3D Printed Clan Ghost Bear Medallion

3D printing is growing both in the areas of industry and as a hobby. Many tabletop gaming players dream of getting a 3D printer and printing up all the models they’ve always wanted.

While that may be possible for some, most 3D printing hobbyists can’t afford to by the level of printer that it takes to print models for games like BattleTech. Most of the 3D printers available to consumers are not suited for that kind of detailed printing. That’s not to say that these printers aren’t capable of some amazing things, but usually models in the BattleTech game scale are not something they can handle.

So what kinds of things can consumer level 3D printers do? In the roughly six months that I’ve been into the 3D printing hobby, I’ve printed some pretty cool stuff. Statues, terrain, Pokemon, and more. There are a ton of things to do with a 3D printer if you take the time to learn how they work. I don’t know near everything about 3D printing, and I’m having a great time with it.

This dwarf statue is but one example of what you can make with a 3D printer.

This dwarf statue is but one example of what you can make with a 3D printer.

A couple of weeks ago, I was browsing through Thingiverse, which is an amazing website full of free 3D printable files that creators have uploaded to the website to share with the community.

As I was browsing I found the page of creator LordNova2 who had shared a couple of really cool MechWarrior and BattleTech related designs. Among those designs was a Clan Ghost Bear medallion. Being a Ghost Bear at heart, I had to download it right away.

And then, I completely forgot about it, until a few nights ago.

One of my 3D printers (I have two) had just come off a big project I was working on, and I decided to print something fun. I thought I would share the process that followed my decision.

  1. I loaded the Clan Ghost Bear .STL file into my slicing program, Simplify3D and prepared it for print.
CGBSimplify1

A slicing program takes a 3D image and loads into an environment where it can be manipulated, checked, and prepared for printing.

CGBSimplify2

The print preview shows things like the lines and layers that the printer will use to print the object as well as estimated print time and even filament cost if the information is provided.

  1. I transferred the print file onto an SD card and loaded it up on my Wanhao Duplicator i3 printer.
IMG_20160501_104744

This is my trusty Wanhao i3. It’s logged over 27 days of print time in the four months that I’ve had it. It’s a workhorse and very reliable.

  1. I came back two hours to find this waiting for me.
The 3D printed Clan Ghost Bear medallion was waiting for me.

The 3D printed Clan Ghost Bear medallion was waiting for me.

  1. After some time spent cleaning off excess filament and freeing the medallion from its raft, I sprayed on some Army Painted Ultramarine Blue primer and basecoat.

3D printing tip: I used some sandpaper on the bottom side of the medallion to smooth it out a bit after clipping off the raft section. It is possible to print without a raft to avoid this step, but I didn’t want to risk the medallion warping.

It went from blue to, um, blue-er.

It went from blue to, um, blue-er.

  1. After the primer dried, I sat down at my paint station, and it took just about two hours with my Anita’s Acrylic paints from Hobby Lobby (More on that at a later time. I think I’m going to be switching my paint to Folk Art soon.) to get the Clan Ghost Bear logo ready for varnish.
Despite the painting not taking long, I started late in the day, so it was even later in the day (maybe it was the next day?) when I finished.

Despite the painting not taking long, I started late in the day, so it was even later in the day (maybe it was the next day?) when I finished.

  1. After that, I hit the whole thing with some matte varnish and let it sit overnight.

Ta da!

Time to go invade something.

Time to go invade something.

This project was fun and took relatively little time, about 5 hours total, including print time.

I highly recommend 3D printing as a hobby for many reasons, as I have found it rewarding and time well spent. It is a challenging hobby, but is also full of fun and treasures (that you can print!).

If you have any questions about 3D printing or about the Ghost Bear medallion, feel free to post them in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

A Year of Alpha Strike – 2016 Leader Board, Week 6

My local group is partaking in a year-long Leader Board for 2016.

Week 6 of the 2016 season kicked off Quarter 2, as players met on Saturday, April 16 for another round of quick and bloody ‘Mech action.

Four players descended on the battlefield that day, including a new player who sported the colors of Clan Sea Fox.

The Forces

Due to the nature of this Week’s scenario, players had the option of bringing two rosters, one for Attack and one for Defense. Not everyone did so, but the option was there.

Clan Sea Fox

Our new player, representing Clan Sea Fox, came prepared for battle with a force of OmniMechs that showed off what a front line Clan force should look like.

Over a Star of Clan Sea Fox OmniMechs descended on the League.

Over a Star of Clan Sea Fox OmniMechs descended on the League.

Attacking and Defending – PV: 300

  • Dire Wolf A – Skill: 1
  • Black Hawk A – Skill: 3
  • Fire Moth B – Skill: 3
  • Fire Moth B – Skill: 3
  • Gargoyle A – Skill: 3
  • Mongrel A – Skill: 3
  • Mist Lynx B – Skill: 3

Clan Snow Raven

The Snow Raven forces showed up heavy and ready to deliver the pain.

Clan Snow Raven's defending force.

Clan Snow Raven’s defending force.

Defending Force – PV: 300

  • Omen – Skill: 1
  • Deimos Prime – Skill: 2
  • Stormcrow Prime – Skill: 3
  • Mad Dog Prime – Skill: 3
  • Mad Dog D – Skill: 3
Clan Snow Raven attacking force.

Clan Snow Raven attacking force.

Attacking Force – PV: 300

  • Mad Dog Prime – Skill: 2
  • Stormcrow Prime – Skill: 2
  • Linebacker D – Skill: 3
  • Ebon Jaguar D – Skill: 3
  • Timber Wolf  D – Skill: 3
  • Bashkir E – Skill: 3

Riley’s Raiders (Mercenaries)

The Raiders conducted their operations this week with a C3 computer network to aide them.

Riley's Raiders prepare to take the field.

Riley’s Raiders prepare to take the field.

