Weather Conditions :
Battlefield commanders may talk about the weather – but there’s very little they can do about it. Most of the time, they simply have to live with it. Due to the swift and mobile nature of “modern” warfare, it’s very rarely possible to time battles for nice days. There are very few modifiers on the weather chart – although specific worlds may be unusually “prone” to particular weather patterns (In this case there’s a 1 in 6 chance per 5% devoted to such a resource of having the chosen type of weather. Optionally, players may allow planets to be prone to certain types of weather without paying for the privilege. A rain forest planet is very prone to heavy rains, a desert to heat, a swamp to fog, and so on, simply as a part of the cost for the terrain. As a note, asteroids are commonly prone to “Electromagnetic Storms” or “Meteor Showers”, but don’t get much else).
01-10 : Night. Due to standard electronics and sensors this has no noticeable effect on major units – but both infantry and miniunit CP present are effectively halved. Roll again, ignoring this result thereafter.
11-68 : Normal. Sunny, partly cloudy, light rain, or whatever. No effect.
69-73 : Severe heat or cold. No effect on most units, but Infantry unit CP present are halved.
74-83 : Heavy Rain/Light Snow/Sleet/Whatever. Wet and miserable. Reduce every units heat buildup by (Tons/40 rounded up) points each turn. No fires except inferno missiles will burn – and even those will only burn for one turn. +1 to hit at long range.
84-86 : Severe Weather. Reduce Aerospace and VTOL Unit CP presence by 50%.
87-91 : Thick Fog/Dust Storm/Blizzard. Even with some decent instrumentation, this makes it hard to spot things. Line of sight is limited to six hexes and a +2 penalty is applied to targeting. Stationary units have an eight-hex LOS range, which often grants the defender an advantage. Both strafing and dive-bombing are impossible. Units attempting to move more then six hexes per turn must make a piloting roll to avoid a fall or crash.
92-95 : A Local Disaster. These should be adjudicated by a neutral player, but typical possibilities include; Floods (L0 becomes L1 Water, L1 gets swampy, and Water gets deeper. Currents and such are under the control of the neutral player), Major Sandstorms (Halves laser weapon damage, removes the AP effect on “needle” lasers, and limits LOS to a maximum of 1D6 hexes – rolled independently for each possible target. This is a major pain. Infantry, hoverunits, and most aerial units are out of action), Forest Fires (Much of the board is on fire. While most of the major units can handle this, infantry and most minivehicles can’t fight under such conditions, and the effective CP of Combat Armor units is halved. Note that grass fires and such produce only 1/2 the heat of full fires – but may occur in “clear” hexes), Volcanism (Magma is at least twice as bad as fire, pyroclastic clouds and volcanic junk can do massive damage, ash can jam hovercraft, and so on. Anybody who sticks around to fight is a fool), Plague (Not usually a direct threat in combat, but a potential morale breaker. Morale -(1D6*5), depending on the severity), Avalanches and/or Mudslides (“Rough” terrain, and poor footing, is everywhere. More things may fall – usually as set by a neutral player. Excessive mud and such halves the CP of wheeled and tracked units present on the battlefield), Poisonous Gases (Usually of geological, or exotic biological, origin. This keeps civilians and infantry out of the way – but any unit with a life support failure should clear out quickly), Earthquake (This usually involves secondary effects such as fires, rubble, and collapsing buildings. The quake itself usually has few direct effects – save for possibly knocking over `Mechs) – and even Meteor Showers (These are extremely rare on habitable worlds – and are usually treated as a randomized artillery bombardment. If the neutral player instead puts in an asteroid on a planetary collision course, the players are entitled to bombard him/her with dice, before they send their aerospace units to blast it). A local disaster is a good opportunity to get an “in” with the planetary population. Both players may send Engineering units, Mechs – and any relevant vehicles – to help out the local civilians. Whoever sends the most help gains the benefit of a 5% swing in loyalty. Sealed “bidding” is the best way to handle this.
96-97 : Electromagnetic Storm. Reduces Drone Unit CP presence by 50%, disrupts C3 computer nets, and halves the bonuses of command computers. This also disrupts simpler communications, but not critically.
98-00 : Massive Storm. Battlemechs, Ground, and Naval Units; -1 MP. All units; +2 to hit at ranges of 2+. VTOL and Aerospace units cannot operate. The attacker may refuse to attack under these conditions – but if he/she does, the defender will just have to deal with it.
While modern mapping techniques and reconnaissance gear ensures that commanders will almost always have a fair idea of the terrain (IE; Everybody gets to see the map both before and during the battle), military estimates – especially data on traps, garrisons, and installations – is somewhat harder to come by. Getting that data, and occasionally setting up a few surprises for the enemy, is the province of scouts. A wise commander is never without scouts. Possible modifications to the scouting roll include personalities, the presence of a scouting unit (+10/20/30%, cumulative), assigning at least 1000 CP worth of combat units to scouting duty (These units should have movement rates of at least 7, 6 if they’re VTOL or jump-capable. They usually won’t be available for the battle. +5%, +10% if all the units have movement rates of at least 10), half the planetary loyalty rating (If positive, this is a bonus for the defender, and a penalty for the attacker. If negative, the reverse applies), simple Bribery (+10% per MCr expended on the planetary attack), and +20% for whichever side currently holds aerospace dominance.
