The second mission on Warlock tasked the Hexare Grenadiers with crossing a river at night, in hopes that the torrent waters would freeze over, allowing them to harass the defenders on the other side. This begins the mission, a Cauldron of Ice.
2 Myrmidons, 2 Demolisher (Gauss Variants), 4 Bulldogs, 2 Mantis VTOLs, 2 Cavalry VTOLs, Warhammer WHM-4L, Archer ARC-7L, Ostroc OSR-4L, Griffin GRF-1DS, Enforcer III ENF-6M, Javelin JVN-11D, Stinger STG-6L, Maelstrom MTR-6K, JagerMech III JM6-D3, Thunder THR-1L, Victor VTR-10L, Pillager PLG-4Z and 4 Sniper Artillery Tanks off-board.
Special Rules: Night rules, Ice rules, Temperatures below 30 degrees, and Heavy Snow.
The map was designed with a river running from the north to the south coming pretty much down the middle of the map. In the middle of the northern map, there was a large iced over lake, probably about an 8 hex diameter. Along the east side, there were some nice hills and forests and was the side the 2nd Janissaries were setup on to defend. The west side, was primarily flat with some sparse forest and was the side the Hexare Grenadiers deployed on.
Starting from the north to the south, the 2nd Janissaries deployed in the following order: Enforcer III, Griffin, the 4 Bulldogs, Warhammer, Pillager, Victor, Archer, Javelin, Maelstrom, Stringer, Thunder, Myrmidon, the 2 Demolishers, Myrmido, JagerMech III, and Ostroc. All of their forces were primarily deployed on hills and/or in forests.
In response, we deployed clumped together in the extreme northwest of the map. Our prevailing thought was to attack them while they were spread out. By focusing on the northern quadrant, we were targeting their faster elements, negating their slower tanks and ‘Mechs in the south…namely those Demolishers and Myrmidons. In addition, we figured between smoke and T-Aug were could block LOS and slow down those elements deployed in the south, giving us the ability to apply 100% of our firepower while they were cut to only 50% of theirs. If you play MMORPGs, be basically used some “Crowd Control” to buy us time to break through their northern defenses and beat them piecemeal.
Turn 1 – Thanks to the initiative bonus, our entire side beats out the 2nd Janissaries. We advance forward at a snails pace due to the snow. My Hellspawn and the Bethlens’ Irregulars’ Dervish, H. Warrior and Maxim pop smoke and T-Aug. I land a TAG on their Pillager and blast it with the two Homing Arrow IVs, to the center and left torsos.
Since they pretty much stood still, their numbers are great. And I’m noticing that the defenders on Warlock have a huge advantage because ‘Mechs moving on snow are just so slow. Often you’re jumping for only a 1 mod (due to bog down) or running for a 1 mod. So defenders definitely have a huge advantage, especially when their are stealthed and in cover. As such, one of the Men Shens gets ravaged, by their combined fire with just enough to poke through the center torso, resulting in 1 engine and 2 gyro hits. Not a great way to start the game.
Turn 2 – The Cavalier squad is the first victim of the ice, with one member falling through. The 2nd Janissaries’ VTOLs start swooping in, looking to harass our flankers. We TAG multiple targets, but only one of the Homing Arrow IVs actually lands, hitting the Victor. In return, we discover they have some off-board artillery support, as pre-plotted clusters rounds batter my Hellspawn, our Dervish and Archer.
The 2nd Janissary Cavalry VTOLs fire into our Puma and Enforcer which are flanking along the north of the map, trying to skirt the large lake. In return, we knock out one of the Cavalry VTOLs and damage another one pretty good. We focus down on the Enforcer, blowing both arms off, effectively neutering it.
Turn 3 – We begin to get onto the lake, which frees up our movement quite a bit. Unfortunately, the Axman falls through the ice. Pre-plotted artillery continues to batter us, but we return the favor with a Homing Arrow IV into both the Victor and Warhammer. Their Thunder gets into the fray, but makes itself a big ass target. The armless Enforcer attempts to DFA our Enforcer, which ultimately fails and falls on its butt.
The standing Men Shen and the Puma continue to flank, killing off the Javelin in one turn. The rest of our forces target the Thunder, which is finished off through a head shot by the Hellspawn, which is subsequently cored out through center torso destruction by a combination of the Cavalry and Warhammer.
Turn 4 – The ‘Mechs and vehicles from the south start getting closer, but are getting ripped up by mines and still blocked by the heavy smoke. So far our ploy is working, we’re starting to degrade their northern forces and this is the start of the turning point. My Regulators had to cycle back, so I was not within 17 hexes, so direct fire was not an option, so we have 2 Homing Arrow IVs in the air, ready for next turn.
