(Thanks to Jim Roots for hosting this at Unique Games & Gifts in Grayslake, IL this past Sunday)
“We’d heard rumors of the action that took place on Mars. Killer robots and giant walking tanks armed with guns that’d blow a hole lengthways through a main battle tank. Pure scuttlebutt and a load of crap, if you had asked me. Then we saw the flashes in the sky and heard the thunder coming out of the desert. Orders came down moving a bunch of units like ours out into the small towns on the edge of the desert lands, trying build a wall of forces between the civilians and…whatever was coming our way. We got lucky, getting backup for our infantry platoon by a short platoon of IFV’s stiffened by the biggest Main Battle Tank – MBT – that I have ever seen.”
“Our orders? Guard ‘Bridge 12’ on the ‘North Road’ where it crossed the ‘East River’. Hold the line…some REMF who wrote that order had seen way too many war movies. We took positions in the buildings around the road and stayed on the town side of the river where we had cover. The only cover across the river was a few rocks and the occasional cactus. And the blowing dust…”
“Meteorology report suggested a high chance bad weather coming. Other bad things came first. We saw the shapes approaching, rippling in the heat haze, surrounding what looked like a hill moving towards us. A hill with legs…”
At the start of the battle the human forces were all deployed in “hidden” mode. The enemy knew where we were but could not target individual units until they performed an action. This was due to fear from the “Giant Vehicle”, the Khurasan Mekanoid Dictator, which carried a railgun system, lasers mounted in its head and lasers mounted on all its legs. These were three independent weapon systems, though the leg mounted lasers could only fire if the unit did not move.
The other units were Blue Moon’s 15mm Robot Legion and Skirmishers. These were in groups of 4 (for the Legionaires) and I think 6 or so (for the Skirmishers). The Mekanoid invaders were operating at a higher tech level, which gave them extra dice in combat. Their weaponry was sufficient that 4 Legionaires had 10 attack dice, the 6 Skirmishers had, I think, 8 attack dice. This was potentially devastating to opposing infantry forces. Finally the Mekanoids had a VTOL also armed with a laser and a Railgun. Oy…
The human forces consisted of about 24 infantry, divided into teams of 3 or 4, supported by a heavy machine gun team and a missile launcher team. They were backed up by a short platoon of 3 Infantry Fighting Vehicles armed with light cannon and 4 TOW-missile equivalent systems per vehicle. Finally, the heavy hitter for the humans was the Siler Superheavy Tank, armed with a kick-ass rail gun and a couple of machine guns. The humans also had a couple of unarmed Humvee-equivalents.
My son Thomas joined me to run the human forces. He took the vehicles and I took the infantry. For a little while he was afraid he was going to be bored…
The Mekanoids had the initiative for the fist turn (and several thereafter…sigh…damn dice). The Mekanoid Dictator (a “Giant class” vehicle in the Tomorrow’s war rules) moved forward. The forward-deployed fireteam that included a Rocket-Propelled-Grenade launcher attempted an interrupt and did not succeed, in fact rolling a “1” on the die. This meant a “Fog-of-War” card was drawn. The card put a random casualty on one of the human force teams. One of the members of the 2-man heavy machine gun team was apparently snake-bitten. The Giant Vehicle fired its railgun and lasers at the fireteam. Good dice rolling indicated that the building they were hiding in provided good cover. The fireteam returned a shot with the RPG that actually, amazingly hit the Dictator and took out the leg laser systems. Yay humans! Return fire from the Mekanoid infantry through…ow!
Return fire from the Mekanoid Centurions devastated the attacking team. A unit of Mekanoid Skirmishers charged forward and another human team destroyed all but one of them. Their “only on a 6” recovery roll made the odds good that what went down, stayed down. However, when another of the human teams tried to interrupt a Mekanoid advancing team the dice gods proved they had a heck of sense of humor – another “1” was rolled and another “Fog-of-War” card was drawn. This time the card proved to be one of the worst possible cards for the human forces…
Yup, the “Gas-Gas-Gas” card was drawn. This meant that the human equipment had detected a gas attack – something that makes great sense from a machine intelligence standpoint. The game effect was just awful – the human infantry troop quality die went DOWN a level – from a D8 to a D6. Now all successes for infantry had to be a 4 or better on a 6 sided die, as opposed to a 4 or better on an 8 sided die (like the Mekanoid forces). Very game changing. Still fun though, since it put the human forces under a considerable but not insurmountable disadvantage. The human vehicles were judged to be “pressurized” and thus kept their D8 troop quality.
