Mechwarrior PBeM report 6 ~ Report from the Front 1

As of today we have entered into the tenth turn of mech combat in my Time of War PBeM campaign, Hair of the Dog. So far, events in the battle have been characterized by chaos, the suddenly shifting tides of fortune and fate, and maintaining cohesion in the face of too many obstacles to count.

As one of the major background elements of the Campaign, a large cache of mechs was salted away in a minor museum in a formerly important, but now somewhat neglected city. Most people, even those who grew up in Beasville, the initial settlement site on this campaign’s version of the beleaguered and recently abandoned planet Oliver, have no idea that these mechs were a part of the exhibit. Of those that do, no one really knew that the mechs represented significant prizes on several levels. Whether victims of government bureaucracy, or an element in some curious plot by shadowy figures remains to be seen, but these mechs became a focal point for the first major operation conducted by the players.

Expecting to find 4-6 mechs ranging in size from light to heavy, they uncovered 11, with hints leading to the disappearance of a 12th. More amazingly, (perhaps more for my players than their characters) they determined that many of the mechs were not the mechs they were listed as being. They were actually older and more advanced versions still bearing their original SLDF equipment.

Due to an unfortunate series of events, the quiet escape the players had planned to have culminate in a decisive battle outside the city with one of the Lyran lances they expected to find in the area, has turned into a bitter battle in unfavorable weather conditions in the middle of a residential and commercial sector of the city. As the seconds pass, civilian casualties continue to mount, irreparable damage is being done to machines which must still make a trek of more than a thousand kilometers before extraction, and the sense that more Lyran forces are on the way continues to build.

Turns One to Four, where the players’ force was extricating itself from the museum, involved running across the regular patrol of light mechs they had witnessed in the neighborhood earlier in the day. Exchange of fire was limited, but one mech, a Griffin, got caught in a barrage of concentrated and rather desperate fire resulting in critical damage to its left foot actuator in Turn 2.

The Lyran light lance, according to the players’ intel was reputed to be green, upon encountering elements of an unknown lance consisting of two light mechs, and a medium, followed a few seconds later by the sudden appearance of two heavy mechs – all proudly painted in Marik purple and gold and emblazoned with the iconic Eagle, broke off the engagement. Three headed East toward the maze of the towering apartments of the nearest residential zone, while one found itself split off from its allies and so headed West where it suddenly found itself under the surprisingly numerous guns of a supe’d up Hermes.

Turns Five to Seven saw the players struggle to coordinate their movements and reactions to the actions of the enemy. The snow-covered, frequently icy pavement played merry hell with the Lyran mechs, driving them back under the guns of the players to cover for the Commando which took a nasty skid into a building and down into the basement. For the most part, the players negotiated the treacherous streets with a mixture of caution, jump jets, and Edge and retained their footing. Outgunned, even with the lack of ammunition limiting the range and firepower of the players, the light lance found the weather to play more in their favour than that of the sudden enemy in their midst.

Snow had been falling for most of the night, and an even stronger storm front was pushing in off the ocean. A brief break in the weather just before dawn had opened the skies to the East, setting up a brutal situation of blinding glare from the sunrise and ice, plus the obscuring interference of the moderate snowfall well on its way to escalating to a heavy snowfall. Due to luck or good management, the Lyran lights ended up facing West for most of their exchanges, and so were able to fire on the Marik mechs from out of the sun.

When confusion was at its height, a new threat rose up against the players. Barrages of long-range missiles from somewhere behind cover began to rain down on the heaviest and best-armed mechs. Luck spared the Thunderbolt from a coordinated barrage of three LRM 20s, but Fate was not as kind to the Thug as it was forced out into the open to aid threatened members of the unit and give shape to the chaos which was about to tear the unit apart.

Identifying the location of the missile carriers, and picking up on the probable spotters, the players began to slowly start giving better than they were receiving. Things still looked bleak though as it began to appear as though they had inadvertently stumbled across the staging grounds for the Lyran force’s elite and highly prized units when they had expected to encounter a scout lance or perhaps a more experienced medium lance at best. A large unit of Jump Infantry drove the Spider off with very precise LRM fire, and managed to take up a position of denial, effectively limiting the advance of the jump-capable mechs on the still unidentified missile carriers. To add to the stress, two Warrior Attack Helicopters commandeered from the war materiel left-behind after the exodus of the 18th Marik Militia and their mercenary allies, risking flight in the rising winds of the storm, began to circle their position and take shots of opportunity on rear armour. The Jenner and Commando tried to work in tandem to punish any mech foolish enough to try to close on the Wasp which seemed to be serving partly as bait and primarily as the key spotter for the Lyran missile carriers. In addition, one of their own unit, the pilot of the Thunderbolt, was incommunicado, screaming his fool mind out, and chasing any enemy that crossed his front arc like a dog after a rolling ball. Despite these pressures, the first casualty of the battle was the Commando. The mech fell first to the ice, then to an ammo explosion which destroyed the mech and ultimately killed the pilot

Turns Eight and Nine saw the group really start to exert itself, as they put down both Warriors, dropped the Jenner with a gyro critical and overwhelming battle damage, and blew the Wasp to scattered components. Their battle-crazed T-bolt pilot also risked a DFA on a missile carrier he discovered mid-jump to not be an LRM carrier, but a Sturmfeur variant tricked out with SRMs and an extra machine gun. If he lives to the end of the battle, you can imagine the reaming the rest of the unit will give him on the comparative returns of the maneuver.

Start of Turn 10

Many thanks to "Luckjaw" and "Cool Hand Luke" for the map

Turn 10 has opened with the sudden attempted withdrawal of the paired LRM and SRM Sturmfeurs back within the Hardened cover of the Lyran command post, and the bold attempt by the Jump Infantry to swarm the dangerously damaged Griffin. On their scopes is a second lance of mechs – mediums this time – and lying smack in the middle of their preferred egress route. According to their intel, this lance should also be Green, but they have suddenly realized that they have no idea of the caliber or quantity of the conventional infantry forces tasked with taking Oliver and if the small taste the first instants of combat have brought them is any indication, they could be in a fight for their very lives.

Stay Tuned~

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