Brawl on the Border

Over the weekend, I played a lance-on-lance game of BattleTech. I used some of the miniatures I had painted from my old Introductory Box Set to play out a battle on the border of the Lyran Commonwealth and the Draconis Combine sometime during or around the 4th Succession War.

The Forces

Draconis Combine – Sword of Light

  • Chu-i Aika Nakano (3/4), Grand Dragon DRG-1G
  • Alaric (3/5), Whitworth WTH-1
  • Kenta (4/5), Panther PNT-9R
  • Alia (4/4), Jenner JR7-D

Chu-i Nakano’s lance is a cavalry lance that can strike quickly at an enemy forces weak points. The Jenner is nearly as fast as a Locust, and the Grand Dragon is a heavy mech that is only slightly slower than a Wasp. While the Panther and Whitworth have a somewhat slow running speed for their weight classes, their jump jets allow them to be more mobile in rough terrain than their ground speed would imply. Once the enemy is encountered, Aika and Kenta plan to form the main battle line using their particle cannons and missiles to take out targets while Alia uses her Jenner’s speed to harass the enemy and Alaric offers long-range fire support.

Chu-i Nakano’s lance has a battle value of 4,626.

Lyran Commonwealth – Lyran Guards

  • Leutnant Eva Holt (4/5), Zeus ZEU-6S
  • Wolff (4/5), Banshee BNC-3S
  • Jacques (4/5), Hunchback HBK-4G
  • Naveen (4/5), Commando COM-2D

Leutnant Holt’s lance is designed to punch through enemy formations using firepower and durability. The Banshee and Zeus form the core of the lance with both offering abundant firepower and heavy armor. Jacques can use his Hunchback’s heavy autocannon to deter enemy units from getting in close with the assault mechs. Meanwhile, Naveen can use his Commando’s faster speed to disrupt the enemy backfield and root out anyone trying to hide from the slower-moving mechs that make up the rest of the lance.

Leutnant Holt’s lance has a battle value of 4,681.

The Battle

As the two forces met, Alia charged her Jenner directly towards the Lyran mechs. The Lyran Guard unleashed all of their firepower at her racing mech, but every shot missed. As she raced past the Commando, she fired all of her weapons at Jacques in his Hunchback. For the most part the lasers and short range missiles just chipped away armor, but one laser scored a lucky critical hit to damage the Hunchback’s engine casing.

As Alia continued to run her Jenner past the Lyran mechs, Jacques tried to get revenge and fired his massive autocannon at her back. His shot went just wide, but Eva snapped off a shot with her Zeus’s smaller autocannon and managed to damage on of the Jenner’s lasers.

While Jacques continued to hunt Alia, the rest of the Lyran Guards turned their attention to Aika’s Grand Dragon. The Banshee and Zeus both fired overwhelming salvos at the Kuritan heavy mech while Naveen raced behind it to send several short-range missiles into its back. Under the devastating barrage, Aika lost control of her mech and it fell into the dirt. Naveen’s focus on his target let Kenta take a shot at his Commando’s back though and the Panther’s particle cannon ignited one of his missile bins triggering a devastating explosion that ripped apart the Commando.

Unwilling to give up the fight, Aika pushed her Grand Dragon back to its feet and continued advancing towards the Lyran assault mechs. Eva and Wolff continued to focus their fire on her though. Most of the Grand Dragon’s armor was blown off and its particle cannon was destroyed.

With Aika’s Grand Dragon seeming to be near destruction, Eva positioned her Zeus for a killing blow while Wolff turned his attention to Kenta’s Panther. The Banshee’s barrage did enough damage that Kenta lost his footing and the Panther fell hard into the ground. Eva launched her Zeus’s weapons towards the back of the Grand Dragon, but somehow managed to not land a single hit on Aika’s mech. Even worse, Alia had raced her Jenner behind the Zeus and opened up into the assault mech’s thinner rear armor. One laser hit the back of her mechs head jostling her about as another shot punched through into the right torso’s missile bin. The Zeus collapsed as the resulting explosion ripped through its frame.

With the Lyran Guards Leutnant suddenly out of the battle, Wolff turned his attention back to Aika in her Grand Dragon. With another salvo of the Banshee’s weapons, he blew off his target’s leg. As the one-legged Grand Dragon hit the ground hard, the impact ignited an ammunition explosion inside its torso that ensured it would not be getting back up this time.

Kenta had taken advantage of the the time that Aika bought him, and his Panther was back on its feet. Using her jump jets, he did her best to stay behind the Banshee and hit it a couple of times with his particle cannon and short-range missiles. Then Jacques came to Wolff’s aid and managed to score a hit with his Hunchback’s massive autocannon that obliterated the Panther’s torso taking Kenta out of the fight.

At this point, both sides had lost half of their mechs, but the Lyran Guard had a definite weight advantage. Knowing that they couldn’t chase Alia’s nimble Jenner, Wolff and Jacques began to press towards Alaric’s Whitworth. Alaric did everything he could to stay out of sight while Alia made firing passes and spotted for indirect fire. When the Jenner was close, both Lyran warriors would take shots of opportunity. On one pass, Jacques lined up a shot with his big autocannon and let loose at Alia’s fast-moving mech. As the massive gun’s ammunition bin ran dry, that last burst of fire ripped across the head of the passing Jenner leaving it a headless husk.