The Mekanoid forces finished their activations, having inflicted complete casualties on every squad that popped up to shoot them. The Mekanoid Centurions were almost impervious to fire – only one went down in an interrupt and it popped right back up again. However, the human side still had forces that had not been activated, so finally they had a chance. Bring on the Armor!
First out of cover was the Siler super heavy tank. It won the troop quality test against the Dictator, lined up its shot and fired, generating a resounding “CLANG!” as its round bounced off the armor of the giant vehicle. Return fire suppressed the Siler for the turn. The IFV’s now had their time – their main guns were just light cannon and had little chance to damage the Dictator. Their TOW-missile-equivalents , however, were potentially up to the task.
Some armor drivers clang when they walk – or rattle when they shake their heads – hard to tell which sometimes. One of the IFVs pulled in front of the Siler, acting as a meat shield with a crunchy shell. The other 2 IFVs took firing positions.
The IFVs took positions and rolled for their interrupts. Remember what I said about the dice gods and their sense of humor?
One of the Troop Quality rolls for an IFV was a “1”. Another FoW card came into play. This was another “man down” card and the random determination of what human infantry team was hit gave it to the remaining person on the 2 man heavy machine gun team. He apparently was bitten by another snake hwere they set up the gun. The shooting from the IFVs was like the argument of a fool – full of sound and fury signifying nothing.
Somewhere in the mix of the fighting another Fog of War card was drawn – the “Who Goes There” card, which basically meant a sandstorm moved in. Infantry visibility was reduced to 18 inches. If the soldiers were asked about the weather I don’t think their responses would be printable…
This allowed the Mekanoid infantry to freely moved forward, since only the human vehicles could see them on FLIR and they had bigger fish to fry.
The armor was shooting away at the Mekanoid forces, to little avail. The crunchy meat shield, aka the IFV in front of the Siler got off lightly and was just immobilized. The Mekanoid VTOL moved up to the river’s edge and blasted another human fireteam. However, when you are in range of the enemy, vice versa.
The VTOL got into some fire exchanges with the IFVs and a rocket launcher armed infantry team. The humans got the bad side of that deal.
An IFV shooting between some houses failed to achieve a successful interrupt and ate a Railgun round from the VTOL. Another immobilization. The missile team got as close to the VTOL as they could and also failed their interrupt. They received on casualty.
The Mekanoid Dictator continued its ponderous advance. The human Siler superheavy tank manuvered to get a shot at it. It missed. The rest of the remaining human activation phase had its ups and downs, with action taking place on the river where some Mekanoid Centurions actually took some hits – including from friendly fire by way of a Fog of War card. Then a miracle occured – the human side won the initiative!
The human armor manuvered where it could and the infantry moved around to take up better positions. Things looked grim – the Dictator was proving unstoppable, the VTOL was about move behind the human lines and the Mekanoid Centurions were getting into combat range again. There were a lot of WIAs and KIAs among the humans along with many unassessed casualties. The distant sounds of the “Bugout Boogie” were echoing in soldiers ears…
Things looked bad. The Siler won its activation and fired on the Dictator. The dice gods were giggling. The Siler hit with 3 successes, meaning it rolled on the damage chart with a D12. An 11 was rolled. The Mekanoid Dictator, an unstoppable killing machine that had accounted for many lives on Mars and here, brewed up with a huge explosion and a cloud of smoke. My son Thomas had rolled a heck of a good attack!
The Mekanoid forces, reeling from this staggering loss, got hit by a double whammy. A “1” was rolled by the Mekanoid player and the Fog of War card drawn meant that the weather really closed in, grounding all aircraft and reducing visibility to 6 inches. The game was called a draw at that point, with the Mekanoid forces withdrawing to wait for clearer weather and the human forces licking their wounds.
“Yeah, we held the line there. Didn’t have much to hold it with at the end, some shook up grunts, some shot up armor and one hellacious tank. I am never going to swear at a sandstorm again. If the weather hadn’t turned up so foul I think we’d have all been pasted by the robots. Damn them, I hope that sand gets in their gears…”