ScrapYard Armory

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Jan-27-2011

Operational Turning Point: Falcon Incursion

The year is 3058 and both the old and the untested warriors of the Jade Falcons are clamoring for battle.  Operational Turning Points Falcon Incursion covers the series of hit and run raids into the Lyran Alliance ending at Coventry.

Nicholas Marsala is at the reigns of this Operational Turning Point.  Falcon Incursion is the third Operational Turning Point PDF to be released.

Beginner’s Luck

The opening fiction for Falcon Incursion sees the cadets of Coventry Military Academy pressed into quick service to defend against a faceless and menacing Clan Jade Falcon.

The entire sequence covers a firefight against multiple targets and is entertaining to the last.

Introductions

The Introduction section is standard boiler plate for the Turning Points series.  Set in 3058, Falcon Incursion draws inspiration from the novel Malicious Intent by Michael Stackpole and an accompanying Battlecorps fiction “Something More” by Jason Hansa.  Coventry is already captured in BattleTech lore via the Coventry scenario pack.  Seeing the full conflict from beginning to end given the Chaos Campaign makeover is well deserved and is another notch in the BattleTech time-line.  Almost all eras are represented in some fashion through turning points pdfs.

Atlas

No less than five planets are covered in the Atlas section each with a list of attributes and a few paragraphs of description and history.

Most of the information in this section will only be used by role players or campaign builders.  There is ample information to craft additional scenarios in various eras based on the sprawling histories of these planets.  That said, they are not needed to play the games included in this pdf.  Still, they are a welcome addition to the story telling tome.

Rounding out the section are a set of terrain tables, one for each planet.  Tactical Operations additions are also recommended where appropriate which include the likes of mud, planted fields, and ultra heavy woods.

RAT

Random Assignment Tables are provided for the three forces involved in the battle with a new double entry feature which in effect provides some unique variations based on the selected force.

The end effect are psuedo unique tables for Mercenaries, Wolf’s Dragoons, Jade Falcon, Lyran, and Militia.  It’s good to see Catalyst innovating here and not just punching  the stamp to produce the same old tables.

The Falcon’s Incursion

This section provides a matter of factly description of the events that occured during the Falcon’s campaign towards Coventry.  It provides the framework around which the tracks will delve into.  What it lacks is a deeper explanation of why these events occurred.  I found the first paragraph of the section to be shockingly blunt, like reading out of a dated history book.

Those who have read the books concerning this battle may not be so surprised.  I felt a little out of touch.  As good fortune (or design) would have it, the very next section provided some of the details I was seeking.

Personalities

As is due process for the Turning Points series, the leaders of the dueling forces are presented with a brief history, artwork, and A Time of War special abilities.

For the Dragoons, we have the commander of Delta Regiment.  The Falcons have the infamous Marthe Pryde including a summary of the motivations that led to the decision to invade so suddenly without regard for keeping anything they captured.

Combatants

Seventeen units are described with unit commanders, experience, RAT, unit abilities and notes.

I love this section for the subtle clues and bits of story interlaced within.  The notes section in particular is not to be skipped.  The special abilities range from the mundane to the spectacular.

The unit abilities in Falcon Incursion are some of the best I’ve seen.  Not content to rely solely on Tactical Operations additions, Mr. Marsala has crafted an excellent array of unique and well thought out abilities.  From the overly defensive tendencies of the Neerabup Periphery Militia to the desperate measures employed by the Jade Solahma Cluster, you will find many uses for these unique abilities.

This section in particular suffered from copious missed references (See Page X) which were quickly edited and the pdf updated before I could get this review out.  A good thing about BattleCorps is that all updates to a product are made available to you to download.  Make sure you check the box after purchasing to enable email alerts when an update occurs.

How to Use the Campaign

This section gives the setup rules for each side of the conflict and lays the groundwork for modifications to the Chaos Campaign specific to this campaign.

New in this episode of the Turning Points series is an option to spend Warchest points during unit creation to re-roll RAT or random pilot skill roll results.  Another innovative and interesting addition to the series.

The Tracks

We have two generic track in this campaign.  That is two less than either of the previous Operational Turning Points.  Don’t worry, the eleven Touchpoint missions more than make up for the lack of generics.  Even so, owners of the other two Operational Turning Points will be able to easily inject those generic missions into their games for a truly epic length campaign.

Together, the Operational Turning Points pdfs include Recon, Raid, Scout, Flank, Assault, Defend, Interdict, and Strike.  A few of them include variations, like Defend and Assault.  I’m surprised that it was not mentioned in the How to Use the Campaign section that the generics from any series are able to be plugged in.

