The Hexare Grenaiders make their way to Warlock, the home of the vaunted Warlock Fusiliers to face off with the St. Ives 2nd Janissaries along side the CCAF. We’ve been assigned to a handful of mission, including establishing an Arrow IV support fire base, run a feint for a CCAF strike, battle over a Home Guad supply depot, and stop an advance of Janissaries and AFFS forces through the Witchs’ Peak mountains.
The first mission in the series of four has the Hexare Grenadiers escorting the Lords of the Night’s Arrow IV Demolishers to a defendable ridge line. That was, until a typical Warlock blizzard struck, bogging them down. As they neared the hill, a 2nd Janissary patrol stumbled into the Hexare Grenadiers, leading to the scenario: The Warlock’s Kiss.
Longbow 12C, Blackjack BJ2-0D, Helios 3D, Phoenix Hawk 4L, Cossack C-3K1, Ostroc OSR-4L, Marauder MAD-5L, Victor 10L, Warhammer 4L, Emperor 6A, 2 Ajax Primes, 2 Po LB-X variants, 2 Condor Liao variants, 2 J. Edgars
Due to the fact that Warlock is the home of the Warlock Grenadiers, all Hexare Grenadiers units get a +1 initiative bonus.
For this mission, the following rules were being used from TacOps:
Blizzard (Strong Gale)
Temperature -50 degrees Celsius
In sum, all vehicles have -2 MP, every hex costs an additional MP to move (effectively halving MPs). All weapons suffer a +1 penalty to hit, with an additional +1 penalty for ballistics and +2 penalty for missiles. Every movement requires a bog-down check and if you fail, you can’t move. If you jump, you’re automatically bogged down. Bogged down means your opponents get a -2 bonus to hit you. Effectively, the game is slowed and it’s a lot harder to hit, unless someone bogs down right in front of you.
Due to the heavy movement penalties, we decided to use the Boreal Reach Solaris 7 Arena map. Myself and Ken (the commander of Bethlens’ Irregulars) were tabbed to OpFor this mission. We played long-ways, making the map a longer, more narrow battlefield. We divy up our forces, with me commanding most of the lighter units, while Ken (a Lyran at heart) took the heavier assets. Ken set up in the middle, I deployed on the north and south with my faster assets. They setup clustered in the center of their map, looking run the valley to close on our higher ground.
As the OpFor, we have the high ground and know they need to take it from us. They have ASF support, meaning they have less ground forces. Additionally, half of their forces are fast jumpers. The other half were slower land-bound ‘Mechs. We figured, by maintain decent distance, we could stretch them out and kill them piece-meal.
Turn 1 – As usual, and especially in a blizzard, the first turn was pretty lackluster. They move forward full-tilt. We move forward cautiously, focusing on getting into good partial cover locations and getting good fire arcs. They don’t have great numbers on us, but we have a few fair shots and land an ER PPC and a few LRMs, but nothing substantial. They launch Arrow IV homing to land next turn.
Turn 2 – We hold with most units, advancing our tanks which are stuck moving 1 hex at a time due to snow. They jump forward with their jumpers and trudge the rest of their ‘Mechs forward as fast as possible. They fail to TAG, so we’re safe for the time being from the devastating Arrow IV barrage.
The Taku-No Penetrator and Griffin had jumped behind partial cover, but were also bogged down, which made for some good targets. Ken focused down on the Penetrator, clustering most of his shots on the torso, going internal on the center and touching off the AMS ammo, destroying it. My forces focus on the Griffin, through armor critting out the ER PPC and knocking it down. On the southern flank we have some hovertank on hovertank hate. The end result is that I effectively immobilize the Minion with my J. Edgars.
Turn 3 – The 2nd Janissaries knock out the Musketeer, which had failed to TAG again. Some fire was exchanged by the two side, but resulted in only moderate damage. The Lightnings queue up for a carpet bombing run, aiming down on the Condors, a Po, and an Ajax, but had plenty of other targets near the bombing line. The bombs landed on the Condors, a Po, an Ajax, the Warhammer, Victor, and Marauder. Since the bombing run was made at altitude 10, we only hit one of the Lightnings, damaging the avionics.
The direct damage of the inferno bombs was not incredible. The Condors were knocked out of commission by the inferno crits maiming their engines. The Po and Ajax both suffered minimal crits. However, it wasn’t the actual damage that messed up the Janissaries, it was the subsequent heavy smoke that was blowing across half of our defensive parameter breaking our LOS. Anticipating the smoke, they gave up on homing Arrow IV’s and start lobbing cluster rounds at our forces in the smoke.
