Medium Hover Chonk

I’ve been meaning to get back to CEF and try to figure them out some more, especially after seeing how PAK fills in a few of the weakness of CEF. Gears are just more generalist for the points cost than Frames, which fits my playstyle much better. I also tend to favor a high activation play style with lots of Combat Groups, and En Koreshi give 2 actions for 8 points, which is just so good. In any case, I wanted to go back to my “roots” and try a straight CEF list. My lovely wife was working late, so I packed everything up and headed over to Adam’s for a game one evening.

We broke out what as rapidly become our “usual” table… I really need to get my terrain built!

Overview

  • Mission: High Ground (HGBTS 0.1)
  • Forces: CEF versus Utopia

We elected to play High Ground this game, which is a new Heavy Gear Blitz!: Tournament System mission. You can find out more about it here:

The missions are designed to encourage more interaction by giving players some common objectives to fight over. I’ll summarize the mission briefly so you have some context. Here’s the map setup:

Green: Dominate Objective
Orange: Scan Objective

Here are the objectives:

  • Scan Objective: 1 point each – Spend an action point to perform an independent roll on the Scan objective with the model’s EW skill as the target number. This action may be ECM Jammed.
  • Dominate Objective: 2 points – Have more models within 4” and LoS of the Dominate objective at the end of the game. Destroyed models do not count.

You’ll note that the above objective only total 4 points, which is because in a 150 TV game you are supposed to select your three objectives as normal, each worth up to 2 points for a total of 4+6=10. As part of the Heavy Gear Blitz!: Tournament System, we really wanted to keep the list-dependent objectives as a key contributor to victory while providing common objectives to force more interactivity.

Having mission dependent objectives also prevents you from having to play a few games in a row where you just do the same thing (i.e. your list-dependent objectives are the same). These objectives can also force multiple different constraints on you at list building time. For example, for a mission like this, you know you have to be in the midfield with something that survive for at least a few activations. You also might want to consider positioning models with ECM to Jam scan attempts against the Scan objectives. Lots of things to consider.

If you’d like to try your hand at these missions yourself, Lumbering Sprocket is currently sponsored by the makers of Heavy Gear, Dream Pod 9, to encourage you to play some missions and provide play test data to the rules and tournament team. You can find the details for the first contest here, and we’ll be running it through the end of June, 2021.

Don’t worry, if you’re reading this in the future, there will be plenty more opportunities to participate! The first time you submit you’ll get 5 points in the DP9 store and give yourself a chance to win 20 points in a raffle!

In any case, on to the main topic, the game. If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve noticed my predilection to take GREL Hoverbikes, because they are so good. I decided that I wasn’t really making the best use of CEF forces if I wasn’t also taking some Medium Hover Tanks, so I made it a priority to include two of them in my list. My first combat group is led by a Command FLAIL, which I believe is the cheapest way to get a SatUp CGL in CEF. It’s packed to the gills with GREL Hoverbikes as well, mostly to enable me to have a three-action secondary role unit in the group, which was the MHT-68 AA. Why the AA? The Heavy Laser Cannon seemed fun, and having a DAM 8 MAAM to back up the MATM seemed reasonable.

