Friday, October 16, 2015

Ad Extremis Militarum

The End is Nigh


Tonight, in just a few hours, W4RG will be dissolved as a unit.  I wanted to take the time to give us a proper send-off, so elected to make this last post as a capstone to our achievements together.  Most of the other network areas will go offline, but this will remain here for some time.

Over the past two and a half years, I have had the privilege of doing battle alongside some of the finest MechWarriors the Inner Sphere has ever produced.  Every single one of you was part of my life, whether you realize it or not.  This was a labor of love for me and I have no regrets, save the drama that always precipitates this sort of event.  I am happy to have met each and every single one of you.

However, for me this has demanded more and more of my attention over time.  That translates to emotional investment, and I am a passionate person.  We have always prided ourselves on paying more attention to each individual member than most units do, and for a good long while I had adequate help in administering guidance to our community.  With most of our current members unwilling or unable to aid in the direction of the unit, we are not able to keep up with our standards of excellence.

This has been going on for a long time.  Today, however - I do not cast any blame except on myself.  If I had worked longer, harder, perhaps something would still be standing today.  Perhaps.

In either case, my own growing family and business is demanding more attention.  I can no longer devote the amount of energy I have to this endeavor, for the constant churn and drama renders it unnecessary, and mostly likely unhealthy for my body, mind and spirit - not to mention interpersonal relationships that are tested as my unit demanded my attention every single day (except Sunday).  I'm not complaining about that, it was great to be needed.

So it is that tonight, in a few hours time, I will retire from MWO.  The great wealth of things I learned while serving as commander will enrich and embolden me throughout my life.  Thus it is with great regret that my last act as Zvolimir the Blackhand will be to dissolve the unit.

In the end, I feel as if the unit can be put down knowing that by and large, it's commander stood by their principles, guidelines and the advice of the Command Staff (when that was a thing).  Wherever you go from here, take a piece of this with you whatever that may be.  We did good here, boys - for a long time.  Longer than most.

Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve with you as your commander as long as I did.  I will remember this experience for the rest of my life, and I cannot express enough gratitude to the unit for that.  It is I who am in your debt.

Farewell, from Zvolimir Grebenschikov...sometimes called the Blackhand.

Good night, and Good Hunting, Gatekeepers!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Hammer Swings

Today's very interesting story was penned by our own Jochi Kondur a few months back.  Check out his YouTube here!

29 May 3052
1530 PVST
A strange calm descended as he powered down his Huginn.  The slight tremors caused by the adrenaline-based battle stim ebbed gently away and Jochi took the moment to mediate.  Unlike other mechwarriors who become addicted to battle stims containing various cocktails of psycho-stimulants and opiates, Jochi relied on a non-addictive synthetic stim replicated from his own adrenaline sample.

He gingerly balanced himself on top of his one-legged Raven to look over the rim of the caldera.  The Peregrine Medevac VTOL had landed and its paramedics were attending to the Urbanmech pilot who ejected.  As his eyes glanced over the legless remains of the heavily modified Urbanmech, he scoffed at the Draconis Combine crest alongside the emblem of the Tikonov Liao unit.  Well, at least they had not gone over to the Steiners and the Tikonov Republican Guards, he thought.

Jochi could see the second Peregrine Transport VOTL coming in a bit too hot and quickly ran for cover.  Damn if he is killed by this crash-prone lemon from Blackwell having survived the duel.  Through the dust, he made out a familiar figure, he was soon in a bear-like embrace of his friend Vasily. 

“Baxter will get your Huginn sorted out, he promised Zvolimir the Blackhand that you’ll leave Menke with a brand new Raven and he keeps his promise.” said Vasily.

