With my solo Assault on Glentworth campaign now complete, I wanted to take some time to share my thoughts on Chaos Campaign: Succession Wars and the ’Mech variants that I used.
For convenience, here are the battle reports for the individual battles that I played through for the campaign:
Warchest System Review
Chaos Campaign uses an abstract system for tracking a force’s resources during an ongoing campaign. Those resources are represented by Warchest Points (WP) that are spent to buy-in to scenarios, rewarded for achieving objectives, and used to repair, rearm, and recruit. When spending Warchest Points to repair or purchase, they are converted into Support Points (SP). The conversion rate depends on the size of force being used in the campaign, and a company-sized force can convert 1 WP into 3 SP or vice-versa.
This approach is a lot simpler than tracking C-Bill costs and activity times during a campaign. For example, repairing a unit’s armor just costs a number of SP equal to its tonnage rather than needing to count up the number of points of damage to the armor and multiply that by the armor’s repair cost.
My biggest concern with the way the Warchest System worked is that the rewards for victory often didn’t feel like enough to cover both the track cost and the repair costs for the force. Even with the attackers winning every game in my campaign, their final warchest was below their starting amount. I think that worked fine for the self-contained Planetary Assault campaign, but I’d worry about that if I was trying to use the system in a longer open-ended campaign and would consider bumping up rewards or offering some sort of special WP rewards after bigger campaign milestones.
Despite that one concern, I’m pretty happy with how the Warchest System worked out for this campaign, and I look forward to using it again in the future.
Planetary Assault Campaign Review
Chaos Campaign: Succession Wars includes the Planetary Assault campaign. It has six scenarios, but a given campaign won’t necessarily use all eight and could possibly play the same scenario multiple times. It’s nice to have a pretty generic campaign framework. I only ended up using three of the scenarios because the attacker manager to win each one, but each gave a different feel and it was nice that at least one of them had objectives based on something other than just destroying the enemy force.
One thing that I struggled a bit with in the scenarios is figuring out exactly how the non-player force is supposed to be picked for a given scenario. The tracks have limits based on total force size for both sides, but the general rules state that the opposing force should always be limited by the player force. I ended up using the track limits for the player force and then setting the opposing force up so that it could not exceed the tonnage or number of ’Mechs in the player force. I think that is the right way to play it, but I feel like the presentation of that could use some clarification.
The first track in the Planetary Assault campaign is a fairly standard battle with the objective of destroying or crippling half of the opponent’s force before they can do the same. It has an option for either fighting at night or giving the defender minefields, but I didn’t use either of those. This track also does not allow claiming salvage or spending WP afterwards.
Because the attacker won the Meeting Engagement track, the next track for my campaign was Breakthrough. In this scenario, the attacker needs to get at least half of their units off the far map edge before the defender can destroy half of them. I feel like moving across the map can be pretty easy if the attacker has fast-moving units, and in my game, the 5/8/5 movement profile of the Griffin and Wolverine allowed them to cross the mapsheet in just 3 rounds. I think I made a strategic blunder by committing too many of the defender’s heavier ’Mechs to this track because they were then not allowed to participate in the following game.
With an attacker victory in the Breakthrough track, my campaign moved on to the Assault track for its final game. For this track, the attacker needs to eliminate all of the defender’s force before the defender is able to destroy half of the attack’s own force. Because the defender’s forces from the previous game weren’t able to participate, this put them at a weight disadvantage that they weren’t able to overcome during the battle.
What I’d Change
I had fun running through the campaign, and I recommend it as a good choice if you’re interested in campaign play. That said, there are a few things I think could be done better though. As I mentioned above, the rules for picking forces weren’t very clear. In addition, the amount of force allowed for the Breakthrough track (75% of the attacker’s force) felt higher than it needed to be, especially since any units from the previous game weren’t able to get repairs. I also was not a fan of limiting the opposing force to no more ’Mechs than the player force for a given battle was bringing. I think I’d ignore that and just use either tonnage or battle value to limit the opposing force if I play the campaign again.
Archer ARC-2R: The standard Archer is a classic fire support ’Mech that packs a pair of LRM 20s back up by medium lasers. It’s biggest drawback is that it doesn’t mount enough heat sinks, and so just firing the missiles causes it to build up heat. This meant that I needed to drop to only firing one launcher some rounds just to avoid hitting heat penalties.
Awesome AWS-8V: This variant of the Awesome replaces one of its PPCs with a large laser and another with an LRM 15. Those substitutions give it a longer maximum range and the ability to fire every round while staying cool. It’s maximum damage is slightly higher than the three PPCs of the primary variant, the damage is less concentrated due to the clustering of missile hits. It makes a fine assault ’Mech, but it doesn’t quite feel like an Awesome.
BattleMaster BLR-1D: I used this variant for the first time not long ago, and what I said when reviewing it then still stands (see The Combine Front). After another game with it, the trade-away of the SRMs for more armor and heat sinks works out really well since it lets it run cool while firing its PPC and lasers.
Catapult CPLT-C4: This variant of the Catapult trades away the LRM 15s and medium lasers for LRM 20s and small lasers. It suffers from the same heat problems as the Archer ARC-2R. It doesn’t have the medium lasers as a back up weapon, but it retains the CPLT-C1’s jump jets that give it more maneuverability in rough terrain.
