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 – 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.