Defending Force – PV: 300

  • BLR-K3 BattleMaster – Skill: 4
  • LGB-13NAIS Longbow – Skill: 4
  • TDR-10M Thunderbolt (Ilyena) – Skill: 4
  • WHD-10CT Warhammer – Skill: 4
  • BHKU-O Black Hawk-KU (Albert) – Skill: 4
  • ARC-9K Archer – Skill: 4
  • PXH-8CS Phoenix Hawk – Skill: 4

Attacking Force – PV: 300

  • BLR-K3 BattleMaster – Skill: 4
  • LGB-13NAIS Longbow – Skill: 3
  • WHD-10CT Warhammer – Skill: 3
  • WVR-8C Wolverine – Skill: 4
  • Koshi Standard – Skill: 4
  • TDR-9Nr Thunderbolt – Skill: 4

Clan Ghost Bear

Usually preferring to defend, Clan Ghost Bear still showed up with an attacking force that hit like lightning.

Clan Ghost Bear's defending force.

Clan Ghost Bear’s defending force.

Defending Force – PV: 300

  • Kodiak 2 – Skill: 2
  • Bruin – Skill: 2
  • Arcas – Skill: 3
  • Grizzly – Skill: 3
  • Ursus II – Skill: 3
Clan Ghost Bear's attacking force.

Clan Ghost Bear’s attacking force.

Attacking Force – PV: 300

  • Fire Moth B – Skill: 3
  • Fire Moth B – Skill: 3
  • Fire Moth F – Skill: 3
  • Fire Moth F – Skill: 3
  • Fire Moth F – Skill: 3
  • Ursus 3 – Skill: 3
  • Ursus 3 – Skill: 3
  • Gnome Battle Armor (Standard) (Squad 5) – Skill: 3
  • Gnome Battle Armor (Standard) (Squad 5) – Skill: 3
  • Gnome Battle Armor (Standard) (Squad 5) – Skill: 3
  • Gnome Battle Armor (Standard) (Squad 5) – Skill: 3
  • Gnome Battle Armor (Standard) (Squad 5) – Skill: 3

The Scenario

Supply Run

In this scenario, a desperate Attacker force must wrest three supply stores away from an entrenched Defender force. Both sides have attempted to scout out their opponents, and the stage is set. All Standard Alpha Strike rules (except any that pertain to artillery) are in effect, in addition to any other rules specifically mentioned in the scenario below.

Set Up: Begin by placing three (3) Objective Hexes 6” outside of the Defender’s Deployment Zone, with the left and right Hexes 6″ from each board side edge. The middle Hex is placed between the other two, equidistant from each. Deployment Zones for both the Attacker and the Defender extend 10” from their respective board edges.

Both players roll 2D6, with the winner of the roll choosing who will be the Attacker and Defender. Both players then take their assigned side of the board.

Determine which force has the higher Battlefield Intelligence (BI) score at this time.

Deployment and Turn 1: The Defender has the Initiative for Turn 1. Both the Attacker and Defender deploy their forces in their respective Deployment Zones following Initiative order (Attacker placement, then Defender placement) and with respect to any applications of the Hidden Units and Area Knowledge rules.

The Defender always has the ability to deploy Hidden Units, but may be restricted if the Attacker has a superior BI score. If the Defender has the higher BI score, then the Defender may deploy Hidden Units anywhere on the field, except in the Attacker’s Deployment Zone. If the Attacker has the higher BI score, then the Defender can only deploy Hidden Units up to halfway across the map from the Defender’s board edge. As per the Area Knowledge rules, if the Attacker has the higher BI score, then the Attacker may deploy Hidden Units up to halfway across the board from the Attacker’s board edge.

Roll for Initiative as normal beginning with Turn 2.

Game Time: Each game lasts for 90 minutes of clock time, starting with the roll to determine who will be Attacker and Defender.

Victory Conditions: Beginning in the End Phase of Turn 3, the Attacker may claim an Objective Victory by controlling all three Objective Hexes.

To control an Objective Hex, the Attacker must have a unit in base-to-base contact with an Objective Hex while no Defender units are in base-to-base contact with that Objective Hex.

The Defender can win an Objective Victory by destroying 75% of the Attacker’s force before the game ends while also preventing the Attacker from achieving a Scenario Victory.

If the game reaches Time before either side has won an Objective Victory, then Kill Scoring will be used to determine a winner.

Special Rules: The following rules will be in effect for this scenario.

  • Hidden Units (Alpha Strike, page 102)
  • Battlefield Intelligence, minus Artillery Rules (Alpha Strike, pgs. 82-83)
  • Kill Scoring (Alpha Strike Companion, page 159)
  • Objective Hexes: These structures are considered terrain for the purposes of granting a Partial Cover bonus but do not otherwise block LOS. Units cannot pass through Objective Hexes.

The Rounds

Here I have to apologize. I only grabbed a few pictures of the battles, and even then only in the final Round of the day.

Round 1

Clan Ghost Bear (Attacker) vs Riley’s Raiders (Defender)

Unfortunately for the Raiders, this game ended very quickly with the Clan Ghost Bear forces snagging a swift Objective Victory in Turn 3. The Raider’s set up defensive positions near the objectives with good overwatch and fire lanes, but the multiple Fire Moths with their accompanying Battle Armor proved to be too difficult to shoot off of the objectives.

Clan Sea Fox (Attacker) vs Clan Snow Raven (Defender)

The traditional enmity between these two Clans found a familiar hold as the Sea Foxes invaded the Snow Ravens’ territory. Clan Snow Raven fought bitterly to the last man, ultimately succumbing to the fury of the attacking Sea Foxes. Clan Sea Fox won a default Scenario Victory by eliminating all of the Clan Snow Raven’s units.

The fields of battle, all set for the day's destruction.

The fields of battle, all set for the day’s destruction.

Round 2

Clan Sea Fox (Attackers) vs Clan Ghost Bear (Defenders)

The Ghost Bear defenders took early losses, losing the Bruin in Turn 1 and the Kodiak in Turn 3. The remaining Ghost Bears fought on, however, taking advantage of the units’ jump jets, slowly but surely grinding down the Sea Fox attackers. In the final turns of the game, Clan Ghost Bear took out the last Sea Fox `Mech that was needed for a Defender Objective Victory.