Now alone against a Banshee and Hunchback, Alaric’s skills were put to the test. He knew that his mech couldn’t survive the Banshee’s firepower, so he concentrated on using his jump jets to stay either out-of-sight of the assault mech or at least behind it where only it’s arm-mounted particle cannon could reach. For a while, luck was on Alaric’s side and he managed to do enough damage with his medium lasers to force Jacques to start withdrawing. That luck eventually ran out and Alaric took enough torso damage that he was forced to fall back.

The Outcome

With Alaric’s Whitworth too damaged for him to stay in the fight, Wolff managed to hold the field in his Banshee. That gave the Lyran Commonwealth a narrow victory over the Draconis Combine.

Draconis Combine Damage Report

  • Alia died when her Jenner’s head was destroyed by the enemy Hunchback.
  • Kenta escaped from his downed Panther with only minor injuries.
  • Chu-i Nakano suffered injuries from the explosion that destroyed her Grand Dragon, but managed to safely eject despite the mech being prone.
  • The Panther and Grand Dragon were destroyed.
  • The headless Jenner was abandoned on the battlefield.
  • The Whitworth needs repairs to its internal structure and armor, but all of its systems remain operational.

Lyran Commonwealth Damage Report

  • Leutnant Holt was injured by the hit to her Zeus’s head and then knocked unconscious during the ammo explosion. Luckily, she survived her automatic ejection , but her injuries will take some time to heal.
  • Naveen was injured by the explosion that destroyed his Commando, but he safely ejected.
  • Wolff and Jacques both sustained injuries due to hits to their mech’s heads.
  • The Zeus and Commando were destroyed.
  • In addition to lost armor and damaged internal structure, the Hunchback has had its engine shielding cracked, its sensors damaged, and lost a medium laser.
  • The Banshee needs its left arm replaced in addition to repairs to its armor and internal structure.

Thoughts on the Battle

I had a lot of fun playing this game. It felt like a close match that could have gone either way, and it had plenty of awesome moments that really highlighted why I love BattleTech as a game. From Alia’s initial firing pass where everything fired at her missed while she got a lucky hit on Jacques’ Hunchback right up to the end of the game with Alaric working hard to stay out-of-reach of the weapons of Wolff’s Banshee while slowly picking away at it, it was a great battle.

Mech Reviews

Grand Dragon DRG-1G: The Grand Dragon is an iconic design for the Draconis Combine that mixes good speed for a heavy mech with decent long-range firepower. In this battle it was severely outgunned by the Banshee and Zeus though. The DRG-1G also doesn’t carry enough heat sinks to make the most of its weapons and can’t fire both its PPC and LRM-10 without building up heat. The later DRG-5K variant that makes use of double heat sinks solves this problem.

Whitworth WTH-1: The Whitworth is a great medium missile boat that plays like a lighter version of the Catapult. It has a pair of LRM-10s that let it give long-range fire support and make indirect fire attacks. If the enemy gets close, it has a trio of medium lasers that let it hit back. It’s jumpjets keep it maneuverable and were key towards the end of this battle when it needed to avoid the Banshee’s firing arcs.

Panther PNT-9R: The Panther is another iconic mech for the Draconis Combine. It has a lot of firepower for a light mech with a PPC and SRM-4, but pays for that by being relatively slow. In this game, it was able to take out the enemy Commando, but its low speed and light armor meant that it didn’t last long against the Banshee.

Jenner JR7-D: Like the Panther, the Jenner is another iconic light mech for the Draconis Combine. It trades away the Panther’s PPC and a lot of armor for a much faster speed and four medium lasers. This makes it a great striker mech that races around the battlefield to stay hard to hit while trying to line up devastating bursts of short-range fire. In this game that worked like a charm with the Jenner scoring a big opening hit on the Hunchback and taking out the Zeus. I can’t really fault the design for not surviving an unlucky AC/20 to the head since that’d take down anything.

Zeus ZEU-6S: The Zeus is one of the Lyran Commonwealth’s signature assault mechs. It is relatively fast for an assault mech and packs a good amount of long-range firepower (a Large Laser, an Autocannon/5, and an LRM-15). This means it can act as mobile sniper. I think it performed okay this game until the unlucky ammo explosion that took it out.

Banshee BNC-3S: The Banshee has a bad reputation as an under-gunned assault mech, but the Lyran Commonwealth’s BNC-3S variant addresses that problem. It trades away some of the BNC-3E’s speed in order to carry far more firepower (2 PPCs, an AC/10, an SRM-6, 4 Medium Lasers, and a pair of Small Lasers). That said, it doesn’t carry enough heat sinks to be able to sustainably use all those guns. I ended up using the PPCs at long range and then switching over to the other weapons for closer targets which worked pretty well. Another drawback is that only a single PPC is arm-mounted, so it can’t bring much of its firepower to bear against something like a Whitworth that is continuously jumping to stay behind it.

Hunchback HBK-4G: The Hunchback is built around its massive Autocannon/20. This game, it managed to score two kills with it which is a pretty good performance. The early critical hit to its engine meant that it couldn’t make much use of its secondary weapons without overheating where normally it’d be mixing in more laser shots.

Commando COM-2D: The Commando is the iconic light mech for the Lyran Commonwealth. It serves as a striker with good speed and a powerful short range weapons mix. Its SRM-6 and SRM-4 are generally pretty good at crit-seeking. A drawback of the design is that it isn’t as fast as it could be with only a 6/9 movement profile and no jump jets.

By Scott Boehmer

A game enthusiast and software engineer.

One reply on “Brawl on the Border”

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