Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Changes in the TRO:3063 Blog...

Hey hey!

Our updates have been progressively later and later with all the work slowing down. It is slowing down because (a) there are only a few pieces left to finish, (b) because we are working on the writing, which is not something I usually post to catch your eye and (c) paying the artists off is not only slow, but makes for dull reading. I really don’t want to make a blog entry without showing some progress so I hang on a few days until I can get confirmation.

From here on in, we will be posting approximately every ten days. I will provide content for those of you who like such natterings as I provide – for the other twenty two people following this blog, I will strive to keep events rolling.

To wit:

- Ian Stead is back from vacation and working on the Tomahawk tank.

- I have sent Paul three writeups. No word from him yet. Busy guy - but we should have something back within the next few days.

- Eric and I have been talking. So far I have been waiting on his work schedule, but plan to send him what we have generated for the layout ideas so far. No word one way or the other from Josh – we are trying to get whatever he’s accomplished from him so we can carry on, but I am not holding things up on his account. He has other problems. :-/

- I intend to ask Chris Seymour if he will accept the Nemera commission. He just finished the Montgomery II and did a very good job. I have to pay him for the Monty first, though!

- Karl Olson has made some serious advances on the San-Ku-Chu, a Capellan troop carrier. As you can see from the images, there has been some back and forth on the way to a good illustration. He even came up with an alternate action pose! I will have it finished, colorized and added to the color plates we already have.

Click on the image for a closer look.

- Speaking of color plates, I have reached a tentative agreement with Terrance Wong (ThePlasticOne over at the Company forums) to colorize some of the pieces we already have in black and white. I have already seen the Scorpion II and the Jenner X in color by another artist – pending an agreement with him, we should see those inside as well. The cost is $13 a piece and I am looking at six pieces minimum, so if you were thinking about hitting that PayPal button, now would be a good time.

- Daniel Cherng has contacted me on the Katana; he will be doing some tweaks in the next few days.

- David Eugene (daveCrypt) and Mike Sullivan (thedarkbanditking) are no longer with us – the first wants a bit too much money for his excellent work, and the other cannot produce anything after all due to employment and home issues.

- Chris Duke is hard at work on another tank, the Panzerfaust. We’ve hammered out the details, based on the writing and previous work, and I should have something to show you by the next blog update.


The game is coming up… we’ll see how the weather looks for next weekend. Hope it is clear, but not too sunny. The last game was a hot one. John has reluctantly agreed to go again. It is funny how I bought the M-14 to accompany him when he went off to play with his M-4 Barret. Now I have to encourage him to go with me!


I participated in a game this Saturday with my good friend Chris Snider. The game objective was interesting, all my friends were there and I was honest with my dice rolls. What more could a fellow ask for?

Rather than go over the game blow by blow, turn by turn, I will note some of the highlights and some odd things I noticed:

- First off, the game started on time! I did not get there until 1330, but it began at noon sharp.

- I was fashionably late because I thought things would start no earlier than 1300. But when I got there, it was Word of Blake and Kali Liao’s Thugees against the flower of the Inner Sphere and the boys were already mixing it up. Well, okay, we had WOB nutjobs and maniac killers versus a bunch of Capellans aided by their neighbors. There were reinforcements coming in on specific turns – Five and Eight, I believe – and I arrived just as they began Turn Four, with those crazy cyborg Blakists and gauss-rifle mad White Tigers ripping everyone on ‘my’ side a new asshole.

- Turn Five, I accepted a lance of Canopian (Magistracy of Canopus) ‘Mechs; three of the four had jump jets and the fourth was fast as hell. Now as some of you know, the Magistracy is a society where women have the upper hand – think of Amazons without the distaste for men. It’s a society where the byword is “It’s good to be Queen”. I nicknamed my four ‘The Grrls’ and got to work.

First turn I ran them in a porcupine ball up the table and opened up on the biggest ‘Mech I could see, a Blakist Seraph (‘Giraffe’) standing on a Level Two hill and using C3 to beat the crap out of my fellow units. The Grrls fired as a unit, pasting the Giraffe with a Heavy PPC and a few other shots and serving notice that the party had officially started.

