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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Vicksburg Campaign Wrap-Up / Front Page (AQMF Campaign)

Welcome to the front page for my recently completed "Vicksburg Campaign", a home-brew, narrative-based campaign for All Quiet on the Martian Front.  The campaign follows the exploits of the newly constituted 29th Infantry Division as it attempts to defend the Mississippi Delta region from the Martian Invaders.

The campaign takes place in the Spring of 1914, three years after the start of the war, and specifically a few weeks before the official campaign event for the 2nd Battle of Memphis. As the Martians plan to break out of fallen Memphis into Tennessee, they send a smaller force into the sparsely populated and very rural Delta region of Mississippi (not actually a delta but an alluvial plain spider webbed with small rivers and swamps), in an effort to draw off the American defenders arranged around Memphis. With so much importance placed on defending Tennessee, General Pershing has left the defense of 200 miles of river land to a single division, the 29th.

While both sides regard the actual delta area as unimportant in the grand scheme of things, if the 29th Division is overrun, significant forces would be drawn away from the important defenses around Memphis, which may result in a breakthrough there.

Campaign Objectives: 

Martian Objective: Either take the heavily fortified city of Vicksburg (not attempted), or cut the Jackson-Memphis rail line across the Yazoo River. This is a vital artery of supplies to the defenders outside Memphis and its disruption would cause General Pershing to send divisions south to retake and repair them. 

American Objective: Prevent the Martians from achieving their objectives, and force them back across the river if possible.

If the Jackson-Memphis line is not taken by the Martians at the campaign end (which isn't really set but will decided based on the emergent narrative), but the Martians still hold ground across the river, the campaign will end in a draw. However, a draw will satisfy General Pershing just fine, so long as he wins at Memphis, and will go down in the history books as an overall strategic victory for the United States, even if a stalemate for the 29th.

The Players:
Originally this campaign was to be two-player, just me (as the Martians) and my buddy Fritz (humans), but eventually Bill from the AMQF forums contacted me, interested in joining in with his own group of players. We gave him the northern sector of the delta to handle, while Fritz and I focused on the southern area.  Bill's games are lettered on the map, and Fritz's are numbered.

The Course of the Campaign:
Red Stars = Martian Victory, Blue Stars = American Victory
Click on any of the battles below to read the report.

Southern Delta (Fritz and I)
1. Battle of Issaquena
2. 1st Battle of Panther Burn
3. Salvage Operation
4. Crash Landing
5. Tritchel's Raid
6. 2nd Battle of Panther Burn
7. Ambushed Convoy
8. Battle of the Yazoo River

Northern Delta (Bill's Group)
A. Skirmish in Bolivar County
B. Battle of Bolivar County (Gencon 2015)
C. A Walk in the Woods
D. Rear-Guard Action Near Drew, MS
E. Battle of Drew

Battle of the Yazoo River - AQMF Vicksburg Campaign Finale

All good things must come to an end...

With the second Battle of Memphis now concluded, the American defenders which have successfully prevented a Martian Breakout into Tennessee turned their attention to their southern flank on the Mississippi Delta. General Pershing ordered the 29th Infantry Division, which had been engaged with the Martians in the Mississippi Delta for months, to be relieved from their forward positions as soon as possible. The Division has lost over half its men and equipment and is badly in need of rest and reinforcement.  But their job isn't over yet.

While Colonel O'Malley, the commander of the northern portion of the front, defeated the north prong of the Martian attack at the Battle of Drew, pushing them back across the Mississippi, things in the southern section are much worse. O'Malley's forces are holding at the Mississippi River (back in their original positions), repairing the railroad there and thwarting minor Martian raids, and waiting for relief.

Col. O'Malley has recaptured the river defenses.
The Southern Delta, overrun by the Martians. Defenders are at the Yazoo River line.
In the south, an entire American brigade has been destroyed by the Martians. The enemy has built a strong fortress on the site of the town of Panther Burn and rumors of new weapons coming out of it are worrying American planners.  But more worrisome is the massive formation of Tripods seen marching out of the fortress to join the forces already preparing to cross the Yazoo River and threaten the vital Jackson-Memphis rail line (the campaign objective for the Martians). Reinforcements from the 29th's HQ in Vicksburg have fortified the river line, but word has reached them that it will be days before help can come. 