Griffin GRF-1N: This is the primary Succession Wars variant of the Griffin. With a PPC and LRM 10 it packs a good amount of long-range fire, but its 5/8/5 movement profile also lets it act as a skirmisher. In both games where I used it, I leaned on it as a skirmisher rather than having it stay back as a sniper and it performed well in both games.
Locust LCT-1V: This is the iconic Locust. It’s 8/12 movement profile lets it move quickly, but its armor is thin and its weapons loadout is pretty light. If you need mobility it’s fine, but I like the LCT-1E a lot more.
Marauder MAD-3D: The Davion variant of the Marauder, the MAD-3D trades the AC/5 of the MAD-3R out for a large laser and more heat sinks. The additional heat sinks let it handle the heat of firing both its PPCs much better, but its cooling capacity is nowhere close to being enough for firing the lasers at the same time. I ended up playing it as firing both PPCs at range and then switching to the lasers only at close range.
Marauder MAD-3L: Like the MAD-3D, the Liao variant swaps out a weapon for a large laser, but it swaps away a PPC rather than the autocannon. This lowers its damage output and range a bit, but allows it to use all three main guns and only go up 1 heat point per round.
Phoenix Hawk PXH-1: The classic Phoenix Hawk is a great skirmisher that combines the 6/9/6 movement profile of a scout with heavier armor and firepower.
Phoenix Hawk PXH-1D: The Davion variant of the Phoenix Hawk is a nice improvement as long as you’re not facing off against infantry. It gets rid of the main variant’s 2 machine guns and adds 2 heat sinks in their place. That removes the chance of an ammo explosion, improves heat management, and doesn’t have much impact on its firepower.
Rifleman RFL-3N: In my opinion, the Rifleman is a lackluster design. It has a good amount of firepower with the paired large lasers and AC/5s, but it doesn’t have anywhere near enough heat sinks to deal with firing the two lasers. That means that in play you have the choice of either only firing one large laser per round or alternating rounds when you fire both.
Shadow Hawk SHD-2D: A Davion variant of the Shadow Hawk, the SHD-2D turns the main variant into a striker by halving the armor in order to double up its short range weapons. It makes for a fragile design that needs to get close to the enemy to make use of its added weapons, but doesn’t quite have the speed to avoid getting hit.
Stinger STG-3G: This variant of the Stinger trades away the main variant’s machine guns for an extra ton of armor and a second medium laser. It makes the Stinger into a more effective striker, but it still doesn’t pack enough firepower to really threaten anything much heavier than itself.
Stinger STG-3R: This one is the classic variant of the Stinger. I ended up not using the STG-3R in a game during the campaign, but I’ve used it plenty before. It has a lot less punch than the STG-3G and less armor. The one advantage it does have is that the machine guns make it an effective anti-infantry design.
Thunderbolt TDR-5S: The TDR-5S is the primary variant of the Thunderbolt. It has a mix of weapons that it can use across range bands. At long range, it has a large laser and long-range missiles. Then as its target gets closer, its trio of medium lasers and small short-range launcher add to its firepower. It’s downfall was an ammo explosion in its arm, but that’s a vulnerability that every ammo-carrying ’Mech has during the Succession Wars.
Valkyrie VLK-QA: The VLK-QA is the standard Valkyrie. It provides a mobile platform for an LRM 10 with a 5/8/5 movement profile. The medium laser as a backup weapon is useful for when targets start closing, but you really want to focus on using the missile launcher and trying to avoid taking return fire.
Valkyrie VLK-QF: The VLK-QF swaps out the primary variant’s medium laser for a flamer. This is a big downgrade unless you’re facing off against conventional infantry or need to start fires for some reason.
Warhammer WHM-6D: This Davion Warhammer variant drops the SRM and machine guns in order to add a couple of heat sinks and more armor. It makes the ’Mech a good amount more durable both with the better armor and by getting rid of explosive critical slots. The loss of the SRM takes away a good amount of its short range punch though, so it is better suited to staying at longer range and focusing on using its PPCs.
Warhammer WHM-6L: A Liao variant of the Warhammer, the WHM-6L trades out the primary variant’s machine guns for flamers. Since that’s the only change, it mostly plays like the main WHM-6R but it has one fewer explosive critical slot.
Wasp WSP-1D: This Wasp variant drops the SRM of the main model to gain 2 small lasers and a flamer. Even though this bumps up its max damage potential, the very short range on the weapons is pretty limiting. I tried to use it as a striker, but its top-speed wasn’t quite high enough to compensate for the thin armor and it was quickly destroyed.
Wasp WSP-1L: The Liao Wasp variant leans the other way and drops the medium laser in order to upgrade its SRM 2 to an SRM 4. This slightly lowers its damage potential. In general, I prefer the standard WSP-1A, but I could see this one being a good choice if you want to use special munitions such as inferno missiles.
Wolverine WVR-6D: This Davion Wolverine variant drops the short range missiles in order to upgrade its autocannon to an AC/10. This reduces the maximum range and the maximum damage for the design, but it means it hits harder at range. I think I should have played it differently and used its mobility to try to stay a bit farther away from its targets so that it could avoid their short range weapons while still using its autocannon.
Wolverine WVR-6R: The WVR-6R is the standard Wolverine variant. It is a good skirmisher with a 5/8/5 movement profile, some long-range hitting power with its autocannon, and then a medium laser and SRM 6 to hit hard once it gets close. Of the three classic 55-ton ’Mechs, this one is my favorite.