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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Battle at the Crossroads: 2 Player Version.

As always, I like to try each of my scenarios from both sides, and Fritz is always happy to oblige.  In fact, when I walked in to our local game store and saw the expression on  Fritz's face, I knew he wasn't messing around. He had his game face on and was planning on kicking some serious dice. Sounds good to me!

This is a replay of the Battle for the Crossroads scenario, but modified for a smaller, two player game. We followed the Scenario Rules for the Crossroads game, with a few small changes:

- Only 1500 points/side. These were loosely divided in half for the two deployments which were still random. One half on the board at the game's beginning, and the rest coming in on either round 2 or 3, also from a random side. See the above link for the full details.

- Only 1 secret objective card was drawn for each of us, as opposed to two per side.

Otherwise, the scenario was identical to the previous one, although it was a very different game.  Especially as I was playing the Martians this time.  We placed the four objectives that we needed to hold before we rolled off.  Fritz, a veteran wargamer, had an interesting strategy - he tried to cluster the objectives. I tried to keep them separate (and out of cover for a Martian advantage), but he managed to get three very close together, close enough that a single spread out human unit might be able to contest or hold all three.  The last was on the other side of the board, and ended up becoming the most important. That's the orange dot on the left side of the picture below. The other three were just on the other side of the buildings, all exactly 12" from any other.

I won the first deployment, coming in at the center third of the long edge (4x6 table as usual).  I brought on my first group - An assault tripod, another with green gas, a scout and a grenadier (the only one of each I'd get this game).

My secret objective was a new one I added after the last game:

Extermination - Destroy all infantry units. This includes HMGs, rough riders, command units or anything that counts as infantry for cover bonuses. 1pt.

Thanks to Madmorgan on the AQMF forums for the idea.  Expect to see more of these as the forum community has been doing great work fleshing them out.

Fritz unintentionally made my secret objective a little easier by going very tank heavy.  He only took one unit of infantry, a HMG team (in his second group), a command unit, and a unit of rough riders.

His deployment saw him entirely across the board from the cluster of objectives. His tanks, in tight formation, were poised to rush to that side of the board quickly, while his infantry would head towards the solitary objective on that side of the table.

Fritz went first, using orders to double-move his tanks. He wasn't happy about his initial deployment zone, so far from the cluster of objectives. As he notes in his own Battle Report, he didn't want to fight me near the solitary objective, but to get me to throw everything at the cluster. He rapidly moved his tanks in that direction, which eventually cost him dearly, as you'll see. The first round, some shots were exchanged, but there was little damage.

When round two began, we both rolled successfully to bring the rest of the reserves onto the table, but I won initiative, and moved into position to really wreck his tanks. Still clustered together, they were easy targets of the Martians' sweeping heat rays.  His reinforcements are visible in the background - more tanks!

Meanwhile, my gas-throwing tripod destroyed much of a rough rider squad which the humans tried to position at the Martian rear to harass them.  I might have spent less time on them, if they hadn't counted towards my secret objective.

The Martian reinforcements.  Both of our deployment zones (random) ended up being on the side of the board where the objectives were clustered, making the zone suddenly very hot.

The drones advanced quickly. I wanted to use them to contest the objectives, as they get the same cover bonuses as the humans do. The green gas tripod moved on, allowing the shock drones to try and finish off the rough rider.

Meanwhile the snipers and drones advanced towards the human reinforcements. The snipers were attached to an assault tripod with black dust, in case something happened to the slaver. Only the sniper drones have the ability to do this, making them an even more powerful unit than they already are.

The grenadier continued to lurk in the background, but its line of sight was a bit disrupted by the three tripods in a traffic jam ahead of it. However, my lead tripod was a scout, allowing me to use the targeter ability to direct my fire.

I concentrated on taking out the infantry, blasting a unit of HMGs and then rushing forward to destroy the routing units.

The infantry on the other side of the board moved cautiously, from cover to cover. I could tell Fritz was hoping I'd forget about them, and that they'd rush in at the very end to steal that objective. He also kept his commander nearby, probably to use orders on them if needed.

The Martian traffic jam at the crossroads was cleared up quite dramatically.  Fritz's dice luck was... odd. He was having serious trouble hitting or doing anything really, but when he finally penetrated the lead Martian scout's armor, he rolled a 10 right away and detonated it. Further, it caused a chain reaction killing the assault tripod behind it, detonating it as well. The poor rough rider which had immobilized the scout had no chance, taking 6 hits. There was nothing left of those poor crazy fools.

Less luck with the tripods on near the objectives. They remained undamaged.

However, his odd luck continued - a solitary hit on the green gas tripod knocked the undamaged tripod down to a 2 armor - easier to kill than squishy human infantry in an open field. That's almost three tripods down in a single turn. Things were suddenly not looking so hot for Mars.

The severely damaged tripod, it's time clearly short, took some final shots and tried to at least obstruct the humans' line of sight.  To no avail. It was quickly dealt with on the next human turn.

Things near the objectives started heating up. The drones all advanced, and were somewhat effective in holding off the remaining tanks. Most importantly, the secured all three objectives in that cluster.

Meanwhile, the human commander and his lone infantry squad made a break for cover closer to the last objective.

The grenadier began to lob black dust, killing most of the infantry, but missing the commander, allowing the last infantry element to immediately rally after a failed morale check.

Fritz moved one of his solitary elements of tanks (some of the survivors of the initial deployment) into the ruins to back up his infantry from the other side.

Spending 3 of his remaining orders, more American reinforcements arrive (using the Industrial Might rule).  Rolling high, he was able to fire them as well, taking out one of my black dust tripods. This left only one Assault Tripod on the table, backed up by a slaver with drones and a grenadier. Not good.

The grenadier however managed to finish off the infantry, but not the commander, who cowardly hid himself behind the building.

On the next human turn, his tanks began a general advance towards the objectives. The drones occupied the excellent cover near one of them, and my last assault tripod and its attached sniper drones contested the two others, but suddenly I found myself seriously out-gunned. Human reinforcements had arrived, and while they'd been thinned out a little, I now only had some drones, one assault tripod, a grenadier and a slaver.

As we moved into round 6, I decided on a risky gambit. Abandoning the drones, the Slaver moved off to try and capture the far off objective. Fritz had used up his orders, but I still had several left. The Slaver stayed just close enough to give the drones a chance to shoot one least time and then double-timed it down the avenue, stranding the drones. They could no longer shoot or move, but they didn't have to do that to contest the objective.

As the slaver moved towards the objective, the grenadier finished off the human commander holding it

The sniper drones and the last assault tripod unleashed their full Martian fury on the tanks, destroying several MKIIIs and the big MKIV as well.

But the surviving tanks managed to finish off the tripod, now stranding the sniper drones as well. Thankfully, I had carefully positioned them in order to contest two different objectives.

Fritz was able to kill one, but not both drones, leaving one objective contested, and one held by the humans at the end of the 6th round.  As per the scenario we rolled to see if there would be one last turn, and lo, there was!  And it was good.  As little was left on the board for either of us to work with, it was quick, but decisive.  The human forces, only a rag-tag band now, took some shots which largely missed the mark and took up optimum positions near the cluster of three objectives. They began the turn, and managed to contest two, and hold one. The last objective, not held by anyone at the end of the last turn, had to be abandoned by the humans who wouldn't be able to get anyone out there in time.

In something I have never seen happen in AQ, I double-timed my grenadier forward to contest the only human-held objective. That, to me, is the equivalent of a desperate charge by human artillery.

Meanwhile, the Slaver held the other objective.

In the end, the Martians held one objective, and fulfilled their secret objective of wiping out the infantry, for 2 points total. The humans managed one point via their own secret objective:

It Killed my Aunt Jenny - select the most point-expensive Martian model as the killer of your poor Aunt Jenny, and destroy it. 1pt.

Considering Fritz had destroyed all of my assault tripods, he had this one fully in hand.

Still, a Martian victory with a final score of 2-1.  A very close-fought and dramatic game. At several points it could have gone very differently. In fact, if we hadn't rolled for a 7th round, it would have ended as a tie! 

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