As a note of explanation, Class-I Scouts consist of observers, minor spies, and quasi-civilian infiltrators. They supply general information and observations. Class- II Scouts sabotage supplies and/or transports, blow up bridges, delay things, and cause diversions. Class-III Scouts include forward observers, snipers, minesetters and the usual sorts of “special forces”. Depending on their personal style, they often use light scout mechs or other military vehicles. (Class-0 Scouts are kids who camp out a lot. Any attack on a Class-0 Scout unit counts as a minor atrocity. While kids are, sometimes, used as scouts, it’s no longer considered acceptable).
05- : Scout unit(s) lost without result. -25% on battle setup tables.
06-25 : Scout unit(s) unable to report until after the battle. -25% on battle setup tables.
26-35 : Ineffectual Scouting (Fire someone). -10% on battle setup tables, no worthwhile data available.
36-60 : Average quality scouting reports. This includes a rough count of the forces arrayed against you. There is a 2 in 6 chance of being able to withdraw before the battle – or of opening negotiations – if the forces opposing you are overwhelming.
61-80 : Scout unit(s) successful; Average reports, plus a D20 on the Scouting Advantage table given below.
81-95 : Scout unit(s) successful; Average reports, plus two 1D20 rolls on the Advantage table given below.
96-00 : Scout unit successful, but is lost/put out of action/captured in the process. Average reports plus two D20 rolls on the Scouting Advantage table given below.
101-105 : Scout unit(s) lost without result. -25% on battle setup tables.
106-135 : Scout unit(s) successful; Average reports, plus two 1D20 rolls on the Advantage table given below.
136-150 : Scout unit(s) successful; Average reports, plus three rolls on the Advantage table.
151-153 : Scout unit(s) unable to report until after the battle. -25% on battle setup tables.
154-155 : Ineffectual Scouting (Fire someone). -10% on battle setup tables, no worthwhile data available.
156-199 : Scout unit(s) extremely successful; Choose any two Scouting Advantages.
200+ : Scout unit(s) overwhelmingly successful. Choose any two Scouting Advantages, negate any one opposing Scouting Advantage.
Scouting Advantages :
1) Aerospace Availability. Your scouts have managed to time things to a nicety – providing your forces with a +40% bonus on the Aerospace Availability chart.
2) Countermeasures. Your scouts have partially blocked the efforts of the enemy’s scouts. You may nullify any one of their “scouting” results.
3) Crabmines. Your scouts have managed to position 1D6 hexes worth of crabmines on the map.
4) Deep Penetration. Your scouts have managed to find any and all offboard units your opponent has assigned. This includes engineering, command, and medical units, as well as artillery and supply units. It’s considered very bad form to attack unarmed engineering or medical units – but capturing them is fine. If your enemy has any personalities assigned to the campaign, this tells you who – and where – they are as well.
5) Detailed Count. Thanks to an alert observer, superb binoculars, and a radio, you’ve gotten a good count of your opponents forces. This may be off on miniunits, and on anything being carried inside other units, but any- thing major will be accounted for. Your opponent and a neutral player should supply the count. Any unfamalier units should be classified according to type, tonnage, and obvious features. Yes, this includes installations.
6) Detailed Survey. Your scouts have managed to check the battlefield for hidden units. This has a 2 in 6 chance to reveal infantry and miniunits, a 3 in 6 chance on light vehicles, a 4 in 6 chance on `Mechs and heavy vehicles, and a 5 in 6 chance to reveal installations.
7) Diversion. In one way or another, your scouts have managed to attract a good deal of attention. This may have been the result of some conspicuous act of random sabotage, faking an attack elsewhere, interfering with enemy command communications, or some such. The enemy will have sent (1D6-1)*5% of his or her forces to deal with the situation.
8) Gauntlet Damage. Your scouts inflicted some sniper- style “harassment damage” on the enemy forces on their way in. You may allot a total of 2D6 Gyroc-Guass hits among the enemy units.
9) Headquarters Raid. Your scouts have managed to tap into a rear-echelon source of enemy information. This provides a +20% bonus on the battle setup table(s), as well as a reasonably detailed accounting of the forces committed to the campaign and their current locations.
10) Hit and Run. Your scout units have managed to wreck a few enemy units – inflicting 3D6*10*Scout Unit Class CP worth of damage through sniping, blowing up vehicle parks, and so on. This affects a maximum of six units, hence there’s little point in blowing up infantry.
11) Infiltration. Some of the scouts have pulled off a most impressive feat – they’ve managed to get involved with the enemy forces without alerting them. This has great rewards when somebody manages it (1D6) 1; Select any desired “Scouting” result, 2; Draw two extra cards for this battle, 3; Incapacitate, or otherwise divert, any one personality for the duration of the battle, 4; Gain a valuable hostage. This will stall the campaign until the next turn unless an agreement is reached, 5; Issue false orders. These could send a scouting group into an ambush, redirect artillery fire for 1D6 turns, or get dropship-carried reinforcements sent to a wrong location. In general, this must be fairly subtle – or very quick. A “Pull Back” order might work, but trying to get everyone to surrender is doomed to failure. The exact effects may be arbitrated by a neutral player if necessary, 6; Get a free roll on the Espionage table.
12) Mines, Bombs, and Booby Traps. Your scouts have set up 1D6+1 “significant” traps on the battlefield. While these often involve explosives (Command-detonated drop mines are a perennial favorite), landslides, buildings rigged to collapse, pop-up spikes (These jam treads or ruin tires on a 8+), falling trees, avalanches and piles of rolling junk, and so on, are possible as well. The effects of various traps should normally be negotiated with a neutral player, but most should be limited to a few hexes, allow for a chance of failure – and either be once-offs or of relatively limited effect. Forces that include an Engineering Unit may set up 2D6 traps when/ if they obtain this result.
