Wargame Memories, Part 1


Back in July of 2007, one of my friends, Brian, organized (with the help of a couple others) an impromptu ‘East Coast Commandothon’ Battletech event up in Gaithersburg, MD. Originally I wasn’t able to go, but managed to swap schedules with my work and drive up to the store for six hours of hyperactive BattleTech action.

Even though I actually gave them the idea and outline of the game, I never imagined it to be so freakingly crazy. And awesome.

Basically, Chris – the Delaware Commando – pooled twenty of the most absolute worthless designs in the game for everyone to randomly pick and use. No cheesy, munchkiny stacked-to-the-gills heavy-gunned machines here, no way! All lights and low-end mediums (I don’t think it went above 45 tons), with the likes of Garms, Vulcans, Javelins, Assassins, Stillettos, Sentinels and so on ad nauseum.

Glorious, fast, light ‘Mech carnage.

We randomly rolled skills using the d6 – the result was you skill. Which meant you could be an elitist death-dealing sniper, an average schmo, or some wet-behind-the-ears backwoods redneck (or some combo therein), all duking it out on a nice, open map.

And carnage it was. Suffice to say, most of the successful attacks were physical ones (where ‘Mechs can kick, punch, charge, jump on, and beat each other senseless) rather than ranged (weapon-fire) attacks.

My first ‘Mech – the one I held onto for nearly five hours – was a near-worthless Vulcan. Which lost its primary tour-de-force (a flamer) in the first turn it saw action, thanks to a freakish pulse-laser weilding Spider. Yeah, yeah, I had a long-ranged autocannon and a mid-ranged laser, but come on! The weapon a Vulcan is known and feared for is that flamer!

Clearly, I needed to get my angst out somehow. So three turns in – after successfully feinting away from the pursuing Spider – I zeroed in on a Sentinel standing with his back against a cliff. Engaged MASC (an electronic version of adrenaline) and I charged the enemy at full speed; I’m pretty sure the Light Brigade would’ve been proud.

I blew right through it.

Using your imagination, it’s as if I body-checked it at full speed into the cliff wall. SPLAT! Like a Ty Domi steamroller check (think of the one he laid out Lindros with!), that Sentinel was just a rock impression after I shattered it.

And thus, the Vulcan became not a wimpy medium ‘Mech of scorn and derision on the table, but a genuine threat to every pilot on the board. And I realized, with my excellent piloting and horrifyingly bad gunnery, I could scare the others into running from me, then engaging my MASC and steamrolling them from any direction. Bliss!

So thus, my next target became Bill. Why? Because his Cicada offended me. Well, really, because he was the next-closest victim. That, and his continued taunts of my stalwart Penguins (he’s a Flyers fan).

Missed a charge (and every weapon I had, too – which became a trend – not one of my ranged weapons ever hit anything), scared him to running, and then whipped around and went for a Commando….that someone else cored right before I could hammer it. Got back into position, had a great bead on Bill’s oversized Cicada…..

…and my MASC roll failed. It’s akin to having both legs pop out of joint right at the start of a sprint.

Fell down, damaged myself, attempted to stand, fell down again, attempted to stand, fell down again, attempted to stand, fell down for the final time. Everyone MISSED ME!. So stood up (fell down), stood up again, and walked back out.

I think at that point everyone was freaking out that if I survived another turn, I was going to execute a ‘Death From Above’ maneuver on the closest victim. (They were right!). So I attracted fire from five different players in my last turn.

They all hit. But! It took every last shot to bring me down. My Vulcan-o-doom died on the last SRM2 missile that popped my engine. I still had enough juice to crack someone, if that last shot had failed.

Oh well.

Still had time left, so I chose another ‘Mech – a SRM-laden Javelin – and proceeded to knock out Bill’s Cicada pilot with one shot, then disintegrate him on the next turn with the help of a few others (who all vultured that kill – he was immobile because of my missile storm). Then promptly got body-checked off the playing field by Chris’s suicidal Stiletto.

All in all, one of the most fun games I’ve had in quite the long while. And a great cap to an awesome weekend.

See, I don’t play much BattleTech any more. Hard to believe, considering I write so much for the game these days. It’s hard for me to do so, however, because I get frustrated with players really easily. I guess I’m more of a ‘roleplaying wargamer,’ rather than a rules-enslaved one. And there are very few of my type around, but a lot of the latter.

So when I do play, I pick and choose my games. And I’m very happy to say that in this one, I chose well.

More memories later – this’ll be an ongoing series.

9 thoughts on “Wargame Memories, Part 1

  1. I look forward to crushing at Commandothon 3 next summer- and of course, on a few occasions before that as well 😉

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