Name TV A Weapons Traits
CG1
GP
Command FLAIL Squad Single 6 1 »HMG, »MICW Comms, SatUp, Jetpack:4, CGL, IS:5+, CP:1, Rank:2, Smoke
GREL Hoverbike Squad Single 4 1 »HIW, »MIGL, »MICW Agile, JumpJets:2
GREL Hoverbike Squad Single 4 1 »HIW, »MIGL, »MICW Agile, JumpJets:2
GREL Hoverbike Squad Single 4 1 »HIW, »MIGL, »MICW Agile, JumpJets:2
GREL Hoverbike Squad Single 4 1 »HIW, »MIGL, »MICW Agile, JumpJets:2
GREL Hoverbike Squad Single 4 1 »HIW, »MIGL, »MICW Agile, JumpJets:2
MHT-68 AA 24 3 HLC(T,AA), MATM(T), MAAM(T) Airdrop, JumpJets:2 (Aux), Sensors:24, TD
CG2
SO
BF2-25 Recon 17 1 »LLC, »LCW Hands,  Agile, Airdrop, Sensors:36 ((Aux)), Stealth ((Aux)), ANN, Jetpack:6  ((Aux)), Comms, TD ((Aux)), Sensor Boom ((Aux)), Vet, SP:1, Duelist,  Rule:+1D6_to_EW_rolls, Auto:1Wpn
CG3
SK
LHT-67 FLAIL Crew 16 2 MPA(T), LABM(T) Agile, Airdrop, Jump Jets:3 ((Aux)), Sensors:24, TD, ANN, CGL, IS:5+, CP:1, Rank:2
LHT-67 15 2 MPA(T), LABM(T) Agile, Airdrop, JumpJets:3 (Aux), Sensors:24, TD
CG4
SK
Peregrine Gunship 16 2 »MRL(AA), MRP(Link) Agile, VTOL
MHT-95 Striker 22 2 »MLC(T,AA), »HMG(T,Auto), MAG(T), MRP(T,Link) Airdrop, JumpJets:3, Sensors:24
HC-3 14 2 »LLC, LRP Agile, Airdrop, TD, Comms, SatUp, Vuln:H, ECM+, ECCM, Sensors:36, Jump Jets:4 ((Aux)), CGL, IS:5+, CP:1, Rank:2
Total 150 20

I decided to abuse the Duelist rules and add another combat group to give me a chance for a null activation. I chose a BF2-25 in the SO role, mostly for the Flank deployment and not for the Assassinate objective. To beef up my Duelist, I threw in a EW Specialist vet upgrade and a Quick Draw duelist upgrade on the LLC. This would let me Forward Observe targets on my turn with the BF2-25’s action while still contributing damage during my opponent’s activation.

I love my LHT-67’s, so a pair of them made an appearance. Adam had informed me that he was going to be playing Utopia, so I figured having access to some air burst missiles would be a welcome addition to my list. The list finished up with some more muscle in the form of an MHT-95 Striker, HC-3, and a Peregrine Gunship. I’m not in love with the MAG, but the model itself is quite fun. I actually used a fan-made version of the MHT-95, which you can get for yourself if you have access to a 3D Printer:

Adam took a Utopia list full of a bunch of things that I’m very unfamiliar with. I’ll do my best to explain. Utopia is a unique faction in Heavy Gear in that its combat groups are made up of a command unit and a small swarm of drones. The Drones have the Conscript rule, which means if they leave formation with the command unit, they suffer a +1 TN penalty to all of their skills. They’re cheap, carry some useful kit, and can jump in front of the command unit to take a hit for them if it comes to that. They also have healing drones as well. While Heavy Gear in general incentivizes you to have your units stay in formation, Utopia really encourages you to as you start to take some penalties.

Name TV A Weapons Traits
CG1
SK
Commando Armiger Anti-Tank 15 1 »MRL, »LVB, LHG, LAPGL, LATM Hands, Agile, Airdrop, Jetpack:6, Stealth, Comms
Commando Armiger Anti-Tank 15 1 »MRL, »LVB, LHG, LAPGL, LATM Hands, Agile, Airdrop, Jetpack:6, Stealth, Comms
Missile Support N-KIDU 7 1 LATM Conscript, Offroad
Missile Support N-KIDU 7 1 LATM Conscript, Offroad
MAR-DK Barrage Node 24 2 MPA(T), MATM(T,Link), LAPGL, LCW Stable, Comms, SatUp, CO, IS:4+, CP:1, Rank:4
CG2
RC
ECM Recce N-KIDU 4 1 HIL(Silent) Conscript, ECM, ECCM, Stealth
Recce N-KIDU Rocket 5 1 HMG(Silent), LRP Conscript, Comms, Stealth, TD
Recce N-KIDU Rocket 5 1 HMG(Silent), LRP Conscript, Comms, Stealth, TD
Missile Support Recce Armiger 14 1 »LLC(Silent), »LVB, LATM, MHG, LAPGL Hands, Agile, ECM+, ECCM, Sensors:24, Stealth, Comms ((Aux)), CGL, IS:5+, CP:1, Rank:2
CG3
GP
Close Support Recce Armiger 14 1 »MRL, »LVB, MRP, MHG, LAPGL Hands, Agile, ECM+, ECCM, Sensors:24, Stealth, Comms (Aux)
Close Support Recce Armiger 14 1 »MRL, »LVB, MRP, MHG, LAPGL Hands, Agile, ECM+, ECCM, Sensors:24, Stealth, Comms ((Aux)), CGL, IS:5+, CP:1, Rank:2
EMT Commando N-KIDU Rocket 8 1 HAVM, MRP Conscript, Agile, Airdrop, Repair, Stealth, Jetpack:6
EMT Commando N-KIDU Rocket 8 1 HAVM, MRP Conscript, Agile, Airdrop, Repair, Stealth, Jetpack:6
MP Recce N-KIDU Rocket 5 1 LFC(Silent), LRP Conscript, Comms, Stealth, TD
MP Recce N-KIDU Rocket 5 1 LFC(Silent), LRP Conscript, Comms, Stealth, TD
Total 150 16

