“The Doom that came to Elkhorn” – A playtest that went very well

October 12, 2011

Greetings all!

As I hinted in my previous post, this Sunday’s “Ambush Sunday” at Unique Games and Gifts featured a “Tomorrow’s War” scenario placed in the present, covering an invasion of horrible, carnivorous aliens.  I decided to use the town I live in as the template for the scenario.  I had to compress some of the details and change a few others (I don’t have a 15mm replica of “Burger King”).  While I still have to add a few more buildings before “Rock Con” I think it is turning out pretty well.

The prelim results of the playtest showed a pretty good balance of the forces and the goals.  I was concerned the Space Demons would be too powerful but that did not turn out to be the case.  I will make a couple of tweaks before “Rock Con” and I think it will play well there.

My intrepid playtesters were an Ambush Sunday regular, John, then my son Thomas and…well, me.

So, without further adeau…adew…uh, blather, here is an After Action Report of the game.

The Doom that came to Elkhorn

A “Tomorrow’s War” Scenario by Mark Gipson

On a stormy Sunday morning the tremendous flash and bang in the skies over southern Elkhorn,
Wisconsin was not a spectacularly large lightning strike.  Lightning strikes don’t cause low-grade electromagnetic pulses that knock out electronics for half the county.  What followed the
“flash and bang” could only be described as a “hole” that briefly opened up in the sky.  Out of the hole fell several large, organic-looking shapes.  These shapes, if put together, looked like they would form part of a menacing-looking egg – if eggs were the size of office buildings!
These objects crashed into the ground on and around the overpass over Interstate 43.  Before the shocked onlookers in their now silent cars could even grab their now silent cell phones
a flurry of smaller figures started pouring out of the wreckage that fell from the sky.  These figures charged at the watching people.  And then the screaming began…

This is a “Tomorrow’s War” scenario with 4 different armed forces.  One force is the invading
aliens, being played by Khurasan’s “Space Demons”.  The other three forces are members of the
U.S. Army Reserve, stationed in and around Elkhorn, members of the Elkhorn Police Department and groups of Armed Citizens (all courtesy of Rebel Minis purchases).
The goal of the three human forces is to rescue other humans and try to hold back the alien menace.  The goal of the aliens is to feed!  The two possible choices for food are the humans and a small herd of cows, the cows being in town by the fairgrounds for a dairy show.

Looking from the north to the south down Hwy 67 - Space Demons are deploying at the top right of the picture

The troop stats:

Space Demons – pretty much as described in the “Tomorrow’s War” rulebook..oh, wait, most of you don’t have that yet…okay, let me be more detailed:

Regular (Close-Combat) Space Demons: 12x Troop Quality (TQ): D10 / Morale: D12 – 1D Armor (tough skin), 2 close combat attacks per figure, and use the Intimidating special rule – if they charge you then you must make a morale roll.  Failure leaves you “suppressed”  – very bad!

Hammerhead (Shooty) Space Demons: (home-made characteristics) 12x TQ: D8/Morale: D12 – 1D Armor, only one close combat attack BUT they have a shooting attack: They shoot bolts of electrified plasma out of their “eyes”, the round orifices at the ends of the hammerheads (which aren’t actually eyes, by the way).  These are 1D damage shots with normal combat ranges, i.e. they can shoot a long way just like a rifle.  Note: the *pair* of “eyes” work together to create the 1D shot.  Not “1D per eye”, it is “1D per alien”.  So a group of 5 of the “Hammerheads” would have a 5D8 ranged attack and a 5D8 close combat attack.  But wait, there’s more…

The electric plasma bolt has a “Super-Taser” effect on humans that stuns them if it doesn’t kill them outright.  If troops take casualties they assess them as normal with the normal first aid table.  Dead is dead, Okay is Okay.  The Lightly Wounded and Severely wounded categories leave the person in a stunned state – good for live food (or worse).  The exception to normal is that the casualty may be reassessed each turn.  The only result that counts is an “Okay” result which means the person woke up.  Any other result leaves them stunned.

The Space Demon King and Queen are worse: TQ: D10/Morale: D12, 4D10 Close combat attacks each, 2D body armor (big, thick boney plates), Intimidating, and Hard to Kill – when hit roll a D8; on a 4 or better they bounce right back from the hit.  Nasty killing machines who lead their troops telepathically.  If they are killed the regular and hammerhead Space Demons drop a full TQ die and go to D8 morale.

Finally, the Space Demons have a Colossus with them.  This is effectively an organic, walking Medium Tank with Walker Close Combat Weapons as well as a ranged attack.

Walking on three legs and standing the height of a house, the Space Demon Colossus (which is a
pain-in-the-butt word to type, incidentally) in this game comes armed with a ranged weapon and close-combat weapons.   The ranged weapon “spits” acid-coated teeth and counts as a AP:2/AT:4
Medium weapon.  It is considered armed with an “anti-vehicular melee weapon”, AP:5/AT:3(Medium).  It has a high Anti-Personnel rating due to the bone-tipped tentacles that I added to my “Space Demon Colossus” figure.

Armor is 3D10 all sides, treated as a Medium Vehicle.  The underside is the weak spot, being 2D6.
Underside can be directly targeted by anti-vehicular weaponry at 6 inches range or less.

The Colossus moves like infantry: 6” or less for “cautious” speed and 6” to 12” for “rapid” movement.

——————–

The Armed Civilians – Townsfolk who have grabbed their various hunting weapons and run out on the streets to engage the invaders.  These use the Irregular Unit rules and act effectively as Insurgents.  They come from 4 Hot Spots on the map.  The Hot Spots can be neutralized by a squad of Space Demons who spend a full turn next to one (within 2 inches).

Armed Citizens: TQ:D6 / Morale: D6, require a successful TQ check to be activated.  If they are within 8 inches of either a squad of Police or a squad of Military they can be activated normally.  Their weapons have normal ranges.  As they are killed they will be recycled through available Hot Spots.

————

Elkhorn Police – The Police men and women are forced to go on foot and communicate with runners since the EMP shut down their electronics and vehicles.  They are arranged in squads of 4.  Two squads may consolidate into one squad of 8.

TQ: D8 / Morale: D8, 1D body armor – trouble is they are armed with pistols and shotguns.  Any fire at a target greater than 8 inches away causes them to drop a TQ die from D8 to D6.  Their goal is to rescue civilians and get them off the north side of the map.  I have about 20 of them and in this game did not get them all deployed.

————

The Army Reserve Unit – The local Reserve unit was put on alert the night before.  They have some equipment and ammunition available but not a lot.  They come into the game at the beginning of Turn 2, from the Northeast Road.  They have 2 up-armored Humvees, one armed with an M2 turret and one armed with a M19 Automatic Grenade Launcher.  The specs come from “Force on Force”:

TQ:D8 / Morale: D10 – 1D Body Armor

M1043 HMMWV (Up-Armored Humvees)

FIREPOWER: M2 HMG: AP:4/AT:1(L)  DEFENSE: Up Armored Soft-Skin Vehicle – 2D6 Armor All Sides: CREW: 1 + 3

FIREPOWER: Mk19 AGL: AP:3/AT:0  DEFENSE: Up Armored Soft-Skin Vehicle – 2D6 Armor All Sides: CREW: 1 + 3

Two 9 man squads consisting of two 4-man fireteams and a squad leader w/M-4 .

Fireteam – 1x Fireteam Leader w/M-4, 1x Grenadier w/M-203 (RGL, LT. Support), 1x Gunner w/M-249 (SAW, Lt. Support) and 1x Assistant Gunner w/M-4

There are also 2 Hvy weapons teams with AT rocket launchers and M-4s. Rocket Launcher is AP:3 / AT: 3, plus team bonus.

———-

Normal Unarmed Civilians – will react to any Space Demon that moves within 6 inches with a D6 roll.  On a 4 or better they will move a full 6 inches directly away from the approach of the alien.  on a 3 or less they freeze in place, panicked.  Unarmed Civilians will automatically join any group of Armed Civilians, Police or Army who move within 2 inches of them.  They will then move with the group, contributing no defense or offense but can be targeted if the group is attacked.  They can perform rapid movements.

——–

9x Cows – HO scale cows – given a nominal 1D6 defense and no attack value.  Humans can herd the cows away from the Space Demons by making a successful TQ check.  If failed then roll a D6.  On a 1 they don’t move.  On a 2 they move north 3 inches, on a 3 they move east 3 inches, on a 4 they move south three inches, on a 5 they move west 3 inches and on a 6 you get another chance.  They react to Space Demons as per humans.  They will normally move at cautious (6 inch) speed.  Another TQ roll is required to make them perform a rapid movement (up to 12 inches).

