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Author Topic: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars  (Read 201000 times)

Frabby

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1140 on: 24 April 2015, 06:38:18 »
Removing equipment without replacing it could easily leave a ship lighter than it started; and a demilitarized Union could easily serve as a freighter and then have weapons bolted back on. That tells us nothing, whereas Mercenary's Star shows pretty explicitly that its only the lack of weapons which distinguishes the Phobos' hull from a Union's hull.
Yet the Phobos and Deimos are consistently described as refitted cargo haulers in the novels. Granted, this does not rule out the freighters having been stripped-down Unions in the first place, and later publications frequently refer to Union-class ships named Phobos and Deimos.
But it has now been canonically established that the original Phobos at least was a Danais refitted to Trojan stats, and it is heavily implied that its sister ship Deimos was of the same class.
Insofar as later on (since the Sirius campaign) Union-class DropShips going by these names show up, with the armament and carrying capacity to confirm they're proper Unions, I conclude the GDL eventually retired the original ships and replaced them with proper Unions.

If the Phobos were a different class entirely, we should expect expert observers to note obvious structural differences, like the arc of its hull, placement of bay doors, size and placement of thrusters, and so on.

"What was odd about that vessel?
There! It was difficult to see in the orange-dim light of Norn, but the vessel was rotating slightly, and the play of shadow against the hull cried out to Nagumo's experienced eye. That DropShip was no Union class. The particle projection cannons normally mounted on bow and flanks were missing. Paint had been artfully applied to imitate the weapons' shadows, but now that the ship had rolled, the angle of light made the disguise less convincing. There should be autocannons, too, but the vessel had none."


I could believe that there's a class whose hull resembles the Union's close enough to fool trained observers, but it strains credulity to think such a class (the Danais) doesn't somehow originate with the Union.

(Also: they didn't paint the ship as a fake Union until after they lifted off from Galatea.)
This has all been adressed. May I refer you to the writeup for the Danais/Trojan classes in Jihad Secrets: The Blake Documents. I think it does even mention that the Danais class was based on the venerable Union.

My copy of AeroTech has four scenarios ("Close, But No cigar," "Scramble for Your Life," "Scenario Three" and "Scenario Four"), none of which mention Verthandi or include ship stats.
Whoops. Looks like another change in the German edition then. The same scenario (Blockade Runner) is found in the Gray Death Legion scenario pack though. It describes the Phobos as "Outwardly, the Phobos is similar to a Union Class DropShip. In fact, she is a converted freight-haul shell with the following stats:"
It goes on to list a 3200 ton DropShip with a 630 ton engine and 250 tons of fuel.

Keith could refer to the unit as a lance, company and regiment within a single paragraph and remain consistent, depending on what exactly each term refers to. The Lance could refer to the 'Mech Lance; the company to a combined arms company comprising the 'Mech Lance plus infantry; and regiment to whatever House regiment the lance was detached from, to whatever merc regiment it used to belong to, or as an abstract ideal unrelated to size.

The Commandos are referred to as a Commonwealth garrison lance, have a Steiner fist painted on their dropship (with the unit's patches on the 'Mech doors), their next duty station is Tharkad, and they've apparently served on Tharkad before - the implications are pretty unambiguous. Since Mercenary's Star only refers to them as mercs in Grayson's childhood, Herb's "two-step" there is superfluous; it also breaks continuity with Keith's use of "combined arms [unit size]."
Neither the unit's size nor composition nor allegiance of Carlyle's Commandos is clearly given in the available source material. Even with Keith's name on it, the descriptions change a lot. I feel this is a moot point though as we have a canonical ruling/clarification on the matter. And it works for me.
« Last Edit: 24 April 2015, 06:45:25 by Frabby »
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skiltao

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1141 on: 24 April 2015, 13:26:05 »
I do not have The Blake Documents - if "based on" means they're built on the same hull, that's perfect, but it doesn't explain why pirates would bother reconfiguring one specifically to match a catalogued variant, rather than simply bolting whatever weapons were at hand into whatever spots were convenient.

In any case, I'm not contesting the canonicity of things. My interest is in how well it all fits.

Whoops. Looks like another change in the German edition then.

Interesting! PM sent.

It may be worth posing an Ask The Writer question to confirm which is correct.

True; I'll have to leave that to someone else, though.

Thanks for the clarification.  Looking into it, I see that my mistaken impression was that the dress uniform (the white with red accents) was the main uniform - reinforced by the fact that until yesterday, the black senior uniform had never been visually depicted - just the dress whites.

You're welcome. If someone asked me what the Drac uniform looked like, the dress uniform is what comes to my mind too.
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skiltao

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1142 on: 20 June 2015, 20:41:47 »
I knew the capital of Trellshire had already been asked about!  O0

Quote from: old House Liao sourcebook, page 70
Most recently, the Commandos have been involved in raids on Redfield and Stein's Folly.

Found this recently while going through the old Liao book, it's undoubtedly referring to the actions in The Sword and the Dagger. I wonder if the novel describes those actions more like viking raids than like acts of conquest.
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Wrangler

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1143 on: 15 July 2015, 07:56:02 »
Are we going to get more reviews?
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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1144 on: 15 July 2015, 08:07:07 »
Why, yes, we are.  Closing out of a Post is always time consuming, but in this case I had to be the control officer for about 15 people in the six weeks prior to having to prepare my house for packing out (6,200 lbs of our junk just went on the van this morning).  I've barely had time to breathe for the last few months, but now I find myself with a long weekend in an empty house before returning stateside, and all my Btech fiction (except the comics) living comfortably on my hard drive.  I'll be making up for lost time in a big way this summer.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1145 on: 17 July 2015, 02:17:00 »
Date: November 6, 3025

Location: Verthandi

Title: Mercenary's Star

Author: William H. Keith, Jr.

