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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Rally to Old Glory 2: Playing the Martians

Time for a second playthrough of "Rally to Old Glory", this time with me playing the Martians. I was curious about what the scenario felt like from the other side, and it really does feel like a different game. You can find the scenario details and the battle report from the human perspective here.

This time, I'm playing on my home table with my buddy Jamie, who's even newer to this stuff than I am. He's another that prefers to the tactical challenges of humans to the overwhelming force of the Martians. He just loves the endurance and pluck of the human spirit, the way we overcome adversity even against overwheming odds. Sure, some may die, but as long as Old Glory stirs in the wind, there will always be hope, and sometimes hope is enough.

As my wife would say, how pathetic. I think I'll channel a bit of her Martian cruelty for this one.

The random deployment really fucked Jamie good in some ways. His forces were scattered a bit more than in my playthrough of the humans.  It wasn't all bad though, as nearly all of his tanks rolled 4s for deployment, so it looks like an armored company managed to form up as it retreated. The infantry units were a bit more scattered.


I deployed my Martians heavily to one side, and no, not the side where the tanks were massed. My target was the opposite side of the board - all that scattered infantry. I wanted to take them out before they could hunker down in the ruins at the center of the board and become a long term problem. Black dust tripods and shock drones should make short work of these weak little doughboys and HMGs.

The random deployment saw only a few units at the center (zone 2) across from Old Glory. I knew I wanted to hold this area as well. One unit of MKIIs and some doughboys weren't going to stop the Martian juggernaut.

The first turn saw the tank company turning into the Martian forces. I'd made the risky decision of splitting my drones and slavers up. The tanks were facing the drones and scorpions, as well as some snipers attached to an assault tripod.  Unfortunately for the Americans, Jamie failed to concentrate his fire effectively that first turn. He massed his tanks to prevent me walking over them, turning them this way and that for shots against various tripods, but only a couple of units per tripod, and so he barely damaged anything when he might have taken down at least one. He realized his mistake almost immediately. Filthy human sweat began to bead on his forehead.

So much for human "optimism."  Not much to be optimistic about with such primitive weaponry.

On the other side of the table, the infantry started to make a run for it, firing at the nearby lobototons as they fled. A unit of MKIIIs provided cover, damaging the weapons on the slaver.

The infantry made it to some rubble as cover, but the HMGs weren't quite able to keep up.

Then, it was the Martian turn...  I used several orders to get my tripods ahead of the retreating human forces. My opponent played it safer with his orders. Afterwards, he admitted he should have used more of them early on.  It's harder to manage orders as the humans - do you use them tactically for a move, or save them to rally troops or use Industrial Might? With the Martians its easier. I find if I don't use them early, they tend to go to waste.

Some tanks got in the way, so the Martians destroyed them, rushing forward with move orders to finish off the routing unit.

A tripod moves in on the flank, although its progress is (temporarily) checked by some MKIIs that refuse to run away for some reason.

Across the board, the tank company is retreating, using the bulky tanks to block the Maritan advance into the town square for as long as possible.  Jamie is again playing cautious, not using his minelayer to avoid the possibility of friendly fire.

The Martians break through at center, facing down some field guns in the main square. The humans seem to be quite concerned with that colorful piece of cloth. It is possible that it is some sort of fetish, a ritual object of primitive veneration.  Such irrational behavior is only to be expected from these food monkeys.

With the liberal application of green gas, the Martians essentially control the long edge across from the flag - half the board!  Amusingly, a single stand of infantry survived the assault and managed to make it into the warehouse building on the following turn, sticking around for quite some time.

Things went similarly on the other side, although fewer infantry made it out from the green gas and black dust being dropped on them.

An element of rough riders is melted by the gas. We like the noises they make when they do that.

The Martians advance into the center of the town. Not much is left of the human defenders after two or three turns.  A few units have made it into the relative safety of the ruins.  Thus far, everything is within expected parameters. 

It doesn't look good for the little monkey men.

Only the tank company has managed to slow the Martian advance. Not so much by destroying tripods (nothing had yet been much more than scratched), but by physically preventing the Martians from advancing by their sheer bulk.

A scout is forced to climb over the rubble, trying to line up shots for the grenadier. The scorpions, meanwhile, keep trying to assault the MKIV to no avail, and then scurry back into the rubble for cover.

The Martians are tightening the noose... this is the beginning of turn 3 I believe.

That lone infantry stand makes a desperate (and ineffectual) assault on the sniper drones on their way into the warehouse.

Meanwhile rough riders manage to immobilize the black dust tripod that is wading down the central avenue. The MKIV turns its turret to the rear to take advantage of the bonus to hit that tripod. Uh oh, the humans are learning to concentrate their fire.

Damage is done, the locomotion systems are damaged but not much else. Good thing that the tripod is already where I want it. Unfortunately, it means the scout behind it is going to be harder to bring into the fight.

Jamie uses his orders to bring in some MKIIIs. They come in, but can't shoot this round. Too bad, as there are plenty of targets requiring their attention.

The minelayer dropped a mine, which I promptly forgot and walked right into.  Thankfully, just an armor off. Sadly for the humans, they only had time to drop one before the layer was destroyed.

The tank company is doing everything it can to prevent the Martians from moving down that avenue. The MKIV turns its attention to the green gas tripod with the attached snipers.

The other black dust tripod is immobilized.

But on the Martian turn, the MKIV is finally destroyed, along with most of the surviving tanks. The main human force has collapsed. All of the approaches to Old Glory are in Martian tentacles.

Things look dire for the humans, but I'm not allowing myself to feel too cocky. That would be irrational and weak - almost like a human!  Things looked pretty similar in the last playthrough, and the humans managed to win that one. Maybe Jamie could turn it around...

With dust, gas and shock drones making it to Old Glory, it seems less likely however. There are few humans left, the Martians have an excellent position with their special, cover-ignoring weapons, and the Americans still yet to take down any Tripods.

Fire from within the church takes down the slaver. Jamie was relieved - at this point it had been his main priority to prevent me from achieving a crushing victory (no Tripod casualties), and that is no longer a possibility.

Another Tripod down!

That last damned infantry stand has proved very hard to kill, moving through the ruins and dodging gas attacks.  Hold still, squishy humans...

Green gas finishes off a mortar unit. Good thing too - my remaining slaver was damaged, and can't move effectively and those scorpions are at the edge of its range.

A unit of courageous rough riders has survived, and tries to harass the Martian rear. Ineffectively.

Scorpion drones find that the lone infantry stand remains in range of the slaver, they rush in, scrambling up the walls and slaughtering the remaining men.

Only a partial rough rider unit has survived to reach turn 4, and it does so significantly out of position of old glory. Remember, Jamie can still win this if those rough riders (with significant cover bonuses) manage to be within 12" of Old Glory at the end of the game (turn 6 or 7).

The fast little buggers dart around and the Martians give chase.  Rough riders are really difficult to hit in good cover, and they survive into round 5. The ruins they're in are outside of the 12" needed to win, but if they can cross into the building across from it, which is easily within their 10" movement, the Americans can still eek out a win.

Not going to let that happen, are we boys?

The Martians move in and wall off any possibility of a human victory. The rough riders literally can't find a clear path, even if there had been a commander left to issue a move order.  Green gas is dropped on the trapped unit just as the scorpion drones charge.  A Martian victory!

As my wife would say of course it was a Martian Victory. They are simply superior.

The scenario seems well balanced, and it was definitely challenging on both sides. Both sides require a solid strategy and disciplined play to win. Jamie and I agree - this is the best AQ scenario we've played. He already wants to replay it.

Extermination complete.

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