13) Propaganda. The enemy takes a 15% morale penalty.
14) Reinforcements. The scouts have somehow managed to scrounge up some light reinforcements. These consist of 1D6 units, determined individually as follows (D6); 1) Old Inner Sphere Scout Mech (1D6) 1; Locust, 2; Wasp, 3; Stinger, 4; Commando, 5; Javelin, 6; Spider. 2-3) Select any standard vehicle of up to 25 tons. 4) Clan Scout Mech (1D6) 1-2; Dasher, 3; Koshi, 4; Puma, 5; Dragonfly, 6; Fenris. Lucky you. 5) Star League Scout Mech (D6) 1; Hussar, 2; Flea, 3; Mercury, 4; Mongoose, 5-6; Updated Old Inner Sphere Scout Mech (Use table after #1). 6) Miniunit (D6) 1-3; Select any standard vehicle, 4-5) A pair of remote-operated drone units, 6; Any one standard suit of combat armor. Yes, you can keep any that survive afterwards. Any surviving units that were assigned as scouts should be added to the reinforcement total.
15) Right Of Refusal. The scouts have managed to bring in enough information to allow you to avoid the battle entirely if it looks bad; You may exercise this option at any point during the first turn, if you do so, then the engagement never occurred.
16) Sabotage. Your scouts have managed to “wreak a bit of havoc” to the enemies rear. They’ve managed to (D6) 1-2; Keep 1D6-1 random major units out of this battle, 3-4; Wreck either any one, or any 300 CP worth of, installations that would have been involved, 5; Divert a supply shipment, leaving the enemy with a 25% shortage of ammunition, 6; Divert a supply shipment that leaves the enemy 50% short of some specific type of Ammo. In this case, the Ammo type that’s run short is chosen by the person controlling the scouts.
17) Scout Unit Conflict. This roll is only applicable if actual combat units were assigned to scout duty and the opposition has either assigned similar scouts – or has offboard units set up. In either case, your units have encountered one or more of those offboard units – and a scout unit battle is possible. In this case, the person who rolled this result has the option to refuse the engagement.
18) Sniper Support. Your scouts will manage to get off 4D6 shots during the course of the battle, at a maximum of two per turn. The weaponry will be (D6) 1-2; Gyroc-Guass Sniping Rifles, 3-4; Optical Mirror and Chemical Laser system (5 points per shot), 5; Remote SRM Micro- turrets (Only 4 points per shot – but up to 3 may fire per turn) or 6; Players choice.
19) Superior Information. Your scouts have gotten some exceptionally detailed and useful reports in. You get a +20% bonus on the battle setup tables.
20) Theft. The scouts may have managed to steal one of your enemies units. The unit is, however, entitled to a standard resistance check – just as if this resulted from the use of a Battlecard. Alternatively, they may have simply managed to steal 1D6*100 CP worth of Ammo, parts, and minor supplies.
Aerospace Availability :
Like it or not, fighters spend a lot of time in for maintenance, have to be refueled regularly, and have a limited operational radius from their home bases. The ability to make suborbital jumps helps alleviate these problems – but “modern” surface battles are often both unexpected, and over within a few minutes. Quite a lot of the time, a major part of a commander’s air support simply will not be available. To determine if it is, a check on the following chart is required. It is not required for LAM’s – which is one of their advantages. Given that most commanders like to stagger maintenance and fueling, air lances may check individually if that is desirable. Modifiers to these rolls include; Being an Aerospace Unit (+20), being launched from a surface carrier or “local” installation (+40%), being launched from an orbiting carrier or installation (+10%), being used in an attack against a fixed position (+50%), and – occasionally – by scouting modifiers (Q.V.). Note that many results leave the fighters short on fuel. If this would leave the fighters in question with six or fewer fuel points, they’re either being fueled, or are going in for it. In either case, they aren’t available.
00-40 : These units are unavailable. They’re either being fueled or are in for maintenance.
41-65 : These units are engaged elsewhere, whether on patrol, strafing, or whatever. While they are unavailable for surface and / or low-altitude battles they may be rechecked if things spill over onto the high altitude map somehow.
66-80 : These units are nearby – but will not be able to reach the area for 2D6 turns. When and if they do, they’ll be down 1D6*10 fuel points.
81-90 : These units are very close. They will be able to enter the “local” low-altitude map in some 1D6 turns – albeit down (1D6*15) fuel points. If equipped with bombs, or some similar, very limited, weapons system, each such device has a 2 in 6 chance of having already been used.
91-99 : These units are close enough reach the “local map” in one turn – albeit down (1D6*5) points of fuel. Very limited-use weapon systems, as noted above, have a 1 in 6 chance of having already been expended.
00-115: These units may reach the local map in 1 turn – and will only be down 1D6 fuel points. Any ordinance load will be fully available.
116-125 These units are already on the local map, and are only down 1D6 fuel points. Whatever their ordinance load is, it’s fully available.
126-145 These units are unavailable. They’re either being fueled or are in for maintenance.
146-155 These units are engaged elsewhere, whether on patrol, strafing, or whatever. While they are unavailable for surface and / or low-altitude battles they may be rechecked if things spill over onto the high altitude map somehow.
156-165 These units are nearby – but will not be able to reach the area for 2D6 turns. When and if they do, they’ll be down 1D6*10 fuel points.
166-175 These units are very close. They will be able to enter the “local” low-altitude map in some 1D6 turns – albeit down (1D6*15) fuel points. If equipped with bombs, or some similar, very limited, weapons system, each such device has a 2 in 6 chance of having already been used.
