Monday, April 24, 2017

Formation Building Example #3

Formation Building Example #3
Hey Game Fans, we’re back with an example of how to put a formation together using the Combat Manuals for Alpha Strike.  If you’re interested in the explanation for how this is going to work, feel free to check out our article on the process, which you can find here.  I’ll take you through the step by step process to get you an idea of how this works.

Today we’re going to take a look at a hybrid formation that uses a house force as its primary component, and has mercenary allies.  The rules exist for just such contingencies, and we’re going to take a look at how these two ideas get along in the same formation.  We’re going to show off the 2nd Legion of Vega and a little bit of help from Zeta Battalion of Wolf’s Dragoons.  Now, historically neither of these forces interacted with each other during the 3rd Succession War, but that’s the magic of the game.  

Process 1:  Getting Started with the 2nd Legion of Vega

Step 1:  Choose a Point Value

This particular formation is intended to be used at 450 points.  This is a good point value to build a company that feature a variety of weight classes.  The specific company we’re building is going to be composed of two lances from the 2nd Legion of Vega and a Lance of the Zeta Battalion.  

Step 2:  Choose an Era

This lance is built using the Late Succession Wars (Renaissance) Era

Step 3: Choose a Faction

This is a House Kurita Formation (with auxiliaries).

Step 4: Choose a Combat Command

The Combat Command i’ve chosen for this formation is the 2nd Legion of Vega.  The 2nd Legion of Vega have a regular experience rating and the Brawlers, Environmental Specialization (Urban, Mountain, and Woods) to choose from.  They are a medium weight battlemech Regiment, a Heavy Aerospace Wing, a Conventional Vehicle Regiment, and a Conventional Infantry Regiment in strength.    

Interlude: Formation Organization

Now at this point in the text is a multiple page discussion about the standard organizational scheme used by the combat manual you have in front of you.  Take some time and look through it, because if you decide you want to expand your forces as you get deeper into the game, having a coherent battalion is a lot easier if you look at its components.  This particular section ends with a discussion of how to put together a Company, along with the typical lances that are the building blocks of companies.  

Process 2: Build Formations (1st operation)

Now that you’ve got the basics figured out for what you want to put together, it’s time to actually go through the steps and put together each one of your formations.  Now we’re going to plan how to put together a company, which requires 3 lance sized formations.  Let’s go through some steps to get you started, and cover a few distinct oddities.

Step 1: Choose Formation Type (Cavalry Lance #1)

The 2nd Legion of Vega is a medium weight force which means it’s going to have a lot of fast moving units that are designed to be either a line formation or a rapid response.  We’re going to put together one of each, and we’ll start with the Cavalry Lance.  The size and speed requirements for the Cavalry Lance are detailed on page 151 of the Alpha Strike Companion for those of you playing a long at home.  The Upside of taking this formation is that 75% of the units in the formation gain the Speed Demon special ability.  

Step 2: Choose Units for the Formation

  1. Phoenix Hawk (PXH-1)
  2. Griffin (GRF-1N)
  3. Shadow Hawk (SHD-2H)
  4. Wolverine (WVR-6R)

Step 3:  Select Skill and adjust PV

They cost 114 points after augmenting the Phoenix Hawk to Skill 3, this is a lieutenant who’s filling in for the captain of the missing lance.  

Step 4:  Assign Special Pilot Abilities

No one in this lance is assigned a Special Pilot Ability.

Process 2: Build Formations (2nd operation)

Step 1: Choose Formation Type (Battle Lance #1)

This lance is designed to hold ground and soften up targets as they come in.  It’s not as fast as the Cavalry Lance, but it isn’t supposed to be.  This unit, (along with the 3rd lance in the company), are slower moving units that can hopefully take a pounding before pulling out of the fight.  

