I went to “Ambush Sunday” at Unique Games & Gifts in Grayslake, Illinois expecting to join in a game featuring Khurasan Miniatures “Felids” attacking a human colony. It seems the kitties decided to nap in the afternoon. Instead Jim Roots and his son had set up a very different game, featuring an armored force (hovertanks and hover APCs carrying powered-armor troops) attacking through an urban area and facing local defense forces backed up by 2 Hammer’s Slammers blowers (hovertanks – nasty and tough) and 4 Hammer’s Slammers combat cars (smaller open-topped hover vehicles with medium arms). This looked like it was gonna be fun!
They had enough forces in the game for each side to be run by three people (convenient since we had 6 people playing). Jim’s son, Will, once again did a bang-up job of running the game. I ended up on the New Londoner side along with Jim and another gentleman. On the other side was the gentleman’s son, whom I keep meeting at these games and whose name I can never remember, the store owner and (I think) the store owner’s son.
I will say this: every wargame I play tells a story. Sometimes (the way I play, sigh…) the story is predetermined. Other times the story that is created takes you in all sorts of directions, some of them quite unexpected. Let’s see how this story developed…
The battlefield set up by Will was very detailed and provided many challenges and good cover for both sides. The mission for the New Londoners was to drive the Brazilians past the Poofloo river and take control of the urban area. They were also to try to destroy a communications station used by the Slammers. The Brazilian infantry were to break up the New Londoner advance in order to generate shooting opportunities for the Slammer’s forces. The Slammers “blower” tanks had hard-hitting main guns the had a great chance to blast a New Londoner tank apart in one shot. The Slammers combat cars had their Tri-barrel energy guns that, while only having a small chance to damage a New Londoner tank, were “intimidating weapons” to the advancing New Londoner infantry.
The New Londoner infantry were wearing powered armor suits. This gave them increased mobility, more protection and environmental resistance. They were armed with laser weapons, which while giving them pluses to shooting had minuses in close combat (lasers break easily). The Brazilians were wearing standard body armor and were armed with Advanced Combat Rifles (ACRs). These gave them a plus to shooting and double dice in close combat (SCARY).
The New Londoner forces consisted of 9 hovertanks (4d main gun) and 3 unarmed hover Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs). The APCs each carried 2 fireteams of 4 power armored infantry (plus 3D in defense) armed with laser weapons. Each of us on the New Londoner side controlled 3 tanks, 1 APC and 2 fireteams.
The Brazilian infantry (whom the Slammers would refer to disparagingly as “locals”) consisted of multiple fireteams of 4 or 5 troops, some armed with Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers (RPGs). These fireteams were scattered around the northern buildings, mostly south of the Poofloo river. The Slammers blowers and combat cars were located north of the river in good manuver positions that both had cover and yet had good lines of sight down possible approach corridors.
This view is one of the approach ways for the New Londoner forces. In the distance across the table you see one of our primary goals. The NL tanks had enough firepower to take the antenna structure down, but only if we could shoot without being shot up by the Slammers blowers.
The antenna gave the Brazilian side an advantage in rolling dice to determine who controls “the Grid”, i.e. the local communications networks. Having Grid control in Tomorrow’s War gives you advantages in almost all die rolls. It can be very important.
As the first turn started the two sides contested control of the Grid. In an amazing series of die rolls the Brazilians lost Grid control to the New Londoners. This event should have had classic movie “foreboding” music associated with it.
This first assault column was led by the APC which wisely stopped in cover to deploy forces. The infantry plan was to enter the large, dark industrial building to their right in order to use its cover while attacking the Brazilian infantry holed up in the buildings across the next street. One of the Brazilian units to the north got a tank in their line of sight and attempted an interrupt in order to use their RPG.
The interrupt attempt was rolled and the Brazilians came up with a “1”. This brought them a “Fog of War” card. This particular card caused an immediate casualty in a randomly determined fireteam. The casualty was immediately assessed and found to have a light wound. First blood goes to Murphy…
The attack from the Brazilian fireteam went “clang” on the tank armor. Tank return fire did little that time…
The New Londoner infantry entered the industrial building in a “move and fire” operation, one fireteam at a time. The Brazilians across the other street interrupted the NL infantry and caused some casualties. They received some too.
On the west side of the town another column advanced up the paved avenue and deployed infantry towards the buildings to the left in the picture.
The NL fireteam in the building was having a hard time of it with the Brazilian forces in the building across the street. The New Londoners brought some, uh…backup. Hmmm, bringing a tank to an infantry skirmish. Not quite cricket, eh? Oh well, they’re just wogs, what?
Another NL tank moved up in a move and fire attack on some Brazilian infantry in the building in the distant middle of the picture.
