Sunday, February 28, 2010

Playtest #3 - Hot Lance-on-Lance Action!


More Jenner X playtesting! Brian set another game up as lance-on-lance combat. The results are interesting, and he even provided a snapshot for each turn of play. The text tells you who hit what and what damage was done – but I think a close look at the gameshots tells a more informative tale.

The Third Playtest Game

"I put a Jenner X and XT [a version which switches out the MRMs for Streak-4 missile racks] with a Daimyo and a Javelin in the hands of a good friend and recovering DCMS player. He knows how to use the Jenners of old so I was interested in seeing how he would use the new variants without any prodding.

For the OpFor, I used a mixed lance, a Goblin Infantry Support Tank, Falcon Hawk, Watchman, and a Kintaro.

For your reference we used movement dice: white = walk, red = run, blue = jump

Jenner = Jenner X
Cicada = Jenner XT
Clint = Daimyo
Hermes = Javelin

Vindicator = Falcon Hawk
Trebuchet = Kintaro
Panther = Watchman
Galleon = Goblin Tank

Turn 1 - DC Loses Initiative
No shots. Terrain prevents shots.

Turn 2 - DC Wins Initiative
Falcon Hawk and Goblin score hits on the Jenner XT, crits upper arm actuator. Other fire misses.

One medium laser hits the Goblin in the turret.

[Note the two Jenners – circled in blue – are at top speed, the red movement die signifying a run and the modifier a solid +4. The hits on the XT probably required moderately high numbers, but as you can see, the enemy ‘Mech and tank are both at very short range.]

Turn 3 - DC Loses Initiative
Jenner X loses RA, gets a gyro and an engine hit due to lots of combined fire. The XT gets some damage to armor but not much else.

XT rips open rear armor on LT but fails to crit. Hits 2 head hits. X hits with 2 ML and 1 MRM but fails to penetrate armor.

Jenner X makes his pilot roll. OpFor makes his consciousness checks.

[This is where the Jenner player lost the advantage of high speed – all that damage need not have happened! As you can see from the white movement dice, the Jenner XT (circled in yellow) and the Jenner X (circled in blue) are now walking and their modifiers are nil or one. Not good! The Jenner is ill-equipped for a slugfest with anyone, especially another light ‘Mech. Part of its protection comes from its high speed and that is absent at this point of the game.

Lots of fire’ came from lots of enemy guns which had the range and good numbers – the Jenners should have been a long way from those trees by now. Being forced into a furball is one thing - volunteering for it is a bad move.]

Turn 4 - DC Loses Initiative

Goblin cores XL engine on Jenner X. Javelin loses an SRM 6 and a lot of armor.

Jenners combine to core out XL engine on falcon hawk.

[The Jenner X was a needless loss. He should have been turning on the far right of the map with his partner and coming back for another pass. Instead, both walked - again! - and got nothing for a movement modifier. That the Jenners took out an enemy ‘Mech was luck – the Firehawk has nearly as much armor as the Jenners!]

Turn 5 - DC wins Initiative
Javelin declares charge on Watchman.

Javelin is destroyed by torso destruction. Kintaro is destroyed by ammo explosion.

[The red die on the far side of the Jenner XT shows that it is back to running, probably using the won Initiative to position for the backshot which blew the Kintaro’s ammo bin].

Turn 6 - DC Loses Initiative

Goblin and Watchman hit the Daimyo but do no significant damage.

Daimyo hits the Goblin and reduces movement to a 2/3 and destroys a weapon once the rear armor is depleted.

[The Jenner X is now at the far right of the map with a red movement die. It is being played to best advantage at this point, hustling to get some speed, distance and movement modifiers. It should be turning next round… but this action is probably more a function of the lost Initiative than calculated tactics].

Turn 7 - DC Loses Initiative

Watchman and Goblin continue to slag armor off the Daimyo. Two DHS are destroyed by the Goblin.

Daimyo hurts the Goblin more but does only armor damage.

[There! The Jenner XT is sweeping around, with a red movement die indicating a modifier of +4. I am not sure if this is due to the lost Initiative (and a resulting defensive move) or a sound tactical choice on the part of the player].

Turn 8 - DC Loses Initiative

Goblin is destroyed by the Jenner XT. The Watchman and the Goblin combine to deliver 3 crits to the Daimyo CT but fails to kill the 'Mech.