Turn 4 – The inferno bombs’ secondary effect was massive smoke that clogged up our LOS. Each inferno bomb creates heavy smoke, which ordinarily isn’t that bad. However, when you’re fighting in gale force winds, the smoke starts moving 2 hexes a turn. The meant that the southwest area of the map was basically screwed over, which cut our Ajaxs’ LOS off for at least 5 turns, cutting our firepower for multiple turns. We started moving our ‘Mechs north, looking to get start getting targets again next turn.
We take a little damage of splash cluster damage, which started on the head of the Blackjack, which was later finished off via a cockpit crit in the firing phase by the combined fire of the Hexare Grenadiers, who had begun to concentrate fire on the easiest of targets. The Cossack popped out of the smoke to finish the Minion but was subsequently eviscerated by a Wraith and Hatchetman on the southern side of the map.
Turn 5 – The smoke continues to spread, clogging up LOS on the southern edge of the Janissaries deployment zone. The Lightnings lined up to strike the Longbow, which had planted behind cover to rain LRMs down. The Lightnings successfully TAG’ed the Longbow, which ate 1 Arrow IV homing (only fired 2 homing and 2 cluster, one homing failed to lock on). The Longbow ravaged the lead Lightning, which failed it’s control roll and crashed into the ground. The Ajaxs and Po’s each targeted the other two Lightnings. They managed to knock another one out of the sky and damage the avionics on the third. The Lightnings failed to land any meaningful shots on the Longbow.
Turn 6 – We continue to move north with a majority of our forces, clearing the smoke. My Helios and the J. Edgar are still hanging on the edge of the smoke in the south side of the map, while sending the 2nd J. Edgar north. The cluster rounds batter us, splashing damage all over our heavies, one even landing directly on the Warhammer. Our Ostroc attempted to DFA the Clint, ultimately succeeding and knocking it off a level 3 high hill. We combined fire on the Phoenix Hawk 3PL, knocking its gyro out and knocking it down. They send their entire company’s worth of fire into the Emperor, finally touching off its’ ammo in the RT. The Janissaries began to open up the Awesome 9M.
Turn 7 – My northern J. Edgar harasses the fallen PHX-3PL, critting a leg to go along with the gyro crit. The Wraith jumped behind the Janissaries’ Longbow, tearing into the rear armor and kicking it in the head, forcing it to fall causing a leg crit. My Helios popped out of the smoke to fire down on the Hatchetman, ripping it up, but failing to bring it down. The Warhammer, Marauder, Longbow, and Victor combined fire on the Awesome 9M, tearing off a side torso and popping another engine crit in the center torso. With the Janissaries’ Emperor down, the mercenaries started in on the Warhammer, which amazingly stood standing under the combined fire of the remaining Grenadier ‘Mechs.
Turn 8 – Our tanks start emerging from the smoke this turn, bringing with them some fresh armor and heavy guns. Their artillery backfires a bit, hitting the Caesar from behind, critting out its MASC and a DHS. This turn we’re within the Demolisher’s 17 hex direct fire range. They bombarded us with another salvo of direct fire cluster rounds, centered on the Warhammer, which in combination from the fire of the rest of the Hexare Grenadiers’ ‘Mechs is nearly obliterated. On the south edge of the map, I start to threaten their on-board artillery by the Helios, wounding one of the Demolishers, making an Arrow IV launcher malfunction for a turn.
Turn 9 – I break my Phoenix Hawk from formation, sending it along the northern edge of the map to help bring it’s weapons to bear on the Demolishers. The Janissaries continue to move their tanks out of the smoke, bringing fresh armor and some heavy guns to bear. Down South, the J. Edgar rushes towards the Demolishers and the Helios hangs back in the smoke to continue blasting at the Demolishers.
The brutal turn begins with the Janissaries’ P. Hawk takes out the damaged Clint due to side torso loss. The Demolishers direct fire their Arrow IV, letting the cluster rounds head cap the Marauders. Most of the Janissaries focus down on the Zeus, destroying and torso and critting another engine slot to finish it off. The Hunchback, which had been protecting the Grenadiers from the Victory is brutalized by the Victor, suffer heavy damage and a leg crit.
Turn 10 – This turn sees the Janissaries encircling the main thrust of the Grenadiers, with the Ostroc and Phoenix Hawk rushing the Demolishers from the northern side of the map and a J. Edgar and the Helios, which subsequently bogs down making itself a huge target. The Janissaries’ tanks finally clear the smoke, bringing their fearsome arsenal to bear. One of the Wraiths (a 3/3 pilot) DFA’s the Phoenix Hawk.
The Helios targets the other Wraith, blowing its leg off. Since it was missing an arm, it was mission killed. The J. Edgar immobilizes one of the Demolishers before getting destroyed. The Janissaries focus fire on the Awesome 10KM which stays standing for the time being, until it is kicked by the Victor. The Victor takes a double tap from the Hunchback, busting up both of it’s side torsos. The Helios is gunned down, its left leg and left torso chopped off. The Wraith succeeds in DFA’ing the Phoenix Hawk, critting up the center torso, damaging the engine and gyro. The Ostroc kicks the immobile Demolisher, finishing it off.
Turn 11 – The jumping Wraith, which had severely damaged both the Longbow and P. Hawk, jumps near the Helios to finish it off. The Victor jumps back into the smoke to let its stealth armor and Gauss go to work. The Helios unloads its sole SRM 6 on the Wraith, dishing out 2 engine crits in return for a medium laser shot. The Victor cores out the Hatchetman with a vicious Gauss shot. The P. Hawk, which opted to stay laying down, and the Ostroc continue to beat on the 2nd Demolisher. The Janissaries’ tanks and Longbow continue to beat on the Awesome, going internal in multiple locations.
Turn 12 – As the turn begins, the 2nd Janissaries call out on comms, offering up a cease fire, allowing the Hexare Grenadiers to extract their damaged ‘Mechs, pilots and crews in whatever they can carry but must turn back from the hill. Both sides are banged up pretty bad. The forces stand as thus:
2nd Janissaries: 2 Po Tanks (undamaged), 1 Ajax (undamaged), 1 Ajax (minor damage), Longbow (heavy damage, leg crit, but hull down on partial cover), Ostroc (heavy damage, exposed CT), Helios (critical damage, missing leg and side torso), Phoenix Hawk (critical damage, engine and gyro)
Hexare Grenadiers: Wraith (critical damage, 2 engine crits, side torso exposed), Demolisher (moderate damage), Awesome 10KM (heavy damage, multiple locations breached), Griffin (moderate damage, leg crit, ER PPC critted), Hunchback (moderate damage, leg crit), Caesar (moderate damage, MASC critted)
Ultimately, the 2nd Janissaries held the advantage, in both the high ground and more undamaged units. Using their better judgment, despite wanted to stay and fight it out, they took the Janissaries offer and withdrew, taking most of their own crippled ‘Mech with them.
This was definitely one of the most brutal battles so far in the campaign. The weather effects definitely made the game much more interesting in how useful different unit choices perform. Ultimately, the 2nd Janissaries had a sizable advantage in the form of the high ground and more ground units, since the Grenadiers brought ASFs to support their ground forces. And due to the defensibility of their terrain, were able to stretch the Grenadier’s out, allowing them to focus fire more consistently, where the Grenadiers were still jockeying different units for shots.
The momentum shifted back and forth nearly every turn, making it one of the most interesting slugfests we’ve had. The effectiveness of the direct firing Arrow IV’s really kept the Hexare Grenadiers forces in the game. Without that threat, the Blackjack, Warhammer, and Marauder would have lasted longer, during the odds to the 2nd Janissaries favor earlier in the game.
Another surprising, yet effective tactics was the use of inferno bombs, which did some moderate damage, killing off the two Condors. But it wasn’t the damage, so much as the heavy smoke that denied the 2nd Janissaries full LOS from their initial defensive positions and ultimately reduced the usefulness of the Ajaxes and one of the Po’s from turn 4-8, cutting out a big chuck of the Janissaries’ firepower.
The Lightnings, scary as they are, were not very useful in the blizzard conditions and with green pilots. Their biggest mistake was their angle of approach when striking the Longbow, which put their paths too close to the Ajaxes and Po that were stuck in the smoke with no better targets to shoot at. Had the smoke not negated all other options, they may not have been targeted them, improving their survivability.
It was definitely a game filled with learning, most of which will be happily applied to the next three missions on Warlock. Jumping was very effective for moving quickly, but also made you a fairly easy target due to the automatic bog down at the end of a jump. So jumping to close the gap is smart, but close range jumping is to be used sparingly, and only to get back-shots and escape enemy LOS. Vehicles are extremely neutered in snow and cold temperatures, suffering movement penalties from both. Surprisingly, even hover tanks suffer +1 MP per hex penalty for snow, even though they can hover over it, rendering hovers very ineffective. Inferno bombs create some excellent cover with their creation of heavy smoke and direct firing cluster Arrow IVs is extremely deadly, with 10 damage off of 1 hex splash, it can really tear up ‘Mechs and vehicles.
Next up is a mission called “The Cauldron of Ice” and will feature the Hexare Grenadiers attempting to cross a semi-frozen river at night. All indications are that there will be no snowfall, but night rules will be in effect.
As always, feel free to comment or join the discussion at http://ourbattletech.com/forum/mission-reports-analysis-and-discussion/.