Type: Novel

Synopsis:  In his office at Regis University, Governor General Nagumo interviews captured Gray Death Legion pilot Sue Ellen Klein.  He treats her like an honored guest, attempting to win her allegiance, and plays on her affection for her deceased wingman/lover.  He invites her to join his command in the service of House Kurita. 

In an internal monologue, Nagumo recounts that Klein has been under observation by Dr. Janson Vlade, one of House Ricol's psychiatric specialists on the local interrogation team.  Following the interview, Nagumo consults with Vlade, who diagnoses her as being lonely, afraid, and vulnerable.  He suggests giving her time to get her bearings, and suggests assigning Captain Vincent Mills - a member of the local squadron, to establish an emotional bond with her.  Vlade cautions that traditional interrogation methods have a high risk of driving her into a catatonic state.

Meanwhile, in the village of Westlee, Hasan Khaled supervises the arrival of the Phobos, which has completed its improvised oceanic voyage.  His vigil is interrupted by a nearby engagement between a patrolling Kuritan Wasp and local guerrillas.  Almost effortlessly, Khaled's Stinger disables the Wasp and he kills the enemy pilot with a precision blow to the cockpit, preventing it from transmitting the news of the Phobos' arrival.

Notes:  Interestingly, Khaled's internal monologue includes the line "his [Saurimat] brothers would kill him now, if they met him face to face.  Per the Interstellar Players write-up of the Saurimat, all of Khaled's "brothers" belonged to a rogue offshoot of the Saurimat that served as assassins for hire, rather than temple guards (the role maintained by the main Saurimat body).  The traditionalist Saurimat forces wiped out the assassins, leaving only one (Khaled) alive.  So, is Khaled referring to the Saurimat temple guards as his "brothers," or is he suggesting that were they still alive, his assassin brethren would kill him?

These are character-building scenes - defining Nagumo as a scheming manipulator accustomed to using people to achieve his goals, and establishing Khaled as a highly skilled killer with a mysterious background.
« Last Edit: 05 July 2016, 12:16:31 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1146 on: 18 July 2015, 15:42:50 »
Date: November 18, 3025

Location: Conroe

Title: Devastating Encounter

Authors: Dale L. Kemper, Blaine Lee Pardoe, Anthony Pryor, and John Theison

Type: Scenario

Synopsis:  During a renewed Combine offensive into the Federated Suns, the 5th Sword of Light occupied a portion of the Davion world of Conroe.  After a pro-Davion resistance group destroyed a supply depot, the ISF ordered a lance of Sorenson's Sabres to round up one hundred civilians for a mass execution.

Much to the Sabres' surprise, the Red Thunder resistance group broke up the execution when they attacked with a Devastator-class super tank with infantry support.  Not only did Red Thunder stop the executions, but it punched a hole in the Combine lines, sufficiently compromising the DCMS position that the 5th Sword of Light was forced to retreat offworld.  The ISF blamed the debacle on a breach of regimental communications, and executed two technicians. 

This scenario pits an Archer, a Hermes III, and a Wasp against a Foot Flamer Platoon, a Foot Laser Platoon, a Foot SRM Platoon, and a Foot Machine Gun Platoon, working in support of a lone Devastator tank.  Scenario rules allow infantry platoons to ride on the Devastator's chassis, though they cannot fire while so deployed, and loses one trooper each time the Devastator fires any of its weapons.

Notes:  The Devastator is described as a "third generation Demolisher variant" that uses a fusion engine to add an SRM-6, three Small Lasers, and a Flamer to the standard twin AC/20s.  The scenario describes it as being used mainly in the defense forces of affluent planets within the Inner Sphere.  Looking at the image of the four-tread Demolisher from CamoSpecs (below), it has additional laser barrels and pintle-mount weapons on the turret, so I'd guess that illustration served as the basis for the Devastator's loadout.  (In other media, the four-tread Demolisher has been referred to as an early prototype version - probably to go along with the Demolisher model that came out for BattleDroids to go with the two 'Mech models.)

In terms of battlefield efficacy, this tank is strictly an urban combatant, or possibly for use attacking fixed positions that can't run away.  None of its weapons have a range longer than 9 hexes, and much of its new weaponry tops out at 3 hexes.  To its advantage, in this scenario, it's fighting in a broom closet - an urban environment with lots of buildings limited to one mapsheet.  Still, with such limited mobility (3/5), it's going to have a hard time bringing its arsenal to bear on the more nimble Kuritan 'Mechs. 

For the Sabres, I would recommend maneuvering the 6/9 Hermes III to engage the Devastator with its Large Lasers beyond the 9-hex effective range of the tank's weapons, while the 6/9/6 Wasp also remains outside the kill zone and spots for the Archer.  Pound the Devastator until it succumbs to the Motive Hits Table and grinds to a halt, then pick off the MP 1 infantry at your leisure.  (This scenario was designed well before the Motive Hits Table, so it wasn't as vulnerable to being pillboxed in the original ruleset)

For Red Thunder, the best chance of victory is to charge the Archer - trying to corner it in the small battle zone.  If you can use buildings to cover your approach, you can hope to gun down the Archer once you back it into a corner or press it into trying to run past you.  (I recall losing an Archer to a similarly aggressive Hunchback, so it can work)

Once the Archer is down, use the infantry to secure chokepoints leading to the Devastator's position.  The Hermes III is the next most important target, since its lasers can hit without your being able to respond.  Use buildings to deny it a direct line of sight, and force it to come into your range to engage.  All you need to do is take out one enemy 'Mech and either denude the armor on one section of an enemy 'Mech or crit a weapon system on the other two. 

