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Author Topic: Not Their Greatest Day ... ("Next time, pack a snorkel!")  (Read 396 times)

Simon Landmine

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Not Their Greatest Day ... ("Next time, pack a snorkel!")
« on: 18 November 2019, 00:36:58 »
Having spent more time on MegaMek building new maps than getting myself shot by the Princess AI recently, I took a break on Saturday night (yep, I'm that rock'n'roll) to set up a battle. I wasn't aiming for anything that challenging, it was more to get back into the habit. (It has actually been ages since I last put on a neurohelmet and spooled up a gyro.) And it still taught me some lessons that, in fairness, I should have already known.

The Premise
At the end of the 3060s, two heavy lances of a mercenary company were assigned to wade ashore and break the light defending force at a potential amphibious landing point. Given the lack of real opposition, it is suspected that this was probably a decoy operation, to make the defenders suspect that a full assault from the sea might follow.

The Forces
The attacking forces were two heavy lances from a 3067 mercenary company based on one proposed by Goatboy elsewhere on the forum. Partly because I'd not used the 'cusp of the Jihad' designs much, so I was curious to take some for a ride, and partly because these eight mechs all had the same movement profile, including jump jets for better urban maneuvrability. The Recon Lance from the company was otherwise occupied elsewhere.
Mercenary Command Lance          Mercenary Support Lance
Victor VTR-9KCataphract CTF-3D
Guillotine GLT-5MCatapult CPLT-C4C
Thunderbolt TDR-7SECatapult CPLT-C2
Hatchetman HCT-5SBlackjack BJ-3

Meanwhile, the defending forces were a mish-mash of light forces - not so much 'second-line' as 'last-line' units. If I use them again for anything similar, I'm probably going to have to put them under the command of a Captain Mainwaring and a Sgt Wilson.
Last Line Urban Lance          Last Line Bug Lance
Hunchback HBK-4GTarantula ZPH-1
Trebuchet TBT-5NLocust LCT-3V
UrbanMech UM-R69Stinger STG-3R
UrbanMech UM-R60Wasp WSP-1A

These haphazard forces were further reinforced by a local militia with the following resources ...

4 Hetzer Wheeled Assault Gun (std)
4 Striker Light Tank (std)
3 APC (Wheeled SRM)
1 APC (Wheeled LRM)
6 Foot Squad (SRM)

The Battlefield
The battlefield was two of the 'quad-size' boards I've created recently for MegaMek - "32x34 CoastalInshoreHills" and "32x34 CoastalProm".

(Click to enlarge)

The defenders were configured to set up anywhere on the map, while the attackers would deploy prior to Round 1 at the Eastern edge - which meant starting off in depth 2 underwater. Double-blind rules were used, so first contact would be important.

So, how did it go?