28 May 3052
1700 PVST

Jochi’s eyes met familiar faces but the once friendly townsfolk averted eye contact and scurried away as he led the prisoner transport detail through the backstreets of his hometown, Menke.  Chancellor Romano Liao had ordered the ancient and obscure execution method of 凌遲 for the prisoner’s crime of high treason.  Originally scheduled to take place on Sian, the McCarron clan had spent great expense and called in many favors to move the execution to Menke instead.  Baxter had tasked Jochi to select the public execution site, it was to be a public place but secluded enough such that only the most determined and resourceful press member would be able to locate it.  As the execution crew rushed to set up in the fading light, he saw the guards hastily administer massive amounts of opium to the prisoner, no doubt also an arrangement by the McCarron clan for their disgraced kin.

Jochi’s attention was soon drawn to the perimeter of the execution site.  A commotion had broken out between the guards and several off-worlders.  A grizzled veteran mechwarrior wearing a curious mix of a Draconis Combine crest alongside the emblem of a Tikonov Liao unit on his jacket voiced his insistence of the prisoner’s innocence.  Zhong-Shao Blackhand had warned Jochi to be on the look out for any suspicious characters and especially off-worlders who would plot to stop the execution.  He quickly made a recording of the curious veteran’s rant for the Maskirovka but was discovered. 

“Hey you there” shouted the veteran, “why were you recording?”

 “This recording will be sent for Maskirovka archival," Jochi barked back.  The veteran took offense at the young mechwarrior’s impunity and retorted “Next time I see you on the field, we're dueling.”                   

Uncharacteristically, Jochi replied to the grizzle veteran.  “We will duel after the execution is concluded.”  Perhaps he was more affected by PTSD or Post Tukayyid Stress Disorder than he was led to believe.

27 May 3052
1900 PVST

Jochi and his 'Mech Tech team had been left behind on Tukayyid to make field repairs on salvageable mechs before they were shipped out to Purvo.  The monotony of their work was interrupted by the breaking news of sweeping arrests of mechwarriors from across all the Great Houses for high treason.  Jochi was queuing to enter the field mess hall when a strangely familiar voice said, “Jochi Kondur, you are wanted by Marcus Baxter”. 

Turning around he met the eyes of Aila, aide to his former CO who handed him his orders.  Jochi’s eyes widen as he read the order.  “Her Celestial Wisdom, Romano Liao orders Sang-Wei Jochi Kondur of the Gatekeeper Battalion to the Celestial Capital Sian and await further orders for the transport of a prisoner to Menke.”

“HE IS A GATEKEEPER!” hissed the woman angrily.  Baxter had to physically restrain the woman, apparently named Cat. 

“Her Celestial Wisdom, Romano Liao trusts the loyalty of the Gatekeepers and he is a friend to the McCarrons.  The McCarrons spent considerable resources to secure the prisoner’s transport to Menke or would you like your friend to remain in Sian for her execution?” asked Baxter.  The woman stormed back to her Nightshade Passenger VTOL.

“Zvolimir was quite insistent on getting you a new Raven as part of the deal to release you for the prisoner transport duty, is there a reason for that?” asked Baxter. 

Jochi thought back sheepishly to the accidental friendly fire incident caused by his piloting mistake on Tukayyid and replied, “Oh I don’t know, maybe he likes me.” 

Baxter cocked his head at the reply and said “I have a Huginn waiting for you on base, courtesy of the McCarrons from Archibald’s estate."

Monday, October 12, 2015

[W4RG] Color Coordination

[W4RG] has two sets of official colors.  These are "set" colors and are meant to be displayed together.  It does not matter which set you choose to use, and largely depends on your stance on skub.

Black and Green, in any combination.  Black is usually (but not always) predominant, and sometimes a solid black is displayed.  A third color can be displayed but should be tertiary.

Corresponding MechWarrior Online Colors:  Camo Black (Camo Greys) and Mica (Limes).

Grey and Red, in any combination.  Grey is usually (but not always) predominant, but solid colors are sometimes displayed.  White is used as a tertiary color, particularly with grey schemes.

Corresponding MechWarrior Online Colors:  Camo Grey (Camo Grey), Any Red or White.

For more information on Skub, see the diagram below.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

MechWarrior Online Tactical Manual

Greetings, Gatekeepers!