Given the significant Kuritan mobility advantage, you'll need to take maximum advantage of the initial ambush.  The Kuritan 'Mechs set up on the paved map section amid buildings, and then the Davion player deploys the Devastator in a warehouse and puts the infantry wherever he wants.  If you deploy your infantry platoons to surround the thinly armored Hermes III in such a way that it can't run away the first turn, you may be able to do the necessary armor damage or even get a kill, while simultaneously removing a significant threat.  Then you just have to overrun the Archer and then get lucky when the Wasp has to come in alone to try to take out the Devastator within its effective range.
« Last Edit: 05 July 2016, 09:36:47 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1147 on: 19 July 2015, 14:25:54 »
Date: November 13, 3025

Location: Verthandi

Title: Mercenary's Star

Author: William H. Keith, Jr.

Type: Novel

Synopsis:  Despite the good news of the Phobos' safe arrival, Grayson still has to deal with General Thorvald's demand that Grayson have the "Free Verthandi Rangers" ready to launch an offensive against Governor General Nagumo's forces within three days.  He'd be more comfortable with six years.  Thorvald argues that most of the "kids" have been fighting Kuritan occupation forces for ten years.

Thorvald tells Grayson his November 25th offensive will end the war once and for all by attacking Nagumo's HQ on the walled campus of Regis University.  He believes that if the rebels can take and hold the University for a few hours, the "bluecoat" loyalists will switch sides to the rebels, and the average people will rise up en masse.  He says the assault force will be able to breach the walls by using underground tunnels, and will be guided by agents on the inside, with a distraction provided by a fire set on the northern perimeter.

Grayson expresses doubts that the trainees will be able to successfully navigate the savannah in the dark, but Thorvald rejects Grayson's advice, and says that the GDL will remain encamped at Fox Island (so that the rebels don't have to pay combat bonuses).

Notes:  Grayson is in a good position to know what he's talking about when it comes to leading insufficiently trained troops on a complicated assault.  Grayson only had about one month to train his Trell militia before attacking the bandits at the Castle.  The first attack went well, but the second was ambushed and repulsed with heavy casualties. 

Thorvald is effectively portrayed as suffering from delusions of grandeur regarding the outcome of the operation.  Being of Lyran descent, he's got solid "social general" credentials - winning battles on paper while getting his teeth kicked in by Combine regulars who, for some reason, don't give him the proper respect due his position.  I'm somewhat unclear how Thorvald has maintained this level of unawareness of logistics and tactical realities despite having run a guerrilla band for ten years.  If this were year one of the Combine occupation, I could accept this characterization more readily. 

One possible explanation is that the arrival of the GDL has given him excessive confidence in the impact of a few weeks of training on the battlefield efficacy of his weaponized AgroMech corps.  Many of the factionette commanders in the 3130s had similar illusions of their battlefield efficacy, but that was after generations of disarmament and relative peace, not a decade of constant warfare.
« Last Edit: 05 July 2016, 12:15:59 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Failure16

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1148 on: 26 July 2015, 13:03:06 »
Great reviews, and I and glad you are still maintaining them.  As a point of order, though, the Devastator was designed by Dale Kemper and got a full TRO write-up in BattleTechnology.  The color-plate you have was from MW1ed, though, not CamoSpecs (while I wish that book had utilized MW1ed color-plate art, it still stands as one of my favorite books).
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     when I needed something good.                                             One day we'll reveal the truth,
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five_corparty

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1149 on: 02 October 2015, 23:18:21 »

As the briefing commences, an aide announces the arrival of the Field Marshal of the AFFS, and in walks the mysterious red-head – Hanse Davion.

Notes:  Interestingly, Dana describes Hanse as being the Prince of the Federated Suns and her liege, as well as being “the Field Marshal,” the only one in the AFFS. 

This isn’t quite accurate, as I understand it.  The First Prince holds the rank of “Supreme Marshal of the AFFS,” while the Prince’s Champion has the role of Marshal of the Armies. Herb Beas has confirmed that the official date of Ian Davion's death is October 21, 3013, rather than the November 21, 3013 date presented in HTP: Mallory's World.  This allows the original chronology of Irreplaceable to remain unchanged.

I'm sorry I missed your review!  Catching up.  :)
When I had conflicting info, I took the best choice I could.  The old HB:HD lists "Marshal of the AFFS" as the final rank, though in the TOE it's listed as Supreme Marshal.  I think I checked another reference (old 4th SW book?  not sure) and went with this one, which looks like I might have made the wrong call.  When I wrote this ( '06 through '07) I was in Korea and not everything was on PDF, but I thought by using "of the" made it clear he was the only one.  my bad.  :-[
Some other notes-
I deliberately left Dana's world vague- Lord knows those royal families are big enough that they can have members all over.
The band (local music mentioned in the dating scenes) and the hotels come from the HB:HD; there's a scene of the Deneb Commander chewing out a tanker.  That's in reference to the hunter battle from the TRO:3026 original version, it's gone in later versions.
The name of the vampires (2nd or 3rd) was driven by the sourcebook and me taking my best guess on what it was called.  I can't remember, but I think I decided the TOE was probably the Typo.  The choice of unit was deliberate: it was a free-floating regiment that was overstrength on fighters and no one had used it before, so I could MAUL it and not mess with canon.
same with Dana's unit; the 10th because the HB:HD described it as having recently been mauled (and because I always had a warm spot for the commander's death in the 4th SW and decided to give him a moment in the sun) and the NIC that comes in to rescue them was quite simple: using the vampires to keep the prince on world (by their heavy Aerospace support) I had to find a unit powerful enough to punch through THAT wall.
Deliberately put in the info about the hand-me-down Mechs: the Hussar is vague in TRO 3039 when the last ones went out of service, so I had to make a point of mentioning it was one of the last ones.  but I wanted the Hussar because it was FAST, unique, and had a big gun.  Cassie is, also, a commander in the FM:FS book.  Not sure if she makes it through the CW and then Jihad.  ;)
Let's see, what else?  There's a scientific group that does factchecking for authors; I shot them a note about tracers in alien atmospheres.  The scientist that wrote me back said (essentially) "there's so many different types of chemicals used in tracers and so many different atmospheres that the only thing I can tell you is anything you write can be backed up by science!"  so, I went with a dulling effect.
and, the only REAL continuity issue this story creates (one that can't be pointed at with continuity problems in the source documents) is with ardan's story to young Melissa in "sword and dragon."  If I was ever asked (never have been) I would have claimed that Ardan would never have told her at such a young age about halstead and went with a much simpler, cleaner story.  I didn't have sword and dragon until late in the continuity cycle and at THAT point to work around it would have required me to re-write the whole damn thing.   :)  Yes, Ardan is REAL young, but reading those old HBs, you get the feeling they'll take applicants as young as 16, so a 20 year-old on the line isn't too much of a stretch.
It's never been canonized, but if I was ever asked, I've always thought "Swann's cavaliers" is one of the merc units distracting the Dracs while the AFFS recharges.  Oh, and don't get me started on how long I stared at those jump tables to make sure the recharge times matched up with the timeline of the operation.  :P
all I can think of for now, great work!!  O0
"Inside the Army, we squabble about which part of the Army gets the most stuff.  After a while, some really important general comes down and tells us to knock it off and 'cooperate.' If we don’t, the bad people will whack us and even the Air Force won’t be able to bail us out. This is called 'combined arms.' "  FM 3-0 Operations (Simple Version: "Doctrine for Dummies")

