23 January 2011

After Action Report

I hosted a Saturday Battletech session at my home. It was a very cold morning (-11 F) and there had been a light snow - a good day to stay inside to play a game (and absolutely perfect for chilling the beer and soda!). The scenario was a rather generic "Assault" on a defended area, but I set myself some very specific guidelines for unit selection and pilot/gunnery skills.  One guideline was that all units should be selected from miniatures I actually have (which I almost accomplished), and that the battle should start off light mechs on both sides. Someone also requested I add some armor/tanks into the mix, which complicated my plans a bit. Another guideline was that the skill levels of mech pilots should be very mixed. I actually created a quite elaborate system for generating skills, and I might write that up some other day, but for now it's enough to know that about half of each force had an gunnery skill of about 4, with a range from 2 to 5. I created over 20 lances (groups of 4 units), which was MUCH more than could possibly be needed, but I wasn't sure how many people could make it or how late we might play. Pilots (and vehicle crews) were randomly generated, but within each lance I assigned pilots where I thought they were the best fit.

Each side started with 1 lance of vehicles and 2 of mechs. The mechs were all small and medium (because I stacked them that way), but vehicle selection was random, and by chance both sides started with some BIG tanks - 2 Demolisher's for the defenders, and 2 Alacorn's (heavy gauss version) for the attacker. The attackers started with an advantage of two extra medium mechs, and the only objective was to try to make the defenders "call for reinforcements" before 7 turns or so, with the idea the battle could continue indefinitely with each side alternately calling for reinforcements.

The defenders "home edge" was the lower/right corner of the photo above, and could set up on either of these two maps. Attackers entered on the far side. I was playing on the defenders side, but I stayed out of the initial setup decisions to make it more fair. Consequently, the defenders set up "forward" and took the fight immediately to the defenders on turn one (pictured above).

Here's another turn 1 photo, and it must be after combat because I see a "prone" marker in the mix. I'm not going to give all the gory detail, just a few that time and memory allow. With so many fast mechs, mediocre gunners, and big guns (on the tanks) there was a lot of wild maneuver going on. This is sort of what I was hoping would happen when I set up the scenario, and if anything it was even better than I expected.

Here's a turn 3 photo (I forgot to take any photos on turn 2). The attacker Alacorns are perched on a hill in heavy woods (lower left). They kept this position from turn 1 and made life very unpleasant (and much shorter) for several of the defenders. The defending Demolisher tanks are near the "frac tower" (upper mid) facing an uppity pair of UC/20 Saladin hovertanks.

Turn 4: The attackers have two units, a Cicada and the surviving Saladin, on the town map (lower) and are menacing a nearsighted LRM Carrier and an outmatched Flea-17. On the right an attacker Javelin is about to have a showdown with a Demolisher tank (guess who has a bigger gun?)

Another view of turn 4.

We called it quits after 5 turns. The defenders had lost 4 mechs and 2 vehicles, with 2 other mechs seriously damaged or crippled. The attackers lost 3? mechs and 1 Saladin hovertank. Had we played on the defenders would be forced to call for reinforcements immediately (well before 8 turns), so this is a clear win for the attackers. The defenders put up a good fight though, and the attackers were not too far from needing their own reinforcements.

I am quite pleased with how this turned out. The effort I put into the setup paid off with an interesting game, and the balance worked out just as had hoped. There are survivors of this battle and 14 lances of reinforcements we never got to use, so there could be a "part 2" to this battle in a month or two.

And the ice-cold beer was fantastic too. :-)
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