Riley’s Raiders (Attackers) vs Clan Snow Raven (Defenders)

The Raiders went on the offensive for Round 2, this time trying their luck with Clan Snow Raven. This proved to be more fruitful for the Raiders, as the mercenaries are able to push the Snow Ravens back and eventually lock down the Objective Victory.

Round 3

Riley’s Raiders (Attackers) vs Clan Sea Fox (Defenders)

In what was the bloodiest fight of the entire day, Clan Sea Fox mounted a heroic defense against the C3 equipped mercenaries. The fight bogged down to a slugfest, with neither side giving tactical ground to the other. Eventually, Clan Sea Fox came out on the top of the grind game, delivering the kill shot to the Raider’s final BattleMech and claiming a Defender’s Objective Victory.

Clan Snow Raven (Attackers) vs Clan Ghost Bear (Defenders)

The Snow Ravens exercised a controlled and measured approach to the battle, focusing on taking out the Ghost Bear threats in order, one at a time. Meanwhile, the Ghost Bear defenders picked off units as they could, including the aerospace fighter (but not before the fighter finished off the Bruin). In the final, furious Turns of the game, a lone Ghost Bear Grizzly held the line against a Snow Raven Mad Dog, a Sotrmcrow, and a Linebacker. A single hit from the Grizzly on either the Linebacker or the Stormcrow would have meat victory for Clan Ghost Bear, but that was not to be. Time ran out, and victory in the match was awarded via Kill Scoring to Clan Snow Raven.

One of the few shots capturing the day's action. Clan Ghost Bear fails its final roll to take out a Clan Snow Raven `Mech.

One of the few shots capturing the day’s action. Clan Ghost Bear fails its final roll to take out a Clan Snow Raven `Mech.

The Results

We were certainly glad to welcome a new player to the group, and he certainly showed up to play, with painted models even!

Clan Ghost Bear suffered its first defeat of the 2016 season, bringing the five Week undefeated streak to an end. Clan Ghost Bear is still a force to be reckoned with within the league, however, but with the new blood that has recently been added, I would expect things to be shaken up a bit more in the near future.

FactionGames PlayedWinsLossesTies*Win %Scenario Victories*Scenario Victory %*Kill Score*Units Painted
Clan Ghost Bear12101187.50%650.00%2790
Clan Sea Fox321066.67%266.67%650
Clan Jade Falcon954055.56%444.44%2180
Draconis Combine211050.00%00.00%440
Mercenaries /       Clan Sea Fox935138.89%333.33%1540
Clan Snow Raven835037.50%112.50%1930
Wolf’s Dragoons622033.33%116.67%810
House Davion10100.00%00.00%250
5th Sword of Light30300.00%00.00%330

Parting Thoughts

Week 7 of the 2016 season is scheduled to be fought on Saturday, April 30.

Moving into Quarter 2, especially as the league looks like it will be adding new players, we will need to look at what the year long average of games played might look like in order to set a baseline for determining top performers at the end of the year.

I see the cut line as kind of a playoffs, of sorts. Most definitely, the deciding factor will be total games played. Right now, the average number of games played is about 6.

If you are interested in learning more about BattleTech: Alpha Strike, check out the Quick Start Rules from Catalyst Game Labs, here.

A Year of Alpha Strike – 2016 Leader Board, Week 5

My local group is partaking in a year-long Leader Board for 2016. In cased you missed earlier Weeks, here’s Weeks OneTwoThree, and Four.

Week 5 for the Leader Board Season was the last Saturday game for the 1st Quarter of the year, and we decided to cap off the accomplishment with a Mega Battle!

The lines were drawn between Inner Sphere and Clan, and we all met on Saturday, March 12 to determine which side would reign as Quarter 1 Champions.

The Teams

Each side brought 900PV, split evenly between the players on each side.

Continue reading

A Year of Alpha Strike – 2016 Leader Board, Week 4

My local group is partaking in a year-long Leader Board for 2016. In cased you missed it, here’s Weeks OneTwo, and Three.

Real life travel has delayed the Week Four report until now, and as such much of my memory of the Week 4 games has faded. I do, however, have army lists and the game results, so I will try to fill in the details the best I am able.

Week 4 of the 2016 Leader Board Season was played on Thursday, February 18.

The Lists

Clan Sea Fox

A wild Clan Sea Fox Star has appeared!

A wild Clan Sea Fox Star has appeared!

The Mercenary player decided to shake things up a bit and introduce a new force. The rules of the Leader Board do not prevent this, so he took to the field with a Grand Summoner, a Karhu, a Mad Cat Mk III, a Cave Lion, and a Tiburon. All units were at Skill: 3.

Draconis Combine

The 5th Sword of Light prepares to make its mark on the league.

The 5th Sword of Light prepares to make its mark on the league.

One of the new-to-the-game players from Week 2 was back in the fray, and played a force from the 5th Sword of Light. The force consisted of an Atlas, Grand Dragon, Cyclops, Panther, Jenner, and a Grasshopper. I believe all units were at Skill: 3.

Clan Jade Falcon

Clan Jade Falcon is ready to strike.

Clan Jade Falcon is ready to strike.

The Jade Falcon force featured a strong BattleMech presence with just a dash of Cizin cruising around the battlefield. The `Mech part of the force contained two Gyrfalcons, one Adder, one Fire Falcon, and a Jade Hawk. All units were at Skill: 3.

Wolf’s Dragoons

For Wolf's Dragoons, consistency is the hallmark of success.

For Wolf’s Dragoons, consistency is the hallmark of success.

The Dragoons made a small change to their line-up this week, sticking with what they know. A Skill: 2 Nova accompanied by a Skill: 4 Commando, and a Mad Dog, Battlemaster, Hellbringer, and Hunchback all at Skill: 3.

Clan Ghost Bear

A lack of heavy and assault `Mechs did not blunt Clan Ghost Bear's fury.

A lack of heavy and assault `Mechs did not blunt Clan Ghost Bear’s fury.

