ScrapYard Armory

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Jan-27-2016

Operational Turning Point Widowmaker Absorption Review

We are back with another addition to the expanded Operational Turning Points series.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Operational Turning Points PDFs are bigger and larger cousins of the normal Turning Points series and features a larger campaign centered around a group of planets.280px-Operational_Turning_Points_Widowmaker_Absorption

We are treated to a Succession Wars era Clan Homeworlds campaign.  If that combination does not get you excited I don’t know what else will.  The familiar Philip A. Lee is at the helm for this Widowmaker Absorption adventure.  Lets see how he does.

The Day that Greatness and Vision Died…

A great piece of fiction opens up the PDF in the hours following the death of the ilKhan.  We follow Khan Jerome Winson as he runs his ‘Mech hard to kill as many Widowmaker warriors as he can before good judgement can finally turn him away for repairs.

I found this bit of fiction very entertaining and among the most engaging I’ve read in the OTP or TP series.  Very well put together and a worthy introduction to the chaos that hopefully awaits in later pages.

Atlas

The atlas section covers three worlds, each with their own set of map tables, as well as common terrain features and optional weather conditions.  Each planet has a brief description covering basic system stats and history.

Very nice section with the added bits of information connecting each planet with the Trial of Absorption.

RATs

RAT tables are provided for three Clans, Wolf, Widowmaker, and Other.  ‘Mechs and Aerospace fighters are provided for each as well as a common Vehicle table.

I am very glad to see combined arms as an option.  Always makes things better.

The BattleMech list is a very interesting one.  It can seem a bit unorthodox at first to see so much old technology in a Clan RAT table (Marauders, Catapults, Locusts, etc).  Don’t fear because mixed in are a few Star League designs (Hussar, Wyvern, Lancelot, etc.).  Further examination will reveal a few scary options like the Thunder Hawk, Pillager, and Wakazashi.

Untangling the Web

This two page section details the nitty gritty of the events leading up to the Trial of Absorption and subsequent near annihilation of the Widowmaker Clan.  Treachery and sacrifice permeate the story which ultimately leads to the rise of Clan Wolf as the strongest of the Clans.

A very good write up with a lot of action across relatively few worlds.  I am excited to see how these events are translated into the campaign missions later on in the book.  There appears to be ample stock for conflict.

Personalities

The personality section gives a brief overview of the major players within Clan Wolf, Widowmaker, and Goliath Scorpion.  Each leader is also given a set of A Time of War attributes and skills for use in an RPG campaign for those wishing to tread that particular path.

Tragedy seems to follow most leaders in the Clans.  If you are not killed horribly on the battlefield then you live to be a disfigured and mentally damaged warrior until you are shot out of your cockpit while stuck in a swamp.  What a way to go.  The BattleTech universe can be a cruel place to live.

Combatants

The combatants section features the notable combat units involved in the Widowmaker Absorption which includes those from Clan Wolf, Clan Widowmaker, Clan Jade Falcon, Clan Burrock, and Clan Goliath Scorpion.  Obviously Wolf and Widowmaker are the main contenders but the other three Clans are presented for their bit roles in the conflict.

Each unit is described with a Commanding Officer, experience level, unit abilities, and notes.  The notes section gives additional fluff about the unit and tidbits of information on the conflict with the Widowmakers.  The Widowmaker unit insignia are very cool… first time I think I’ve ever come across them before.

Unit abilities were varied and provided a good mix.  While the usual suspects form Tactical Operations and Initiative bonuses were present, some new pilot abilities were thrown in in interesting combinations to mix things up.  Certain forces abhor ammunition based weapons.  Others are (gasp) geared for physical combat.  There are some very interesting forces in this campaign.

Most Interesting Force has to go to the elite 1st Spinners.  They suffer Communication Disruption but take advantage of the Brawler special ability as well as a sprinkling of Melee Specialist and Demoralizer.  Quite the combination. I would hate to see them across the battle field.

The Campaign

A quick campaign primer is provided to outline how the campaign is supposed to work and also give some guidelines for creating a force.

I may have missed it, but I did not see where it states how many Warchest Points to start with.  I assume it is the standard 1,000, but it is curious that such a note is absent.

Missions

Three generic missions are provided for the campaign.  They include Trial of Possession, Trial of Grievance, and Pursuit.  All of them follow a basic formula and provide the bare minimum of variety while staying open enough for interpretation.

For generic missions they do the job.

Touchpoints

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.

I found the bulk of the Touchpoint missions to be very good.  Individually I think I may have fallen back on my familiar criticism of being too predictable and formulaic variations on the theme of “Go Kill the Other Team”.  However, taken as a whole, there is a lot to like.  From dense urban landscapes to magma field laden cliff faces there is a good variety of locations.  Objectives will most always have you shooting up the other ‘Mechs as best you can, but sprinkled in are alternative motivations like supply depots, HPG stations, and massive wall fortifications.

A little more thought could have been put into the choice of Optional Bonuses, which tend to always be weather related.  It is a common pet peeve of mine.

The Touchpoints really shined in the highly thematic and almost scripted elements found in Ironhold (Trial of Refusal) and Roche (Spiderholm).  The circle of equals in Ironhold followed by the inevitable chaos resulting from the end of zellbrigen is something I am really dying to try out.  It sounds like a great scenario to play out even outside the confines of the greater campaign.

Roche (Spiderholm) showcases the last defense of the Widowmaker homeworld.  A triple layer of hardened walls topped with defensive turrets greet the attackers who must find a way to assault the last vestige of Widowmaker power on the planet.

Great stuff.  The more I go over the missions I see a lot to look forward to.

Record Sheets

Only two record sheets are provided but they are good ones!

The first is none other than Kerensky’s Atlas II.  This behemoth assault ‘Mech is modest at first glance.  Dual ERLLs, an LB10-X, and an LRM20 make up the long range threat.  Once closer in, a pair of Medium Pulse Lasers and SRM6s add additional firepower.  Curiously, we see an ECM and Active Probe.  This Altas seems a bit more geared for a leadership or defensive position than a close in Brawler type of ‘Mech.

The second ‘Mech is the Highlander used by Khan Jorgensson.  This ‘Mech does all of its damage at distance with 2 ERLL, Gauss Rifle, and LRM20.  Once again, a bit under armed at first glance compared to more modern units.  Still with standard engines, both these ‘Mechs could stick around for a while on the battlefield.  Better be ready for a long slog to beat these ‘Mechs into submission.

Final Thoughts

OTP:WA is a very good read and provides an excellent campaign suitable for an epic string of gaming sessions or a simpler one-off event.  While some tracks play it safe with regards to objective and bonus selections, players should find enough variety to keep them interested, especially the centerpiece missions on Ironhold and Roche.

This PDF is well worth the price of admission.  Fans of the Clans should be doubly delighted.  Even if you are not a fan of the Wolves or Widowmakers in the current timeline, seeing them in this earlier time, prior to the Clan Invasion, is worth a second look.

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