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1150 on: 03 October 2015, 07:39:03 »
Glad you liked the review.  I loved your story - it really adds a lot of depth to Hanse's character.  Thanks also for your "behind the scenes" peek above.

More reviews coming shortly.  The moving company delivers my reference material (and 6,000 lbs of other household goods) on Monday.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Kojak

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1151 on: 03 October 2015, 08:56:14 »
Have you finally returned from Tajikstan, then?
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Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1152 on: 03 October 2015, 09:12:44 »
Have you finally returned from Tajikstan, then?

Yep - in DC for a two year tour in the Communication and Information Policy office.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

five_corparty

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1153 on: 30 December 2015, 01:57:45 »

I found it odd that Elazar would consider the "romanticized modern day samurai" ethos to be passe in 3025, only to find it reawakened in himself by Bernard's challenge.  The Military Coordination Office publishes a monthly tactics manual called "Wisdom of the Samurai."  Students in all military academies learn the ways of the samurai, and students are expected to live up to the impossible standards of honor and duty.  Some Kurita officers go so far as to put haiku in their uniforms to please opposing generals if captured, hearkening back to a comparable samurai tradition in ancient Japan. 

Perhaps Elazar was just burned out on the whole samurai ethos.  After having samurai ideals pounded into him at the academy, he may have become harshly disillusioned after seeing how poorly the reality of life in the DCMS during the late Third Succession War corresponded to those ideals, especially with schemers like Grieg Samsonov rising to positions of power and authority.

Elazar's hunger for an honorable one-on-one duel shows just how much Combine culture influenced the Clans.  Aleksandr Kerensky came of age during the Hidden War of honor duels between "ronin" and SLDF gunslingers - one that the SLDF endorsed wholeheartedly.

you more or less hit the nail on the head.  He is burned out and disillusioned from years of war, and was both hungry for the duel, but able to recognize WHY he was so hungry for it.  This was my first published story; I would have emphasized his war-weariness more if I wrote it today.  but, overall, I'm happy with it.  ;)

A point to note, for what it's worth, when I was trying to figure out if this was a viable story, I was figuring on the ground-to-air loads being the older-style, AS1 rules, in which light fighters could LOAD up on bombs and tear the crap out of B-Mechs.  "Modern" rules make this story a bit implausible (I make it a point to try and make every story re-creatable on the battlefield, if anyone was so inclined) but by old-school Aerospace rules, Seymor's Battalion never stood a chance.  ;)
PS: I see you're in DC now; if you ever swing down to Richmond, there's a store in Midlothian (a subarb) that we play battletech every other saturday at.  if you're ever in the Richmond area (whether on Saturday or not) shoot me a message, let's grab a beer or something!  O0
"Inside the Army, we squabble about which part of the Army gets the most stuff.  After a while, some really important general comes down and tells us to knock it off and 'cooperate.' If we don’t, the bad people will whack us and even the Air Force won’t be able to bail us out. This is called 'combined arms.' "  FM 3-0 Operations (Simple Version: "Doctrine for Dummies")

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1154 on: 12 January 2016, 16:57:07 »
PS: I see you're in DC now; if you ever swing down to Richmond, there's a store in Midlothian (a subarb) that we play battletech every other saturday at.  if you're ever in the Richmond area (whether on Saturday or not) shoot me a message, let's grab a beer or something!  O0

Will do!  I've been signal dark on the reviews for quite a while - the work to get the house in order seems never ending, but the end is in sight (I'll finally be nailing up my wife's art on the walls tonight, if all goes as planned), and I plan to begin my daily reviews again ASAP.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1155 on: 12 January 2016, 19:06:39 »
Looking forwards to seeing your review, Mendrugo!  You've been sorely missed!
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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1156 on: 19 June 2016, 13:47:01 »
Date: November 17, 3025

Location: Verthandi

Title: Mercenary's Star

Author: William H. Keith, Jr.

Type: Novel

Synopsis:  General Thorvald's resistance column runs into problems as it proceeds through the jungles towards Regis for the planned assault.  His inexperienced MechWarriors keep getting stuck and panicking.  Per Thorvad's orders, the experienced Gray Death Legion troops remained at the resistance base (both so the resistance council wouldn't be on the hook for combat pay and so the Legion wouldn't steal the General's glory). 

Grayson is concerned for his Free Verthandi Ranger trainees, however, and decides to defy orders and join the fight on their behalf.  They knock out a sentry and head off after the resistance column. 

