Sonntag, 17. Februar 2019

Battle Report: Operation Thor II - The Ronin War

Feb 1st, 3035
Planet Radlje, Free Rasalhague Republic
(former Military District Rasalhague, Draconis Combine)

As the Kurita fleet went down on the icy world of Radlje, the flames of the engines evaporated the frost on the ships’ hulls within milliseconds. The Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, an overlord class dropship completely covered in dark red and painted with a large black dragon, took the lead position. Flanked by a flight of Shilone heavy aerospace fighters, it must have been a beautiful sight – at least for the loyalists on the planets surface, waiting for the relieve force. For the Ronin instead, it must have felt like a guillotine coming down on them.

The Ronin were renegades. As warriors of the Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery they had refused to follow the command of the Gunji-no-Kanrei Theodore Kurita to leave the planet and head for the Kurita core regions. In 3034 Theodore had decided to release Rasalhague to independence. But some of the DCMS forces didn’t want to give up the territories their fathers and grandfathers have spilled their blood for centuries. Others remained only to protect the Kurita civilians from the wrath of the Swedenese mob. 
For Tai-sa Hatake Matsumura all of this was of little concern. As a man of absolute loyalty to Theodore Kurita, he was determined to follow his orders: break all resistance and punish the perpetrators. The only thing he didn’t like about his assignment was his task force. Or better: its individual elements. Next to some loyal Kurita units like the Swords of Light and some Regulars, he was forced to work with members of the Kungs Armé as well as Mercenaries and even some military “advisors” of the hated Lyran Commonwealth!

From his point of view, he would have left all but his loyal DCMS forces behind. Surely those Ronin were no match for him and the Swords of Light. But there were political layers he couldn’t ignore. And after all, he had his orders from the Kanrei personally! And a soldier has to carry out one’s duty…

8 strategic targets are
connected by a rail network.
So much for the “fluff” of the Ronin Campaign. The Hamburg division of MechForce Germany ran an event from 1st to 3rd of February. 36 players and a staff of 10 people took part in this large 3 days’ battle. 6 tactical rounds were played and incredible 42 engagements were fought. Not to forget all the good laughs, the anger (about missed dice roles) and of course: the booze! :-D

When I arrived on Friday to my surprise I was appointed as the CO of the loyalist faction. While an old buddy of mine, Thori, took the lead of the Ronin. So after all this became a true brotherly battle. To even the odds, the game master decided all units on both sides had to combat drop randomly. The battlefield was represented by a huge map of Alaska with a layer of hex fields on it. 

The first day: Dropping on enemy territory

By luck most of the Ronin went down around the city of Anchorage, which was also the capital in our Ronin scenario. The Loyalists instead landed for the most part in the north and west of the map. Only a few units came down behind enemy lines. But those who did, played a major role soon after…

Green: Loyalist, Red: Ronin
As a good Kurita soldier, I decided to engage as soon and as hard as possible. Six fights were on in the first tactical round. In the beginning I wanted to know what we were up against, because both sides had a variety of light, medium, heavy, assault and artillery assets at their disposal. Based on their weight class their movement speed corresponded on the strategic map:
  • 1 hex for assault units
  • 2 hexes for artillery units
  • 2 hexes for heavy units
  • 3 hexes for medium units
  • 4 hexes for light units
All units were BattleMechs (no tanks, no infantry etc.), both sides had one Raven with ECM in their ranks.

To win the campaign, one side had to occupy more strategic targets on the map than the other. There were eight targets like the spaceport, a sea harbour, loading stations etc. Holding some of them granted the occupying side perks like performing a combat drop every three tactical rounds if you owned the spaceport.

At this point my units, which dropped behind enemy lines, came into play: While the main forces engaged the enemies where they stood, the ones in the rear of the Ronin headed straight for the strategic targets. Meanwhile my combat units managed to bind some of the lighter and though faster Ronin. As a result, the Loyalists made the race to 6 of the 8 strategic targets before the Ronin could get there. I’d like to single out the unluckiest person I treaded this way: Outlaw. I managed to attack him and his light/medium unit three rounds in a row with an assault unit. Outlaw had no chance to win, even though he managed to slip away three times. It needed lucky shots in the third engagement to kill at least Outlaws Spider – with two hits to the head!

