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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Crash Landing: Vicksburg Double-Header Part II

Even as Major Tritchel's company gathers up its newly won supplies and equipment, an American surveillance plane is plummeting to the earth under heavy Martian fire. His men load up the supplies and rush to intercept it. This is the second part of a linked scenario, part of the Vicksburg Campaign. Check out Part I.

The Martians were already on the scene when Tritchel arrived. This was odd to say the least. Everything about the Martian behavior in the Delta suggested that they had little to no interest in American equipment and salvage. They left tanks, heavy howitzers and coal dumps just sitting around the countryside, yet mobilized a substantial force to capture this downed biplane. Whatever that pilot saw and captured with his camera, Tritchel knew he had to have it.

We're using "The Rescue" scenario from the AQMF book. The objective is to take the camera by coming into base with the plane, and then exit the unit in possession off your starting table edge.

The plane is at dead center.

Tritchel's force arrives. His infantry has been refreshed back to 7 units, he's got a minelayer and clamp tank, and one unit of MKIIs towing artillery.  Thanks to the Martian patrol in the last game, there are no other tanks.

The Martians rush a scout forward before the American force and react. Its tentacles tear the plane apart and take the metal box containing the film.

Tritchel orders his forces forward.

Fire from the artillery, infantry and rough riders severely damages the scout, but it still stands at the beginning of round 2.

The Martians win initiative and move two tripods up to screen the scout's escape. It makes it right to the table edge, but even with orders can't quite get off (by about 2 inches).

The only thing that can get range on the scout is the heavy artillery, which misses, allowing the scout to escape.

Wait, really?

That's it? 2 1/2 rounds? That game was over faster than the time it took to set up. This scenario STINKS. If you just have to grab it and run, the fastest human and Martian units, using orders, can rush 30" per round. If they're setting up 6" from the edge initially, they can easily just zip up and grab it and only take fire for one round really. After all, putting it in the middle of a 6' table makes it 36" from the edge. Essentially, this scenario comes down to winning the initiative roll and having your opponent miss with his long range stuff.

::Sigh::  Ok, restarting.  That other game didn't happen.  Now, whoever holds the camera at the end of round 4 wins. You still have to act fast, but you have to retain possession under fire which is harder. Also, break points will be used.


This time we're both a bit more cautious. Also, Tritchel deploys his specialized tanks better.

The mine layer is destroyed by the sniper drones.

The mass of infantry form a line and begin to advance through the trees.

On the Martian right, a clamp tank attempts a flanking maneuver, and ends up using its machine gun to support some HMGs in the fields. It's the first kill by a clamp tank ever!

The Tripods at center are damaged. A scout begins moving erratically, while the assault tripod with black dust finds its targeting systems malfunctioning.

The rough riders rush up and secure the camera box. They're about to turn around and get behind the infantry when...

Black dust is lobbed by a grenadier, guided in by a scout tripod. The rough rider holding the camera is killed (random roll for which element dies), and it drops the camera.

Worse, with the mine layer out of commission the snipers have to fire at the closest vehicle, this being Tritchel's command tank. The three drones lay down a terrible barrage of fire, slagging the tank, causing the crew to bail out. One of the surviving tankers is seen pulling an unconscious Major Tritchel from the wreck. With their commander out of commission, the Americans have lost their ability to issue Orders.

The Martians move forward... well most of them do. The damaged scout decides to take a walk back towards the Martian rear. Apparently the scenery is just gorgeous over there. I mean, look at the flocking.

The damaged assault tripod moves up and grabs the camera with its tentacles.

It then scurries behind a scout for cover from the artillery and the MKII tanks which have finally managed to move into range. The lack of tank fire definitely hurt the humans here...

Meanwhile the damaged scout moonwalks towards the human infantry line.

The single grenadier keeps up the fire, trying to keep the humans busy while the assault tripod moves out of their range.

Infantry rush forward to assault the damaged scout.

it finally rights itself and scurries backwards, firing as it goes. The Martians assume a defensive formation as they prepare to withdraw with the camera. Moving into the final round...

At this point, without their leader, the humans just can't move up quickly enough to stay in range of the Martians. Only the longest range pieces, the artillery and the MKIIs, have range on the tripods. They concentrate their fire on the damaged scout. If they can take it out and destroy one other unit, say the sniper drones, they break the Martians, forcing them to drop the film and flee. But that means killing 2 units with 2 artillery shots and 3 tank shots.

