Friday, May 5, 2017

The Third Battle of Sheboygan Part 1

A Headless Body Production
All Quiet on the Martian Front After Action Report: The Third Battle of Sheboygan
Location: Phil's Basement
Game: All Quiet on the Martian Front
Scenario: The
Third Battle of Sheboygan
Players: Garth Parker:
Marvin's Martians.
               Phil Gardocki,
Jenny Parker: American Armored Forces Midwest.

The Forces: A battery of Field Guns, Mobile Artillery, an Anti-Tripod Gun, 4 platoons of Mk II Steam Tanks, 4 platoons of Mk III's, a clamp tank, Patton's Mk IV, 2 Troops of Rough Riders, 2  Machine Gun Squads, 4 Infantry Squads, 2 Armored Infantry Squads.  Fixed defenses include a mile of heavy chains, pots of smoke and 4 fixed turrets.  Total value 3,170 points

A total of 18 tripods,  11 Assault, 2 Grenadiers, 3 Scouts, a Scientist, and a Slaver, supported by 9 Drones.  About 3,200 points.  

House Rules:
The clamp tank does not count as a unit for the purposes of human demoralization.
Units brought back using American Industrial Might count as additional unitsEffectively each unit brought back raises the human demoralization level by .5They must be successfully brought onto the board for this purpose.  
The Towering Ruins are passable to human vehicles, at half speed, but remain impassable to Martian Tripods. 
Humans in Towering Ruins have their defense against heat rays and shock canisters improved as follows:
              Infantry +5/+3, Artillery +4/+2Vehicles +2/+2

Humans in Towering Ruins have their defense against green gas  and black dust improved as follows (wind tunnel effects):
              Infantry +2/+2, Artillery +2/+2Vehicles +1/+1

When in assault combat, the defenders do not get a bonus for terrain advantages for the "to hit" roll, but do get the terrain armor advantage, if any.
Macadam roads give a movement bonus to tripods.  
Dirt roads give a movement bonus to humans only.
The cost of a Tesla Gun is reduced to 175 points.
The cost of a Land Ironclad is increased to 1,500 points.
Smoke area.  Human defenses can contain areas of canisters designed to throw up a large amount of smoke.  Units within the smoke and up to 3 inches behind the smoke are have their defense to heat rays increased by +2.  (Grenadier bombardment, Green Gas and Black Dust ignore this effect)  Beyond that the Martians elevation allows them to shoot and be shot at normally. 

Chains.  Any Tripod crossing the chain obstacle rolls a d10, on a 1 or 2, they are entangled.  The roll to disentangle on subsequent turns is a 4+.  While entangled, Tripods cannot move, and have their to hit number reduced to 5+.  They may shoot normally.

Tower guns.  Tower guns have the chain obstacle sited in and get an additional +1 to hit an entangled Tripod (4+ to hit)  Tower guns are well camouflaged and cannot be targeted until they first shoot.  After which the normal 3+ is required to hit.

Prologue (I am being a blow hard again, so if you want just the battle report, scroll down about 3 pages)

U.S. Army Headquarters, Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  Major General Henry C. Merriam stared at his maps, then at the stack of dispatches on his desk.  Damn, we always knew they were intelligent, but now the Martians were playing smart.  They have us with superior weapons and metallurgy, while we have them on numbers and thousands of years of military history.  He picked up the dispatch, but this, this smacks of military genius.

Martians were pushing into eastern Ontario, and the British sent the HMS Agincourt to assist their beleaguered ground forces.  And it was a trap; it had to be a trap!  As she traveled the narrows between Gros Cap and Mackinaw City, a sunken tripod gutted her.  It was literally just bobbing under the surface.  No Martian had ever done that before.  Out of 1300 men, only 12 survived the explosion.  The damned tripod didn’t even have the decency to be destroyed in the process, as it was spotted about an hour later coming ashore on Mackinac Island.  There it seems to be standing watch like some grotesque lighthouse. 

At least the USS New York wasn’t damaged; she is just inconveniently unavailable right now for lack of coal.  In about 36 hours she will be back in position.

On the plus side, his ground forces have been made good, and then some.  More of those tanks were coming in daily.  He managed to reuse turrets from some of the disabled vehicles for fixed fortifications.  The best news is his men.  They stared at the Martian and spit in its eye.  Giving as well as they got, and then some. 

But the Martians seemed to have made good their losses as well.  But we have more tricks up our sleeve.  As long as they come frontally, we should be able to hold them.  The spring had been wet, and the Sheboygan Dam was keeping any Martians off of his northern flank.

