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BattleTech

A Gift from the Chancellor

In 3057, the Free Worlds League and Capellan Confederation launched Operation GUERRERO to take back the worlds both nations had lost to the Federated Commonwealth during the Fourth Succession War. Katherine Steiner-Davion aided their efforts by declaring the Lyran portion of the Federated Commonwealth to be independent and ordering the forces of the newly formed Lyran Alliance to remain neutral in the fighting between the Federated Commonwealth, Free Worlds League, and Capellan Confederation.

Once the Free Worlds League gained control of the eleven worlds it was targeting, Thomas Marik ordered the Free Worlds League to consolidate their position. This left the Capellan Confederation unable to secure all of the worlds they had lost in the Fourth Succession War. The fractured Federated Commonwealth was also unable to hold those worlds with the Lyran Alliance withdrawing, and the region became a somewhat lawless collection of micro-states known as the Chaos March.

I decided to play a game with a Capellan force attacking a Free Worlds League garrison within the Chaos March as a means of exacting vengeance on the League for their early end to Operation GUERRERO. Nominally the two nations were allies, but the Chancellor was already recognizing that the usefulness of that alliance was waning.

The Forces

Free Worlds League – Free Worlds Guard

  • Lieutenant Amin Shah (4/5), Cyclops CP-11-A
  • Peter “Tabasco” (3/5), Awesome AWS-9Q
  • Asha (4/6), Trebuchet TBT-7M
  • Zoë (4/5), Hermes II HER-5S

Lieutenant Shah’s lance is built for long-range assaults. The Cyclops and Awesome can deliver a lot of direct fire power as they advance on a target. In support, the Trebuchet is a mobile platform for long-range missile fire, and the Hermes II can use its speed to respond as needed while its light autocannon means it still can fire at long-range.

Lieutenant Shah’s lance has a battle value of 5,935.

Capellan Confederation – Warrior House Imarra

  • Pai-zhang Kun Ma (3/4), Grasshopper GHR-5H
  • Arkadi (4/5), Catapult CPLT-C4C
  • Xiang (3/5), Vindicator VND-3L
  • Bai (4/5), Cicada CDA-3G

Pai-zhang Kun Ma’s lance is a mobile strike force well-versed for fighting in rough terrain. Every ’Mech in the lance mounts jump jets, and Bai’s Cicada is especially mobile. In battle, the Grasshopper and Vindicator form the main battle line while the Catapult provides fire support and the Cicada uses its speed to harass behind the enemy battle line.

Pai-zhang Kun Ma’s lance has a battle value of 5,929.

The Battle

Lieutenant Shah’s lance of the Free Worlds Guard was moving cross-country through a rocky desert on patrol when their sensors picked up enemy ’Mechs ahead. The Capellans had been a bit angry ever since the League hadn’t helped them conquer the whole Sarna March, and it looked like things were about to get hot.

As the two lances approached, they exchanged long-range missile and autocannon fire. Bai rocketed ahead of the rest of her lance in his Cicada, but he wasn’t able to land any shots with his lasers. Amin and Peter turned their firepower on Xiang’s Vindicator, but she managed to avoid all three particle cannon shots and the gauss rifle slug. After missing with his long-range shot, Lieutenant Shah turned towards the rapidly approaching Cicada and scored a couple of hits with his short-range missiles, but not enough to deter Bai.

Knowing that the Awesome’s firepower could be lethal, Pai-zhang Kun Ma ordered her forces to concentrate their fire on the assault mech. She chipped away at its armor with her long-range missiles while Xiang scorched the Awesome’s arm with her own particle cannon. Arkadi had less luck and his salvo of long-range missiles only blasted rock and sand. With his Cicada already past the Awesome, Bai instead took some opportunistic shots to damage Zoë’s Hermes II, but she hit right back with her pulse laser.

Tabasco Pete unleashed a full salvo of particle cannon fire at Xiang’s Vindicator, but only managed to hit with one of the four shots. In return, the Capellan’s hammered his Awesome. His BattleMech’s armor was blasted away when more than thirty long-range missiles from Arkadi’s Catapult struck, then Xiang’s particle cannon melted even more armor before one of her missiles managed to hit the Awesome’s shoulder just right to blow off its right arm. Bai tried to add to the Awesome’s woes by jumping behind it and firing a laser salvo, but he only managed to hit with one of his medium lasers.

While Peter took a beating, Lieutenant Shah and Asha focused on Kun’s Grasshopper. Amin hit it square in the chest with a gauss slug while Asha scored hits with her missiles and lasers and destroyed one of the Grasshopper’s heat sinks. Kun retaliated by firing everything she had back at Asha’s Trebuchet. The Grasshopper’s lasers melted armor across the Trebuchet’s torso and Asha lost control and fell to the ground.

Refusing to stay down, Asha pushed her Trebuchet back to its feet and joined Lieutenant Shah and Peter in firing back at the Grasshopper. Between a gauss slug, a couple particle cannon hits, and a few long-range missiles, one of the Grasshopper’s arms was destroyed. Pushing through the fire, Kun Ma managed to score a hit with her large laser on the Awesome before stumbling to the ground. Arkadi fired another salvo of missiles to support his commander, but this time only nine of the forty struck the Awesome.

Xiang tried to maneuver behind the Free Worlds League line, but she was intercepted by Zoë’s Hermes II. The two traded fire, and Xiang managed to score a hit the Hermes II’s head with her pulse laser rattling Zoë.

Kun Ma pushed her Grasshopper back to its feet just in time to avoid fire from the Cyclops’s gauss rifle and long-range missiles. Asha moved behind the Grasshopper, missed with her lasers, but she did manage to plant a Narc beacon on it. Kun moved towards the Awesome, scored a hit with her long-range missile, but then took two particle cannon hits and fell back to the dirt.

Xiang jumped behind the Awesome and hits its rear armor with her pulse laser, but that left her rear exposed to Zoë’s pulse laser. Bai meanwhile was circling his Cicada around at high speed for another pass on the League ’Mechs.

Regaining her feet again, Kun closed with the Awesome and unleashed her lasers to blast through the Awesome’s armor and damage the internal structure of its torso. She took particle cannon hits to her own right torso and head though. The Catapult and Trebuchet both fired their missiles into the fray, chipping away even more armor from the heavier ’Mechs. The exchange left both the Awesome and Grasshopper badly damaged with both Peter and Kun signaling to their lance mates that they’d be falling back.

Bai fired his jump jets to get on the hill top right behind Amin’s Cyclops. He blasted the assault ’Mech’s leg with his large laser and then planted a kick in the back of its head. Lieutenant Shah tried to swat back with a punch but missed the nimble Cicada.

With Kun Ma and Peter both withdrawing, there was a lull in the battle. Lieutenant Shah abandoned the firing position he had been in and began to advance to take Peter’s place on the front lines. Xiang put a couple of shots into the back of Zoë’s Hermes II, but failed to get through its armor. Bai moved to continue harassing Amin’s Cyclops. He ran down the hill behind it and then fired his lasers at its back. Amazingly, he managed to score a through-armor critical that ignited the assault BattleMech’s missile ammo and destroyed it in a devastating ammo explosion.

The destruction of Lieutenant Shah’s assault ‘ Mech signaled a drastic shift in the battle. With Peter’s Awesome withdrawing, that left only Zoë’s Hermes II and Asha’s Trebuchet against Arkadi’s Catapult, Xiang’s Vindicator, and Bai’s Cicada.

Asha tried to close in with the Catapult to see if she could put an end to its devastating missile salvos and scored some solid hits with her long-range missiles while avoiding Arkadi’s return fire. Zoë and Xiang exchanged fire on the other side of the battle, but neither did notable damage to the other’s ’Mech. Even though the Awesome was withdrawing, Bai maneuvered his Cicada to take a few more shots at it while dodging return fire from its particle cannons.

Asha jumped her Trebuchet into partial cover as Kun Ma’s route brought her closer, but the rocky hill proved to be insufficient against the firepower of Arkadi’s Catapult. A large laser and salvo of missiles blasted through the Trebuchet’s armor and then triggered an ammo explosion within its torso. While the Trebuchet’s CASE system prevented its total destruction, it’s engine was destroyed and Asha’s auto-ejection system triggered.

With the battle lost, Peter and Zoë continued to withdraw. The Capellans were unwilling to allow a safe retreat though and they opened fire on Peter’s Awesome. Both of the assault BattleMech’s side torsos were completely destroyed, but Tabasco Pete got a final salvo off that blew away the leg of Xiang’s Vindicator.

The Outcome

With Peter and Zoë’s retreat, Warrior House Imarra held the field and considered their mission of vengeance against the League a success.

Free Worlds League Damage Report

  • Lieutenant Shah was badly injured between damage to the head of his Cyclops and its explosion, he was unconscious when his auto-ejection triggered and was captured by the Capellans.
  • Asha was injured during her Trebuchet’s ammo explosion, but was in good enough shape to hide after ejecting and escape capture.
  • Zoë sustained minor injuries when her Hermes II took a hit to the head.
  • The Cyclops was completely destroyed by its ammo explosion.
  • The Trebuchet was disabled when its ammo explosion destroyed its fusion engine and it was abandoned on the battlefield.
  • The Awesome needs extensive repairs to its torso, new arms, and four new particle cannons.
  • The Hermes II needs repairs to its armor and internal structure and a replacement for its flamer.

