Mech Attack Battle Report from Little Wars

Last month, the club put on a game of Mech Attack at the Little Wars convention in suburban Chicago. As with last year's game, we again invited players to witness the spectacle of giant 28mm scale mechs stomping across the table blasting each other to pieces.

We made a few changes for this year's game. First, the new scenario focused not on destroying the enemy mechs (though there was plenty of that) but rather on destroying or defending key objectives. Also, we removed the 28mm infantry component, added more mechs, and included some new models.

This year's scenario was a continuation of last year's game. In the year 2166, with the Unified Colonies nearly driven from Melk 3, they again turned their wrath on St.
Martin's Parish, a small outpost that had first blunted the UC's expeditionary elements in 2165.

With
planetary occupation no longer feasible, this punitive raid of revenge sent an armored wedge of mechs and vehicles into combat along an urban industrial corridor.

This was a four-player team game, with each player controlling three or four units. The grey units represented the Melk Defense Command (MDC). The green units represented the Unified Colonies (UC) punitive expeditionary

attackers.

Objectives 

  • UC Attackers - Score 150 points by destroying defender's pillboxes 
  • MDC Defenders - Keep the attackers from scoring 150 points within the two-hour allotted game time 

Each pillbox was able to take 30 points of damage before being destroyed.

The picture below shows the layout of the terrain from the defender's position. Note the four pillboxes -- each was secretly assigned a value by the defenders before the game started. They were:

  • Command Center (100 Points) 
  • 2 Ammo Dumps (50 points each) - When destroyed, they deliver a medium missile hit to a blast area determined by a d10 roll. 
  • Comms Center (50 Points) - When destroyed, the attacker gets a free standard move for all of his units to represent them taking advantage of the defender's lack of coordination 

Defenders were also allowed to place their mechs anywhere in the city.

The UC set up on the opposite table edge. They were allowed to keep units off the board as reserves, though no one took advantage of this rule.

The UC controlling the slightly-lower-tech Conscript mech squad, shown below, deployed slightly deeper into the industrial corridor.

Here's a look at the start of the game (minus the Conscripts, which arrived moments later).

After a bit of rules explanation, we were off! Several players were returning veterans from last year's Mech Attack game, and they proved invaluable in helping the new players get up to speed quickly.

On turn one, the UC attackers advanced up the left flank.

A small UC contingent held the center of the table to discourage flanking by the defenders.

The MDC defenders were able to stymie any advance by the attackers in the center by committing just a few units to that area.

It wasn't long before a UC Centurion succumbed to enemy fire.

On the other side of the board, however, the UC pressed their attack with some success.

The lead conscript rounded an office building and brought his weapons to bear on the first pillbox.

His comrades soon joined in and destroyed the pillbox, which turned out to be an ammo dump (worth 50 points). The explosion did only minimal damage to a few nearby mechs, and they continued their advance.

To counter this advance, the UC swept toward their right flank into the city, attempting to flank the attackers...

...and in some places they succeeded.

It wasn't enough, though. The UC pressed their advantage and directed intense firepower on a second pillbox.

The second pillbox exploded, and it turned out to be the Command Center (100 points) giving the UC players 150 points and the victory with just 10 minutes left in the game.

We were very happy with the way the game turned out. Had the Command Center been in a different pillbox, the defenders could well have held off the attack long enough to win the day. Also, the removal of infantry from the game resulted in a much faster scenario. For a game night, I'd probably put them back for more variety, but for a convention game this was definitely the right choice.

Once again, Mech Attack proved to be a fast playing and engaging ruleset that gives all of what you need and love about battlemech combat with none of what you don't. Most importantly, the players were able to quickly learn the rules and really enjoyed the game. All in all, it was a very successful morning.

Many thanks to the Little Wars organizers, HMGS, the players who participated and Armor Grid Games, which gave free copies of Mech Attack to the winners. And extra special thanks to the members of Chicago Skirmish Wargames, who took spent many hours leading up to the event playtesting this scenario and painting mechs. This year's game featured seven new mechs!

I'll leave you with a headshot of one such unit as painted by Mattias. Yep, that's a freehand pinup on a patch of armor smaller than a quarter!

Karl's Thoughts on Little Wars
This year Little Wars was slightly less than last year by most metrics. There were fewer attendees (at least as far as I could tell), vendors (about a third less) and flea market participants. Also, this year's convention lacked a paint-and-take booth, which is always a lot of fun and a great way to kill time between events. Still, it was a good time. I found some good stuff in the flea market, both for myself and to re-sell online to help fund my hobby. As with last time, we didn't have any empty seats at our game. I'll likely return next year with Mech Attack! We now have enough mechs, terrain, and experience that this is a pretty easy game to run at a convention.

Pat's Thoughts on Little Wars
I attended with Karl and the rest of the club and helped run the Mech Attack game.Each year I am surprised that Little Wars never seems to introduce a
"Shopper" badge that lets people stroll through the vendor area and
just spend money. It would cost them literally nothing and would be a
great marketing bit to throw at potential vendors. "We let shoppers in for
free, you'll be up to your elbows in grognards and cash-mad dads!"

Consider what happened to me: As
a GM, I arrived late and had to haul stuff in the side doors at the
last minute. Consequently I never got a badge -- and I didn't notice
until our game was over and I was headed to the vendor area. I got
stopped by a LW volunteer who told me I had to go register. I got a
guest badge (because at that point I had about 45 left before I had to
leave), but a guest badge doesn't officially allow you to shop in the
vendor area. My wallet would have been $80 - $100 lighter if I had the opportunity to just buy some stuff on a guest badge. Again, why not? Open the floodgates to casual shoppers! Promote
this on the web! I don't see how this can by anything but a master
stroke for all involved.

I think there is a fundamental disconnect between the perceived customer base at Little Wars. Organizers believe that everyone who walks through the door is a player and should share the responsibility for planning and running Little Wars, not to mention renting out the DuPage Expo Center for the weekend. The vendors pay only for their table space. However, this calculus leaves no room for new blood -- casual gamers and suburban dads who might wander in after hearing about this "toy soldier show" taking place in town and think it might be a great place to take their 11-year-old
sons for a few hours. These are the very elements that HMGS needs to attract if it is to remain relevant.

I'm not privy to the internal economics of Little Wars, and of course I'm grateful to the all-volunteer crew that puts it together. We're looking forward to next year's Little Wars -- just make it a little easier for us to buy stuff, please!

-- Karl and Pat, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club members
-- Photos by Josh, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member


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