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Author Topic: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs  (Read 1026 times)

Vandervecken

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Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« on: 28 September 2018, 18:45:53 »
Folks,
Part of the problem with playing with Lights & Mediums (vs Heavies and Assaults) is that most people play in a limited battlespace (2 or 4 mapsheets, or the equivalent), and much of the strategic advantages of having Lights and mediums are lost. If you play on a large map where speed is very important, battles take too long. If you fight inside a phone booth, many of the advantages of speed are lost.

The question is: What kind of rules would you use in order to simulate the strategic advantage of fast units, without massively increasing playtime? Entering from the side or the rear of the battlefield, for example?

Bonus points for answers that are both CBT and Alpha Strike friendly!

Thanks,
Vandervecken

MadCapellan

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #1 on: 28 September 2018, 19:05:34 »
Entry onto the board by speed is one I've done - 6/9 & faster enter the board first, 5/8s on the next turn, 4/6s the turn after that & so on. I generally try to lay down enough map to allow for proper maneuvering, though, so beyond that & running scenarios that are more than just "destroy all the other side's 'Mechs", that's about it for me.

massey

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #2 on: 28 September 2018, 19:11:35 »
I’d let the side with the best movement pick the mission.  “Best movement” would be determined by comparing the slowest unit on each side.

So maybe we aren’t doing a planetary assault.  Maybe we’re doing a raid, and instead of killing your stuff I just have to get to a certain hex and hold it for 2 turns.  All those 3/5 assaults are going to have a tough time keeping up with my 6/9 guys. 

Sigil

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #3 on: 28 September 2018, 20:45:01 »
The HBS video game introduced an idea that's intention was to make fast 'Mechs more valuable, although its a fundamental change in how the game is played.  In a nutshell, it's sequential turns rather than simultaneous, where light 'Mechs *move and fire* first, followed by mediums, then heavies, etc.  Damage resolution also occurs immediately.

When it comes to tabletop, you may be able to simulate this effect by providing a bonus to the initiative roll based on how much "faster" one side is than the other.  Exactly how you would quantify the bonus would take some experimentation, especially in a combined arms environment or when the two forces have differing numbers of units.  Nonetheless, providing a bonus to the imitative roll is a definite advantage as holding the initiative can turn the tide of most any battle.


Tai Dai Cultist

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #4 on: 28 September 2018, 21:02:51 »
Doing scenarios where the defender doesn't know what the attacker's victory condition is makes the mobile forces more attractive than in the usual "stand em up and shoot em down" games.

jshdncn

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #5 on: 30 September 2018, 11:33:28 »
Off map movement gives fast units the flexibility you want.

glitterboy2098

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #6 on: 30 September 2018, 12:00:25 »
Alpha strike's obscured info rules do a good job of making faster units useful. When everyone is a blip counter until you get LOS, speedsters can actually use their recon role.

Vandervecken

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #7 on: 30 September 2018, 14:35:37 »
Some great ideas here. @jshdncn: What do you mean by "off-map movement"?

Fear Factory

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #8 on: 30 September 2018, 14:36:58 »
The other problem is with unit selection. If you play games with heavies all the time, on these small map setups, then yes you'll have issues.

My advice is to try and move your heavier units first then end with the faster and lighter guys. The big guys can take the hits.

Sartris

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #9 on: 30 September 2018, 14:48:54 »
Doing scenarios where the defender doesn't know what the attacker's victory condition is makes the mobile forces more attractive than in the usual "stand em up and shoot em down" games.

Or just objectives in general. Having a scan the building, scout a spot, etc goals make fast mechs valuable.

glitterboy2098

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #10 on: 30 September 2018, 14:51:51 »
Some great ideas here. @jshdncn: What do you mean by "off-map movement"?
basically what it lets you do is move your units off the edge of the map without losing them, then, after a certain number of turns marked down when they left it, to appear at another location on the map edge. letting you flank your opponent or get a force deep behind where their forces are.

epic

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #11 on: 30 September 2018, 15:23:31 »
Scenarios like Extraction missions, or missions where you have an escalating enemy force (such as, after x amount of rounds, the other side starts getting more and more reinforcements) and an objective that isn't kill 'em all.
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Easy

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #12 on: 30 September 2018, 15:27:23 »
cleanup
« Last Edit: 29 May 2019, 19:56:59 by Easy »

Simon Landmine

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #13 on: 30 September 2018, 20:38:11 »
Alpha strike's obscured info rules do a good job of making faster units useful. When everyone is a blip counter until you get LOS, speedsters can actually use their recon role.

To a certain extent that's also the case with Double Blind - the fast scouts can provide the opportunity to find out what the opposition actually has, and roughly where it is (on those maps without long sight-lines). Although they do also have the opportunity to run straight into said opponents, which can get messy. ("I found them ... and now I'm auto-ejecting.")

DISCLAIMER - I tend to play MegaMek, which also makes it easier to both play Double Blind and to use those big maps that give fast mechs an opportunity to do things like flank.
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jshdncn

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #14 on: 30 September 2018, 21:46:29 »
Glitterboy is right. Off map movement let’s flankers do their job by going around the battle line without having to engage it.

Kovax

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #15 on: 01 October 2018, 10:26:52 »
You just need to play on a bigger table.....like the floor of a basketball court.....in a double-blind game where the GM tracks the positions of units until they're spotted and placed on the map.  Recon, rapid response, and flanking units WILL be important.  On a 2x2 mapsheet battlefield, not nearly as useful.

Light 'Mechs are allowed to pursue offboard artillery in one of the optional rules, I seem to recall, and their speed determines their odds of success.

massey

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #16 on: 01 October 2018, 11:06:16 »
Following up on what I said earlier (mission selection), I think campaign rules would be the best way to make use of lights.  In a straight-up slugfest, bigger is almost always better.  In a "real life" scenario, you'd want a mixture of different units.  Not even House Steiner runs an army of all heavies and assaults.  But that doesn't really get reflected in how they function on the tabletop.

I think some kind of campaign rule would work, where a person with the fastest mechs got to avoid the slowest units of his opponents.  If I'm bringing a lance of Locusts, Wasps, and Stingers, then why on Earth am I fighting an Atlas?  It seems quite unrealistic that I can't go around him, or avoid him.  He certainly can't catch me.  What is the scenario that makes this fight take place?  Am I supposed to be assaulting this particular mapsheet that he just happened to be standing on?  Am I defending this map and this is all I've got available?  It doesn't make sense for this fight to be happening unless it's part of some greater story.

I'd suggest that the guy with the most mobile units could avoid the slower ones, forcing his opponent to select different mechs.  This requires both players to be on the same page though.  So when you're getting ready to play, you tell your opponent "the slowest mech in my unit is 6/9/6, so all your stuff needs to be 5/8 or faster."  Remember that the fastest units are the ones that determine whether an engagement takes place or not.

Colt Ward

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #17 on: 01 October 2018, 12:23:42 »
Light mechs are supposed to be for recon on the most part . . .

Well, depending on the light mech you get X amount of Thumper offboard artillery strikes, or generic ASF bombing strikes.  I think there are rules for abstract bombing- you do not have to worry about what the ASF is, just a select amount of Y damage bombs can fall for a on-call strike.  Amount could be determined by speed, AS role, or electronics.  For example a Raven should have more arty/ASF strikes than something like a Commando b/c of their roles.

Effectively something like the MechCommander artillery strikes (except all small) or MechCommander 2's air strikes.