At 0210, the Free Verthandi Rangers slowly approach Regis through a sheltered canyon, though the AgroMechs have a tough time negotiating the rough, boulder and pit strewn terrain.  Thorvald had sent a message to the resistance forces in Regis to delay the diversionary attack until 0200, with the main attack to commence at 0245.  Unfortunately, the resistance didn't get the message and the warehouse fire went off per the original schedule.  Worse, the arsonists were captured, and they break under interrogation, putting the Regis garrison on yellow alert in preparation for the attack.

Tricked by the transmission of the "all clear" signal (given up under interrogation), Thorvald orders his company to attack from the north of the walled capital city, right into the teeth of a regiment of DCMS combined arms forces, which lights up the rebels with flares and rips into them.  Thorvald orders his surviving troops to disengage, but the green troops panic.  Thorvald tries to turn the tide with his Warhammer, but is massively outgunned.

Ten kilometers away, the Legion's six 'Mechs hear the explosions and realize the Rangers have run into trouble.  They charge towards the battle, picking up a few scattered Rangers along the way.  In an effort to break the rebels free of the trap, the Legion hits the Combine flank, carving a hole in their line. 

Thorvald thanks Grayson for the rescue and relinquishes command of the Rangers to him.  He orders the surviving Rangers to withdraw, and takes the blame for the disaster.  To atone, he sacrifices himself to buy the Rangers and Legion time to withdraw through the Legion salient.  It takes a quarter of an hour for Grayson to organize the retreat, and they have to execute a fighting withdrawal, with the Legion holding the DCMS forces back.  As the Combine masses for a final charge, Thorvald distracts them, allowing the Legion to make their getaway.  His 'Mech detonates as the Legion slips into the jungle.

Afterwards, Nagumo accuses Colonel Kevlavic of cowardice, and blames him for the loss of four 'Mech lances, and the failure to destroy the main enemy body.  He orders the Colonel to find and destroy the rebels within the next four weeks, so the insurgency can be decisively ended by the time Duke Hassid Ricol arrives for his inspection tour.  As Kevlavic departs, Nagumo begins arrangements for a backup plan, calling for Captain Mills, from his personal guard force.

Back at Fox Island, the shattered Verthandi Rangers are greeted by the Revolutionary Council, which worries that Grayson will abandon them now that their cause appears lost.  Grayson swears that he will stand by them.  He then consults with Sergeant Ramage to assess the damage and work out a new plan.

That night, the Legion meets to discuss their options, now that they face four Kurita regiments with a single demi-company and the remnants of the Rangers.  Grayson proposes launching a guerrilla war, raiding the scattered Combine forces for the supplies they need.  Jaleg Yorulis makes a counter proposal to either go over to the Kurita forces, arguing that a guerrilla war is a suicide mission.  Grayson swears the Legion will never work for the Combine, and faces Yorulis down.  Reluctantly, the Legion members agree to Grayson's proposal.

Notes:  The structure of the Regis attack is very similar to Grayson's previous experience on Trellwan.  There, the plucky, just-trained rag-tag force launches a major attack against the enemy, only to walk into a trap and barely escape, taking heavy losses in the process.  Following the battle, Grayson and the survivors do soul searching about the cause, and ultimately vow to soldier on. 

Narrative tropes aside, however, this battle sequence is the first time in BattleTech fiction that we saw armed WorkMechs go into combat - something that would form the basis for a significant chunk of the first wave of MechWarrior: Dark Age armies.  Alas, we've never gotten official statistics for the quad LoggerMech or the PickerMech (spry and angular, with long jointed arms sporting jury-rigged machine guns), and the Gray Death Legion scenario pack didn't cover this fight.

The timescale of the battle seemed somewhat odd to me as I read through.  In many cases, things seemed to happen too quickly.  The Legion's strike at the Combine flank takes enough 'Mechs down in rapid succession through ammunition explosions and precision shooting (despite Grayson having, per the scenario pack, a gunnery score of 6 during the Verthandi campaign - Kai Allard-Liao he ain't).  However, on the flip side, Torvald's Warhammer is already heavily damaged by the time Grayson and company arrive, and is still fighting fifteen minutes later.

This leads me to conclude that the DCMS troops assigned to Verthandi must have been the greenest troops available with equipment that wasn't good enough to be used on Chain Gang raids at the start of the Second Succession War.  Otherwise, I can't see how eight regiments of pre-warned DCMS combined arms forces could possibly take so long to massacre a company of 'Mechs and probably two companies of hover tanks and a battalion of infantry.  (Assuming at least 8-to-1 odds, not to mention heavy fire from emplacements on the walls of Regis.)  Even the cover of darkness isn't much of an excuse, given the use of flares to illuminate the battlefield.  It's a very dramatic scene, but the odds, as laid out, make the Combine forces look like they graduated from Stormtrooper marksmanship academy.

Keith handles the aftermath well, showing both sides working to come up with new plans.  The dispirited Revolutionary Council members begin blaming each other, and are fearful of trusting the hired guns, while the planetary governor begins issuing "do or die" orders to his military commander.
« Last Edit: 05 July 2016, 12:15:16 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1157 on: 19 June 2016, 14:59:00 »
Nice to see u in the saddle again, Mendrugo.
Been ages since i read this particular chapter in the Death's history.  I forgot how desperate the times were for the unit in this book.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1158 on: 19 June 2016, 15:17:48 »
I'm laid over in Tacna, Peru for the weekend with nothing on my agenda, so I thought it would be great to get back into the blogs.  I've also done entries for the Age of War and Star League threads, as part of my catch-up agenda.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1159 on: 19 June 2016, 15:52:36 »
The DCMS troops on Verthandi are a bit of a mystery. My guess is that they're only a handful of actual DCMS with a ton of militia, low-level conventional mercenaries, and most importantly Ricol house troops - with the lines between these a bit blurred.
I expect the bulk of these troops would be infantry, with only relatively few 'Mechs in between them (and preciously few vehicles, which aren't mentioned at all in the novel beyond a bunch of Galleons right at the start when the DropShip crashed) - good for garrisoning such a planet but a bit out of their depth against a 'Mech
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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1160 on: 28 June 2016, 15:25:47 »
Combat in BattleTech's actual game system happens blisteringly fast.  Stupidly fast, one might say.  A company of tanks engaging another formation of enemy tanks in the real world can last anywhere from five minutes until one side breaks off, to several hours.  A game that lasts several 'real' hours in BattleTech's timescale has gone for over a thousand turns.

