Welcome to Force Building Friday where we look at building units for use in Classic Battletech and Alpha Strike!
Today, we'll piece together a Horde Lance from the new Combat Manual: Kurita!
THE DESIGN AND PLAY OF THIS UNIT MAY CAUSE CHALLENGES IN YOUR GROUP. REMEMBER, ABOVE ALL ELSE, RULE 1: HAVE FUN. IF PLAY OF THIS UNIT CREATES CONFLICT WITH RULE 1, CONSIDER A FORCE STRUCTURE REDESIGN.
One of the best things about the new Combat Manual series is the inclusion of faction-specific formations. In CM: Kurita, the Dragon brings some some impressive builds to the table that emphasize their faction-flavor including the melee-focused Berserker Lance, the uniform model Order Lance, and the uncountable Horde Lance. Based on the idea of Kurita forces swarming the enemy with innumerable light 'Mechs, the Horde Lance gives players the opportunity to field a small army of models in one lance and still be competitive.
The Horde Lance allows a player to take in a single lance no fewer than five and no more than ten light 'mechs, none of which with a damage value greater than 2 at any range or from any special ability. Provided all of these requirements are met and the formation is legal, it benefits from the Swarm bonus ability. With Swarm, when the opposing player targets a unit in this formation, the controlling player may switch the target to any other unit in the formation that is a legal target, in line of sight, and at the same range or less from the attacker. Players should note that the unit only needs to be a legal target (within line of sight) and at the same range or less--it doesn't have to be a unit with the same or less to-hit number.
As cool as the Swarm ability is, it is unreasonable to not expect to experience heavy casualties in this mode of play. To minimize this risk, it is important to treat the Horde Lance like any light lance. Players must make maximum use of movement, jump, cover, range, and rear attack to give the opponent the highest to-hit numbers possible while throwing down as much destruction as these little guys can each turn. Remember pilots, he can't hit what isn't there and it's a whole lot harder if what isn't there is still moving. Selecting the right combat command, one that grants bonuses of movement and attack, cause critical hits before armor is destroyed, and allow for greater movement will maximize the lethality and survivability of the Horde Lance.
Raise Your Colors
All of the favorite combat commands of the DCMS appear in CM: Kurita. Each unit brings with it Special Command Abilities (SCA) much like the special abilities attributed to commands in the old Field Manual: Draconis Combine. Many of the combat commands are light weight with SCAs well suited to strengthen the Horde Lance.
A few commands to consider are:
Second Amphigean Light Assault Group
Second Night Stalkers
Building Your Force
It is important to remember from the start that a Horde Lance only generates 4 FPs. Thus, if a player wishes to include duplicate models, they will only be allowed to spend 4 FPs to do so (unless the lance is part of the Genyosha or Amphigean Light Assault Group).
When selecting units for the Horde Lance, players must remember the restrictions that:
Considering the likelihood of taking on much sturdier opposing forces with significantly more armor and structure, players want to select models that have considerable TMMs, preferably with jump, to compensate for their lack of armor and structure. If possible, take as many units with the ENE special to reduce the possibility of unfortunate ammo explosions.
Some units of note from the Succession Wars appear in the gallery below!
Notes from the Light 'Mech Pilot's Handbook
Make every effort to flank the enemy and make shots to the rear for the +1 DAM (notice how there are no Sword of Light regiments).
When an enemy targets a long distance sniper, like a Panther, switch the target to a closer-ranged, higher TMM piece like a Jenner.
Arm your Horde Lance with HT generating weapons in order to slow down your opponent's advance.
As much as the name seemingly implies, it cannot be played in a "fire and forget" sort of style. Playing the Horde Lance is a game of patience, maneuver and counter maneuver. When the initiative is on your side, take advantage of it to get into good firing positions. When you don't have the advantage, find cover or run (again, notice the lack of Sword of Light regiments).
Patreon Hangar Crew
HAVE YOUR OWN HORDE LANCE OR SUGGESTIONS TO ADD TO THE LIGHT MECH PILOT'S HANDBOOK? ADD THEM IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
Welcome to the second installment in the Long Live! series. This series is designed to help players design multi-era lances for use with Battletech and Alpha Strike. Each entry will attempt to build a functional lance with faction-flavor for the Succession Wars, Clan Invasion, FedCom Civil War, and World of Blake Jihad. In some cases, an entry will have substitute options to add variety. If you have your own substitutions or suggestions post them below in the comments!
Build a FWLM lance that can be played across eras, from the Succession Wars through the Jihad.
THANKS FOR THE CATCH, JOHN SISK! SHOULD BE CORRECT NOW.
This edition of Long Live! makes extensive use of the miniatures found in the Battletech Boxed Set, Fire Lance Lance Pack, and Recon Lance Lance Pack, as well as models from Iron Wind Metals. Click the images below to purchase these and other miniatures! (Miniatures supplied unassembled and unpainted.)
