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 first 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 Word of Blake Jihad. In some cases, an entry will have substitute options to add some variety. If you have your own substitutions or suggestions, post them below in the comments!
Build a DCMS lance that can be played across eras, from the Succession Wars through the Jihad.
Restrictions (completely arbitrary)
Click the image to purchase these models from Ironwind Metals! (Miniatures supplied unassembled and unpainted.)
This lance was inspired by a unit that I used in Northwind Highlander colors while playtesting the rules that eventually became Alpha Strike with Charlie Tango and Savage Coyote. I designed the original lance to be a relatively mobile, heavy/assault lance designed to take a beating and outlast the opposition. Consisting of a Highlander HGN-732, Victor VTR-9K, Gallowglas GAL-1GLS, and Thunderbolt TDR-7SE, the green-colored, plaid covered, bagpipe whaling zombies did a bonnie job of just that. The game took place in a relatively open space, with a small city or campus like area in the center. Throughout the game, I discovered that the maneuverability of the jump-capable 'Mechs put me in a favorable position and the ability to attack at all ranges allowed for a fluid, adaptability to the changing table. This was a great lance--I lasted to the end not because of my playing ability, but the lance's playability.
Early Succession Wars (154-174 PV)
In order to qualify for a Fast Assault Lance (Alpha Strike Companion, p. 153), and with the units available to the DCMS in the Early Succession Wars, I had to choose either a unit with one juggernaut or a unit with two snipers. I chose the two snipers option for (funny enough) two reasons. First, the juggernaut model of the Crockett, CRK-5003-0, has significantly less damage potential (3/3/0 v. 4/4/3). Second, because the inspiration lance had a Highlander amongst its ranks, it was necessary to have the Highlander HGN-732 as an option.
With three sniper options, this lance could easily substitute as a Fire Lance instead (Alpha Strike Companion, p. 154).
The high PV of this lance will make adding perks and adjusting pilot skills a challenge. It does, however, serve its intended purpose: a big, jump-capable wall of zombie 'Mech metal.
Late Succession Wars - Lostech (152 PV)
The LosTech era iteration of this unit sees the loss of the Crockett and replacement of the Highlander with a downgraded model. Replacing the Highlander HGN-732 with the Highlander HGN-733 loses some of unit's overall punch (3/4/4 and IF2 reduced to 3/3/2 and IF1). This isn't too much of a concern--infact, it sits well with the Succession Wars LosTech fluff. What's more, this change saves the unit 4 PV and fulfills the requirement for a juggernaut in the Fast Assault lance.
These changes prevent this lance from switching between Fast Assault and Fire Support lances. With the diverse unit roles this era adds, however, it can now become either a Fast Assault or a Command Lance (Alpha Strike Companion, p. 155) if a Striker makes its way into the mix. Surprisingly, the LosTech era doesn't damage the original design of this lance significantly. It remains a survivable, mobile unit.
Late Succession Wars - Renaissance (146-159 PV)
The Succession Wars - Renaissance allows for the cheapest PV option in this lance.
In this era, the Crockett returns as the Katana CRK-5003-2. The two points less armor and 0/-1/-2 points difference in damage brackets sacrificed in the conversion save this unit 8 PV. The Katana remains a respectable foe. Coupled with the return of the Highlander HGN-732, the combinations of this lance are formidable.
The ultimate unit choices depend on the role this lance will play: Fast Assault or Fire Support (or Command with a Striker). With these options, however, this era provides the most flexibility of roles for this unit to fulfill--perfect for the War of 3039!
Clan Invasion through FedCom Civil War (169 PV)
The Clan Invasion and FedCom Civil War create a lance that seems a bit different from the predecessors in both form and function. To keep the multi-era functionality with as few models as possible and to keep preserve the inspiration of the unit, this iteration continues to emphasize survivability and mobility.