The exchange of fire between the tank and the Brazilian fireteam was brief and brutal. Three casualties, to be assessed by one who is already wounded. Some days it doesn’t pay to stand to…
The other Brazilian fireteam on the west side ended up taking fire from the two New Londoner fireteams. One casualty was taken on each side. (Man, ACRs are brutal when you are on the receiving end)
Back on the east side, bringing a tank to an infantry battle was a good idea for the New Londoners. The Brazilian fireteam took 3 casualties, bouncing a RPG off the tank for no effect. The Brazilian side was beset by bad dice…
The third column of New Londoners made its appearance. advancing up the street on the east side. The advanced far enough that the lead tank could a previously attacked Brazilian squad under fire, with brutal results.
The remaining member of the fireteam in the building center left became a casualty. This meant that the Brazilian side would have to move another fireteam over to them to assess casualties. Until that happened they stayed down and out of the fight.
To the north of the Poofloo river the Slammers forces, who had not reacted during the turn, prepared to perform some Move/Fire actions.
One of the Slammers players moved a blower and lined up a shot across the Poofloo river at some New Londoner infantry on the west side.
BLAM! A shot from the Slammers blower caused much sound and fury but did not cause any casualties. REALLLYYY bad dice on the Brazilian side…
The forces on both sides at the start of the next turn were well situated for some quick mayhem. The New Londoners had enough of an avenue cleared to advance, but had to deal with the fire lanes that the Slammers had staked out. And the Slammers combat cars had not yet entered the fray…
You know you’re having a bad day when your entire fireteam become casualties and your morale drops enough to be marked with a giant yellow chicken.
A lot happened in the beginning of the turn. The New Londoners maintained the initiative but the Grid became “contested” and not in anyone’s control. Some of the advancing New Londoners went on “Overwatch” so they could quickly react to Brazilian interrupts.
Next, a New Londoner tank poked its nose out of the cover of the buildings and got it shot off. “Main Gun KO” by a Slammers blower. But hey, the crew would be able to claim they survived being shot by a Slammers tank!
As the New Londoners started firing on the Brazilian infantry in the eastern buildings they reacted with movement, trying to leave the buildings and move rearward, using the building as cover. This required some “troop quality” rolls. Murphy and the dice gods (what a name for a band) struck again…
Another “1”, another Fog of War card. Literally “Fog” of war this time. Visibility dropped and infantry could no longer target anything more than 18 inches away. Only vehicles with advanced imaging could fight normally.
On the west side it turned out that the Brazilian and New Londoner fireteams were all within 18 inches of each other. A nasty firefight continued between them. However, remember that vehicles with advanced imaging could target more distant objects?
To the north across the Poofloo river a Slammers combat car got a good line of sight on a New Londoner fireteam on the west side. It opened up with its weapons and caused 2 casualties. The fireteam passed its morale check but could not return fire. All they could see was fog that hid Death…
On the east side a New Londoner tank moved forward to get a better shot at the fleeing Brazilian fireteams and moved right into the sights of a Slammers blower. ANYONE who knows ANYTHING about Hammer’s Slammers could tell you that there are few worse places to be. This looked like the ugly point in the battle, at least for the New Londoners. The plan was to soak up some shots from the Slammers blowers in order to give other NL tanks a chance to hit them. War by attrition. It can work, but it is rough on those who are attrited…
The Slammers tank rolled interrupt dice against the New Londoner player. Everybody looked expectantly at the dice. Holy cow! The Slammers side had not only rolled lower than the New Londoner tank but they rolled a “1”, meaning another Fog of War card was in the offing. We waited for the card before determining the results of the combat.
“GAS! GAS! GAS!” We decided that a stray shot had ignited pollutants in the Poofloo river and generated a toxic cloud. The Brazilian forces had to don Chemical Warfare Protective gear, which reduced their troop quality from a D8 to a D6. The only things not affected were the two Slammers blowers, who were both environmentally sealed. The 4 Slammers combat cars were affected, being open-topped vehicles. This well and truly sucked for the Brazilians.
Now, the duel between tanks could be resolved. The New Londoner had the initiative and rolled the dice (4D8). The Slammers player confidently rolled the defense dice of 4D12. Slammers blowers are very well armored.
BLAM! An amazing shot by the New Londoner tank scores one success, as in one die that was not blocked by the Slammers player. A D8 was rolled and the “Heavy Gun on Heavy Vehicle” chart was consulted. The New Londoner player rolled an “8” and the Slammers tank was destroyed! Everyone was shocked! The picture shows the cloud of smoke coming off the Slammers tank.
This result on top of the “GAS!” card caused us to end the game with the remaining Brazilian and Slammers forces withdrawing. Things would have gotten very bloody for them had they stayed.
I said earlier that every game tells a story. The story here was one where the naturally screwed up nature of war caused as much mayhem to one side as the enemy did. Tomorrow’s War captures this element very well. Indeed all the Ambush Alley games do that. The amazing thing is that they make it fun while they do that.
The Brazilian/Slammers forces had a potent combination that was vulnerable to losses. With one heavy tank out of action they could no longer control their flanks and were vulnerable to flanking maneuvers if they stayed. Withdrawing was the wisest course of action. Also, the Brazilian/Slammers players would not have had much fun with the disadvantage they were under at that point.
All in all a fun game and a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon!