AAR- Mech Attack Battle at Adepticon 2022

As noted in the earlier post, this March was the return of Adepticon and CSW's almost-famous big 28mm Mech Attack game. What follows is an overview and pictures of that battle. This was the first year in which we had a full signup and an equally long waiting list. Every player on the signup and a couple of hopefuls showed up! After a rules presentation, each player was given a Heavy Mecha, a unit of infantry and either an APC or a medium mech.

The scenario was a modified version of the "Battle of Borschtegrad" from 2014 and 15. Now, in addition to the four objectives being Attacked and Defended, there were also points to be gained by occupying the objectives (even after destruction) which could only be done by troops. I've pontificated about this before, but we discovered a few years back that the key to making troops and APC's a useful part of Mech Attack is simply to have valuable objectives that can only be held by troops. Suddenly a Mech Attack game is not simply mech slugfest, but becomes a combined arms event with real incentives for the maneuver and protection of one's APC's and troops. Mecha remain the most powerful an effective units of the game -and rightfully so- but prioritizing the application of their firepower becomes much more tactical.

The Green team representing the Ventaurans of the United Colonies (UC) were the defenders. Their deployment edge was along the side with the dock and container ship. They selected -and marked with tokens- four structures to be their objectives: 2 Dumps, 1 Coms center and 1 HQ. All were required to be more than 18" from their deployment edge.

On the opposing side, the Melk Defense Force (MDF) deployed across the opposite edge by the parked starship. The picture orientations might be slightly disorienting as we lined almost all roads up diagonally across the table for better cover and fewer direct fire and approach lanes.

After all medium mechs were given a free standard "walk" move to represent their status as skirmishers, the play began and both sides began their advance.

The UC forces quickly occupied a few of their objectives and managed to move forward quickly enough to stymie the MDF briefly at the train tracks. The train tracks traveled diagonally across the board and did not hinder movement, but the combination of the tracks and the trains that were assumed to pass regularly did give la little bit of cover to units being shot at across the tracks.

Note also, the helicopters.  They were given to the players in the second turn. The MDF received two infantry transport helicopters and the UC received two heavy lifting copters that can transport up to a medium mech. They were fast but fragile and were used to modest effect ferrying units around. Mostly though, they were a narrative point-of-interest for the players.

Finally the MDF forces began to advance across the tracks and toward objectives.

However, the UC had dug in and positioned themselves with rather effective fire lanes.

It was at this point (third turn) revealed that each side had one additional unit. The UC was able to activate the construction mech on cargo ship and -if they wish- take a turn to exchange the chainsaw arm with the Armor Piercing Machine Gun (Autocannon) on the deck.

The MDF was revealed to have a modified industrial welding Mech piloted by a partisan hiding in the warehouse pictured below.

Neither of these mechs proved to be overly consequential in the game, but they did both do some damage and it's these sort of GM-initiated elements that I think really add to the experience and narrative of the game. The UC player promptly named the brave construction mech driver Joe and, after up-arming, sent him into the fray.

The MDF Mechs began to bunch up near the World Headquarters building.

Taking a conservative approach worked against them and rather than charging forward to destroy objectives that were tantalizingly close, they held back and kept their fire on the UC forces. Soon enough the UC were not just defending their objectives, but actively sending the bulk of their units crossing the tracks on the right to flank the MDF.

Note the two ruined MDF Mechs (grey casts on tan bases) partially visible in the picture below:

Somehow on the UC left flank a construction mech, medium mech and light APC held the line against the advancing MDF line (not entirely visible, see two pictures up.) and defended the fuel dump (below, lower left with red marker).

Both sides continued to fight until the game time ended but it was a dominating win for the UC forces. With all objectives still un-demolished, the UC had won the day.  I was able to surprise the players with a few prize items supplied by Adepticon for Best UC Player, Best MDF Player, and least effective player.

The players commented that they had enjoyed themselves, but I didn't have time to do a proper debrief as I would have liked.

In retrospect there were a few things were confirmed, learned, and to be regretted.

  • Attackers have to be aggressive in attacking objectives. Mech units are too tough to sit back and wait until the opponent is destroyed before risking attacking objectives. I should probably, without giving away too much, emphasize an aggressive play style to the attacking team next time.
  • Small narrative elements are fun. Neither the copters nor the partisan/construction mecha additions changed the course of battle, but the players seemed to enjoy them. That is encouraging since I didn't even get to employ the surprise results that would occur when each objective was destroyed.
  • Explain the train was the right decision. Inclusion of the train is by no means necessary, but it's a cool visual element I like to have. In the past, the train seemed to be a natural barrier for players with advances delayed there slowing the pace of the game. This year I was very clear about the rules and took away even the very small movement penalty for crossing the tracks. The benefit of the train as cover seemed to be useful, but not game changing or delaying.
  • I do think I should be even more emphatic than I was (and I thought I had explained this quite clearly) that killing enemy units or losing your own are almost negligible in comparison to achieving objectives when it comes to winning the game.
  • There may be some improvement to be made in the forces. I think that the MDF Attackers would have to be fairly bold to win the day. Swapping one or both of the MDF medium mechs with heavies might have made the playing field a bit more balanced, especially for a game being played entirely by individuals who are likely playing Mech Attack for the first time and can reasonably be expected to act somewhat cautiously.
  • Lastly, I had forgotten how much I enjoy putting on this game. It's a great time, an easy to teach ruleset and always results in happy players. For myself, the deadline imposed by the convention is always a great impetus to build something cool. Based on the experience and interest shown, I will give real consideration to running 2 Mech Attack games, likely on consecutive days, next year.

Hope you enjoyed this Battle Report.  Here's to high hopes for Mech Attack at Adepticon 2023!!!


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