The Battle
The Command Lance formed up underwater at point 1 on the map, with the Support Lance at point 2. And they began to wade ashore. At which point it immediately started to go wrong.
In the first round, the Hatchetman tripped and fell, but fortunately didn't breach anything.
In the second round, the Thunderbolt did the same, but managed to breach the left arm, rendering that useless. The Cataphract in the Support Lance did the same, also breaching the left arm. The Guillotine merely face-planted the sand, but didn't incapacitate anything. While the Victor and Hatchetman broke the surface of the water, the UrbanMech R60 at point 3 turned towards them, but was immediately hit in the rear centre torso by the PPC and Large Laser of the Blackjack and Catapult C4C of the Support Lance, emerging from the waves just below it, which destroyed it. Unfortunately, the defenders' visual contact was maintained by an infantry squad at point 4.
And then, in the third round, the Thunderbolt fell again, breaching the right leg, thus spending the remainder of the battle lying below the breakers in a self-generated bubble of ECM, hoping that some of their unit would survive to help them out aftewards. The pilot had company, though, as the Guillotine did the same to its left leg, sixty metres away. So, one quarter of the attacking force was out of commission, and only one opponent had been properly engaged.
Several rounds later, one of the defending units (the LRM APC) was spotted at range, but the Catapult C2 merely damaged the paintwork with a single LB 2-X pellet.
The following round, more targets appeared, and the Hatchetman managed to remove a little bit of paint from the Hunchback. Meanwhile, the recon lance was approaching the Victor and Hatchetman at the park at point 5. Meanwhile, the Cataphract and Catapult C2 were rounding the large blocks at the south end of the promenade. The Catapult C4C was unfortunately slightly behind them, having been delayed by slipping while exiting the water.
In round eight, actual combat occurred - the Trebuchet and LRM APC fired at, but missed, the Catapult C2. The Hatchetman put some hurt onto the Locust, the Victor caught the Hunchback with a Gauss Rifle shot, and in return took shots from the Locust and Tarantula.
Come round nine, and the Catapult C4C pilot followed up on his early promise, by slipping on the road, and ... falling over again. The mercenaries may need to rename themselves 'Keystone's Kops'. The Catapult C2, Blackjack and Cataphract moved to join up with the half of the Command Lance that were still above the waves - and to assist with the annoyingly nimble recon lance, with the C2 critting the Tarantula's leg. At which point it became physical. The Tarantula and Wasp both kicked the Hatchetman, which ended up on the ground as a result. The Victor responded by kicking the Tarantula's rear left leg clean off, causing it to fall too.
Round ten saw the Hatchetman regaining its feet, taking out one of the infantry squads as it did so, while the Cataphract knocked the Tarantula to the ground again with shotgun blast from the LB 10-X.
It turned out that this was only a precursor to round eleven, when the weight of fire began to tell. The Locust lost its right torso to the Victor and its left leg and left torso to the Cataphract, causing it to fall, with the pilot being knocked out by the impact. Meanwhile, the Catapult C2 cored the Wasp's centre torso and removed the Stinger's right arm. The Victor then kicked the fallen Locust, destroying the centre torso. Adding insult to injury, the unconscious pilot was killed by the auto-eject mechanism.
The following round, the Tarantula and the Stinger both decided that discretion was the better part of not dying, and began withdrawing.
In round fourteen, the mercenaries made another error. The Victor rounded the North end of the line of buildings to the West of the town, encountering two Hetzers and two Strikers at far too close range. The Blackjack jumped over the buildings to point 6 to provide support - and found itself right next to the Hunchback and another Hetzer, which between them removed the armour from the Blackjack's right and left torso. The Victor was hit in the centre torso by a Hetzer blast, but fortunately only the one shell. The Blackjack was knocked to the ground by the combined AC/20 impacts, and the Hunchback took advantage by giving it a kick.
Round fifteen just got silly, with much reckless driving from the militia vehicles, and the withdrawing Tarantula making it off the map. In contrast, the Stinger failed a leap, destroying both legs on the landing, then falling and destroying its right torso and damaging both the gyro and the engine. The pilot blacked out, probably from sheer embarrassment. With very little armour left, the pilot of the prone Blackjack, surrounded by foes at close range, decided that enough was enough, and set the engine to self-destruct, before struggling their 'mech to its feet, missing the Hunchback with both PPCs, and immobilising a Hetzer with lasers - and was then brutally set upon by two Hetzers, with one of them destroying the right arm, and the other hitting with two shells, causing the destruction of the left arm and torso with the first shot, and the loss of the right leg with the other. The Blackjack, now down to one leg, the centre and right torsos, and the head, toppled over - causing the loss of the right torso. The remaining mercenaries pulled back around the row of buildings towards the park in the centre of town again, preparing to open fire on any forces that followed them, as the Catapult C4C finally began to catch up, with the Beagle Active Probe now picking up multiple sensor traces behind the buildings (which would have been useful earlier).
In round sixteen, the crew of the immobilised Hetzer bailed out, while the Hatchetman and Cataphract each immobilised a Striker that pursued them towards the park. The Hunchback double-tapped the AC/20 into what was left of the Blackjack, destroying the centre torso utterly, but then caught nine LRMs from the Catapult C4C which knocked out the heavy autocannon. The pilot of the Stinger came to in their now legless bug, ejecting in the following round (as did the crews of the immobilised Strikers).
Round eighteen saw the two Catapults each destroy an SRM squad to limit the defenders' information (although it's possible that successfully hitting a single infantry squad with a large laser and 40 LRMs might have been overkill).
In round nineteen, the other UrbanMech (the R69), hopped up onto the medium building just to the South-East of point 6, getting the attention of the mercenaries, and taking a stack of non-penetrating hits from the Hatchetman, Catapult C4C, and Victor, causing it to topple over atop the building after stripping the armour from the rear of the Cataphract's right torso. Meanwhile, the Catapult C2 took out another infantry squad.
The next round, the UrbanMech R69 regained its position on top of the building, only to take multiple critical hits to the left leg from the Victor's Gauss Rifle, lose the left arm to the same 'mech's Pulse Lasers, and then lose the left leg to the Cataphract's UAC/5, causing another fall and a critical hit to the right arm, with the pilot ejecting the following round. The Trebuchet popped up on the ridgeline behind the buildings, hitting the Catapult C2 with seventeen LRMs, but taking eighteen LRMs and 2 LB 2-X pellets in return, knocking it to the ground.
In round twenty-two, the Victor's Gauss Rifle stripped the armour from the Trebuchet's right torso, with a follow-up attack from the Catapult C4C destroying that torso and causing another fall.
In the following rounds, the Trebuchet stood again to withdraw, another infantry squad was destroyed, a Striker was immobilised and subsequently abandoned, and one of the SRM APCs was destroyed.
The Victor, Hatchetman, and Cataphract lined up on the road to the North-West of the park, waiting for any opponent to come out from between the buildings. The first target to do so was a Hetzer, which took multiple hits from the Victor before the ammunition went up, with eighteen rounds of AC/20 fire redecorating the landscape with bits of budget vehicle. The Hunchback appeared to trade some laser fire with its backup weapons. And another Hetzer was merely immobilised after being hit with a Gauss Rifle, LB 10-X, medium Laser, and twelve LRMs. The, presumably thankful, crew abandoned the vehicle immediately afterwards.
The remaining Hetzer came into view as the Cataphract slowly advanced, supported by the Victor, and was promptly immobilised by them. It attempted to double-tap the AC/20 at close range into the Cataphract, but it fortunately jammed.

