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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Rally to Old Glory!

This week Fritz and I played out a new scenario I've been tinkering with, and it was an epic. I got to bring out my new City Terrain, and several new toys, like field guns and my shiny new MK IV Monitor. This was an asymmetric battle at its finest, full of ups and downs, hard fighting, and cunning opponents. The scenario can be played with a mid-sized force, but it is best as a larger game. Check out the scenario below or skip down to the battle itself.

Background: The Martians have crossed the Mississippi and are marching throughout the Delta region, laying waste to everything in their path. The 29th Infantry Division, spread thin in this area has suffered a series of defeats, and seems to be falling back all along the line. The retreat is at risk of becoming a rout. The 86th Battalion, whose commander has been killed, has been hit particularly hard and has become badly scattered and disorganized. As the units fall back, hotly pursued by Martian Tripods, young Captain Raulston resolves to make a stand. Knowing that it will attract both friend and foe, he orders his men to raise Old Glory in a small town square, and uses his signal corps to try and gather the shattered remains of the Battalion. The 86th heroically stop their retreat and turn to fight, digging in within the ruined town. They know that if they can hold long enough, it will tie up the Martian forces long enough for the rest of the division to reorganize and counterattack.

New Scenario:  Rally to Old Glory!

Deployment: Divide the board into six zones as follows:
Place Old Glory at the center of zone 5.  The human player may place a minimum of 4 large buildings (towering ruins) in that zone, as well as other buildings on the edges of that zone, areas of low rubble, etc, all at least 4" apart.  The Martian player may move 3 pieces that are outside zone 5 up to 12" (or of course if both sides agree to any set up they both find "realistic" they should do that instead).

Americans deploy first, placing their main command unit in zone 5.  Then, roll 1d6 for all other human units and place them anywhere in the appropriately numbered zone (this represents the human forces as scattered.) All human forces must be at least 8" from the border of zone 5. When all human forces are placed, the Martians may place their forces anywhere 6" from the table edge on all zones except 5. Further, they may not place forces within 12" of zone 5, and the Martians must include at least one tripod in each of their allowed zones.

When both sides have deployed, roll 1d10.  On a 1 or 2, the Martians steal the initiative and go first. Otherwise, the first turn belongs to the humans.

Special Rule:  Old Glory: Any American troops within 12" of Old Glory have the Courageous trait (only fail morale on a 1, like rough riders). Old glory is placed in the center of zone 5.

Game length: At the end of turn 6, roll 1d10. If a 1 or 2 is rolled, the game goes on to turn 7, otherwise it ends.

Victory Conditions: Martians must force the Americans from their position. They win if there are no humans within 12" of Old Glory when the game ends. They win a Crushing Victory if there are no humans left before turn 6, or if they win without losing a tripod. The Americans win if the Martians fail to push them out, and win a Heroic Victory if they break the Martian force.  *(Both the Crushing Victory and Heroic Victory are for the campaign I'm developing and hope to publish as a pdf - for the moment they just give extra bragging rights.)

Forces: Martians should deploy approximately 20% more points than the humans. No towed artillery may be deployed (it was overrun and abandoned miles back).

Fritz and I used just about 2000 points for the humans, and nearly 2500 for the Martians. Big, intense game!  You can find my game's whole Order of Battle at the very end of this post if you're curious.

The Battle Reprort:

I got pretty lucky with the American deployment, with infantry and HMGs able to quickly move into cover among some rubble. My mine layer was in zone 4 and immediately dropped a mine to try and block the avenue leading into the enter of town.

On the right (zone 6), more infantry and some MKIIs. You can also see some HMGs and Rough Riders in zone 3.

My MKIV was deployed (lucky!) in zone 5, along with a few mortar teams. Helpful, as I didn't have to move him much and could use the main gun.

Meanwhile, Fritz deployed his strongest forces on my left (zones 1 and 4), including both black dust tripods and one green gas. This side was to be the main threat and the random deployment didn't give me a lot of troops to support that side.

Humans go first, and I decide to keep a unit of Rough Riders out away from the town where the action will be.  A risky move, but I manage to immobilize one of the two Slavers Fritz deployed in zone 2, preventing him from pushing forward. Further, HMG fire took out 2 of the shock drones.

I had settled on a strategy - get to the center and castle up, and try and take out (or immobilize) anything with black dust, with green gas being a secondary target. If I could keep them out of the center of the board, it would make my infantry very hard to hit inside the ruins. I dedicated my tanks to blocking the main avenues that led to the flag.  In a battle like this, your tanks are going to die, and quicker than you might think, so their best use is as cover for the rest. I was banking on my infantry to hide inside the town center until the end of the game. The humans win here if they have even one stand of anything within 12" of the flag at the end.

Rather than move the MKIV and lose the big gun shot, I pivoted the turret, and rolled 3 dice instead of 5 at the Black dust tripods. Worthwhile as I damaged the far one's motive system on the first shot!  That tripod spent the rest of the day in the far corner, mostly out of range, taking pot-shots whenever anything got into range of its heat ray. Fritz knew that if he tried to move it he had a 50% chance of losing the roll off and having me walk the tripod off the board.

Meanwhile, my tanks massed to provide cover for the infantry rushing to cover. I burned several move orders trying to get them inside the buildings. They're the ones that can still win this, even after the tanks go down.

However, the scenario is designed to take more than the first turn to get the infantry into the center. I was counting on Fritz concentrating his fire on my tanks, which thankfully he did.

Before many of them could make it into the better cover of the buildings, the Martians attacked.

Fritz is a gutsy player.  I had moved a unit of MKIIIs back towards Old Glory after firing them, but doing so brought them within 6" of the mine that had dropped. Fritz, with faith in Martian armor, rushed the mine, exploding it. He took an armor damage, and I lost a tank.

On the right, the Martians concentrated their fire on the tanks, wiping out several units. I was really starting to doubt my ability to survive this initial onslaught. This is a punishing scenario for the humans, and for the first two turns it's hard to imagine that victory is even a possibility.

Another MKIII went down to a heat ray.

The MKIIs guarding the center are destroyed, and seeing the massed drones made me slightly nauseous. Surely my infantry wouldn't want to share their cover with these metal beasts.

...And the Martians begin to cluster towards the center avenue that the tanks are guarding.

Starting to feel bottled up as they approach on the left, walking over the ruins of my tanks.

Black dust eliminates some Machine gunners hiding in some rubble.

Worse, the Martians destroy the MKIIIs blocking the central avenue. The fire from the drones and tripods burned the whole unit down to slag.

As the tripods surround the town, infantry pour out of buildings, and some desperate individuals even try to climb the tripod in order to set explosive charges. The poor lads were torn apart by the martian tentacles before they could get close enough to lay charges.

Then, something surprising. An act of desperation, bravery, and sacrifice. The mine layer rushed forward to suicidally drop a Tesla Mine right in the middle of the Martian forces pouring towards into the central avenue. It explodes immediately, wiping out a bunch of drones and damaging a Tripod. Miraculously, the mine layer survives unscathed.  The humans win initiative, and the mine layer does the exact same thing again, finishing the drones and a slaver, but at this time not surviving the ordeal. Miracles don't tend to happen twice.

Both black dust tripods had been immobilized by tanks (before they were destroyed) and now sat nearly useless on the left. With the black dust tripods out of the fight, the shock drones destroyed, I began to concentrate on the green gas tripods.

Shots from the field artillery (hiding in a building) destroy the immobilized slaver, detonating it and killing the nearby drones. Despite all odds, the Martians are nearing their break point! The mine layer's suicidal charge gave me a chance at winning Heroically!

Oh, but at what terrible cost?

On the Martian turn, Fritz's Machines of Death break through the center of town, congesting the center with towering tripods. However, none of them have dust, and only one has gas, making the various human units (mortars, infantry, commanders and HMGs) in the buildings very hard to kill.

The hidden humans emerge to desperately assault the tripods at the center of town. More "forlorn hope" squads deploy, exploding themselves to just barely scuff the Martian armor.

The MKIV is finally destroyed as the Martians gain control of the avenues at the center. The buildings are still bravely held by mortars, infantry, HMGs and my commander, all within 12" of Old Glory.

Fritz manages to get a gas-throwing tripod through, and begins to pick off the hidden units. However, the clock is ticking - this is the end of turn 4 already, and a lot of humans remain. Fragmented, beaten down, but stubbornly pressing the attack.

The Martians dominate any open areas in the center, and the grenadier drops black dust into the buildings. The grenadier is the only black dust deploying unit left that has the target area in range. If things went on much longer, with Fritz making use of the Scout's targeting function, that grenadier could clear out a lot of buildings.

But it is not enough!  The humans win initiative for round 5, and firing from within the ruined structures they destroy two more tripods, one more than is needed to break the Martian forces.

Somehow, against all odds, a Heroic Victory.  They're going to make Captain Raulston a Major for this!

The final scene. Also the only shot of the two rough rider squads that stayed on the fringes all game, immobilizing tripods when they could, and generally harassing the Martian rear.  Also visible in the upper right corner are the new MKIIIs that came in with Industrial Might late in the game but didn't have a chance to make much of an impact.

10 partial American units remained at the end!  An excellent game.  Probably the most interesting scenario I've played yet! A long game though - 2 1/2 hours or so.

The very next day I had an opportunity to get together with my buddy Jaime and replay the scenario, this time as the Martians. Stay tuned for the battle report!

Also, Fritz's take on the battle: Wargamer Fritz


US Army: 2010pts. 4 Infantry units (2 forlorn hopes) (150pts), 2 HMGs (80), 2 Mortar teams (90), 2 command units (60), 2 rough riders (90), 1 unit of field guns (80), 4 units of MKIIs (660), 1 MKII Minelayer (160), 2 units of MKIIIs (450), 1 MKIV Monitor (190).

Martians: 2480pts.  2 Assault Tripods (400), 2 Assault Tripods w/gas (500), 2 Assault Tripods w/dust (500), 3 Scout Tripods with Targeter (465), 1 Grenadier Tripod (100), 2 Slaver Tripods (200), 1 Sniper Drones (75), 1 Drones (60), 1 Shock drones (60), 1 Scorpion Drones (100), 1 Lobototon Blasters (20).

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