The Ghost Bears fielded a Striker Star this week with three Anhur Transports for air support. The Striker Star consisted of a Clint IIC 2, a BEO-12 Beowulf, a Beowulf IIC, a Solitaire, and an Ursus 2. The Clint IIC was Skill: 1, the Solitaire was Skill: 2, the rest of the `Mechs were Skill: 3, and the transports were Skill: 4.

The Scenario

This one was a unique new scenario.

  • Each side began the game with a damaged, shut down Timber Wolf Prime and three repair vehicles. The Timber Wolves began the game on opposite sides of the board, halfway between the deployment zones of the two sides.
  • Each Timber Wolf began the game with all Critical Bubbles filled in, but no other damage. Basically, they were useless.
  • The Repair Vehicles had to get into base-to-base contact with the damaged `Mechs in order to repair one Critical System during the End Phase of a Turn.
  • A Scenario Victory was awarded to the first player who successfully retreated his Timber Wolf off of his deployment zone board edge.
  • A new Repair Vehicle enters from a player’s home board edge each Turn after one on the board has been destroyed.
  • Each Timber Wolf was able to activate and move 2″ per Turn, until they were repaired, beginning on Turn 2.
  • As always, games are limited to 90 minutes.

This one was a wild ride, I gotta say. Between having to protect your repair vehicles on their approach and repair turn, to harassing your opponent’s vehicles, one wrong move, and it would all be lost.

The Games

Round 0

The Clan Sea Fox and Clan Ghost Bear players met for a game earlier in the day because the Sea Fox player would not be able to attend the session later that night. This game was brutal, and at the end of 90 minutes, neither player had earned a Scenario Victory, and the Kill Score was dead even, at four BattleMechs each. The result was ruled a Tie.

Round 1

Later that evening, the Ghost Bear, Jade Falcon, Dragoons, and Combine players met for two Rounds of games.

Clan Jade Falcon and Clan Ghost Bear squared off first, and both players launched all-out attacks at the Repair Vehicles, attempting to blunt the other force’s attempts to repair their respective Timber Wolves. The battle was intense, and it went to time. At the end of 90 minutes, no Scenario Victory was achieved, and Clan Ghost Bear was declared the victor with a Kill Score of 23 to 20.

Wolf’s Dragoons and the 5th Sword of Light attempted to maneuver each other into vulnerable positions, but neither side fell for the traps set by the other. In the end, the Dragoons slugged it out and were able to kill several Combine BattleMechs in the closing minutes of the 90 minute game. No Scenario Victory was achieved, and Wolf’s Dragoons were declared the victor with a Kill Score of 20 to 5.

The city fighting made line-of-sight difficult.

The city fighting made line-of-sight difficult.

Round 2

Round 2 found the Draconis Combine fighting Clan Jade Falcon. The nimble and hard-hitting Falcons proved to be too much for the 5th Sword of Light to handle in the end, and the Jade Falcons were able to slip away with their Timber Wolf while exacting a heavy toll on the Combine troops. Scenario Victory to Clan Jade Falcon with a Kill Score of 20 to 18.

Wolf’s Dragoons attempted to blunt the Ghost Bear onslaught, but it proved for naught. The Ghost Bears assaulted with abandon, leaving their own repair vehicles and Timber Wolf completely unprotected. The gambit worked, as the Dragoons paid more attention to stopping the Clanner attack than to preventing them from achieving their objective. Clan Ghost Bear claimed a swift Scenario Victory and a Kill Score of 10 to 10.

Neither Clan ceded an inch to the other when the Ghost Bears and Jade Falcons engaged.

Neither Clan ceded an inch to the other when the Ghost Bears and Jade Falcons engaged.

The Standings

After two months of gaming, Week 4 leaves us with a clear picture of a few things.

First, nobody is painting stuff! I know, I’m included in this. We’re just not getting around to it. I hope that changes soon.

We were so close to seeing the Clan Ghost Bear juggernaut fall this week! A Tie, however, is not a Loss, so the Ghost Bears remain undefeated. There are still a lot of games left to be played this year, far more than have already been played, but right now Clan Ghost Bear is sitting very nicely at the top with the Clan Jade Falcon and Clan Sea Fox/Mercenary players not as far behind as the standings might suggest.

Also, it looks like the House Davion player will finally be jumping into the fray! He’s confirmed for Week 5, so maybe he can shake things up as the Weeks progress.

FactionGames PlayedWinsLossesTies*Win %Scenario Victories*Scenario Victory %*Kill Score*Units Painted
Clan Snow Raven413025.00%00.00%650
House Davion0000#DIV/0!0#DIV/0!00
Mercenaries / Clan Sea Fox522150.00%240.00%690
Clan Jade Falcon844050.00%337.50%1550
Clan Ghost Bear870193.75%337.50%1710
Wolf’s Dragoons622033.33%116.67%810
5th Sword of Light30300.00%00.00%330
Draconis Combine211050.00%00.00%440

*Note about the Standings. We went with a kind of NHL style formula for Ties, with a Tie counting as half of a Win for the purposes of calculating the Win%. We thought it was pointless to make a Tie hurt your Win% column just as much as Loss.

Week 5 of the 2016 Leader Board Season is scheduled to be played on Saturday, March 12, and will be the 1st Quarter Mega Battle!

If you are interested in learning more about BattleTech: Alpha Strike, check out the Quick Start Rules from Catalyst Game Labs, here.

NASCAR-Inspired Solaris Campaign

I have a serious love/hate relationship with Wikipedia!  When I read an article that intrigues me, and it links to something else I want to check out, I will start reading and I don’t realize that an hour and a half has just passed until I come up for air.  I can start on something innocent, like reading about reviews of a recent movie that’s released, and wind up finishing in an article about the Treaty of Versailles or String Theory.

Having grown up in West Virginia, everyone around me loved NASCAR.   I never got it.  You are

Not Solaris VII, But Similar Enough to Inspire Me

driving around in a circle for a few hours.  That’s not really something that appeals to me.  Why would I want to watch that?  Who cares?  Even with NASCAR being the second most watched sport in America right now, it’s still not my thing, and I doubt it ever will be.  I’m not a NASCAR guy.

