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Author Topic: Mechs are the Queen of the battlefield, but Artillery is the King...  (Read 362 times)

Railan Sradac

  • Master Sergeant
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  • Posts: 204
Having not found anyone local to game with, I've been experimenting in battles against the MegaMek bot. This was my biggest one yet: a sizeable pitched battle between my reinforced C3 company with artillery support and a (randomly generated) cavalry Trinary.

My force was:
4xSchiltron B variant (with the LRMs carrying a mix of Artemis and Semi-Guided ammo)
2xAjax Prime
3xGrasshopper GHR-6K
6xHeavy Hover APCs carrying the custom BA I was experimenting with:
- 3x Crippler squads: 6-man teams with maximized swarm damage
- 3x Udjat squads: 10 armour, 3 jump, BC3 and TAG
6xVali offboard artillery (carrying four tons Homing and one ton Cluster)

Enemy force was:
Arctic Wolf A
Fire Falcon D
Mist Lynx G
Phantom B
Snow Fox 3
Shadow Cat B
Adder B
Pouncer E
Gargoyle M
Gargoyle C
Kit Fox Prime
Summoner G
Mad Dog B
Warhammer IIC 8
Mandrill

Played on 2x3 map sheets to add a little more depth to the battle. The generated terrain was quite hilly, with a set of Level 2 hills covering the south and east flanks and a heavy forest in the middle. I set up my Ajaxes and Schiltrons just behind the south hill with the intent of moving them up to get good sightlines over the forest and right flank, while I deployed my Grasshoppers and a third of my APCs to the left flank and put the rest of my APCs on a run directly for the forest. The enemy deployed in a scattered formation in the nor-nor-east, in a sunken area that they'd have to jump or walk out of.

While my fire support group painstakingly crawled up the hills, my APCs zoomed ahead to try to contest the forest area, with the Grasshoppers trying to catch up. The enemy had deployed heavily toward my right flank, so my left side Grasshoppers and APCs were quite out of position. Meanwhile, my Vali tossed a few salvos of Cluster munitions toward the enemy but my anticipation of where enemies would be (and when) leaves much to be desired; however, they did manage to get some lucky hits that knocked out the Arctic Fox's pilot, and that unit would end up withdrawing once they woke up.

The first members of the Trinary met my APCs just east of the forest, forcing me to deploy sooner than I'd hoped; my fire support group was still moving into firing positions at the top of the south hill, so they weren't going to be a whole lot of help. To make matters worse, two of the five mechs that had sped ahead of the others (the Shadow Cat and the Snow Fox) carried ECM, so my Udjat wouldn't be able to direct long-range fire. It looked like this was about to get messy.

I had my Vali change loads to Homing rounds as my battle armour left the APCs (which promptly turned tail and ran). The Cripplers moved out aggressively, looking for chances to swarm, while the Udjat tried to get into range and position to TAG the ECM units so that they could clear lines for C3.

The first Homing rounds screamed in and the Udjat pointed out the Snow Fox and the Fire Falcon for execution. The vagaries of the hit location chart saved the Snow Fox from instant death, merely tearing off armour and structure, but the Fire Falcon wasn't so lucky; it was obliterated instantly. The Cripplers moved in but the greater Clan mobility gave them few targets; one team managed to swarm the Shadow Cat but was immediately brushed off, losing a teammate in the process. The Clanners fired on my battle armour teams but their size and mobility made them pretty hard targets even for Clan gunners. The Cripplers lost some people, but the Udjat are tough as Elementals and they were situated more cautiously, taking relatively little damage.

After those initial exchanges, my Grasshoppers and Schiltrons managed to get into the fight a little (the Ajaxes were still hunting for sightlines). The Schiltrons delivered indirect fire with their Semi-Guided rounds, stripping some armour and killing the Adder when it tried to flee. Homing rounds rained down throughout this, killing and crippling mechs left and right; they killed the Mist Lynx and the Shadow Cat and legged the Pouncer, stopping it so the Grasshoppers could finish it off. I lost one Crippler here because the Shadow Cat moved into the squad's square, and not realizing the implications I TAGged it; the homing rounds melted the Crippler team but it killed the Shadow Cat too. I'd definitely make that trade again. Another Crippler team managed to land a swarm attack on the Mad Dog, which it was unable to dislodge; it tore armour and structure off every arm and torso location, leaving it completely functional (to my irritation) until it finally hit a torso for the second time, touched off the Streak ammo and transferred the rest of the damage to the CT, critting the engine out.

The other half of the enemy force had arranged themselves in a firing line in a group of woods hexes across from my hill but without good sightlines to it. One Grasshopper got in their line of fire and took a few shots, then whiffed its PSR and was obliterated in the next round without its TMM defending it. Having cleaned up the lights and fast mediums, the remaining force consisted of the Gargoyles, Summoner, Whammy IIC, Mandrill, and Kit Fox.

Wanting to dislodge them from their firing position, I swapped the Vali fire for a turn to put a sheaf of cluster rounds in the centre of that firing line. It got most of them moving; the Whammy and Mandrill stayed in place, but the Kit Fox and one Gargoyle moved out toward the East while the other Gargoyle and the Summoner charged. I met the Gargoyle and Summoner with a sheaf of homing rounds which I then followed up with LRMs and Gauss/AC fire from the Schiltrons and Ajaxes, completely destroying the Gargoyle in one turn and leaving the Summoner decidedly worse for wear. I moved my Grasshoppers forward, but another one got focused and dropped by the remains of the firing line; it didn't die, but it got its gyro crit out and was useless for the rest of the battle. Another Arrow IV salvo finished the Summoner and killed the Kit Fox from nearly pristine.

I lost another squad of Udjat and Cripplers to friendly fire, one because I was indecisive about whether I wanted to swarm things or Arrow them and the other because I thought jumping into a Gargoyle's square would be a good way to TAG it. They were extremely acceptable losses in the scheme of things, but unnecessary ones, and ones that would make any soldiers I commanded a lot leerier about carrying out my orders.

At this point the battle was basically cleanup. The Warhammer and Mandrill fell to Homing salvos and the Arctic Fox booked it. My total casualties were: one Grasshopper totalled, another mission killed by gyro damage, one APC to a fuel tank crit, and two Crippler and one Udjat squad to friendly Homing fire.

Takeaways:
  • Arrow IV Homing is terrifyingly powerful. I'd only used four tubes total before, and moving to six here meant that I could flat-out kill one mech a turn, and sometimes two. The Vali together killed 8 out of the enemy force (more than half!) while consisting of less than a sixth of my total BV.
  • If you're gonna go Homing, bring more TAG. I only had my Udjat squads for frontline TAG, and while they're quite tough, a cleverer opponent than the bot could have focused them leaving me with no delivery method for my Homing rounds. I don't know of any good units that carry both C3 Slave and TAG, though, so I may have to build my own.
  • Both the Grasshoppers that were taken down did so after failing a PSR on relatively minor damage, then being focused in the next turn. I should put better pilots in those next time, that might make them last longer. Also, consider using a 5/8/5 brawler rather than a 4/6/4 one in a battle this size; the extra TMM might help a lot.
  • 3/5 direct fire support is really painful. The Ajaxes did very little, because I set them up in a spot that wasn't as good as I had thought and they didn't have the mobility to move somewhere else in any reasonable time. The Schiltrons did a lot better simply because they could IDF with semi-guided.
  • The Cripplers weren't great against an enemy as mobile as this was. They consistently failed to get in range for or to stick swarms, which was disappointing. They'd probably be quite a bit better against a force that isn't almost entirely 5/8 or faster.
  • The Udjat were a great C3 and TAG platform; tough, reasonably mobile, and quite accurate with the TAG because of the lack of AMMs.
  • ECCM is really important in a C3 company. I didn't have any this battle and it cost me during the first furball. Add that to the list of things I want on my frontliners.
  • Aiming non-homing artillery is really hard. It's good for shifting enemies, though.
  • I need to start giving the Bot higher BV handicaps. This was ~30,000 BV against ~34,000 BV, and I thought that would be skewed by C3 being quite costly. It wasn't enough.
  • I need to play more Battletech! This was awesome.