So what happened this year – 2019

About Bikes

Really happy with my decision to change over.

Well the Ninja has been out and about. I’ve put almost 16,000km on her this year and sees me in to the 3rd service since I picked her up, only about this time last year. I really enjoy the bike, and have been slowly tinkering to clean her up and set her up for me (like the awesome top box). I have been to Canberra twice and Newcastle once, but apart from work or commutes, there has been little in the way of fun only rides. Still she suits me well, is much better for what I do than the Daytona.

The Daytona is missed, but would likely have seen a fraction of the kms this year. I hear that almost without being ridden the new owner has sold it to a person down in Melbourne. Hopefully they will use her more.

I also rode a VFR during the year and was totally disappointed. I guess I’m now a 100kW or more rider.

I found this a disappointing ride

I would certainly love a 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 to replace this one, but I’m happy for now.

About Babes

Well I have one in High School now. A few hiccups at first, learning lessons about being responsible and planning your assignments but she seems to have settled in well, making good friends and doing well. The other is in Year 5 in 2020, which means High School too in 2022!

About Bytes

Well of course, there is the recently posted completion of BattleTech. Yay. I did enjoy that.

Lady Arano gets her throne back.

My degree is finished. I am waiting for the official results from the school, but to the best of my information, I’ve passed. I am now a fully qualified but not completely registered Primary School Teacher. Huh. That’s a bit different. (and the lack of study in no small way has contributed to the completion of Battletech!)

Just waiting for the official results

About Other Stuff

Dungeons and Dragons flashed back into my life. After a 30 year hiatus, suddenly I find myself Dungeon Master once a fortnight and ad hoc DM’ing for my daughter through an adventure. I am enjoying the distraction and my players seem to be enjoying my management. The accessibility and the ease of the current rules do help that.

And I think that’s a good summary of my year.

I am not sure where 2020 and especially 2021 will take me. I intend to slowly transition from my current employment into teaching through part time (at work) mixed with casual (at teaching) to ease into it. With the plan to switch completely in 2022. Let’s see what happens.

BattleTech – The Arano Restoration

Lady Arano rallies the troops.

The end of 2019 sees the completion of another computer game – Paradox’s take on BattleTech. Late the other night I had completed the third to last mission, to Liberate Tyrlon.

This mission saw my lance dropped into some mountains with a time limit to cut the power to the space defence grid. The added curl was that there was also off grid artillery which (I assume) would have a significant impact on any mech caught in the fire zones.

Using my usual assault and heavy mechs I was a bit concerned about about the time. It was generous, but the terrain had many choke points and there was ongoing harassment by the enemy. This would all add up to slowing me down.

I hit the first target quickly, then went up behind it to get to the next one. My lance was split at this point, with two mechs ahead, and two behind, cleaning up the defenders. I decided to push the leading pair (An Orion set up for LRMs and a BattleMaster, with a mix) into the furthest target and then the second pair would hit the closer one as soon as it could. This would be faster than trying to hit them consecutively.

The Orion, up ahead, triggered the landing of a reserve lance, 3 heavies and a light (an artillery spotter). At this point the two trailing mechs (a Highlander and a Cyclops) were almost right on top of the enemy reinforcements. I split my lance further, with the Orion taking the far target, the BattleMaster hitting the near one and the others holding the reinforcements. I figured two assaults could hold these clowns

The final power station came down with about 3 turns to spare. Mission successful.

Normally at this point I leave the story missions for a while and gear up. Instead I spent some money, picking up a Stalker and an Atlas. This would give me a full set of Assault. I also picked up a second Highlander. I ran a couple of missions, setting myself up with a cool climate lance and a hot climate lance and getting used to the new mechs.

So after a the famil over a couple of nights, I felt ready to hit the next story mission. This one is different as once complete you must launch straight into the next one, with only the resources available on the Argo and NO TIME to repair. (Hence the bulking up of my inventory). At this point I had an Atlas, 2 Highlanders, a Cyclops (as my leading lance) with a Stalker, a BattleMaster, an Orion as replacements (or if the climate was on the hot end) and some other Heavies. (I think a Cataphract and a couple of Grasshoppers). With a full Lance of elite MechWarriors plus several lower ranked substitutes I should be okay. I have rarely lost a ’Warrior.

The first of the pair is an assault on a comms station. Supporting a pair of APCs (who take over the fixed emplacements) and carrying my lead tech to upload some dodgy stuff into the comms array (in order to disable a Warship that will turn the battle from us). Supported by a couple of PPC carriers we attacked the base. Finding a Jenner, an Orion and a couple of other mediums, we quickly had control.

It did take a little while to deliver the tech as the Assault mechs are slow and the base was confusing to navigate (and I didn’t know which mech the Tech was riding). But she got in and got started.

Reinforcements arrived soon after, with a lance of heavy/assault dropping near the entrance. While my lance used focused and aimed shots to bring each Mech down quite quickly, they were ably assisted by the PPC carriers who had remained outside the base. This meant that to turn and attack my lance, each enemy mech had to turn his weaker rear armour to the caress of 3 PPC blasts from each carrier. It certainly helped.

With the clock ticking down for success, a second lance dropped in just as the first fell. These dropped almost on top of half my lance, but allowed us to focus fire them quite easily. A fighting movement rearward (we were certainly NOT withdrawing) allowed the mechs to open up to beyond their minimum effective range, increasing their damage, and the new lance followed all the rest.

In the story, the usurper gives up at this point, declares for our employer, Lady Arano, and it should be all over. However the usurper’s daughter, Victoria, issues one last challenge, fight or Lady Arano loses a respected and valued ally and advisor that Victoria holds as prisoner.

And hence our last mission. Lady Arano in her stock Atlas II (So updated tech like double heat sinks and ER lasers). I deploy my Atlas, a Highlander and a BattleMaster.

The fight is in an arena, with some forest cover, a few monoliths (to break line of sights) and a large pool in the centre (providing heat relief). I headed to the left flank and the cover.

The enemy approached, almost one at a time. I had destroyed one opponent (I forget what) when Victoria’s mech started to make its presence felt. A King Crab, with upgraded EVERYTHING, it was a weapon! As I killed the second from their lance, my personal mech, the Atlas, had its head destroyed in a single volley. Ouch. We were now 3 vs 2.

Time to switch tactics. I moved my mechs into the water, breaking line of sight with the Awesome that was also still fighting. It also improved my lance’s rate of fire. I left Lady Arano up the bank in cover to hold Victoria’s attention and switched focus to the King Crab, instead of the Awesome that I had planned.

The Highlander lost an arm, but the Crab was put down. The Awesome following soon after.

Lady Arano had her throne back. And I had an Atlas II and a fat wallet.

Lady Arano gets her throne back.

And I’d finished something from my backlog 🙂 Looking back, Tomb Raider, back in 2014 might be the last game I finished (or Portal in the same year).

Erm, 5 years ago. Even this seems to have taken me about 18 months. Still in the same time I’ve also completed another degree.

In all I have enjoyed the game. It does take ages to load every time you go from boot, to Argo to mission and back. But having played the tabletop so long ago, this felt like a great version of that. I’m not sure about post campaign as there just isn’t the impetus to keep playing at this point. We’ll see.

BattleTech Update

I restarted a while back, but other priorities has meant not a huge amount of gaming time. Overall the restart is going well, and I am happy that I made the right decision.

I did a bunch of missions in the early game, building up cash. I didn’t really have much luck finding heavier mechs, but I think I picked up a medium before moving into the story missions.

Currently I’ve just completed the Liberate: Smithon mission that caused so much grief. This time I had a Jagermech, Dragon, Shadow Hawk and Centurion. Two heavies and two mediums this time.

I did abort and restart a couple of times. I initially gave them a LRM focus, but realised that when I used the same strategy as my previous success, I actually wanted a big short range smash down. I sit behind this hill in the corner (right hand side) and wait for the mechs to come around and into the pass, then they each get a face full from my lance.

It worked well, and soon eight mech were down to three. There was a tense moment in the middle when I had an almost cored Cicada, a fresh Jenner and Dragon come around the corner almost at once. This was just after destroying a Panther and Firestarter, so my lance was pretty warm. I backed off around the corner to give them a chance to recover.

The last three mech had figured out the trap but scattered, so I was able to chase them down individually. As I stayed so far back there wasn’t a lot of LRM fire from the turrets, so apart from a lucky hit from the Panther on my Jagermechs head (that didn’t take it off) my mechs were lightly damaged.

So after that mission, I have 2 heavies, a lot of mediums, and the cash to buy several more Dragons from Smithon if I wish. Argo has had a lot of upgrades already completed as well, so overall I am in a lot better position than last time.

Other games of note – I dropped in to take out a base and approached from a unusual angle. I sent the short ranged Dragon in to scout while my longer ranged mechs sat in a river to cover. Of course the enemy lance dropped in about 2 hexes in front of the covering mechs. So I had 3 mechs scrambling for minimum distance (against a bunch of lights) and another mech struggling to close the distance to join in. It was never in doubt, but it was a little mixed up.

I also did a similar obtuse approach in a 3.5 rated mission, my toughest by far. Again, assault a base, I circled around the map and approached from the rear. Here I discovered half the “reinforcement lance”, a Cicada and a Griffon waiting for their trigger. I almost cored the Cicada and damaged the Griffon before they activated, but hadn’t quite finished them off when the original lance of Panther, Hunchback, Shadow Hawk and Vindicator arrived, along with a Wolverine and another Cicada as the other half of the “reinforcements”. The Hunchback’s right torso was focused as soon as he showed up in order to eliminate that AC20.

It got pretty tense, and while I steadily wound back their numbers, the Dragon lost both arms, I ran out of LRMs on all of the mechs as well as most of the SRMs. My Griffon also lost an arm and torso. The Dragon took a Death from Above from the Shadow Hawk, but this exposed its back to several volleys from two mechs (but it still took a while, Shadow Hawks can take a pounding).

Soon after I had finally eliminated the mechs, while spending the whole time hiding out of LoS from the turrets. It might have actually been easier straight up the guts as I would have hit the lighter lance first and hopefully eliminated more mechs to start with. It wasn’t as expensive a repair bill as a I was expecting, but it wasn’t cheap.

Now I plan to hit up some more missions before the next story one on the moon.

BattleTech – Restarting

I have been struggling the last few missions to get anywhere. I seem to be always putting things back together and am still lurching from month to month, contract to contract. Even though I’m picking up only 2 skull rated missions (out of 5) I seem to run into mostly heavies. For my lance of mediums this is a big ask, and they’ve been found wanting.

I decided to go back to the start and spend more time in the early game between story missions, running missions. I figure this will get me a better baseline to start from.

Plus I can use the lessons that I have learned along the way to perform better than before.

But there’s no way to skip the first story mission so here goes nothing…

BattleTech – Setting out on my own

After Smithon I completed the next story mission. This went much better, though the game did hang just as I was about to win. I did have a halfway through save, so the next chance I got I started from there.

This second one went much better (strangely enough) and instead of being caught separated and out of position I was able to get the lance organised to destroy the reinforcements. This saved two pilots and mechs from destruction.

After this I decided it was time to head out and try to get myself a bit of a buffer of resources and see if I could increase my mech weights. I still have to run 2 or 3 mediums and 1 or 2 heavies, but I’d like to get some heavier mechs.

So picking up the Nav charts I picked a couple of high tech level but low challenge worlds and set out away from the story zone. The idea was to hit up a string of easier missions, sucking the money up and hopefully a few bits of mechs and weapon upgrades.

There doesn’t seem to be any specific advice on whether it is better to go all money, all scrap or strongly one or the other in the game. It certainly depends upon what has happened in your career. Remember you can have a 10/10/10/10 pilot in a solid mech and a headshot takes out the mech and the pilot in one shot. Or you can slug it out with 8 mechs and barely a scratch on your lance. The random number effect can be strong in this game.

So I’ve mostly gone cash, and thankfully it has been some time since I’ve spent all of my earnings (and more) from a mission. I’m still usually a month or two from bankruptcy, but I’ve been spending on upgrades (of my ship and on upgraded ++ weapons), rather than repairs.

My idea is to do this for a little while, then head back into the story with a bit of a buffer. Research shows I’ve completed 9 of 20 story missions, so there is a bit to go. But there are some tough ones to come if I don’t gear up somewhat.

Still enjoying the game. It’s giving me some sleepy days at work meetings!

BattleTech – Liberate Smithon

I’ve finally managed to get past one of the toughest story missions yet.

Liberate Smithon sees me drop against 2 lances of mechs, supported by turrents, with the intent to capture the supply dump from the Directorate. We also tasked with protecting as much ammunition as we can and intercepting two escaping supply trucks.

You drop in the southern end of a map, on a small rise. There are small passes to the left and right as well as the option to rush straight at the base forward. There are several light mechs in the front with several heavier fire support mechs to the rear. It is also a hot environment, playing havoc with your rate of effort.

Normally people suggest three things. Drop heavy, as heavy as you can. I agree with this. Take LRMs, and again I agree there too. Also ignore the supply trucks, they’re just a distraction, most definitely agree. The trucks give you almost no time to be in position and they take a beating. They also put you out of position to take on the mechs.

There’s two more suggestions. An ammo crate in the front right is situated under a turret. Blow this one when there are a couple of mech in the blast zone, but fairly early on as well. You can usually catch at least one mech in the explosion, and some have caught up to three. They end up heavily damaged, and the explosion will destroy light ones. Do this! The turret is a threat as well and needs to be removed.

The last suggestion is to go left.

I go right. The same reason, there is a hill on both the left and right, to use as cover from the back of the map fire support. But I like the right a little more (I have been more successful that way).

I move right immediately, baiting the light fast mechs up to the small pass behind it. Focus fire each as they come around into sight.

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So at the end of the first turn, my lance has moved right, heading behind the rise in front of them. This also puts you in easy reach of the ammo crate. Stay in the cover of this hill and burn up the mechs as they try to come at you.

You will need to soak up some LRM fire, but judicious use of Bracing at the end of turns will help a lot. And also help with heat management.

With the extra kill or two from the ammo crate, I don’t need to leave this area until the last two heavies are left. This is usually a Dragon and a Griffon. Focus fire these down. Done, 2 bonus objectives. Lots of cash.

I think the move left is similar. However it’s more difficult to hit the particular ammo crate from there and I think is a little harder to actually move to while remaining in cover.

In the end I used a Trebuchet, Hunchback, Centurion and a Vindicator. All except the Hunchback ran some LRMs. All suffered some damage. But they had much more luck than previous drops involving Jenner or Shadow Hawks for example.

Hope these tips help. I went off and worked some missions up before returning to this one. Story missions don’t disappear so you can take your time. This was probably the biggest difference, I was running a heavier lance.

 

BattleTech – a longer review

Battletech – I promised a review later, and it’s now later.

I am only a little way through the story, and I know that there are many who have finished. I do not know how long the story is, I think I am up to about the 4th or 5th story mission (called Liberation:Smithon). At the moment I am leaving that mission aside as I train and gear up my lance.

My first impressions of a faithful recreation of the table top game, along with decent graphics and AI are still pretty much unchanged. The first, that its a faithful recreation of the table top is for me a real positive. I think that has made it easy for them in that balance and such have basically been play tested for 30 years. The great big positive for me is that turn based copes very easily with random interruptions. I can stop and sort out life stuff without stressing about what the enemy are up to. I know it isn’t everyone’s favourite way of playing, but I don’t mind it.

The graphics look good on my iMac. I imagine there are more impressive games and on more capable systems there are more impressive games. But graphics aren’t everything.

The story is fine. It’s very similar to the really old “MechWarrior” game, where you are a merc with a story and the intent is to carry out some contracts until you’re geared up enough to finish the story. What I do like in this version is that the story engages you as you go. In the old game every time I headed back into the story I was arrested and the game ended. I gave up and just set about getting awesome mechs and lots of money. Turns out I should have gone back at that stage.

Anyway, the game does get a little slow during some combats when there is a lot of actions queued up. The random number generator can be a bit vicious sometimes, but it works both ways. Sometimes a game will be tough, sometimes its not.

The rounds can take quite a bit of time, an hour or more. But I don’t find that a bad thing 🙂

So overall I am very happy.

One word

and it’s not Avengers, it’s Battletech.

The new Battletech from Paradox (also available through Steam) is excellent.

And personally the best news, its ON THE IMAC as well. So I can play it.

And its really interesting and really well done.

 

I’ll do a longer review with pics in a bit. But if you’ve ever been a table top player, then I think you’ll enjoy it.

Three weeks in one page.

Seems like it’s been busy but not actually doing much. Often been finding myself browsing through Youtube videos at the moment or watching 80/90s movies I’ve recorded off TV (Mad Max, Lethal Weapon, 48 Hours and some others) not really doing much. So not much MWO or Portal.

I got MWO running, logged in and had no idea what was going on before I died. It’s still a hassle to be a solo player, especially when you can’t remember the key binds and the rest.  It’s also a pain to reboot all the time to swap OS.

School holidays came up, so I took my two girls to my sister’s property in rural NSW. Their first time on a farm and a chance for Mrs Mab to have 5 days relaxing on her own (considering I get to do that every week it’s only fair).

6 hours of driving and cold weather, but girls loved every minute. They especially loved the week old lamb that played chase almost non stop with them. Driving tractors, climbing trees, feeding ducks and horses. A great experience.

I also got a new push bike to get out there on the mountains. Dad found a great condition second hand (basically brand new) 2014 Giant Trance and brought it over for me. Just need the weather to clear up to test it out.

Took the Daytona home last time, and even managed a Putty ride while Dad minded the kids, so that was cool. Cool was a good word for the trip back in my leathers not my touring gear. Caught up to a mate on the same ride that night, just as he finished up being booked for speeding. Bummer.

Will get back into some stuff tomorrow I hope and have some more to write about.