176-190 These units are close enough reach the “local map” in one turn – albeit down (1D6*5) points of fuel. Limited-use weapons systems have a 1 in 6 chance of having been expended already.
191-195 These units may reach the local map in 1 turn – and will only be down 1D6 fuel points. Any ordinance load will be fully available.
196- Up. These units are already on the local map, and are only down 1D6 fuel points. Whatever their ordinance load is, it’s fully available.
Units which begin on the map should be placed on the aerospace low-altitude map.
Defensive Advantage :
All else being equal, a defending force has an edge over an attacking one. The defending units can expect to have a better knowledge of the terrain, far shorter supply lines, prepared positions, the support of local civilians (Willing or unwilling), and to have fallback positions, plans, and reinforcements ready and available for immediate use.
All else is, however, very rarely equal. Attacking has one major advantage of it’s own; the concentration of resources. Even if the defender restricts him-/her- self to occupying only the most vital strategic areas, travel chokepoints, and strongholds, the defending units will usually be heavily outnumbered – and often short on the supplies needed for an extended battle. While this is of less importance then it once was, given the wide use of energy-based weapons and the fact that “modern” battles are often over within minutes, it still has an impact once in a while. The other classic “weapon” of the offensive position, surprise, has little impact on modern warfare; current “armies” are too small – and get ready for action much too quickly – to make it much of a task to wake them, organize them, and shift them about the battlefield. It’s also awfully hard for a bunch of multi-ton battlemechs and tanks to sneak up on a position without giving the alarm in advance. Infantry, combat armor, and miniunits, might be able to manage it – but it’d be a disaster in terms of morale.
The alternative question – why said defender should restrict himself or herself to a limited set of “vital positions” has a simple answer; he or she is trying to use a few hundred units to defend an ENTIRE PLANET. If he or she doesn’t sit atop the vital positions they’ll go unprotected, permitting the attacker to simply walk in and take over. Given relatively limited populations and fusion power, the number of such positions is usually small enough to be manageable. Presumably, either side could occupy large sections of wilderness without anyone noticing their presence for generations.
The net result is a roll on the table given below :
01-10 : No special advantages. Oh well.
11-75 : Select a random Defensive Advantage (1D12): 1) Delayed Arrival, 2) Guantlet Damage, 3) Hostile Wildlife, 4) Installations, 5) Light “Artillery” Support, 6) Limiting Terrain, 7) Lure(s), 8) Mines, Bombs and Booby Traps, 9) Natural Fortifications, 10) Prior Setup, 11) Reinforcements, and 12) Terrain Selection.
76-90 : Roll on the above subtable twice and use both.
91-95 : Select any result from the 11-75 subtable.
96-125 : Negate any one enemy “Scouting Advantage” and roll again – without bonuses.
126+ : Negate any one enemy “Scouting Advantage” and roll again twice without bonuses.
Advantage Descriptions :
Delayed Arrival : The attackers units have met the defenders unexpectedly – and are a bit “strung out”. His / her units arrival at the map edge will be delayed by (9-Walk/Cruise MP) turns – determined independently. Since the defender chooses when to begin the battle, and the attacker is initially unaware that the defender is present, his or her vanguard and scouts should advance normally until the defender reveals his / her presence on the battlefield. This means that the lighter units of the vanguard will probably be deep in the middle of the combat zone well before the heavy units arrive.
Gauntlet Damage : While this is of the militia and installation type (SRM, Bomb, Recoilless Rifle, and so on), the mechanism is the same as usual – the defender gets to spread some (6D6 6-point clusters) random damage amongst the attacker’s forces. Sadly, no one unit may be targeted in this way more then three times.
Hostile Wildlife : While this may indicate anything from Godzilla thorough the local equivalent of the flu, annoying civilians and pesky small animals are the usual culprits. In any case, 1D6*5% of the attackers forces are under repair, busy keeping an eye on restless civilians, too ill to fight, recovering from injuries, or busy prying megawasp nests out of mech/vehicle cooling systems. There is a 1 in 6 chance that units subjected to wildlife “damage” have actually been destroyed, but in this case the percentage is halved.
Installations : The defender may place (2D6x10+30) CP worth of installations on the map. Given that these are rush jobs, the selection is limited to; Pillboxes, Point Defense Turrets, Security Checkpoints, and basic Artillery Emplacements. Forces equipped with engineering units gain (4D6x10+20) CP worth of installations.
Light Artillery Support : While it’s cheap, fixed-launcher, “rocket artillery”, the defender has managed to get some of it in place and preregister a few hexes (Standard rules). These shells are equivalent to (1D6) 1-3; Thumper, 4-5; Sniper, 6; Long Tom Ammo. 4D6 shots are available, and up to four may be fired per turn.
Limiting Terrain : The defender may select any one of the following types of terrain for the battlefield/ area around it, limiting the presence of certain types of units : soft surfaces reduce wheeled and tracked unit cp presence by 50%, abrasives and barriers reduce hover- unit cp presence by 50%, rough terrain (such as trees, hills, and gullies) blocks offboard artillery fire – and broken terrain reduces all unit’s movement rates by 1, units of 45 tons or more lose 2 movement points. If the battle takes place at sea, the defender may select reefs, rocks, and shallows, reducing the naval unit cp presence by 50%. Regardless of the terrain selected, it does not affect the defenders unit presence.
Defensive Advantage :
Lure : The defender may place up to 1D6+1 units on the strategic map which aren’t actually there – noting the “presence” of things such as engineering and command units, artillery batteries, and so on. In addition, he or she can conceal the presence of as many units as he or she desires.
Mines, Bombs, and Booby Traps : As per the Scouting Advantage table.
Natural Fortifications : The defender has chosen to defend a pass, canyon, ruined city, or other area with massive natural advantages. The defender gains a “+1” modifier to attempts to target his or her units and 30 CF “improved positions”.
Prior Setup : The defender had lots of time to get ready before the attacker reached the field. He or she gets to start with hidden units, “improved positions”, a free choice of positions on the map, and may specify which side of the map the attackers must enter from. A force equipped with engineering units (Q.V.) gets better improved positions and a selection of 1D6 mines/bombs/ booby traps (Q.V.).
Reinforcements : The locals have managed to come up with some minor reinforcements. These will consist of some 2D6 units of (1D6) 1; Combat Armor, 2; Drones, 3; Minivehicles, 4; Vehicles (25 Ton maximum), 5; Armored Infantry, 6; Light Inner Sphere Battlemech’s. Most of these units will be battered but reasonably effective, having been salvaged, hired by the militia, or held by minor, local, “nobles”.
Terrain Selection : The defender gets to pick, and set up, the mapboards. He / she also gets to determine the orientation and initial sides of the map. The “off the map” terrain is basically up to him or her as well – but the areas immediately to the sides of his or her position are normally presumed to be impassible enough to prevent casual flanking or simply going around.
Encounter Range :
Military forces rarely simply appear on the battlefield. They have to get there. Most commonly, whoever is on the offensive has to get to where the defender’s forces have set themselves up to wait. Unfortunately, in most cases the attacker won’t know where that might be until he or she runs into the defender’s forces.
The defender, of course, normally sets up someplace where the attacker will simply have to go – around one or more of the primary target zones, in passes and other travel chokepoints, and around vital resources. In the game this effect is represented by the use of a fairly modest number of map boards and by allowing the defender to set up first.
“Strategic” Movement is run using the Aerospace Low Altitude Map. Optionally, major terrain features (Such as mountains, the grand canyon, the city you’re trying to capture, major rivers, oceans, swamps, and so on) may be added. These have little effect on conventional and aerospace fighters, but may limit VTOLs to some extent – and have drastic effects on surface units. However, when operating on this scale, normal-scale terrain has no effect. Surface and VTOL movement rates are, however, drastically modified : VTOL units move at only 1/10’th their normal speed, but do get to move each turn. Land units move at 1/4’th their normal speed, but they only get to move once every five turns. In either case, the Flank or Running movement rate should be used, rounded off to the nearest whole number. Opposing land units which occupy the same, or adjacent, low-altitude hexes at the end of a turn should be appropriately placed on battletech map boards, as they may enter combat. Units may fire each turn, regardless of movement – and it is very strongly advised that land and VTOL units be kept in reasonably-sized groups during strategic movement.
Strategic Movement is mostly relevant when one – or both – side(s) is deploying scouting contingents, off- board assets (Typically Medical, Command, or Artillery Units), long-range weapons, and drones, or when one side is attempting to retreat or simply reload.
In general, the initial “battlefield” should be set up using from two to six maps. Using more will swiftly become impossibly unwieldy. The defender sets up on one to two maps, while the attacker enters on one – or more – of the others. Additional mapsheets may be used as needed during strategic movement, since units which leave the “map” are not out of the game – at least not until they get off the low-altitude map as well. Major features on the strategic map should block easy travel around the defenders position; if it was easy to flank or go around, the defender wouldn’t have chosen it. As an alternative, the defender may have elected to “make a stand” in the vicinity of a major target zone – and so must be dealt with before it can be safely occupied.
Battles begin near the center of the strategic map.
The ideal is to maneuver your enemy into doing what you want. Failing that, you should forestall his plans and defeat his desires from afar. If this can’t be done, one should so maneuver as to capture his forces, and his country, unharmed.
For those of us who lack such overwhelming military genius, there’s a simpler way; you deal with his army.
To fight effectively an army requires organization, equipment, will, mobility, and ability. Destroying any one of the five will suffice for victory. Sadly, these days, armies are often so tiny that their organization is simple and thus extremely durable – and so mechanized that their mobility and equipment take massive attacks to destroy. Destroying their ability ordinarily means killing them – something that’s harder then it looks and which they are fiercely inclined to resist.
Will is an intangible – and far more fragile – thing.
It is far easier to break an enemy’s morale then it is to actually fight them all. That’s always been the primary advantage of battlemechs; being attacked by an armor-plated giant bristling with enormous weapons is extremely frightening. Even the best-trained troops are inclined to flee under such circumstances – unless braced by the presence of “giants” of their own. That response is bred in. There may have been a few cavemen who made a habit of standing up to onrushing mammoths, but they didn’t leave many descendants to repeat their mistake.
Many experienced “roleplayers” may find it possible to dispense with the morale table entirely, relying on personal evaluations such as “Well, I’d certainly pull out in that kind of situation!”, but many will find an exact, written, set of rules more palatable. “Morale” is, however, something of a tricky subject – the use and administration of this table is best left to a neutral player.
Morale Rolls are usually made after the first shock of battle (IE; after the first turn of serious combat. A few long-range potshots are pretty much irrelevant), when an appropriate battlecard is used, when units are surrounded by greatly superior forces, when small fast units are sent on deep-penetration missions or sent to screen a retreat, when one side is obviously beginning to overrun the other, when the last of one sides major units are eliminated, and when one side has been reduced to less then half strength – unless the other side has also suffered at least one-third casualties. A special morale roll must be made when a unit is expected to do something suicidal (E.G.; an aerospace ramming), or when the administrating neutral player calls for one.