Moving into the third year of our operation, we are seeing many updates to MechWarrior Online as a whole.  There have been numerous changes not only to the game, but to our organizational policies.  These changes have prompted a new presentation to cover the important information we continue to use in practicality on MWO.

We have revised our Tactical Guide to it's most basic elements to reflect the changes, both to the game and to the unit.  The new tutorial guides in MWO provide a lot of the things the certification & qualification programs used to provide, so there is no further use for extraneous material.  Many of the other elements of previous doctrine are out of date as well, so below is the comprehensive condensation of all our previous certifications.

Battlemech Designations
  • Equipment Guidelines
    • No XL engines except in Scout Battlemechs
    • All Battlemechs must be capable of a speed of 60km.
    • Artillery / Air Strikes should be carried on 75% of the unit.
    • UAV Drones should be considered secondary consumable.
    • Cool Shot Only battlemechs are allowed but should be deployed sparingly - check with Drop Commander.
  • Line
    • Heavy or Assault Battlemech
    • Direct Fire Expressed Range of 400m
  • Scout
    • Light or Medium Battlemech
    • Minimum Speed 100km
  • Support
    • Any Class Battlemech
    • Escort, Close Support, Electronic Warfare or Hunter-Killers fit into this category.
  • Artillery
    • Any Class Battlemech
    • Main Weapon Systems are LRM Racks.
  • Invalid
    • A Battlemech that fails to meet these requirements is Invalid.
    • Invalid Battlemechs are subject to ridicule.
This categorization replaces all previously endorsed organizations.  Battlegroups should endeavor to build specialist lances with mission objectives in mind.  In addition, there is no longer a "preferred" battlemechs list.

Order Calls & Discipline

Phonetic Call Signs

These call signs are used to properly coordinate attacks against focus-fire targets, as well as many other battlefield tasks.  Identifying targets quickly and maintaining spatial awareness is critical.  Use the following alphabetical list to signal the position of enemy assets.

Correct nomenclature (or reasonable facsimile) should be used at all times, especially by officers.  The training we will provide will be group maneuvers, and using these callsigns is the number one way that is accomplished.

All Order Calls to be implemented by the battalion are listed and cursorily explained below.  All Gatekeepers will be trained in these, and all Command Staff will issue orders using these expressions.  Time will be greatly saved, as the commander can organize the map strategy without spending too much time explaining why he is issuing the orders.  Gatekeepers should immediately obey all order calls given by the Drop Commander, and with our fantastic discipline and drill method, these will all become second nature.

You are already familiar with the maneuvers and principles behind this list of commands, so don't feel intimidated by the number of calls.  The real challenge will be mastering the syntax of some of these expressions as a commander.  For most MechWarriors, these are easy to understand as they are pretty much self-explanatory (save for a few cases that are similar in title and execution).  As this method of command is implemented, you will see a dramatic increase in large unit efficiency and focus after just a few short drills.

The calls are organized into six different groups:

Command Calls
These calls are used by the Drop Commander to coordinate the unit's basic actions.
  • Target Call
    • Using the Phonetic Call Signs, the Drop Commander or Spearhead orders the unit to focus fire on an enemy unit.
    • Syntax:  Target (Phonetic)
      • Example:  "Target Alpha!"
  • Grid Call
    • Using the Phonetic Call Signs,  Gatekeepers designate a map section during command or response calls.
    • Syntax:  Grid (Square / Range)
      • Example:  "Company March Grid Charlie-Six!"
      • Example:  "Exploitation, Face Grid Delta-Three to Delta-Five!"
  • Standby
    • Instructs unit to wait until further instruction.
    • Syntax:  (Unit) Standby
      • Example (as Command Call):  "All units, Standby."
      • Example (as Response Call):  "Acknowledged - Standby."
  • Report
    • Instructs unit to use communication channel to convey requested information.
    • Syntax:  (Pilot) Report
      • Example (to Spotter):  "Blackhand, Report location and direction of enemy thrust!"
      • Example (to Exploitation Echelon):  "You guys are getting hammered!  Torturous, Report situation!"
  • Strike Mark
    • Using the Phonetic Call Signs, the Drop Commander or Spearhead orders the unit to place a strike on an enemy unit or area of ground.
    • Syntax:  Strike on (Phonetic) or (Description) (Grid)
      • Example:  "Strike Mark on Alpha!"
      • Example:  "Strike Mark on top of the ridge, Grid Echo-Seven!"
  • Launch UAV
    • Using the Phonetic Call Signs, the Drop Commander or Spearhead orders the unit to place a UAV in a specific grid area.
    • Syntax:  Launch UAV on (Grid)
      • Example:  "Launch UAV on Bravo-Six!"
Attack Movement Calls
This set of calls is used to coordinate and direct unit movement.
  • March
    • The march is the basic order to move and attack.  Gatekeepers are almost always "on attack", and the order to march is synonymous with "attack".
    • Syntax:  (Unit) March (Grid)
      • Example:  "Battalion March Grid Echo-Five!"
  • Halt
    • Commands unit to stop and hold position.  This can be an immediate call for a stop, or can be combined with other commands to designate a halt point for the unit.
    • Syntax (immediate):  (Unit) Halt
      • Example:  "Battalion Halt!"
      • Example:  "Alpha Lance, Halt!"
    • Syntax (designated):  (Unit) Halt at (Grid)
      • Example (issuing new order):  "Attack Echelon, March Grid Bravo-Three and Halt."
      • Example (modifying existing order):  "Exploitation Echelon, Halt at Charlie-Six."
  • Face 
    • Instructs unit to turn to face a grid section and provide covering fire to targets of opportunity while awaiting a target call.
    • Syntax:  (Unit) Face (Direction or Grid)
      • Example:  "Attack Echelon, Face Grid Delta-Seven!"
      • Example:  "Battalion Face North."
Response Calls
These calls are used by any Gatekeeper addressed by the Drop Commander.  Note that usually this will be the only time anyone other than the Drop Commander speaks.
  • Acknowledged (also:  Roger / Copy / Confirmed)
    • When receiving an direct order (one given expressly to you or your unit), provide this response when executing that order.
    • Syntax:  Acknowledgement (optional formality)
      • Example:  "Acknowledged."
      • Example:  "Roger that, Captain."
      • Example:  "Copy that, moving to Grid Alpha-Four."
      • Example:  "Order Confirmed, executing."
  • Affirmative (also:  Affirm.)
    • Reply in the positive.
    • Syntax:  Affirmative
      • Example:  "That's an affirmative."
  • Negative - (also:  Neg.)
    • Reply in the negative.
    • Syntax:  Negative.
      • Example:  "Negative."
      • Example:  "That's a neg, Actual."
  • Strike Down
    • When a strike is activated, the activating Gatekeeper announces the type, along with the target.
    • Syntax:  (Air) Strike Down on (Phonetic) or (Description) (Grid)
      • Example:  "Air Strike Down on Alpha!"
      • Example:  "Strike Down on the ridge!"
  • Enemy Strike
    • When an enemy strike is activated, the responding Gatekeeper announces the presence of the strike marker.
    • Syntax:  Enemy Strike on (Phonetic) or (Description) (Grid)
      • Example:  "Enemy Strike on Archangel!"
      • Example:  "Enemy Strike on the street, Foxtrot-Five!"
  • UAV Away
    • When a UAV is launched from your battlemech, use this call to notify Command.
    • Syntax:  UAV Away (Grid)
      • Example: "UAV Away Bravo-Seven!"
Evasive Action Calls
This set of calls are utilized when the unit is knocked off attack footing by a cunning or disciplined enemy.
  • Wave Off
    • This instructs the unit to seek cover during a march advance and move to another grid to re-engage the same enemy formation.
    • Syntax:  (Unit) Wave Off to (Grid)
      • Example:  "Too many guns!  Wave off to Echo-Five!"
  • Withdraw
    • This instructs the unit to disengage and move to another grid.  The unit should immediately move to the designated area and await further orders.
    • Syntax:  (Unit) Withdraw to (Grid)
      • Example (to critically damaged unit):  "Kulu, Withdraw to Grid Echo-Four."
      • Example:  "All units Withdraw to Grid Bravo-Three!"
Specialist Calls
These calls are used to implement Specialists within the drop unit.  Specialists are battlemechs equipped for certain tasks, and will be detailed further in their own section.  They are included here for the sake of completeness during reference.
  • Jam 
    • Instructs the Jammer to activate Counter Mode on ECM in a designated grid.
    • Syntax:  (Specialist) Jam (Grid)
      • Example:  "Shotokan, Jam Grid Charlie-Six!"
  • Spot 
    • Instructs the Spotter to get eyes-on, either a specific grid or direction.
    • Syntax:  (Specialist) Spot (Grid or Direction)
      • Example:  "Cid, Spot Grid Charlie-Five!"
  • Escort 
    • Instructs a unit to follow, protect and support another friendly unit.
    • Syntax:  (Specialist) Escort (Unit)
      • Example:  "Malpheas, Escort Capmerc!"
  • Spearhead
    • Instructs a unit to take point on the Attack Echelon.  After receiving this order, additional orders will need to be issued to coordinate the echelon's vector and approach.
    • Syntax:  (Specialist) is Spearhead
      • Example:  "Zhang Liao is Spearhead."
Maneuver Calls
This is a set of advanced calls that can be used to exploit numerous battlefield circumstances, resulting in the unit obtaining and retaining combat initiative over the enemy.
  • Reverse Thrust
    • Instructs the entire company to change attack vectors around an obstacle or cover to re-engage the enemy at a weaker point on their line.
    • Syntax:  Reverse Thrust to (Grid)
      • Example:  "Reverse Thrust to Grid Echo-Six!"
  • Encircle 
    • Instructs the company to perform an Encircle Maneuver at a grid call.  The direction of the encirclement is the portion of the circle that is closed last by the Exploitation Echelon.
    • Syntax:  Encircle (Grid) (Direction)
      • Example:  "Encircle Grid Delta-Four East!"
  • Collapse 
    • Instructs the company to disengage current combat and all move to the same grid call.  
    • Syntax:  Collapse to (Grid)
      • Example:  "All lances collapse to Grid Bravo-Four!"
  • Flank 
    • Instructs a unit to perform a flank maneuver on a designated grid call.  The direction called is the side of the company formation to flank from.
    • Syntax:  (Unit) Flank (Grid) (Direction)
      • Example:  "Alpha Lance, Flank Grid Charlie-Three North!"

