Author Archives: Fishbreath

The Opinionated Bastards: Nashira (Apr. 14, 3051)

Planetary Assault

traveling

The Opinionated Bastards load into actual battle DropShips this time, paid for by the Federated Commonwealth. Ordinarily, we’d mothball the mechs and get them back in order when we’re on-world, then pocket the difference in transit costs. For a planetary assault, however, we decide to leave everything in fighting trim. It helps that Nashira, our destination, is only two jumps away; travel still costs about 1.3 million C-bills.

The Draconis Combine defenders don’t oppose the landing, and the Bastards quickly set up a field base. Since this is a full-on planetary assault, we have some access to the Federated Commonwealth supply system, which means we can actually buy just about everything required to keep our mechs in factory shape.

Elsewhere in the Inner Sphere, the Clans haven’t made much further progress since last I checked. The attacks have come in waves before. Perhaps they’re consolidating for another push.

situation

Kill Board(s)

No changes to report, except that I rearranged the killboard to actually correctly order pilots by kills. (Ties are broken by mech kills. I suppose I could further break ties by weight of mech kills, but that’s a lot of work.)

All-Time Leaders

  1. Lieutenant “Rook” Ishikawa (15, 4 mechs)
  2. Captain “Drake” Halit (8, 3 mechs)
  3. Private “Carcer” Ngo (6, 2 mechs)
  4. Lieutenant “Linebuster” Atkinson (5)
  5. Lieutenant “Double Dog” Dare (4, 1 mech)
  6. Private Cathrine “Severe” Payne (2, 2 mechs)
  7. Private “Euchre” Kojic (2, 2 mechs)
  8. Private “Ker-Ker” Ec (2, 1 mech)
  9. Private “Teddy Bear” Jamil (2, 1 mech)
  10. Sergeant “Milspec” Ortega (2)
  11. Private “Wojtek” Frajtov (1, 1 mech)
  12. Private “Woad” Kohler (1, 1 mech)
  13. Private Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel (1, 1 mech)

Status

It is now April 14, 3051.

Recruitment

On the journey over, former House Kurita mechwarrior Xue-Min Que joins us. Though a seasoned veteran, she currently lacks a mech.

que

Contract Status

Heavy Lance has a battle upcoming, a breakthrough attack against two mixed lances of Draconis Combine Mustered Militia, plus a reinforcing lance of vehicles. Medium Lance joins them for extra firepower.

Finances

We now have 12,808,564 C-bills in the bank. Monthly payout on this job is 2.834 million C-bills. Note that full battle loss compensation is a pretty sweet deal—as long as pilots don’t die, we’ll be well-placed financially to replace equipment losses.

Unit Market

Speaking of, now that we have a fourteenth pilot, we should look into a mech. The following mechs and vehicles are available on the unit market.

units

MechWarrior Claims and Assignments

  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit (Mephansteras)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson (Hasek10)
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa (Culise)
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare (a1s)
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega (milspec)
    • Pvt. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler (A Thing)
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic (EuchreJack)
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne (Burnt Pies)
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec “Frankenstein” (Kanil)
    • Pvt. Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel (Hanzoku)
    • Pvt. Ik-jun “Wojtek” Frajtov (Blaze)
    • Pvt. Tedros “Teddy Bear” Jamil (Knave)
    • Pvt. Damayanti “Carcer” Ngo (Dorsidwarf)
  • The following mechwarriors are available.
    • Pvt. Xue-Min Que

Action Items

  • Do we want to buy a mech?

Lastly, a final note: I’m closing on a house in less than a week and moving in less than two, so this is likely going to be the last update until mid-February.

Fishbreath Flies: DCS AV-8B NA Harrier Review

Let’s talk weird, floaty planes.

Floatiness (more technically, and henceforth, V/STOL, vertical/short takeoff and landing) has long been a desired trait in warplanes. As far back as the Convair XFY Pogo, a helicopter in airplane’s clothing, designers have seen the advantages in a plane that can land nearly anywhere. The Pogo, however, served to demonstrate some flaws with the plan: namely, that a hovering plane is hard to fly1.

The idea languished for a bit. Like all useful ideas, it didn’t stay down for long. The Harrier was born from this second wave of V/STOL aircraft; it was made possible by a stonking great engine.

The stonking great engine, the Bristol-Siddeley (and later Rolls-Royce) Pegasus, is a fascinating piece of equipment but probably a topic for another day. For now, suffice it to say that the thrust vectoring is built in, the compressor stages rotate in opposite directions to reduce gyroscopic effects, and the limiting factor for power—turbine blade temperature—can be temporarily exceeded by means of a water injection system2. Some sources will tell you the Harrier’s engine is mounted in the fuselage. This is misleading. In a very real sense, the engine is the fuselage, with a little bit of plating to cover it up. Look at a Harrier from the front. You’ll see half of the fan on either side.

Over the years, variants accumulated, as they do for successful airframes. The Americans bought in, and the AV-8 and Harrier GR. number lines separated slightly, in terms of avionics and equipment. As an American and, less importantly but more pertinently, a DCS-based flight simmer, I’m most concerned with the AV-8B, and most specifically, the DCS AV-8B Night Attack variant by Razbam.

The AV-8B entered service with the US Marine Corps in 1985, and was followed quickly by the Night Attack model in 1989. Both versions feature modern glass cockpits, but the Night Attack (N/A going forward) has a few intriguing extra features. Color MFDs, for one3; a color moving map page, too. The HUD is wider, and there’s a FLIR system in the nose. That about covers the built-in night attack capability. Later, it was properly wired for the LITENING pod; the IR-capable LITENING can cue the attack systems for more range than the Mk. I Eyeball (NVGs and FLIR out the HUD) permits.

Weapons-wise, the N/A Harrier4 carries nearly every ground-attack munition in the modern American inventory; dumb bombs, rockets, Mavericks, and guided bombs of every shape, size, and guidance technique make an appearance. So also does the AGM-122 Sidearm, a sadly-out-of-production weapon which mates an anti-radar seeker to a Sidewinder body. It’s a useful self-defense system for aircraft which can’t carry the HARM (like the Harrier), or aircraft whose primary mission is not SEAD.

How is it to fly? Well, it ranges from extremely peppy (loaded light) to rather piggish (with lots of stores hanging off of the wings). One of the obvious-in-hindsight traits of a VTOL aircraft is that it must, in at least some configurations, have an engine thrust greater than their weight5. I never thought of the Harrier as a particularly good performer, but my familiarization flights have certainly changed my mind. It reaches its top speed with surprising and gratifying alacrity with the throttles forward, and maneuvers like you’d expect from what is, when you get right down to it, a very small plane. Carrying a full load—31,000 pounds—the Harrier is much less exciting. Rolls become sluggish, as do all maneuvers; then again, it isn’t hard to understand why. The Harrier’s maximum rolling takeoff weight is about two and a half times its empty weight. No small, fun aircraft can survive that kind of load.

And now for the moment of truth: is it worth buying? Razbam have done an excellent job with the flight modeling, as far as I can tell. The Harrier performs believably, and landing vertically is as much a challenge as you might expect, especially if you’re trying to hit a point on the ground. Helicopter sim experience, like I have, is helpful but not a panacea. To some extent, the Harrier takes unique skills.

As seems to be the case for DCS planes in 2017 and 2018, the Harrier is currently unfinished. The basic flight modeling is there, as are dumb weapons, Mavericks, the built-in targeting systems, and a limited targeting pod implementation, but much remains to be done. Early access aircraft are here, I’m sad to say. If that doesn’t bother you terribly much (knowing that this is DCS, legendarily buggy, whose best-working releases tend to be the most recent releases), I’d say you can’t go wrong buying it. The Harrier is one of the best planes to date.

If, on the other hand, you want a full manual and a fully implemented plane, you should wait. The price goes up at release, but not by very much. If you want a dynamic campaign, well, you’re probably just going to have to wait. Bafflingly, a campaign engine is still not on the DCS radar, despite being an obvious killer app for the platform. The DCS world is growing faster and faster nowadays; the third parties can keep up the aircraft release pace, but eventually the number of planes available is going to exceed the capacity of mission designers to make interesting things to do with them. A campaign is, going forward, a must.

But I digress. The Harrier is a good module, and well worth the purchase if you’re interested in the plane even a little. Thumbs up from me.


  1. Especially one which lands on its tail. Flying into a vertical climb, then looking over your shoulder to locate your landing spot, is not a great design. 
  2. As all engine nerds will tell you, any engine is instantly made much cooler6 when water injection is added. 
  3. For night-vision compatibility, the color is primarily green. 
  4. And its sibling, the AV-8B Plus. The Plus ditches the late-70s Dual-Mode Tracker (read: 6x TV camera and laser spot tracker) in the nose, and replaces it with an old-time F/A-18C-era radar. It can sling AMRAAMs. 
  5. The F-35B is a curious counterexample. For a direct comparison, let’s look at aircraft sans payload plus 4,000 pounds of internal fuel. We’ll use maximum rated dry thrust, with some caveats7. Late-model AV-8B Harrier IIs have an empty weight of just under 14,000 pounds, for about 18,000 pounds with our fuel requirements. (4,000 pounds is somewhat over half of the Harrier’s fuel capacity.) The empty F-35B weighs in at more than twice as much, nearly 32,500lb empty and 36,500lb with fuel. The Harrier’s engine generates 23,500 pounds of thrust, but can only do so for a very short time. Knocking ten percent off for sustained power still leaves it north of 21,000 pounds; the remaining three thousand pounds between thrust and weight easily fits a pair each of Sidewinders and AMRAAMs, or a full fuel load. The F-35B engine, on the other hand, makes only 25,000 pounds dry. The lift fan makes up the difference in vertical flight modes. 
  6. I swear I didn’t notice this pun until after I wrote it. 
  7. The Harrier can’t sustain its maximum thrust rating for very long. There are lift thrust ratings at up to 120% nominal RPM, which the engine control unit won’t allow outside of VTOL configuration. Combat power is 111% nominal RPM. 

The Opinionated Bastards: Piedmont (Mar. 19, 3051)

Homeward Bound Again

The Opinionated Bastards pack up and head home from Propus, celebrating the New Year on the way through Sichuan. We’ve all survived 3050, and the company is in better shape now than when we started. 3051 looks bright.

You may recall that Propus was a long way from Piedmont. We keep an eye out for interesting contracts on the way home, but none present themselves.

Arriving on Piedmont, the mechanics get the mechs out of mothballs, training resumes, and the minor damage which accumulated on Propus is finally fixed. Woad‘s Grasshopper has its last jump jet back, and Ker-Ker‘s Frankenstein Lancelot once again has a large laser.

The techs put Double-Dog‘s new Thunderbolt into the repair bay, then spend some time digging through factory plans and archives. Veteran mech tech Kepano Endo finds something interesting in the public records of the Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery…

endo

Late in the Third Succession War, the Draconis Combine invaded Galtor III, led by the Bremond Draconis Mustered Militia. That unit’s commander, Mary Tallman, had a customized Thunderbolt TDR-5S, retaining the large laser but ditching all the other weapons in exchange for eight medium lasers, four in each side torso. The remaining weight and space was filled with heat sinks.

thunderbolt

This seems like just the thing for money-conscious mercenaries such as ourselves. It takes a few weeks, but soon the

Status

It is now March 19, 3051.

Finances

We have 9,559,943 C-bils in the bank. Training and other expenses run to about 145,000 C-bils per month.

Training

Among others, Rook improves her gunnery to 1+. Her piloting remains at 3+.

The green pilots have all improved somewhat over the course of the last few months. Euchre and Woad are a mere few battles away from joining the ranks of the regulars, and Wojtek is only a little behind them.

Owing to her superb performance over the contract at Propus, Carcer Ngo has been promoted to Corporal.

Organization

Current lance rosters:

  • Heavy Lance (275t)
    • Captain Drake Halit, Awesome AWS-8Q
    • Lieutenant SG Rook Ishikawa, Flashman FLS-7K
    • Corporal Carcer Ngo, Crab CRB-20
    • Private Woad Kohler, Grasshopper GHR-5H
  • Medium Lance (190t)
    • Lieutenant JG Double Dog Dare, Thunderbolt TDR-5S-T
    • Sergeant Milspec Ortega, Phoenix Hawk PHX-1
    • Private Ker-Ker Ec, Lancelot LNC25-02 “Frankenstein”
    • Private Severe Payne, Locust (Custom, 3 medium lasers)
  • Cadre Lance (275t)
    • Lieutenant SG Linebuster Atkinson, Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Private Hanzoku Yuksel, Guillotine GLT-4L
    • Private Euchre Kojic, Trebuchet TBT-5S
    • Private Wojtek Frajtov, Trebuchet TBT-5N
    • Private Teddy Bear Jamil, Vulcan VL-2T Custom

Spares

As far as big-ticket items go, we have two spare large lasers, one spare PPC, one two-ton gyro, and one three-ton gyro. We have a little short of 60 tons of armor; we’d probably want more going forward.

MechWarrior Claims and Assignments

  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit (Mephansteras)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson (Hasek10)
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa (Culise)
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare (a1s)
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega (milspec)
    • Pvt. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler (A Thing)
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic (EuchreJack)
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne (Burnt Pies)
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec “Frankenstein” (Kanil)
    • Pvt. Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel (Hanzoku)
    • Pvt. Ik-jun “Wojtek” Frajtov (Blaze)
    • Pvt. Tedros “Teddy Bear” Jamil (Knave)
    • Pvt. Damayanti “Carcer” Ngo (Dorsidwarf)
  • All mechwarriors are currently claimed. As the unit grows, there will be more mechwarriors to claim.

Schedule

It turns out that I will, in fact, be buying a house (or at least, it’s overwhelmingly likely that this will be the case). As such, I’ll have limited time to spend on BattleTech, what with the packing and things. I hope to stick to one post per week, but bear with me if the schedule slips. I’m not abandoning it or anything.

Action Items

Contracts Available

Contract time! Our options are…

  • The Federated Commonwealth wants us to participate in a Planetary Assault against the Draconis Combine. Though it may seem unwise to participate in an attack against the same government which controls our homeworld, such arrangements aren’t unheard of among mercenaries. There are rules to protect us. As far as the details go, we’d be traveling two jumps to Nashira. Command rights are liaison, which I believe means we would control the allied mech detailed to keep an eye on us. Transport costs are fully covered, we would get 60% salvage rights, and, most interestingly, we’d also get 100% battle loss compensation. The contract would last five months, ending in early September, and would net us approximately 17,525,000 C-bills.
  • The Draconis Combine wants to hire us for Garrison Duty on Darius, which is facing sporadic attacks from the Free Rasalhague Republic. I’m not sure how they find the time, given their current troubles with the Clan invasion, but such is life in the Inner Sphere. Darius is six jumps away. House command rights means we’d have to deal with a friendly AI unit. Transport costs are fully covered, salvage rights are 40%. We receive no battle loss compensation, but the Combine will cover 60% of our monthly operating costs. Garrison contracts always last a long time; this one is twenty-two months, ending in March of 3053. I believe we would have the option of taking side contracts during our garrison time; we’d also have access to good repair facilities and spare parts. Estimated profit over the nearly-two-years of time under contract is 52,650,000 C-bills.

We can also elect to take no contract and try again next month.

Long-Term Goals

  • Are we interested in hiring more pilots? As Rince Wind noted, a bigger table of organization and equipment yields fatter contracts, which translates to better equipment and bigger contracts. Another lance or two would also give us better depth, allowing us to stand up to longer contracts more readily even if we run our spare parts stock down.
    • If we are interested in expanding the company, I’ll keep an eye out for good pilots on the personnel market and hire at my discretion.

The Opinionated Bastards: Propus Part V (Dec. 1, 3050)

And we’re back!

The Action of November 21, 3050

001-map

Today’s terrain is wooded hills, a nice large map with room to maneuver.

Heavy Lance will deploy in the northeast corner, since the Flashman and Awesome aren’t due until Rounds 2 and 3.

Round 1

Private Ngo and Double Dog deploy in that northeast corner, behind some trees from the main body of the enemy. They begin to maneuver toward the enemy, still well out of range.

Round 2

002-deployed

Rook’s Flashman takes the field. The enemies are still out of range to the southwest.

003-out-of-range

Round 3

Drake arrives in the Awesome. He’s just barely out of range with his PPCs. The enemy, having initiative, manages to stay out of Ngo’s firing arc, too. Rook and Double Dog have shots, though; Double Dog cracks off a Large Laser shot at an enemy Pegasus, while Rook opens fire on an enemy light mech, a Raven.

Everyone misses everything, except for our brave ally in the Hermes; he cracks the Raven’s center torso.

Round 4

004-drake-in-range

Drake can hit from here; he aims for a Pegasus hover tank. The remainder of Heavy Lance, taking cover behind a convenient hill, has a shot on the same tank. In the hopes of removing it from the field, we focus our fire on it.

Round 5

005-jam

The friendly Hermes is suddenly in a bit of a jam. It seems likely it’s going to die now.

Heavy Lance is solidly in engagement range now. Drake has a solid shot at a Scimitar hovertank, and takes that in preference to a less-solid shot on the Raven. The remainder of Heavy Lance has a better shot on the Raven, and all three take it.

Drake immobilizes the Scimitar, which should make it easy prey going forward.

Round 6

006-round6

The friendly Hermes is now dead.

Cadre Lance will arrive before the next round.

This round, we’ll be working on the nearby Pegasus scout tanks; they carry SRM-6s, or what past experience leads me to call ‘mech-bane’. Drake and Ngo will shoot for the nearer one, while Rook and Double Dog go for the further one.

Ngo pads her tally with a kill on the nearest Pegasus, while Rook adds to her lead with the kill on the other.

Round 7

Cadre Lance arrives, and with its high speed is already close to the fight.

007-automatic

Drake aims for the Scimitar he immobilized; at this range against a stationary target, he’s automatic, a leisurely kill.

Ngo and Rook look to kill the last Pegasus, while Double Dog aims for the Scimitar hover tank directly in front of him.

Cadre Lance fires at what they can, but they’re still largely out of range.

As expected, Drake scores with all three PPCs on the immobilized Scimitar, punching through its armor with the first, cutting deep into its internal structure with the second, and scoring the kill with the third.

Ngo immobilizes the Pegasus, but Rook, everyone’s favorite glory hog, gets the kill.

Round 8

008-reinforcements

The enemy reinforcements arrive. At this stage, we’ve already won per the battle requirements, but once again, we’re in a sufficiently good position that I decide to fight it out. Drake, hidden from enemy fire by woodland, shoots at the only enemies he has a line on, a pair of Vedette medium tanks. Rook and Double Dog team up on the Scimitar in front of them.

Cadre Lance is still mostly out of range.

Round 9

Finally, Cadre Lance is mostly close enough to shoot. They, along with Heavy Lance, mainly engage the Raven. Drake and Ngo take aim at a Vedette and the currently-immobilized Scimitar, respectively.

Ngo and Teddy Bear are the only two to hit anything; Ngo finishes off the Scimitar, while Teddy Bear inflicts light damage on the Raven.

Round 10

The battle is truly joined now; not much movement occurs.

009-raven

Drake polishes off the Raven, Rook scores on a Vedette. Wojtek lands a 15-missile volley on a Bulldog medium tank, nearly destroying it; Milspec, however, lands the killshot, delivering the largest amount of damage I’ve seen yet.

damage

Cleanup

At this point, the enemy is scattered and nearly destroyed. Double Dog finishes off a heavily-damaged Scimitar which limped away from the battle early. Rook (of course) gets the Hetzer. Lastly, Severe scores a critical hit on the enemy Wasp’s SRM ammo, knocking it out.

Salvage, Repairs, Injuries

salvage

Drake is moderately wounded, and his Awesome will need a good bit of armor. No mechs took internal damage, and no other pilots got hurt. An easy victory.

Only the Raven is available for salvage, mech-wise; we take that, because it has medium lasers and armor.

We ransom five prisoners for 60,000 C-bills, and make a few thousand more in battle loss compensation.

Kill Board(s)

Rook continues to trounce all comers.

Last Mission

killboard

All-Time Leaders

  1. Lieutenant “Rook” Ishikawa (15, 4 mechs)
  2. Captain “Drake” Halit (8, 3 mechs)
  3. Private Ngo (6, 2 mechs)
  4. Lieutenant “Linebuster” Atkinson (5)
  5. Lieutenant “Double Dog” Dare (4, 1 mech)
  6. Private “Euchre” Kojic (2, 2 mechs)
  7. Private “Ker-Ker” Ec (2, 1 mech)
  8. Private “Teddy Bear” Jamil (2, 1 mech)
  9. Private “Wojtek” Frajtov (1, 1 mech)
  10. Private “Woad” Kohler (1, 1 mech)
  11. Private Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel (1, 1 mech)
  12. Private Cathrine “Severe” Payne (2, 2 mechs)
  13. Sergeant “Milspec” Ortega (2)

Status

It is now December 1, 3050.

Contract Status

After this month’s victories, the Capellan forces break and the contract is complete. Despite the general wimpiness of the Capellan armed forces, this was nevertheless a good test for the Opinionated Bastards. We fought at a very high tempo, and still managed to keep our unit in good fighting trim.

Finances

We have 11,361,817 C-bills in the bank. We’ll use a million or two to get home to Piedmont.

Unit Market

We purchased a Thunderbolt.

Organization

Woad gets his Grasshopper back, now that we have a replacement Thunderbolt for Double Dog. Lance tweaks to come.

Spares

Now that the contract is over, we arrange for the following spares from the Federated Commonwealth. (Their price is deducted from the finances note above.)

  • Three large lasers, one to replace the missing one on the Frankenstein Lancelot, and two to have in reserve.
  • One three-ton gyro.
  • One 70-ton jump jet to bring the Grasshopper up to a full complement.

MechWarrior Claims and Assignments

  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit, Awesome AWS-8Q (Mephansteras)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson, Lancelot LNC25-02 (Hasek10)
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa, Flashman FLS-7K (Culise)
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare, Grasshopper GHR-5H (a1s)
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega, Phoenix Hawk PHX-1 (milspec)
    • Pvt. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler, n/a (A Thing)
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic, Trebuchet TBT-5S (EuchreJack)
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne, Locust Custom (Burnt Pies)
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec, Lancelot LNC25-02 “Frankenstein” (Kanil)
    • Pvt. Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel, Guillotine GLT-4L (Hanzoku)
    • Pvt. Ik-jun “Wojtek” Frajtov, Trebuchet TBT-5N (Blaze)
    • Pvt. Tedros “Teddy Bear” Jamil, Vulcan VL-2T (Knave)
  • The following mechwarriors remain to be claimed. They’re listed with their current mech assignment. To claim a mechwarrior, give me a callsign for one of them. I’ll refer to them by their callsign in most places, and bold it so it’s easier to find them.
    • Pvt. Ngo, Crab CRB-20

Action Items

  • Should we refit the new Thunderbolt to remove the missile weapons, or leave it be? Note that refitting units to a non-standard configuration makes them difficult to maintain.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Soapbox

See subject. We hope you’ve enjoyed the content we’ve managed to provide for you in 2017, and hope you’ll stick with us into 2018 and beyond. We have at least one project of a humorous nature we’d like to get out early on next year, so keep checking back for that, for the podcast, and for more of the insightful and incisive commentary we always aim to deliver.

The Crossbox Podcast: Episode 24 – Thanksgiving in December

This is, in fact, our November episode, despite the fact that it is currently December; we recorded it on the 29th, and I’ve been busy, or possibly lazy. Regardless, listen to us talk about engines of three sorts: tank, rocket, and game.

Further reading
Binary Engineering
AVDS-1790
Opposed-piston engines
Rocketry reading
Dawn of the Tiberium Age
Supreme Commander
Guns of Icarus Alliance

Continue reading

The Opinionated Bastards: Propus Part IV (Nov. 21, 3050)

The Action of November 6, 3050

It’s going to be a brawl, and it’s going to be a brawl almost out of the gate. The map was originally 15×35; that seemed a bit cramped, so I used my reroll to change the map size. Now it’s 15 hexes by 25. Oops.

On the plus side, it’s a very hilly map with a lot of forest, which means, given initiative (which I never have, and which always seems weighted against the force with fewer units in any case), we can use the trees to protect ourselves.

Medium Lance will deploy near the edge and stay close to it, so that they can retreat in case of emergency.

Round 1

Since, once again, it’s a Scout deployment, units deploy by speed; onlyEuchre andHanzoku (in the Trebuchet and the jump-capable Guillotine) arrive in the first round.

round-1
Pictured: basically every mech currently deployed. Happily, almost everyone misses. As usual, the allied Wasp is getting plastered.

Round 2

round-2

Ker-Ker and Double Dog arrive. This is literally the worst kind of fight.

As seems to be tradition, Ker-Ker takes a pounding from the enemy, and fails to keep her mech on its feet.

The melee phase makes things even worse. Three of our four mechs end up on the ground.

Round 3

Everyone manages to get up. Euchre moves to protect the flank, while the heavier mechs take aim at a Vindicator and a Wolverine.

Ker-Ker, still focused by the enemy, loses a leg to weapons fire from a Wasp behind her. Her mech falls and won’t be getting up, but at least she’s not wounded or unconscious. The Lancelot still has both its arms, so she can prop herself up and shoot, too. Euchre plants a solid kick on the Wasp that did it and destroys its leg in return.

Round 4

Ker-Ker takes light damage, which isn’t bad, all things considered. Since, for once, she’s merely prone rather than prone and immobilized, she’s actually a harder target for mechs more than one hex away than she would be were she standing.

Euchre bags the Wasp which knocked Ker-Ker‘s mech down, while Double Dog kicks the Stinger next to him in the torso, knocking it out.

Round 5

The Wolverine jumps next to Ker-Ker, no doubt intending to attempt to kick her downed mech. The rest of Heavy Lance angles to keep that from happening.

round-5

The Lancelot takes heavier damage this time, including a hit or two to the head. The damage knocks Ker-Ker out, so now she’s in serious danger. Again.

Round 6

The good news is that everyone seems to be leaving Ker-Ker alone this round. The bad news is that, in attempting to protect her, we’re pretty poorly positioned. The good news is, Cadre Lance arrives in two rounds. The bad news is, I’m not sure Ker-Ker will survive that long even if nobody’s shooting at her this time.

The brunt of the enemy fire is aimed at Euchre, but catastrophe! It’s the Thunderbolt taking a lucky critical hit through the armor. (Fun fact: through-armor crits should happen a little less than 3% of the time. It’s happened twice in three turns here, though I didn’t mention the first one, since it was less terrible in outcome.)

round-6

The allied Wasp proves its worth for once, destroying its opposite number.

Round 7

This time, we focus on one of the enemy Vindicators. Next round, Cadre Lance arrives; the round after, Heavy Lance takes the field to wrap this one up.

round-7

The FedCom Wasp falls again, after taking heavy damage from the Vindicator facing it. We knock out the nearer Vindicator’s PPC, which renders it more or less harmless. It’s also taken heavy center torso damage, and another round of focus fire should fell it.

Round 8*

Cadre Lance arrives. The better elements thereof take the field to the north of the battle, while Wojtek and Severe deploy to the south. They’ll work as a team, with Severe spotting for Wojtek‘s LRMs.

round-8

Ker-Ker wakes up, somehow still not dead.

Teddy Bear scores his first mech kill, knocking out the Wolverine menacing Ker-Ker with a hit to the ammo reserves. Which is a shame, because other attacks decapitate it; we could have taken the chassis if it hadn’t blown up.

Ker-Ker‘s Frankenstein Lancelot is going to take quite a lot of repairing agin.

Round 9

As Heavy Lance takes the field, the enemy quite wisely begins to retreat. We’ll see what we can do to take them down.

round-9

It’s Hanzoku in the Guillotine who gets the kill on the Vindicator nearest us, his first as an Opinionated Bastard. Rook, hitting a ridiculous cross-map shot on a damaged Wasp, further cements her place atop the killboard.

Rounds 10+

With only two enemy mechs left, we move to cleanup. Rook bags the Wolverine, while Severe notches her first kill on the enemy Firestarter.

Salvage, Repairs, Injuries

The Thunderbolt is a total loss, so thoroughly destroyed by the ammunition explosion that there’s nothing left to salvage. The Frankenstein Lancelot is crippled, but we have enough spare parts to get it back into service. Everything else is undamaged. Ker-Ker is the only pilot to be wounded; she has a concussion again, along with a number of lesser injuries.

We can’t take any actual salvage because we’re still over our percentage.

We receive battle loss compensation to the tune of 600,000 C-bills, then add 70,000 more in ransom payments for enemy prisoners.

Kill Board(s)

Rook‘s lead grows. Notably, all the current Opinionated Bastards now have at least one kill.

Last Mission

(Turns out I forgot to take a picture. Oops.)

All-Time Leaders

  1. Lieutenant “Rook” Ishikawa (11, 4 mechs)
  2. Captain “Drake” Halit (6, 2 mechs)
  3. Private Ngo (5, 2 mechs)
  4. Lieutenant “Linebuster” Atkinson (5)
  5. Lieutenant “Double Dog” Dare (3, 1 mech)
  6. Private “Euchre” Kojic (2, 2 mechs)
  7. Private “Ker-Ker” Ec (2, 1 mech)
  8. Private “Teddy Bear” Jamil (2, 1 mech)
  9. Private “Wojtek” Frajtov (1, 1 mech)
  10. Private “Woad” Kohler (1, 1 mech)
  11. Private Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel (1, 1 mech)
  12. Private Cathrine “Severe” Payne (1, 1 mech)
  13. Sergeant “Milspec” Ortega (1)

Status

It is now November 20, 3050.

Contract Status

The Capellan forces are beginning to look worn down as our string of victories takes its toll on them. There’s another mission scheduled for tomorrow, a probe against a medium vehicle lance and a mixed mech-and-vehicle light lance, with a second medium vehicle lance in reserve. Heavy Lance and Cadre Lance are currently detailed to the mission, with Cadre Lance arriving late as reinforcements.

Finances

We currently have 5.856 million C-bills in the bank.

Unit Market

market

There are a few options to replace the lost Thunderbolt, including another Thunderbolt. Action item below for should-we-buy-something.

Organization

Double Dog, left without a mech, takes Woad‘s slot in the Grasshopper for the upcoming mission. (Sorry, Woad. It’s not that you’re a bad pilot, it’s that the other guy’s a better one.)

Repairs

We’re in good shape. Ker-Ker‘s Frankenstein Lancelot is missing a large laser, and the Grasshopper is still down a jump jet.

Spares

We’re out of large lasers, which is a significant blow, especially given Ker-Ker‘s tendency to get our Lancelots blown up. We are, of course, still out of three-ton gyroscopes, but in good shape otherwise.

MechWarrior Claims and Assignments

  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit, Awesome AWS-8Q (Mephansteras)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson, Lancelot LNC25-02 (Hasek10)
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa, Flashman FLS-7K (Culise)
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare, Thunderbolt TDR-5S (a1s)
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega, Phoenix Hawk PHX-1 (milspec)
    • Pvt. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler, Grasshopper GHR-5H (A Thing)
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic, Trebuchet TBT-5S (EuchreJack)
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne, Locust Custom (Burnt Pies)
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec, Lancelot LNC25-02 “Frankenstein” (Kanil)
    • Pvt. Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel, Guillotine GLT-4L (Hanzoku)
    • Pvt. Ik-jun “Wojtek” Frajtov, Trebuchet TBT-5N (Blaze)
    • Pvt. Tedros “Teddy Bear” Jamil, Vulcan VL-2T (Knave)
  • The following mechwarriors remain to be claimed. They’re listed with their current mech assignment. To claim a mechwarrior, give me a callsign for one of them. I’ll refer to them by their callsign in most places, and bold it so it’s easier to find them.
    • Pvt. Ngo, Crab CRB-20

Action Items

  • We’re down a mech. Should we buy a new one?
  • For Culise, about Rook:
    • Rook now has enough experience to buy a Weapons Specialist trait for large lasers, which will further improve her enemy-shredding ability in the Flashman, but tie her down to mechs with large lasers. Should she buy that trait, or save for improved piloting/gunnery down the line?
  • Any requests for changes to deployment or strategy for the next battle?

The Opinionated Bastards: Two Fights (Nov. 6, 3050)

Last Time’s Action Items

  • We purchased the Guillotine, assigning it to Private Hanzoku Yuksel. After a long moment with his shattered Locust, he gives the techs the okay to start salvage operations.
    001-guillotine
  • The Cadre Lance deploys alongside Heavy Lance.

The Action of October 27, 3050

The Capellan forces arrayed against us are lightweight, as is typical for Capellans. (If I’d known they were such pushovers, I would have recommended tackling them a lot more strongly!)

002-enemies1

The only things on the list to be concerned about are the Hetzer (with its AC/20) and the Vindicator, which mounts a PPC.

The battle commences in heavy fog. That has two effects: movement will be much slower, and accurate shooting will be somewhat harder. The terrain is heavy urban; there are no open areas on the map, and most combat is going to take place along streets.

Round 1

Since Heavy Lance is deployed with the Scout duty, they arrive on the battlefield fastest mechs first. Only Private Ngo’s Crab is fast enough to make it on the first round. Rook and Double Dog will arrive in the second round. Drake and the Awesome will turn up in the third. We deploy on the north edge of the map; the enemy deploys in the center.

003-1round1map

Ngo starts off on a side street, out of view of the enemy; the liaison, in a Wasp, tangles with the /Capellan Phoenix Hawk and takes heavy damage.

004-1round1wasp

Round 2

The Flashman and Thunderbolt show up, deployed somewhat to Ngo’s west. They take an aggressive tack, moving toward the Phoenix Hawk and firing on it.

005-1round2deploy

Rook hits with most of her weapons, while Double Dog does a lot of missing. He hits with one medium laser, though, which is enough to pierce the Phoenix Hawk’s center torso armor.

Ngo exchanges ineffectual fire with the enemies on her side of the map.

Round 3

Drake deploys behind Ngo. As expected, the enemy gets out of his line of sight, except for one poor, unfortunate Hetzer assault gun a full 18 hexes away. He’ll take that shot.

On the other side of the map, Rook and Double Dog continue to hammer the Phoenix Hawk.

Alarms go off in the latter’s cockpit as the two heavies’ shots hit home. It’s very nearly dead.

006-1round3phx

At maximum range, Drake hits with two of his three PPCs. Putting him in the Awesome is basically cheating. If he can see it, he can hit it; if he can hit it, he can kill it.

Round 4

The Phoenix Hawk dodges behind Double Dog, but Rook still has a clear shot. Drake is set to take some fire, as enemy vehicles roll out into the street to engage his mech, but he can handle it.

007-1round4east

Drake and Rook tie for first blood. Drake bags a Packrat patrol vehicle, while Rook gets the Phoenix Hawk. Ngo kicks the Vindicator.

Round 5

Drake, who can’t back up owing to the heavy fog, remains stationary, aiming for the Vindicator. (It’s inside his PPCs’ minimum range, but he’s a good enough gunner to manage the to-hit penalty.)

On the other side of the map, Rook and Double Dog slowly make their way over to the rest of the fighting.

Drake takes moderate damage, but manages to stay vertical. The Vindicator does not. Ngo kicks it again for good measure.

Round 6

Drake moves up, hoping to kick the Vindicator into submission.

No need. The Vindicator pilot, while attempting to stand, falls down, and…

008-1round6vindicator

I’ll take it! Ngo, who did the last damage to the mech, gets credit for the kill.

Drake has a shot on the LRM Scorpion hassling the other members of the Heavy Lance, so he takes it. Rook and Double Dog still can’t shoot at anything. Ngo can, but she’s very unlikely to hit.

Round 7

Cadre Lance takes the field! They’re staying mostly out of the way, though Linebuster leads the way.

009-1round7cadre

Once again, buildings block Drake‘s line of fire. The LRM Scorpion he tagged last round is about to die a brutal death, though. Rook gets credit for the kill. Woad scores a hit, too.

Rounds 8-12

Cleanup at this point. We have a tremendous advantage in firepower and survivability.

Cadre Lance gets to fire its weapons in anger; merely showing up for battle is better for a pilot’s skill than a good bit of training.

Drake finishes off the Hetzer he was shooting at earlier. Ngo bags a Scorpion, and Linebuster gets credit for two vehicles.

Damage

None to speak of; the enemy didn’t make it through anyone’s armor. Nobody was injured, either.

The Action of October 28, 3050

… and before we can do much more than replace damaged armor, there’s another battle.

This one’s objective is hide and seek: kill half the enemy while losing less than a third of the Opinionated Bastards’ deployed force. Or, as I fully expect to do again, destroy the enemy utterly.

The enemy forces this time are a bit heavier than before. Almost everything on the field has something to be cautious of: an AC/10 on the Po tank, PPCs on the Vindicators, AC/20s on the Hetzers, and a large laser on the Grasshopper. Once again, Heavy Lance and Cadre Lance deploy.

011-2enemies

The map is quite small, a 15×25-hex affair with a lot of variation in height. That helps balance out the numbers disadvantage; we can use the terrain to take cover.

Round 1

Again, it’s a scouting deployment, so Ngo deploys first. She’s at the northeast corner of the map. The allied FedCom mech, a Commando, deploys near the center of the eastern map border.

Ngo takes hits from four of the five AC/2s mounted on the AC/2 carrier, and more damage than that from one of the Vindicator’s PPCs. Combined with a few LRMs, that’s enough to knock her mech over, but not before she scores a critical hit on the AC/2 carrier, killing its crew. First blood comes early.

Round 2

Rook and Double Dog deploy on the southeastern corner of the map, and open fire on one of the Vindicators with moderate success. Ngo stumbles, but manages to stand, and moves quickly to join her comrades to her south.

012-2round2deploy

Round 3

Drake takes the field. The entirety of Heavy Lance fires on the enemy Grasshopper; Drake hits with all three PPCs. The enemy mech falls.

Round 4

There’s very little movement going on. The Opinionated Bastards have a good position, screened in part by the hill, and the enemies don’t want to get any closer, either. Everyone focuses on the Grasshopper again; it’s the biggest threat and the easiest to hit. It falls down a second time.

013-2round4grasshopper

Round 5

The Grasshopper stands again and jumps closer, into medium laser range. *Drake and Rook will take another crack at him, while the other units split their fire to start working on the Vindicator next door.

Drake takes a hit to his gyro through the armor, and one of the Hetzers scores on his right arm with an AC/20, damaging one of his PPCs.

The Grasshopper pilot ejects after taking some engine, gyro, and actuator hits. That’s excellent news. We didn’t shoot out its core or destroy its limbs. If we can get it as salvage, we can probably save it.

Round 6

The next most dangerous targets are the Hetzers and the Vindicators, so that’s where we aim next.

Rook takes out the first Hetzer, with assists from Drake and Ngo.

Round 7

Cadre Lance arrives. Most everyone stays behind our protective hilltop, although the whole formation slides slightly southwest. The remaining Hetzer has one of the better gunners left on the Capellan side, so we’ll aim for him first.

014-2round7cadre

Severe, moving to fire on one of the Vindicators, takes severe damage, and loses control of her mech. It falls. That’s no good. On the other hand, it’s also behind a hill, so by falling, it’s now out of the line of fire.

Rook scores another kill, this time on the Hetzer.

Round 8

The enemy is below half strength, which means we win; I’m going to take a bit more time to blow stuff up, because it’s going well and, and the more that’s dead, the more likely we are to get a crack at that Grasshopper.

Drake loses his right arm to enemy fire, but that’s okay. We can patch him up. We have the parts.

Rook notches yet another kill, this time taking down the Locust south of our force. Double Dog gets in on the action, destroying the Po heavy tank with a hit to the ammunition store.

Round 9-11

Cleanup goes well; all we have left are the two Vindicators, which are looking rather worse for the wear. Rook takes a hit to the gyro, but is otherwise okay. Newcomers to the killboard Woad and Euchre each account for one of the Vindicators. Congratulations!

After-Action Reports

Salvage

016-2salvage

We score the Grasshopper! (We also took a Phoenix Hawk in the first battle.) The Grasshopper can be repaired; the Phoenix Hawk is only worth its weight in parts. That puts us at a little north of 40% salvage instead of the negotiated 30%, so we’ll have to tread lightly on the next mission or two.

In terms of income, we make 175,000 C-bills on prisoner ransom and about 50,000 on battle loss compensation.

Damage

015-2damage

Nothing is out of commission. Heavy Lance needs some repairs. The Awesome’s gyro turns out to be a total loss, but one of the spares we have fits. (I’m still not at all sure how to figure out which of the four different kinds of gyro a given mech requires.)

Nothing else to report on the damage front, except that we can’t fully repair the Grasshopper—one of its jump jets was destroyed, and we can’t order a new one on this contract.

Despite the damage to our mechs, none of our pilots were wounded.

Training

017-training

Ngo is now a Veteran, with 4+ piloting/3+ gunnery. Her new trait, Some Like It Hot, allows her to ignore the -1 to-hit penalty for mild overheating, which is useful. The Crab generates a lot of heat.

Ker-Ker also trained to 4+/4+. Woad and Euchre are both 5+/5+ now, which is still technically Green. Next time they raise a mech skill, though, they’ll be Regulars.

Changing Mech Assignments

018-mech-assignments

Mech assignments and organization shift a bit, since I had to throw together an undamaged lance to deploy following the mission above.

Woad steps into the Grasshopper and joins Rook, Drake, and Ngo in Heavy Lance. Medium Lance is now Double Dog in the Thunderbolt, Ker-Ker in the Frankenstein Lancelot, Hanzoku in the Guillotine, and Euchre in the TBT-5S.

Linebuster is still in charge of the rookies in Cadre Lance, whose ranks now include Wojtek, taking Woad‘s previous ride, the TBT-5N.

Kill Board(s)

Rook leaps out to a commanding lead, followed by Drake and the still-unclaimed Private Ngo.

Recon Raid

recon raid killboard

Hide and Seek

hide and seek killboard

All-Time Leaders

  1. Lieutenant “Rook” Ishikawa (9, 2 mech)
  2. Captain “Drake” Halit (6, 2 mechs)
  3. Private Ngo (5, 2 mechs)
  4. Lieutenant “Linebuster” Atkinson (5)
  5. Private “Ker-Ker” Ec (2, 1 mech)
  6. Lieutenant “Double Dog” Dare (2)
  7. Private “Wojtek” Frajtov (1, 1 mech)
  8. Private “Euchre” Kojic (1, 1 mech)
  9. Private “Woad” Kohler (1, 1 mech)
  10. Sergeant “Milspec” Ortega (1)
  11. Private Jamil (1)

Status

It is now November 5, 3050. I stopped here because there’s yet another battle planned for tomorrow, another Hide and Seek. See below for more information.

Finances

Our current balance is 5.225 million C-bills.

Spares

We’re out of spare large lasers, and we only have gyros in the two-ton size at present. Owing to combat in orbit, no resupply is possible this month.

Next Mission

The next mission sees us facing an interesting force: no vehicles whatsoever, but two full lances of mechs. The expected Capellan force is primarily light mechs, with some Vindicators and a Wolverine expected. Medium Lance was deployed and therefore must face the enemy first. Given the current distribution of pilots, I’m tempted to bring both Cadre Lance and Heavy Lance along for this deployment. Both will take a while to arrive on the field, since none of our lances are what you’d call fast, but I’m uncomfortable leaving Heavy Lance to face twice its number alone.

MechWarrior Claims and Assignments

  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit, Awesome AWS-8Q (Mephansteras)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson, Lancelot LNC25-02 (Hasek10)
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa, Flashman FLS-7K (Culise)
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare, Thunderbolt TDR-5S (a1s)
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega, Phoenix Hawk PHX-1 (milspec)
    • Pvt. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler, Grasshopper GHR-5H (A Thing)
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic, Trebuchet TBT-5S (EuchreJack)
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne, Locust Custom (Burnt Pies)
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec, Lancelot LNC25-02 “Frankenstein” (Kanil)
    • Pvt. Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel, Guillotine GLT-4L (Hanzoku)
    • Pvt. Ik-jun “Wojtek” Frajtov, Trebuchet TBT-5N (Blaze)
  • The following mechwarriors remain to be claimed. They’re listed with their current mech assignment. To claim a mechwarrior, give me a callsign for one of them. I’ll refer to them by their callsign in most places, and bold it so it’s easier to find them.
    • Pvt. Jamil, Vulcan VL-2T
    • Pvt. Ngo, Crab CRB-20

Action Items

  • For this next mission, should we deploy everything, or only reinforce Medium Lance with Heavy Lance?

The Opinionated Bastards: Propus Probe (Oct. 26, 3050)

Last Month’s Action Items

  • Discussion of long-term plans has not yet started, so we won’t take any action one way or another there. Not that we can.
  • Per TO&E discussion, the third lance is now the Cadre Lance, where newbies go to learn. Linebuster drew training duty last month, along with his Lancelot.
    • Along the same lines, Private Ngo replaced Woad in the Heavy Lance; Woad, Severe, and Euchre are the current pilots-in-training.

The Action of October 6, 3050

mission
On the first of October, unit intelligence receives reports of a Capellan concentration near a town fifty kilometers from our field base. The Medium Lance, in the field, moves to probe the town. The Heavy Lance reinforces them.

The enemy is, as expected, poorly equipped. Capellan forces arrayed against us include a Blackjack, a Flea, and six vehicles, including a pair of Vedettes and a Saladin assault hovertank. The Medium Lance deploys with a Phoenix Hawk, a Lancelot, a Vulcan, and the Locust IIC.

enemies

Round 1

Ker-Ker is late to the battlefield, and will deploy before round 2. Sergeant Milspec Ortega, in his first battlefield command, deploys on the southwest of the rectangular battlespace. (It’s 25×35 hexes.) The weather is good. The battlefield is split down the middle by a town; trees and small lakes dot the landscape.

Along with Milspec are Privates Yuksel in the Locust and Private Jamil in the Vulcan.

The FedCom liaison mech is a Commando, which deploys to the east of the Medium Lance. The Capellans deploy to the northwest and northeast of the town, in two divisions. Facing us to begin with are vehicles: the Vedettes, the Saladin, a Pegasus hovercraft, and a J. Edgar light hover tank. (Yes, the J. Edgar Hover tank.)

As might be expected, Private Yuksel charges into the battle with a crazed cry over the radio. Milspec and Jamil play it a little more coy, moving more slowly to get better shots off at the approaching hovercraft.

round 1

Yuksel, however, is the only one to score any hits. One of his ER Small Lasers carves into the forward armor of the Pegasus. In return, he takes a few SRMs to the side.

Round 2

Ker-Ker takes the field, moving up toward the enemy to bring the Medium Lance’s heaviest weapons to bear. Yuksel falls back toward the rest of the lance, and everyone aims for the AC/20-carrying Saladin hovertank.

Unfortunately, Yuksel is the primary target for the Capellans. The Saladin, which managed to close the range with him due to the annoying mobility of hover vehicles, blows a hole clear through the Locust’s center torso. It falls to the ground. It looks as though our mysterious Clanner got his wish, an honorable death in battle.

Round 3

round 3
The Capellan Flea has managed to get in close, which is a mixed bag. It means more enemies nearby to deal with, but the Capellan pilot stopped directly in front of Milspec’s Phoenix Hawk and Ker-Ker’s Lancelot.

Jamil is in a bit of a tight spot now, alone between the J. Edgar hovertank and the Pegasus scout tank. Fortunately, he manages to evade serious damage. Ker-Ker and Milspec don’t do a great job at knocking out the Flea with weapons fire, but they’re both in melee range. Milspec’s kick knocks it down, falling destroys its left arm and torso, and Ker-Ker’s kick removes its right leg. She gets credit for the kill.

Round 4

Down a mech and now suffering from light to moderate damage across the board, the Medium Lance falls back to the west. They’ll keep on the move, hoping to dodge the worst of the enemy fire until the Heavy Lance arrives to really lay down the hurt.

round 4

Ker-Ker finds herself in excellent position to beat two enemy vehicles. She stays more or less put while the two medium mechs jump to a better position. Even with the jump jets, they aren’t very well placed. The enemy’s vehicles are all lightweight hover vehicles; they’re more maneuverable than our mechs.

Ker-Ker hits the Vedette but takes a few SRMs for her trouble.

Round 5

The hover vehicles, between the enemy’s luck on initiative rolls and superiority in numbers, continue to drive circles around our mechs. Hopefully we’ll land some good hits this round; the Pegasus with its annoying SRMs is right in the kill zones for the Lancelot and the Phoenix Hawk.

round 5

As weapons fire, I’m a little concerned about the number of guns pointed at Ker-Ker and the Frankenstein. And I am correct to be! The gyros can’t take the stress, and the Lancelot falls. Fortunately, Ker-Ker remains conscious; she can attempt to stand next turn. Unfortunately, the impact dislodged the Lancelot’s left arm, and some damage leaked through the center torso armor to hit the engine. It’s still functional, but the Lancelot isn’t moving quite as fast anymore.

The good news, at least, is that Milspec’s weapons fire immobilized the Pegasus, and can leave it behind while we make a tactical withdrawal to the northwest.

Round 6

The medium mechs stand by the Lancelot, screening it as best they can.

round 6

Ker-Ker and Jamil shoot at the damaged Vedette. Milspec takes his chances on destroying the immobilized Pegasus. Neither see great success.

Round 7

Ker-Ker has managed to lose both her Large Lasers. We retreat to the west of the small lake in the earlier screenshots, beset on all sides.

round 7

Milspec can’t fire this round without risking heat trouble—a major flaw in the Phoenix Hawk’s design—so it’s all on the Lancelot’s medium laser. (Ker-Ker won’t fire the PPC, her remaining weapon—the range is too close, and she definitely can’t risk it blowing up by firing with a disabled field inhibitor.) Ker-Ker hits a nearby Vedette in the side and manages to immobilize it. Given that Jamil is currently standing on top of it, that suggests some high kick potential. Jamil acquits himself well enough, too, hitting the Vedette with an AC/2 and a medium laser and scoring on the immobilized Vedette at his feet with a solid swing from his Vulcan’s left leg.

Round 8

Ker-Ker is more or less running for her life now, being out of center torso armor. The mediums continue to screen as they can. The heavy lance arrives after this round.

Ker-Ker makes it through with only minor damage, happily. Milspec kicks a Vedette, but doesn’t make it through the armor.

Round 9

round 9

Oh yeah. Heavy lance.

Cunningly, the enemy uses forest to screen itself from Drake’s PPCs. He can still hit the Vedette running away to the north of this picture, and that’s what he’ll do. Rook trains the Flashman’s Large Lasers on the disabled Vedette in frame. The two medium mechs from the Medium Lance focus on destroying the J. Edgar hover tank still hassling Ker-Ker. Double Dog is lacking in long-range weapons, with only a Large Laser and an LRM-15, which he trains on the LRM tank shooting at him. Private Ngo, poorly placed, can’t shoot at anything for any real effect. Her guns will have to wait until next turn to come into action.

round 9.2

Round 10

Ker-Ker turns around and runs south now, toward the comfortingly deadly guns of the heavy lance.

The remaining mechs line up; it’s going to be a brawl, and we’re going to win. Drake and Private Ngo focus on the Blackjack; Rook lines up on the J. Edgar tank, and Double Dog takes aim at the Striker LRM tank. Further north, Jamil and Milspec look to beat up the remaining Vedette, not pictured in the screenshot.

round 10

Between her lasers and the foot of her Flashman, Rook knocks out the J. Edgar tank. Drake softens up the Blackjack, and Ngo, moving behind it, destroys its center torso with large laser fire and a solid kick. Double Dog nearly takes down the Striker; its crew is stunned and its turret locked.

The Striker, unfortunately, takes down Ker-Ker’s Frankenstein, missiles impacting around the head and shoulders. Somehow, the autoeject system gets her out in time.

Round 11-12

The Opinionated Bastards mop up. Jamil scores the killing blow on the northern Vedette; Double Dog gets it on the immobilized one south of the lake. Private Ngo accounts for the Striker light tank.

Damage Report

damage

We came out of this one in decent shape. It’s a shame we lost the Locust IIC so quickly. Once again, the Frankenstein is rebuildable, although it’ll need a new head. The administrators are groaning already, but it does look like they can get it done; the FedCom forces can get a supply drop to us.

Two pilots are wounded: Milspec, who should be right as rain in a week or two, and Ker-Ker, who, among other things, has a concussion and a broken collarbone. The Opinionated Bastards should have her services back in three weks or so.

Surprisingly, Private Yuksel survived the death of his Locust IIC, and emerges from the cockpit as we’re cutting it open. He seems displeased by the idea of salvaging it.

Finally, the FedCom Commando liaison mech was destroyed, which isn’t earning us any good will with the brass.

Lethal Damage (House Rules)

Since BattleTech is brutal to pilots, I’ve taken the liberty of assigning each claimed pilot two Edge points. In the BattleTech RPG, Edge points are used to reroll results; here, they represent your luck. If you die in battle, I’ll deduct one Edge point from your pilot and keep you alive after the battle. (Ker-Ker now has one Edge point; everyone else has two.) If you don’t have any Edge points left, that’s that. You can buy edge points back for 10xp.

Salvage Report

salvage

The Flea could be salvaged and returned to service, but it would exceed our salvage rights by 18%, which our employers are not likely to be happy with. Instead, I take the Blackjack (we can’t fix it up, but it does have a bunch of medium lasers we can take, and some AC/2s we can sell), and the Pegasus scout hovertank, which has a medium laser and some SRM-6 launchers, and can be sold for a decent penny.

In all, we rake in about 800,000 C-bills after the mission, counting battle loss compensation (primarily for Yuksel’s Locust IIC), prisoner ransom, and sale of stripped vehicles and mechs.

Kill Board

Last Mission

kill board

All-Time Leaders

  1. Lieutenant “Rook” Ishikawa (4)
  2. Captain “Drake” Halit (3, 1 mech)
  3. Lieutenant “Linebuster” Atkinson (3)
  4. Private “Ker-Ker” Ec (2, 1 mech)
  5. Private Ngo (2, 1 mech)
  6. Private Frajtov (1, 1 mech)
  7. Lieutenant “Double Dog” Dare (1)
  8. Sergeant “Milspec” Ortega (1)
  9. Private Jamil (1)

Status

It is now October 26, 3050. Elsewhere in the Inner Sphere, the Clan invasion has advanced rather dramatically in the last few months.

galaxy

Contract Progress

We’re one month into our five-month contract, and the employer is happy with us so far despite the loss of the Commando in the prior mission.

The Heavy Lance deployed in place of the Medium Lance while the latter was being patched up. There’s a new mission on the docket, a recon raid against another mixed Capellan force. The mission victory conditions require us to move to the far side of the map, stay for two rounds, and return. I think, given the Heavy Lance is deployed and the enemy force is all light and medium mechs and vehicles, we should deploy a second lance and make our reconnaissance in traditional Steiner fashion. (That means blowing everything up.)

next mission

Finances

We have 7.569 million C-bills in the bank. Our estimated balance at contract end has gone down slightly, to 24.589 million C-bills.

Supplies

We’re doing all right. Thanks to quality administrators and good support from the Federated Commonwealth, we were able to obtain a spare Lancelot head for the Frankenstein.

Repairs and Refits

With the exception of the dead Locust, the Opinionated Bastards’ mechs are all in fighting shape.

Unit Market

market
That’s an SHD-2H Shadowhawk. Sorry for the truncated label.

Being down a unit and in good financial shape, it might be a good time to consider a new mech. Here’s what’s on the market right now.

Training

training

The Cadre Lance is serving its purpose; Woad, Euchre, and Severe all improve skills this month. (At 1xp per week, though, it’ll take a year or two to get them to 5+ piloting/4+ gunnery regulars.)

Action Items

Please comment on the upcoming battle, if so desired, by Tuesday. I’ll be playing it then; it takes longer to write up these updates when there’s fighting. I’ll likely wait a little longer before playing out the rest of the month.

  • Should we deploy a second lance for the upcoming mission? Ker-Ker is still recovering from her wounds, though not in any way that would penalize her piloting or gunnery.
    • It might be worthwhile to deploy the Cadre Lance. They won’t be expected to do much of the heavy lifting, and they’re also not down a mech (while the Medium Lance, at present, is). That, and battle is a much more effective teacher than training.
  • Should we buy a mech? More than one mech?
  • The following mechwarriors remain to be claimed. They’re listed with their current mech assignment. To claim a mechwarrior, give me a callsign for one of them. I’ll refer to them by their callsign in most places, and bold it so it’s easier to find them.
    • Pvt. Yuksel, n/a
    • Pvt. Jamil, Vulcan VL-2T
    • Pvt. Ngo, Crab CRB-20
    • Pvt. Frajtov, n/a
  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit, Awesome AWS-8Q (Mephansteras)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson, Lancelot LNC25-02 (Hasek10)
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa, Flashman FLS-7K (Culise)
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare, Thunderbolt TDR-5S (a1s)
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega, Phoenix Hawk PHX-1 (milspec)
    • Pvt. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler, Trebuchet TBT-5N (A Thing)
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic, Trebuchet TBT-5S (EuchreJack)
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne, Locust Custom (Burnt Pies)
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec, Lancelot LNC25-02 “Frankenstein” (Kanil)

The Opinionated Bastards: Propus, Part I (Sep. 26, 3050)

Introduction/Last Month’s Action Items

Well, the votes are in, and voters prefer the contract on Propus. The techs mothball the mechs, and we’re off.

Changing Contract Details?

For some reason, the contract details changed between the first post and this one. Not sure what’s up there, but the upshot is that all the contracts are now worth slightly less. (It may have had to do with some of my experimentation.) It’s still a pretty good deal, though; 12 million in advance money is plenty.

In Transit

map
I’m sure it’s a pain to coordinate parts delivery while traveling, but our brave administrators somehow manage.

The parts bill is pretty wild. We now have spare arms and legs for all our mechs, as well as spare leg, arm, hand, and foot actuators. Since we’re fairly energy-heavy, we have ten spare medium lasers, two spare PPCs, and three spare large lasers. The parts stock includes more than 100 tons of armor, 15 heat sinks, and in general, at least one spare for nearly every part in use by the company. Notable absences: heads and center torsos (if we need those, we have bigger trouble) and engines. We have one spare gyroscope for medium mechs and one spare gyroscope for heavies, but none for light mechs or assaults.

Why mention the last one? Because…

Mech acquisition!

The Federated Commonwealth has the best toys, and since we’re working for them, that means we have the best toys. Available in the FedCom mercenary market is an Awesome AWS-8Q, a superb example of the assault mech class and a brand-new cornerstone for our heavy lance.

awesome

Kill Board

All-Time Leaders

  1. Captain “Drake” Halit (3, 1 mech)
  2. Lieutenant “Rook” Ishikawa (3)
  3. Lieutenant “Linebuster” Atkinson (3)
  4. Private Frajtov (1, 1 mech)
  5. Private “Ker-Ker” Ec (1)

Status

It is now September 26, 3050.

Promotions

Congratulations to Sgt. Jose Milspec Ortega, who received a promotion to Sergeant, owing to his new role as lance commander. (See below for more.)

Finances

We have 3.574 million C-bills in the bank right now. Our current operating costs are 141,810 C-bills per month. After shares and monthly expenses, we make 4.255 million C-bills per month. Our expected balance at the end of this contract, prior to travel back home, is 24.850 million C-bills.

Supplies

The Opinionated Bastards now possess, for the first time, a full company of mechs, as well as a large stock of supplies and spare parts. I expect we’ll be fine for the duration of this present contract. We can re-evaluate supplies when it’s over.

Current Organization

Because we now have a full twelve mechs, I went ahead and rearranged the company. I tried to stick with something in the spirit of Hasek10’s organization, aiming to make lances as close to the weight category limits as possible.

overview
An overview

heavy
We start off with the Heavy Lance, at 270 tons. Drake moves up to the Awesome. His legendary skill at gunnery should make him a fearsome combatant. Rook steps up into Captain Halit’s old mech, the Flashman; Double Dog gets the Thunderbolt. Rounding out the Heavy Lance is Woad, back in the trusty Trebuchet TBT-5N. His primary role will be to act as a screen and bodyguard for the Awesome.

medium
Next up is the Medium Lance, something of a misnomer now. Linebuster Atkinson and Ker-Ker Ec, along with the two Lancelots, take up the first two slots. Clanner Ed Yuksel and his fancy Locust IIC, and Tedros Jamil and his custom Vulcan fill out the lance. The Lancelots are the primary firepower here, both in terms of weight of weapon and of pilot skill.

light
Lastly, the Light Lance, even more of a misnomer. Newly-minted Sergeant Milspec Ortega leads the lance from the Phoenix Hawk, joined by Private Ngo in the Crab, Severe Payne in the Locust, and lastly, Euchre Kojic in the LRM-equipped TBT-5S.

The only mechwarrior without a mech to drive is Private Frajtov, who was evicted from the TBT-5S in favor of Euchre.

Contract Progress

contract progress
Updated contract details

We’ve just started the contract; it lasts until February 25, 3051. At present, the Medium Lance is deployed on Scout duty to fill the terms of the contract. The other two lances are awaiting your direction.

Action Items

  • The TO&E is open for comment; if you think things ought to be rearranged, say so.
    • On that note, should we rename the lances First, Second, and Third or something? Heavy, Medium, and Light are only going to get more misleading.
  • Should we deploy more lances? A different lance? Lances on other duty assignments?
  • In the longer term, what should we aim to do? Should we look to expand our mercenary command first, adding a second company of mechs? Should we save for a DropShip of our own?
  • The following mechwarriors remain to be claimed. To claim a mechwarrior, give me a callsign for one of them. I’ll refer to them by their callsign in most places, and bold it so it’s easier to find them.
    • Pvt. Yuksel
    • Pvt. Jamil
    • Pvt. Ngo
    • Pvt. Frajtov
  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit (Mephansteras)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson (Hasek10)
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa (Culise)
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare (a1s)
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega (milspec)
    • Pvt. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler (A Thing)
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic (EuchreJack)
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne (Burnt Pies)
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec (Kanil)