Trying Battletech Alpha Strike at the Scrum Club

The Battlefield from the Southern End

I’ve played old school Battletech before, over the years. It’s an old game with an interesting history. Battletech straddles the line between board game and war game nicely. It’s giant stompy robots, yet it’s also about keeping meticulous details like how many armor points are left on your robot’s shoulder actuator. I like it, but I wasn’t bought into it very heavily. I’ve played old school Battletech recently, via Tabletop Simulator, and I admit we had fun, but it wasn’t like breaking out miniatures. As it happens, as outlined in my previous post, I have a bunch of painted up mech minis but I have kept them boxed up for about 7 years. So I’d like to try it sometime, maybe with a faster set of rules I could teach people. Alpha Strike is the answer for this, they say. We gave it a try last night. The game was played by me, Francisco Nesci, Joe Procopio, Rich Mckee and John Sears (who ran it). John is an excellent painter and modeler who is really quite talented with science fiction concepts.

The scenario was a raid by both Kurita and Davion to raid a parts warehouse (pictured, center). The winner would control it at end of game and forced the opposition to take so many casualties victory was impossible.

More of the far side of the map

My Lance was an Atlas, a Hunchback, an .. Awesome?, and I’m not sure what the tiny guy was. We entered the battlefield from nominal East and were immediately engaged. I also controlled a lance (a small unit of six figures or less) of Scorpion tanks, and picked up a some more ground vehicles when John Sears and I split the remaining force between us– he got more mechs, I got more ground vehicles. I probably should have split it down the middle.

You’ll see we headed for the copse of trees for cover after entering the battlespace. Lovely stuff, trees. They tend to make your opponent forget to keep track of units hiding in them.

The Kuritans charged across the table. Joe Procopio aimed for the hill overlooking the complex, because he likes to go for the high ground every time. John Sears committed his “extra” lance of mechs to contesting Joe on the hill. Francesco Neri approached across the road and moved his kickass Ontos tanks into the woods across the road. John Sears committed the rest of his forces into a wide flanking move to threaten Rich’s forces. Rich McKee sent a weaker mech into the complex itself to force me to react. It worked, to some extent. I mishandled moving the Atlas out of cover and Francisco took advantage of my gaffe. He attacked me with every mech he had, and rolled well. He managed to shoot all the Atlas’ armor away except for one box. That effectively checkmated the Atlas for a bit, so I moved it away from the line of fire and moved back into the woods.

Whoops, where did all those mechs over there come from?
Here they come! I think that’s a Phoenix Hawk and a couple of SRM launchers.
John’s lance charges Joe advance on the hill.

I did put a few ground units in the complex, but I was holding back charging in to take ownership. Rich had a mech in there already, and although it wasn’t formidable it was more than I cared to take on with ground units, and if I moved out of cover there were too many fields of fire on my mechs from Rich and Francisco, in the center of the fight clustering around the complex. On the flanks, Joe and John were fighting mostly by shooting long distance at each other from either side of the hill. John was driving up the road with his tanks and some mechs, and had sent one in a long encircling movement to get behind Rich.

John tries to circle round. His main force of tanks is moving up the road.
John’s attack.
Joe would take position on the road to try to shoot all the way down it, so this position is only temporary. You can see Francisco’s Lance charging across the road in the distance. Lots of Kuritan red mechs.

Francisco had done a lot of damage to my Atlas but he hadn’t reached the system level to force a critical hit yet. Rather than waste the Atlas in a futile attack in the open, I opted to use its hitting power by shooting from cover in the woods. Meanwhile, Francisco moved at the hill to support Joe (I guess?) and his troops were in the open. He had forgotten about the tiny line of Scorpion light tanks, clustered on the edge of the woods.

The Charge of the Kuritans. We were worried about the mobile SRM launchers behind them.

I did fire back at Francisco’s lead mech in blue (an Awesome, maybe?), this was his lead mech and beyond “payback” reasons I wanted to eliminate an obvious threat if I could. He didn’t have the same kind of armor that an Atlas has, and the fire of my three remaining mechs was fairly withering… we cracked through the armor and forced a couple of critical rolls. Meanwhile…

Francisco advanced his lance into the line of fire of my tiny lance of four light tanks (Scorpions). They had been forgotten entirely, not being big colorful stompy robots.

annnnnd… boom pow! First mech casualty of the game.

4 light tanks with 1 shot at medium distance and four hits. It was enough since we were past the armor at this point.

My other mechs joined the fun at this point. I abandoned moving around the woods and went to within six inches of the edge so I can fire outward.

Battle rages on the hill. It didn’t go entirely John’s way but it did keep the bulk of Joe’s forces sewed up on the hill, doing nothing about the factory.

Casualties continued to mount. Across the road, Rich fought a long range fight with John on the right and took a few pot shots at me. He moved a mech in, as mentioned, to “take possession” of the factory, followed by Francisco with one of his. Rich lost patience with that and moved his mech around to engage with John’s forces on another flank. I’d moved some of the small fry armor units to that side, including a long range artillery unit with hovercraft spotters.

Two of John’s tanks brew up and one of his mechs has serious, system level damage.

Again, with the combination of the relocated mechs and the small humble unit of Scorpions, I fired at Francisco’s SRM Launchers and toasted them.

It’s amazing what people will lose track of in a battle.

We were getting close to the end now. John gave up the hill and came down to engage with Francisco. I tried to force movement in the compound by moving a tiny ground unit behind Francisco’s big red mech and that worked. Rich moved out to engage others. Had it gone another turn we would have tried destroying the warehouse to force a draw.

Victory eluded us. They had more intact units than we did, and nobody really “controlled” the warehouse conclusively by end of game. Still, we had a really great time. I enjoyed it so much I broke out my old 2011 boxed set figures (all painted up) to make Alpha Strike cards for them. I also have various flea market finds here and there to add to the collection. I’m pleased! So, in summary, I vastly prefer Alpha Strike to old school Battletech because it plays so much faster and the streamlining hasn’t sacrificed the “Battletech feel” of the game. I’d definitely play it again and plan to do so myself.