The Battle of 73 Easting, a decisive armor engagement if ever such a thing happened, took nearly six hours.  That's over two thousand BattleTech turns, and it was as one sided as tank battles can even be at the scales involved, and doesn't take into account that the sheer lethality of an MBT engagement is orders of magnitudes higher than a comparable BattleTech encounter.

Part of this is that combat units in BattleTech don't generally suffer from lost ground speed due to broken terrain, or rather that 'broken terrain' in tabletop terms is significantly harder to come by.  A 'Mech may be able to sustain a ground speed of 80+ kph and will be able to sustain that speed regardless of interruptions or combat.  If it stops for one turn, it's right back up to 80+ kph the next turn if it needs to go somewhere.  That's not how real vehicles work.  Cruising speed is for cruising; sustained periods of low-variability speed.  Rapid accelerations and decelerations increase travel time significantly, and this effect is exacerbated by the relative importance (or lack thereof) BattleTech places on concealed firing positions and slow, measured advances.

BattleTech battles take as long as they do in sourcebooks because that's what comparable real life battles take, and the units involved operate in similar fashion to real life units.  BattleTech battles on the tabletop go by a 10x time compression because it's impossible to have a position where you can shoot and the enemy can't shoot back, and the necessary counters to that situation (moving slowly to minimize being caught out of cover, long flanking maneuvers) are not required to exist.
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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1161 on: 28 June 2016, 15:37:09 »
I agree that the battles described in fiction shouldn't be held strictly to the board game's timescale.  However, it just seemed odd to me that the Warhammer was described as critically damaged and nearly destroyed after taking a hard hit in the early stages of the battle, and then for it still to be blazing away 30 minutes later, when it's illuminated by flares and surrounded by hostile forces.  Especially when the GDL is shown taking out pristine Combine 'Mechs with one-shot-kills, implying a fragility against 'Mech-grade weapons fire not borne out by the Warhammer's survival.

Plot armor for dramatic purposes is the most plausible scenario.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1162 on: 28 June 2016, 15:42:43 »
I agree, in this case (though I think that the DC 'Mechs' vulnerability should be the plot trope invoked here), but I think that's an important thing to remember when viewing battles through the lens of BattleTechtm: The Board Game of Armored Combat.
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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1163 on: 30 June 2016, 13:15:55 »
Date: November 20, 3025 [See Notes]

Location: Verthandi

Title: Mercenary's Star

Author: William H. Keith, Jr.

Type: Novel

Synopsis:  Grayson's unified rebel/mercenary strikeforce faces its first test with an ambush of a Combine patrol in the Bluesward jungle basin.  Using a crippled rebel Dervish as bait (putting it out in clear view of Combine satellites on a cloudless morning), they draw in a patrol consisting of a scout hovercraft equipped as a minesweeper, a Stinger, a Jenner, a Trebuchet, a Centurion, and six open-topped troop transport hovercraft packed with infantry.

Once the trailing 'Mechs reach the ambush point, Grayson's team triggers tow mines, causing five-kilo satchels of TNT rigged to trees (far enough off the road to avoid detection by the forward scout) to be flung towards the road.  The Centurion and Trebuchet go down hard and are swarmed by anti-'Mech infantry with additional satchel charges.  To the north, staccato explosions signal the blocking of the road ahead of the patrol with additional trees, trapping the hovercraft.  Infantry fire slaughters the Combine troops in the open-topped carriers as the point 'Mechs struggle to clear a path back to the ambush site.

The DCMS survivors of the ambush begin to charge into the jungle.  Grayson and his rebel counterpart, Colonel Tollen Brasednewic, kill the officer in charge of the squad nearest them, and the DCMS troops scatter.  The sound of gunfire attracts the damaged, but still functional, Combine Centurion, and Grayson retreats upslope.

The Legion 'Mechs arrive to finish off their Combine counterparts, as the infantry continue their slaughter of the Combine troops.  The Centurion and the Jenner flee, while the legless Trebuchet and a Stinger surrender.  The rebels cheer their victory.

Notes:  It isn't clear how much time elapsed between the failed attack on Regis and the start of Grayson's new guerrilla campaign.  The chronology of the Verthandi campaign is largely determined by the scenario pack, which puts the arrival on October 25 and a mission to rescue Verthandian prisoners on December 4, 3025, so the initial stages have to be wedged in between those dates.  The rebels concealed a 'Mech in the forest and waited until a clear morning to uncover it and use it as bait, implying at least a few days in between.  Most likely, it was intended as a week or more, but the dates from the scenario pack don't allow for that.

The shattering defeat at Regis wiped out any confidence the rebel troops may have had in their own abilities and chances for success, and made them willing to place their trust in the young mercenary commander who pulled them out of the encirclement.  Yet, Grayson was wise to retain their Colonel Brasednewic as their official "commander" so that their existing command structure could be leveraged without having to waste additional weeks integrating the two units - during which morale would have dropped to (or below) critical levels.  Getting them "back on the horse," so to speak, in short order is critical to restoring their morale and operational effectiveness with this small unit action. 

The troop transport hovercraft have never been statted, but are each equipped with a pintle-mounted 'Mech grade weapon mounted behind the armored driver's cab - either a heavy machine gun or a medium laser.

Keith frequently uses very lightly armored hovercraft as the primary auxiliaries for 'Mech forces in his works, which fits the BattleTech aesthetic of the time and demonstrates why 'Mechs are the kings of the battlefield. 