At which point, the battle came to an end, with the enemy forces broken, and reduced to the Hunchback, now lacking its primary weapon, an immobilised Hetzer, a Striker, and a few APCs, two with SRMs and one with LRMs.

Presumably, at some point, the mercenary 'mechs went back to haul their colleagues in the Thunderbolt and Guillotine from the sea.

The Lessons
1 The first lesson - if you're planning an amphibious operation, put decent Mechwarriors on it. You're likely to lose a percentage of your unit to breaches from falling otherwise. And even though Mechwarriors often look like they're dressed for the beach, they still don't seem to fancy going swimming.
2 The second lesson - if you've got a unit with a Beagle Active Probe, remember it has it, and don't let it get left so far behind that the Probe is useless to your lead units.
3 The third lesson - the Catapult C2 is pretty good at parking vehicles at range.
4 The fourth lesson - don't jump into the middle of a group of opponents with AC/20s. That should be an obvious one.
5 The fifth lesson - if you've got an LB 10-X, pay attention to what's loaded if you've got multiple bins. I forgot to do this with the Cataphract, resulting in an unexpected ammunition change partway through the battle. The cluster rounds were useful against the light 'mechs, though.
6 The sixth lesson - pay attention to which units have LOS on other units - if you want to use indirect fire in MegaMek, remember to click 'Spot' for at least one unit with LOS before you click 'Done' and finish the fire order for that unit. There were a couple of rounds when I'd positioned the two Catapults for a nice rain of indirect LRMs, and then forgot that only one of the other 'mechs had LOS on that target.

The Awards
Warriors of Long Standing - The only 'mechs on the attacking force to remain standing throughout the battle were the Victor and the Catapult C2.
Davy Jones Prize - The Guillotine and Thunderbolt, for spending the entire battle lying on the seabed.
Monty Python Black Knight Award - The Blackjack, for trying to keep fighting as each limb was removed.
The Oops Award - The pilot of the Stinger, for that leap that broke both legs.
The Big Brass Ones Award - The entire defending recon lance, for going up against a Victor, Cataphract, and Hatchetman in bug 'mechs.

I rather like the Catapult C2 and Catapult C4C, and I've always liked Hatchetman derivatives. I'm still not convinced by that Cataphract version, though.
"That's Lieutenant Faceplant to you, Corporal!"
Things that I have learnt through clicking too fast on 'Move Done' on MegaMek: Double-check the CF of the building before jumping onto it, check artillery arrival times before standing in the neighbouring hex, and don't run across your own minefield.


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Re: Not Their Greatest Day ... ("Next time, pack a snorkel!")
« Reply #1 on: 14 February 2020, 23:50:44 »
This was a lot of fun to read, thank you for sharing!  Even if getting sucked into it delayed me typing up my own report.  ;D  Hetzers are nasty in a double blind city game.

Those early turns really make one wonder how some of those canon stories of Mech assaults from underwater actually managed to get pulled off.  Glancing at the rules, it seems like a group of Piloting 5 IS Mechs would pretty consistently take about 25% casualties just crossing the Rhine, and your results seem to back that up.

Simon Landmine

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Re: Not Their Greatest Day ... ("Next time, pack a snorkel!")
« Reply #2 on: 14 February 2020, 23:58:17 »
Cheers! Glad that you enjoyed it! Blundering into the Hetzer nest was definitely an error.

And yes, it seems as if useful amphibious Mech assault is only for expert pilots. Which isn't going to stop me putting big water features in future maps, admittedly ...
"That's Lieutenant Faceplant to you, Corporal!"
Things that I have learnt through clicking too fast on 'Move Done' on MegaMek: Double-check the CF of the building before jumping onto it, check artillery arrival times before standing in the neighbouring hex, and don't run across your own minefield.


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Re: Not Their Greatest Day ... ("Next time, pack a snorkel!")
« Reply #3 on: 15 February 2020, 07:07:50 »
Expert pilots indeed... those piloting rolls were just brutal.