So I’ve never really understood the world behind NASCAR.  But then I read that wikipedia article, and 77 minutes later, a lot of things changed.  I saw just how closely a lot of the NASCAR teams and companies really dovetail with a lot of the fluff on Solaris VII.  I grew inspired by it, and now I’m looking to try out a new S7 campaign with some ideas from NASCAR to flesh out the stable system a little more.

What do I like about it?  Let’s take a look!

Continue reading

A Year of Alpha Strike – 2016 Leader Board, Week 3

My local group is partaking in a year-long Leader Board for 2016. In cased you missed it, here’s Weeks One and Two

Week Three of the 2016 Leader Board Season was playing on Saturday, February 6. Clans Jade Falcon, Ghost Bear, and Snow Raven were represented, along with Wolf’s Dragoons, Draconis Combine, and Mercenaries.

The Armies

Yay! I got shots of all of the armies this time!

Clan Snow Raven2016-02-06 17.02.29A carbon copy of the Snow Raven list used in Week 2, the CSR player wanted to gain more understanding of the list in the hopes of mastering the rules and tactics involved in the combined arms force. The Mad Dog and Linebacker were both Skill: 2 with all other units at Skill: 3.

Draconis Combine

2016-02-06 16.59.06

Slightly photo-bombed by Jade Falcon tanks, the Draconis Combine player was a new addition to the Leader Board group and asked if he could use his figures from MechWarrior AoD. Fortunately, Alpha Strike can accommodate this with some slight attention to some of the rules, and we were glad to have him along for the day. The Marauder was Skill:1. The Thor II was Skill: 2. The Shockwave and Centurion were both Skill: 3, and the Blade and the Uller were both Skill: 4.

Edit: I originally had wrong information for the Draconis Combine list. It has been fixed. 

Clan Ghost Bear

2016-02-06 17.01.15

Clan Ghost Bear once more showed up with a suspicious lack of Battle Armor, despite all the OmniMechs. All units were at Skill: 3. The hammer and anvil approach is almost over done in this list.

Wolf’s Dragoons

2016-02-06 17.00.45

Wolf’s Dragoons showed up with a characteristically mixed force of BattleMechs, in both IS and Clan tech. Units were mixed Skill: 3 and Skill: 2.

Clan Jade Falcon

2016-02-06 16.59.12

The Jade Falcons came into Week 3 with one of the most unique lists we’ve seen yet. Using only a single BattleMech, the tanks and aerospace assets were a surprising handful for all opponents. All units were at Skill: 3.

Mercenaries

2016-02-06 17.01.28

Riley’s Raiders were sporting some fancy tech this week. The Battlemaster was a special variant with two C3 Master computers in it, and the Thunderbolt had another Master. The rest of the unit all had C3 Slaves. All units were at Skill: 4.

 

The Games

We ran three tables for Week 3.

We ran three tables for Week 3.

Disclaimer on Pictures – Yeah, for some reason I mostly only got pics of my games. Sorry for not having a visual for every game. 

Week 3’s scenario was a modified version of King of Hill.

To win, a player had to capture 3 Objective Points by controlling the center objective, with no enemy units contesting, during the End Phase of a turn. Scoring began in the End Phase of Turn 3. The first player to 3 OPs wins. If at the end of 90 mins, no player has reached 3 OPs, then the player with the most OPs wins. If nobody has any OPs, then the game is a tie.

Round 1

Wolf’s Dragoons vs Clan Jade Falcon

These two enemies faced off again in Week 3, and the fighting was fierce. The Jade Falcon Shrike served its purpose and attracted the majority of the Wolf’s Dragoons’ aggression. This ruse worked out well for Clan Jade Falcon, who was able to secure a quick Objective Victory in a few short turns. The harassment of the tanks combined with the Shrike‘s stubborn refusal to die easily, though eventually it did, combined to frustrate Wolf’s Dragoons just enough for Clan Jade Falcon to grab the win.

Clans Ghost Bear and Snow Raven prepare to engage.

Clans Ghost Bear and Snow Raven prepare to engage.

Clan Ghost Bear vs Clan Snow Raven

One of the most tactical games all day, Clans Ghost Bear and Snow Raven fought bitterly over the objective for the whole 90 minutes of Round 1. The losses on both sides were fairly even, with neither side gaining an advantage. On the final turn, just as the 90 min timer ran out, Clan Ghost Bear managed to remove the last Snow Raven unit from the objective and gained a single Objective Point. It was a win, but either side could have claimed victory with slightly different dice rolls.

Riley's Raiders mercenary company attempts to hold off an intimidating Draconis Combine assault.

Riley’s Raiders mercenary company attempts to hold off an intimidating Draconis Combine assault.

Draconis Combine vs Riley’s Raiders (Mercenaries)

A bitter contest, the two forces clashed and bashed into each other, but Riley’s Raiders were still getting used to their new C3 equipment. Despite putting up a valiant fight, the mercenaries were eventually turned back and shoved off the objective, enabling the Draconis Combine to secure a win as the round timer ran out. Only two of the Draconis Combine `Mechs fell during the conflict, while a single mercenary made it out to tell the tale.

Round 2

Clan Ghost Bear vs Wolf’s Dragoons

In one of the bloodiest matches of the day, Clan Ghost Bear and Wolf’s Dragoons tore into one another with complete abandon. The scenario appeared to be non-existent as the two sides went one-for-one in the early turns for kills. By the end, only two `Mechs on each side remained. The final turn was especially exciting, as the Dragoons Black Hawk found itself against two remaining Ghost Bear Fire Moths. The Black Hawk annihilated one of the remaining Fire Moths, but it was overcome by massed fire and succumbed to death by a thousand little lasers, leaving one Clan Ghost Bear Fire Moth as the lone survivor of a bloody and metal mangled battlefield.

The battle between Wolf's Dragoons and Clan Ghost Bear comes down to just a few units.

The battle between Wolf’s Dragoons and Clan Ghost Bear comes down to just a few units.