Looking at it in a larger context, the occupation of Verthandi is clearly being run on a tight budget, considering that fully enclosed armored personnel carriers, Maxim hover transports, and the Combine's own Age of War-era Chi-ha heavy APC design offer far superior protection.  Duke Ricol must be an adherent of the adage "Life is cheap, BattleMechs are expensive."

Tow mines are something we haven't ever seen game rules for.  Perhaps they could be simulated by being rigged into a forest hex and going off when a target unit enters the targeted hex adjacent to the woods.  Be a nasty surprise for any unit that used LRM fire or infantry sappers to clear a path of buried mines, only to still get hit laterally.

The Combine satellite network is described as being fairly thin, in terms of coverage.  Rather than a network of geostationary satellites capable of continuous monitoring, they have mobile satellites in orbit that make passes over wide areas.  The far more efficient tactic would be to put a lot more satellites in the sky and assign extra personnel to monitor them, but perhaps the satellites, circa 3025, represent a scarce, borderline LosTech, resource that is only available in limited quantities.
« Last Edit: 05 July 2016, 12:14:53 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1164 on: 04 July 2016, 00:41:35 »
Date: November 21, 3025

Location: Verthandi

Title: Mercenary's Star

Author: William H. Keith, Jr.

Type: Novel

Synopsis: Dr. Vlade's psychological campaign to extract information from captured Legion aerojock Sue Ellen Klein has reached the point of an ongoing romantic liaison with DCMS Captain Vincent Mills, hoping to elicit intel through pillow talk.  This night, it succeeds, as Klein mentions Gunnar Ericksson to her beloved Vincent. 

The Captain leaves to report, unaware that Dr. Vlade's microphones have already relayed the name to Governor-General Nagumo, who has correlated Ericksson's holdings with Fox Island and begun preparations for an attack.  He also orders Klein relocated from Mills' quarters to the dungeons under the Tower.

Meanwhile, back at Fox Island, Revolutionary Council member Carlotta Helgameyer and Colonel Tollen Brasednewic discuss Grayson Carlyle following their own romantic tryst.  They discuss the success of the previous day's raid - two captured 'Mechs and salvaged components from three troop transports, with 22 DCMS troops killed and 36 captured, against two killed and five wounded on the rebel side.  Tollen admits that Grayson is a better field commander than he is, but grates at the loss of control and the expansion of the war effort to the general populace.  He tells Carlotta the main body of the rebel forces will lead a raid in force against the Kurita garrison at Scandiahelm the following day.

Simultaneously, Lori Carlyle wakes from a nightmare about Grayson Carlyle.  Unable to sleep, she goes to the 'Mech bays to re-check her Locust's readiness.

Notes:  The conversation between Carlotta and Tollen makes it clear why the Verthandian rebel movement hasn't had a great deal of success in the ten years since it began.  The "old families" controlled most of the world's wealth and resources, and are accustomed to having full control of their world.  The Kuritans took that away when they annexed Verthandi in 3015, but the old families leading the revolution continued to exert strong control over the operations, despite their utter lack of experience in such matters.  There is clearly resentment among the descendants of "latecomers," such as Tollen, and a substantial rift between the two groups (old money vs. new), to the point that Carlotta and Tollen's love affair has had to be hidden to avoid political fallout.

Interestingly, despite Tollen's resentment of the "old families" and their elitism, he's the one gritting his teeth at the idea of Grayson taking charge and running things professionally.  He acknowledges that Grayson is the commander they need, but worries about what will happen if the Legion wins their war for them, or if Grayson and company refuse to leave after their objective is achieved. 

Dr. Vlade's campaign of "soft persuasion" bears fruit in this chapter.  I like this scene because it continues to present the Combine garrison on Verthandi as competent and innovative, capable of presenting a legitimate threat to the Legion and the rebels - a requirement of a serious adversarial force in literature. 
« Last Edit: 05 July 2016, 12:14:39 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1165 on: 04 July 2016, 12:39:10 »
Date: November 22, 3025

Location: Verthandi

Title: Mercenary's Star

Author: William H. Keith, Jr.

Type: Novel

Synopsis: An hour before sunrise, Grayson leads a Verthandian guerrilla strikeforce along forest trails and logging roads towards the Kurita watch station at Perres Point, overlooking the village of Scandiahelm.  The attack group includes sixteen rebel 'Mechs, six Legion 'Mechs, and five hundred infantry riding on hovercraft and swamp skimmers.

Left behind at the Fox Island base are the rebel tracked and wheeled vehicles, being too slow to keep up.  Jaleg Yorulis, the Legion member who advocated seeking terms with the Combine, is also benched for the mission.

Notes: This small segment gives us the clearest picture of the rebel assets so far.  In addition to the 22 'Mechs that went out on the raid, they mention that others are too damaged, and are still in the underground repair bay.  I'd put total potential strength of the rebels at a light battalion, though most of that is PickerMechs and LoggerMechs with machine guns.  They also have sufficient "swamp skimmers" and hovercraft to carry 500 infantry.  Depending on whether they are closer to Hover APC size (one squad per vehicle) or Maxim size (one platoon per vehicle), that's 18 to 72 vehicles.  I'd think the latter would be more reasonable for poorly equipped rebels, so two battalions.  They probably have another battalion of Galleons and other wheeled/tracked vehicles.  At peak, then, the rebels have an understrength 'Mech battalion, a vehicle regiment, and probably two regiments of infantry. 

Best estimates are that they're facing one 'Mech regiment and about two-thousand Combine, Ricol, and Loyalist "Blue" troops, which outnumber them four-to-one, not even counting the DCA fighter wing on Verthandi-Alpha. 
« Last Edit: 05 July 2016, 12:14:27 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1166 on: 04 July 2016, 13:17:38 »
Date: November 23, 3025

Location: Verthandi

Title: Mercenary's Star

Author: William H. Keith, Jr.