My Bandits, which had circled back, finished off one of the Mantis. The Marauder II took out the other. The gyroless Men Shen pops the remaining Cavalry VTOL, finishing it off. Our flanking forces, the Puma, Men Shen, and Enforcer with some help from the Huron Warrior’s semi-g LRM support battered the Griffin, critting out the LRM 20 launcher. The Marauder and Nightstar focus fire on the Victor, which had jumped into our heavy smoke, critting the Gauss Rifle knocking the pilot out. The Thunderbolt continues the humiliation of the armless Enforcer, critting a jump jet. Our Pillagers and some LRM support strip an arm off the Warhammer. Overall, we can significantly depleted their firepower this turn.
Turn 5 – We close in on their northern forces. My two Homing A4’s take out the Warhammer in the artillery phase, luckily. It died falling on it’s left torso, crippling itself. My Bandits rushed forward to take out a pair of Bulldogs, calling in some direct fire artillery to soften them up. My combined fire killed off one of them and the other fell to some LRM fire. The flanking Men Shen and Puma combo the Stinger, forcing it to the ground. A kick from the Puma criting its foot. The Yu Huang pops the Ostroc, which had bogged down before it got moving making it an easy target. It took a PPC to the face and a LB-20X slug to the center torso. In return, the Ostroc and JagerMech try to combo the Yu Huang, but inflict minimal damage.
Up in the north, the T-Bolt attempts to finish off the armless Enforcer, critting an engine, hip, and JJ. The armless Enforcer III falls critting out its own torso. Finally, our Enforcer III continues its reign of terror, popping the Griffin in the head with it’s AC 10, critting the cockpit and finishing off the Griffin. With the turn concluding, it’s starting to become obvious we’ve overrun their northern flank, pushing through to their side and chasing down their scattered forces.
Turn 6 – They begin to fall back, dropping the Demolishers, Archer, Pillager, JagerMech and Ostroc to the south and east. Obviously, we give chase. The Puma and Enforcer III finish off the Stringer. The Lord of the Night’s Pillager pops the turret off the final Bulldog with a 12 roll on a turret crit. The Myrmidon hits the head of our Victor, which in turn drops the JagerMech from a leg crit. The rest of our forces combine their fire on the Maelstrom, which is finally finished of by the Marauder II.
At this point, we’ve routed them from the battlefield. Given the remaining 2nd Janissary forces are heavy and slow, they have little chance for escape. The Archer and Ostroc are able to flee but the others are stuck offering surrender, making this a great mission for salvage.
Conclusions & Analysis:
Honestly, I was very scared coming into this mission. They have superior position and firepower. And in snow situations, the defender is at a huge advantage. In this heavy snow, you are either running or jumping for a net 1 TMM, while hindering your own shots at a +2 or +3. It’s far more advantageous to just stand and shoot, especially with Stealth & Cover.
At that disadvantage, we knew we would have to divide and conquor and pull out some stuff from our bag of tricks. If you play MMORPGs, you’ve probably heard of the concept of “Crowd Control“. It’s basically the ability to render someone or something useless. And that’s what we did. With the snow slowing them down, we decided to use our smoke and T-Aug to further negate the 2nd Janissary forces positioned in the south. And let me say, it worked like a charm. I didn’t even know how awesome smoke from LRM 10s are. They produce a 1 hex area (7 total hexes) of heavy smoke for 5 turns. Being able to block LOS on demand is huge. So huge in face, we’ve since decided to nerf LRM & SRM delivered smoke because of it’s potency.
The other major factor was our deployment selection. By deploying to the north and west, we took away some of their heaviest and slowest assets, the Demolishers and Myrmidons. Between deployment and smoke, I don’t think the Demolishers shot more than once and they did so with horrrible numbers. Additionally, our flanking forces of the Puma, Men Shen, Enforcer III and T-Bolt were just enough to penetrate their flanking forces and help sweep down on top of their gun line. I was really proud of the team work and planning of the Hexare Grenadiers to win a scenario that was, in my opinion, weighted against us.
Overall, it was a great mission. I lost a custom Hellspawn, but other than that, we have the Taku No Pillager heavily damaged and the Bethlen’s Irregulars’ Men Shen with two gyro hits. Besides that, we had only moderate damage to any of our other assets. For the 2nd Janissaries, we will be able to salvage the Thunder and Griffin which lost heads. The Victor, Enforcer, Warhammer, and Maelstrom from side torso damage. The Pillager and JagarMech from surrender, as well as Myrmidon and 2 Demolishers. Additionally, we will be able to get some spare parts from the Stringer, the 4 Bulldogs, the crashed VTOLs, and my Hellspawn. All in all, we should be pulling in a great haul from this one.
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