St. Ives – The Sleeping Behemoth

Our BattleTechHexare GrenadiersSt. Ives – The Sleeping Behemoth

The Sleeping Behemoth

It seems there’s something terrible lurking in near orbit over St. Ives.  CCAF forces attempting to land on the planet have been repeatedly ambushed by a large Assault Dropship firing capital missiles, delaying the landing of crucial reinforcements.  Two days ago, a Capellan Navy task force intercepted the beast as it fell upon a flotilla of supply dropships.  The vessel, determined to be of the Davions new Overlord A3 class broke the spine of a Kuan Ti and crippled an Achilles before limping behind the shadow of St. Ives’ moon Cochrane.  The Strategios cannot spare any more resources to eliminate the vessel, and is so requesting the Hexare Grenadiers sortie to take out the vessel, which intelligence estimates as having suffered heavy damage.

Prepare your Aerospace craft, gentlemen!  It’s time to hunt the Kraken!

St. Ives Aerospace Defense Forces:

Overlord A3 Pocket Warship (slightly damaged, the Kraken and one AR-10 launcher knocked out and one Avionics hit, minor armor damage)

2 Sparrowhawk 7D

Hexare Grenadiers:

Warlock Fusiliers: 3 Transgressors 13A

Lord of the Night:  Avenger Dropship (Upgrade)

Shengli Armed Asset Protection: 2 Lightening G16L and 1 Transit TR-12

Taku No: 2 Rievers 700B and 1 Transgressor 13A

Piotrowski’s Predators: 3 Defiance ASFs (ERPPC, LRM 20 Artemis, 3 MPLs)

Bethlens’ Irregulars: 2 Centurions 3S (TAG swapped for TarComp) and 1 Riever 700B

The Setup: 

Knowing that we’d be encountering some stifling resistance on our way towards St. Ives, may of the various mercenary units comprising the Hexare Grenadiers added some heavy aerospace assets, including 3 Rievers, which will certainly help break any blockade we’d be facing.  However, it wasn’t a blockade per say, but a Pocket Warship that had been sniping away at Capellan forces attempting to make landfall.  After reading some intel briefings on the mission and the TRO of the Overlord A3, we realized we had quite the fight on our hand.

Those not familiar with the Overlord A3 should be. Bristling with weaponry, the A3 has two AR-10 launchers and a Kraken-T launcher, supported by 11 ERPPCs, 12 Gauss Rifles, 12 ERLLs, 16 MLs, 4 LRM 20s, 4 LPLs, and 10 MPLs as well as nearly over 500 armor on the nose and nearly 500 armor on all other facings.  Knowing that it had taken some damage, we figured that the use of Anti-Ship Missiles would be critical.  Dealing 30 damage and a potential critical on an 11+, they would be ideal for softening the thick armor.

To buck the trend, my 3 Defiances decided to use their 11 possible hard points for 1 Air to Air Arrow IV missile and 1 ASEW missile each.  The ASEW missiles are an Anti-Ship Electronic Warfare missile.  Meaning, for the turn after it hits, that facing suffers a +4 penalty to hit (see page 358 of TacOps for specifics).  Needless to say, these ASEWs could have a significant impact assuming they hit in combat.

Both sides started with a vectored thrust of 6 with most of us positioned to that upon the firing phase of turn 1, we would be in medium capital range of 24 hexes and could unload our payloads to free up our thrust and hopefully identify a facing to target.  Our goal is to swarm the ship while we wait for the AAA’s and AS missiles to land and cluster up on a location for us to focus in on  and then burn in that direction and unload.

From left to right is the mercenary formation by unit: Predators, Lords of the Night, Taku No, Warlock Fusiliers, SLAAP, and Bethlen’s Irregulars.  The Davions have the Overlord A3 flanked by a Sparrowhawk on either side.

The Action:

Turn 1 – The Hexare Grenadiers all surge forth at 6 thrust as the Overlord falls right in at 24 hexes away from all of our fighters.  Surprisingly, the Sparrowhawks thrust ahead of the Overlord, moving into range to start mixing it up.

