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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)

The Opinionated Bastards: Back Home For Now (Jul. 1, 3050)

Last Month’s Action Items

Hasek10 presented a proposed reorganization, but discussion is still ongoing. Continue the discussion, and we’ll finalize our organization before the next deployment.

A strong consensus emerged on taking the money, packing up, and heading out, so that’s what we’ll do.

Packing Up, Heading Out

The Opinionated Bastards remain on-world for the ceremony around the pirates’ surrender, mechs serving as the honor guard. The tech teams mothball our mechs, the administrators accept the final payment and pay out shares, and before we know it, we’re packed into a creaky old Buccaneer-class DropShip, headed for the jump point and, eventually, Piedmont.

On the way back, we make a very interesting pickup. An man odd in speech and dress, Ed Yuksel approaches Captain Halit at the Telos IV jump point and says his only desire is to die honorably in battle. He shows us a mech, an unusual-looking Locust painted with a red wolf’s head. Despite Halit’s attempts to weasel more information out of him, he says nothing else of consequence.

ed
locust

Eventually, Halit welcomes him aboard as a private and promises him combat aplenty.

House Rules (Early Clans)

That’s right, our first Clanner. There are several special rules around him (and other Clanners with which we may associate until, say, 3055).

First, his mech is packed with Clan tech, which we can neither obtain nor readily repair. I’ll figure out how to represent that mechanically when the time comes. He can’t be reassigned, and if he’s injured, nobody else is allowed to pilot his mech.

Second, he’s here early, before the Clans did much in the way of associating with the Inner Sphere at large. He must therefore be disgraced in some way, cast out by his people. Yuksel’s main goal (as mentioned) is to redeem himself with a fighting death on the battlefield. Whenever he’s deployed, he’ll fight just shy of suicidal.

Finally, since he has no connections to anyone, we won’t be required to pay out the cost of his mech on his death. If his mech is destroyed but he survives, he’ll expect another one. If we refuse, he’ll demand payment and hit the road.

Contract Offers

We return to Piedmont in late June, and unpack the mechs for some training in between contracts. On July 1st, the following offers come in. (Note: I’m still tweaking the game settings to find contract generation options which are neither insultingly bad, like last time, or unbelievably generous, like this time.)

We have six contracts available, all of which have at least something to recommend them.

  • The Free Worlds League offers a five-month objective raid, fighting well-equipped FedCom regulars on Laiaka, eight jumps away. Notably, we negotiate for liaison command rights; any allied mechs will be under our direct control. Battle loss compensation is included at 40% of lost equipment value. 20% salvage rights. The estimated profit before shares is 24.8 million C-bills, including an advance of 12 million C-bills.
  • The Draconis Combine offers a six-month planetary assault, fighting elite but poorly-equipped troops of the Free Rasalhague Republic on Thun, nine jumps away. 50% salvage rights. Battle loss compensation is 10%, and the estimated profit before shares is 27 million C-bills, including an advance of 13 million C-bills.
  • The Federated Commonwealth offers a five-month objective raid, fighting poorly-equipped Capellan regulars on Propus, 11 jumps away. 30% salvage rights. 10% battle loss compensation; profit of 27.2 million C-bills along with a 14 million C-bill advance.
  • The Federated Commonwealth also offers a second objective raid, fighting Free Worlds League regulars with average equipment on New Hope, nine jumps out. 20% salvage rights. No battle loss compensation, profit of 25.4 million C-bills, with a 12-million C-bill advance.
  • The Free Rasalhague Republic wants to hire us for six months of guerilla warfare against poorly-equipped FedCom regulars on Surcin, nine jumps away. We receive no support payments whatsoever, neither for operating costs nor for battle loss compensation. 70% salvage rights. Pay is poorer than the others, too, at 23.8 million C-bills and 12.2 million C-bills in advance money.
  • Finally, the Draconis Combine has offered us a four-month pirate hunting contract on Kilmarnock, nine jumps away, based on our previous successes against pirates. They’re known to be decent mech pilots, but have typically poor equipment. No battle loss compensation, and very poor pay relative to the other contracts on offer, but also low risk and fewer limitations on parts and supply. 30% salvage rights. Estimated total profit of 9.6 million C-bills, and a 7.3 million C-bill advance payment. (All the other contracts have anywhere from worse to much-worse parts access. It’ll start to get less important as our administrators improve, but we aren’t quite there yet.)

As ever, I’m partial to low risk, but we’ll see how the voting turns out.

Kill Board

I’m going to leave this in every post, because it saves me having to dig through old ones to find the up-to-date version.

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 July 1, 3050.

Finances

We have 3.343 million C-bills in the bank right now. Our current operating costs are 135,810 C-bills per month.

Supplies

The Opinionated Bastards are back to eleven mechs. We have supplies which enable us to embark on a mission with below-average parts availability, but I’d probably still want to bulk up the stocks a bit if we do.

Unit Market

There are several mechs for sale on the unit market at present, but they’re all on the black market, which has a one in six chance of turning out to be a scam. There’s a Thunderbolt, a Commando, a Centurion, and a Shadow Hawk; I’ll post variants and prices if there’s interest in purchasing a new unit.

Action Items

  • Should we take a contract, or wait for something better? We have room in the budget to chill for a few months.
  • Should we buy a mech, or wait?
  • 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)
    • Pvt. 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)

The Opinionated Bastards: Gacrux Part II (May 1, 3050)

The month of April turns out to be an exciting one for the Opinionated Bastards. Read on below the fold.

Last Month’s Action Items

Hasek10 took the lead this time, so I went with his plans. The light lance remains on training duty. We’ll discuss procurement at the end of the month.

The Action of April 19, 3050

On April 14, the unit intelligence officer receives word of a pirate concentration near a grassland town some distance from our base of operations. Happily, the light lance is training locally rather than on an exercise elsewhere, so they join in the deployment.

We’ll probably need them, too. This is some battle. A full six lances of mixed enemy mechs and vehicles are facing our ten mechs (Private ‘Severe’ Pain’s Locust is currently in refit, adding some armor and two more medium lasers). Happily, when they catch wind of our approach, they flee. We’ll have to chase down and destroy half their force before we can declare victory.

Captain Halit has four levels in the Tactics skill, which means we get to reroll battlefield conditions up to four times. The end result is this: muddy grassland with a town in the center, in moderate rain, on a moonlit night.

Because this is a chase battle, units deploy in order of speed, fastest units in early rounds and slower units later on. Attached to our lance is a Lyran Phoenix Hawk. Since the contract stipulated House command rights, the Lyran pilot is not under our direct command.

Rounds 1-4

Nothing happens.

Round 5

The Lyran mech deploys, along with the rest of the enemy light mechs. In total, they have four Wasps, a Spider, and a Stinger.

The mud is proving tricky.

stuck

Round 6

Our two fastest mechs take the field: our Phoenix Hawk (piloted by Jose Ortega) and our Vulcan (piloted by Tedros Jamil). They both fire on a Stinger stuck in the mud a few hexes to the north, but do limited damage.

Round 7

The remainder of our ‘light’ lance arrives on the field. Our two Trebuchets come first; Private Frajtov is driving the short-range TBT-5S, while Woad has the LRM-equipped TBT-5N. Damayanti Ngo rounds out the deployment, piloting our Crab.

deploying

The pirates deploy a number of Vedette medium tanks in a flanking position. Fortunately, the weather will make it very hard for them to hit our mechs at any distance, and Vedettes are slow at the best of times. They may have trouble moving at all.

The light lance concentrates its firepower on a stuck Wasp, the Stinger having escaped the sucking mud and jumped further away. (Ortega pursues him in the Phoenix Hawk, but can’t line up a good shot.) They do a good job, hitting the Wasp for more than 20 damage. Its pilot fails to keep his balance under the barrage, and the Wasp tips over into the mud.

die, wasp

Round 8

Our heavy lance hits the field. Expert gunners with long-range weapons should begin to tell here. Three of them (Captain Halit’s Flashman, Double Dog‘s Rifleman, and Linebuster‘s Lancelot) deploy with the light lance, while two of them (Lieutenant Ishikawa’s Thunderbolt and Private Ec’s Lancelot) deploy further east, behind the enemy vehicle line.

heavies

The pirates deploy their lone heavy mech, an Orion, just to the southwest of our forces. Double Dog turns to face it, ready to engage.

In the Phoenix Hawk, Ortega has run up too much heat from weapons fire and jump jet use, and forgoes firing this turn. The western heavies engage the Wasp, and the eastern heavies focus on the enemy vehicles, including two PPC-equipped Manticore heavy tanks. The mediums (and the Rifleman) divide their fire between the Orion and the vehicle line.

Captain Halit proves his worth on his first turn in battle. Lighting up the stuck Wasp with his large lasers, he draws first blood, neatly coring the enemy mech.

The eastern heavies badly damage the pair of Manticores, knocking out the nearer tank’s engine and scything into the more distant tank’s armor.

The Orion, unfortunately, aims true and hits Woad‘s rear center torso with an AC/10. The Trebuchet’s engine and gyro both take hits, and Woad is unable to keep the mech’s legs beneath him. The Trebuchet bogs down in the mud, and rattling around the cockpit like a pinball does Woad no good, either. He’s alive and conscious, but it seems unlikely he’ll be able to get unstuck and stand back up, especially with an ailing gyro.

Round 9

Let’s talk about a particularly devilish foe: the SRM carrier. A simple tracked vehicle with an enormous box of SRM launchers on the back, the SRM carrier has one of the most devastating alpha strikes in the BattleTech universe. It mounts ten SRM-6 launchers, each of which fires six missiles, each of which does two damage. That’s a potential total of 120 damage; for comparison, the Flashman, the most heavily armored mech in our hangar, has 216 points of armor altogether. It’s altogether possible for a lucky SRM carrier to blow up a mech in a single turn.

Why do I bring this up? Well, our piratical friends have laid their hands on five of them, all of which are part of the rearguard with which we’re currently engaged. We’ll come back to the SRM carriers.

This rearguard, by my count, contains enough enemy force to fulfill our mission requirements, so rather than pursue the enemy across the map (and allow the rearguard to fire on us from behind), I decide to focus on beating down the enemy here. That means nobody moves very much, although the medium mechs move closer to the vehicle line to the east of our main body to secure better shots.

Woad is still prone and unable to stand up. His mech takes some light fire from the Orion, but weathers it without further drama. Double Dog, running hot, takes an ineffectual medium laser shot at the Orion, but successfully kicks an SRM carrier, stripping its armor. The Lyran Phoenix Hawk, standing next to him, finishes the job with a kick of its own.

Linebuster destroys a second SRM carrier with well-aimed laser fire from his Lancelot, while Lieutenant Ishikawa and Private Ec in the Thunderbolt and other Lancelot make short work of a Manticore heavy tank and the lone LRM carrier.

Then the SRM carriers shoot back.

Three shoot at Captain Halit’s Flashman, but he’s moving, and the range, darkness, and rain conspire to protect him. He takes a pounding, but his armor holds.

Two shoot at Private Ec’s Lancelot. She’s not moving, and she’s much closer. Missile after missile slams into her mech’s armor. Holes begin to open up, and the explosions move inward to the mech’s frame. The dust settles. In all, 61 missiles hit Private Ec’s mech, destroying weapons and heat sinks, and damaging leg actuators. Several missiles hit the cockpit. The armor holds, but the shock knocks Ec out cold. Her mech collapses into the mud.

SRM carriers remaining: 3.

Round 10

Well, we should probably do something about those. Captain Halit and Private Frajtov will continue shooting at the Orion, in the hopes of bringing it down. Frajtov places his mech directly in the Orion’s path.

Everyone else is going to set up to shoot at an SRM carrier.

Linebuster hits one, knocking out its engine but leaving it alive. Lieutenant Ishikawa destroys one outright. The others survive unmolested.

Surprisingly, it’s Private Frajtov who takes home the trophy for largest mech destroyed to date. A simple medium laser shot at point blank range penetrates the Orion’s armor and lights off its AC/10 ammunition. Fire blossoms within the pirate mech, then bursts forth in a tremendous fireball which leaves very little of the Orion left.

Then the SRM carriers shoot back.

Private Ec’s mech takes the brunt of the barrage. Happily—she was basically doomed anyway. In the end, there isn’t much left of her mech besides a frame and, surprisingly, a cockpit. (It survived with one internal structure point remaining; happily, she did not die in her first battle.)

Double Dog takes fire from the final SRM carrier, and it’s a doozy. It gets into his Rifleman’s internal structure, knocking out several weapons and damaging a leg actuator. He can’t keep his mech upright, and it topples, getting stuck in the mud.

That’s bad. Hitting an immobilized target is easier, and Lieutenant Dare’s mech is still in relatively good shape. It would be a shame to lose it.

SRM carriers remaining: 2.

srms, sadface
The mud-soaked battlefield as it stands now.

Round 11

We’re winning, per the objective; we only have to destroy half of the enemy’s starting force before it escapes, and we’re currently up to 45%. Mopping up here in the south should suffice to win.

As far as positioning goes, it’s pretty static. Now that the Orion is dead, Captain Halit can turn around to help with the vehicles. He hits a Manticore and kills it. Linebuster destroys another SRM carrier.

Unfortunately, Private Ortega, the only pilot with a clear shot at the last SRM carrier, misses altogether. Hopefully that won’t come back to haunt us next round.

One SRM carrier shoots at the Lyran Phoenix Hawk; the other shoots at the Rifleman. The Rifleman survives, somehow, amidst a bevy of internal structure damage. It’s alive, but I don’t know how much longer it can take this kind of beating.

SRM carriers remaining: 1.

Round 12

Captain Halit accounts for the final SRM carrier with a hail of laser fire. Just before it goes up in a towering explosion, it gets off a shot at the Rifleman.

The Rifleman eats it. Its engine is destroyed, its head is destroyed, and its AC/5 ammo explodes just to really clarify that yes, it’s gone. Happily, the autoeject system works, flinging Double Dog free of the flaming wreckage just before the ammo goes off. He’s badly wounded and unconscious, but he’s alive.

doubledog down

To add indignity to our vaguely Pyrrhic victory, Woad finally gets himself unstuck from the mud, but doesn’t risk standing with his damaged gyro. Wouldn’t want to set ourselves up for yet more repairs.

SRM carriers remaining: 0. Thank God.

Rounds 13-22

With the SRM carriers dead, there isn’t much else left in the south; a few damaged Vedettes, mostly. They go down much more easily, and don’t obliterate our mechs in the space of seconds.

Private Frajtov walks his Trebuchet past the still-burning Rifleman, pops out, and brings Double Dog up to the cockpit. At least he isn’t in the rain anymore. Private Ec, still unconscious in the cockpit of her very dead Lancelot, remains there for now.

An ad-hoc lance comprising Captain Halit, Lieutenant Ishikawa, Linebuster, and Private Ngo heads north to chase the pirates, now in full retreat, off of the map.

Further in that direction, the Lyran Phoenix Hawk beats up on an immobilized transport hovercraft.

wrapping up
At least someone’s having a good day.

Eventually, the pirates make it to the north end of the map, and I call it a day.

Damage Report

damage report

Man, it would have been nice to have some battle loss compensation in this contract.

There are some bright spots. Miraculously, Private Ec’s Lancelot is not a total write-off; it has enough internal structure left to rebuild. We are, therefore, only down one mech.

dead lancelot
It’s going to take a lot of work, though.

Four of our ten pilots are wounded, including Double Dog and Woad. Only Double Dog‘s wounds are serious enough to impact his piloting skills, but he should be fine in a few weeks.

injuries1
injuries2

Salvage Report

The Wasp Captain Halit nailed is a total loss, so I took as salvage an SRM carrier and a Manticore heavy tank. We’ll strip the weapons and armor and sell the chassis.

In doing so, we make nearly 800,000 C-bills, and add a spare PPC, some armor, a medium laser or two, and a ton of SRM-6 launchers (even after selling half of them).

The husk of Double Dog‘s Rifleman yields an arm and a leg, along with a few actuators and a heat sink or two.

The salvage we took comes to 35% against our total allowed of 30%. We’ll have to pay the employer back for the overage if we don’t get our salvage percentage down below the 30% mark; the payment required at present is about 185,000 C-bills.

Kill Board

Last Mission

kill log

All-Time Leaders

  1. Captain Halit (3, 1 mech)
  2. Lieutenant Ishikawa (3)
  3. Lieutenant ‘Linebuster’ Atkinson (3)
  4. Private Frajtov (1, 1 mech)
  5. Private Ec (1)

Repairs and Refits

The Rifleman is good for an arm and a leg, which simplifies getting the second Lancelot back in action.

Unfortunately, we need some expensive parts. The damaged Lancelot’s gyroscope is a total loss, and a new one sets us back 900,000 C-bills. Other parts come to about 200,000, eating into last month’s payout a bit.

By the end of the month, we’ve rebuilt the mech, which has earned the name Frankenstein from its tech teams.

frankenstein

Status

It is now May 1, 3050. I decided against advancing the game further because…

Mission Progress

deployment
After taking such heavy losses in equipment, morale among the pirates here on Gacrux has collapsed, and they’ve made overtures to the planetary authorities about surrendering. At the same time, the local government has located the pirates’ main base of operations and passed that information on to us. See the action items for more.

Personnel

organization

All pilots except for Double Dog are in good health. Lieutenant Dare’s concussion symptoms are lingering. The doctors estimate he’ll be back to 100% in a week’s time.

Captain Halit’s Negotiation has improved, which increases our company’s reputation.

Finances

We kick off May with 2.881 million C-bills in the bank, and two payments of 884,800 C-bills remaining in this contract. That leaves us with an expected balance of 4.6 million C-bills after this contract, and about 2.9 million C-bills after transit back home.

Supplies

Per Hasek10’s directions, I’ve obtained spare ammunition and armor suitable for a deployment of moderate length and intensity, and laid in stocks of common weapons and equipment.

Action Items

  • As far as this contract goes, we have two options. We can attack the pirate base, or accept the pirates’ surrender and head home. In both cases, we’ll be paid the remaining balance of the contract. In the former case, we have a chance at more salvage, although there are no heavy mechs among the enemy’s known forces. In the latter case, we don’t risk losing any further mechs in a costly battle, but we’ll have to pay 185,000 C-bills to the employer to cover our over-salvaging.
  • As far as the company goes, should we reorganize? We may be able to find more favorable engagements (read: MekHQ generates less difficult missions) if we go to a more traditional lance structure, heavy units supported by lighter units. On the other hand, that places a greater emphasis on pilot skill; we do have some skilled pilots, but they’re distributed mainly in the heavy mechs right now. If you think the answer is ‘yes’, you should describe a structure you think would be an improvement.
  • Mechwarriors are going fast, but there are some remaining. Give me a callsign and the pilot is yours; I’ll follow them more closely in subsequent updates, refer to them by their callsign in most cases, and bold their name so you can track them more readily.
    • Captain Halit
    • Lt. SG Ishikawa
    • Pvt. Jamil
    • Pvt. Ec
    • Pvt. Ortega
    • Pvt. Ngo
    • Pvt. Frajtov
  • For the record, the following mechwarriors have been claimed by members at the Bay12 Games forum.
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson (Hasek10)
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare (a1s)
    • Pvt. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler (A Thing)
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic (EuchreJack)
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne (Burnt Pies)

The Opinionated Bastards: Gacrux Part I (Apr. 7, 3050)

The Opinionated Bastards sign on the dotted line, and will be employed by the Federated Commonwealth hunting pirates until July 7, 3050 (or earlier, if we’re very successful). Read on below the fold for more.

En Route

To save on transit costs, I had the techs mothball the light lance. With only five mechs in mech bays, we fit into a smaller combat dropship; the mechs in mothballs go in a small cargo dropship. Mothballing takes two days, but a tech can unmothball a mech in a single working day, so we should be deployed as soon as we hit the ground on Gacrux.

Along the way, our human resources division makes a few paid recruitment rolls, spending 100,000 C-bills per week to load up on mech techs and administrators in the other categories. The Opinionated Bastards now have a fully-stocked tech division, as well as administrators and doctors fit for a unit of our size. In all, the Opinionated Bastards total 121 personnel, including the 72 local astechs and 12 local medics supporting our tech teams and medical staff.

Rick Papatamelis
Rick Papatamelis is one of our new administrators. Hi, Rick!

(Note that since this is my first campaign following the Campaign Operations payment and maintenance rules, I’m using Campaign Operations rules for administration and tech support too; I had to triple the administrator allowance to get a reasonable starting position.)

Finally, I ordered some parts for delivery at Gacrux: ammunition, armor, and heat sinks, all of which are consumables after a fashion. (Heat sinks don’t get used up, of course, but they’re the most common part in our force and therefore the most likely to take critical hits.) I also bought some hand and foot actuators before I realized that’s probably a good thing to vote on, so check the action items for more.

map
The seven-jump path from Piedmont to Gacrux. The top of the map, in blue, is the Clan invasion. Terra is the white dot just below Yorii.

Monthly Happenings

Gacrux, our destination, is a fascinating place. We arrive on March 7, 3050. I deploy the heavy lance to seek out action right away to fulfill the terms of the contract, and set about unpacking the light lance. The latter, hosting all of our rookies, goes on training duty, in the hopes of bringing some of them up to a slightly higher standard of performance.

Nothing much goes on in March. The pirates won’t come out to play, which is quite a shame.

We do pick up a local; an astech by the name of Kian-zhi Ewerlof signs on permanently. He’ll apprentice under one of our proper techs for a while, and perhaps someday he’ll grow into a proper tech himself.

Status

It is now April 7, 3050.

Personnel

As mentioned above, we’re fully manned as far as administrators, techs, and support personnel go. Since we have administrators with an HR specialty, we can make paid recruitment rolls to find candidates for specific positions at a cost of 100,000 C-bills per weekly recruitment cycle.

Mission Progress

deployment report

The heavy lance is searching out the enemy. The light lance (such as it is) is training. Enemy morale is now Low. If it reaches Rout, we win, and we can collect the remaining payment and hit the road.

The Locust LCT-1M is refitting to a variant which mounts three medium lasers, a solid punch for such a lightweight mech.

Finances

financial report

After transit to Gacrux and the first month’s payout, we have 2.378 million C-bills. Our net income before share payment is 1.106 million C-bills. After shares, the company nets 884,800 C-bills per month. The May, June, and July payouts remain, for a total of 2.654 million C-bills remaining to be paid. At the end of the contract, discounting salvage sales and battle damage repairs, we should have 5.032 million C-bills. Transit back to Piedmont should cost about 1.7 million C-bills. We should therefore have about 3.332 million C-bills after all is said and done for this contract.

Supplies

supply report

Armor, ammo, heat sinks, and cheapo actuators make up the majority of our supplies right now. (Note that LRM ammo and SRM ammo are interchangeable. 240 shots of LRM 5 ammo is 720 missiles, or 60 shots of LRM 20 ammo.)

Action Items

  • First up, deployment. Should the light lance remain in training, or deploy? Units actively seeking out combat have a much higher chance of finding it. On the other hand, Hasek10 is correct in saying that the game will generate roughly even forces. (Not quite BV-equivalence, but approximately weight-equivalent for sure.) That could make for a tough fight, given the light lance’s actual weight and inexperience in piloting.
  • Next, ongoing procurement. I want to have about four million C-bills in hand before we leave; that leaves room for transit back, transit to the next world, and some downtime if we roll a bunch of undesirable contracts. Should we save the money, or secure sufficient spares and ammunition for a long, independent operation? In either case, I’ll get spares for commonly-used weapons and so on. If we’re planning on taking a long, independent contract, I’ll also likely want to get more actuators and some spare arms and legs. The latter would set us up for a longer contract out of contact with friendlies. The former might yield a treasury which can absorb the price of a light or medium mech.
  • Mechwarriors are still available to claim; all you need to do is say so and give me a callsign. I’ll try to follow claimed mechwarriors more closely in future updates. Available mechwarriors:
    • Captain Halit
    • Lt. SG Ishikawa
    • Lt. JG Dare
    • Pvt. Jamil
    • Pvt. Ec
    • Pvt. Ortega
    • Pvt. Ngo
    • Pvt. Frajtov
    • Pvt. Kohler
    • Pvt. Kojic
    • Pvt. Payne

The Opinionated Bastards: a MekHQ BattleTech Mercenaries Campaign

Introduction

Welcome to what I hope will be the start of a long-running Let’s Play: a mercenary campaign, more or less following the Against the Bot campaign rules, using MekHQ and MegaMek to handle the bookkeeping.

That’s a lot to unpack. We’ll start with MegaMek. This is MegaMek:

MegaMek

MegaMek is an open-source implementation of the BattleTech rules, which greatly simplifies playing out battles. It covers just about everything in the BattleTech rulebooks, but it’s also a little on the dense and questionably-documented side, as open source projects are wont to be. (See also: my very own OpenTafl.)