Clan Jade Falcon vs Riley’s Raiders (Mercenaries)

Unlike the Ghost Bear and Dragoons game, this game was all about the scenario, to the point that the final dice roll decided who got an Objective Victory. The Jade Falcon forces’ mobility helped keep alive against a deadly and accurate C3 network that the Clan forces did not have the ability to disrupt in any way. Eventually, Riley’s Raiders won out control of the objective, and Clan Jade Falcon failed a bombing run to take out the Battlemaster, enabling the mercenaries to get full points for an Objective Victory.

Clan Snow Raven made excellent tactical use of its Sylph Battle Armor throughout the day.

Clan Snow Raven made excellent tactical use of its Sylph Battle Armor throughout the day.

Clan Snow Raven vs Draconis Combine

I have to admit that I know the least about what happened in this game. I do know that the Snow Raven player had a tremendously horrible run of dice rolls that allowed the Draconis Combine to gain an early lead as far as kills and control of the board. However, Clan Snow Raven fought back against really bad odds and managed to scrape a win out of it. The Draconis Combine player was really shocked at how quickly the game turned around on him, and Clan Snow Raven picked up its first win of the season.

The Standings

Leaving Week 3 behind, the standings are starting to show signs of some trends. Scenario Victories are difficult to come by, and only one player stands undefeated.

Also, nobody has yet submitted painted units for the season. I hope this column starts showing some signs of competition soon.

FactionGames PlayedWinsLossesTies*Win %Scenario Victories*Scenario Victory %*Kill Score*Units Painted
Clan Snow Raven413025.00%00.00%650
House Davion0000#DIV/0!0#DIV/0!00
Mercenaries422050.00%250.00%490
Clan Jade Falcon633050.00%233.33%1150
Clan Ghost Bear5500100.00%240.00%1180
Wolf’s Dragoons411025.00%125.00%510
Undecided10100.00%00.00%100
Draconis Combine211050.00%00.00%440

Week 4 of the 2016 Leader Board Season will be fought on Thursday, February 18.

If you are interested in learning more about BattleTech: Alpha Strike, check out the Quick Start Rules from Catalyst Game Labs, here.

 

 

 

 

MMNet Concludes Campaign and Announces Major Changes

Yay Mechs!

Yay Mechs!

On January 31st, the various electors that are running the current MegaMekNet Campaign announced that it will be concluding soon.  The Free Worlds League has won, and a new cycle will begin on March 1st.  In the wake of the victory, several major announcements were made to increase the value of the campaign in the future.  (MegaMekNet is an online campaign played through various shareware programs, you can download and check out)

The various members of the winning faction, as long as they had enough games to qualify, are going to win units for the next campaign, randomly pulled from a special reward unit list.  This is the first time that the winning faction for one campaign gets rewards for the next one, no matter whether they remain Marik or not.

Meanwhile, the way victory is determined will shift in the future.  Previously, one faction usually won when they assaulted and captured the capital of an enemy.   This has always created an inequity in the game as those states with a smaller path the capital (like the Capellan Confederation) are easier to defeat.  Meanwhile, it becomes pretty easy to know when one faction has “virtually” won and it’s hard to fight against that momentum.  Sometimes players won’t continue to invest time, sweat, blood, and metal in the campaign if it won’t change the outcome.

So how is the online campaign going to shift?  The goal won’t be to take capitals, but a new slate of “Victory Planets” that are placed on the borders.  All you have to do is to capture a net of these worlds from various fronts, and once you do, then you win.  Not only will this balance the books,  not only will it keep the campaign in flux, but it also will allow the campaign to better resemble the main line BattleTech wars.  Most wars and conflicts were ended by one side taking some key border planets from the other that were fought over.  So the resulting changes will give players the  ability to fight for border worlds that makes a campaign more dynamic as well as getting rewards for winning for the next one.

That’s a pretty spicy set of changes.  March 1st will be a good time to check it out and try the new campaign.  Check out their thread post for more info.

Well….It’s Here! Interstellar Operations

Vaporware no longer

After a long-delayed schedule, and having been announced years ago, Interstellar Operations released January 28, 2016.  The book contains almost 400 pages of rules from various angles, from generating a star system and planets to detailed information on playing in different eras of the BattleTech universe.

Many of the rules systems were released some time ago for playtesting and feedback from the community while the book itself was in Beta for around 6 months.  That’s given us a long time to get a chance to try out various rules systems and to give them a go in our campaigns.  Now the finished product is here.

I’ll be most looking forward to giving the Abstract Combat System (ACS) a serious run now that it’s been released.  This is a system designed to make playing very large scale multi-unit and multi-regiment battles feasible and to quickly resolve them.  I never really got a chance to try them out too much in Beta, so I want to see how the rules might have changed and then give them a full shakedown this weekend to see how they play out.

We now have a lot of alternative ways to play, from Alpha Strike and BattleForce to ACS and Inner Sphere at War.  We always had some systems before in these alternate books, but I don’t recall them seeing a lot of play anywhere that I was playing BattleTech, so I’ll b interested in seeing if they get a lot of play, or if they are just too many systems to understand.  I want to try out ACS, so we’ll see how that works out.

What are you most interested in trying out?  Is there anything you really liked from the Beta?  What’s your playgroup excited about?

A Year of Alpha Strike – 2016 Leader Board, Week 2

My local group is partaking in a year-long Leader Board for 2016. In cased you missed it, here’s Week One

Week 2 of the 2016 Leader Board Season was played on the evening of Thursday, January 21. The Jade Falcon, Snow Raven, Wolf’s Dragoons, and Ghost Bear players were able to make it. Additionally, we had two players play in their first intro game that night, with one of those guys even picking up a list and playing a Leader Board game after two people had to leave!

Huzzah for new recruits!

The Lists

I was a little better about lists this week, but still not good enough. The Wolf’s Dragoons player managed to get away without me getting a picture of his force, so his list will be to the best of my memory.

Clan Jade Falcon

Nothing like a nice, full Star of Clan OmniMechs to wreck someone in the...wait, is that a Turkina?!!!

Nothing like a nice, full Star of Clan OmniMechs to wreck someone in the…wait, is that a Turkina?!!!