He pulled out his watch, 0500, time to greet the dawn.  He grabbed his Warner & Swasey Field Glasses and nodded to the sleepy private in front of the elevator.  “Take me up son”, he ordered. 

The Private saluted and began pushing buttons.  Off in the distance, machinery was heard winding up.

It was the tallest ruin still standing.  He got used to taking a stroll around the ramparts.  The watch standers have long since gotten used to his presence.  The black of the sky gave way to the purples of the morning. 

“Good Morning Captain Standish, what is the overnight report?"

“Nothing spotted overnight sir.”

He fixed his own binoculars and slowly scanned the horizon.  Unfortunately, there were areas that the Martian could be hiding not visible to them, even from this height. 

“We should have an airplane in the air shortly, sir”

Off to the north, there was a flash.  One of the watchers looking in that direction gave a curse, 5 seconds later, the building started vibrating, as if from some long distant explosion.

Other men started cursing, and then off in the distance there was a loud explosion. 

“Tripods, Tripods!” shouted an observer on the western rampart. 

General Merriam scanned the west horizon, still dark in the early dawn.  Other watchers started confirming the sightings.  Then movement, too much movement.  He ran to the phone talker and issued orders.  “Get the men into positions, they are coming.”

The elevator down took forever.  He berated himself for allowing the pleasure of watching the sunrise, when he needed to be in the bunker, giving orders.  About 5 seconds before the doors opened he had a thought, an awful thought.  What was that explosion to the north?  With the spotting of the Tripods attacking from the west, he almost forgot about it.  Now he was pretty sure what it was, and he was afraid.

His staff assaulted him with questions before the door even opened.  He shouted them down and asked the only question that mattered, “What is the status of the dam?”

The Board: The center of the city of Sheboygan.  Once a great industrial center, it is now in ruins after the Martian attacks early in '15 and '16. 

Opening Shots:
Sheboygan, 1916, the view taken 9th Street.
The Americans were caught napping, but not unprepared.
Ten Tripods advancing.  Fire pots are lit, obscuring their vision.
The Clamp tank is hiding in the same spot as before.  It worked last time.  In the ruin is a new-fangled Tesla gun.  The Boffin is swearing vigorously in some Slavic tongue trying to start up the generator.
Mk II's are frontally deployed supporting a large number of stealth counters.
In the background, are the Mk III's ready to pour fire into the lead tripods.
Turn 1:
Off to the north, are sounds of massive amounts of earth moving.

The Humans win the initiative and elect for the Martians to move first.
The Tripods advance down the line in an orderly fashion. 
Through smoke and trees, their heat rays find their targets and melt their hearts.
Steam tanks pull into firing position and return fire.
The infantry hides in deep holes, while steam tanks climb the berms to engage the Martian at long range.
The Scout develops a mobility problem.  One of the lead Assault Tripods has a couple of hits.
The southern most Tripod also picks up a hit.
Turn 2:
The noise of from the north has abated, but it be just masked by the shouting of men and the firing of guns.

The Humans win the initiative and elect to move first, and so get to double strike the Martians.
The first to shoot is the Tesla gun, charged to 2 dice.  But it rolled a 1, missing it's target.