Bonus points for having the bombing run .wav file on your phone and playing it while declaring the bomb's fall.
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Androsynth

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #18 on: 01 October 2018, 16:16:20 »
You see this same issue in WWII strategy games as well. Everyone wonders why you'd pick one of the German/US/Brittish/Russian scout vehicles, or why some of the lightly armored turreted vehicles were even viable. On the usual Tactical (too small of an area) or Strategic (too big) it's hard to see why you would. You have to pretty much play a game on an Operational level to see how vital those vehicles were. They were not about slugging it out so much as telling you WHERE you needed to slug it out.

In terms of Battletech, I'd imagine you could simulate this by making a strategic map where you assigned forces (both sides, double blind) to different areas, and then sent out scouts. When a scout lance encountered main line forces, you'd play a match where you'd have to scan the enemy forces and escape with the lights (or some other scout/disengage scenario). Winning such a match (i.e. escaping with the intel) would allow you to shift some of your main forces somewhat prior to the main event when the heavies get down and dirty, and you'd fight the usual 'big battle' with whatever the final force mix was in each of the operations area(s).

I've used something similar with a lot of 'stand alone' games over the years, and it works pretty well. The main thing is, you don't bring a knife to a gunfight any more than the army brought scout cars to a panzer battle. Those scout cars told 'em WHERE the panzers were though, something those big tanks couldn't feasibly do.

Greatclub

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #19 on: 01 October 2018, 16:27:49 »
Get one of the chaos campaign products with missions - the era reports, total chaos, or I suggest the Scout mission from OTP death to mercenaries. Your other missions can get bonuses for completing one, and fast mechs are the tool of choice for those missions.


Colt Ward

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #20 on: 01 October 2018, 17:12:26 »
Another solution is to fight a screening battle . . . you light scout/recon mechs & vehs are either screening your force or you are trying to penetrate the enemy screen.  This will have a impact on the NEXT fight since one side either knows or does not know what they will be facing in general terms.

IMO it would be a mix of the breakthrough scenario . . .

Defender's force will be strung out in a line in the middle of the battlefield, the attackers/scouts will enter from a edge.  The scouts have to get through the picket line and exit the map side opposite their edge.  Each turn they are off board on the edge they get better info . . . then when the scout commander thinks he has enough, they re-enter the map from the enemy edge, anywhere along the edge and run for their own map edge.  Get 1 unit off the edge and the scout team gets the recon data with a strategic victory.  Get 75% of the scouts off the edge and it is a tactical victory.  Get 50% off the edge for a marginal tactical victory.

Each turn a scout is off the enemy edge it has to roll 2d6- 2 or 12 take your pick, kills the unit.  Information would be collected in points . . . so each turn a unit is off the edge it picks up that many points (turn 1, 1 point- turn 2, 2 points for a total of 3) or something like that accumulation.  Then both sides would have decided on what information is revealed by points taken into consideration for the force sizes involved . . . - 1 point lets the scouts know how many tanks & mechs are in the enemy body total but not broken down by type (12 tanks and 6 mechs yields a result of 18 detected units) BA and infantry does not count at this stage.  With 2 points the force is broken down by mass or type . . . 3 points, whichever was not found out at 2 . . . 4 points the enemy commander is determined . . . 5 points you can find out the six mechs are a Warhammer, Archer, Longbow, Battlemaster, TBolt and Panther, but not specific models . . . 6 points you can tell what the tanks are . . . etc, scale as needed like I mentioned earlier.
Colt Ward

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Atarlost

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #21 on: 01 October 2018, 17:17:39 »
The question is: What kind of rules would you use in order to simulate the strategic advantage of fast units, without massively increasing playtime? Entering from the side or the rear of the battlefield, for example?

Wouldn't that be a fan rules question?  There are official optional rules options that help, but if they didn't either slow the game or require an impractically large table they'd probably be in common use already. 

Colt Ward

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Re: Strategic advantage of Fast mechs
« Reply #22 on: 01 October 2018, 17:19:25 »
Not really . . . because most folks want the Last Man Standing slugfest in a telephone booth.

So if someone is asking, it typically means they are looking for a different game than that which most folks play.
Colt Ward

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