With aerial reconnaissance giving warning of the approaching tripods, the Americans have managed to concentrate significant forces in an attempt to hold the river.  Trainloads of doughboys pour out of the cars directly into the trenches.

Heavy guns have been erected, the river has been mined, and all that can be done has been. Now the survivors of the 29th Division await the enemy one last time. They are dug in as far as they can dig, and have accumulated massive reserves of equipment and ammunition. Two massive depots (def: 3, Armor 5) are set up near the trenches, and will act as ammo tenders for the game. Any American unit within 4" of a depot may shoot all of its weapons twice.

In terms of the campaign, there is no longer any way for the 29th to achieve a victory. Their casualties have simply been too high. However they can, if they win this last battle, stave off defeat and withdraw from the line with an honorable stalemate. If they fail and the Martians win, the invaders will destroy a significant railroad line and make communications between high command and the southern portion of the Mississippi Line very difficult.  Worse, it will forever be a stain on the 29th Division's record.

The Martians must cross the relatively shallow and slow-moving Yazoo River before engaging the Americans. A combination of underwater Tesla mines and heavy artillery bombardment is intended more to disorganize the Martians more than actually hurt them. As a consequence, the Martians have only a 50% chance of bringing tripods on in any given turn. Martian discipline however limits this. Each triad of Tripods rolls a die each turn to check if they are bogged down in the river. If they (or I, as the Martian player) rolls a 6+, they immediately deploy on their table edge.

Victory Conditions: Human victory if the Martians are broken (8 kills), Martian Victory if three Martian units cross the railroad tracks and exit the table edge.  Humans cannot break, but will fight to the last man (although individual units may rout as normal).

The game begins with a preliminary barrage by the Americans, damaging the movement systems of one of my veteran assault tripods. Not a promising start.

But then I roll to see who gets to play on turn one. Turns out, every single unit except a triad of three assault tripods deployed immediately. So much for your mines, piddly humans!

Long range fire begins immediately, with the heavy howitzers opening up.

And taking down a Scout tripod right away.

The Americans sent their "funnies" forward - a clamp tank and a minelayer, which immediately dumped all three of its mines, making a minefield of their left flank.

Those howitzer emplacements, being so close to the ammo dumps, did some heavy damage, but took down no further tripods. (They could fire twice, but only at the same target).

The Martian answer to the challenge was what it usually is: Black Dust and Heat Rays.

Grenadier tripods, working with scouts (who were double-moved forward) to target, saturate the American right, seriously weakening it.

Meanwhile long range heat rays destroy the "funnies".

Two of the three armored infantry carriers were destroyed as well, forcing the armored infantry into the open.

To the Americans' surprise, the Martians halt their advance after firing, hovering just slightly out of range.

The tactic pays dividends as the humans must move up their tanks in order to fire. Fritz, the human commander, makes a classic blunder - he orders his tanks forward, forgetting about the mine field he placed last turn.  BOOM.

The rest of the line fires...

Martian return fire cleans out the trenches on the American right.

And plays havoc on the line of tanks.

A single element of rough riders made it close enough to threaten the Martians. The Martian veterans of the Vicksburg Campaign had long since learned to smother these pests with black dust before they become a problem. A full-strength unit is far more of a threat than single elements.

The slavers kept the lobototons in a single line as shock troops, and the Martian commander ordered a full advance, burning most of my orders to get everyone into firing range.

Concentrated fire on the left destroyed two assault tripods, slowing the approach but not stopping it.

But on the right and at center, the Martians broke through and crossed the first trench line.

Meanwhile the rough riders fell back and managed to ensnare a veteran assault tripod with its tow cables. I didn't bother breaking free immediately, because the tripod was undamaged and had a great field of fire as placed. It took full advantage and wiped out most of the remaining tanks in a sweep of a heat ray.

At the end of the Martian turn, three tripods were situated within a single movement phase of the table edge. I didn't have enough orders to exit all three that turn, so I kept them all on the board to keep up the volume of fire.

The last remaining scout tripod, savoring its victory, blared its horn: "OOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLAAAAA" as it trampled the American Flag into the Mississippi mud.

You'll pay for that Marvin!