Step 2: Choose Units for the Formation

This formation is going to primarily a split between medium and heavy mechs to preserve the weight class of the formation.  There are going to be a total of 6 medium and two heavy mechs in this company from the Legion of Vega, and that works to my sensibilities for putting together a Medium weight force.  The other direction that could be taken would be two lights and two heavies, if the formation builder were so inclined.  
  1. Grand Dragon (DRG-1G)
  2. Thunderbolt (TDR-5SE)
  3. Centurion (CN9-AH)
  4. Dervish (DV-6M)

Step 3:  Select Skill and adjust PV

Aside from the Grand Dragon, (who is Skill 3), this Battle Lance uses regular pilots and has a PV of 133

Step 4:  Assign Special Pilot Abilities

No one in this lance is assigned a Special Pilot Ability.

Process 2: Build Formations (3rd operation)

This is where things get a little tricky, because we’re deploying an Assault Lance of the Wolf’s Dragoon’s Zeta Battalion as a supplemental force to the Legion of Vega.  This means they’re using their own availability list and options, but don’t qualify for the Legion’s Special Command Abilities.  They have to follow all of their normal restrictions and requirements, but this opens up the Wolf’s Dragoons availability table as well.

Step 1: Choose Formation Type (Assault Lance)

Zeta Battalion requires the deployment of at least half of its forces as Assault Lances.  Since we’re only fielding one, we are required to deploy an Assault Lance.  (To be honest, we were going to anyway, because it’s Zeta).  

Step 2: Choose Units for the Formation

Like a kid in a candy store, i start grabbing the biggest meanest things i can find.  
  1. Annihilator (ANH-1A)
  2. Marauder II (MAD-4A)
  3. Warhammer (WHM-6R)
  4. Archer (ARC-2W)

Step 3:  Select Skill and adjust PV

This unit has to take the Elite rating, which means these are expensive units. ORdinarily, this unit would cost 205 points, but being Mercenaries reduces their point cost by 21 points (1 per 10 PV, rounded up).  This unit thus costs 184 points.  However, they are affected by the morale rules, even though Zeta normally isn’t.  

Step 4:  Assign Special Pilot Abilities

No one in this lance is assigned a Special Pilot Ability.

Process 2: Build Formations (Bonus operation)

We only spent 431 of our 450 points, which is just enough to squeeze in a surprise.  We’re going to be adding a reinforced infantry company to the formation.  These are drawn from the 2nd Legion of Vega’s Combat Command, so they’ll gain the benefits of the Legions Special Command Abilities.  They don’t have a formation of their own, so they don’t get any formation benefits.  

Step 1: Choose Formation Type (None)

As stated, infantry have no specific Formations to belong to other than their administrative designations.  We are adding a reinforced company of Jump MG Infantry to the formation to give them some flexibility in taking and holding objectives, while manipulating the initiative order a little bit.  

Step 2: Choose Units for the Formation

We only have 19 points to spend, so we’re going to purchase four platoons of Jump MG infantry
  1. Jump MG infantry
  2. Jump MG infantry
  3. Jump MG infantry
  4. Jump MG infantry

Step 3:  Select Skill and adjust PV

This unit at Regular skill rating has a Point Value of 16.

Step 4:  Assign Special Pilot Abilities

No one in this group is assigned a Special Pilot Ability.


The Company is the basic administrative unit of forces built for Alpha Strike, and depending on its make up can include aerospace assets, infantry, vehicles and/or battlemechs.  There are several important concepts to keep track of at the company level when you’re putting your forces together.  
  1. Faction Points:  Faction Points are managed at the company level, and a standard sized company has 12 Faction points to purchase out of faction mechs or special lance formations.  You can’t share faction points between your companies, and they should be tracked on the formation Worksheet from page 125.
  2. Rare Units:  Some units are uncommon within a given faction’s availability.  This means that while they don’t cost FPs to purchase, they are limited to One per company.  These units are marked with an * in the Availability List.
  3. Multiple versions of the same variant:  Most military forces lack a large enough logistical support network to field lances and companies of the exact same mech.  There are exceptions to this rule, but anytime a Force builder puts two copies of the same variant into their list, it costs them 1 Faction Point per copy.  Example:  Tim puts two copies of the BLR-1G into his list, each of which costs him a Faction Point.  Had he selected the BLR-1G and the BLR-1S, he wouldn’t have had to pay the extra Faction Points because they are two different variants  
  4. Story Availability List:  Some mechs have an interesting story as to how they made it to the battlefield.  What this means in play is that by expending a lot of FPs, a player can access a host of wider options for picking up a specific mech.  For 6 FPs, the player can access any of the following Availability Lists: Davion, Kurita, Liao, Marik, Steiner, Mercenary, Wolf’s Dragoons, and Star League cache: Star League.  For 7 FPs, they can access Star League: Star League Royal, and if during the Clan Invasion, Clan Jade Falcon, Clan Ghost Bear, Clan Wolf, Clan Smoke Jaguar, Clan Nova Cat.
  5. Unique Characters:  Each Combat Manual has a selection of unique characters that can be added to a formation.  They have fixed skill ratings, special abilities, and a unit assigned to them.  Each Force can only have one Unique character.  
  6. Sub Commands:  In cases where Players want to add additional forces that don’t feature on the primary Combat Command’s Roster, (For example, adding a lance of combat vehicles to an All battlemech force), they can assign a sub command made up of the desired units from another of the larger Combat Command’s sub commands.  Units pulled from another sub command are considered to be a part of their own company (though they can be as small a formation as a lance), and draw their Special Command Abilities and other supplemental rules from their specific Sub Command.
  7. Supplemental Formations: Some players may wish to add units that don’t show up anywhere in their Combat Command’s available forces.  Doing so is as easy as combining the desired units into formation sized chunks and assigning them to the larger force.  These forces do not generate Faction Points, and come from either the General or Kurita Availability Lists.

Process 3: Assigning Special Command Abilities

Special Command Abilities are basically force level special abilities that any given combat command are capable of acquiring.  These represent specific training styles, methods of organization, or just odd quirks of how things worked out for that particular Combat Command.  For players selecting a force that doesn’t belong to a listed Combat Command, you can still acquire Special Command Abilities, but they are randomly determined as detailed below.  We have to do this in two separate pieces because the Zeta’s have their own SCAs to choose from and can still select one (despite normally being able to select 2)

Step 1: Determine a Force’s Experience Rating

2nd Legion of Vega
11 units are at skill rating 4, with 1 unit at Skill Rating 3.  This gives an experience rating of 3.9 (rounded up to 4).  
Zeta Battalion
4 units at Skill rating 2.  This gives an experience rating of 2.0.

Step 2: Determine the Number of Special Command Abilities

As a Regular unit, the 2nd Legion of Vega receives one Special Command Ability.
Normally, as an Elite Unit, the Zeta Battalion would receive two Special Command Abilities, but they are being brought in as Mercenaries, and receive one less.    

Step 3:  Assign Special Command Abilities

The 2nd Legion of Vega have four special command ability choices, and we opt for the Environmental Specialization (Woods).  Forests are virtually everywhere, and the ability of the Legion to get close is paramount.  
The Zeta Battalion also have several choices but opt for Overrun Combat.  


So at 450 points, we’ve assembled a hybrid house/merc force that combines elements of both factions into a workable whole.  The Assault weight of the Zetas will lend staying power to the lighter machines of the 2nd Legion, but they still follow the morale rules, so if something starts to cause heavy damage, the Zetas may withdraw from the fighting.  

That’s one of many potential outbreaks of Formation construction.  As we get access to more combat manuals we’ll put together a bunch more of these.  Next week we’ll build a formation that uses the standard lances, and see if we can’t find some other creative things to do.  

Game On, Game Fans

So, for those of you wanting to tinker with this, here are the AS sheets.  You’ll need to grab the company formation sheets from the Combat Manual to fill them out.

2nd Legion of Vega Cavalry Lance
2nd Legion of Vega Infantry
Zeta Assault Lance

1 comment:

  1. Very informative and enjoyable read. Thank you.