Next up, MekHQ. This is MekHQ:

MekHQ

MegaMek runs battles; MekHQ runs campaigns. It implements some of the many, many variations in BattleTech’s rules for maintenance costs, mercenary contract generation, and so on and so forth.

Finally, Against the Bot. No screenshot here. Against the Bot is simply a set of rules on top of those implemented in MekHQ, concerning the generation of a mercenary company and some of the mechanics of running one left untouched by BattleTech’s rulebooks.

I have a few house rules I plan to layer on top. First, a set of rules I cooked up for pre-existing enemy damage. Especially in the Third Succession War era, it’s hard to come by spares and time for maintenance, but the Against the Bot rules have no provision for setting up the enemy forces to be as battered as yours. The pre-existing damage rules present a mechanism for wearing down the enemy force over the length of a campaign, an important part of warfare.

Second, I have a litany of little tweaks to the Against the Bot rules.

  • I’ll be using the contract payments and maintenance costs from the Campaign Operations rulebook. I won’t be using maintenance rolls or the unofficial percentage-based maintenance costs in MekHQ; Campaign Ops costs neatly fix a lot of the issues with the old type-based maintenance costs.
  • I plan to turn the contract search radius down to about 200 light-years to start. This keeps transport costs limited. That’s important: the default contract radius of 800 light-years covers pretty much the entire Inner Sphere. Contracts 20 or 30 jumps and a year or two away require very favorable transport terms to have any chance of being profitable. Contracts five or ten jumps away can still be feasible to take even with poor transport terms if the other terms are sufficiently favorable.
  • Retirement rolls will be ignored for the first five years. After that, retirement rolls will always have a -2 Target Number modifier.
    • In any given year, every full month of downtime on the mercenary’s home world will add a -1 modifier to the retirement roll Target Number.
  • Mechs associated with the founding members of the company are company property. If/when founding members retire or die, they don’t get to take mechs with them. Pilots hired later on who bring their own mechs must get the same mech or a comparable one on retirement. Further, they may not be reassigned from their personal mech to a worse one.
  • I reserve the right to ignore Big Battles and Special Events; the Against the Bot generator in MekHQ seems not to get them right on some occasions. If they’re reasonable, I’ll play them.
  • Reinforcements.
    • Any or all lances can be deployed on missions where I’m the attacker.
    • Any lance with Defend duty can be deployed on missions where I’m the defender.
    • Any lance with Training duty can be deployed on missions where I’m the defender on 4+ on a D6.
  • If I have a DropShip, I can add mech bays to it at the cost of cargo space. Adding a mech bay costs 120 tons of cargo space and 7.5 million C-bills.

Process and Participation

I, as the company commander, will play roughly a month of game time per week of real time (my time permitting). I’ll be using a customized build of MekHQ which contains some brand-new features; you can download the source from this branch on Github.

You, as the readers (either at my website or at the Bay12 forums) have a few participation options. You can pick a mechwarrior, aerospace pilot, or vehicle crewman to follow, and give me guidance on how that person ought to develop his or her skills (and possibly input on mech refitting, if that happens). Whether or not you do that, you can also vote on the contract to take.

Company Generation

Now we come to the fun part. Given that my blog is the primary venue for this Let’s Play, I’ve decided we will be known as the Opinionated Bastards. We still have a few things to figure out, though. First off, time period.

  • 3025: at the tail end of the Third Succession War, there is very little advanced technology to be found. Mechs are more likely to be held together with spitballs and baling wire, just barely kept running by industrious techs. Classic BattleTech.
  • 3050: the Clan invasion is in full swing. Advanced technology is back on the menu! We may also have to fight the Clans. Classic BattleTech for me—I cut my teeth on MechWarrior 2, back in the day. If you vote for this item, specify whether you want to start on the same side of the Inner Sphere as the Clans, or elsewhere.
  • 3075: the Word of Blake Jihad is the crisis of the day. Modern-ish BattleTech.

Furthermore, we have to pick a flavor of company.

  • Adventurous Merchant: company commander and officers will have worse piloting and gunnery skills, but better mechs. Start with an extra 5 million C-bills. Chance to start with a DropShip. Start with one Logistics administrator only.
  • Mercenary Veteran: company commander and officers will have better piloting skills, but receive no bonus to mech generation rolls. Start with an HR administrator plus administrator of choice. Receive a 10% signing bonus on contracts owing to reputation. Also owing to reputation, it is no longer forbidden to assign mech pilots who bring their own hardware to worse mechs. (They still get to take them back when they leave.)
  • No Special Background: -2 Target Number on all retirement rolls. Start with two administrators, my choice.

Action Items

  • Your votes needed! Give me some preferences for time period and mercenary company type.

Some Thoughts On DCS: Part I

Eagle Dynamics’ flight sim DCS World is, on its surface, an impressive achievement. It’s the most beautiful game in its genre of the modern era, and one of the most exhaustive. Only the big players in civilian flight sims surpass it in terms of aircraft and theater variety, and nothing beats the complexity of its flight dynamics and systems modeling.

And yet, it remains a niche title. Why? I have three reasons: the engine, the ecosystem, and the community. Today, let’s look at the first.

Wait, wasn’t the engine a big pro? You’ll note I said it was pretty, and nothing more. I will grant it’s also fairly easy on performance for what it is, provided you haven’t added too many planes.

It falls down on the job in four crucial areas, though. First, it has no ‘bubble’ system a la Falcon 4, and can’t handle especially large numbers of units. There’s no good way to build and populate an entire front with opposing forces, and the lack of a true front line makes large-scale war scenarios very hard to do. It also means that the enormous bomber boxes from Battle of Britain 2 are still contained solely to Battle of Britain 2. Lacking the capability for large numbers of units makes even excellent innovations like MBot’s lua-script dynamic campaign engine less enjoyable than the pushing-20-year-old competition.

Second, there are currently two versions of DCS. DCS 2.1 is the new branch, which supports the payware Nevada and Normandy maps. DCS 1.5 is the legacy branch, which only has the Caucasus/Georgia map, but is also more reliably stable. This is a terrible state of affairs. Third-party developers have to keep their code up to date against two highly distinct versions of DCS, and these third-party developers are to a man small indie-style shops. They don’t have the developer resources to support two branches and build new products, and it shows. (More on this later.)

Third, developers can’t release standalone module updates. Module updates, as far as I can tell, require a full DCS recompilation. If a show-stopping bug makes it out of testing, players are pretty much out of luck until Eagle Dynamics can scrape together a hotfix. I have no idea why this should be the case, in this age of dynamic loading and so on. I suspect one of two things: either limitations in the engine, which does date back in some places to the Lock-On Modern Air Combat days, or a misguided attempt to prevent unauthorized third parties from accessing the high-end flight modeling features. The first issue could be fixed by a little work, and the second is a bad solution in search of a solved problem. Code signing is a thing. No need to reinvent the wheel.

Fourth, the simulation engine is extremely creaky. We’ll start with the scripting system. Not only is it difficult to use (fortunately, there are some scripting frameworks which wrap the inscrutable API), the API occasionally changes with no notice, breaking old missions. The mission editor, which is a key piece of any game that doesn’t have a dynamic campaign, is clunky and poorly integrated with the simulation engine. Its support for scripting is basically nil, to the point that it’s dramatically better to edit mission scripts in Notepad than in the mission editor itself. It may be a bit much to ask for a proper lua development environment in a flight simulator, but a full-screen text editing window would be nice, at the very least.

The simulation engine also lacks some crucial features for the sort of game Eagle Dynamics is trying to make. Most of the major omissions center on radar and electronic warfare. A third party, Heatblur Simulations, fields the current state of the art in DCS radar technology with the Viggen’s ground-mapping setup. Eagle Dynamics is scheduled to come back to the forefront with the DCS Hornet, but that still leaves all their other planes using a lightweight system which dates back to the Lock-On days. Aspect is unimportant but for notching, jammers are simple noise which only protect your aircraft, chaff (and countermeasures generally) only affects missiles locked on you (so Vietnam- or Viggen-style chaff corridors are impossible). The list goes on. Certainly, radar modeling is hard, but that’s no reason not to do it.

So much of Eagle Dynamics’ attention has been focused on paying work—modules, engine upgrades, new theaters—that they’ve let their underlying technology fall by the wayside. In the long run, that’s unsustainable, and I only hope that they can find the time to fix what needs to be fixed before the ongoing, accumulated debt catches up with them.