Wargaming Tactics: List Building Mistakes

As soon as I started deploying my units I knew I made a mistake in building my list, one that appeared as a small mistake, but if I ignored it, it could very well cost me the game…

It happened in my recent BATTLETECH game, but even if you are not a mechwarrior, the understanding is the same.

Most wargames outside of historicals have a defined point or power level- you and I agree to play at 12K battle value and we buy the units we want for a fixed point cost. We have different stuff in our lists, but it should be “fair” as we are playing the same point level.

With Battletech I’ve just started to get into the Clans, so there is a good amount of learning since the units are at a higher tech level vs. what I’m used to playing- inner sphere stuff.

My list has a number of mechs- the big robot dudes, and a group of Elementals- the smaller dudes which are infantry battle armor- think Starship troopers. This game was going to focus on learning how the Elemental units work in the game with shooting, moving, and assaulting.

The Elementals move slow- 3″ compared to the mechs which can walk or run “6-12” depending on the engine speed and dessign. Tactically Elementals can “ride” on the mechs, hook on as they move, and then drop off as needed- the mechs become a transport system of sort- a kind of APC for the Elementals.

Problem is I have four mechs, and five groups of Elementals.

This means one group of Elementals is walking across the table and can’t keep up with the mechs.

This puts me behind the points it cost to buy that stand of Elementals.

Tactica choices?

If I move ahead with the mechs, I am engaging my opponent with less forces/points since one stand is left behind. If I slow the mechs down to move with the one stand, that give my opponent a guarantee of superior position on the table.

Since we are both playing the ‘Clans, it is going to be a very TIGHT game as it is- and the few hundred battle value points (and dice) of the one stand of Elementals IS a big deal.

Tactically I wanted to get to the center of the table, and dominate that long rock piece- fire over it and use cover to help absorb any incoming shots- every wargame battle has a feature or two of terrain that is going to be KEY to winning the mission.

If we both arrived at the terrain piece at the same time- or close enough, my mechs would hold before it, and the Elementals would move though the woods to the left to gain cover and outflank.

Borrowing some tried and true WW II and Chain of Command WW II tactics- 2 fire teams. One suppresses and gets their heads down, and the other outflanks and takes them out.

But I’m slow with that one stand of Elementals that can’t hitch a ride- so my opponent is going to be able to 100% take that center terrain piece and be ready for me. This forces me to dig in and take cover in the heavy forest in my deployment zone- castle up and build a fire base, which will only moderately work since the tech level of both our forces (Clans) are equal.

A big mistake in list building messes up my game before we even play the game.

I should have seen it, my experience in wargaming and Battletech should make me immune to such a newbie blunder- but in playing the Clans and starting to work with their tactics and how they play I’m a newbie all over again.

Sometimes you need a mistake to remind you of your pre-game checklist.

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One Reply to “Wargaming Tactics: List Building Mistakes”

  1. Oops, that was indeed a mistake. 🙁

    Clans unfortunately don’t have a good lineup of cheap Omnimechs/Omnivehicle platforms for Elementals and the situation is likewise bad for Inner Sphere before they get their own Omnimechs later in the era. Vehicles with 4 ton infantry space is rare early on but will get eventually new designs to fill in this role later on.

    Then again, doing everything right also can end up in disaster. I had a game when I took Dasher/Fire Moth, a very fast light ‘Mech with MASC, to deploy Elementals to a defensive position. Round 1, engage MASC… Roll 2, got critical hits on both hips, ‘Mech falls over and a is a prone sitting duck for the rest of the game.

    Lore Info: A Star of ‘Mechs (5) with a Star of Elementals (25) is organized as a Nova in Clan military.

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