Morale Modifiers include the elements given below and many others. They should be applied to the basic 50/ 30 (Mercenary) “point” morale score before rolling;
Prepared Positions : Light; +15, Medium +20, Heavy +30, Hardened +40 – and Superhardened +50 – While they last. Hidden units; +20, Units Under Cover; +10.
Unit Class Difference : +/- 10 per step (EG; Combat Armor VRS Light Units; +20 for the light units and -20 for the guys in the combat armor. Opposing Forces : Trivial; +40, Minor; +20, Lesser; +10, Approximately “Equal”; –, Slightly Stronger; -5, Much Stronger; -15, and Overwhelming; -30. Reputation may modify this somewhat.Casualties Taken : None; +20, Light; +10, Moderate; –, Serious; -10, Heavy; -25.
Casualties Inflicted : Reverse above modifiers.
Opponent Known To : Have Committed a Major / Minor Atrocity +10/5, “Take No Prisoners”; +20, Provide Fair Treatment and Ransom/Release Arrangements for Prisoners; -10, Possess Superior Technology; -20, Move On Despite Losses; -10, Have Offered Reasonable Terms; -20.
Situational Modifiers include; Defending Homeworld / Local Friends; +20, First Battle of a Campaign; +20, a Record Of Victory; +20, Clearly Winning; +30, Helpless or Completely Exposed; -40, Clearly Losing; -20, Elite or Highly Experienced Forces; +15, Employing Obviously Superior Technology; +20, Having “Heavy” Backups; +10, Expecting Relief; +10, and Defended Escape Route; +10.
General Modifiers apply to all of the users forces, wherever they may be. These include; License To Loot/ Pillage/Rape/Etc; A bonus equal to the effective boost to enemy loyalty ratings, Special Privileges (That old “Samurai” bit); +15 Morale and -5 loyalty on own worlds, Code Of Honor; +20 Morale and x2 Maintenance costs, Cash Spent (Q.V.; Money), and Tradition; +20 Morale, but this takes at least 80 turns to build up.
Morale Failure Results should be obvious enough for the most part;
Units which “Stand Fast” do just what they’re told, even if it’s extremely stupid or utterly suicidal.
“Demoralized” units are notably less effective, and tend to retreat much more readily. To represent this, one-fourth of each specific type of such units must be removed from the current battle.
Units making a “Fighting Withdrawal” move towards a fortified or behind-the-lines location at 1/2 speed or so – but continue fighting.
Units headed for Fallback Positions head for cover, usually at full speed or close to it, but do fight.
Units in Full Retreat are getting out as quickly as possible (Double base move), but will stop and fire in self-defense. Such units may surrender if trapped and offered reasonable-sounding terms. Exactly what terms sound reasonable is a function of just how afraid they are, but ranges from a temporary cease-fire while they pull out up to unconditional surrender.
“Routed” Units are in full, panicked, flight. They will surrender quite unconditionally if cornered – but otherwise are simply getting out. While it is possible to “gather up” most units again after a rout, it takes quite some time.
“Collapsed” units are basically throwing away their guns, getting out, going native – and demobilizing (QV). They will not be an effective fighting force again for some months, if ever. Quite a few Collapsed units will never be seen again. Almost any “unit” with a little discipline left can capture a collapsed unit. Samples of this sort of Morale were common during Desert Storm – where unarmed news cameramen captured quite a lot of “enemy” soldiers.
Standard Morale Roll : (D100 + 50 +/- Modifiers)
Positive Results : .
91+ : All units stand fast.
81-90 : Infantry; Demoralized. All Others; Stand Fast.
71-80 : Infantry; Fighting Withdrawal. Ar. Infantry and Miniunits; Demoralized. All Others; Stand Fast.
61-70 : Infantry; Fallback Positions. Ar. Infantry and Miniunits; Fighting Withdrawal. Combat Armor Units; Demoralized. All Others; Stand Fast.
51-60 : Infantry; Full Retreat. Ar. Infantry and Miniunits; Fallback Positions. Combat Armor Units; Fighting Withdrawal. Ultralight Units; Demoralized. All Others; Stand Fast.
41-50 : Infantry; Full Retreat (Complete Surrender). Ar. Infantry and Miniunits; Full Retreat. Combat Armor Units; Fallback Positions. Ultralight Units; Fighting Withdrawal. Light Units; Demoralized. All Others; Stand Fast.
31-40 : Infantry; Full Retreat (Un. Surrender). Ar. Infantry and Miniunits; Full Retreat (Conditional Surrender). Combat Armor Units; Full Retreat. Ultralight Units; Fallback Positions. Light Units; Fighting Withdrawal. Medium Units; Demoralized. All Others; Stand Fast.
21-30 : Infantry; Rout. Ar. Infantry and Miniunits; Full Retreat (Unconditional Surrender). Combat Armor Units; Full Retreat (Conditional Surrender). Ultralight Units; Full Retreat. Light Units; Fallback Positions. Medium Units; Fighting Withdrawal. Heavy Units; Demoralized. All Others; Stand Fast.
11-20 : Infantry; Unit Collapse. Ar. Infantry and Miniunits; Rout. Combat Armor Units; Full Retreat (Unconditional Surrender). Ultralight Units; Full Retreat (Conditional Surrender). Light Units; Full Retreat. Medium Units; Fallback Positions. Heavy Units; Fighting Withdrawal. Assault Units; Demoralized.