Type: Novel

Synopsis: At dawn, having traveled a full day, the rebels hit the station, catching the sixty-man garrison at breakfast - capturing a lance of 'Mechs from the Third Strike Regiment's Second Battalion (Company C) undamaged.  While the rebels loot the station, a delegation arrives from Scandiahelm, led by Chief Proctor Jorgenson.  He gives Grayson pictures of the massacre of Mountain Vista, and warns that by attacking this base, Grayson has placed Scandiahelm in danger of sharing its fate.

Grayson tells the delegation the rebels will leave within the hour - shocking the villagers, who thought the rebels would assume responsibility for their protection.  Grayson tells the villagers they can surrender, run, or fight, and advocates for the latter - offering the villagers their pick of the surplus weapons from the station that won't fit aboard the rebel transports. 

When the villagers protest that the small arms won't be any use against BattleMechs, Grayson pledges to keep Nagumo's limited supply of 'Mechs busy, and promises that the guns will be quite useful against the Kuritan infantry.  He encourages them to rally support from neighboring villages, and points out that there is no way the Kuritan garrison of one 'Mech regiment and a few thousand soldiers could hold the world if all two hundred thousand Verthandians rose up as those in the Vrieshaven district have done.  Grayson offers to send a cadre team to train the villagers in anti-'Mech tactics.

Grayson tells Colonel Tollen Brasednewic the villagers are willing to fight, and asks him to assign some of his veterans to begin the training and stiffen the villagers.  Tollen agrees to assign a few hundred troops, and establish a secondary rebel command center in nearby caves.

Tollen is worried about the potential cost of raising the civilian populace against the Combine, noting that he was born in Scandiahelm, and that his father and brother joined the Loyalists after his mother was killed in a rebel attack.  He explains that many of the Loyalists see the Kuritan occupation as a chance to break the political and economic stranglehold the Old Families exerted over the planet, and that arming and training the civilians could greatly intensify what is, for all intents and purposes, a civil war.

Meanwhile, back at Fox Island, the Union DropShip Xao drops the commandos of Draconis Elite Strike Team (DEST) 4 from low orbit onto the rebel-held plantation.  They swiftly and efficiently kill any who resist and take the surviving members of the Rebel Council prisoner.  Gunnar Ericksson is killed.  The DEST commander signals Colonel Kevlavic that the rebel base is secured, and that the way is open for Kevlavic's 'Mech company to proceed overland to the site.

As darkness falls, the victorious rebel column halts for the night en-route back to Fox Island.  During the evening watch, Grayson notices a burst of static on the radio scanners, and thinks he sees a brief glow of false dawn to the east, but dismisses it as a figment of his imagination.

Notes: I really enjoyed the extra layers of complexity Keith added to the Verthandian struggle.  Rather than just being a conflict between the evil Combine occupation force and the heroic rebels, Keith sketches out a conflict between the descendants of the colony's founders and the descendants of later arrivals, who found themselves politically disenfranchised and cut out of most economic opportunity.  The fact that certain elements of the population regarded the Combine, of all factions, as liberators speaks to how oppressive and corrupt the Old Families' regime was before the world was ceded to House Kurita. 

I also like this element because it shows that, rather than the Successor States being culturally and politically in lockstep with their ruling House, they are fairly loose coalitions of worlds with their own diverse local political issues, and the central governments have to expend a substantial amount of blood and treasure to keep their sprawling star empires from flying apart.

This chapter represents the first appearance of DEST in the BattleTech fiction (not chronologically, but in terms of publication date, since DEST 1 appears in "Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight"), and this scene does an excellent job of defining DEST lethality. 
« Last Edit: 05 July 2016, 12:14:15 by Mendrugo »
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

Wrangler

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1167 on: 04 July 2016, 22:43:52 »
Pretty eye opening stuff.  Maybe i missed it, but is this Third Strike Regiment that Gray's people pouched from Combine occupier's outpost improvised formation?  Sounds more like a Star League left over merc unit than Combine regiment unit.  I know naming practices haven't really were established by time Keith wrote this gem of a book.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants

Mendrugo

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1168 on: 05 July 2016, 00:11:59 »
The 'Mech regiment assigned to garrison Verthandi is the Third Strike Regiment.  It appears to be a House Ricol-funded and operated unit, rather than a formal part of the DCMS.

A Star League unit would have the designation "Striker" rather than "Strike," however.  The numbering indicates that House Ricol has (or has had in the past) at least two other Strike Regiments, and an unknown number of other regiments with which to guard and expand their holdings.

References to the size of the Combine garrison are vastly inconsistent throughout the early material.  Grayson estimates there is a single 'Mech regiment on Verthandi, but the Gray Death Legion scenario pack puts the number at four House Kurita 'Mech regiments - an incredible amount of force to allocate to holding an agricultural world of 200,000 people circa 3025.  Thus, I'd say the estimate in Mercenary's Star is more accurate.
"We have made of New Avalon a towering funeral pyre and wiped the Davion scourge from the universe.  Tikonov, Chesterton and Andurien are ours once more, and the cheers of the Capellan people nearly drown out the gnashing of our foes' teeth as they throw down their weapons in despair.  Now I am made First Lord of the Star League, and all shall bow down to me and pay homa...oooooo! Shiny thing!" - Maximillian Liao, "My Triumph", audio dictation, 3030.  Unpublished.

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Re: Chronological BattleTech Fiction Review - The Succession Wars
« Reply #1169 on: 05 July 2016, 07:30:06 »
Given how this was arguably the first novels ever written, i can see Mr. Williams making mistake or three by our view point from the future.  I do wonder if his first Portrayal of his improvised mech regiment being so heavy man power and combined arms is better echoing of how tough times were in this bleek setting Third Succession War. Where Mechs were rare and incredibly power robotic vehicles of destruction, where lance of them would be accompanied by battalion worth of infantry.
Man power is cheap in comparison, but BattleMechs were the Kings of the Battlefield, thus symbol to be feared.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants