Tag Archives: gaming

Fishbreath Plays: Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun

The clunkily-named Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun is, at its core, a turn-based tactical wargame set on the battlefields of Asia during the Sengoku period, developed by Byzantine Games and published by Slitherine.

That sells it short, though.

The Sengoku period is a fascinating time in Japanese history, familiar to anyone who’s played a Total War game with ‘Shogun’ in the title. Competing daimyo fought for the title of shogun, de facto ruler of Japan. Usefully, at least for wargame designers, it was a century or so of near-constant war.

Sengoku Jidai has a number of expansions which extend it well beyond Japan in the 16th century, to China and Korea in the same era, all the way back to Japan in the 12th and 13th centuries. With the exception of gunpowder, warfare in those eras was broadly similar, so I won’t make too much of the differences. (Also, my interest in the era mainly runs toward the Sengoku period, and that’s what I’ve played extensively, so I’ll stick with talking about it.)

Gameplay

I can’t find a solid source to confirm or deny that the battlefield rules in Sengoku Jidai are based on a tabletop wargaming system, but it feels like they could be. They’re clean and simple.

Movement is on a square grid. Combat is pretty mathy, but comes down to Points of Advantage which affect the result, and which are gained or lost based on many of your typical wargame conditions. (Think spears against horses, rough terrain and disorder, morale, and so on.) Turning units is hard, as is shifting them long distances; they’re fairly slow, and 45-degree turns are about as much as you can manage without running out of action points. Units outside of their generals’ command range are even less mobile, an unusual but sensible design choice. Rather than stack up more combat modifiers, generals simply yield a more flexible, better-coordinated force. Works for me.

When units get into melee combat, they usually stay there for a few turns, wearing each other down and slowly inflicting losses until someone breaks. Once units get into close combat, you lose control over them, and even if your unit routs its opponent, you may not get control back—units automatically pursue routers, and may charge enemies in their paths.

There are good tutorials, both in the sense of tutorial missions and in the sense of tutorial popups explaining events as they happen, and between those and the elegance of the rules, it’s easy to get to grips with the system and start with the generalship.

Finally, for the cost of entry, you get a random map generator, a random battle generator, some historical scenarios, and some dynamic campaigns (simple ones, but enough to contextualize battles). Even the base game gets you the Sengoku Jidai campaigns and the Imjin War, I believe. If you enjoy the gunpowder- and artillery-heavy armies of the latter, I’d recommend picking up the Mandate of Heaven DLC, too, which buys you expanded Chinese factions and four more dynamic campaigns.

Presentation

I don’t have a lot to say here. The sounds are competent but uninspired, though the music is pleasantly atmospheric. The unit graphics are little groups of men and horses, more in the vein of counters than anything else. The landscapes are quite pretty, to the extent that they can be given the square grid they have to fit, and have a whiff of Japanese landscape painting about them in color palette and design.

One notable trouble spot is the lack of anti-aliasing, which is a bother for a game featuring spearmen aplenty. Another is that units don’t shrink as you batter them. A 1500-man unit of yari ashigaru looks the same at full strength as it does after losing 600 men, the only difference being a more tattered flag. As far as I’m aware, there’s no game mechanic which requires easy knowledge of a unit’s original size, so I count this as a flaw.

Verisimilitude

If you’ve read any of my previous wargame reviews, you’ll probably remember that verisimilitude is just about my favorite word in this kind of article. The point of a wargame is not to simulate every arrow and every man down to the smallest wound. The point of a wargame is to evoke a sense of place.

So, what is evocative about Sengoku Jidai’s gameplay? What puts me in the mindset of a field commander in 16th-century Asia?

First: deployment is crucial. On the scale of a battlefield, infantry is slow. Even cavalry takes a while to get where you want it. If you deploy your main body poorly, you can easily lose a battle you should have won. If you deploy your main body well, taking advantage of the terrain and the strengths of your units, you can win battles you might otherwise have lost.

Second: loss of control is rapid. Once the lines crash together, the outcome is largely out of your hands, except insofar as you contribute to key points with flanking maneuvers. As the general in command of an army, your responsibility is to deploy your forces well and, on the approach, meet weak points in the enemy’s deployment with strength. That seems accurate to me.

Like all the best wargames, when I get into the groove, it doesn’t feel like a game, in spite of the tabletop feeling of the rules. I give it my recommendation.

Miscellaneous

It’s available on Steam, but doesn’t work with Steam Play/Proton/Wine on my Mint 19.1 system, and as far as I know, doesn’t have high-DPI support.

Wargames I Would Play: Civil War Operational Logistics

As regular readers may remember, I’m slowly slogging my way through Shelby Foote’s Civil War, and I’m struck by how little most Civil War wargames resemble the battles recounted therein, in two different ways.

First: movements in the field were often dictated by logistical concerns: I’m at the end of a tenuous supply line, and Jeb Stuart just cut it; Vicksburg is supplied over the railroad from Jackson, and Grant just captured Jackson. Wargames usually abstract supply to ‘in supply’ or ‘out of supply’, without regard to combat and noncombat supplies. It was entirely possible for an army to have plenty of food but no ammunition or vice versa, and in fact it was frequently thus. Wagons, horses and mules, forage for same, and rations or foraging for the soldiers were daily concerns.

Nor do the Civil War wargames I’ve played fully emphasize the crucial importance of railroads and river control. A torn-up railroad in your backfield wasn’t a minor inconvenience, it was a critical problem which could derail (ha) an entire offensive. Supply dumps were important, but so were the routes by which those supplies reached the front. See also Grant’s first few moves at Chattanooga.

Second: an army commander’s interactions with his troops were almost entirely through his corps commanders. He might shuffle a division from place to place, detaching it from one corps to reinforce another, but he generally wouldn’t dictate exactly how each division was supposed to be arrayed. His communications with his corps commanders would also often be over insecure or unreliable channels—letters entrusted to couriers, telegraph lines, or runners on the battlefield. His corps commanders might misapprehend his instructions, or those instructions might be rendered irrelevant or impossible to follow by changing circumstances or bad maps.

So, could a wargame simulate some of these snags? I think so, with some combination of the following features. I might work on this some myself, or leave it as an exercise for the enterprising reader. Either way, I lay no claim to any of the ideas here.

Grant’s campaign against Vicksburg is the obvious grand campaign for a game with a logistics focus: it lasted longer than any other in the war while taking place along one of the most interesting theaters in history, the Mississippi River.

Unreliable Maps

Unreliable maps are so common in war, and such a linchpin for the other features implied by the above and laid out below, that it’s surprising that no wargame I’m aware of has done them.

The primary kind of unreliability in the Civil War is missing features: maps which don’t show certain roads or certain impassable terrain features. Ultimately, this is just a different kind of fog of war, eliminated not by simply moving into it, but by dedicated scouting and mapping. It also seems to require different levels of fog of war, to represent easy or difficult features to uncover.

In the Mississippi campaign, Grant wasted a bunch of time on various canal-digging and river-diverting projects, in large part because his maps were no substitute for detailed local knowledge. Only by attempting those projects and failing at them did he eventually come to some workable solutions.

Detailed Terrain and River Systems

In the Mississippi campaign, high-resolution elevation data and a river level simulation are all but requirements, and probably the hardest part of doing a good wargame of this sort.

In the 1860s, the Father of Waters rose and fell with the rains and the seasons. A canal dug in November might overflow its banks when the spring flood comes, as the surrounding countryside floods too. A river passable by ironclad in late April might be entirely unnavigable by steamboats in late August. The ever-shifting terrain of the Mississippi basin makes for a fascinating battlefield, and one that isn’t ordinarily well-represented by wargames.

Detailed Supply

The wargame I picture is driven much less by combat than by supply. You can get away, then, with abstracting combat pretty heavily. (See below.) I don’t think you can get away with abstracting supply as much as usual. At the same time, you don’t want to get too deeply into the weeds. Some items you probably want to track separately:

  • Food: either bring it with you in your train, or forage from the countryside around you. The latter option requires constant motion, or else you run out.
  • Forage: distinct from food for the troops, forage is food for your army’s beasts of burden. It comes up a lot in Foote’s history. If you don’t have forage, you have trouble moving your train as well as your artillery.
  • Ammunition (small arms and artillery): you probably don’t need to track ammunition with more granularity than the foregoing parenthetical.
  • Environmental supplies: winter coats and boots, tents, and the like. Less a problem for the Union. More a problem for the Confederates.

You probably also should track things like pontoon bridges separately—their lateness to the battle was what torpedoed Burnside’s crack at Lee. (Well, that and Burnside’s decision to go ahead with an attack after it was no longer a surprise.)

Weak Command

An army commander’s experience in the field was generally limited to watching from a headquarters, receiving reports from the field, and hearing (or failing to hear) subordinates engaging in battle.

The extent of his command, too, was limited: ensuring subordinates are in the right place, ordering attacks at a given time, and shuffling divisions around.

I think the Command Ops approach is a reasonable one for a game of this sort, though likely with even greater obstacles between the commands you give and their execution by the troops. Your runners might be captured or killed, and in most cases your orders will move at the speed of horse. If a corps of yours gets into action elsewhere on the field, you may not even know about it before you get reports saying they’ve retreated. Certainly you’ll have a hard time exercising much direct command in battle.

Conclusion

The question, then, is would a game like this be enjoyable to play? It’s hard to say. Command Ops manages to make order delays fun, but I’m not so sure that they would stay fun when your duties are primarily ordering people to capture, repair, or tear up railroads, and you rarely have very much direct control over the course of a battle.

Like I said, I don’t have the time to make this a reality, not even at the prototype stage, so history may never know the answer to the question above. Still, I think it would make for a fresh and interesting take on simulations of the Civil War.

Parvusimperator Reviews Yakuza 6

I picked this up mostly because I heard from a couple friends that this series was great. I only found out after the fact that it might have made more sense to start with the prequel Yakuza 0. No matter. I have Yakuza 6 and that’s where I started the series. So what do I think?

I love Yakuza 6.

There, that’s out of the way. Now, let’s get down to the why. Yakuza 6 is one part soap opera about criminals, one part fantastic beat-’em-up, and one part sort-of-open-world game. Let’s look at each of those.

The story is very much dramatic soap opera. I don’t speak Japanese, so I’m doing a lot of reading of subtitles. I don’t really mind. I think the story is loads of fun, mostly because it’s so different. It does have a bit of an anime feel to it in the ‘awesome drama trumps some realism’ department, but that’s ok. If you want to skip the cutscenes, you can. You’re missing out on some great story though. Just because it’s a little stylistically different doesn’t mean it isn’t well written. And fun. It’s lots of fun.

I also want to take a moment to commend Yakuza 6 for doing a great job of bringing someone totally new to the series up to speed with a minimum of fuss. And I didn’t feel like I was being lectured to. That’s rare.

Combat is pretty fantastic. There are some combos, but they’re pretty simple. It doesn’t feel like an old-school fighting game with giant lists of button press sequences to memorize. What sets Yakuza 6 apart from say, the Arkham games, is that the environment is full of weapons for you to use. There’s a lot of fun in picking up random things and beating your foes with them. Plus, there’s a “Heat Mode” which lets you power up, punch with awesome blue flames, and use larger blunt objects to smash people in the face. Things like mopeds.

There are also a good number of cool unlockable moves. Not so much that it ever felt grindy, but you can definitely unlock some fun extras.

Yakuza 6 has some open world elements in that there are a lot of optional sidequests and minigames that you can do. Some of these can get annoying, so it’s good to space them out. However, I never found them to be anything but fun. I think my favorite was running around trying to befriend stray cats by feeding them. Or perhaps the spearfishing rail-shooter minigame. In any case, these are all nicely optional.

Overall, there’s a good, fun story, an excellent combat system, and a solid grab bag of minigames. I give it a thumbs up. Definitely worth the asking price.

The Opinionated Bastards: Tukayyid (Oct. 8, 3052)

Introduction

Well, it’s a week or two late, but we’re back.

The Action of September 28, 3052

Scouts indicate that a rebel force is moving in the direction of Bear’s Bruisers, who have been bearing the brunt of the fighting so far. The Bruisers move slightly toward Second Lance to take up defensive positions amidst some hilly scrubland, and position themselves so that the rebels will come across their positions in darkness. A snowstorm blows in as they wait.

Second Lance is on the march, but won’t arrive for eight rounds.

Deployment

The rebel force appears to the north, looking battered already. The length of this campaign is wearing them down pretty seriously, especially given their lack of logistical support compared to us.

The Bruisers deploy in the middle of the battlefield, in formation. The darkness means it’s going to be difficult to shoot at long range.

Round 1

The two forces move closer together, but remain well outside of effective weapons range.

Round 2

round2

A solitary Wasp is now quite close to our forces, but impossible to hit based on its movement, the falling snow, and the darkness.

Round 3

round3

Teddy Bear and Wizard both stand still this turn, hoping to get good shots off at the Wasp or perhaps one of the vehicles. Severe moves closer. Her Koshi’s weapons are best at short range. Euchre follows her.

As it turns out, only Wizard‘s large laser and Severe‘s ER medium lasers are sufficient. They both take shots best described as speculative at the Galleon tank.

Predictably, everyone misses.

Round 4

The rebels continue to pull back as the Bruisers advance, staying just out of medium laser range. Wizard takes a shot and misses.

Round 5

round5

The rebels seem to commit to an attack as the Bruisers continue to push forward. The Wasp dead ahead is the primary target, but if shots at the vehicles are more plausible hit chances, we’ll take those instead.

Even at this relatively close range, hits are unlikely on a moving target, as our mech pilots try to put their sights over a very slightly darker moving shape in the darkness of the night. Teddy Bear‘s medium laser bites deep into the Wasp’s torso armor. Everyone else misses.

Round 6

round6

Now this we can work with. Severe took the unusual step of not moving. Her Koshi has very good alpha strike damage, which we’re going to try to exploit by giving her the best chance to hit we can.

Finally, some results! Teddy Bear hits the Wasp again, though only with his flamer. Wizard puts five of her six SRMs into the side of the Galleon tank, the explosions ripping through its armor, cutting cooling lines in its engine, and exposing its turret-mounted small laser. Severe hits the Locust, cutting off its right arm and nearly blowing its right torso out its back armor, and Euchre‘s medium laser severs its left arm.

Teddy Bear kicks the Wasp’s left leg out from under it to close the round.

Round 7

round7

The Wasp falls after taking Teddy Bear‘s kick, and fails to stand this round, so Teddy Bear turns his torso on the Locust and plans to kick the Wasp again. Wizard likes her chances shooting at the Locust, so lets her sights settle on it while Euchre and Severe take aim at the nearby Galleon.

Wizard and Teddy Bear combine to knock out the Locust’s right torso, while Euchre notches the kill on the Galleon with a medium laser shot that punches right through the battered front armor and into the crew compartment.

For reasons unclear to me, Wizard doesn’t get the option to make a physical attack. Teddy Bear kicks the through the prone Wasp’s right torso, while Severe turns her Koshi’s fists on the Locust, hitting twice. (The Koshi’s weapons are all torso-mounted, which means Severe can attack with all of them and still punch.)

Cleanup

The two mech pilots eject, leaving only a Vedette on the field. Wizard and Euchre pause to pick up the ejected enemy mechwarriors, while Severe and Teddy Bear advance to finish off the Vedette. Severe gets the kill with a devastating punch, cracking the tank’s side armor with an uppercut which flips it onto its back.

Damage, Injuries, Salvage

salvage

It was very nearly a perfect mission. Teddy Bear and Euchre took some hits, but only from machine guns.

For salvage, we take the Wasp and the two burned-out vehicles. We’ll strip the armor and weapons and sell the chassis.

Special Mission: Star League Cache

On October 1, Rook‘s Stalker finishes its refit, now kitted out with Artemis-capable LRM-15 launchers along with ER Large Lasers and sufficient heat sinks to fire everything. She takes it out for a little shakedown run in a peaceful area of the Bastards’ AOR, only to see a big blip on her sensors.

It’s an Emperor EMP-6A, a Star League-era mech packed with advanced Inner Sphere technology. It’s not entirely clear where the rebels got it, but it’s on Rook to knock it down, hopefully in such a way that we can salvage it and add a third assault mech to the Bastards’ roster.

Deployment

Rook starts on the north edge of the battlefield, her view of the Emperor blocked by buildings in a small outlying town.

Round 1

She moves south. The Emperor stays out of range, keeping behind the buildings.

Round 2

round2

See round 1.

Round 3

Rook tries to get around the east side of town to get a shot on the Emperor, but can’t quite manage.

Round 4

round4

The Emperor moves into range. Rook lets him have it with everything she can bring to bear.

Her alpha strike costs 43 heat, but deals a whopping 35 damage, knocking the Emperor prone. In return, an LBX-10 burst clatters against her right arm.

Round 5

round5

Rook has to be a bit more circumspect with her weapons fire this round, sticking with her LRMs and the ER Large Lasers. She doesn’t want to get too close—the Emperor’s weapons fit is deadly at short range.

Her goal for the next few rounds is to sneak around further to the east, whereupon she can collapse the building on which the Emperor is standing out from under it.

This round, Rook’s weapons deal 43 damage, as 27 of the 30 missiles she fired find their marks.

Round 6

round6

One more hex, I think, and then Rook can knock down the building. Moving more slowly, she finds the shot on the Emperor even easier this time.

Unfortunately, the Emperor’s shot against her is easier, too. A bit rusty at driving the Stalker, she puts a foot wrong as autocannon fire slams into her armor and tips over.

Round 7

round7

That was the opening the Emperor’s pilot was looking for. The enemy mech uses its jump jets to descend to the ground, closing inside Rook‘s missile range. That’s fine by Rook, though; she has medium lasers to spare, and in lieu of firing her LRMs, switches to those.

Round 8

It’s an old-fashioned slugging match now. Rook is a better gunner, but seems to have a little bit less damage on tap than the rebel pilot. Thanks to her efforts at longer range, however, she’s still ahead on the damage race.

Round 9

round9

Rook backs up as the Emperor jump-jets closer to her. She’s finding the Stalker’s performance most agreeable. Thanks to its combat computer, she can fire either her large lasers and missile launchers, or her large lasers and medium lasers, without worrying about her mech’s heat. That’s a major improvement over her previous ride.

Round 10

Alarms begin to flash in Rook‘s cockpit, indicating that her armor has been blasted away over her mech’s left arm. In return, however, her sensors indicate that she’s broken through the Emperor’s armor in multiple places.

Round 11

round11
The Emperor jumps up onto a ridgeline, so Rook moves into a hull-down position at its edge.

Round 12

Rook backs up slightly, hoping to stay out of melee range, but the Emperor is able to jump into position on the ridge above her, where it can kick down at her mech’s head.

She consults her cockpit displays quickly. With a worrying lack of armor on her left side, right where the Emperor is, she decides to try a risky close-range shot with her long-range missiles, hoping to knock him down before he’s able to bring a leg to bear.

She pulls her triggers, and weapons fire flashes back and forth between the two mechs. Alarms blare loudly in her cockpit as an LBX-10 shell impacts her mech’s left arm. With a sound of shearing metal, it breaks free.

Her missiles strike true, arcing out of their launch bays and arming just in time to pockmark the Emperor’s right torso. Her lasers, too, carve deep into it, and just as they finish their bursts, she sees the telltale signs of internal explosions. The force directed outward, the blossoming fireball nevertheless bends back a panel on the Emperor’s center torso armor. With her last large laser, Rook steadies her aim and squeezes the trigger. The large laser strikes true, slicing in behind the damaged armor to penetrate the Emperor’s engine. It staggers back, then falls to the ground, raising a vast cloud of dust as it hits.

Damage, Injuries, and Salvage

It takes some doing, but Drake manages to talk our ComStar liaison into letting us keep the Emperor in exchange for October’s paycheck.

The bad news is that the Stalker is pretty badly beaten up. The good news is that it won’t take all that long to fix, especially now that Rook‘s tech Edina Cameron is familiar with the design and can direct the repairs. Rook herself is unharmed, and permits herself a rare grin as the rest of the Bastards congratulate her on her victory in a most unexpected combat.

Kill Board(s)

In addition to the pictured kills, Rook notches one by taking down the Emperor.

On the strength of her Koshi, Severe is really rising up the board.

Last Battle

killboard

All-Time Leaders

  1. “Rook” Ishikawa (28, 9 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  2. “Drake” Halit (14, 6 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  3. “Woad” Kohler (14, 5 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  4. “Carcer” Ngo (11, 5 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  5. “Wizard” Que (7, 6 mechs, 6 Clan kills)
  6. “Teddy Bear” Jamil (7, 4 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  7. “Severe” Payne (6, 5 mechs)
  8. “Double Dog” Dare (5, 2 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  9. “Hanzoku” Yuksel (5, 4 mechs, 2 Clan kill)
  10. “Linebuster” Atkinson (5)
  11. “Milspec” Ortega (4, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  12. “Ker-Ker” Ec (3, 2 mechs)
  13. “Euchre” Kojic (3, 2 mechs)
  14. “Blinky” Stirzacre (2)
  15. “Kicks” Hernandez (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  16. Simona (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  17. “Wojtek” Frajtov (1, 1 mech)

Status

It is now October 8, 3052. I really wanted to get a full month in, but there’s yet another battle pending.

Finances

We have 69.736 million C-bills in the bank.

Repairs and Refits

The techs managed to get Rook‘s Stalker turned around. The Emperor is under repair, pending arrival of a few parts.

Mechwarrior Claims and Assignments

  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit (Mephansteras) – Awesome Custom (refitting)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson (Hasek10) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa (Culise) – Stalker STK-3Fb
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare (a1s) – Thunderbolt TDR-5S-T
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega (milspec) – Crab CRB-20
    • Sgt. Tedros “Teddy Bear” Jamil (Knave) – Vulcan VL-5T
    • Cpl. Damayanti “Carcer” Ngo (Dorsidwarf) – Flashman FLS-7K
    • Cpl. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler (A Thing) – Grasshopper GHR-5H
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic (EuchreJack) – Trebuchet TBT-5S
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne (Burnt Pies) – Koshi Custom
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec (Kanil) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Pvt. Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel (Hanzoku) – Guillotine GLT-4L
    • Pvt. Ik-jun “Wojtek” Frajtov (Blaze) – Trebuchet TBT-5N
    • Pvt. Xue-Min “Wizard” Que (Rince Wind) – Guillotine GLT-4P
    • Pvt. Abdul-Hafiz “Pepper” Popalzi (mrkilla22) – Archer ARC-2K
    • Pvt. Kevin “Blinky” Stirzacre (moghopper) – Ostroc OSR-2C
    • Pvt. Gwenael “Kicks” Hernandez (Sheyra) – Phoenix Hawk PXH-1K
    • Pvt. Elroy “Faceplant” Farooqi (NickAragua) – Dragon DRG-5N
  • The following mechwarriors are available.
    • Rec. Simona – Ryoken/Stormcrow B (missing lasers)

Action Items

It’s time for another assault mech organization question. We now have three of them. We could combine them with a heavy mech to make a proper assault lance, or we could continue to split them out among the other lances to make top-of-the-line heavy lances.

Also, we have to decide who gets to drive the Emperor. Linebuster is a prime candidate, being one of our better pilots in general and specializing in ballistic weapons, of which the Emperor has several. That would also free up his Lancelot for someone else to drive.

If we do build three heavy lances around our three assault mechs, I think it would make sense to reorganize Bear’s Bruisers a bit, moving Simona and the Ryoken in, and probably Hanzoku and Severe out to the heavier lances.

Parvusimperator Reviews: Rise of the Tomb Raider

A video game review! Yes, from me! I know, I don’t usually do these.

I picked up Rise of the Tomb Raider (20th Anniversary Edition) during a labor day weekend sale. I got it for my PS4, mostly on a lark. I figured that with all the DLC, and having a bunch of patches, I could probably get the $15 of enjoyment out of it.

I was skeptical because I am not a fan of the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot by Square Enix. I hated the fact that it’s an origin story, because I loathe origin stories, and I hated the QTEs. I can’t stand QTEs. They’re one of the worst parts of modern gaming, and I wish they would die1. Give me agency or make it a cutscene, game developers. It’s not that hard. There’s nothing wrong with cutscenes. Also, in addition to being a stupid, unnecessary origin story2, the 2013 game was populated with a bunch of other characters whose job is to die to prove the situation is serious and torment Lara.3

So, with all that in mind, what did I think of the sequel? It’s great. In fact, it seemed like they fixed a lot of gripes that I had with the first one. Good on you, Square Enix. Let’s do a deeper dive.

Are there QTEs? Yes, but they’re fewer in number, more spaced out, and the “windows” for button presses seem more forgiving. Also, a lot of them come up in the dodge-and-then-melee combat bits, but many of these are easily bypassed by those of us who can pull off a good headshot. So that’s a big plus.

Combat is much improved this time around too, with more weapons and a bunch of craftable ammo options. I will say that as a guy who has played shooters for a long time, I would have liked to have seen more difficult combat that wasn’t also tied to the survival mechanisms. Mostly because I want auto-heal on for all those times that I screw up the platforming and faceplant on a rock. I found combat satisfying overall. I thought some of the ‘boss fights’ could have been tougher.4 Or maybe that’s just because I like firepower, picked up the “easy button” and got on with life.

The story is better this time too. Lara is still “developing” as a tomb raider/adventurer/badass, but she’s got some skills and drive this time around. And there’s only one friend that hangs around the story. He’s a pretty ok guy, and we get to know him a bit. More time getting to know him would have been better, but this wasn’t awful. Lara is fundamentally a loner, and it’s nice to see us getting back to that.

I think the platforming was a little better in this one compared to the last, but it’s still not as good as Uncharted. One of the things I really liked in Uncharted 4 is that Nate will reach for ledges if and only if he can jump to them. I thought this was a great subtle hint as to what I shouldn’t waste time/restarts from checkpoints trying to reach. Alas, Rise of the Tomb Raider doesn’t do this, and I really missed the feature. I did like that as Rise of the Tomb Raider progresses, you get some toys to let you zoom around the environment more, and that was fun. Any game that lets me make my own ziplines is welcome.

Graphicswise, we’re long past the era when games would try to blow their competition away in terms of prettiness. The game looks good. There are plenty of spectacular scenic vistas, as befits an adventuring game. And I’m not much of a sound connoisseur, so I’ll merely state that the sound was never a problem. Not noticing it seems about the highest compliment I can pay, since my noticing it usually means it’s awful. Music was also good, though it lacked a kickass theme to really stick with me.

Overall, go for it. You’ll enjoy it.


  1. While I would love to see this be an agonizingly painful death, I am not a Bond villain, and am not choosy when it comes to the manner of termination with extreme prejudice. 
  2. Highly redundant, I know. 
  3. God forbid we reduce the number of characters and build attachments to them so the player gives a shit when they die because this situation is SRS BIZNIZ. /sarcasm 
  4. Protip: Grenade launchers are your friend. 

The Opinionated Bastards: Tukayyid (Sep. 28, 3052)

Introduction

It’s a good month for training, but I appear to have lost my screenshot thereof.

Still, the drills stretch on interminably, and news of a rebel concentration suitable to attack is a welcome diversion.

The Action of September 13, 3052

The surprisingly-timely action of September 13 involves both Bear’s Bruisers and Drake’s Destroyers. (That’s Teddy Bear, Hanzoku, Severe, and Euchre, if you’ve lost track, plus Carcer, Woad, Linebuster, and Blinky.)

The enemy is a reinforced Vedette platoon, six tanks and two medium mechs of indeterminate make, currently stationed in a town. Weather is bad; high winds rare reducing weapon accuracy and hampering vehicle movement.

001-map

Deployment

The enemy deploys in the city, where the tight quarters will work to their advantage—and ours. Bear’s Bruisers move north to deal with the enemy Wolverine, while Drake’s Destroyers swing around south to march through the center of the city.

Round 1

002-round1

Both of the Bastards’ lances advance. Almost nobody is within weapons range at this stage. Hanzoku takes a crack at an enemy Vedette, while the first enemy medium mech, a Wolverine, fires on Euchre‘s Trebuchet.

The Wolverine scores the luckiest of lucky shots, clanging an AC/5 shell off of Euchre‘s cockpit. He shakes his head, bell rung, but forges on.

Round 2

003-round2

Bear’s Bruisers now have a number of good targets, but are good targets themselves, as both enemy mechs move out of the city and a Vedette runs at top speed down the road.

Drake’s Destroyers, under Carcer‘s command, aren’t in great position, and the weather means they’ll be a little slow to reposition. Blame your staff officer’s rustiness.

The Bruisers concentrate on the Vedette, hoping to knock it out this round. Down south, Woad with his trusty Grasshoper is the only pilot with a shot. He lines up on a broken-down Vedette in the center of town and lets loose an alpha strike.

Nothing hits to very much effect. Severe scores with one of her Clan ER Medium Lasers, slicing into the Vedette’s armor. Woad hits his target with a single medium laser. The Wolverine and a Vedette score hits in response. Everything else goes wide or spatters harmlessly off of armor.

Round 3

004-round3

In the south, the Destroyers split up. Carcer and Linebuster, with longer-ranged mechs, split out to the west, where they’ll be able to fire on enemies leaving town along the northwest road. Woad and Blinky, in faster, shorter-ranged mechs, move into town to flank the vehicles hiding there.

005-round3north

In the north, Severe and Teddy Bear aim to shoot at and stomp on the nearest Vedette, respectively, while Hanzoku trades fire with a Vedette poking its nose out of town and Euchre looks to deal some damage to one coming out along the northwest road.

Four of Severe‘s five lasers find their mark, dealing a combined 24 damage, but Teddy Bear gets the kill with a stomp. Euchre damages his target’s left track, but doesn’t get the kill, while Woad and Blinky team up to knock out the immobilized Vedette in town. Blinky gets the last hit.

Round 4

006-round4

Carcer is in range of a Vedette, and lines up her laser shot eagerly. Woad pushes into the town, thanks to the magic of jump jets, while Blinky lags behind a bit.

Severe again proves the worth of her Koshi, slicing deep into a Vedette’s rear armor and heavily damaging its engine. Hanzoku finishes off the Vedette darting past his mech with a kick which caves in the roof of its turret.

Round 5

007-round5

Everyone is in on the action now. Hanzoku, Carcer, and the allied Vulcan race to take down the enemy Wolverine, while Severe, Woad, and Blinky move into the center of the city to deal with the remaining two Vedettes.

Teddy Bear lands a full alpha strike on his target Vedette, immobilizing it and knocking off both tracks, but not quite managing to bring it down with weapons fire. He finishes the job with a kick to the rear armor. Hanzoku beheads the Wolverine with a well-aimed volley of laser fire, notching the kill for himself. Woad and Severe collaborate to immobilize one of the city center Vedettes, while Blinky immobilizes the other.

Cleanup

The other enemy mech, a Phoenix Hawk which did very little, falls back, leaving the two Vedettes for Woad and Blinky. Each scores one kill.

Damage, Injuries, Salvage

Our mechs are all but undamaged, none of our pilots are badly hurt, and although we can’t convince the ComStar liaison to give us the Wolverine, we do get six Vedettes for the mechanics to cut apart. An excellent battle, professionally won.

Between selling off the Vedette chassis after stripping them of everything useful and ransoming prisoners, we end the mission up about 750,000 C-bills.

Kill Board(s)

Blinky and Hanzoku both emerge with two kills. Hanzoku leapfrogs Linebuster by dint of having more mech kills and now tying for overall count.

Last Battle

Forgot to take a screenshot. It’s been a while! I’m out of practice.

All-Time Leaders

  1. “Rook” Ishikawa (27, 8 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  2. “Drake” Halit (14, 6 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  3. “Woad” Kohler (14, 5 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  4. “Carcer” Ngo (11, 5 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  5. “Wizard” Que (7, 6 mechs, 6 Clan kills)
  6. “Teddy Bear” Jamil (6, 3 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  7. “Double Dog” Dare (5, 2 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  8. “Hanzoku” Yuksel (5, 4 mechs, 2 Clan kill)
  9. “Linebuster” Atkinson (5)
  10. “Severe” Payne (4, 4 mechs)
  11. “Milspec” Ortega (4, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  12. “Ker-Ker” Ec (3, 2 mechs)
  13. “Euchre” Kojic (2, 2 mechs)
  14. “Blinky” Stirzacre (2)
  15. “Kicks” Hernandez (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  16. Simona (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  17. “Wojtek” Frajtov (1, 1 mech)

Status

It is now September 28, 3052; there’s another battle pending.

Finances

We have 65.431 million C-bills in the bank, up 108,000 since last update.

Repairs and Refits

Our techs continue to work on refitting our two assault mechs. Edina Cameron is only a few days’ work away from getting Rook‘s Stalker back into the field. Kepano Endo has about four months of work left on Drake‘s Awesome.

Mechwarrior Claims and Assignments

  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit (Mephansteras) – Awesome Custom (refitting)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson (Hasek10) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa (Culise) – Stalker STK-3Fb (refitting)
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare (a1s) – Thunderbolt TDR-5S-T
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega (milspec) – Crab CRB-20
    • Sgt. Tedros “Teddy Bear” Jamil (Knave) – Vulcan VL-5T
    • Cpl. Damayanti “Carcer” Ngo (Dorsidwarf) – Flashman FLS-7K
    • Cpl. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler (A Thing) – Grasshopper GHR-5H
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic (EuchreJack) – Trebuchet TBT-5S
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne (Burnt Pies) – Koshi Custom
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec (Kanil) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Pvt. Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel (Hanzoku) – Guillotine GLT-4L
    • Pvt. Ik-jun “Wojtek” Frajtov (Blaze) – Trebuchet TBT-5N
    • Pvt. Xue-Min “Wizard” Que (Rince Wind) – Guillotine GLT-4P
    • Pvt. Abdul-Hafiz “Pepper” Popalzi (mrkilla22) – Archer ARC-2K
    • Pvt. Kevin “Blinky” Stirzacre (moghopper) – Ostroc OSR-2C
    • Pvt. Gwenael “Kicks” Hernandez (Sheyra) – Phoenix Hawk PXH-1K
    • Pvt. Elroy “Faceplant” Farooqi (NickAragua) – Dragon DRG-5N
  • The following mechwarriors are available.
    • Rec. Simona – Ryoken/Stormcrow B (missing lasers)

Action Items

Nothing much to speak of.

Miscellaneous

We’re now running MekHQ 0.44. Happily, everything I’d done on a custom basis is now merged into the main branch, so it was pretty painless. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get 0.45 to load the save game, so we may be stuck here for a bit.

The Opinionated Bastards: Tukayyid (Aug. 31, 3052)

Back in the Saddle

After the long retreat from the Clans and the hard fighting which occurred along it, things seem positively sleepy in the Opinionated Bastards’ mobile headquarters.

In mid-August, though, our somber ComStar liaison stops by, informs us gravely that we have a mission, and leaves as quickly as he came.

The Action of August 14, 3052

The rebels are fleeing a ComStar sweep, moving through a seaside town, where we’ll intercept them. Gale-force winds are blowing in from the shore, which forces the rebel vehicles to withdraw before combat.

There are four enemy medium mechs on the field: a pair of Vulcans, an Assassin, and a Phoenix Hawk. It’s a successful mission if we knock out two of them.

Round 1

The Bastards deploy near the center of the map. The rebels deploy to the south; they’re fleing to the north.

The hurricane winds are going to make it difficult to score many ranged weapon hits, at least while everyone is moving. Linebuster and newcomer Blinky are the only ones with a chance at a hit.

001-contact

Round 2

The wind is playing havoc with targeting systems; gusts hammer against mech arms, throwing off their aim. Woad and Blinky get into punching range, where they’ll hopefully be able to do some damage without having to rely on ranged weapons.

002-closeup

Ranged weapons fire doesn’t accomplish very much. Woad and Blinky exchange kicks with the enemy: everyone hits, but because of the high winds, everyone falls over, too.

Round 3-4

Rather than attempt to stand, both of the rebel Vulcan pilots eject. They fail to stick the landing. Both end up unconscious.

The enemy Assassin manages to take enough fire to lose its footing. Its pilot ejects, too.

003-pursuit

Round 5

The Phoenix Hawk is now most likely beyond our reach. He can simply run away.

I spoke too soon, though. Bafflingly, he turns to fight. We’ll get one more crack at him.

004-standup

The Ostroc suits Blinky just fine. Even in terrible conditions, he has at least some chance to hit.

005-blinky

Round 6

The Phoenix Hawk pushes a bit further away, but now he’s up against a little river. He probably will need some extra time to get through. I can’t imagine jumping is a very good idea right now.

006-river

Round 7

Bear’s Bruisers arrive on the field, with Wojtek in tow (his first combat deployment in a long time).

Unfortunately, it proves to be a bit of an anticlimax. The Phoenix Hawk steps into the water, trips, and falls, and the pilot immediately ejects.

007-endgame

Damage, Injuries, Salvage

Woad and Blinky both have minor injuries from falling over, and their mechs have light damage.

After the storm passes, we recover the enemy Phoenix Hawk and the enemy Vulcan, both of which are in serviceable shape. We’ll probably strip the Vulcan (a VL-2T model) and keep the Phoenix Hawk, at least for now. The latter chassis is handy to have; a good weight to fill in around the edges of a heavy lance.

One of the rebels, after ejecting, managed to shelter in the wind shadow of one of our fallen mechs. ComStar takes her off our hands as soon as the weather permits.

Kill Board(s)

Last Battle

I’ll say this: we didn’t exactly cover ourselves in glory this time. Although four enemy mechs were destroyed on the last mission, we scored precisely zero kills.

All-Time Leaders

  1. “Rook” Ishikawa (27, 8 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  2. “Drake” Halit (14, 6 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  3. “Woad” Kohler (13, 5 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  4. “Carcer” Ngo (11, 5 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  5. “Wizard” Que (7, 6 mechs, 6 Clan kills)
  6. “Teddy Bear” Jamil (5, 3 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  7. “Double Dog” Dare (5, 2 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  8. “Linebuster” Atkinson (5)
  9. “Severe” Payne (4, 4 mechs)
  10. “Milspec” Ortega (4, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  11. “Ker-Ker” Ec (3, 2 mechs)
  12. “Hanzoku” Yuksel (3, 3 mechs, 2 Clan kill)
  13. “Euchre” Kojic (2, 2 mechs)
  14. “Kicks” Hernandez (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  15. Simona (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  16. “Wojtek” Frajtov (1, 1 mech)

Status

It is now August 31, 3052.

Contract Status

Rebel morale remains high. Given the much less threatening opposition, I’m trying to rotate in some of the under-utilized pilots. Wojtek was on the board this time; hopefully we can get Euchre in next time.

Finances

We have 65.323 million C-bills in the bank.

The following mechs are available on the unit market. All of our pilots currently have mechs, however.

008-market

Repairs and Refits

Both of the techs who are working on the refits flubbed their finish-on-time rolls. As of now, it’s another five months for the Awesome and another month for the Stalker.

Drake has been getting well-acquainted with his desk; it looks like he’ll be playing administrator for a little while longer. (I’ve given him two points of the Administration skill as a bit of a consolation.)

Mechwarrior Claims and Assignments

  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit (Mephansteras) – Awesome Custom (refitting)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson (Hasek10) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa (Culise) – Stalker STK-3Fb (refitting)
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare (a1s) – Thunderbolt TDR-5S-T
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega (milspec) – Crab CRB-20
    • Sgt. Tedros “Teddy Bear” Jamil (Knave) – Vulcan VL-5T
    • Cpl. Damayanti “Carcer” Ngo (Dorsidwarf) – Flashman FLS-7K
    • Cpl. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler (A Thing) – Grasshopper GHR-5H
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic (EuchreJack) – Trebuchet TBT-5S
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne (Burnt Pies) – Koshi Custom
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec (Kanil) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Pvt. Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel (Hanzoku) – Guillotine GLT-4L
    • Pvt. Ik-jun “Wojtek” Frajtov (Blaze) – Trebuchet TBT-5N
    • Pvt. Xue-Min “Wizard” Que (Rince Wind) – Guillotine GLT-4P
    • Pvt. Abdul-Hafiz “Pepper” Popalzi (mrkilla22) – Archer ARC-2K
    • Pvt. Kevin “Blinky” Stirzacre (moghopper) – Ostroc OSR-2C
    • Pvt. Gwenael “Kicks” Hernandez (Sheyra) – Phoenix Hawk PXH-1K
  • The following mechwarriors are available.
    • Pvt. Elroy Farooqi – Dragon DRG-5N
    • Rec. Simona – Ryoken/Stormcrow B (missing lasers)

Action Items

  • We’re really rolling in the money now. It might be a good time to start looking for a DropShip or two, which costs 100,000 C-bills per month and may or may not give us something we can use. (We have a lot of mechs at this point; we’ll probably need at least two to fit our combat units, spares, and mothballed mechs.)

The Opinionated Bastards: Tukayyid (Jul. 3, 3052)

Introduction

The ComStar liaison is an odd, somber fellow, who assigned us a sector to patrol, wished us well, and sent us on our way.

June passes without much action. We’re called out of our forward positions a few times, but when we arrive, the the rebels have already fallen back. On June 30th, however, an intriguing message arrives at headquarters. A rebel commander challenges us to a duel.

The Clanners in our employ enthusiastically favor the idea. Drake is a little more cautious. He eventually decides to accept, if only to bring the rebels to action and get a kill on the board.

Who should be our champion? Rook, our deadliest pilot by far, seems like the obvious answer. With her Stalker in the shop, she borrows the Flashman from Carcer and heads out. Wizard and Hanzoku accompany her, playing bodyguard in the event the rebels try to get cute.

The Action of July 3, 3052

Waiting for us at the designated place of battle is… a Banshee. The Banshee, a 95-ton assault design dating to the dawn of the Star League era, is widely mocked as ineffective. Its armament totals a PPC, an AC/5, and a small laser, a piddling armament for a mech of that size. Most of the tonnage goes to an enormous GM 380 engine, which makes the Banshee about as fast as the Flashman facing off against it. In other words, not very fast.

Round 1

001-round1

Closing in. Rook, still outside of medium laser range, lands hits with both of her large lasers, but takes a PPC hit in response.

Round 2

002-round2

The Banshee closes in. Rook slows down, hitting again with a large laser and taking a hit from a PPC again.

Round 3

003-round3

Again, the mechs trade fire.

Round 4

004-round4

Sensing that the Banshee is trying to get around behind her, Rook backs up and lands more lasers on it.

She takes another hit to the center torso, and is nearly out of armor there; the Banshee’s been good at keeping its hits in the same place.

Round 5

005-flanked

Though Rook is hammering the Banshee, it gets into a semi-flanking position; she can only return fire with one large laser. In return, she takes still another PPC to the center torso; it eats through the armor and damages her engine.

The alarms don’t faze her.

Round 6

The Banshee steps back, into the optimal range of its weapons. It doesn’t matter. Rook calmly plugs it with one of her large lasers, and…

006-kaboom

Damage, Injuries, Salvage

None of the above.

Kill Board(s)

Last Battle

Obviously, Rook scores a kill.

All-Time Leaders

  1. “Rook” Ishikawa (27, 8 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  2. “Drake” Halit (14, 6 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  3. “Woad” Kohler (13, 5 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  4. “Carcer” Ngo (11, 5 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  5. “Wizard” Que (7, 6 mechs, 6 Clan kills)
  6. “Teddy Bear” Jamil (5, 3 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  7. “Double Dog” Dare (5, 2 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  8. “Linebuster” Atkinson (5)
  9. “Severe” Payne (4, 4 mechs)
  10. “Milspec” Ortega (4, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  11. “Ker-Ker” Ec (3, 2 mechs)
  12. “Hanzoku” Yuksel (3, 3 mechs, 2 Clan kill)
  13. “Euchre” Kojic (2, 2 mechs)
  14. “Kicks” Hernandez (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  15. Simona (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  16. “Wojtek” Frajtov (1, 1 mech)

Status

It is now July 3, 3052.

Contract Status

Despite Rook’s victory over the rebel leader, reports indicate that rebel morale is high.

Finances

We have 60.801 million C-bills in the bank.

Recruitment

A new face shows up at our camp, another Rasalhague citizen shows up looking to sign on.

007-farooqi

Newly-minted Private Elroy Farooqi was in the service of the Republic some time ago, but quit for reasons he refused to say, and spent some time as an independent operator in the coreward periphery. During the long retreat from the Clan invasions, he organized local militias and ad-hoc defenses; now, there’s no call for that, but he wants a piece of the fighting again.

Repairs and Refits

Both assault mechs are in the shop, refitting. The Awesome is 55 days from completion. The Stalker is 32 days from completion.

Some heavy mech refits are also in the pipeline—switching Wizard‘s Guillotine over to the -4L model, or perhaps the Clan ER Large Laser+Double Heat Sink model, and adding double heat sinks to some of our other heat-limited mechs, like the Thunderbolt, Flashman, and new Ostroc. (Obviously, we don’t want to be exactly heat-neutral. Building up a little heat over the course of a few alpha strikes is healthy.)

Otherwise, we’re in good shape.

Mechwarrior Claims and Assignments

  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit (Mephansteras) – Awesome Custom (refitting)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson (Hasek10) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa (Culise) – Stalker STK-3F
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare (a1s) – Thunderbolt TDR-5S-T
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega (milspec) – Crab CRB-20
    • Sgt. Tedros “Teddy Bear” Jamil (Knave) – Vulcan VL-5T
    • Cpl. Damayanti “Carcer” Ngo (Dorsidwarf) – Flashman FLS-7K
    • Cpl. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler (A Thing) – Grasshopper GHR-5H
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic (EuchreJack) – Trebuchet TBT-5S
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne (Burnt Pies) – Koshi Custom
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec (Kanil) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Pvt. Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel (Hanzoku) – Guillotine GLT-4L
    • Pvt. Ik-jun “Wojtek” Frajtov (Blaze) – Trebuchet TBT-5N
    • Pvt. Xue-Min “Wizard” Que (Rince Wind) – Guillotine GLT-4P
    • Pvt. Abdul-Hafiz “Pepper” Popalzi (mrkilla22) – Archer ARC-2K
    • Pvt. Kevin “Blinky” Stirzacre (moghopper) – Ostroc OSR-2C (en route)
    • Pvt. Gwenael “Kicks” Hernandez (Sheyra) – Phoenix Hawk PXH-1K
  • The following mechwarriors are available.
    • Pvt. Elroy Farooqi – n/a
    • Rec. Simona – Ryoken/Stormcrow B (missing lasers)

The Opinionated Bastards: Tukayyid (Jun. 1, 3052)

Tukayyid from the Sidelines

The Opinionated Bastards spend the month of May engaged in the typical activities of warriors removed from the fighting. Some work on maintenance. Others hit the simulators. Still more poke around the small city where the Bastards are ostensibly guarding evacuees from the combat zone, looking for leisure and finding little of it. Drake spends some time with MechTech Endo, learning the ins and outs of his Awesome’s guts. Between the new double heat sinks, the new power conduits and mounting points for the Clan PPCs, and the general rebuild-it-from-scratch thing, it’s a serious project, and is going to be a serious project for some time longer.

News reaches the Bastards both by radio intercepts and by our Free Rasalhague Republic liaison, who is a little more plugged into happenings than we are. The general impression is that things are going well. As mid-May passes, the news turns a bit more sour, but Hanzoku points out that Clan Wolf’s victories are largely symbolic. The Com Guards have already won the balance of the fighting, and that’s enough.