01-10 : Lesser Units; Unit Collapse. Combat Armor Units; Rout. Ultralight Units; Full Retreat (Unconditional Surrender). Light Units; Full Retreat (C. Surrender). Medium Units; Full Retreat. Heavy Units; Fallback Positions. Assault Units; Fighting Withdrawal.
Negative Results : .
0- : Lesser Units; Collapse. Ultralight Units; Rout. Light Units; Full Retreat (Un. Surrender). Medium Units; Full Retreat (Complete Surrender). Heavy Units; Full Retreat Assault Units; Fallback Positions.
-10- : Lesser Units; Collapse. Light Units; Rout. Medium Units; Full Retreat (Un. Surrender) Heavy Units; Full Retreat (Complete Surrender) Assault Units; Full Retreat
-20- : Lesser Units; Collapse. Medium Units; Rout. Heavy Units; Full Retreat (Un. Surrender). Assault Units; Full Retreat (Complete Surrender).
-30- : Lesser Units; Collapse. Heavy Units; Rout. Assault Units; Full Retreat (Un. Surrender).
-40- : Lesser Units; Collapse. Assault Units; Rout.
-50- : All Units; Collapse.
Raid Objectives :
Raids are a fairly common result of player actions, and occur on some of the other tables. The objectives of such raids may be determined on the table(s) below, consulting the “Common Objectives” list for attacks on a player’s worlds and the “Requested” column for raids which are undertaken as a result of obligations to an-other political group. The makeup of a “raiding party” should be determined as per a “standard” company – but any “Dependents”, common/armored infantry, and “support weapons” groups rolled should be treated as additional Aerospace fighter lances. Sufficient dropships will be available as well. Raids on a player’s various planets are normally set up, and run, by another player. Their objectives are kept secret. Those undertaken by the player allow someone else to handle the defense.
Common Raid Objectives : Requested Objectives :
02) Supporting An Uprising. Support An Uprising.
03) Acquisition, Minor. Guerilla Warfare.
04) Guerilla Warfare. Security/Display.
05) Combat Test. Planetary Assault.
06) Diversionary. Rear Assault.
07) Acquisition, Major. Suppression.
08) Retaliatory/Destruction. Relief.
09) Reconnaissance. Aid In defense.
10) Salvage. Retaliatory.
11) Rescue. Reinforcement.
12) Preemptive Strike. Aerospace Raid.
Objective Descriptions : .
Raids of Acquisition are piratical attempts to come in and steal a few things. “Minor” raiders are usually after things they could buy on the open market if they only had the cash (Luxuries, trained personnel, common industrial, life-support, or medical equipment, money, and so on). Attempts to negotiate are often useful in this situation – with possible results including (1D6) 1; May acquire a half-completed colony in exchange for finishing the job, 2; May hire the raiders as mercenaries as per Politics, 91-95, 3; May “hire” the raiders with an offer of “Sanctuary” – as per Politics 42-45, 4-5; Can be bought off at a total price of 1D6 MCr, and 6; Sorry. They aren’t interested. They also get two extra battle cards due to the time you wasted trying to talk. Major Raids of Acquisition are normally after things you want very much to keep (D6) 1; Spare Parts (Any planet with a garrison will usually have a minimum of two turns of maintenance supplies available for hijacking. A supply dump may have far more), 2; Resources (Usually special production resources; they can swipe this turns supply and disrupt next turns production), 3; Technology, as in new technical improvements or anything which had to be purchased with resource points. Production equipment and units incorporating such improvements are targeted, as are research facilities, 4; Units, usually those which are being built this turn, are being updated, or which are under repair, 5) A Personality or Hostage. Getting such a figure back will require a roll on the Alliance Costs table – or 6) A ship (Reroll if there aren’t any available). While personalities and hostages will evade capture on a “7+”, raiders can normally be presumed to get what they came for if the local defenses are over- come.
Aerospace Raids involve striking at one planet in a multiplanet system to draw off the garrison’s fighters before someone strikes at one of the other worlds. D6; 1-3; You don’t actually have to fight, 4-6; You do. Aiding In Defense means helping out against a basic planetary assault. This usually involves 3 companies of invaders and the surviving half of the local garrison units. Not exactly a good situation, but you do get to keep anything you manage to capture.
A Combat Test means that some pest’s designed a few neat new units – or resurrected some old designs – and wants to try them out. This can get very weird.
Diversionary Raids are meant to make “As much noise as possible” with as small an expenditure of resources as can be managed. Unlike most raids, a “Diversionary Raid” is rarely fought; success or failure is found in whether or not it can “inspire” the garrison commander to yell for help. Diversionary raids “succeed” on a 10+ with a quarter-company, 8+ with a half-company – and 7+ with a full company or more. A “success” indicates that the “target” will have to reinforce the garrison, usually with at least a twelve major units and twenty or more minor ones, or suffer a 2 point drop in the world loyalty score. Thanks to their high “activity”, forces sent on diversionary raids require 10% maintenance.
Unfortunately, this somewhat abstract system is required by the fact that the players know much too much to readily fool. While that’s fairly unavoidable in a game system, one can add some compensating factors.
Guerilla Warfare is basically an attempt to foul up the local economy and possibly even provoke an uprising. While the “uprising” bit rarely works, it will take at least three turns to catch the offending units, two if the local garrison troops outnumber them at least 5 to 1 (They may be reinforced to reach this level) – and 4 if the garrison is of nearly equal or lesser strength. In each turn of fighting there is a is a 12+ chance of Rebellion breaking out and a 10+ chance of Civil Unrest. Every turn of fighting past the first turn adds a “+1” modifier to this roll.