How's this for close?  It's the last phase of the last turn. The artillery all fails to connect, but the very last shot, the very last die, hits the scout. One roll on the chart - and the scout explodes, taking the sniper drones out with it!  At the last moment, the humans break the Martian force, the assault tripod drops the camera, and the Martians flee back towards Panther Burn. American infantry salvage the camera and develop the film while Major Tritchel recovers...

The American harassment behind the Martian lines has caused just enough hesitation in their force that the American reinforcements are able to take up positions on the Yazoo just before the Martians arrive on the other bank. Neither side moves to attack quite yet, but sit across the river from each other. In game turns, the American victories allowed them to move first, using their victory points on extra movement to the east bank of the Yazoo. The Martians had just enough movement to reach the river, but not enough to cross it, choosing not to spend their VPs.  What are they saving them for? Why are they waiting? Perhaps the camera holds a clue...?

Major Tritchel, badly burned and still coughing from smoke inhalation, is shown the developed film. On it are two disturbing images. The first, showing a scene to the northeast of Panther burn near the town of Belzoni, proves that the Delta is not as empty as he'd expected. A group of civilian refugees is fleeing the Martians, and from all appearances they appear to be being herded, manipulated, into moving south towards the Martian lines. Unless Tritchel acts, these civilians are doomed. However, another photo shows a more tempting target. In Panther Burn itself, the Martians appear to be constructing... something. Whatever it is, it's large and foreboding, and clearly important to the Martian plans.

Tritchel only has the resources to commit to one action. Does he rescue the civilians, or does he attack the Martian construction?  It's a hard choice, one full of anguish for anyone with a human heart in their chest.

Listen to Fritz agonize over his decision on his Vlog, and check out the advice he's getting from the gaming community. Maybe add your own two cents.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Vicksburg Campaign: First Shots Fired in Bolivar County (Bill's game)

Bill from the AQMF forums asked to participate in the Vicksburg Campaign, despite living quite a distance from me. Quite flattering!  I've hosted some of his stuff here before, so I figured why not?  

The main event is his big 8 player game at GenCon, which will be the Battle of Bolivar County. First, however, he played a smaller game with his regular group as a kind of prelude. I wrote up the briefing below to give to his players. It will be roughly the same as what the GenCon players get.

American Briefing:
Spring, 1914.  In the shadow of the attempted Martian breakout at Memphis, the 29th Infantry division attempts to hold the Mississippi Delta region against a Martian incursion.  General Pershing believes that this attack is a sideshow, a mere diversion to get the Americans to pull troops off of the lines around Memphis.  He therefore leaves the 29th, the "Blue and Grey" Division, nearly alone to prevent a Martian breakthrough south of Memphis.

Nearly, but not completely alone. The 29th's stalwart East Coast soldiers are supported by an additional unit, the 155th Infantry Regiment, the last surviving regiment of the 39th Division which was slaughtered in the mass retreat to the Mississippi Line a year before. The 155th, consisting of local Mississippians and recently reinforced by local militia units, has refused orders to fall back to base camp in Alabama for retraining, and has refused to merge with another unit fighting elsewhere. In a moment of rebellion, they've renamed themselves the 21st Mississippi, after the famous Confederate Regiment from which they could trace their lineage, and declared their intention to fight for their homes against the Martian invaders. With the situation along the Mississippi being what it is, the Federal government and the General Staff have little time to deal with this iconoclastic regiment, and the 29th Division is glad of any help it can get.

Now, with battle raging north and east of Memphis, four battalions of the 29th Division stationed in northern Mississippi have detected a massive Martian force which was able to slip across a sparsely defended section of river and into Bolivar county. Colonel O'Malley has dispatched scouts to learn the full disposition of the Martian force, prior to bringing the full force to battle. 

Martian Briefing:
The Overseers have determined that the recently conquered human settlement known as "Memphis" shall host an unstoppable Legion which will break out to the north and east of the city. Vast forces have been building up there for some time and the time for action is approaching.

You and your pod shall not have the honor of participating in this glorious endeavor. Instead, you will have other opportunities to prove your worth. Orbital intelligence suggests that the are immediately south of Memphis is sparsely defended. While the territory in question lacks much strategic use on its own, the Overseers believe that if the area is sufficiently threatened, the pitiful humans will divert resources that might otherwise protect the areas around Memphis.

You are to proceed east across the river, and destroy any human defenses that stand between you and their support structure.