On the 20th, the fighting stops. The distant rumble of heavy weapons fire falls silent. News filters out: the Truce of Tukayyid is now in force. The Clans may not advance past Tukayyid for fifteen years.

With that, our purpose in the remains of the Free Rasalhague Republic is moot. Our liaison informs us that he’ll be paying us the rest of our fee, and that we’re free to stay for a while, but there’s no more combat against the Clans to be had in his government’s employ.

The Bastards stick around through the end of May, at least. Few of the planet’s residents join them; most of the large population centers were ruined during the fighting, and despite its newfound historical importance, Tukayyid is still a backwater. Our mechs keep an eye on the loading process, as DropShips arrive to carry off the portion of the population which doesn’t want to stay.

Kill Board(s)

Last Battle

Nothing much going on this month.

All-Time Leaders

  1. “Rook” Ishikawa (26, 7 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  2. “Drake” Halit (14, 6 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  3. “Woad” Kohler (13, 5 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  4. “Carcer” Ngo (11, 5 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  5. “Wizard” Que (7, 6 mechs, 6 Clan kills)
  6. “Teddy Bear” Jamil (5, 3 mechs, 2 Clan kills)
  7. “Double Dog” Dare (5, 2 mechs, 1 Clan kill)
  8. “Linebuster” Atkinson (5)
  9. “Severe” Payne (4, 4 mechs)
  10. “Milspec” Ortega (4, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  11. “Ker-Ker” Ec (3, 2 mechs)
  12. “Hanzoku” Yuksel (3, 3 mechs, 2 Clan kill)
  13. “Euchre” Kojic (2, 2 mechs)
  14. “Kicks” Hernandez (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  15. Simona (1, 1 mech, 1 Clan kill)
  16. “Wojtek” Frajtov (1, 1 mech)

Status

It is now June 1, 3052, and a very different world awaits.

The Bastards are not currently under contract.

Finances

We have 47.259 million C-bills in the bank.

Repairs and Refits

The Awesome is still three months away from combat readiness. Otherwise, we’re in top fighting shape. An Ostroc is on the way for Blinky.

Mechwarrior Claims and Assignments

  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit (Mephansteras) – Awesome Custom (refitting)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson (Hasek10) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa (Culise) – Stalker STK-3F
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare (a1s) – Thunderbolt TDR-5S-T
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega (milspec) – Crab CRB-20
    • Sgt. Tedros “Teddy Bear” Jamil (Knave) – Vulcan VL-5T
    • Cpl. Damayanti “Carcer” Ngo (Dorsidwarf) – Flashman FLS-7K
    • Cpl. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler (A Thing) – Grasshopper GHR-5H
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic (EuchreJack) – Trebuchet TBT-5S
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne (Burnt Pies) – Koshi Custom
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec (Kanil) – Lancelot LNC25-02
    • Pvt. Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel (Hanzoku) – Guillotine GLT-4L
    • Pvt. Ik-jun “Wojtek” Frajtov (Blaze) – Trebuchet TBT-5N
    • Pvt. Xue-Min “Wizard” Que (Rince Wind) – Guillotine GLT-4P
    • Pvt. Abdul-Hafiz “Pepper” Popalzi (mrkilla22) – Archer ARC-2K
    • Pvt. Kevin “Blinky” Stirzacre (moghopper) – Ostroc OSR-2C (en route)
    • Pvt. Gwenael “Kicks” Hernandez (Sheyra) – Phoenix Hawk PXH-1K
  • The following mechwarriors are available.
    • Rec. Simona – Ryoken/Stormcrow B (missing lasers)

Action Items

The whole of the Inner Sphere is our oyster, as the saying goes.

  • In the short term, we’re in excellent shape. Our war chest is large enough to absorb a long wait while we refit most of our mechs to be more Clan-competitive. Alternately, we could take an easy contract while we’re refitting, taking it a bit more slowly and getting our greener pilots some experience against an easy opponent.
  • As it happens, there’s just such a contract available: ComStar offers us a job fighting rebels right here on Tukayyid. Since some of Tukayyid’s residents aren’t happy about the devastation or the ComStar takeover and the Com Guards are seriously battered after the battle against the Clans, our services command a premium. ComStar would be paying us better than the Free Rasalhague Republic did.
  • Do we take the ComStar contract while refitting, refit without taking a contract, or go looking for more opportunities to get stuck in against the Clans? (Although there was a truce, the Clans are a long way from the truce line across most of the coreward Inner Sphere.)
  • On that note, what do we want to refit? I think it’s probably a good time to get the Stalker done, at a minimum, but most of our heavy mechs would benefit from a double heat sink refit. We’re a pretty energy-heavy company at present.

The Opinionated Bastards: Tukayyid Interlude

Introduction

(If you’re reading at Bay12 as opposed to one of the other places this runs, you can skip ahead to the last two paragraphs of the introduction, which reproduces stuff I’ve posted during the week there.)

Readers familiar with the BattleTech lore will have put May 1, 3052 and Tukayyid together already.

For everyone else, the Battle of Tukayyid is one of the seminal events in the history of the Inner Sphere. ComStar, up until now believed to be merely the people who run the hyperpulse generator interstellar communications network, reveal themselves to be guardians of enormous caches of Star League technology and an army as large as any of the Great Houses of the Inner Sphere. They challenge the Clans to a Trial of Possession, a throwdown for the fate of the known galaxy. Seven miniature battles are set for Tukayyid, seven Clans against seven units of the Com Guards. If ComStar wins, the Clans advance no further than Tukayyid for the next fifteen years. If the Clans win, ComStar forfeits Terra itself. I won’t spoil the ending.

What I will do, since the Opinionated Bastards are on the sidelines for this month, is replicate one of the official Battle of Tukayyid scenarios and play that, with the Bastards replacing the Com Guards for fun.

The scenario is #3 from the BattleTech Tukayyid sourcebook: Battle in the Suburbs. Clan Nova Cat’s forces, battered somewhat by ComStar aerospace fighters while landing, nevertheless marched on the city of Joje in moderate force. In the real timeline, two veteran Com Guard divisions stood ready to meet them. The Nova Cat commander who won the batchall for the attack bid a single Cluster, which matched the Com Guard strength mech for mech, but ignored the Com Guards’ penchant for combined arms tactics. An engagement in the northern suburbs between the 9th Division and the leading elements of the Second Nova Cat Guards saw the Clanners stopped in their tracks. The Nova Cat forces, heavily dependent on ammunition supplies, made no further progress into Joje.

In our hypothetical timeline, it isn’t the Com Guards who meet the Nova Cat forces in Joje, it’s the Opinionated Bastards. In particular, it’s Drake’s Destroyers, Second Lance, and Reserve Lance. Facing off against them are two stars of Clan mechs, one medium, one light. The light star is down one mech, for a total of 9 Clanners. All are elite pilots.

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