Monday, August 3, 2020

Battletech Campaign #18: Factory Assault

With the last of the stubborn Lyran defenses on Parakoila shattered, Captain Razor gathered the members of his mercenary company together for a final briefing.

The icy caverns hidden within the mountains that had long served as their base of operations were now returned to their former primordial beauty. The mech repair gantries, heated barracks, and ammunition stores had been packed away on transport hovercraft or scuttled to avoid capture by the Lyrans. Now illumination from the last few unstowed work lights were refracted by the icicles hanging from the arched ceiling, filling the dozens of faces turned towards Captain Razor with an unearthly bluish glow.

The Captain stood before the assembled mechwarriors, mechtechs, supply officers, commandos, medical personal, drivers and other support personnel of the Raiders and began outlining the plan for their final mission on the icy world.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Battletech Campaign #17: A Communications Disruption Can Mean Only One Thing...

Having recovered the Stinger LAM as well as a trio of new mechs, Razor's Raiders were poised to launch their final assault on the Lyran stronghold. As their Kurita employers began packing the parts and technical parts for evac from their hidden mountain base, Captain Razor dispatched the Raider's Battle lance under command of Lt. Slick to knock out the last communications array to mask their impending assault.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Battletech Campaign #16: Operation Bedlam

Previously on "Razor's Raiders": Our mercenary company raiding the Lyran world of Parakoila encountered a Stinger LAM, a light recon mech that had the unusual capability to transform into an aerospace fighter. Exceedingly rare among the declining technological base of the Inner Sphere, LAM mechs were coveted as both status symbols as well as useful additions to military forces for their exceptional scouting capabilities.

Though the Stinger LAM the Raiders encountered did little more than buzz the battlefield, the news of their encounter spread among the mercenaries, catching the interest of their allied merc company Wu's Woeful Witches. As a dedicated aerospace outfit, the Witches were willing to pay a significant bounty to Razor's Raiders if they could capture and deliver the Stinger LAM to them intact.

The Witches hatched a plan and suggested it to Captain Razor, while his XO offered an alternative.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Battletech Campaign #15: Old Dogs, New Tricks

A House Steiner Trebuchet I painted over 20 years ago, in desperate need of refurbishment and rebasing.

With the supplies of their Kurita employers dwindling, Razor's Raiders have been maneuvering for their final assault on Lyran positions across the ice world of Parakoila.

After their heartbreaking loss during their last mission, Captain Razor directed the final repairs on Sgt. Cooler's Locust and dispatched the recon lance on a final scouting sortie.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Battletech Campaign #14: Situation Normal

After our straightforward last battle, I decided to offer my son a different type of recon mission. It would be challenging and risky, but offered a hefty reward in intel.

As Captain Razor lead his battered but victorious lance back to base he received a communication from their aerospace allies who spotted unusual enemy activity. The Lyrans had dispatched a small force to the battlefield and were sifting through the rubble in search for something. If they acted quickly, a different lance could be dispatched from the mercenaries' hidden base to intercept them. If the Lyrans recovered any sort of communication cyphers or equipment they'd be loaded in an "HQ" transport vehicle. A mercenary lance would simply need to reach the HQ vehicle, pick it up and make a hasty getaway back to base.

Weighing his options Captain Razor decided to proceed with the mission. Disappointingly, his recon lance was still nursing a Locust with a shattered gyro. Rather than risking further damage to the mech, the mercenaries' main battle lance was given the green light to suit up and race to the theater of operations instead.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Battletech Campaign #13: Speed is Cover

After our last unsatisfying game of Battletech, my son and I were eager to get back to the Inner Sphere. We managed to sneak in an extra game this week, and it thankfully lived up to our expectations.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Battletech Campaign #12: We're on a Road to Nowhere

Resting and repairing after their latest victory, the jubilant mercenaries of Razor's Raiders received an additional bit of good news. A message from the Lyran defenders of Parakoila broadcast over open radio frequencies acknowledged their latest victory and opened the possibility of a prisoner and mech exchange.

“Gutan tag, pirate dogs. I am Leutnant-Colonel Wagner of the 19th Lyran Guards. We have two of your mechwarriors and their crippled battlemechs, captured during a previous sortie. We are willing to conduct a prisoner exchange for our mechwarriors and battlemechs in your custody, according to the rules of war.”

Friday, May 8, 2020

Battletech Campaign #11: Evacuate? In Our Moment of Triumph?

