topic: Arcade Operations - Hexes of Rage  (Read 522 times)


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Arcade Operations - Hexes of Rage
« on: 06 February 2024, 18:59:11 »
The following After-Action Report used the scenario setup detailed here:

I’d planned to GM for two players, but Player 2 overslept by a couple hours, so to start I had Player 1 select two Mechs.  He chose the Summoner Prime and Ebon Jaguar Prime for initial deployment to Zone 1: Steiner Sands.

I did not expect the first wave, 2 Commandos and a Clint, to last long, especially with the Mook Initiative rule I was using.  However, the dice left them unscathed on the first round of fire; the Commandos even scored a couple lucky SRM hits on 11+.  Things quickly evened out the following two turns.

With nothing but Mooks on the field, and wanting to keep play fast, I held position, hoping to skim as much armor off the Clan heavies as I could before they inevitably broke through.  The IS mechs would score some hits, but nothing threatening.

The Ebon Jaguar fired on the Clint, but its Gauss missed on a bad roll; the Clint would last another turn.  The Summoner had ducked into a low spot, cutting line of site between it and the center Commando.  This left the western Commando alone in optimal range.  The Summoner’s big guns ripped off both the Commando’s arms, while the LRMs stripped the CT, critting the SRM6 and gyro.  By a small miracle, the Commando remained standing, but it was effectively out of the fight.

At this point, Player 2 arrived and took control of the Ebon Jaguar.  Mook Initiative continued to leave my IS mechs with no good movement options, so again they stood their ground to try and score what hits they could.  Player 2 began advancing his Ebon Jaguar over the dunes.  Player 1 would drive his Summoner straight forward, bypassing the center Commando and positioning for a rear arc shot on the Clint.

The IS mechs continued sandpapering armor on the Ebon Jaguar, but accomplished little else.  In turn, the Ebon Jaguar engaged the Commando, piercing an ammo bin and turning it into a fiery piñata.  The Clint suffered a similar fate as the Summoner unloaded into its back.

No longer impeded, and seeing the extra life power up rapidly decaying, Players 1 and 2 advanced towards the next zone.  Along the way, the Ebon Jaguar would claim the Clint’s reload power up.  The Summoner would score an additional kill, casually finishing the disarmed and retreating Commando with an ER PPC bolt thru the rear CT, which I found very reminiscent of the Mechwarrior 3 opening.

With the players entering Zone 2: Draconis Desolation, I activated the next set of defenders: a pair of Panthers, and the first miniboss, a JR7-D Jenner.  The Mook Panthers jumped onto the mesas, taking elevated but exposed sniping positions.  I won Initiative with the Jenner, surprising my players (both still very new) with its mobility when it raced for the tree cover overlooking the extra life the Summoner had just picked up.  My memory of the game get’s a little fuzzy here (waited too long to do this write up and didn’t take enough photos), so going to have to summarize with highlights.

The Panthers and Jenner caused a bit of trouble for the players.  The Ebon Jaguar took a PPC head hit that damaged its sensors, and the Summoner a TAC that knocked out an engine slot.  Unfortunately for me I was sloppy in choosing my next move for the Jenner, and we all learned that a 14 point kick from a Summoner is exactly enough to amputate a JR7-D’s leg at the hip.

At this point Player 1’s older brother showed up and joined the game as Player 3, selecting the Mad Dog Prime (and throwing what remained of my scenario balance out the window).  His very first experience of tabletop Battletech was moving to point blank with one the Panthers and delivering a full alpha strike, ripping it open with the lasers and then touching off the SRM ammo with the missile barrage.  Good times.  Together, the players easily mopped up the remaining Zone defenders.  However, I had delayed them long enough that the Ebon Jaguar (that really needed the Sensors fixed) couldn’t get to the Partial Repair power up the Jenner dropped without getting hit by the Venusian Solar Laser (which as dumb as it is, I haven’t tired of saying yet, lol).  So the repair went to Player 1’s Summoner.