In the night from Friday to Saturday, when the fighting came to an end, the progress of the Loyalists was satisfactory: We already held 4 out of 8 strategic targets, while the opponents only managed to take 2. The rest was still unoccupied. In return the Ronin scored slightly better on the kill board. 

Loyalists on the attack.
The second day: Main Stage Spaceport

On Saturday morning the fighting continued, but this time the Ronin took a much more active stance. Thori, my opposing commander, tried to disengage from my main force, while he pushed south towards the spaceport. Only a light/medium unit of the Phoenix Guard held the place and would not stand a chance on the long run. So I took the risk and intercepted the incoming forces on route to the port. Performing a wonderful delaying action, while the Loyalist main force raced south-east to the rescue!

The plan succeeded and the Phoenix Guard not only managed to hold the port, they did some kills. To strengthen the defence, in the sixth round I dropped in an assault unit and the perimeter held. 

Side Stages

Meanwhile there were some smaller units fighting in the west, east and north for secondary targets. In the north the factory changed hands three times, while decimated loyalist defenders clinged on the radio station until the very end. The western skirmishes were kinda special for me. First of all, my unit was involved directly and my opponent was Detlef Howe, one of the founders of the first MechForce Germany in 1993. Detlef alias “The Major” rolled my first MechForce BattleMech in 1994, a Hunchback-4G. I payed the BattleTech Central in Essen a visit to sign in and that was that. So I was really excited to fight a match with him 25 years later.

Unfortunately, the mission I had to fulfill was to act as a binding force and to slow the Major down, while he approached the western railway loading station. His unit consisted of a few very agile light and medium machines plus some artillery Battlemechs … and a Raven with ECM. So I couldn’t do much more than distracting him and buy some time. In the fifth tactical round more powerful loyalist units were entrenched enough in the railway station, so I let the Major of the hook and he tried to take the station – but didn’t succeed. 

Final push to Anchorage.
The last night: Advancing Anchorage

You want to know what happened to the capital? Anchorage was a pretty safe place for the Ronin for the most time. But in the end of the campaign I ordered a sizeable push towards the large city along the western railroad. The fighting in the suburbs and in the downtown area were grim. When the dust settled in the night from Saturday and Friday, it became apparent that it was a draw. Half of the capital was still held by the Ronin, while the other half was freed by the Loyalists. 

Results & Aftermath

At the end the Loyalists held 6 out of 8 strategic targets. The capital, Anchorage, was still contested while the Ronin controlled only a subterranean railway station in the north-east. Therefore, the Loyalist faction achieved a major strategical victory!

But the Ronin did not despair. In the sixth and last tactical round the still had the chance to turn the tables and they put up some great fights. Almost everyone was happy with the end of the campaign. Personally it’s been absolutely fun for me. I met some old buddies I hadn’t seen for decades and I made some new friends.

My thanks go out for the Northern German BT Division, you guys did an awesome job! Already looking forward to Operation Thor III in 2021

@Fotos: Danke an Thorsten Elfers für die tollen Bilder!

It's Thoris (center) turn to set one of his units on the strategic map.
Blue flags are loyalist units, white ones for the Ronin.
Delaying action: Storyteller (black pullover) and Peer (blue) are fighting Detlef "The Major" Howe (left).
A lot of fighting during Saturday.
Thori (2nd from the left) and Storyteller (me sitting front/right)
during a movement phase at the strategic map.

42 battles were fought from Friday evening to Saturday night!
Aaaaaand ... the result:
The loyalist achieved a major victory!
But we all had a great time.
A rare view: A Steiner banner next to Kurita flag.

The 2019 combined banner of
MechForce Germany and Team Trueborn.
Some of you may notice the artwork on top:
36th Dieron Regulars by Spooky777!