Once more Razor's Raiders took to the field, in the only available mechs they could cobble together. Having succeeded at securing vital supplies my son's mercenaries were able to get a few mechs in working order, patched together enough to mount another assault on a Lyran supply depot. Dropped behind enemy lines in the year 3002 though, none of his mechs were in perfect working order. The Phoenix Hawk had permanent damage to one of its arms, the Griffin was bearing battered armor from a previous sortie, and Captain Razor's Dragon was harboring a knocked out LRM launcher and half its armor across its torso. Only the Centurion of Sgt. "Snag" Exof was in pristine condition, a status that wouldn't last long once battle was joined.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Battletech Campaign #10: Nasty, Brutish, and Short

With supplies commandeered from a local garrison, my son's mercenaries  Razor's Raiders - began preliminary planning for a more direct strike at Lyran defenses on the ice world of Parakoila. Using the influx of armor and ammo to repair a few of his light mechs, the mercenary commander decided to send a scouting force on a reconnaissance mission to gather data on troop movements to make subsequent assaults less risky.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Battletech Campaign #9: Push Comes to Shove

With a successful recon mission under their belt, my son's mercenaries - Razor's Raiders - were able to identify the mechs and vehicles guarding their next target before committing to an attack. Rolling for my forces in the open my son knew I'd be fielding a pair of vehicles, three light mechs and a medium. With the battered state his mechs were in though, he was unsure if he should proceed. I reminded him that'd I'd rolled a 4 on 2d6, and it was unlikely that aborting the mission would result in a better array of units he'd be facing. Weighing his options, and desperate for the parts guarded by my units he grimly committed to the battle. And what a battle it turned out to be.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Battletech Campaign #8: Across the Misty Ice Fields

Continuing our Battletech campaign on the ice world of Parakoila, my son's mercenaries - Razor's Raiders - attempted to recover from their mauling in the last battle by sending an ad hoc scout force of any available mechs to recon the enemy.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Battletech Campaign #7: The Ice Storm Cometh

After breaking through enemy lines on the frozen world of Parakoila, my son's mercenaries reached the hidden mountain enclave of a Kurita spy. He welcomed them to the hidden base and gave them the objective of their guerrilla campaign: to steal a mysterious new battlemech the Lyrans had snuck here for testing.

Before they could launch an assault on the factory complex where it was being housed the mercs would need to run a number of supply raids, recon missions and communications disruptions until they had tipped the scales in their favor for their ultimate mission.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Battletech Campaign #6: Breaking the Ice

After our warm up on the desert planet of Vantaa, my son's mercenary force accepted their next contract - a secret mission to the ice world of Parakoila. After making planetfall they'd need to reach a Kurita contact in the mountains before waging a guerilla campaign agains the Lyran planetary defense force. Their first obstacle? Breaking through the Lyran lines attempting to halt their exit from the drop zone.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Battletech Campaign Intermission: Campaign Maintenance

I created some mercenary upkeep rules for the Battletech campaign we are playing. The previous C-bill based version was a bit of a headache, but the war point version from Catalyst's "Chaos Campaign" tracks is a bit easier and more flexible. The minutiae of Battletech campaign finances might not be of interest to you unless you are running a campaign yourself, but I figured I'd throw it out there in case someone else wants to mine it for ideas.

I totaled up the war points my son secured after his campaign on Vantaa, and updated his "Current Assets" to reflect mech losses to enemy fire and salvaged mechs that haven't been repaired yet.

Using a random mech availability table I rolled up some possible additions he could add to his force: 8 light mechs, 7 mediums, 3 heavy and 2 assaults (that seemed about right to me). Mechs could be junkers and salvage, or could be in fighting shape with its own mechwarrior pilot. Each mech had a chance of being crippled (25%), damaged (25%) or ready (50%). If a mech was ready I rolled up a pilot (Green, Regular, Veteran or Elite) and picked a call sign for them. The cost for each was taken from the Chaos Campaign chapter in Strategic Operations.

I'm using the repair costs from the Chaos Campaign, but I introduced a new "rush" mechanic to lower repair costs and reduce time but at the risk of permanently screwing the mech up. In reading some of the old supplements from the 80s there are plenty of 3025 mechs that go into battle missing armor, with broken actuators, flaky weapons and a host of mechanical issues peculiar to that particular mech. I love that stuff.

The defects I introduced shouldn't require a ton of bookkeeping. It will mostly be permanent armor damage that can be removed from the record sheet before play. The equipment defects require a bit more to remember, but should be rare.

My son picked up some of the crippled mechs to give to his dispossessed mechwarriors and rushed repairs on them resulting in some missing armor (the P-Hawk only has like 2 armor left on one arm - permanently!) and a machine gun on a Locust that can jam. It needs some tweaking, but overall it worked pretty well.

Next time - Assault on an Ice Planet!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Battletech Campaign #5: Pesky Bugs

Mercenary mechs escorting a recovery vehicle (Rifleman salvage not shown).

Still stuck inside, my son and I continued our Battletech campaign with a follow up from our last mission. Having head-shot two mechs which were otherwise in decent condition, he wanted to attempt to salvage them.

We decided he would be able to recover the Phoenix Hawk without incident, but the Lyran forces were able to send reinforcements while his transport of the salvaged Rifleman was en route back to the mercenary's dropship.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Battletech Campaign #4: Back in the Saddle

My son and I haven't played Battletech since pausing our summer campaign a few years ago. Now that we're stuck inside for the foreseeable future and my regular gaming groups are on COVID hiatus, I found I needed to roll some dice and kill some little metal men.

I dusted off the notes from our Battletech campaign, advanced the campaign timeline a few years and the boy and I jumped back into the metal mayhem of the early 31st century.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Scrum Con 2020

Another Scrum Con has wrapped, and I think we're getting the hang of this.