Collectively they just make it into Zone 3: Marik Moraines before I would have gotten to space laser one of them.  This also meant that their potential extra life in Zone 3 expired before they could reach it, leaving them with just the one in back up.

At this point my Players are starting to understand just how powerful a Clan heavy is in comparison to the IS light and medium fodder I was throwing at them.  They resolved to make it to the extra life in the next zone in time.

There’s not much to say about the combat in Zone 3.  The pair of Hermes II’s got run over in an almost literal sense.  In a very Clan-like move, my Players left behind the reload power up (that the Summoner was really starting to need) to pursue their objective of reaching the next extra life.  On to Zone 4: Davion Delves!

This zone was where I’d hoped to score a kill against my players.  They were feeling pretty confident.  But, the Ebon Jaguar in particular was getting thin on armor, and still had a breached head.  I had two Jagermechs in tree cover with long sight lines, and an Annihilator acting as “Cave Troll.”  I didn’t expect to stop them, but I expected to get my pound of flesh before they cleared the zone.

The Jagermechs quickly started to get the worst of it (not unexpected), scoring a few hits but losing weapons as the Clan mechs advanced.  However, it just so happened that the Ebon Jaguar moved to just within LoS of the Annihilator, at exactly 12 hexes range.  He had partial cover, but with cluster loaded I’m rolling for 8’s and feeling good.  Cue shotgun racking SFX x4.

I proceeded to roll poorly and missed.  Every.  Single.  Shot.  My disappointment aside, we had fun imagining what the adjacent hillside looked like after that.

The players then cut across the mining pit, getting out of the sight line of the Annihilator, obliterating the eastern Jagermech, and putting the other into Forced Withdrawal.

They didn’t navigate the hill above the pit efficiently, so the Annihilator got a turn of fighting the Summoner one on one before the rest joined in.  Damage dealt, but neither lost anything critical.

The next turn, the Ebon Jaguar came into view again.  Wanting to capitalize on the open head section, I again reached for the grapeshot.  The cluster rolls went against me though, generating far fewer hits than I was hoping for.  After everything the Annihilator threw at it, the Ebon Jaguar lost a few inert Gauss slugs, a gyro slot, and fell, but remained combat capable.  In a stroke of irony, it scored three head hits with its return fire, causing the Annihilator pilot to black out and fall.

Somehow the Annihilator survived the barrage of aimed shots, its CT holding on by a few pips, but taking a crit to the hip in the process.  Also, the pilot woke up!  I would get one last round of fire from him!

However, I blundered.  I wanted to use as much firepower as I could, so I attempted to stand instead of propping up while prone.  With the damaged hip, the stand attempt would require running MP, forcing a second PSR.  That roll failed, the Annihilator fell, and the damage landed on the CT.  We all had a good laugh when I wrote “PILOT ERROR” across the sheet as cause of death.  Upon exploding, it left behind the Full Repair power up that Player 2’s Ebon Jaguar so badly needed.

And then the retreating Jagermech landed an AC2 shot that inflicted a second gyro crit on the Ebon Jaguar, dropping it permanently prone, just out of reach.  My GM heart was VERY happy.

After that, I dropped enough hints that they found the Secret Mech power up, the Summoner picked up the Full Repair, and Player 3’s Mad Dog incinerated the last Jagermech’s pilot with a perfect, single crit location LPL shot to the cockpit, and we called the game due to time.

While we didn’t get to finish (hopefully we’ll find time in March), the results of the game exceeded my expectations.  The time pressure of the Venusian Solar Laser (still not tired of it) worked perfectly to keep tension and pacing high, even if the rest of the scenario was on the easy side.  My still pretty new players got to experience the fun of unexpected mech kills (ammo explosions, headshot, pratfalls) without bad feels.  I found out later that Player 1 (who had AGoAC, but naught else) had immediately gone out and picked up Total Warfare and a Direct Fire Lance, his brother Player 3 picked up Battletech Essentials, and they played two more games against each other with zero prompting from me.  Player 2 is also game for more scenarios.  With any luck we’ll turn this into a persistent campaign group!