Hope is kindled, as one tripod collapses under a fusillade of hits.
Another Tripod takes a hit.
Late to the show, an ambush is revealed, long range field guns.  With reserve Tanks standing by.
Another steam tank is destroyed.  It's two companions fail morale. 
The heat ray attempts to destroy a steam tank, but sets fire to the barn instead.
The clamp tank is standing by.
Marvin hasn't remained alive this long by leading the assaults.
The Martians are on Taylor Drive.  The chain appears to be no obstacle to them.
The Tripods are running around the coal station, finding and destroying a MK III Steam tank.
A Scientist and its drones, like a mother duck and her ducklings.
Turn 3:
There are reports that water levels in the lake to the north are dropping rapidly.
The Martians win the initiative and elect to move first, getting a double strike.
Black Dust settles in the trenches.  The Armored Infantry is proof against it, and prepare to assault.
The Steam Tanks prove to be vulnerable to the black dust, the crews of two will succumb to the horror.
The Green Gas Tripod reveals a squad of infantry.  But as it has a weapons malfunction, and elects not to shoot.
A Tripod leers over the damaged buildings.  Several Stealth chips are revealed to be nought.  It raises it's heat ray over the barn for a clear shot at the hiding steamers.
One tank is destroyed, the morale of the platoon fails.  The Tripod then keeps moving forward making this platoon a clean sweep for the Martians.
Not all stealth markers are decoys.  From the wood emanates the sounds of many two stroke engines starting up.
Marvin and K-9, a Martian and his drone.
The Humans are winding for counter attacks.  I don't think I have ever seen so much infantry ready to go.
In the way back, a tripod turns the corner, and destroys two more MK III's
More tanks destroyed.  The Martians appear unstoppable. 
Artillery continues to bombard the invaders.
Another Stealth unit is revealed, the Anti-Tripod gun.  However, in their exuberance to shoot, they seem to have borrowed the Tesla's firing tables, and roll a 1 to hit as well.
On the other hand, The AT gun is shooting through a whole lot of burning tanks.
The Martians have crossed Taylor drive, time for the next phase of defenders to come out.  A platoon of Mk III's, Machine-gunners, and a stationary gun all shoot at the lead Tripod.
While the daring young men on their Harley-Davidson's wrap another tripod in tow cables.  All three are successful!  This Tripod is not going anywhere soon.
Tell me that this doesn't look like a double exposure.  A tripod has turned the corner, devastating two platoons of MK III's.
Patton's MK IV, peaks out of the ruin, guns blazing.  Destroying the Tripod, and unfortunately all but one of the remaining MK III's
Next on "Survivor, Coaling Station!"
Between 11 guns, artillery, and 6 MG's, the center Tripod also explodes!  
The view again from 9th Street.
A better tactical view.

A Patton's eye view.  Or the view of Patton's eye.

Turn 4:
The Humans have a +3 on the initiative roll for when we continue the game.

Status report.
Martian Tripods lost: 3
Tripods inconveniently damaged (mobility or weapons) 3
Effective Tripods (includes two grenadiers off board, but in range) 6
Drones  10
Tripods Off board, waiting for the water to recede, 6
........................estimated value 2850

Steam Tanks lost (II/III)  11/5
Steam Tanks effective (Clamp/II/III/IV)  1/4/7/1
Steam Tanks in reinforcements 3
Guns lost/still firing  0/8
Fixed turrets lost/still firing  0/4
Infantry  lost/effective  2/23
........................estimated value 2690

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Second Battle of Mullan Pass, Pt 2

A Headless Body Production
Location: Garth's Cave
Game: All Quiet on the Martian Front
Players:  Garth Parker: Mobile forces of Hive Brown 2 ( हीवे ब्राउन २)
                Jenny Parker, American 6th Special Armored Battalion, Captain G.S. Patton, Commanding.
             Phil Gardocki, The American 8th Armored Brigade, and the Canadian expatriate unit, Monty's Pythons.

This is Part 2 of this Battle Report.  For part 1, click this link.

The Forces: As the Martians continue to dominate the center of the United States, natural barriers must be leveraged to force the invaders to unfavorable exchanges.  The largest barriers are the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River.  The 8th Armored Brigade, Major General Frederick Funston, MoH, commanding, has been assigned to defend Mullan Pass in Montana. 

The 8th Armored is well equipped to defend this point, but the Martians have also had years to build up their resources.

The Martians had been successful in clearing the pass in two previous battles, but for reasons known only to them, have withdrawn both times.  Giving the Americans time to repair and reinforce the position.  Recent additions include the 224th and 163rd Artillery Batteries, the 6th Special Armored Battalion, Captain G. S. Patton commanding, and the remains of the Canadian 2nd Squadron, 12th "Three Rivers” Regiment, 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade, aka, "Monty's Pythons, Privit Major Palen, commanding.

Scenario:  The Martians continue to perform reconnaissance missions throughout the Rockies.  If any pass can be forced, they will swarm the defenders behind these forbidding mountains.

The Board: Mullan Pass, Montana, 5,223 ft 1592 m     46.6444°N 112.3147°W     The railway is the Northern Pacific Railway, laid in 1883, along with a gravel road into the Helena Forest.

I am going to use all flash photography, it allows for sharper images up close, but darker in the distance.  Let me know your thoughts.

This battle is in progress.

Turn 6:
The Americans had a + 1 on the initiative roll and won the dice off.  They maintained the initiative till the end.
The last Machine Gun Nest lets loose, as the infantry assaults the Reconnaissance tripod.  Two surviving Mk III's fire 6 shots into the Green Gas Tripod.  Then, a final shot, from a lonely tower gun pointed north, hit a vulnerable spot and Boom!