Planetary Assault raids mean that you’re supporting a major planetary invasion. This is very dangerous, and should normally either be set up by a neutral player or simply result in the loss of (1D6x5)% of the forces sent.
Preemptive Strikes occur when someone realizes that an enemy or rival is about to launch a raid on another state or faction and decides to either beat them to it or to take the opportunity to take out some of his/her enemy’s forces while they’re already engaged. In other words, two, mutually hostile, and almost equal, groups of raiders show up. Roll one raid objective normally, the second group will be after the first one (And it’s goal – at least if it’s something profitable).
Rear Assaults are raids designed to get somebody to call their forces home. While these are against half strength garrisons, they’re also usually against inner sphere or clan worlds. They should be treated as (1D6) 1-2; Guerilla Warfare, 3-4; Acquisition, Major, 5; Retaliatory, or 6; Rescue missions.
Reconnaissance Raids are intended to “evaluate” the garrison, planetary loyalty, militia, and fixed defenses – but may turn into an acquisition raid or invasion if these turn out to be overly pathetic. The usual point is to evaluate the performance of new types of units and unusual weapons; a simple count can be accomplished by other means. The speed to engage, and break off with, what may be a lengthy succession of garrison fragments is or primary importance in a reconnaissance raid. Any overly slow-and-heavy units rolled up should be replaced with lighter and more mobile ones.
“Reinforcement” Raids usually involve attempting to stop a major planetary invasion. These should usually be treated as a Planetary Assault scenario (QV).
Relief raids involve rescuing pinned-down forces. This usually requires defeating a “besieging” force of a full company.
Rescues may be of demobilized forces, spies bearing vital information, hostages (These aren’t always being held by whoever controls the planet), important POW’s, or whatever else the players can come up with. Such a target may be (1D6) 1-2; In the wilderness (Treat as a “Salvage Raid”, above), 3-4; Near a city/other primary target zone (Defender gets no defensive advantage, but may employ any handy forces), 5-6; In a primary target zone (Defender may react normally). Negotiation may be the most appropriate “defense” in many cases.
Retaliatory and Destructive raids are all too common. While their motivations differ (“You’ve upset someone” versus “You’re a threat”), the pattern is similar; you arrive, hit the target (If any), cause as much general destruction as possible, and get out. Battles with the planetary garrison are counterproductive – and should be avoided if at all possible. A destructive raid targets (D6) 1; Resources/Factories, 2; Research Laboratories, 3; Supplies and repair centers (Destroys [25x Production CP worth of stuff] if successful), 4; Major Population Centers and Planetary Morale (IE Economy), 5; Production Facilities, 6; a specific Personality (If there aren’t supposed to be any on the planet this indicates either an attempt at hostage-taking – or that there’s someone around you don’t know about. There’s a 50-50 chance of either. A successful hostage-taking will neutralize a tactical or strategic personality until the hostage is recovered. Mounting a successful defense of an unknown personality allows a 3 in 6 chance of recruiting him / her afterwards. If this happens, the individual will be a (1D6) 1-4; Strategic, 5-6; Campaign personality). While personalities and hostages will evade capture on a “7+”, the raiders can generally be presumed to destroy their target if the local garrison contingent fails to stop them. Unless otherwise noted, this results in a 5 point drop in the appropriate planetary score.
Salvage Raids occur when someone’s located a cache, old battlefield, wrecked dropship, laboratory, or some similar source of equipment/technology on a world that doesn’t belong to them. Unless someone on the targeted world has recently found such a thing, this means that the local garrison won’t know what the raiders want or where they’re headed. This negates the “defensive advantage” roll – and usually restricts the defender to the use of a modest fraction of the “local” garrison (1D6; 1; 5%, 2-4; 10%, 5-6; 20%). On the other hand – if the defender manages to win anyway – he or she may be able to claim whatever-it-was the raiders were after. (D6); 1; Nothing located, 2; “It” didn’t survive the battle, 3-4; 1D6/2 Standard Cache’s (See; Exploration, 71-73), 5; Data on a technical improvement, 6; (2D6 x 1000) CP worth of `Mechs and Vehicles with “Severe” damage (The defender may select standard IS and/or Clan designs, and may either strip or repair them as usual). Security/Display “Raids” are the easiest and safest of all; these are essentially simply relieving someone else’s troops at rear-echelon assignments (Guard duty) or augmenting their forces so as to impress spies and/or visitors. Unless there’s a war on, there’s very little chance of much going wrong on this one (You’ll have to deal with a raid on a 10+, and a full planetary invasion on a 13+. This check is made with a +2 bonus if there actually IS a war on at the moment).
A raid that’s Supporting An Uprising is bad news. It means that someone’s managed to incite Civil Unrest or an actual Rebellion (Q.V.; Politics. D6) 1-4; Unrest, 5-6; Rebellion) on one of “your” planets – and is coming to back it up. Of course, if you’re the one doing it, it can be very useful; success leaves gives you a 2 in 6 chance of “acquiring” the planet. It also leaves you with a -10 on your next politics roll (It upsets other rulers) – but that’s probably a risk worth taking.
Suppression “raids” are messy; involving revolts and rioting civilians. While the actual threat is fairly minor (Treat as a standard “Other World” garrison) the operation can be most distasteful. If handled forcibly it will be over, and your forces can be recalled, in the next turn. Your units will, however, suffer a 10% drop in morale for the next four turns. Handled gently, it will take two turns, but there will be no morale drop.