Putting It Into Practice

Learn and utilize these command calls.  No longer will the Drop Commander need to worry about how to express his commands, and all Gatekeepers will appreciate the time we will gain in an engagement after the order calls are drilled and memorized.  We obviously don't expect you to learn it all at once.  With this codified list of order calls, we'll be able to direct our rage where it will hurt our enemies the most.  Do your best to make the Gatekeepers warmachine the most feared in the Inner Sphere!

    Monday, October 5, 2015

    Operations Schedule

    Greetings, Gatekeepers!

    We have been more active in the last week, thanks in part to the furor going on about Total War!  To remind everyone, we have ongoing "operations" (read:  game nights) helmed by the Gate Captains.  These are specific games at specific times, in other words.

    We encourage everyone to try to make at least one operations night per week, and failing that meet with a Gate Captain or the Marshal and let us know you're still around and gaming with us.  There's a lot of nifty opportunities coming up, and lately (as a good portion of you know) the privileges of membership have been increasing dramatically.  We need to know you're still a part of the team.  There will be another "Great Purge" for Krampustag this year, and the Yuletide will be joyous.

    Currently scheduled operations can be found (strangely) on the Operations page.

    Fully armed and equipped Gatekeepers will be ready for:
    1. MechWarrior Online
    2. Total War
    3. Tribes: Ascend
    4. DC Universe
    More items are being considered, and we're about to enter a new recruitment phase.  So don't just stand there and fret anymore.  It's time to get involved!

    Thursday, October 1, 2015

    Dossier: Callsign Littlefly

    Name:  [REDACTED]
    Rank:  [REDACTED]
    Unit:  Gatekeepers Battalion
    Assignment:  [REDACTED]

    Place of Birth:  Unknown.  DNA analysis show that he is quite likely a member of the Liao family.  Further research required, original samples lost in unrelated laboratory gas explosion.

    Date of Birth:  [REDACTED]

    Physical Description:  A 135 cm rather plain looking young man.  Does have the Liao ethnic coloring and features but on the whole is unremarkable.  No known tattoos or scars.

    Personal Traits:  He is noted for being a "asshole" at times, hard core and by the book, but something else seems to lurk below the surface.

    Family Background:  Boy was found and brought to Sian for audience with the Chancellor after found to be in possession of an Atlas 'mech on [REDACTED], a backwater planet in the [REDACTED] system under unusual circumstances.  Details of the conversation may be found in the [REDACTED].  The end result of which was the Atlas was deemed the property of said boy by (royal edict) and military required to provide transportation of the battlemech to whichever station the boy is assigned.   Another possible link to the Liao family.

    Training:  Soon after that the boy was given officer rank and assigned to warrior house Imarra, specializing in the training and was frequently sent to other Houses as a veteran instructor.

    Mech Preference:  Given his position and the fact that he "owns" an Atlas, he seldom appears to command it, mostly regulating it to some corner.  The boy's true passion appears to be Locusts from which his callsign appears to have come from.  Remarkable incidents include command of a light lance which took down elite FedCom Assault lances, without lost of lives nor mechs, possibly due to his personal in depth knowledge of Atlas mechs.

    Employment Background:  Littlefly has been a member of the CCAF since the interview with the Chancellor.  Starting with warrior house Imarra.  The circumstances of him leaving WHI are unclear, though just before his transfer he was reprimanded by (general or admiral of some sort) for holding a diner party of some sort.  Details are sketchy due to the fact that the general died a few days later due an olive getting caught in his throat and choking him to death.   No signs of foul play were detected.  

    The next location this pilot appeared was with the 286th merc division as an official CCAF representative which is striking because this unit was known to work under [REDACTED].  Several months later due to unrelated incidents the 286th was dissolved as a mercenary unit with leadership members going to the Free Rasalhague Republic, and other pilots scattering throughout the other houses.

    Littlefly next appeared on the fringe of Capellan space with the Gatekeepers.  It is remarkable to note that within an span of months he was moved from recruit status to being the certification officer of this unit in charge of overall training.  No hints of external leverage have been found in association with this rapid promotion cycle.

    Currently Littlefly continues to operate as certification officer in charge of training and has recently been give a competitive unit by the name of Nikita's Club.  The core personal for this unit appear to have been some of the finest pilots in the unit, but again no evidence of tampering has been found.  [Information Unreliable / Out of Date]

    Off-Duty Activities:  Unknown.  It's not that he never leaves base, he's been sighted at various locations over time a notable occasion was the bedroom of the House Marik ambassador to House Davion on New Avalon, but nothing in his military record seems to even suggest and sense of wrong doing.  No reprimand was issued and no other actions as far as we could tell.  Again no evidence of tampering has been found.

    Members of our service have attempted to follow Littlefly on one of excursions away from base but invariably he seems to walk into a crowd and disappear.  He never appears furtive and show no signs of having spotted the tail, but simply is there one moment and gone the next.  We have been instructed to not pursue the matter by leadership, and again no evidence of tampering has been found.
     At this point I feel that there is something going on but leadership has declared that it's a waste of resources.

    With no evidence we are being assigned to an extremely remote location known only as "Siberia".