Over the last few months I've been working a new job and have had a unprecedented lack of free time. That has seriously hurt my gaming/modeling time, but one thing I have been able to fit in occasionally if a few games of Mechwarrior Online. I'm not a big computer gamer, but running around in a giant mech and blow stuff up in nice 15 minute games is a lot of fun. That has led me to pull out my old Battletech miniatures and clean them up, even though I've never played a game of classic Battletech.
Catalyst Games Lab has recently released, Alpha Strike, a quicker play version of Battletech, which I picked up. Over the last few weeks I'd talked up the game and got some interested players to come in this weekend to try it out, I was really hoping to get them into the game. I set up a two Inner Sphere lances and some infantry for myself, and Byran and Daniel set up a Clan force to take me on, it was the first game for all of us.
With Alpha Strike you can choose to upgrade or downgrade your mechs' pilot for more or less points. I chose to upgrade two of my pilots to elite from regular, Bryan and Daniel upgraded almost all of their pilots.
My list was 150 points (The Gun Dogs, Mercenaries) with;
1 Black Knight (Elite)
1 Orion (Elite)
3 stands of Gray Death Standard Infantry
Most of my Mech's were the better 3067 versions, but are still old Inner Sphere mechs.
Bryan and Daniels 150 point list was;
1 Masakari (Elite)
1 Mad Cat (Elite)
1 Vulture (Veteran)
1 Catapult (Veteran)
The clan mechs are much better than any one of my mechs and have better pilots, but that made them very pricey. Their bondsmen and their inner sphere mechs were there to support.
|The Gun Dog's Black Knight and Warhammer on the right flank.|
|The Hatchetman, Orion, Wolverine and some Gray Death suits in the center.|
|The Wolfhounds and Gray Death suits on the left flank.|
|The Masakari, Vulture and Jagermech watching the left flank.|
|The Clanners Mad Cat, Hunchback and Catapult on the right.|
The first turn saw me win initiative for the first time, I would win initiative every turn of the game. In Alpha Strike that meant that the loser of the initiative roll has to move first and then we alternate, I had more mechs so I then had to double up with my last few moves. I move the right flank around to engage the Madcat and it's retinue and my center mechs up behind buildings for cover, the Wolfhounds rushed out to take on the Jagermech who moved around the far left building.
While players alternate moving, shooting is done all at once, the player who lost initiative fires all of their mechs first then the player who won initiative. No effects are applied or mechs are destroyed until the end phase, so everyone who can will shoot, whether you go first or second.
Things began to look bad for the Clan forces early on, all of the clan mechs missed their shots, even with superior pilots, only the Catapult hit, causing two damage to the Black Knights armor with indirect fire. The Black Knight and Warhammer both hit the Hunchback and the Black Knight decided to overheat its shots, this killed the Hunchback outright. Units with energy weapons can choose, before firing to overheat their weapons to cause more damage, but the unit takes heat, which effects movement and shooting in later turns. Then on the left flank, both Wolfhounds managed to hit the Jagermach and take out its armor and hit its structure, leading to a critical hit roll, of snake eyes this meant the Jagermech had a catastrophic ammunition explosion and was destroyed.
|The Jagermech missed its shots at the Wolfhounds and was destroyed.|
|The Thunderbolt missed the Madcat.|
|But the Black Knight and Warhammer didn't miss the Hunchback.|
|The Mercs move to get some cover as the Mad Cat approaches.|
In shooting the Madcat and Catapult both hit the Thunderbolt and striped its armor and knocked out its targeting computer, making it more difficult to fire. The Masakari and Vulture both fired on the advancing center mechs and destroyed the Hatchetman. My forces on the right combined all fire on the Madcat and, deciding to overheat, were able to destroy the dangerous clan omnimech. This however left the Black Knight and Warhmmer with two heat each, meaning they needed to cool down next turn to be effective. The firepower of the Orion, Wolverine, Hatchetman (who could attack before ejecting his stricken mech), and the two wolfhounds destroyed the Vulture as well. One of the Gray Death infantry stands even hit the Vulture, doing its one damage.
|The Thunderbolt KO'ed the Madcat, after taking horrible damage itself.|
|The Masakari gutted the Hatchetman, before it could close with its Hatchet.|
|The clan is in a bad way.|
Turn three and I won initiative again. The Masakari moved back and the Catapult moved to support it. My forces all rushed the last enemy mechs, risking the terrible damage the Masakari can do at close range in order to kill the beast. The Thunderbolt jumped into the center building to hide and stay alive.
Shooting saw the Masakari and Catapult miss. My Black Knight and Warhammer didn't fire in order to lose a point of heat. The rest of my force pummeled the Masakari and took off all its armor and destroyed a leg, but left it still standing with one last structure point.
|The Gun Dogs move in for the kill.|
|The two mechs with heat hold fire to cool down.|
The fourth turn, and I won initiative for the final time. The Masakari and Catapult stayed put for their last stand. My forces closed in. In one final act of defiance the Masakari destroyed one of my Wolfhounds (Ears) but the catapult missed. I then had the last Wolfhound avenge his fallen partner and destroy the Masakari and the Orion destroyed the Catapult... game over.
|Ears takes a hit but is soon avenged.|
|The net is closed, no clanner escaped.|
|The little catapult takes a volley from the elite Orion and is wrecked.|
This is where I need to tell you why I call this game a fail. I was trying to get new players into this game, I have never been part of a more one sided game. It was all the dice and not balance issues, taking a very few expensive elite mechs verses a more numerous foe was tough on Bryan and Daniel, but it doesn't change the fact that they just couldn't hit. With their superior pilots and better weapons, the Clanners need an average of 7 to hit my mechs, they rolled an underwhelming average of a 5 on 2D6. I needed around an 8 average to hit them back and almost always rolled over a 9 on 2D6. Out of 4 rolls for initative I rolled boxcars once and 11 every other time on 2D6.
Halfway thorough we traded dice, with no effect, Bryan then got a new set out and proceed to roll snake eyes and a 3 on 2D6 to hit with them. Needless to say he and Daniel were a little frustrated, not what I wanted for our first game.
But on a positive note I really enjoyed the game and think Battletech Alpha Strike can be a very fun game.