Capellan Confederation Damage Report

  • Pai-zhang Kun Ma sustained minor injuries when her Grasshopper took a hit to the head.
  • Xiang sustained minor injuries from a hit to her Vindicator’s head and her fall after its leg was destroyed.
  • The Vindicated needed to be towed off the battlefield for repairs to its leg.
  • The Grasshopper needs its right side rebuilt and repairs to its armor and internal structure elsewhere.
  • The Cicada needs repairs to its armor and torso internal structure.
  • The Catapult only needs repairs to its armor.

Thoughts on the Battle

I feel like luck was definitely on the side of the Capellan Confederation this game. The Free Worlds League Awesome and Cyclops struggled to hit with their big guns and both suffered unlucky critical hits. I think the Capellan ’Mechs were also better suited to the hilly terrain thanks to all of them having jump jets so that they could stay mobile.

Mech Reviews

Cyclops CP-11-A: The CP-11-A is the most common Clan Invasion era upgrade to the Cyclops. It trades away the CP-10-Z’s short-range autocannon for a gauss rifle. The gauss rifle’s long range pairs much better with the Cyclops’s relatively light armor than the big autocannon. That said, the one gauss rifle and LRM 10 felt underwhelming compared to the long range firepower of the Awesome this game. I think I should have played a bit more aggressively with it despite its lower armor so that it could make better use of its medium lasers and SRM 4.

Awesome AWS-9Q: The AWS-9Q is a variant from the later Clan Invasion era that I like much more than the earlier AWS-9M. Where the AWS-9M uses three ER PPCs, the AWS-9Q instead mounts four standard PPCs. This means it gives up some range, but has a significantly higher damage output. It also avoids the XL engine and Streak SRM ammo that can make the AWS-9M less durable. I think it performed well in this game even though I struggled to hit with it. It absorbed a ton of firepower and still managed to walk off the board.

Trebuchet TBT-7M: The Trebuchet is the primary medium fire support ’Mech for the Free Worlds League. The TBT-7M takes advantage of recovered Star League technology to combine the best of the two most common variants of the Succession Wars. It has the full firepower of the TBT-5N with the jump jets of the TBT-5J. The Narc beacon on the design feels out-of-place though since its short range conflicts with the Trebuchet’s long-range missiles. By the time I was in range to hit an enemy ’Mech with the beacon, I had already fired the long-range missiles several times and was getting low on ammo. I’m tempted to take a look at potential field refits to make better use of that tonnage.

Hermes II HER-5S: The Hermes II is a common medium ’Mech in the Free Worlds League, but it is a lackluster design. It has a good ground speed, but the lack of jump jets reduces its mobility in rough terrain. Its armament of an Ultra AC/5 and medium pulse laser feel mismatched since the autocannon suffers from a minimum range and the pulse laser has a very short range.

Grasshopper GHR-5H: The Grasshopper is a heavy skirmisher with good mobility thanks to its jump jets and a bunch of medium lasers for short range firepower. While the design is known for its durability, I worried about exposing it to the Awesome’s firepower this game and didn’t play as aggressively with it as I probably should have. It really needs to get within 6 hexes to maximize its potential.

Catapult CPLT-C4C: The CPLT-C4C is a variant introduced in 3055 that really focuses on the Catapult’s role as a long-range fire support unit. It uses the weight savings of an XL engine to upgrade the CPLT-C1’s missile racks from LRM 15s to 20s. Then it replaces the four medium lasers with a large laser that gives it even more long-range punch. I think it performed really well this game with a devastating salvo against the Awesome and destroying the Trebuchet.

Vindicator VND-3L: The Vindicator is the Capellan Confederation’s standard trooper ’Mech. The Clan Invasion era VND-3L has upgrades to an ER PPC that extends its reach and removes the minimum range penalty and a more accurate medium pulse laser. It also mounts an abundance of heat sinks so that it can fire freely even when making use of its jump jets.

Cicada CDA-3G: The Cicada’s original CDA-2A version is essentially a heavier Locust. The CDA-3G variant from 3056 makes use of recovered technology to drastically upgrade the design. It retains its ground speed, adds jump jets, almost doubles the armor, and replaces a small laser with a large laser. In this game, it performed great as a highly mobile striker that chipped away at armor while maintaining its speed to avoid return fire.

By Scott Boehmer

A game enthusiast and software engineer.

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