We are the Dead

"It seemed like the thing to do at the time..."

In turn three of our Brush War campaign, Tony dropped unopposed on Jeremy's Capital. This prevents Jeremy from forming new Commands and expanding his faction throughout the map. For turn four, it seemed like a good idea at the time that I try to do this as well. Tony seemed as good a target as any to try this out. So the 101st Irregulars decided to take a Jumpship out on a joyride and land on Tony's Captial. As Administrator of the campaign, I have to do my orders before I even announce I am ready for the orders to the other players. I thought Tony would vacate his Capital to reinforce his landing on Jeremy's Capital.

What started out as a joyride to a cakewalk quickly turned into a Carnival of Horrors.

Tony not only had a dug-in Command in his Capital, he had another dug-in Command in the same sector standing by to assist.

Oh, the ways of death, let me count thee:

  • Dropping onto a planet, unsupported.
  • In front of Tony's units in defensive positions
  • Tony has 11,000 points to my 10,000 points.

I am well and truly screwed.

Knowing that my chances of surviving this battle was at about 5%, and my chances of actually winning were worse than that, I decided I didn't have anything to lose. That usually leads to "wild hair syndrome." So, I took Aerospace units. I started playing Battletech in 1989 and this is the first time I am using air.

Here is my list (9,866 points):

  • Shadowhawk (RAC-5 variant)
  • Dervish
  • Two Bushwackers
  • Two Lancers.

My Objectives:

  • Safeties are Dumb
  • Recon (Selected)

The good news was, I had a hook. In the Brush War rules, for defending a capital, the defender gets the "local hero," a free 2/3 pilot. The hook is, if the hero is put into Forced withdrawal (or is killed), the defender's entire force is immediately put into forced withdrawal. I figured I didn't have to wipe his entire force out, I just had to get that one unit. My entire plan consisted of killing his hero unit, by dropping every bomb from my aerospace units on his little pointy head, then drop every unit I had as close as I could and shooting him until there was nothing left but a red mist.

Tony shows up and we BS for a bit while he eats lunch and we discuss some campaign rule changes. Tony sets up the battlefield, THEN he starts generating his list. He is pretty confident, not only does he know he has the advantages listed above, has beat me at least four out of the last six times we have faced off. He just basically throws his list together.

The Battlefield:

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Tony's list (10,902, plus 904 for the Gun Trailers):

  • Rifleman
  • Vulture (Hero)
  • Dasher
  • Elemental (on the Dasher)
  • Jagati
  • Visigoth
  • Two Gun Trailers (Arrow IV/AAA)

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  • Show of Force
  • Smash
  • Civilian Duties (Jagati)

When he sees my list and the fact that I have aerospace units, the strategic surprise is complete. When I rolled for my primary objective, I gave out a loud "YES!!!!" when I rolled a 20 ("Safeties are Dumb"). Since Tony rounded the objectives to a full 20, I have wanted to have this one. This one requires to do multiple "foolhardy" (read: S-T-U-P-I-D) things to win this objective. Like firing a RAC at full rate, intentionally spiking your heat so you could make a reactor shutdown save, hitting with hot-loaded LRMs and so on.

We start with all Aerospace, as my ground units are jumping in from the edge of space. They won't hit dirt until the movement phase of turn 3.

Turn 1 starts with aerospace units closing. I accelerate and drop the altitude of my units to position them for a ground attack on Turn 2. Both of my Lancers concentrate their firepower on the Jagati to make sure it won't look pretty at the air show it was on its way to when it got redirected to help fight off the attackers. I screwed up his nosegear, while both of his fighters concentrated their firepower on the closer of the Lancers, giving him a sensor hit and forcing him to disengage. He will overthrust back into orbit next turn.

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Turn 2 is best described in one word: BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM.

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My 2nd Lancer, forgetting all personal safety to accomplish the mission, makes a dive-bombing run on the Vulture. Right before this I find out that if I make a ground attack with opposing aerospace units in the area, the Lancer is at a -4 to hit from said aerospace units. So my Lancer dives down and puts the Vulture in his sights as he releases the six HE bombs he has on his wings. Five of them find their target, including a ringing "HELLO!!!" 5 point hit to the head. Tony fires his gun trailers in AA mode, with one of them hitting my Shadow Hawk and blowing all of the armor off a leg. Once my Lancer emerges from the dive bombing, he's a sitting duck for the Jagati and Visigoth. Tony's aerospace units savage the Lancer from behind. The Lancer receives a sensor hit like his wingman and he overthrusts back up to the Dropship.

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Turn 3, my forces hit dirt relatively intact and without catastrophe. They landed within five hexes of each other, all close to that hero running the Vulture. It is literally the Vulture and one gun trailer against my entire lance. The Rifleman is over on the other side of the battlefield, wiping out a Home for Orphaned Children, the other gun trailer does not have line of sight and the Dasher/Elemental pair won't show up for two turns. My forces can't fire that turn, so they take the licking the Vulture and the aerospace units tries to dish out. The aircraft are literally going max thrust and hard turns so they can return to the battlefield to make strafing runs every turn.

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Turn 4, My forces advance on the gun trailer and Vulture. Their hero decides discretion is the better part of valor and starts running for the city. The Shadow Hawk and Bushwacker gives the Vulture some "gentle encouragement" to keep moving that way, while the Dervish and the other Bushwacker perform a "violent disassembly" operation on the gun trailer, trying to see what makes it tick.

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Turn 5, the Dasher makes it to the battlefield, which runs full tilt into the heart of the battle and drops the Elementals. My Dervish maneuvers through the buildings to get a bead on the other gun trailer and give it the same treatment as he did the first one. The Shadow Hawk swings wide to flank and pops some shots off at the Rifleman. The Bushwackers take off in hot pursuit after the Vulture, which runs around the central buildings near the Dasher.

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Turn 6, things get interesting and give me hope. The Vulture keeps running towards what was the second gun trailer... Right into the cross hairs of the Dervish. I'll get back to them in a minute. The combined firepower of the Jagati, Visigoth, Dasher and the Elementals (remember the Rifleman is over by himself, picking on innocent orphans) put down the Shadow Hawk and one of the Bushwackers. The Rifleman also finished off the last of the orphans with a HAG 40 hit.

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Back to our hero, who was retreating relocating to a more tactically defensible position, and stumbled right into the crosshairs of the Dervish, who let loose with two hot-loaded LRM 15's and hit with most of them. Including a head hit. Which caused a single internal critical hit to said head. To the cockpit, dropping our hero like a bad habit.

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At this point, I let out a WOOSH from my body that I had been holding onto for the longest while. I did it.

Turn 7+, cleanup. The Jagati and Visigoth hastily departed the area. The Dasher ran off the board before I could scan it, so I lost the Recon objective. The Dervish came back around near the remains of the first guntrailer, and with the remaining Bushwacker pummeled the Elementals until they were all dead. We stopped the game at this point, as the Dervish and Bushwacker were not going to engage the Rifleman by keeping the central buildings between them and the Rifleman, who was running off the board toward his board edge.

I consider Tony to be a close friend, but I was dancing at this point. I was able to dislodge a (qualitatively and quantitatively) superior dug-in force and I kept over half my force alive at the same time.

I might have to do this "air" thing more often...

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