This was our game club's second convention. After our inaugural run we incorporated the feedback from attendees to 2019 and expanded to a larger venue for this year's con. It was again a mix of wargames and rpgs, highlighting classics from the last forty years as well as lesser played gems and home-brewed rules sets. We featured wargames centered on "genre" subjects (fantasy, sci-fi, horror, alternate history) but were happy to host some traditional historic wargames too. On the RPG side we were lucky to host games run by some of the designers who laid the foundations of the hobby: Zeb Cook, Bill Slaviscek and Ed Stark, along with a number of inventive and entertaining RPG game masters. 

Star Schlock

When I wasn't schlepping convention supplies, guarding the flea market or running other con errands I was GMing a session of my sci-fi wargame, Star Schlock.

In this scenario two warring factions, the democracy loving Federation and the rapacious Totalitarian Dominion, have landed on a desert moon on the frontier of space. In their skirmishes they've awakened a third faction, ancient aliens who hate all other life in the universe. Rising from hibernation the aliens have resurrected dead men to do their bidding. The tide of undead horrors have swept across the moon and now the last remaining Federation and Dominion forces must battle for control of the only remaining shuttle craft to escape the encircling space zombie menace.

My six players divided up to take control of the three factions. Star Schlock can take a minute to get the hang of, but by round two my players were starting to grok the rules. 

The Federation and Dominion took an early lead, but the undead horde is an unrelenting tide and slowly pushed the living off the key navigation beacon objectives they needed to win. 

As we worked through the final round the Federation and Dominion had a chance to pull out a victory, but a uh... overlooked rule by the GM (oops) and a whiffed final roll left the moon in control of the aliens and their slavering space ghouls.

Despite a hiccup here and there my players were great sports, a blast to run the game for and gave me plenty of positive feedback after the game.

Poised to Grow

That seemed to be a theme of the convention as a whole. While there were a few bumps in the road for the convention, the feedback we've received from the post con survey seems to be extremely positive. Overall I think the con was a success and I'm looking forward to improving and hosting it again next year with the rest of the Scrum Club. 

If you attended the convention, please check your email for the link to the survey (we take your feedback seriously!)  If you are in the DC metro area (or can get here) next February please make plans to attend Scrum Con 2021. We're growing, learning as we go, but are committed to making a gem of a local con.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Sci-Fi Hangar by Impudent Mortal

I don't like MDF building kits. There are so many minor details that irk me —  the perfect 90 degree accuracy, the little pegs that show through on corner joins, the uniformity of design and identical thickness of every wall and element — each one contributes to breaking the immersion for me. I've held off on assembling any large MDF kits, but after seeing the Impudent Mortal display at Historicon last summer I couldn't resist any longer. I need to fill a table with sci-fi buildings, the Impudent Mortal kits were some of the best I'd seen and scratch-building my own wasn't going to cut it. I figured with a little extra care I could reduce the issues that bug me about MDF kits and still save time by using a pre-manufactured model. Check out my build after the jump.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

An update on what I've been Up To (spoiler: it's Star Schlock)

Hello friend! It's been a while since I've posted anything to my blog, but I've been so busy on game stuff I haven't had a chance to log an update. I've been prepping to run my sci-fi skirmish game Star Schlock in February at Scrum Con, our club's convention near Washington DC. If you live in the area you should totally come. It's fun!

In preparation I painted up a few more figures for the game.

A mystery gunslinger I picked up at a con and a little Bombshell Miniatures bot I gave a gun.

A great alien leader from Colony 87. It took me a few years to figure out what color he needed to be.

The frog alien's stat card in Star Schlock. Any resemblance to a person living or dead is purely coincidental.

I also ran the game on New Year's eve to try some new units and rules out.

Evil Totalitarian Dominion dronetroopers face off for control of the spaceport against a royal house of the Federated Alliance.

Murdertron goes down in a hail of laser fire as the Royal Astro Guards storm the building.

Kroglogg snipers engaged in a firefight with dastardly dronetroopers.

I've been taking a lot of time translating my notes into an actual draft rulebook for the game. Star Schlock can get a bit complex, so a lot of my time has been simplifying, clarifying and reducing the headache of trying to learn the game from a written document. I collect rule sets to dissect, owning far more than I'll ever have a chance to play. While I like understanding how a game works, I find reading them can often feel like drudgery. I have some ideas for layout and design to make comprehending a new set a bit easier that I've started experimenting with. Will see if it pans out or if this is a design path that leads to a dead end.

I also received my final test prints of the 3D sculpts for my Star Schlock Astro Guards. I discovered a few tiny updates to make and then they'll be sent to the caster.

I'm hoping to run a Kickstarter for these in the spring, but even if I'm only to get a handful of master figures completed for myself I'll be happy. Sculpting and casting my own figures has been a bucket list item for me since I painted my first orc over 30 years ago. If you are interested in either the Star Schlock game or the figures, I've set up a website where you can sign up for updates. Until next time!