Game is called as it is 2 on 1 and the Watchman can only retreat to save itself.

[Note at this point the Jenner XT has a high movement modifier and is in position to fire on a target (the Goblin) which has no movement modifiers at all (a 6 on the die represents zero). Note also that the target of opportunity for the enemy is the Daimyo (represented by the Clint standing on the tank) which has a modifier of zero and not the Jenner, which probably presented a difficult target with its +3. Which is the point of having high speed, after all].

Post Game Analysis

I am betting that if both Jenners had been played to their strengths (high speed, lots of striking power) throughout the game, they might both have survived. It’s possible the game would have lasted a lot longer with the two ‘Mechs running about with throttles slammed forward – after all, they would be in the enemy’s sights for a relatively short time. But with just two additional turns, the harder-hitting warload of the Jenner X and XT might have carried the day for the Draconis Combine - with minimal casualties.

I know, the DC won the encounter.

And to be fair, they won only two of the seven Initiatives where both sides had firing solutions. But the point was to try out the new machine with the recommended tactics. The first half of the game saw these Jenners being deployed as standard models with numerous medium lasers and jump jets.

Unfortunately, these machines don't have them. And it took the player a while to adjust.

Meanwhile, the enemy’s Kintaro is pretty quick for its size, the Watchman has jump jets, the Fire Hawk was as fast as our Jenner and depending on its variant, the Goblin is well-armed. After one Jenner was lost, the other Jenner began to follow our recommended tactics; whether this was due to a reaction to lost initiative or a hint from Brian is moot. As you can see, when used properly the Jenner XT performs as advertised.

I think.

A Lot of Variables...

See, the problem is I have to make these calls based on only four turns’ worth of game, and as was pointed out at the beginning, the DC player wasn’t told how the new Jenners were to be deployed. I don’t know if he meant to get them into a ‘furball’ or if that’s just how things worked out. It is hard to say whether he used them correctly or incorrectly – but he certainly was in a hurry to blow the enemy away. From the way the table was set up, he could have swept through with the Jenners, come around either side and then swept back through to add more damage.

Maybe the lure of a backshot was just too much. However, despite its armor and its flipping arms, this particular Jenner is not meant to participate in a “Conga line”, where machines line up behind each other to take back shots. MRMs are at a distinct disadvantage in close combat. There’s patience involved in harrier tactics, as well as the practice of looking ahead and moving your other forces in order to position the enemy for the Jenner’s return sweep.

So many other things could have been – should have been – different as well.

What Might Have Been

I think with its jump jets, the Javelin could have avoided trouble and even lured the enemy on while the Jenners streaked off to begin their turns. The Daimyo in any of its variants would be a fearsome opponent to corner, with either an ERPPC or ER large laser to make an approaching enemy pay dearly while these two waited for their lancemates to come around.

But here’s the rub; the Javelin and Daimyo should also have been moving at top speed for maximum multipliers, jumping if able when their side lost initiative. Their warloads indicate machines which do most of their rough work at range. The strength of their main guns is not just in their striking power – that too - but in their range advantage. Because they did not have range, because they walked and engaged in early melee, the Daimyo and Javlin were forced to use long and medium range weapons up close. And they lost that advantage.

If they’d maintained a full run, they’d have had a chance to keep the enemy off-balance and reacting while the Jenners swung around and began a second approach. Furthermore, by running towards the right side of the map, they would have reduced the time to engagement for the Jenners – assuming the enemy was in hot pursuit. And there is no reason why the enemy would not give chase, with the potential for backshots luring them on.

The 7/11(14) Jenner X has three MRM-10s with good range and these hit hard. By the time the Jenner XT had closed for another shot, there would have been several large holes in the enemy. A Streak barrage might have finished the job.

Finally, the idea of running these machines in pairs is so that they can concentrate fire on a single opponent. The Turn Three and Turn Four text suggests they did, but both were at a severe disadvantage at that point and never got a chance to work together after that.

Oh well. No sense in re-fighting the battle. I wasn’t there and I am sure the players did the best they could. We learned quite a bit from this little soiree. Thanks to Brian, Andrew and the rest of the ScrapyardArmory crew for taking to the tables to see what our new design is made of.

And thanks for stopping by.


No comments: