Monday, April 23, 2012

Team Tabletop #4

Battletech Mission #4

Our group of NY/NJ area game developers once again assembled for our tabletop gaming session to continue our current Battletech experience. In the game, we have formed a motley crew of mercenaries trying to make a buck in the conflicts in space.

In our previous 3 missions, we have stormed a fortified communications array, failed to protect a demolition crew to disrupt a supply chain, and blow the holy hell out of a tank factory.

Now we have been told in our pre-game mission briefing that we are to enter a planet covered in heavy jungle. We are searching for a Clan mech, but we will be facing off against an enemy recon squad in the search as well. Our team must rescue the Clan mech, and if possible destroy the enemy recon force and any defenses they have.

How many producers does it take to Meta-Game?

In this group, most of us are game producers and project managers. Since Battletech involves resource management and choice of mechs prior to entering combat, we have applied our professional skills into our strategy.

Our pre-game planning, using mech sheets and a spreadsheet on a Droid tablet to manage repairs

We are facing off against a GM who is a game designer by trade. He is wily and has forced our hand in previous conflicts to extend ourselves and make sacrifices. He has also given us the hint to install Beagle sensors due to the heavy fog and tree cover. And anyone that has played a game with a GM involved, you know that if they suggest something, you better do it. You will not get a second chance to make that mistake.

Over burgers and our Google doc spreadsheet, we analyze what mechs we can repair from the last session. Our heaviest mech has been destroyed which opens up quite a bit of repair time for remaining mechs, so we cover our options:
- most of our mechs need only light repair
- we are heading into a jungle, so we need light mechs with jumping capabilities (it takes more to walk through dense forest per turn). These should also be fast, since our GM has probably hidden the Clan mech on the far side of the map.
- we need to remove weaponry from the light mechs to install these Beagle scanners, so they will functionally be scouts only
- we need to back up the scouts with firepower. We believe most of the combat will be short-range, so we bring in the Thug. We are split on the Warhammer (up-close combat) or the Catapult (long-range damage and needs heavy repairs at this time). The Warhammer can fend for itself, but the Catpult can move faster and the scouts can call in long-range strikes from it when they find the enemy. We decide to risk the repair time on the Catapult and send in our best gun to pilot it.

Somehow this mech required 5 hours of repair to the arms

Our strategy: go in fast with the 2 scouts. As we scan the area for enemies, put the catapult in a good location to hit the entire map. Slowly bring in the Thug for cleanup. Essentially, zerg-rush to the far side of the map so we can cutoff the enemy and get the Clan mech.

Into the Woods

We immediately take off into a pincer formation with the two scouts acting as point. Our scanners are not having much effect as something seems to be jamming us. As we march through (or in most cases jump over) the woods, we see artillery shells being shot off in the distance. A round later, those shells are splashing in where we were just standing. Lesson learned: this is not the game to stand in one spot.

 Not a single reference image on the internet of Battletech mechs in the jungle, but a ba-jillion Avatar images. Internet, you have failed me.

Our scouts are halfway across the map when suddenly our Catapult is jumped from behind. The Thug doubles-back to provide support while our scouts continue to head deeper into the brush. Now our scouts are jumped.

Somehow our scouts are able to pull through, even though they are being out-gunned and out-manuevered, we return enough damage to keep the enemy at bay. We're also able to locate to 3 artillery camps and wipe them out. 

At this point, we have turned the entire jungle into a meat grinder. We have located all artillery camps and enemies. We have given out a fair bit of damage, but our team is also starting to become a little worse for wear. Our scouts are badly damaged, one having lost an arm. Our Thug barely has any armor left, and the Catapult is just able to stay alive long enough to put a few more missles into the air.

Fortunately we were able to knock down one of their mechs. The other mechs scattered as it looked like we would now have the numbers to defeat them. We then had the freedom to look for the Clan mech (which happened to be close to our starting point and we would have found it if we just walked forward).

Next Round - the Final Mission

The next game will cover the final mission in this series. We only have a few mechs left and not a lot of time for repairs. Our team handles knock-down fights well, but we suck at recon and escort missions. Let's see what the GM brings us.

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