Two of the Jade Falcon `Mechs, the Turkina and the Flamberge, were at Skill: 2, while the rest of the force was at Skill: 3. This force was fast and jumpy. It can pretty much always be where it wants to be, when it wants to be there.

Clan Snow Raven

This Clan Snow Raven force is well-rounded and swift.

This Clan Snow Raven force is well-rounded and swift.

The Mad Dog and Linebacker were both at Skill: 2. All other units were at Skill: 3. A massively dangerous Aerospace fighter, the Kirghiz has the potential to deliver a killing blow to just about any unit in the game. Oh, and side note, nothing is more annoying that Battle Armor that can fly by you and drop bombs.

Wolf’s Dragoons

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Wolf’s Dragoons hit the field with seven (7) BattleMechs of mixed Inner Sphere and Clan manufacture. It was a generalist list that managed to have everyone at Skill: 3.

Clan Ghost Bear

What, no Kodiak? I thought you guys were Ghost Bears.

What, no Kodiak? I thought you guys were Ghost Bears.

The Bruin and Arcas were both at Skill: 2. The SolitaireArcas 3, and Beowulf IIC were at Skill: 3. This list is very similar to the Jade Falcon list, fast and mobile. The differences between the Bruin and the Turkina allowed the Ghost Bears to have beefier heavy `Mechs.

New Blood

One of our new players jumped into the fray right after his Intro Game, and he loved the game right away. We think he’s going to keep coming back. His list was based off of my Draconis Combine intro unit, which was expanded to 250 PV with supplementary Mechs from the group for his game against Wolf’s Dragoons.

The Games

Week 2’s scenario was one of simple point control. Two 6″ diameter objective zones were established in the center of the board, 12″ apart. To score, there must be no enemy units contesting the zone during the end phase of a turn, and each player scores objective points equal to the PV of the units controlling the point. First side to 150 objective points wins. Scoring begins at the end of Turn 3.

Round 1

Wolf’s Dragoons vs Clan Jade Falcon

Disaster struck early for Wolf’s Dragoons as its Vulture found itself in the sights of the Turkina on Turn 1. A roll to hit, succeeded, and one vaporized Vulture. The early hit to morale proved too much for Wolf’s Dragoons, and Clan Jade Falcon continued to pummel the mercenaries, grabbing a swift and decisive early Objective Win.

Clan Snow Raven vs Clan Ghost Bear

The Ghost Bears deployed aggressively, hoping to bully the relatively lighter Snow Raven force from the first moment. The fighting over the control points was brutal, with the Snow Raven plan betted everything on bombing the smaller Ghost Bear BattleMechs off the board. Several bombs missed their mark, however, and only caused superficial damage to the Ghost Bears, who pushed the Snow Ravens off of the objectives and claimed a strong Objective Win.

Wolf's Dragoons prepare to counterattack against the advancing 5th Sword of Light.

Wolf’s Dragoons prepare to counterattack against the advancing 5th Sword of Light.

Intro Game Time!

The two new players played out their Intro Game concurrent to Round 1. One side had a Lance from the 15th Avalon Hussars, while the other side had a Lance from the 5th Sword of Light. Good ol’ Davion vs Kurita match. For some reason, I did not write down who won, but neither player really cared. They both jumped into the game and found it incredibly easy to pick up and play.

Round 2

One of the Intro players and the Snow Raven player had to leave after Round 1, so the other Intro player was outfitted with reinforcements for his 5th Sword of Light, and the battles commenced.

Wolf’s Dragoons vs 5th Sword of Light

The 5th Sword of Light deployed its Daishi just a little too far out in the open, and Wolf’s Dragoons decided to punish the new player for his mistake. With their heaviest hitter out of the fight so early, the 5th Sword of Light rallied and pushed back, contesting the control zones to the very last man. In the end, Wolf’s Dragoons triumphed by destroying just enough of the 5th Sword to claim an Objective Win.

Clan Jade Falcon vs Clan Ghost Bear

Showing no fear of the Turkina, the Ghost Bears went right after the menacing Assault Mech on the first turn, with the <em>Bruin</em> landing a devastating blow on the heavier BattleMech. However, the Ghost Bears paid the price for their aggression, losing the <em>Bruin</em> on Turn 1 for an instant 4 v 5 situation. The fates battled back and forth for the rest of the game, with the Ghost Bears relying on the stalwart nature of the two <em>Arcas</em> BattleMechs. In the end, the Jade Falcons could not stand up to the Ghost Bears' repeated all-out assaults, and the final roll (Double Ghost Bears!) to take out the last Jade FalconMech is memorialized in the picture below. Clan Ghost Bear claimed the Win.

The Flamberge did manage to kill the Solitaire with its dying breath.

The Flamberge did manage to kill the Solitaire with its dying breath.

End of Day Results – 

Moving into Week 3, which is tentatively scheduled for either the first or second Saturday in February, the standings are still anybody’s to take. We have only played a handful to games so far, so fortunes could shift at any moment.

FactionGames PlayedWinsLossesTies*Win %Scenario Victories*Scenario Victory %*Kill Score*Units Painted
Clan Snow Raven20200.00%00.00%200
House Davion0000#DIV/0!0#DIV/0!00
Mercenaries211050.00%150.00%220
Clan Jade Falcon422050.00%125.00%750
Clan Ghost Bear3300100.00%266.67%720
Wolf’s Dragoons211050.00%150.00%150
Undecided10100.00%00.00%100

My personal goal for Weeks 3 and 4 is to start getting numbers up in the Units Painted category.

So that’s it for Week 2 of the 2016 Leader Board Season. Week 3 commences on Saturday, February 6.

Has your group talked about starting something like this? Need any advice, tips, or ideas? Use the comments section to tell me about what you’re up to, and let’s see how many groups can get their own Leader Board going for 2016!

Want to know more about BattleTech: Alpha Strike? You can pick up the free Quick Start PDF at the Catalyst Game Labs website

A Year of Alpha Strike – The 2016 Leader Board, Week 1

This year, my local BattleTech group is trying out something new. Instead of just simply getting together for games once in a while, we decided that we wanted to make our games count for something.