I don't paint "Leaguers" often. Going over my various galleries, I have only painted to this date two FWLM tanks, and a handful of battle armor--being torn apart by a Lyran Griffin.
Looking over the units available to the FWLM on the Battletech MUL, it seemed they have a love of long range missiles--I bet it's "Leaguers" who are responsible for lrmageddon. Secretly, I've always wanted to build an LRM-based unit, but that doesn't make me a "Leaguer."
This is new territory...
The Hermes II HER-2S is an acceptable substitute for the Cicada. It is 2" slower, also bringing with it a reduced TMM. With the reduced speed, however, the Hermes II also carries +2A and +0/0/1 damage. These gains come at a cost of +5 PV. This is a unit worth adding if for no other reasong than it will have some great variants in the coming ages to strengthen this formation.
Okay, I might be breaking the rules a bit...
If you want a more Marik feel, use an Orion ON1-K in place of the Dervish. You'll downgrade the IF to IF1, but gain an all around formidable unit.
Clan Invasion Through Fed Com Civil War (127 PV without SPA)
Gaining a significant look and feel of a traditional FWLM force, the Apollo APL-2S (or any era-approved variant of the Apollo) replaces the ancient Dervish DV-6M. For what it loses in maneuverability, the Apollo makes up for in hitting power (+1/2/1), armor (+2A), and indirect fire ability (+1 IF). This comes at a PV cost, however, as the Apollo is seven points more expensive than the Dervish. To help overcome the speed difference, this unit could take the Speed Demon SPA (Alpha Strike Companion, p. 52) that will boost its ground sped to 10". This will, however, possibly create some game balance issues if the player applies other SPA to this unit or also takes the Forward Observer SPA with the spotter unit. Remember Rule #1 and use your best discretion to keep the game fun.
There are many variants of both the Apollo and the Trebuchet to choose from. If survivability is a concern, then keep the Trebuchet TBT-5J instead of adding the Trebuchet TBT-7M. The loss of two points of internal structure is a high price to pay for 1/0/1 damage increase. It also gains SNARC a useful special for a missile-based unit. With the fragile nature of the design, however, this may be a special ability used rarely.
This lance upgrades the Cicada to either a Cicada CDA-3F or Cicada CDA-3G. At an increased PV cost, these two modls also gain increased maneuverability with a 16" jump, +0/1/1 damage, and exchange one point of internal structure for two points of armor. If you're group describes your play style as "throw caution to the wind," then the reduced structure is good for you--it just means less chances to take critical damage, right? An added bonus if using expanded rules, the Cicada CDA-3G brings exceptional scouting abilities to the table gained by the probe and recon specials. It definetly takes the role of spotter to another level. To support it in the role of spotter, this model carried over the Forward Observer SPA.
The shining star of this upgraded lance, however, is the Shadow Hawk SHD-5M. This variant build the 6" jump to a full 10" to match the unit's ground speed. The -5M mounts slightly less staying power than the Catapult CPLT-C1 or the Shadow Hawk SHD-2H, with +1A and -2S. This is a negligable change, however, if used at range in its intended role as a missile boat. What's more, the upgraded damage profile of +0/1/1 of the -5M makes medium and long ranges its sweet spot. Though it has an identical damage profile to the Catapult, the increased maneuverability allows this machine to move into and out of foreign positions much more easily than the model it replaced.
This unit still functions as a dedicated Fire Lance.
Some things to consider, however, when choosing between the Wraith and the upgraded Cicadas. Both Cicada models are cheaper and faster than the Wraith and carry the same damage profile. Both Cicada models also have -1 armor and -1 structure compared to the Wraith; their increased TMM, however, should balance this out. They both lack the over heat option of the Wraith, preventing both units from being able to really pour on the damage in tight situations. The Cicada CDA-3G, however, makes up for this with exceptional scouting abilities gained by the probe and recon specials.
Jihad (126 PV-without SPA)
The one I can strongly recommend is adding a Hermes II HER-5Sr. With the addition of ECM, this piece becomes an invaluable tool in combating C3 and C3i networks prevalent in this era of play. What's more, with the role switch to sniper, adding the Hermers I and keeping the Cicada will still allow a player to keep the Fire Lance bonus abilities. The Hermes II, in many variants, is a viable option for the FWL throughout their history.
By replacing the Trebuchet TBT-7M with the Hermes II HER-5Sr, the lance remains eligible to serve as a Fire Lance because of the sniper role it fulfills. Without the IF skill of the Trebuchet, however, the unit does lose the opportunity to serve as a Fire Support Lance. The two units are relatively similar in performance: same TMM on both though the Trebuchet can complicate matters by jumping, creating a TMM of 3. The Hermes II carries one more pip of internal structure, giving it a slight edge in survivability. It does, however, bring less damage potential to the board, -1/0/0 damage, compared to the Trebuchet.
Depending on whether the Cicada or the Hermes II will do the bulk of the spotting work will determine which of the two units will take the Forward Observer SPA.
Long Live the Leaguer!
What's more, because of the style of play and specific models used, this lance can be played virtually out of the box! Print and use the cards from the Battletech MUL and play the Introductory Box Set Dervish as a later-period Apollo! Ned to find a stand-in for the Shaow Hawk? Try using a Dragon. Use whatever creative substitutes come to mind until you can make your way to Iron Wind Metals or your Friendly Local Game Store!
- I'm still not a Leaguer.
- Need to find units to build your own missile-toting lance? Use the Battletech MUL!
Similar to Escalation Leagues, Fist Full of C-Bills is also a great opportunity to start building a new force or trying out new tactics and ’Mechs while creating exciting (and often humorous) backstories!
Players agree on a common vendor of mini acquisition. Some examples include: BV Traders, E-Bay lot purchases, and “On Sale” bins at the FLGS or online. In this campaign, players are attempting to emphasizing the ad hoc aspects by not purchasing the latest, newest, and beefiest pieces.
Know Your Limits
Players agree to a real-world dollar limit for the purchase of forces. It’s up to the players’ discretion whether or not to include shipping in this cap. A good range that allows for some diversity of units is between $25.00 and $35.00. Any funds remaining in the real-world pot after purchase may be converted to 1 point per $1, rounded as normal, to be applied to Special Pilot Abilities (SPAs) or Design Quirks (Alpha Strike Companion, p. 52 & p. 62).
Play as You Are
Players play the units as they arrive—paint schemes, missing and broken parts, and all! If parts are missing or damaged, it must be reflected on the record sheet. For example, if your Centurion is missing the autocannon arm, this unit’s card must reflect a “Weapon Hit” critical at the start of play and suffers any related penalties. Pieces damaged in this way do not gain extra points to be applied to other Design Quirks or Special Pilot Abilities. If playing it as such would render it “dead” in game terms, such as broken legs or torso-hip separation, it may be repaired.
These adjustment may require some creativity. For example, if your Atlas is missing an arm, treat it as having a -1 physical attack damage. If your Spider is missing an arm, however, you may have to consider another option. Refer to Alpha Strike Companion, for "Negative Design Quirks" (p. 63) for inspiration.
After the initial game, make repairs (both to models and to the units in game) as normal. If you really want to go for the all-out feel of this style of game, don't repair the model unti you can pay for repairs in-game as well.
Up to one unit per lance with a particularly interesting paint scheme may select the Distracting positive design quirk. This reflects the thrown together nature of machines and personalities in the guns for hire trade. If a unit takes this optional rule, it must retain this scheme for the duration of this campaign to retain the Distracting quirk.
Chosing the Miniatures
Lance Formation and Abilities
Because of the paint scheme on the Cobra, this piece received the Distracting SPA.
With the remaining point cashed in from coming in under budget, I wanted to give something to the Blitzkrieg. Not satisfied with the already significant speed advantage it carried, I chose to give it even more with the Speed Demon SPA. This overdrove the move from 14" to 16", making this certainly a unit to not ignore as it can skim around the edges of the board and pop-up in the rear arc of the opposition.
This unit is designed to work with the Cobra as the anchor, the Blitzkrieg as the hammer, and the Wolfhound and Enforcer as the anvil. Using movement, cover, and adaptive fluidity, this unit will do best in open spaces with obstuctions to dart behind, especially when the iniatiative falls in the opponent's hands. It will need to, idealy, operate at long and medium ranges with ample cover because of the relatively low TMM of three of the four 'Mechs. The Blood Stalker SPA, however, will help overcome this to an extend.
With the upcoming publication of Combat Manual: Lyran Commonwealth coming in 2017, I'll return to this post and run a Lyran special lance formations update!
Had I chosen the Commando, along with the other three found on the Mercenary faction list, I could have used the recently published Combat Manual: Mercenaries for formations.
As the Campaign Drags On
Bitz Box Salvage
Random pulls from bitz boxes to make repairs resulting in game-legal redesigns. For example, that Centurion that lost an AC arm? Replace it with a Shadow Hawk autocannon. In game terms, treat this as a repair that removes the Weapon Hit pre-existing damage.
Putting a complete and painted unit of the board is one of the most satifsying parts of this--or any--table top game. If you can field a completed unit, your lance gains a benefit determined by you and your group. This may be bonus victory points or a +1 initiative bonus. This shouldn't be an advantage enough to unbalance the Alpha Strike system, but enough to encourage players to paint, model, and enjoy the hobby of Battletech Alpha Strike.
Have your own home brew or house rules to add to Fist Full of C-Bills? Post them below in the Comments!
Tutorials and Projects
AC/5 Medium Laser Cartel
Battletech Alpha Strike
Battletech Box Set
Battletech Painting And Customs
Catalyst Game Labs
Davion Brigade Of Guards
Fast Assault Lance
FedCom Civil War
Free Worlds League
Home Brew Rules
Iron Wind Metals
Last Painter Standing
Magister Of Canopus
Sword Of Light
Word Of Blake Jihad
Word Of Blake Omni