HorhiroCon 2014 (with pictures)

After an unintentionally long break from blogging due to being very busy and then an annoying health issue that only made me even busier when I recovered it’s only fitting my “comeback” post is about an event that returns after a one year absence itself: HorhiroCon. It’s not really a game convention, it’s the summer gathering/cookout of the Total Confusion BattleTech “regulars” named for the nickname Mike, our host, goes by online in many places.

From my location it’s about an hour’s drive toward western Massachusetts, so for a Sunday I have to get up God-awful early to get out there for the proposed 8am start. I did get to sleep in a little later than usual because since the last HorhiroCon I purchased a house just a few hundred yards from Scott, the person who drives out there. No one will be shocked to find out an extra 10 minutes of sleep is essentially worthless in the long run. After our traditional stop for breakfast at McDonald’s early in the hour long journey for the first time ever Scott and I arrived first, a feat that was accomplished only because the folks that trek in from New Hampshire and usually beat us did not attend this year because of OGC taking place and another longtime friend flying in from out west to attend OGC.

Just like for TotalCon Mike writes “blurbs” for the scenarios being run so people will know what to expect (and if they’ll have to bring anything). The first one was called The Falcon and the Wolf, which was a 3050 Clan omnimech team battle where two fierce Clan rivals fight a Trail of Possession for a supply base. Each Clan had the same omnimechs in their force but got a choice of configurations based on those provided. The sides were picked and it was Mike, his son John, his brother Tom and his son Patrick, and Merl vs Scott, myself, Dave, and JohnO. To determine who would be Clan Falcon and who would be Clan Wolf a “rock/paper/scissors” showdown took place. Now being gamers we didn’t actually play “rock/paper/scissors”, we used “rock/paper/scissors” dice (Warning: link goes to a commercial site just for pics of the dice). Those dice would play a key roll in who won the battle.

Scott “won” the dice roll and chose Clan Falcon. So off to the side room our party of four goes to select from the stack of ‘Mechs we were given. Now, is far often the case no one on our team paid a lot of attention to some of the instructions about how we would be starting, what our ultimate goal would be…you know, stuff that would actually help us win the battle. Dumb luck won out again as we chose all the right units and matched them together exactly right without even trying to. What we did was pick what we all agreed was the best ‘Mech we could chose from without paying attention to what we had chosen from the other stacks. In only one case were we unsure of which unit to pick and put it off until the end. When we were down to that last stack and still unsure we finally looked as what we had selected so far and saw four jumped and five didn’t. Easy choice at that point, we picked a jumping variant from the last remaining pile. Turned out that was a winning formula.

For the first turn I rolled initiative for our side and lost, which meant we entered the board first. Next turn Dave rolled and won, and as we traditionally do Dave would continue to roll until he lost. He finally lost on turn eight (it may have been turn nine, actually), which gave Clan Falcon such an advantage in the battle that even losing initiative that turn was essentially meaningless. Clan Wolf’s plan was to flank our right side, but always having to move first slowed half their units into a defensive posture while we were able to simply combine our two five ‘Mech stars into a large force and attack half their units outnumbering them essentially two to one. That was the battle right there.

The second battle was an “every man for himself” fight with a twist. We each had to bring two different Inner Sphere ‘Mechs, up to and including 3067 era, with a max BV2 of 1500 each. Each player randomly would get to play one that they brought and one taken randomly from another player. Nearly everyone went with straight 4g/5p units close to 1500 BV, while I went with two smaller units at 3g/5p. I chose the Centurion CN10-B and the Enfield END-6Q, and had the Enfield taken away (JohnO got it). In return I received the Hunchback HBK-4G (from Dave, who picked his units that morning at Mike’s house), which was a 3g/4p. The 4G is one of my favorites from long ago because of the AC20, but for some reason over the last few years whenever I play a ‘Mech with an AC20 I can’t hit the broadside of a barn from the inside. In fact, while we were eating lunch I joked I liked the Ultra-AC20 equipped units because it allowed me to run through my ammo quickly as I could miss with two shots a turn instead of one.

Starting at the map corner right in front of me and moving just 4/6 it was hard to get into any battles as the players on both sides of me (Scott to my left, Dave to my right) each went in opposite directions away from me. I fired the Centurion’s long range weapons every time I had a resolution, but it was some time before I was able to really engage in the battle. After starting out going right I swung to the left to get a couple pot shots off at Scott, and then swung back right to engage the Dave/JohnO/Mike battle going on. By the time I could bring the short ranged AC20 into the battle everyone was torn up badly, and amazingly I went a perfect three for three with it to rip apart a couple units. The clock ended the battle at 8pm, and Scott was declared the winner by virtue of “quality of kills”. Had the battle gone on to the last ‘Mech standing I would have made a good run at that, but the last hour forced the battle to a close.

I took some pics of the first battle. The units are what they represent. Presuming I did it correctly, all pics are really thumbnails and will show larger versions if you click on them.

The board prior to the start.

Early in the game, Clan Wolf using the supply building (which the scenario rules say we could not shoot at) for cover as Clan Falcon gets ready to swoop in on the attack with the second star of Clan Wolf bogged down in the hills. The smaller supply hexes granted a bonus as if they were light woods, although couldn’t be entered.

Later in the battle with Clan Falcon taking it to Clan Wolf and the Wolf flanking force finally getting close to the battle.

It’s just about over. Notice the virtually unmarked Dashi sheet in the photo.

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