- I took the other lance leaders aside and asked about their plan. There really wasn’t one, so we concocted something and got to work. Still in the porcupine ball, I ran The Grrls up the left side of the maps and the others began swinging to the right. Meanwhile, that Blakist Giraffe got off that hill in a hell of a rush, not eager to face my ball of feminine heavy metal headed his way with his name all over it.

And that was one of the points I made with my compadres – the battle was only partly decided by the weapons fired and the speed of the machines and the terrain. The rest, the lion’s share, would be decided by our tactics and overall strategy because it wasn’t our ‘Mechs against theirs so much as it was our players against theirs. And we had the advantage of experience. What counted wasn’t what weapons you shot, but where you were.

- The Grrls shot at an Ostroc on the sixth and seventh Turns, got into position on that vacated hill and took the Giraffe out on Turn Eight. On the same Turn, the White Tigers betrayed the Word of Blake and began shooting everything in sight. About that time our side took out one of their Gauss-zillas (a Cerebrus) and beat the hell out of their Thunderbolt. Only a scuffed Pillager left to their forces, but the Tiger player was game, I will give him that.

- Turn Nine The Grrls piled on a Word of Blake Raijin II, doing damage. They’d moved off the hill and were headed for the opposite map edge to make their exit. They were still in a porcupine ball and amazingly enough, not a mark on any of them!

- Turn Ten was the final turn, and The Grrls moved closer to the map edge as they took on another Raijin, destroying its big gun and hammering the snot out of it. It shot back for the only damage The Grrls would take in that game – ten points to the left torso of the Eyleuka.

What I Observed…

While I enjoyed the game, it was apparent that even with Chris officiating and doing nothing else, ten players was just too much to go very fast. Four turns in an hour and a half sounds good, right? But I was there from 1330 until 2215, when the game ended – nearly ten hours – and we only managed another six turns. I had been hoping for a turn an hour and while Chris rode everyone’s ass, it was of little use.

I think the biggest mistake Chris made was to hand control of six machines to a player who has trouble handling two. It slowed things down horribly, though it could have been worse. This player ran most of his machines off on a wild goose chase (literally) that worked better than I thought it would. I even told the player what we were doing and he still kept right on chasing. We used two very light damaged ‘Mechs as bait to tie down four fresh machines for five turns. Not bad, considering they could have been – should have been - backshooting all my compadres. But the best part was that they were all on that player’s side of the table and he was focusing them all on one mission. It kept things simple for him.

Unfortunately for the Blakists, he was also running two hovertanks with an LRM-15 each. Rather than position them and start pasting our forces with long range fire, this guy ran them right up into the middle of a huge furball. The two tanks were burning before they’d fired three shots.

My own side began to show fatigue – some of the guys didn’t have their firing solutions ready when called on, despite having plenty of time to do so. As for my Grrls and me?

With my numbers always ready, I took less than a minute to fire all the guns. Every turn. And with an hour (or more!) to consider each collective move, I knew exactly where I was going and took about two minutes or less to move all four units and put their markers down. Most times less. Every turn. I wish more players would follow that example, but what’re ya gonna do? I concentrated an entire lance’s movement and fire towards a single target each turn and hoped volume of fire would offset lousy numbers. If you weren’t standing still or had a pilot with VDNI, it was usually nines or more to hit anything that wasn’t immobile.

No special munitions, mostly direct fire weapons, no weather conditions, clear goals and a really sweet initiative setup – by lance, not individual unit – made the game go faster than I expected, but there were thirty two units on the table and what else could one expect? I stuck it out, though. Chris did the best he could, the best anyone could, and really put a lot of work in this. It showed. I hope he runs smaller games in the future, so we can wrap it up in six hours or less. But the organization was heaps better than it has been in the past.

I will be playing OpFor with Chris from now on, as I like a challenge and being one of the ‘bad guys’ appeals to me. Maybe I will be able to bring out the best in my friend’s play not by setting the example, but pasting them one when they make a mistake.

Dissing the Lowly IndustrialMech…

I probably waxed eloquent enough in the last blog, especially down in the comments section, on what I think of AgroMechs and their ilk in the old game of MechWarrior:Dark Age (MW:DA). I like them, I really do. Back when the game was just starting out, you could field an AgroMech Mod A and do reasonably well. That changed pretty quickly when all the new rules and expansions appeared. MW:DA was also sold like a collectible card game and that meant that some - indeed, many - of the boosters had common and uncommon machines in them which were not very good even by the standards of the early game.

I once wrote some fiction that involved a ForestryMech in a flashback. The year was 3115. It seemed like a good way for a country boy to get his start in a field where BattleMechs had not been in common use for fifty years. So I began a follow-up tale, one where the young boy encountered in the first story was now nearing eighteen and wondering what to do with his life – and especially his skill at working a ‘Mech. It isn’t as common an ability as you might think. And it isn’t very useful outside that narrow field.

The story (still under construction) takes place on a planet at the edge of the Periphery. It has pretty girls, pirates and several encounters where a ‘weaponized’ ForestryMech (a big one, used on redwoods and other first-growth forests) takes on tanks and troops, a small BattleMech and eventually, the pirates themselves. There are other machines there - mostly VTOLs, tanks and troop carriers. The ForestryMech, along with another like it, work together to stop the pirate raid. The pirate’s goal is a hidden cache of ‘Mech weapons and parts which have not been in production for decades – and, of course, the town’s young women.

The story is outlined (about twenty thousand words so far) and I am working on it between bouts with the TRO. No telling if anyone will want to read it, but hey, our hero has two girls with their sights on him and I think the setting is believable and entertaining.

The point is the whole thing began with me trying to write a scenario around a ForestryMech just to see if such a thing could be done in the regular BattleTech setting. It can be done, but it’s anyone’s guess whether or not folks will want to play it.

Painting Up Armies

While I was overseas and missing my son, I decided to take the MW:DA miniatures we’d accumulated while in Perth and create several ‘armies’ which I could use to play with my son when I got home. Many delightful hours passed while I painted those miniatures in four basic color schemes – red, blue, green and yellow. The Yellow army was reserved for my son and we cobbled together rules which mixed a bit of BattleTech with many of the rules used in MW:DA.

When I was done painting, I still had another three months to go. So I began arranging the armies in set battle scenes, taking pictures of them and then adding text which described the action. I collected these ‘battles’ into black-and-white booklets that were several pages long and mailed them to my son, who enjoyed them very much.

I have no hard feelings for the IndustrialMech. Below are some pics of ‘Mechs from the Yellow army. We still have all the armies, but it has been many years since John and I played a game with them. His desire to do such things faded over the years, but I still have my memories.

Click on the image for a closer look.

Some Advice…

One word of advice for you BattleTech players out there – the best way, the only sure-fire tactic that will negate an opponent’s advantage when he’s using C3 - is NOT ECM (though it is nice).

What is it?

Simple: close with him until you are up in his grill and then kick him in the nuts – hard. The same goes for an opponent with better gunnery skills. At close range, you and he both need, as my son would say, ‘freakishly low numbers’ to hit the other guy and at that point, it doesn’t matter if he needs a three and you need a four. Low numbers are low numbers. It’s infighting skills, short-range blasting and healthy kicks that will get the job done.

Come to think of it, that’s how I deal with Clanners, too.

Thanks for stopping by.



 Ashley said...

Always a pleasure to see what's going on here. Keep up the good work.

skiltao said...

Man, that yellow army takes me back to when I was a kid, looking up at giant Caterpillar machinery. Caterpillar is a color now, right?

Steven Satak said...

Yes, there is a Caterpillar yellow, and we based this army on that color because of all the industrialMechs.

It seemed appropriate. The rest of the army is just as nice.