That is of course assuming this campaign was not meant to be played exactly as presented.  In such a case, the generics will become increasingly tedious compared the more numerous Touchpoints.  And maybe that’s the point.  This campaign was not a drawn out fight on any planet.  Battles were quick and decisive and then the Falcons moved on.

In the end your playing group should find the right balance.  As it stands, eleven Touchpoints with a few raids and recon missions interlaced will keep you busy for quite a while!

Both generic tracks offer non-standard games which will keep things interesting between Touchpoints.

New historical notes mixed into specific tracks help to guide players who may be looking for a more faithful interpretation of a battle for a one off scenario.  A welcome addition for players who are not as interested in a drawn out campaign.

From the very start we are given a very well thought out series of Touchpoints.  Neerabup is a curious chess game of sorts where protecting your command centers comes at the cost of Militia armor.  On to Bucklands where otherwise mundane objectives are spiced up by the inclusion of modified IndustiralMechs piloted by old but cantankerous veterans of a bygone era.

Australia offers mixed objectives and optional defenses available to the Lyran Militia, but only if they take infantry in their unit selection.  A devilish twist that encourages combined arms tactics.

Coventry Military Academy pits ill-trained forces against each other is a battle that forces you to consider very different tactical options.  A disorganized force without leadership is always easier to kill.  Just don’t lose your own leaders in the process!

It goes on and on.  From beginning to end, the Touchpoint tracks are fantastic.  There are linked tracks.  There are air battles.  There are combined arms.  All of them are brilliant combinations that will force you to think and shake up the monotony of “destroy the other guy” objectives.  Falcon Incursion has the best set of tracks ever produced in the entire Turning Points series.

Record Sheets

Three record sheets are provided to enhance your campaign experience.  The first is a curious IndustrialMech modification.  All of two heat sinks is all you have to support a variety of bolted on SRMs and Autocannon.  For such an awful excuse for a ‘Mech, it overflows with character and slips into the Bucklands Touchpoint in the event that players can’t or don’t want to modify their own Industrials.  This is a great example of providing an interesting hook for a track and giving players the tools to immediately jump into the action.

A BattleMaster, complete with unseen artwork, is the personal ride of Rogers of the Waco Rangers.  It is a brawler with astonishing critical hit seeking armaments.  Nothing says keep your distance like seven Streak SRM-2s.

The last entry is a mixed tech Nightsky used by the Dragoon Delta Regiment commander.  It’s mixed tech so as you would expect it is a beast.  The redeeming feature is it’s just slightly off heat scale.  It can produce a stunning amount of damage but will have to stagger weapons to avoid overheating.

The Bottom Line

By far, this is one of the best of the Turning Points series.  Each track is original and extraordinarily well written.  That by itself makes this PDF well worth the price of admission.  Seeing such a successful formula repeated eleven times over makes it a must buy.

For those not so in love with the Chaos Campaign series as I am, Falcon Incursion adds to the burgeoning selection of eras to play in.  If you love the Clans or love to hate them, Falcon Incursion will provide opportunities to play out a massive campaign culminating within the industrial complexes of Coventry.

Catalyst, if you are listening, Nicholas Marsala did a masterful job on this pdf (a drastic improvement over JTP:Tharkad).  Do yourselves a favor and give the man more work.  I’d love to see what other magic he can conjure in other eras.

Posted under Review
  1. Jason Weiser Said,

    I like the review, and I rather agree on all points. The Battlemaster is rather scary, to say the least. Though any clanner who closes with a Battlemaster ought to have his head examined….

    Personally? I think it’s a better bit of work than the older scenario pack. It tells us what happened OFF of Coventry and the scenarios aren’t all the “Doc Trevena and Sharon Brubaker show, with comic guest stars, the Waco Rangers!”. There’s more to be seen, and the Lyrans seem to have a bit of a fighting chance here.

  2. Nick Marsala Said,

    Wow. Just wow.

    Thank you for the glowing review! It really does mean alot to me.

  3. “Falcon Incursion” E-Book Now Availible and Reviewed! | Nick Marsala Said,

    […] E-Book was also reviewed by the fansite ScrapYard Armory, which claimed that: “By far, this is one of the best of the Turning Points […]

  4. ScrapYard Armory » Blog Archive » Operational Turning Point Widowmaker Absorption Review Said,

    […] Seven Touchpoint tracks provide the main course of OTP: Widowmaker Absorption.  Only seven Touchpoints is in line with previous offerings while falling short of the immense and well received OTP: Falcon Incursion. […]

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