The collaborative effort that came out of our many emails on the topic birthed the 2016 Leader Board Season.

We decided that the group would be able to meet 1-2 times a month between two locations, and that each player who wants to participate in the Leader Board should concentrate on a specific faction for the whole of the season. In this way, it feels a bit like a relaxed league that tracks a few more stats than just wins and losses.

Ghost Bear forces advance on the mercenary position.

Ghost Bear forces advance on the mercenary position.

The Stats

And speaking of those stats, let’s go over what all we’re tracking and why.

Games Played, Wins, and Losses – The basic stats, from which most of the other stats will be derived. Beyond being a rough estimate of who wins most often, it pretty much just shows which of us show up most often.

Win % – One of the four primary stats we are tracking. It’s not about how often you play, it’s about how often you win when you do play. This is one of the stats that will award a trophy to the highest scorer at the end of the 2016 season, also granting to the recipient the title, “The Victor.”

Scenario Victory % – This stat is important for any group that wants to get beyond the “line up and kill each other” style of game play. Each time we meet for a Leader Board round of games, a scenario that includes alternate win conditions to just killing the enemy will be selected ahead of time. While it will always be possible to win through the Forced Withdrawal rule and by wiping your opponent’s forces off the board, adding in scenario objectives adds a tactical level to the games that we all decided would be a good thing and add to the depth of play. The winner of this trophy also gets the title, “The Tactician.”

Clan Jade Falcon and Clan Snow Raven forces clash.

Clan Jade Falcon and Clan Snow Raven forces clash.

Kill Score – Using the Basic Kill Scoring Table, found on page 159 of Alpha Strike: Companion, we will also be tracking how much sheer damage and destruction is caused over the course of the season. The winner of this trophy will earn the title, “The Destroyer.”

Units Painted – The hobby side of the aspect is an important facet to the game, and we wanted the Leader Board to reflect that. As the only non-game dependent stat, we felt it was important to track and honor the hobby efforts of the group as we grow our armies and progress throughout the year. The winner of this trophy will earn the title, “The Maker.”

We still have to have a little discussion about the requirements for winning some of the awards in order to set a minimum number of games that have to be played in order to qualify. This ensures that we are all kept honest and don’t sit on a good stat halfway through the year, mitigating the risk of falling in the rankings.

Truthfully, I do not fear that anyone in the group would do this, but it’s still a good idea to have rules like that in place.

Week 1 Report

Week 1 took place on Saturday, January 16. Four of us were able to make it, and a total of three games were played due to one of us having to leave early. I remembered to snap a few pictures of the games, something at which I need to get better. Our Week 1 scenario was a basic scenario that was outlined in the Alpha Strike book that included two objective markers on each side of the board, with each side attempting to capture the objectives on the opposite side.

For now, all games are at 250 PV. The only restriction we have placed on force rosters is that each force can only have a maximum of two (2) units at Skill: 2 and a maximum of one (1) unit at Skill: 1, with the total maximum number of units at either Skill: 1 or Skill: 2 capped at two (2) units.

The Lists –

I don’t have the rosters for all four of us, something I might fix in future Leader Board reports, but I’ll briefly explain the lists used below.

Mercenaries – The Merc player went with a “quantity over quality” approach and fielded two full Lances of BattleMechs all at Skill: 4. The force overall stressed maneuverability, with half or more of the units sporting jump jets.

Clan Snow Raven – This force was the only one of the day with an Aerospace presence, in the form of one heavy fighter. The ground force was a full Star of Medium weight OmniMechs, all of at least Striker speed. All units were Skill: 3.

Clan Jade Falcon – The Jade Falcon force was a full Star of BattleMechs, featuring several Omni designs, that ranged from Medium to Assault. The force overall was sturdy, packing a huge heavy hitter in its Turkina Assault OmniMech, and had several jump capable units. The force featured mixed Skill: 3 and Skill: 2 units.

Clan Ghost Bear – The Ghost Bears fielded a speedy, combined arms list that featured 5 Fire Moth OmniMechs all carrying Gnome Battle Armor, supported by a lone Solitaire BattleMech. Speed and rapid redeployment, as well as swift objective capture were the main tactics of this force. The force featured mixed Skill: 3 and Skill: 2 units.

End of Day Results –

In the first two games, Clan Ghost Bear won a Scenario Victory by running circles around the Mercenaries, only losing a total of one `Mech and one Battle Armor squad all game while reducing the mercenary force to two BattleMechs. Clan Jade Falcon achieved a board wipe against Clan Snow Raven, even eliminating the Snow Raven Aerospace support when it came onto the board for a run.

The mercenaries move on an objective as Clan Ghost Bear rapidly redeploys to counter.

The mercenaries move on an objective as Clan Ghost Bear rapidly redeploys to counter.

The Snow Raven player had to leave early, so the Ghost Bear player only got one game in. In their second game, the Jade Falcon and Mercenary players slugged it out with both sides taking losses. In the end, the Mercenaries won out by numbers and achieved a Scenario Victory.

Below is the 2016 Leader Board as it now stands, heading into Week 2, which is scheduled to take place this Thursday, January 21. The errors currently displaying on the spreadsheet are due to lack of data for the formulas to compute. Two of our group could not make it to Week 1, so as they get in games, the spreadsheet will begin to look more complete.

FactionGames PlayedWinsLossesTies*Win %Scenario Victories*Scenario Victory %*Kill Score*Units Painted
Clan Snow Raven10100.00%0#DIV/0!150
House Davion0000#DIV/0!0#DIV/0!00
Mercenaries211050.00%1100.00%220
Clan Jade Falcon211050.00%00.00%500
Clan Ghost Bear1100100.00%1100.00%300
Wolf’s Dragoons0000#DIV/0!0#DIV/0!00

 

So what is your group doing for BattleTech and/or Alpha Strike this year? Perhaps you would like to take the 2016 Leader Board idea and adapt it to suit your own local group. Feel free to do so, and do let me know how it goes if you do!

Stay tuned for more 2016 Leader Board Weekly Reports as we dive into the year.