Sunday, August 11, 2019

First Flight, Tripods and Triplanes

A Headless Body Production
Location:  Regency at Providence Community Center, Phoenixville, Pa
Event:       Providence Gamer's Game Knight
Game:      Tripods & Triplanes
Scenario: Basic
Players:    Phil Gardocki running Baron von Richthofen in his classic Fokker DR1 Triplane. Bruce Potter running Navarre in a highly modified Nieuport. Joe Contegiacomo running Rickenbacker in a Spad XIII.
                  Steve Turn and Scott Landis running the evil and vile Martians

The Scenario:  Two Martian war machines are encountered during a training exercise where the top pilots of 3 nations were trying to figure out how to work together.  Shot down aircraft are replaced on the following turn.

Victory Conditions:
Destroy both tripods before they can shoot down 3 aircraft.

The Tripods start on one edge of the map, the planes fly in on the other.  There are four large facilities on the board that the Martians can convert into energy.
The Tripod figures are gorgeous and horrible at the same time.
Their detail is exquisite. 
The WWI aircraft are straight from the Wings of War collection. 
The scale is 1:144.  For the record All Quiet on the Martian Front is 1:100 (aka HO, aka 18mm, nee "heroic" 15mm)
So you can get away with the planes in AQMF, but the Tripods are way too small.

The Martians advance to the closest abandoned facilities.
The Red Baron appears to ignore the plan to gang up on one of the tripods and vectors in on one.  Rickenbacker and Navarre line up on the other.
One tripod farts out a cloud of black dust.
The black dust is a low grade area of effect weapon.  It's placement follows a template for positioning, but is still very flexible with targeting.  When a plane hits the cloud, it draws a hit card, but the cloud is dispersed.
The Baron is in long range range, and fires his machine guns.  The Martian fires his heat ray. 
Damage is in the form of drawn cards.  A machine gun shot causes the Martian to draw a card from pile 'A'.  The heat ran causes the Baron to draw a card from pile 'X'.  A's are the weakest cards.
The Baron lines up for a shot on the other tripod.
Movement is preplanned and simultaneous.  If the stands overlap, like the above, then they are too close and cannot shoot at each other.
However, that does not prevent the other tripod from shooting it's heat ray.  The card drawn was an explosion, and the Red Baron goes down in flames. 
The Nieuport and the Spad are both much faster than the Fokker Triplane, and their players are new to the game system, and have not been able to get any shots in.

One tripod farts another cloud of black dust.  Right in the path of Rickenbacker's Spad.
Rickenbacker avoids the cloud, while Navarre does an Immelmann turn.  Steve reported his Martian stomped the hell out of the triplane on the way by.
The tripod fires his heat ray, but Rickenbacker is way out of arc.
Each tripod has a number of energy points.  Firing their weapons expends energy, as does taking hits on their shielded sides, the sides and rear.  They can recover their energy by being stationary, or from the buildings below.  Also, their weapons have recharge rates, and cannot be fired in adjacent phases.

Navarre has been trying to get a shot in all game.  Here he is out of range.
Another Fokker arrives over the field.
The Spad is also having trouble lining up shots, or even staying on the board.
Finally, a shot!  Navarre's Nieuport has two packs of rockets, and fires them all!  The Martian draws 2 'D' cards.
D's are the best cards we have.
Another nuance is the players draw their damage cards, but do not have to reveal them except in specific circumstances.

When two planes over lap, one is represented by a card, the other a figure.  The Martian draws 4 'A' cards for damage as these are at short range.
I am thinking King Kong here.
Breaking off to set up another fly-by
Navarre catches a mouth full of black dust and goes down.
Things are looking grim.  Two live, albeit damaged tripods, but they only need to shoot down one more plane to win.
And they have decided to focus on the Fokker. 
Another respawn.  A Nieuport with rocket packs.
The Fokker pilot disperses a cloud of black dust.  The Nieuport lines up his rockets. 
The Fokker, with it's clockwise spinning rotary engines, could make astonishing tight right turns.  Two more 'A' damage cards for the tripod. 
The French Nieuport launches both rocket packs. 
Scratch one tripod!
We killed it twice.  It had taken it's 18 points of damage AND drew an explosion card.
3 on one, but all the planes are damaged, and the rockets, contrary to the counters you see, have been expended.
The Spad is trapped in the corner.
But manages to escape.  The Tri-plane gets too eager and too close for it's shots. 
Don't fire until you see the white of it's eye.
Too close, neither can shoot.

The tripod seems to be heading for friendly territory.  The planes all look like a good setup for the next set of strafing runs.
But the back of the tripod has "Shields"  As long as it has energy, it cannot be hurt from the rear unless he draws a very unlucky card from the damage deck.

Rickenbacker gets two 'A' hits, one with +1 damage.  But this is against the shields, so the Tripod loses what turns out to be one point of energy.

The tripod turns on his tormentors.  Receiving machine gun fire both front and back.  His energy is depleted, so all the shots count.  Rickenbacker tries another trick.  He throws an anchor and chain out the cockpit and tangles a leg! 

What does anchor and chain do?  If you meet all the conditions, and they are painful to work out, this:
This is for Bruce, who hasn't seen any Star Wars movies.

And a note to all my readers, I won't be doing that again.  I find gif's really annoying.
We didn't need the chain, as smoke started emitting from a half a thousand 7.92mm holes.
This is a fun game.  I look forward to playing it again.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Assault on Greer Gulch, Montana

A Headless Body Production 
Location:  Garth's Basement

Event:         Providence Gamer's Game Knight
Game:          All Quiet on the Martian Front
Scenario:      Defend Sappington, Montana
Players:        Phil Gardocki,81st Brigade, 41st Division
                      Garth Parker, Hive थिलबन्धनात्, Pod जलाद्रक्षेत्तैलाद्रक्षेद्रक्षेच्छि

The Scenario:  Sappington is a minor town, one of many standing as an output to the many gorges serving as choke points in the Rocky Mountains.  It stands astride the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, and needs to be defended by reason of it's location, rather than any strategic value.

81st Brigade
4 Towers, 2 units Mk III's, 2 units Mk II's, 2 Infantry Companies, Patton Mk IV, Mk IV monitor, Tesla Gun, Tesla Mine Layer,  Mobile Howitzers, Heavy Howitzers,  A MG Company, A Motorcycle unit, HQ, Command Tank.  19 units, breakpoint is 10.

Hive थिलबन्धनात्, Pod जलाद्रक्षेत्तैलाद्रक्षेद्रक्षेच्छि
The Overseer, 5 Assault Tripods, 3 Scouts, 4 Units of Drones, a Slaver, a Scientist.  16 units, breakpoint is 8.

I realize there are missing units in the lists, I'll see if I can find them as I write.

Victory Conditions: 
Keep the Martians from getting to the town, represented by the coaling station on the lower left side of the board.

Our story so far:
In the far west, the Martians have been held back by a series of fortifications at strategic locations in the various passes, ravines and gorges. Concrete has been the greatest ally against the Martian as it was nearly indestructible to heat rays.  And while plentiful, there was never enough.  While losing any state was politically unacceptable to Theodore Roosevelt, the concrete factories of Portland and Benicia were considered of strategic importance.    

The key to the defenses was not just the concrete walls, but the rail lines that allowed rapid reinforcement when the Martians were scouted.  Scouting was aided by miners in the mountains, aircraft, and, ironically, the invention of new tripod war machines, far larger than any seen so far, but also were more easily spotted, even in the heavily forested mountains like the Rockies.

Brigadier General John Pershing looked up at the miner standing before his desk.  The man was emaciated, disheveled, and filthy.  He also noticed a very heavy sack tied to the rope that served as his belt.

"Tell me what you told my adjutant."

"Well sir,  I was told to go deep in to Greer Gulch, to act as a scout, like Captain Halter told me to.  I found good spot where I could see maybe half a mile up the creek.  I have been there for weeks sir, with next to no food but what I could catch, and"

"Get on with it", commanded the General.

"And then I saw it!  It was huge, taller than the tallest tree, one of them Martians!"

"How tall would you say man?"

"A hundred foot if it was an inch.  Them Aspens sir, they only get 60 feet around here, and it was much taller then them."

"Then what did you do?"

"I stayed to see if there was else I could see, then I left everything behind and ran like the dickens."  I was some 15 miles up the Gulch, and it took me most of the day and night to get here.

"What else?"

"I saw smaller Martians, smaller than the big one, but plenty tall.  About 8 of them."

The General stood up, "Thank you, you have been a great service to us. Sergeant, give this man a good meal, and make sure he is on the evacuation train with the sutlers."

After the man left, Major Spokes asked, "Are we sure we can rely on him?  He doesn't seem reputable."

Pershing replied, "He didn't leave that pouch of gold he was panning, but he did leave his whiskey.  I think is priorities were reasonably straight, and his measurements of that new, larger war machine match the reports from Texas.  Besides, we sent 6 men up those gorges, and he is the only one that came back. And, even if this is a false alarm, it will be good practice.

"Gentlemen, this is what we have been preparing for, get your men ready."

The Martians have three entry points on the board.  The standup cardboard markers represent fortifications.  By house rules we charge 2 points per linear inch.  For tanks, the forts only add +1 to hit, +1 to armor.
On the right, we are introducing a new tank, the Tesla Mine layer. 
The Patton tank is behind the hill, standing by to react to the Martian arrival.
On the left side of the board is the Mk IV Monitor tank and "Black Jack"'s Command Unit. 

Holding the left edge of the board, a Platoon of Mk III's and another new unit for our group, a battery of Heavy Howitzers.
The Heavy Howitzers have two advantages.  They get a free "Bombardment" before the first turn.  And their bombardment value is 3 per gun for a total of 9.  This normally means their would have a 9 inch bombardment template, but the limit there is 4 inches.  But there is a special rule.  "Some especially powerful units are capable of ring a barrage with a greater barrage value than 4, but the maximum size template is 4". In this case, we add +1 to the Power of the barrage for every barrage value over 4. So, for example, a barrage value of 6 would use the 4" barrage template, but with an extra +2 Power bonus."

So a battery of 3 has an additional power bonus of +5 added to their natural power of +4.  If this rule survives the rewrite, I am going to get a couple batteries of these!
Turn 1:
Humans win the initiative roll and elect for the Martians to move first.

First on the scene, the Overseer.
The Martian decides to burn 6 or so command points to double move their assault tripods. 
A Reconnaissance Tripod raises his illuminator, and shock canisters soon follow.
Heat rays lash the fortifications, routing another platoon.
The Overseer uses it's secondary weapons, 3 Heavy Heat Rays, knocking out a towers forward facing turret.
The Tesla Minelayer tank lays the first of it's deadly eggs.
With the command tank conveniently positioned, the last Mk II is rallied.
It costs 1 command point, of which the Americans have 14, to rally a unit automatically if it is in range of a command unit.  The range is 6" for a command unit, like above, Line of Sight for Patton's tank, and is unlimited if within a fortification.  Normally I wouldn't waste a command point on a single Mk II, but I wanted another target for the Martian to shoot at, and give the Minelayer a chance to lay more mines.

All the American tanks have targets, and a pair of Assault Tripods damaged.  The Tesla, with a single charge, lets loose with it's lightning, and rolls a 9, just barely missing what it needed to penetrate the damaged war machine.
Another command point is spent to rally 2 MK III's.  Points well spent, as they damaged the illuminating Reconnaissance Tripod.
Turn 2:
The Martians win the initiative and elect to go first.

The first (and last) Tesla mine is triggered by the Overseer.  But rolls a 1 on triggering.  The mine was a dud.
The Martians play a shoot and scoot game.  Taking full advantage of the "Intervening Topography" offered by the woods and hills.  +3 defense means I need 9's to hit them.
With their weapons in range, the Martians are content to shoot it out.
Except for the Overseer.  With it's speed of 10" and another command point spent, it is across the board, and turns, which gives it perfect line up on 7 tanks in the American rear.
I try to avoid these portrait shots, but the Overseer is too tall for the landscape orientation.
Quick reactions by two tank commanders get their tanks out of the path of what was to come.  The Overseer releases it's "Sun Beam" Destroying 5 tanks, and a glass lined, 5 yard wide hole in Sugar Loaf Mountain, some 10 miles distant.

This is what I picture when the Sun Beam shoots.

Calamity follows and the Martians destroy the Tesla Gun.
Down the line, there tower guns are silenced.
Using Industrial might they revive a unit of Mk II's, which returns on a 10, and thus can move and shoot.
The Americans spend more command points, rallying the dregs of their units.  Patton brings one Tripod down, while a lucky hit from a pair of Mk II's detonate another.
A futile last act of defiance by the command tank.
In the high aspens, an Infantry Company emerges from their hiding, and bravely assaults a Tripod with spade and grenade.
Two Martian units are destroyed.  At eight units they will retire.
Three American units are destroyed.  At ten, they will retreat.

Turn 3:
The Americans win the initiative and elect to go first.  Using Industrial might they revive a unit of Mk II's, which returns on a 10, and thus can move and shoot.
Using American Industrial Might, they revive the Tesla gun.
Rough riders and the MG company are revealed.  The Heavy Howitzers take out the Scientist

Intervening terrain proves to be not enough, as 4" guns find their target and bring another tripod down.
And another (center) and another, (upper right)
The Martian attack falters as only Scouts remain in one gorge.

American losses are high as well, but most of the units are still on the board.
Six Martian units are destroyed, four are Assault Tripods. Both Drone controllers are out of action. At eight units they will retire.

Four American units are destroyed.  At ten, they will retreat.

Another illumination, and more shock canisters follow.  The Heavy Howitzers lose a gun.
Knowing the game is up, the Martians hug the gorge lines, and are not visible.  But their drones are immobile and offer the only chance for an American win.
Like a giant force of nature, the Overseer continues on it's inexorable path to the town.  If the Martians can avoid defeat, this one unit can take the town for the win.

With an armor of 12, and requiring 3 critical hits to destroy it, it is all but impossible to stop.
"All but", still means there is a chance.  And Patton fires every weapon at his disposal, including his ivory handled revolvers.
But the victory is not for Patton to take, but the rank and file troops.  Howitzers eliminate one unit of drones, and Rough Riders sweep in and eliminate the other, taking the Martian to their breakpoint of 8.

The Martians had their parting shots, the Patton Mk IV was eviscerated, and two infantry companies gassed, destroying six American units.

The induction of General John, "Black Jack" Pershing into my missives was not intentional, but a serendipitous.  I picked a gorge in Montana, and defended it by the National Guard Division for Montana, the 41st, which included the states Idaho, Oregon, North Dakota and Washington.  Then looked up the General who commanded it in WWI, and the first General listed was Black Jack.