The tripod on the American left was heavily damaged, but fully functional.

Meanwhile, the veteran who had taken damage at the beginning of the game continued to fire along with the grenadiers at long range.

Things were looking bleak for the Americans. They needed to destroy three more Tripods to stop the Martians, and they needed to do it before the next Martian phase.

A desperate assault was mounted by the infantry, with the Americans throwing everything possible at the invaders, including suicide squads which attempted to climb the tripods to place dynamite charges. They succeeded in damaging but not destroying the assault tripod below.

Enraged by the desecration of Old Glory, the doughboys charged the scout.

Destroying it!

The doughboys somehow found time to raise the flag back up to show the Martians that they still had some fight left.

The Americans fired and fired, the Mk IV Monitor blasting away and damaging the armor of the immobilized veteran tripod, but far from destroying it. Sadly, there was little left to shoot...

Except the last of the three field commanders, still shouting orders at the very foot of the giant veteran tripod. With a curse, he drew his .45 and unloaded it ineffectively at the tripod. Using a quick-load from the ammo dumb, he fired again, his own troops looking at him like he was mad.

But somehow, against all odds, it was enough, and the veteran came crashing down at the commander's feet!

Yet the Martians kept coming.  The Americans now only needed one more kill to turn the tide.

The needed to win initiative in order to get it, as if the Martians had a chance to shoot, human resistance would end quickly.  They won it, getting to go again before the Martian counter-attack. Both players knew that, whatever happened, this would be the last turn. If the humans could finish off one of the damaged tripods, they would eek out a victory at Yazoo and a draw in the campaign, if they failed to do so, the Martians would surely overwhelm them and destroy the rail line.

They gave it their best. First a series of assaults by the infantry.

The used their last howitzer to try to pick off a wounded grenadier, but failed to kill it.

The wounded assault tripod was down to 3 armor after the infantry assault. But all the small arms had shot, and the last contingent of machine gunners was facing the wrong way to finish it off. Only the MkIV had yet to fire...

The MKIV fired its side sponsons first, but missed  The turret turned to face the monster with only a single die to roll which would decide the entire outcome of the campaign.

A hit - but would it penetrate the mighty Martian armor? Another die rolled... and yes it would.  There only remained a roll on the damage chart. If it was an 8 or higher, the Americans would win it all. Anything else and the tripod would still have 2 armor left and the Martians would get their turn...

A NINE, dammit all!  The Tripod crashed to the ground as the veteran waiting to cross the tracks looked on.

The Martian commander, knowing reinforcements would make quick work of what few tripods might cross the tracks, gave the order for a withdraw back across the Yazoo. The 29th, despite its ups and downs, was victorious, and had successfully prevented a Martian conquest of the Mississippi Delta.

And with that, the 29th Division is withdrawn from the front, leaving others will take up the battle for the Delta. Perhaps they will be able to successfully retake Panther Burn and force the Martians back across the Mississippi.

An excellent campaign, a great game, beautiful models, and good friends made. Thank you for reading along - I hope you've enjoyed it!

I'm going to compile all of these into a single post, table of contents style in the next few days, so if you missed the beginning, you can start there.

OOB Below.


Martians: 3165 pts
Red: 2x Black Dust Tripods, 1 Assault Tripod - 700
Green: 2x Green Gas Tripods, 1 Assault Tripod - 700
Elite: 2x Veteran Assault Tripods, 1 Veteran w/ Black Dust - 800
Scouts: 3x Scout Tripod (w/Targeter) - 465
Artillery: 2x Grenadier - 200
Shock Force: 2x Slaver Tripod, 3 Lobototon Blasters, 2 Lobototon Slicers. - 300

Americans: 2545 pts
7x Doughboys (3 w/ Forlorn Hopes) - 255
3x HMGs - 120
2x Rough Riders - 90
2x Armored Infantry - 130
2x Infantry Commanders - 60
1x Tank Commander - 65
2x Mortars - 80
3x Heavy Artillery (emplaced) - 150
AT-Gun - 80
3x MKIIs  - 495
2x MKIIIs - 450
1 MKIV Monitor - 190
1 Armored Infantry Carriers - 120
MK II Clamp Tank - 100
MK II Mine Layer (w/MG) - 160