A continuity error here. The green gas Tripod is pulling a Schrodinger, both dead and alive.  In the excitement the figure was not removed for the picture.
The explosion cut a swath through both man and machine.  The Americans lost both Mk III's, the MG squad, and the assaulting infantry.  The Martians lost the the Reconnaissance Tripod and the drones.
Having spent turn 5 charging up to two dice, the Tesla readies to fire again.

Its target at 35 inches, the Grenadier Tripod.
The lightning causes all systems to fail on the Grenadier.  For the fourth time, the sun appears dimmed by an even brighter flash of light.  The lightning bolt then continues to arc to the Assault Tripod behind it, causing another hit, then towards the last Tripod in line before grounding in the stream.
The turn isn't over yet.  A sweep of the heat ray has a Mk II and two tower guns in it's arc.
The tower is immobile, and only requires a 3 to hit.
A pair of 2's.  Followed up by another 2 for the tank.
Sealing the deal, a Reconnaissance Tripod burns the Canadian Mk II.  Monty's Pythons then failed their morale check and fled.
On the north side of the tracks, both sides have fought to a nearly annihilation.  But on the south side, the fight hasn't really started yet.
Turn 7:
A cheap shot on the Scientist Tripod, a tripod hit type 8, followed by a 10, and it collapses to the ground, disabling its controlled drones.
One of the tripods south of the rails has a mobility hit.  Six Steam tanks of the 8th Armored has been taking advantage of this to dive in and out of range for their shots.  While smart, it hasn't been overly effective, as they have been doing this for several turns, but still have failed to take it down.
One of the Canadian tanks is hiding among the destroyed steam tanks of the 8th Armored.  The 8th Armored has now committed its Mk III's in an attempt to push the Martians to their demoralization level of 9.
The view from the west.
Another war machine deploys its Green gas weapon.  Trees melt and defoliate, but the Steam Tanks prove resistant.
Despite the failure of the weapon, the tripod advances.  The routing Canadian tank is in the 3" range and is destroyed.
Turn 8:
The Americans maintain the initiative.
There is bravery, and there is fool hardy.  The Tripod with the green gas has an almost unlimited number of foes against it.
Unlimited plus one.  The Anti-Tripod gun is uncovered.  And whiffs!  However there are some 23 other 4" guns pointed at the Martian war machine, and it goes down. While it may have seemed like overkill, it took every shot, and only the very last available gun to finish the job.
At this point, the Martians hit their break point and retire. 
Major General Frederick Funston, MoH, handed his Warner & Swasey Field Glasses to his aid and rubbed his eyes. The last explosion had left a reverse image of a bright tripod figure surrounded by black flames burned into his retina.  

The lines held.  They held well.

"Signal the recovery crews, get those damaged tanks back for repairs."

"Send out the medical teams.  Lets see how well the bunkers for the towers worked."

"And get a plane in the air, lets make sure they are leaving."

He turned to the table that was laid out for his outdoor command, and moved a rock dedicated to holding down the papers.

"Tesla, Tesla, Tesla, ah, here it is", he thought.  On the he paper wrote, "Recommend continued development and deployment."  He signed the referral and gave it to his aid.  "Label that for General Wood, highest priority.  Copies to General Crozier and that brave man firing the weapon."  The aid saluted and went about his task.

He would have to give a thought on the Mk IV's that Captain Patton brought.  No doubt they looked impressive, but at some point you have all those guns tied to a single point of failure.  I am not sure if I wouldn't rather have a platoon of Mk II's.  They would be lighter on firepower, but can take more hits.  

But then, if all the tanks were Mk IV's, then this war could be won.

"Smith, what is the status on that concrete?"

A major sifted through his papers till he reached a spot.  "Arriving on the SS Honolulan, Seattle, in 2-3 weeks time sir, but only half what we ordered!" 

The General suppressed his displeasure, He knew that outside of the Mississippi River's defenses, Panama was getting the Lions share of the concrete.  "How many towers can we put up with that?"

"5 Sir!"

"Very well, lets get those surveyor maps out and decide where to start digging them."

Captain Patton had made a eloquent point, "Fixed fortifications are monuments to man's stupidity."  But concrete can take a lot of hits that men and machine can't.  And it doesn't fail morale, and is a lot easier to train.  As long as the Martians are willing to come through this pass, I'll fight them with the maximum amount of concrete and the minimum number of bodies.