I won’t delve too deep into his list, because I don’t fully understand it, but here’s a hot take. Adam’s first group is his ATM spam group. He never leaves home without some form of ATM spam, and he’s got a bunch of drones and a MAR-DK with linked MATMs in there. His second group is a Recon group, which is supposed to help target designate all those ATMs, and his last group is just a general purpose group that has some TD, some guns, etc. What was really troublesome for me during this game was the little ECM bot that accompanied the Armiger in the second group. That thing was really annoying and foiled all my attempts to do anything my jamming me!

Deployment

We rolled off for who would choose table side, and I won. There was a side that definitely had more spots to put more big tanks, so I took that one. Adam made me put down the first combat group, and I chose my GP group with all the bikes and the MHT-68. I hid the big tank behind a large rock and then scattered my bikes across my deployment zone, tucking the Command FLAIL into some cover at the rear. Adam set up his Recon squad next, presumably to try and TD my big tank as they appeared on that side of the table tucked behind various buildings.

I put down my LHTs next, to screen my big MHT-68, and Adam responded by deploying his GP squad more or less in the middle of his deployment zone. I put down my MHT-95, HC-3, and Peregrine next. The MHT-95 was hidden behind the other large rock, the HC-3 provided ECM for the LHT’s and the MHT-68, and the Peregrine reinforced my right flank.

Adam’s last squad came down, with his LATM drones spread out behind various bits of cover. The MAR-DK squared off against my tanks, and then it was time to place my BF2-25. I had intended to hold it to be deployed last, figuring I would set it up to FO the MAR-DK, but the flanks were pretty covered and I was already pretty saturated on my left. I decided to put it on the right to give the Peregrine some backup if necessary.

Objectives

We ended up choosing the same three objectives:

  • Assassinate
  • Break the Line
  • Hold

For Assassinate, I chose his MAR-DK and the RC group Armiger. Adam chose my LHT and the Command FLAIL.

Fight!

I won the initiative roll and immediately was faced with the fact that I didn’t have a strong plan. I decided to play to the objective though, and swung my MHT-68 into view an unloaded on the MAR-DK with all three of its guns, the HLC, MATM, and MAAM. I didn’t even scratch the paint. It was close to an ECM+ carrier, was in cover, and I was in bad range, making for a pretty pathetic showing.

A little demoralized, I consoled myself by sticking to my “objectives first” plan. My speedy Hoverbikes came through for me as I spent two of their activations zooming out of cover to within 6” of the Scan objective on my right to finally roll a 6 on the second activation before returning my bikes to their starting position and relative safety.

My attempt to scan the left objective was met with failure, as was my attempt to do some damage to Adam’s forces through the use of MIGL and FO attempts. I was punished for this by losing a bike to an N-KIDU’s HMG on Adam’s next activation as he pushed his Recon group forward.

I managed to get a haywire and FO off on the recon group’s Armiger…

allowing me the opportunity to fire the MRP from the MHT-95 at them, to no avail. As I write this I think I might’ve tried the MAG, but either way it was a failed attempt.

A focused MRP barrage from the Peregrine did a point of damage to another Armiger in Adam’s backfield, but no serious headway was made.

Adam attempted a few FOs but failed, so I hit one of his N-KIDU with a LLC from my Duelist, damaging but not crippling it.

Adam’s next activation saw one of his Armiger successfully haywire one of my LHT’s…

but a focused MPA shot from the haywired tank along with a MPA shot from its companion blew the offending Armiger up!

The non-haywired tank had an ABM shot on a N-KIDU and took it, doing a little damage.

The next turn saw me fail a haywire attempt on Adam’s recon CGL Armiger, thanks to that pesky ECM drone! Very frustrating.

Some more MRP fire had no effect from the MHT-95. If you can’t get through an ECM bubble there’s very little hope of doing damage, especially against agile targets.

My Peregrine had a little more success. I decided to roll up on some stuff on my right and split-fired my MRL, baiting out some return MRL fire from the waiting Armiger. This let me use my second action to attempt an FO without fear of getting Jammed, but alas I didn’t make my 5+ check on the Peregrine! It would’ve been nice to plant a MATM right onto that thing!

Adam does the same thing to me, baiting out a reaction from a bike squad and my Command FLAIL with one of his little TD bots. I paste the first one, denying the FO, but I don’t have any more reactions to fend off the second. My poor Peregrine takes a nasty hit from an ATM and is crippled.

My LHT’s don’t get much done this turn—I attempt some MPA and ABM shots without much success.

Still, every point of damage helps!

We’re both pretty ineffectual this turn, but we both manage to score 1 point of Break the Line and Adam gets both Scan objectives to my one. On the next turn I send out my crippled Peregrine and lay waste to the Armiger and whatever drone was accompanying it. Focus has really made a big difference since its addition in 3.0, as it allows crippled units with multiple actions or React+ to remain effective!

The MHT-95 continues to be ineffective at taking out the Adam’s recon CGL with some more MRP fire.

I lose the Peregrine to a rear shot from an unsupported LATM drone, but I was expecting this.

I haven’t done much to deal with the MAR-DK still, and I’m behind on Scan objectives, so I send in one of the LHT’s and hope to get lucky on my EW roll. Thankfully, I roll a 6 and get my second Scan objective!

The BF2-25 advances and wipes out a Drone as it moves towards the middle of the table.

We take stock of our objectives as we move into Turn 4. We’ve both managed to score Break the Line, me with bikes, Adam with his stupid recon CGL that I can’t haywire or beat down with weight of dice. We both have 2 scan objectives, meaning it’s a 4-4 tie right now. It’s looking like Adam will only be able to control one of his Hold Objectives, and it looks like I will only be able to hold one of mine. He has three models near my leftmost Hold objective, and he has none near his left (from my perspective) Hold objective, because he’s moved his Recon CG forward. He commented later that it was probably a mistake to do that. Neither of us have our Assassinate objectives, so Adam decides to focus on the central Dominate objective, which is a 2 pointer! To do this, he decides to deny me the ability to zoom bikes onto it on my last activation, but his little drones only manage to kill one drone, with the other (depicted below) surviving!

Adam had moved his MAR-DK to a position to secure one of his Hold Objectives and was worried about a frontal attack from my MHT’s and positioned his facing accordingly. This was the opening I had been waiting for, and I snuck my BF2-25 in to target designate the MAR-DK and drop a MATM from the MHT-68 on it. After the smoke cleared, it only had one health left!

Adam’s Recon Squad haywired my MHT-95 to prevent it from contesting my Hold objective, and then scurried away to take that objective from me by weight of numbers.

As Adam’s forces moved in on the central objective, things were looking pretty dire. With both of us having Break the Line, both scan objectives, and likely one Hold objective each, it looked like Adam was going to have a 7-5 win thanks to controlling the central objective. My LHT’s did some damage, thinning out the crowd of drones securing the Dominate objective, but there were still three drones sitting on it.

I dove my last bike onto the objective and fired an MIGL at all three drones, killing one. My MHT-68 activated next, dropping a MAAM onto the MAR-DK, killing it, and then scooted into view of one of the drones and burned it off the table with a heavy laser cannon.

Taking out the MAR-DK was a two point swing—it took a Hold objective from Adam and gave me an Assassinate point. That would have put it at a 6-6 tie, were it not for my lone bike facing off with Adam’s lone drone on the central objective. With only Break the Line and the two scan objectives for Adam, that gave me a

6-4 CEF Victory!

Post Game Analysis

That was a close shave for sure. That last HLC shot won me the game! And what a gun to do it with too—rolling 3 dice thanks to Let Them Have it on a crippled N-KIDU out of cover with Precise and Advanced… it would have had to be a really really awful roll for me to not paste that final drone.

I’m pretty pleased with the performance of all of my units, with the exception of the MHT-95. I really don’t like the MAG as a weapons load out. It’s too feast or famine for me, I prefer consistency and the ability to react more. I think from now on I will be using the MHT-95 assault, not for the HGL but for the react MFC. An AR9 platform firing back with an MLC or MFC if you’re in range sounds pretty good to me. On the active turn I can use the linked MRP to do some more damage.

The MHT-68 AA was an interesting choice. I think in the future I’d like to try the MHT-68 Raider for the MPL, MATM, and MABM combo. I love air burst missiles, and the linked MPL is pretty brutal on that platform and can do some damage to heavier targets thanks to AP: 4. Losing the MAAM is more surprising of a loss to me than I would’ve expected—DAM 8 is still DAM 8, after all, even without the AP.

I definitely missed having access to the MRL on the LHT-67 Assault, but I’m not upset about having two MPAs and LABMs on the table. This was my first experience fighting Utopia, and I’m convinced that stupid ECM drone is the way to go. The fact that all but two of Adam’s models had stealth completely ruined my indirect game, and it forced me to expose the HC-3A to some unpleasant ECM Jams. The fact that I have to get through two Jams to do anything is just frustrating, and I can’t even rely on the HC-3A’s superior sensor range to get me out of that… jam. Sorry not sorry.

I definitely liked what the mission did to the flow of the game. The scan objectives are a positioning and activation sink—they’re easy to get, but you have to expend the resources to do so. You want something speedy so you can both get the objective and then move somewhere else useful. You really don’t want to be spending a ton of time just pushing to the objective and only getting there on turn 3 or something. That would be bad.

I’m so used to these sorts of missions due to my long history of playing Infinity, so when Adam asked me what I thought of the mission after our game, I didn’t have much to say. It forced both of us to constantly check on our current point totals as well as assess what the top priority was from turn to turn—a sign of decent mission design, if I dare say so. I think High Ground as a mission is about right where it should be, in terms of competitive balance. It didn’t steal the spotlight from the list-dependent objectives (nor should it have), wasn’t overly taxing, gave me a reason to advance into the midfield besides Break the Line, and forced both of us to cluster units near one another to create interesting and fun interactions.

The fact that it just sort of “got out of the way” is I think a good thing. Overly complicated missions can kill a tournament scene. In terms of things to improve from game to game, I had a few notes for myself. The reclassification of bikes as “vehicles” dramatically decreases their survivability, not to mention the downgrade of their piloting from 3+ to 4+ (I ran the numbers, this bit isn’t as big of a deal as you might think). I think I was too aggressive with the bikes I sent out on my first turn to attack Adam’s recon CG, and that was a mistake. I could’ve used them to help me address problems on that side and honestly should’ve started with other groups. Perhaps I could’ve attempted an FO with the BF2-25, or even gone after the Scan objective to do a “null activation” and force Adam to move forward and open himself up to bike attacks.

After that mishap, I started to play a little more conservatively and had much better control over where my units were going, what they were doing, and in what order. I think the next biggest improvements to my play would be to switch up the MHT-95 to an Assault variant and the MHT-68 to the Raider variant. Both of those would have helped a lot, and allowed me to be more aggressive and push them forward to contribute their firepower more effectively.

There was the problem of dealing with Adam’s ATM spam, but I generally handle that by null deploying and playing a ranged game. I think I need to find a way to push into the center and get more presence there, but CEF does not hold ground very well against ECM armed enemies. The tank’s lack of react hurts a lot too. I would say I should take frames, but frames basically don’t have any anti-infantry weapons, which makes them very vulnerable in the midfield. I need to explore GRELs more, especially the GREL Raider squads. Lots more testing to do! Thanks for reading.

WiseKensai

I primarily play Infinity and Heavy Gear nowadays, but I dabble in plenty of other game systems.

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