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Monday, August 29, 2016

Slaver Extermination

"Enough is enough. These slavers have not only murdered, raped and pillaged their way through our potential ally, the Outworld Alliance, but have killed two of our fellow pilots. We have their base surrounded, and their dropship has been neutralized in orbit. It's time to finish the job."

With these words, Captain Julien Laval began to move his giant lumbering Marauder II forward towards the enemy base. His hand-picked assault lance followed along side.  Lt. DuPree in his Zeus, the ex-mercenary turned FedSuns pilot Frank Makolo, loyal and grateful to Laval for purchasing his new Rifleman mech, a sturdy Von Luckner heavy tank, and the Ranger's 1st Infantry Company.  All this supported by a transport VTOL to drop the infantry from zip lines, and Sgt. Howard in his Stuka heavy spacefighter, currently groaning with a full compliment of high explosive bombs.

No one was really sure how Laval came upon his Marauder II. They were supposedly the exclusive design and property of the famous Wolf's Dragoons, made under contract with the previously unknown Blackwell Industries. Laval simply shouldn't have had access.  And yet... after his family's legacy Marauder I developed serious problems with its fusion engine Captain Laval suddenly appeared in his brand new mech.  Given the shady reputation of Laval's Baronial family, blackmail of some kind was the assumed story. Even a mercenary from the Dragoons occasionally lost at cards in one of the family's resort casinos, or got into worse trouble in areas where the family's informants were rife.  Whatever the truth, Laval wasn't answering any questions.

The techs whispered that there was something odd about the machine. It was Blackwell Industries' first mech of any kind, and its design was so beautiful, so streamlined, that it should have been beyond their ability. Something about the way things fit together disturbed and fascinated those assigned to work on the machine, but they couldn't quite put their finger on what...

The slavers had set up in an old Star League fort, left to crumble on their forgotten Periphery world.  Those who had survived the freeing of the slave camp and those left behind as guards prepared a desperate defense. Their best outcome (aside from unlikely victory) was life imprisonment. If the angry Rangers let them live.

The slavers mostly fielded light mechs, with a Cyclops as their commander.

The approach was dangerous, largely open ground, but Laval knowing this chose mechs with solid ranged armaments.

"Sgt. Howard," Laval said, "see if you can't soften them up for us. They look nice and bunched up for you."

"Roger, making my first bombing run."

In response to the heavy bombardment, the doors to the mech repair facility opened, revealing an unwelcome sight. Two mechs, painted in the colors of the Draconis Combine!

So that's where they got their funding, Laval thought. Once again "honorable" House Kurita was financing the riff-raff of the galaxy to fight their proxy wars for them. If the Rangers hadn't surprised the slavers, these "advisors" would have no doubt slipped off planet by now. But now they were going to go down with their ship.

"Second run successful," Howard reported, "Looks like serious damage to the Cyclops and minor to others. Taking considerable fire however."

"Keep hitting them. I want that Cyclops down by the time I arrive."  Even his Marauder II could only take so many AC20 hits.

"Roger that, looping back."

As the Rangers advanced in a staggered formation, two light mechs jumped over the fortress walls to engage.

They were clearly trying to peel off the attackers, to slow them down. We'll that wasn't a problem. Time wasn't an issue after all.

Meanwhile Sgt. Howard moved in for another attack run. Unloading with missiles, lasers and every other weapon he had, the Cyclops was already teetering.

"Solid hit!" he shouted.

But as he passed, all of the enemy mechs unloaded on him. Taking serious damage to the nose and right wing, he struggled to keep control of his plane.

"It's no good," he said, desperately trying to right his plane, but the successive bombing runs had brought him too low to the ground...

"Sgt. Howard," Laval said, seeing the plane go down, "Howard come in, are you ok?"

"Yes sir," he said, "Ejected. Shaken up but I'm ok. I'm going to get the hell away from this base while you finish up. Dammit, they got my damned plane!"

"Get clear, we're just glad you're alright."

Taking a last look at his Stuka, he saw that it was largely intact, although it's nose was nearly torn off and the cockpit smashed. Turning to run for cover, he had hope that it might even be repairable.

Meanwhile Laval ordered Lt. DuPree to engage the light mechs with his Zeus. At the same time, he ordered the rest of the lance to slightly slow their pace while the mechs were dealt with.

At this point, two platoons of infantry inside the Karnov transport began their maneuvers: a slow wide flanking maneuver to try to get into the fortress itself at the moment of the attack, when the defending mechs would be otherwise occupied.

Lt. _____'s Zeus exchanged fire with the Spider and other mech.

Through the smoke, the Kurita mechs joined the firing line.

Finally in range, Laval ordered a brief halt and opened fire.

Meanwhile, one of the light mechs made the mistake of moving into close combat with the Zeus. Lt. DuPree suppressed a laugh before delivering two punches and a kick.

The kick tore straight through the lighter mech's leg and sent it to the ground. Silly mechwarrior must have thought he was in an Atlas.

Ignoring the weakly armed Spider, the Zeus turned back towards the fort to get in formation.

The Spider ran up behind the Zeus, firing its single medium laser into the mech's back ineffectually, while the Rangers advanced to medium range and unloaded on the enemy.

Meanwhile the Infantry were nearing their objective.

As the Zeus advanced, the Spider, desperate to slow the advance, used its jets to get above the heavy mech, hoping to land directly on the cockpit.

A near miss on the moving Zeus sent it crashing to the ground, heavily damaged.

With the Spider's ploy foiled, the Kurita mechs ordered a general advance to close the range and eliminate the Ranger's long range advantage. In doing so they found themselves right in the path of the Von Luckner's short range firepower.

As the Spider tried to rise, it was assaulted with the jump infantry that had caught up with the slightly faster mechs and tanks. However, the infantry failed to set their charges before the Spider got up, losing a wonderful opportunity.

However at this point, the VTOL transport was able to complete its mission, inserting infantry at close range while the enemy mechs had far bigger problems to deal with.

Everyone seemed to be firing at once. Heat built on all sides, and giant machines of war fought to the death while tiny humans with laser rifles ran about their heels.

The Von Luckner's crew fired salvo after salvo into the enemy while the heavy mechs of Laval's lance finished them off.

The enemy, meanwhile, concentrated their fire on the lightly damaged Zeus, finally getting lucky and tearing through its engine shielding. Lt. DuPree managed to eject as his radiation warnings went off, but the mech would need serious repairs before it would be able to see any further active duty.

Lt. ______ made a run for it, trying to get clear of the missiles and energy weapons behind him.

Another infantry platoon landed directly on an enemy mech, attaching themselves wherever they could to set their charges.

Meanwhile that suicidal spider tried the same jump jet trick on Laval's Marauder, now the main target.

Doing light damage to the Marauder's upper body, it managed to tear its own leg off in the process, knocking it out of effective combat.

Meanwhile, the few remaining mechs moved to close combat with Laval's Marauder. He grinned, savoring the chance to see what would happen when a 100 ton monster delivered punches and kicks into enemy steel.

Insertion completed, the VTOL landed to pick up Sgt. Howard.

Laval, savoring real close combat for the first time, relished the way 100 tons could tear through the enemy. Soon both mechs were scrap at his feet.

While two mechs were only disabled and their pilots could be presented to the Outworld authorities, the Kurita pilots fought to the death. Unfortunate, as they would have been useful, but the slavers would surely sing a nice song for the Outworlders before they met their fate.

"This is Captain Laval.  We've completed our mission and the site is secure. Requesting dropship landing with recovery vehicles and MPs for the prisoners. Good work people. Debriefing at 0800 tomorrow.  I expect the arrival of Ourworld authorities by the afternoon."

Friday, August 12, 2016

Fist Full of WW3

Time to go back to some Cold War action with Michael. After our last encounter where I wrote off ever playing Cold War Commander again, he promised to find a better ruleset for the era, still using the same 6mm figures. In "Fist Full of TOWs" he may have found it.

It's a very simple system, which allows for a lot of variance of equipment and covers a huge historical period, and even sci-fi games like "Fist Full of Tripods." Most importantly, there's no rolling for activation. Everything just goes in classic I-go-you-go fashion. While the base rules are super simple and VERY fast playing, you can add more complexity very easily. I'm very excited to get further into this game and era.

We played a simple encounter scenario to start, with me as the West Germans defending against a low-quality Soviet force.

The German equipment was far inferior to the Soviets, but I like a plucky underdog.

Damn, the Soviets got to the village first!

Uh oh!

Well, that didn't last long.  The Soviets won but at least Germany is united again. And probably France and Spain too...

However, since that game was incredibly quick (maybe an hour or so?), we flipped sides and I gave the Soviets a spin. Michael approached the problem far more cautiously than I, but still I had high hopes of repeating his victory.
The Germans hid behind a hill with their main force.

Taking the town quickly with my Soviets, it was obvious that Michael didn't intend to contest it.

Deciding to eliminate the German tanks first, I moved my own armor up.

Fire from some antiquated German tanks harasses my armored transports, but such is to be expected.

My tank assault initially goes quite well...

And I mount the infantry again, hoping to cut off the enemy armor's retreat.

But that's where my luck turned...

Some abysmal rolls on my part resulted in my overwhelming force becoming 2:1 in favor of the Germans. With the destruction of the Soviet tanks, the rest turned tail and fled, leaving the infantry on their own. Wisely, they decided to flee back to the Motherland.

A fun, easy game, but two back to back losses for me. Well, it's clearly not the system!  Michael is a very strong player, especially in his favorite period. I'm looking to go back for more soon, and maybe see how artillery and air support plays out.