Those of us with experienced pilots let loose our AAAs and AS missiles, with a nice portion gravitating towards the left side of the Overlord.  Unfortunately, it’s the left side AR-10 launcher that’s been knocked out so we know which way the ship is going to roll.

The Sparrowhawks put themselves into harms way as we unloaded some of our longer ranged weaponry or extreme ranged into them.  One had both ERMLs, one on each wing stripped and the other got some pretty heavy nose damage.

Turn 2 – The Overlord continues to propel forward but turning to bring the left side and it’s AR-10 to bear.  The Sparrowhawks continue to mix it up, hoping that the Hexare Grenadiers will begin focusing on the Overlord and ignore them.  The various Rievers and Lightnings close with the dropship, trying to bring their heavy AC’s to bear.

Due to the inability of spheroid dropships to concentrate fire, forces them to spread the love, peppering aDefiance, a Riever, a Lightning, and the Avenger, which is saved from a huge beatdown due to the ASEW penalty on all nose arc weapons.  The Lightning loses the UAC20 to a threshold.  In return, the Overlord eats a lot of AC20 shells, tearing up the right side armor, with a Taku No Riever TACing the avionics, forcing a control roll and one of the Defiances TACing with a PPC to force another control roll, which ultimately leads to the Overlord losing control for a turn (due to prior avionics hit).  Another ASEW missiles disrupts the nose arc, giving the mercenaries further reprieve from the destructive power of the massed weapon banks held there.

The Sparrowhawks deal light damage and are decimated in return.  One is completely destroyed by the Taku No Transgressor and the other is sent spiraling out of control by the pair of Centurions.

Turn 3 – The out of control Overlord ends up moving towards our starting point nose first, exposing its aft to our forces which have thrust past it.  The Sparrowhawk is propelled near the edge of the map, with Centurions giving chase.

The Overlord continues to take a pounding but is giving it nearly as good as it’s taking, but is suffering from the ASEW penalty and the out of control penalty. Shots are coming from nearly every direction as all facings dip below half, with the left side reaching about 30 points of armor remaining.  Once the fire has been exchanged, the Overlord succeeds in regaining control while the Sparrowhawk fails and is all but removed from the game as its being propelled past the battle map at over 14 hexes per turn.

Turn 4 – It’s looking like potentially the end, as the Sparrowhawk is carried well out of range of the fight and the Overlord is surrounded.  Various fighters overthrust to bring weapons into the best firing solution for alpha strikes.  The final ASEW missile hits the nose just in case, as Overlord is caved-in on the very last shot of our forces, from the Avenger.  In return, the Taku No Transgressor is destroyed, with multiple other vessels taking damaged and loss of weapons due to thresholding or internal breaching.

Aftermath:

Upon re-reading this battle report, it seems like we came out ahead quite nicely, suffering moderate damage to the Avenger and 3 fighters, heavy damage to about 5 fighters, and losing only one fighter.  Now it is true that our intel briefings said expect heavy resistance upon planetfall and the scenario was designed prior to our purchasing, and didn’t account for as many AC20s as we had, but it was really the ASEW’s taking out the nose for most of the game that really made a huge difference in the amount of damage mitigated.

You have to think, gunnery of 4, with either a +1 or +2 depending on how the vectored thrusts are interacting, as well as any range modifiers.  So at medium range, that thing is throwing around a lot of thresholding shots at worst with 8’s, probably 7’s, and even better when it started closing in.  How imagine that nearly 50% of that raw firepower, gets bumped to 10-12’s….that’s huge.  That’s massive, and in my opinion, single-handedly saved us at least 1 ship per turn, maybe more, because the Avenger was targeted early, but not often, once the OpFor realized that with those penalties, he was not going to make an impact on the Avenger, and went hoping for threshold rolls against thinner skinned fighters.

The battle really speaks for the concept of not worrying about the ability to deal maximum amount of damage, but to be the one who can apply the most damage on a concentrated target.  We were able to mitigate the largest portion of damage, and force them to spread that damage out over multiple targets.  So while, the damage (not including the initial bombardment of AAAs and AS missiles) was probably even, we had the better ability to concentrate that damage.

As always, feel free to comment or join the discussion at http://ourbattletech.com/forum/mission-reports-analysis-and-discussion/.

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