———

The game started with the Space Demons deploying on the western half of the southern edge of the 4 ft x 4 ft map.  Two squads of Police and one squad of Armed Civilians are placed anywhere on the map more than 18 inches away from the Space Demons starting area.  Unarmed Civilians are placed randomly around the map by all players.  They must be at least 12 inches from the Space Demons starting area.

On Turn 1 the Space Demons have the initiative.  On Turn 2 the Humans have the initiative.  After that Initiative is rolled for normally.  “Tomorrow’s War” Fog of War cards are used, but they have to be looked at closely.  If the card drawn just won’t work then discard it and draw another one.

So, the game started with the Space Demons charging northward from the crash site towards town.  There were a lot of helpless civilians who had been hurrying towards the crash to try to help.  They now needed help themselves.  A couple of groups of police officers were also running south in groups of 4, having abandoned their non-operational squad cars.  A group of civilians heard the commotion and grabbed some weapons before they came running.

Space Demons advance towards a small neighborhood

The Police were the first ones to start gunning for the Space Demons.  Sadly, at the longer ranges they were of limited effectiveness.

The southernmost squad of Police engage some Hammerhead Space Demons

At the same time the group of Armed Civilians attempted to engage some Space Demons at a distance.  The Space Demon Colossus responded, HARD!

Hunting rifles and enthusiasm don't help much against acidic explosions!

At the top of the next turn the Human forces had the initiative.  The Army Reserve forces charged in and tried to use the speed of their Humvees to get some heavier firepower laid down.  An up-armored Humvee is still just a truck, not a tank.  Fire from the Hammerhead Demons damaged one of the Humvees.

The Humvee took damage and so did the squad of Police in the taco shop's parking lot.

The Army Reservist squads were sweeping up some civilians with them.  For the moment the civilians were being herded towards danger, because the Reservists needed to get to more of them.

One of the Anti-tank Squads picks up some civilians outside of the Middle School

The other Anti-Tank squad heads west to another building.

The southernmost squad of Police were heroicly standing up to fire from the Hammerhead Demons.  They were being enough of a problem that the Space Demon player chose to engage them with the Space Demon King.  The incredibly brave Policemen held their ground and actually knocked the Space Demon King down with their shooting…go Glock!  (Bad defense dice and horrible Hard-to-Kill roll) Tragically, the Space Demon King was immediatly followed by a Squad of 4 normal Space Demons.  The brave Policemen were no match for 8 x D10 close combat attacks…

The sad aftermath of an Heroic encounter...

The Space Demon King made his “First Aid” check the next turn and popped up as good as new.  Meanwhile, the big meat pile…I mean the herd of dairy cattle in the pen in the center of the map were attracting the attention of the Space Demons.

"There's the beef!"

One of the squads of Reservists on foot got into some long-range firefights with the Hammerhead Space Demons.  One example is shown in the next picture.

The fireteam at the bottom of the picture engages the distant Space Demons at the top of the picture.

Note the Anti-Tank Rocket team on the middle school roof.  They engaged in a significant exchange of fire with the Space Demon Colossus.  After trading some shots they scored a good hit on the “main gun” of the Colossus, i.e. they shot it in the mouth, rendering its “main gun” inoperable.  This turned the Colossus into a close-combat machine that was not very close (yet).

Now remember that some civilians had followed the Anti-Tank team?  Well, I decided that they were going to stick close to the soldiers and would not know that they should NOT stand behind a rocket launcher.  I gave them a chance to get hurt.  I rolled a D6 for each civilian and on a “6” they stood in the wrong spot.  Unfortunately, one of the civilians did just that…swoosh…oops…

A group of Space Demons on the west side of the map were charging past houses towards the more crowded part of town.  Their battle cry was “NOM! NOM! NOM!” or something like that…

The Space Demons approach the yummy humans hiding in the bar...hmmm, snacks AND drinks!

Finally, at the center of town the humans had not reached the cows to rescue them.  The Space Demons, however, DID reach the cows.  If you want a good mental image of what ensued next, just take a blender, then put a tomato in it, then drop in some ice cubes (for crunch).  Then run it on “High” with the top off…

"NOMMY! NOMMY! NOM NOM NOM!

The Army Reservists, the Police and the Armed Civilians were all engaged in various firefights on the central and northern parts of the map.

Troops engaging the Hammerhead space Demons.

Chaos in the streets as more Police show up...

Things were starting to go from grim to desperate for the humans.  THEN the Space Demon Queen, who had been weaving her way between houses and buildings, charged across the street in front of the Napa Auto Parts store – her target a squad of Policemen.  The Humvee, a squad of Reservists AND the squad of Police all successfully reacted.  Before she could reach the Police she dropped, for good, under a hail of fire.  Sadly, 3 Policemen were victims of military “Friendly Fire” in this engagement (creating rules on the fly for the situation).

The Space Demon Queen gets gunned down in front of the quonset hut garage.

A group of civilians and a damaged squad of Police grabbed the body of the Space Demon Queen and dragged it off the map while they escaped.  They just barely dodged a charge from another group of Space Demons who were trying to recover the body.

The green Space Demon in the picture didn't quite make the charge.

On the east side of the map things went less well.  Space Demons mowed down some groups of Armed Civilians like a pack of starving Basset Hounds on the last pizza slice on earth.  They then engaged and defeated the Anti-Tank Squad in the Middle School.

The Space Demons make kills while horrified civilians look on...

The game ended (due to time constraints) with significant chaos still occurring in town.  The Space Demons were WAY ahead in “Civilians and Cows” killed compared to the humans “Civilians and Cows” rescued.  But the Humans had scored big in not just killing the Space Demon Queen but capturing her body for study.  At this point we judged it a slight Space Demon victory.

Chaos reigns as Space Demons rampage in the background

This scenario was incredibly fun.  The different elements fit together really well, with the Police, Armed Civilians and Military all having their unique abilities to throw into the mix.  The addition of distance weapons and heavy weapons for the Space Demons makes them a multi-dimensional threat (pun intended).  The requirement to rescue humans was quickly forgotten by the human players – which was expected by the scenario designer (who was one of the Human side players).

Using the “Tomorrow’s War” rules in a “modern” setting worked fairly well.  There were no real Tech Level differences between the sides but the Space Demons were still quite alien.  The “Fog of War” cards took some interpreting and discarding to work but they did their job well.  Funniest “Fog of War” moment was when the Space Demon player rolled a 1 and got a “Fog of War” card that said one of his troops had set off a mine or booby trap.  In the city of Elkhorn I can guarantee we have few booby traps and no minefields.  However, we ruled that one of the aliens tore into a ground-level transformer that held some residual energy and was injured that way.  Aliens would not understand why you should not claw up that warm box…oops!

This should make an excellent “Convention Game”.  It is cinematic, dramatic and fun.  There are enough troops for 4 to 6 people to play without bogging things down.  I am so looking forward to running this at “Rock Con” on November 5!

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A little preview for this Sunday’s “Ambush Sunday” at Unique Games and Gifts

October 6, 2011

Also, a preview for one of the “Tomorrow’s War” scenarios I will be running at Rock Con on the first weekend of November in Rockford, Illinois…

The Doom that came to Elkhorn

A “Tomorrow’s War”
Scenario by Mark Gipson

 On a stormy Sunday morning the tremendous flash and bang in the skies over southern Elkhorn,
Wisconsin was not a spectacularly large lightning strike.  Lightning strikes don’t cause low-grade electromagnetic pulses that knock out electronics for half the county.  What followed the
“flash and bang” could only be described as a “hole” that briefly opened up in the sky.  Out of the hole fell several large, organic-looking shapes.  These shapes, if put together, looked like they would form part of a menacing-looking egg – if eggs were the size of office buildings!
These objects crashed into the ground on and around the overpass over Interstate 43.  Before the shocked onlookers in their now silent cars could even grab their now silent cell phones
a flurry of smaller figures started pouring out of the wreckage that fell from the sky.  These figures charged at the watching people.  And then the screaming began…

This is a “Tomorrow’s War” scenario with 4 different armed forces.  One force is the invading
aliens, being played by Khurasan’s “Space Demons”.  The other three forces are members of the
U.S. Army Reserve, stationed in and around Elkhorn, members of the Elkhorn Police Department and groups of Armed Citizens (all courtesy of Rebel Minis purchases).
The goal of the three human forces is to rescue other humans and try to hold back the alien menace.  The goal of the aliens is to feed!  The two possible choices for food are the humans and a small herd of cows, the cows being in town by the fairgrounds for a dairy show.

——

The game this Sunday will be to playtest this scenario so I can get the balancing worked out.  It should be fun – how many wargames do you play where herding cows is a requirement?  The gaming place is Unique Games and Gifts in Grayslake, Illinois.  Time to start is around 1:00pm.

Thanks!

Mark G.

http://www.uniquegg.com/