MechWarrior Training

Over the weekend, I played a game of BattleTech with my brother Jake. He had played with me when we were kids, but it’s probably been about a decade since the last time he played. That meant our game was more about relearning the rules than anything else.

I wanted to use my new miniatures even though I haven’t had a chance to paint them yet. I also took the opportunity to try out some of the brand new Dark Age variants from the Recognition Guides.

The Forces

Scott’s Force

  • Griffin GRF-3N (4/5)
  • Phoenix Hawk PXH-9 (4/5)

For my force, I had a Griffin and a Phoenix Hawk. The Griffin can operate at long range while the Phoenix Hawk would need to use its mobility to get in close enough to use its medium lasers.

My force has a battle value of 2,804.

Jake’s Force

  • Wolverine WVR-9R (4/5)
  • Shadow Hawk SHD-7H (4/5)

For my brother’s force, he had a Wolverine and a Shadow Hawk. They have the same movement profile and class-10 autocannons as their primary weapons so that they could operate as a pair. The Wolverine seems like the more dangerous of the two, but it needs to get in closer in order to use its short-range missiles.

Jake’s force has a battle value of 2,875.

The Battle

At the beginning of the battle, I had my Griffin set up to stay at range while my Phoenix Hawk used its speed advantage to get in close. Jake kept his Wolverine and Shadow Hawk close to one another.

The first round didn’t have any fire thanks to the battlefield’s hills blocking line of sight, but weapons opened up during the second round. While my brother’s force advanced, my Griffin got a line of sight to his Wolverine and then my Phoenix Hawk soared overhead on its improved jump jets to line up a shot at its back. Luck favored my bold move and the Phoenix Hawk’s large pulse laser blasted through the Wolverine’s rear armor and damaged its engine. My Griffin missed with its particle cannon, but hit with all ten of its long range missiles. The Wolverine tried to hit back with its rapid-fire autocannon, but jammed the weapon! The Phoenix Hawk did take a hit from the Shadow Hawk’s short range missile launcher, but that turn definitely went in my favor.

With the Wolverine suddenly in poor shape, Jake tried to back up to safer positions. He managed to get both of his ’Mechs out of sight of my Griffin, but my Phoenix Hawk used its jump jets to ensure it could still fire at the Wolverine. It’s jump also allowed it to avoid getting hit while scoring another hit with its pulse laser.

Jake then moved his Wolverine into partial cover. I positioned my Griffin to take a shot at it, and then he moved his Shadow Hawk to attack the Griffin. Leaving the Wolverine to the Griffin, my Phoenix Hawk pursued his Shadow Hawk. The Griffin’s particle cannon blasted the hill the Wolverine was hiding behind, but it again managed to hit with a whole salvo of its missiles. The Shadow Hawk’s autocannon hit the Griffin’s cover, and then it took hits from a pulse laser and machine gun to its relatively weak rear armor that resulted in its engine and gyroscope both taking critical damage. It tumbled to the ground taking even more damage to its torso.

The next round the Shadow Hawk pushed itself to its feet only to be targeted by both the Griffin and Phoenix Hawk. The combined firepower knocked it off its feet again and the MechWarrior blacked out as the 55-ton machine slammed its head into the ground.

With the Shadow Hawk out of the fight, the Phoenix Hawk and Griffin closed in on the Wolverine. After taking another salvo of fire, the Wolverine’s MechWarrior broadcast his surrender.

The Outcome

With the Shadow Hawk’s MechWarrior unconscious and the Wolverine’s main gun destroyed, there was little chance for Jake to win the battle. That early autocannon jam really started his force off on the wrong foot.

Thoughts on the Battle

I was expecting a pretty even game with these two forces, but my brother suffered from some really bad luck. Not only did the autocannon jam take out his force’s most powerful weapon, he also struggled to even land any hits when firing even though our overall target numbers for shooting weren’t much different.

’Mech Reviews

Griffin GRF-3N: The GRF-3N is a Dark Age variant introduced in 3093. It has the Griffin’s classic 5/8/5 movement profile with upgraded versions of the weapons. Because the ER PPC and Enhanced LRMs have improved minimum ranges compared to the Succession Wars era weapons of the GRF-1N, this Griffin is able to get closer to its targets without penalty, but I still largely played it as a mobile sniper trying to stay at the far edge of medium range for the early part of the game. Having Artemis IV on the long-range missile launcher helped out by making two shots score the max number of missile hits.

Phoenix Hawk PXH-9: The PXH-9 was introduced in 3140. It improves on the classic movement profile for the chassis by mounting improved jumpjets to make it 6/9/8. It’s main weapon is upgraded to a Large X-Pulse Laser which helps to counteract the shooting penalties while taking advantage of its jumping ability. That combination let me get in close and harass Jake’s force. I kept my target movement modifier high so that he’d be unlikely to hit and then punched holes through armor with the large laser. I think the Phoenix Hawk ended up being the star of the battle.

Wolverine WVR-9R: Introduced in 3089, the WVR-9R carries an Ultra Autocannon/10 and a Streak SRM 6 giving it an incentive to get in close and brawl. It’s 5/8/5 movement profile should let it close quickly even in rough terrain. Unfortunately, the early loss of the autocannon to a jam took away most of its firepower leaving it with only the missiles and a ER Medium Laser. I think it’s a good variant, but it didn’t get a chance to show that in this game.

Shadow Hawk SHD-7H: The SHD-7H was introduced in 3101. It’s main gun is an LB 10-X AC. That is backed up by an ER Medium Laser, an Enhanced LRM 5, and an SRM 2. I think my brother should have opted for cluster rounds more than he did to improve the hit chances while my Phoenix Hawk was jumping around. While that would have reduced the power of each shot, he’d have had a better chance of doing at least some damage. The shorter minimum ranged on the long-range missiles was helpful when my Phoenix Hawk was getting close since standard LRMs would have been pretty useless at ranges of 2-3 hexes.

By Scott Boehmer

A game enthusiast and software engineer.

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