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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Last Stand Scenario

This is an idea I've been sitting on for a long time.  A ragged battalion of Americans has been completely cut off and isolated by the long eastward retreat. Alone, without supplies or hope of rescue, they've gathered together and prepared for their inevitable end. The Martians are coming for them, and soon.  But if they are going to make an end of these humans the Americans will force them to make such an end as to be worthy of remembrance (although I don't think it will go as well as it did for Aragorn).  Moreso, the determined battalion intends to make it a particularly expensive end for the Martians.

Objectives:  The Martian objective is to exterminate the American soldiers to a man. Leave none alive.  The Human objective is to make their destruction expensive by surviving as long as they can and taking as many invaders screaming to hell with them.

Special Rule: Desperate: The Americans know they cannot win and cannot escape. They have nothing to lose and only rout on a 1 for this scenario.

Set Up:  The American forces have chosen this ground, so cover should be favorable for them, and if you can't agree where a building goes, the American players should get to place it. All buildings should be a minimum of 4" from each other.

Deployment:  The Americans are outnumbered and outgunned. You can play with however many points you like, but the Martians get double the American points (we played 1500 and 3000 respectively). However the Americans know that the Martians are coming, and have a chance to react, therefore the Martian player deploys first. Martians deploy on all four table edges, and must deploy at least one 200+ Tripod on each edge.  The Humans deploy anywhere on the table, at least 8" from any edge. 

The human scouts give the Americans advance warning of the Martian advance, so for the first turn, the humans go first unless they roll a 1 on initiative, in which case the Martians manage to sneak up on them and go first.

The scoring system is a bit complicated, and can be found at the end when we tallied up the points. Suffice to say here that the Americans get points based on Martian kills (different point values giving different amounts of victory points) and for each round there are humans on the board beyond the third, additional points are given, increasing each round. So the Martians have a ticking clock they're fighting as well as the defenders.

To battle!

My wife (playing the Martians as ever), deployed her two slavers on opposing sides of the board. The best drones are on the side closest to the buildings (shocks, scorpions), while the weaker Lobototons and drones are nearer the wooded side of the board. She definitely kept the wooded side lighter.

Which means I was sure to deploy more heavily there, hoping to keep some infantry alive, and even placing my field guns among the trees.

The other side of the board was quite clogged with Martians. Several assault tripods, a slaver and both of the grenadiers. I noted a lot of black dust on that side of the board.  Ugh, it's going to be ugly over here.

She placed her Veteran Assault Tripod on one of the long sides, ready to march in and hold the center with its long ranged heat ray. Unacceptable, so I placed all my tanks at the center and aimed them at the dreaded Veteran. If nothing else, the defenders were determined that that tripod at least would not outlive them.

We begin... and all of the tanks, all of them, shoot into the Veteran, damaging the armor right away, and allowing the weaker tanks and field guns to finish it off.  The mighty Veteran explodes!  A promising start. I looked to my wife, who I expected to be mourning her favorite soldier, but she just shrugged. "Yeah," she said, "it's a good start, but it won't last."

On the other side of the table, two fresh units of rough riders converge on the slaver, hoping to tie it and the drones on this side of the table. I don't roll as well as I might have, but the slaver is stuck fast.

The Martians advance, and move quickly towards the company of tanks. Three tripods shoot at the massive MkIV Monitor tank, but none of them are able to damage it. 

But other American units are not so lucky...

Like my own focus on the Veteran, my wife had her own fixation - the mine layer.  She threw a lot of shots at it before it finally went down. I actually selected it for this very reason. I hadn't really expected to lay more than one mine, but it did its job - it soaked up shots from something like 3 tripods that would have been aimed at more useful units.

And as expected, tremendous amounts of black dust poured into the large red building, killing over half of the soldiers taking cover inside. Below, the hand of death hovers her favored template over her victims.

With so many shots aimed at the MKIV and the mine layer, the rest of the tanks got off pretty light, and thanks to the special rule, no one routed.

Sniper drone fire managed to do some damage against a unit of MKIIs - thankfully I learned my lessons from previous games and kept those MKIIs in front of the more valuable MKIIIs, screening them.

Machine gun and rifle fire managed to weaken the tripod to which the snipers were attached - I was making that one a priority as well.

Yet, even at point blank range, the big tank couldn't hit the broad side of a barn...

By the end of round 2, most of my units were down to 1 or 2 stands remaining, hiding behind rubble from constant sweeping heat rays.

Gas and dust found them anyway...

Things remained interesting on the wooded side of the board. As the Martian forces were weaker, the Americans were more successful in holding them off, assaulting the drones and killing a unit of lobototons.  Sadly, my wife also learned her lessons. She screened the main drones with the lobototons, so I had to clear them out before I could get at the ones that would actually win me points to kill...

Things were becoming desperate. Infantry charged the sniper supported tripod, severely damaging it, but it stubbornly held on.

However, on the wooded side of the board, we were again more successful. Fire from the MKIV at point black range exploded an assault tripod, and the MKIV was reduced to slag in the explosion. Very unfortunate.

At this point, with only a scout and a slaver on the wooded side, I began to realize that this would be where the true "Last Stand" played out.  Trying not to tip my hand, I began to let my surviving units retreat in that direction.

Units on the far side of the board, too far to get to the woods, did their best to hold up the Martians facing them as long as possible.  The few surviving infantry squads inside the buildings threw grenades through the windows and managed to decimate the shock drones. And better yet, machine gun fire downed their Slaver tripod!

My wife began to concentrate on the artillery, tossing green gas at them. Some died horribly, their flesh melted away, but their compatriots kept firing.

Meanwhile, the retreating infantry kept fighting as they fell back, killing one of the sniper drones and directing fire towards the wounded tripod. Yet, the snipers were able to fire through the ruins at a MKIII tank, destroying it.

Going into round 4, only a single tank element remained, more or less stuck out in the open.  Fearlessly, they kept firing until the end.

Despite their bravery, the infantry that had destroyed the slaver soon were targeted by a scout and two grenediers rained black death upon them. No humans remained on this side of the board.

Ont he other side, however, the drones were frustrated in their advance by the desperate doughboys.

At last, fire from the remaining machine gun unit (only one element) managed to bring down the black dust tripod and the blast destroyed the snipers as well. Unfortunately, several doughboys were caught in the blast as well. My wife moved the wounded tripod to make sure it was in range if it went off and her gambit played dividends. No human defenders remained in this area either now. I believe this was round 4.  The American tenacity had begun to pay off and the Martians were becoming frustrated.

Other than the wooded area, the only American unit left on the board was a single stand of infantry. Seeing the end was neigh, I ordered them to make a run for the side of the board opposite the forest, trying to force my wife to divide her forces more, but also to make a desperate attempt to kill the single remaining elements of the shock and scorpion drones. 2/3 killed isn't enough for a victory point. I had to finish them off completely.

most of the Martians began to move towards the forest, where just about all of the remaining humans were gathering. Some nearby ruins provided cover for the survivors of the retreat, giving them a sturdy base to attack from.

My last tank also got in on the action, concentrating on the green gas tripod that tried all game to kill my field guns.

Tripods rained death on the forest, but stayed on the outskirts for the most part. Some seriously bad dice luck on my wife's part kept the game going a little longer.

The game moved to the 5th round, and still the Americans clung to the ground. Dust nearly annihilated the defenders hiding in the ruins, but one stand of infantry survived.

And, despite all odds, so did the single remaining tank.

But not for long...

Somehow, the Americans lived to see the 6th round, with only three single elements (two of infantry and one of field guns)  remaining. Unfortunately, the Martians won the initiative, and finally finished them off.  The Americans were exterminated, but at a pretty serious cost of resources for the Martians. Was it enough to count as a pyrric victory for them, or was the cost too high to be counted as a win?  Scroll down...

Scoring System:

Ticking Clock: If there are humans surviving on round 4, they get 1 point, 2 points for round 5, 3 for round 6 and so on.

Martian casualties: 1-100pts = 1 victory point, 101-200: 2 points, 201-300: 3 points, etc.

Human casualties count as 1 point regardless of what they are. There were a total of 19 human units on the board, so that was the Martian score, no matter what happened.

The Americans survived until round 6, so got 6 points for that, and killed enough to earn 12 more victory points, scoring an 18.

A narrow Martian victory, although a costly one.