Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Fall of Fort Edmonton, Counterattack!

A Headless Body Production

The Battle of Fort Edmonton, Counterattack!

Location: Garth's Cave
Game: All Quiet on the Martian Front
Players:  Garth Parker: Mobile forces of Pod 2, Hive 5A (फली 2, हाइव 5A)
               Phil Gardocki: Marvin's Martians, The "Illuminaries".(हास्यास्पद कार्टून चरित्र)
               Jennifer Parker, The British Expeditionary Force
               Stephen Turn: The British Expeditionary Force

The Forces: The British Expeditionary Force, AKA the Thunderbirds, commanded by Colonel Jeff Tracy.  On assignment to Canada to gather information on Martian hives and determine effectiveness of British Technologies.  6 Mono-Tanks, 3 Kitcheners, 6 Imperials, 3 Cardigans, 3 Defiants, 3 Specters, A Lloyd command Carrier, A heavy coil gun,supported by 7 squads of infantry armed with coil rifles and machine-guns.  About 2,500 points in 17 units.

The scattered remains of the mobile elements of Pods कार्टून वर्ण प्रकाश की, 2. 5ए and हास्यास्पद कार्टून चरित्र, 11 Tripods, of around 2,200 points.

Scenario:  This is part 3, The Fall of Fort Edmonton.  To read parts 1 and 2, click here: The Fall of Fort Edmonton Part 1 and The Fall of Fort Edmonton Part 2.

Upon hearing the noise of cannons echoing throughout the Canadian Taiga, Colonel Tracy kicks the BEF into high gear racing to Fort Edmonton.  He arrives in time to witness the rout of both the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade and the American North West Expeditionary Force, and the ruin of the Land Ironclad, "Nell".  Rather than just to throw his forces into the fray, he crafts a battle plan to surround the Martians and catch them unawares. 

The Board: Fort Edmonton, 155 acres of recently cleared, but trash strewn area near the center of Alberta, Canada.

The Martians start with their forces scattered around the board, performing mop op operations and searching for hidden humans.  One Tripod managed to get back to a deployed node and as being repaired.

The Thunderbirds start off board and have the initiative.

Opening Dialog:
Within the wreckage of a smoldering coal car, Brigadier General Miles and Privet-Major Palen huddled in the mud.  The General is rubbing a goose egg on his forehead as Privet-Major Palen tenderly checks the purple bruises marks surrounding his throat.  At their feet, a break shoe prybar laid on top of a sodden letter bearing the seal of the Royal Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

"It will be dark soon, we should make our way clear then", whispered the General.

"Mars gets about an eighth of the light as on Earth, and they can see like cats in the dark." replied Privet-Major Palen.  "However they do show less activity at night for reasons we don't understand. My thoughts are akin to what Mr. Darwin wrote that it some kind of adaptation needed to survive on that cold desolate planet.  It's a good thing too, otherwise they would slaughter us in night battles."
"I read about that man, and he is mad!  And sacrilegious as well.  Man didn't come from a pair of apes."

"Yes, being formed out of the dirt is a much more rational explanation.  Well, as much as I love to continue this berating of your inferior intellect, the wind has changed, and the smoke from this coal car is now moving in a favorable direction, I suggest we leave now."

The General noted the path of the smoke as it laid almost a hundred yards to the copse of larches and nodded in agreement. 

Massive explosions thundered in the distance.  From all sides they came.  Both men's eyes widened at the distinctive sounds of rapid fire 2 pounders and the less frequently, the much deeper booms of the 17 pound guns.  The BEF had arrived, the Thunderbirds were Go!

I had to borrow a camera for this game, and couldn't get the flash to turn off.  The result is some over exposure of the figures, but the explosion/burning markers look real good.

The board closely resembles the board right after last months game, The Fall of Fort Edmonton Part 2.  Some of the Tripods have been moved, and not all the dead tanks have been replaced.
Martian Tripods are in the human backfield, searching for survivors.  Nell (Née, the Spirit of Detroit) burns prominently in the middle of the table.
Lacking any targets, the Grenadier Tripods haven't moved from their original deployment.
The view from the east edge of the board.  Marvin is down, K-9 is burning as well as is the human tower and the Tesla Gun.
Turn 1:
The Thunderbirds have complete surprise.  As such they have the initiative and decide to come in on the second half of the turn.
The BEF comes in on the Martian rear.  Defiant and Specter armored cars supporting Mono-Tanks come in on the east.
The heavy BEF tanks and all their infantry come in on the west.
A single Tripod, just recently repaired is immediately surrounded by the human hoard.
The view from the north west quadrant of the board.
Machine-gunners run for the wood, supported by a coil gun.
Scott Tracy's Defiant scores the first hit on a Tripod.
6 Mono-Tanks fire 24 rounds at a Grenadier Tripod,  causing a weapons failure hit.
The Imperials and the Kirchners fire at the Tripod, but score nothing.  The infantry take out the repair node.
Turn 2:
The humans retain the initiative, and elect to move first. 

The armored cars cause 3 armor and a weapons hit on a Tripod.

The Imperial Tanks, with their high velocity 3 inch guns, wreck a Tripod.
The humans surprise rounds is over, and it is time for the Martians to strike back.   A weapons-damaged Tripod wins a dice roll-off and sweeps the Mono-Tanks with it's heat ray.
The west, the BEF was too concentrated as a pair of heat rays melt 5 tanks.  The third Tripod destroyed the coil gun.
Off board the Machine-Gun unit hides in the woods, and is subjected to both Black Dust and Green Gas.  But they were well prepared and took no casualties..

To avoid being enveloped, one Tripod retreats, and is now supported by another.
Turn 3:
This is not looking good for the BEF.  The had two full rounds of shot and only eliminated 1 Assault Tripod, while the return fire of the Tripods have destroyed 8 tanks.

In the west, the combined shots of the Heavy Tanks only cause two armor hits.

But the Specters blow up theirs.
In the background, a Pyrrhic victory as a Tripod explodes from a lucky shot, killing all the BEF Infantry within range.
The Mono-Tanks go hunting Grenadier Tripods destroying one.
Off board the Machine-Gun unit trades shots, and is again subjected to both Black Dust and Green Gas. Maybe it is the trees, maybe the formulas are old, but either way there were no casualties.
Marvin lays like a slug where he fell, it is his only defense.

Turn 4:

Specters and Defiants go hunting the only remaining Tripod on their side of the board.
In the west, with most of the armor reduced to burning wreckage, the Martians go hunting the infantry.
Having gassed and dusted the Heavy Machine-gunners for a few turns, the Tripods switch to their heat rays.

Go with what works...

The only Tripod in the east is retreating before the BEF.  Their range is only 20 inches, so this seemed a valid tactic.  The Thunderbirds replied by spending command points to double time their armored cars to stay in range.
The Grenadier Tripods seek cover in smokey shadows of Nell.
With most of the BEF's armor gone the Martians made quick work of the infantry, and the destroyed unit count climbed rapidly.  With 10 of their 17 units in rout or destroyed.  The BEF was effectively destroyed.
In a crowded bar room, Major Palen stood at the table where two men sat.  A bottle of  Shelter Point in one hand, 3 glasses in the other.  "May I sit down," he asked?

As an acknowledgement to the pair of nods, and he poured 3 fingers in each glass, and placed the bottle next to the Glenmorangie and Wild Turkey.  Both bottles were more than half empty.

"I see I have some catching up to do," he added.  Putting his glass down, he tipped the bottle of Canadian whiskey and took several gulps.

"That will do for starters."

"Gentlemen, these last few weeks have been a disaster militarily, and personally humiliating.  As a result of our actions, and mine specifically, we have lost most of western Canada, Idaho, and now only the Rocky Mountains are keeping the Martians out of Vancouver and Seattle."

Colonel Tracy raised his glass, "You do yourself to much credit, we all were playing whose is bigger, and they all got cut off.  I was suffering the delusion I could pull of another Cannae."  And with that, he downed the offered glass.  "That was pretty smooth," he added.

"I should have accepted Americans to crew Nell."

"I should have pushed harder for the 7 and 12 inch ammo you were short on,"  Brigadier Miles tipped his glass as well.  "Look, it is all well in good for the underlings to claim blame, but Majors and Colonels don't make the history books, it will be my name that will go down as losing the west."

Major Palen interrupted him, "We're doing it again! Playing whose is bigger, only now we are arguing on how badly we were beaten.  Look, for reasons I cannot fathom I was promoted after that cockup and I do not intend to earn my next rank the same way."

"You mean they locked that Major on you."

"Yes, personally I think they got tired of appending Privet- in all the dispatches."*

"There are a thousand lessons in defeat, and not one in victory," intoned Colonel Tracy.  "You are still the best man for the job."

"If you don't lose at least 10,000 men, you haven't learned enough," added the Brigadier. 

"Well, they didn't promote you, did they," exclaimed Major Palen.  "I should have been shot, not given these awards."

"I have been submitted for a second star, but it is waiting approval by Congress.  It was OK for a single star as part of the AEF in Canada, it is quite another thing as the defender of the West Coast."

He then added, "Besides, strategically you did very well.  Your position was at the end of an overstretched 2,000 mile supply line, and you held not 1, not 2 but 3 hives at bay for a year.  In that time we finished that canal in Panama, cutting our travel time from the east coast to here from months to weeks.  Tomorrow, some 50 tanks will arrive from Detroit.  And there is a lot more in route.  We all lost half our men, but the men that are left will be able to train the recruits in short order."

"Is that what you wrote in your reports, Brigadier," inquired Major Palen?

"No, I said it was the worse military blunder since Custer," but that is what the War Department came back with."

All three men snorted, and tipped another tumbler.

"How about you Colonel, is there a generalmenship in your future?"

"Not a chance, I am part Scot's, the only way I'll see a General if I personally take a heat ray for the King."

"Then how did you get this prestigious position?"

"Battle of Cairo.  I filled Menkaura's pyramid with 122 tons of gun powder and two radium engines, then detonated it remotely.  I took out 12 Tripods, the lesser two pyramids and the tail off the back of the Sphinx.  I saved the city, and was awarded a KGB, then I was assigned as far away from the limelight as possible."

"You buggered the Sphinx up good eh?"

Laughter all round.

With heavy sarcasm, Colonel Tracy replied, "Yes, me and Napoleon now share a line item  on defacing a wonder of the world."**

Brigadier nodded his approval.  "But that's the way to defend a city. Not at it's edge but before they even get to it."

"I have word from Fort Edmonton.  The Martians have ripped up the rails, and recovered everything of metal except," he paused for irony, "The Spirit of Detroit.  With the exception of the smaller turrets, she is intact."

Silence, as the three men thought this through.

"It has more metal than everything else combined."

"It must be too big to move to their smelters."

"But the heat ray could cut it down to manageable chunks."

"It must be too dangerous to work with. She is full of gun powder and coal dust."

"We need her."

"They aren't even guarding her.  She is just rusting away now."

"900 miles as the eagle flies."

"That's 300 tons of coal."

"Can we get her over Rockies?"

Scraps of paper were produced, bits of pencil sharpened, and in drunken haze the brainstorming began...

* This is definitely true.
**I know, not true all round  The Sphinx is not a wonder of the world, and is the story of one of Napoleon's gunners shooting the nose off of the Sphinx.

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