This era witnesses the retirement and replacement of the Shadow Hawk SHD-2K with the Kintaro KTO-K. This iconic Kurita 'Mech is both strikingly ugly and a hard-hitter. Because the previous era's models lacked jump jets these did not qualify for addition in the earlier builds. The Kintaro KTO-K, however, fulfills that need and brings with it a helluva punch (4/4/0). What's more, the addition of C3 demands a capable, mobile, and survivable spotter. (While there are some i would gladly take over this one, the Kintaro has a wider range of era-playability.)
The DCMS is one of the first factions to implement C3. Even though it inflates PV, it provides numerous benefits to improve to-hit numbers. With the addition of C3, and the move into this era, allows the Shadow Hawk to swap out for another iconic Kurita unit: the Kintaro. Strikingly ugly but a hard-hitter, I avoided putting the prvious era's models in the lance because of the lack of jump jets. The Kintaro KTO-K, however, fulfills that need and brings with it a helluva punch (4/4/0).
It does lack the long range attack of the Shadow Hawk, but both the Victor VTR-C and the Grasshopper GHR-C have long range attacks that their previous models lacked. Comparatively between the three (SHD-2K, VTR-9B, and GHR-5H v. KTO-K, VTR-C, and GHR-C), the damage brackets rise from 8/10/2 to 11/11/3. With the combined-fire nature of C3, this is a substantial gain! Even with the usual PV inflation of C3, this lance remains less costly than its Early Succession War counterpart full of LosTech (though not by much).
To maintain the C3 network, the Katana upgrades to a Katana CRK-5003-CM. The performance of the units is negligably different; the CRK-5003-CM loses one point of short range attack to gain the C3M ability. It is slightly more expensive than the CRK-5003-2, but well worth the investment for the C3 network. What's more, if playing with MHQ rules, this unit has an MHQ rating of eight.
Unfortunately, this lance looses some of the role flexibility of previous eras. This unit will find it hard pressed to fulfill any roles beyond Fast Assault.
Jihad through Early Republic (160-178 PV)
...I may have broken the swap restriction here, but, I mean, look at the era!
In tune with the eras of play, this lance carries more than a touch of munch. C3, improved jump jets, and experimental tech, this unit exemplifies the idea of a mobile assault lance.
To maintain the C3 network requires the carryover of the Katana CRK-5003-CM. To make things interesting, the lance can take the Katana CRK-5003-CJ. Because these are two different versions of the same 'Mech, it won't cost any FP (faction points) as a duplicate unit! The performance of this unit is akin to that of the Highlander HGN-732. Making this switch is like adding a HGN-732 with improved jump jets and C3--a tough and highly mobile unit that can deal respectable damage. In can act as an anchor for the unit, a body guard for the C3M, or a Gojira-sized C3 spotter in a pinch.
The Shadow Hawk makes a return as the Shadow Hawk SHD-3K. An classic chasis style with upgraded weapons, this machine is a slightly up-gunned versin of the SHD-2K. The damage brackets improve to 2/3/2 from 1/2/2 and the movement moves to 10"j from 10"/6"j, gaining 4" to make that nice, rounded, and complete 10" jump (instead of the bizarre fraction). With all this and a bag of C3 chips, this sniper returns to be able to maneuver and harass enemy units better than before.
Like the Clan Invasion and FedCom Civil War units, this lance also benefits from MHQ8. What's more, with the diverse unit role options, this lance would be a great option to assume the Command Lance formation and really put the MHQ to good use with an appropriate Striker unit. If nothing else, it can maintain its inspiration's role as a Fast Assault lance.
Long Live the Dragon!
With only six models, this lance can span seven eras that comprise some of the most pivitol events in Battletech fiction. Throughout that span, it retains many of the same defining characteristics: mobility through, jump capability and survivability with no fewer than five points of armor per unit. These qualities, and the low number of models required, make it an ideal lance for new players.
Sure, not all of the models his as hard as other 'Mechs that come in and out of the timeline, but this unit will allow players to field a force throughout the major eras of play.
HAVE YOUR OWN MULTI-ERA LANCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE OR SWAPS TO THIS ONE YOU'D MAKE? SHARE THEM IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
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