Shortly after the landing force crossed the river, intelligence reported a large concentration of human defenders.  Due to cloud cover, the size and composition of the force is unknown.  A scouting party must probe the human lines and learn what it can before the pathetic humans can be brought to battle properly. 

Victory Conditions: In order to achieve the game objective, the Americans had to exit a unit of rough riders off the Martian edge while the Martians had to exit a Scout tripod off the American edge. 

Now, without further ado, Bill's report (OOB at bottom):
"This fight takes place when the reconaissance forces both sides have sent out collide near Harney's farm.

Turn 1

The Martians went first and all tripods moved full speed ahead. No humans were in range, so they all move full again.

The rough riders move out, covered by the tanks. The shooting starts, but is ineffective until the mk 3's open fire.
They score 7 hits on one of the assault tripods and it crashes tp the ground. The rough riders keep moving.

Turn 2

The Martians go first again. The scouts go after the rough riders, sweeping them with their heat rays. Only one stand is killed. The assault tripods shoot the mk 3's , but miss. They keep pushing forward.

The rough riders attack the scouts but only get one hit. Time to hide in the woods. All the tanks fire at the 2 assault tripods. One of them goes up in a blinding flash, leaving only a boiling black cloud. The Martians are in big trouble.

Turn 3

The Martians continue to go first. The scout breaks free from the tow cable. All 3 remaining tripods keep advancing. Heat rays kill 2 tanks, causing one to run away.

The rough riders move out again and by the end of the turn they are close to escaping. The tanks target the scouts. One takes 2 armor damage while the other takes 5 armor damage and suffers a movement malfunction.

Turn 4

The Americans finally go first. The rough riders exit the table. The tanks shoot the scouts again. One takes another point of damage bringing to 3. The other takes 3 more and now has 8.

The Martians lose both movement roll offs, sending that scout 20" the wrong way. The other scout kills 2 tanks. This opens a hole for it to get away if the Martiand go first. The assault tripod kills a mk 3.

Turn 5

The Martians go first. The scout exits the table. The other scout moves back towards the humans. The assault tripod is almost off the table as well.

All the tanks bur 1 let fly at the assault tripod. They get 8 hits. Three of those get through and a 10 is rolled. That one explodes, taking the command tank with it. The one remaining tank pounds the badly damaged scout, and it blows up a well.

The remaining scout flees from the humans, taking heavy fire and multiple hits. More armor flies off, bringing it to 7 points of damage. Once out of range, the scout pauses briefly to assess the damage and then proceeds on his mission to find the main human force.

Sgt Williams and the remaining rough riders slowly drove their bikes up the wooded hill. At the edge of the woods, they all looked to the west, and froze in shock. There, not more than half a mile away, were more Martians than they ever wanted to see. Three tripods seemed to be conferring. The humans started counting. When they were done, they had at least 20 tripods and upwards of 40 drones. The Colonel had to know about this. It was definitely time to leave. Tomorrow was August 1, 1914. It was gonna be a hot one. Sgt Williams led his men back down the hill and they raced away.


2 Scout tripods and 3 Assault tripods
900 points


1 mk 2 command tank, 2 units of mk 2 tanks, 1 unit of mk 3 tanks, 1 mk 4 tank, and 2 units of rough riders.
920 points

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Salvage Operation: Vicksburg Campaign Double-Header Part I

Spring, 1914.
After the Battle of Panther Burn, the American survivors fled northward, melting into the bayou. Under the unofficial command of Captain Tritchel, the highest ranking officer to survive the battle, they've gone dark, splitting the shell of a battalion into four understrength companies to more easily avoid detection. From the bayous, Captain Tritchel plans his next move against the numerically and technologically superior Martian force.

Word of the disaster at Panther Burn arrived quickly at division HQ in Vicksburg, thanks to aerial reconnaissance, and the four battalions which had been guarding the Yazoo river in the north (where the General had wrongly assumed the Martian strike would come down hardest) were ordered to board trains and proceed south with all haste. It would be a race - would they establish positions on the river in time, or would they find that the Martians had already crossed it?

In the north, battle was immanent in Bolivar county, but both the American commander, Colonel O'Malley, and his Martian counterpart were deploying cautiously, testing each other and looking for a weakness (this battle will be fought at GenCon in a few weeks - stay tuned for details). But for now we must draw our attention back to Captain Tritchel and his efforts to threaten the Martian supply lines in the vicinity of Panther Burn.

Considering his situation deep in the bayou, Captain Tritchel squarely faced the difficulty of his situation. Low on ammo and low on coal for his tanks, his scattered men were little threat to the Martians. Further, the Americans had been forced to abandon most of their artillery pieces, and even some undamaged tanks which were out of steam. Yet his scouts had reported that the Martians were moving with great haste, and had left American equipment where it lay rather than stopping to destroy it.

What he did have was manpower. He even had tankers, artillery specialists, and repair crew, mostly sitting around camp, useless.  Tritchel had no choice but to salvage what he could in a daring raid back towards Panther Burn. Two large contingents of Martians had been seen heading east towards the yazoo, leaving one group behind, based in the vacinity of that same small town so many men had died to defend. Regular patrols were sent out from there, mostly solitary tripods. But these lone tripods could very quickly call for help. Mixing his specialists with the infantry, Tritchel intended to quickly grab as much equipment as he could and get back to camp.

Full scenario and OOB at the bottom of the post.

The Booty:  Abandoned tanks, artillery pieces, and supply dumps.

Captain Tritchel orders his men forward to grab what they can before the Martians show.

Rough Riders go for the ammo. Turn 2, still no Martian patrol.

Some doughboys take the coal for the tanks.

Just as the first group of tanks becomes operational, a Scout Tripod appears. It simultaneously fires at the tanks, and calls for backup.

The tanks escape, but the Tripod stalks other prey, the big Heavy Howitzers.

However the tripod's aim is poor.

The tanks turn with a spray of steam and fire into the Scout.

If falls into a pile of twisted metal.

An assault tripod appears on the opposite side of the board where some infantry struggle to get some MKIIs operational. They've also taken the Anti-Tripod Gun, but without the tanks, they can't turn it around to face the Martian threat!

No one can say Captain Tritchel isn't bold - rather than try to exit his forces quickly, he goes for the kill. Having already killed one tripod, he decides to try and destroy or drive off the patrol and hopefully take everything.

The tripod takes fire from all sides, but remains undamaged. Rough riders finally manage to hold it still with cables around its legs.

Meanwhile, near the fires of the burning scout, tanks begin to tow the heavy guns out of fight.

The assault tripod is finally damaged, but it doesn't need to move to fry a tank. The other two rout.

As Captain Tritchel orders the newly repaired MKIVs to join the fray rather than withdraw, another Scout arrives, rising out of the trees across the road and destroying a tank. They also rout.

The Martian scout gives chase, destroying them. A serious blow, not only for this engagement, but the next as well.

The fleeing tanks are also destroyed by the immobilized tripod's heat ray. Captain Tritchel was heard to swear and mutter "maybe I should have withdrawn quicker."

But soon, fire from machine guns and rifles finished off the immobile tripod, causing the scout to flee from the now well-armed American force. A heroic Victory for Captain Tritchel. With the scouts gone, he can take his time and gather whatever is left.

When he returned to base camp, Captain Tritchel was surprised to find a runner from Division HQ in Vicksburg. His unofficial command over the survivors had been confirmed, and for his actions getting his men out, he'd been promoted to Major.  His men congratulated him but as they slapped their commander on the back, their attention was arrested by the sound of a motor.  An bi-plane was trying desperately to climb as a heat ray licked across his wings, setting them ablaze. The company watched as the plane plummeted.

A survaillance craft? From the looks of it, it had passed over Panther Burn. Was the pilot alive? Was his film salvagable?

Scenario: Starting with only 7 infantry, 1 HMG, some rough riders, and a commander (Tritchel), attempt to reclaim lost equipment that is more or less evenly scattered over the terrain. Infantry units may reclaim this equipment, essentially becoming its crew (one element of infantry becomes 1 element of the reclaimed unit). Further there are two ammo depots, along a central line of the board, one representing fuel, and one ammunition. At least one unit must touch this in order for for tanks to be able to move, or guns of any kind to shoot. (Revised for future games: each salvaged unit must either touch both of these before it can respectively move or shoot. Scenario was a bit too easy.)  After reclaiming the units, the Americans must exit off their board.

Martians deploy 2 scouts and an assault tripod, all in reserves. On each round, roll for a single scout (6+) to wander by, then randomly roll for a table edge to enter on (including the American side). After the first scout has fired, you may start rolling for the other two remaining tripods in the same way.

Victory Conditions: None, really. For the following scenario (Crash Landing) the American player will refresh only his infantry, and may only deploy whatever gets off the table before the end of this scenario. However, the Americans win a Heroic Victory if they break the Martians, and the Martians win a Heroic Victory if they let fewer than 5 total units get off the board.