Saturday, August 5, 2017

Encounter at Myrian Gulch.

A Headless Body Production
Location: Garth's Cave
Game: All Quiet on the Martian Front
Players:  Jenny Parker, Phil Gardocki, Mobile forces of Hives Brown and Green (
Hives Brown and Green )
                Garth Parker, Steve Turn, and Bruce Potter, American 10th Armored Battalion.

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 Rockies, the Sierras, and the Mississippi River.  With the fall of Mullan pass, the Rockies have been breached.  A number of other passes still hold, but the Sierra line must now be seriously fortified.  

The 10th Armored Battalion, of the 8th Armored Brigade, Major General Frederick Funston, MoH, commanding, has been assigned to defend Myrian Gulch in Washington State

Scenario:  Having forced a number of passes in the Rockies, Tripods now flood the land between the Rockies and the Sierras, looking for the next pass that will take them to the ocean.  One such pass is Mirriam pass.

The Board:
Another gorge entry near a logging camp and supporting railway.  There is a cleared area on the "North" side of the board, about 4 tripods wide.  The center of the board is a narrow path only one tripod wide.  Most of the trees are tall redwoods and sequoias.  Taller than the tripods, they totally obscure the lines of fire.  Hopefully to the human advantage.

I forgot my camera, so this was taken with my phone.  One of the settings is weird, and half the shots were short movies instead.  So the pictures are a bit sparse in this battle report.

Mirriam pass.  Plentiful water has made this forested area thrive with tall trees, many topping 200 feet.

The clear area on the left, (North) represents a clear-cut forest.  Now considered an ecological disaster, it gives an opportunity to split up the Martian forces with an area that has a wide open field of fire.  From the east are streams meandering through the fields and forest.
With the alarm raised, the Americans begin their deployment. 
Turn 1:
Special rules.  The Martian Scientist manages to increase the range of one Assault Tripod to 40".  The Americans have been equally clever and have raised the range of their tower guns to 36".

The Martian commanders win the initiative roll, and require the Americans to move first.
The Martians have arrived.  Instead of taking cover in the trees, they decide to take advantage of their mobility and go for a "Dense pack" formation.
The American commander also has a different thought on tactics.  He is going for an early encounter in the woods.
High walled berms have been raised to provide "Fortress" level cover for the more valuable steam tanks.
A Mk IV hides behind a single tree, while a suicide jockey raises steam in his locomotive.

Speaking of suicide jockey, a company of Rough Riders start their engines in tall forest. 
Turn 1:
On the south side of the board, steam tanks surge forward.  The American commander sees an opportunity to overwhelm a Slaver Tripod following the path and disable its drones.
Tesla starts charging his capacitors, but otherwise the Americans are going to wait behind the berm.
It doesn't matter if one tripod has a range of 40", when the howitzers have a range of 60".

With a 3" circle, the Howitzers get 3 tripods under a template, one of the illuminating tripods takes a mobility hit.
The Martians burn through a number of command points, double moving all their drones and drone controllers.

Shock canisters rain upon a tower, taking out the least useful gun.
Turn 2:
The Martians again win the initiative, and give the humans the first move.

In a well practiced maneuver, probably just following the ruts in the ground, two platoons of Mk II's line up for their shots.  4" guns rain fire upon the Slaver Tripod, but all miss or bounce.

Howitzer tanks also rain shells upon the invaders. 
The tactic of double timing the drones pays off.  Scorpion drones and basic's assault one platoon of Mk II's, while the other platoon is swept by heat rays from both slaver and the other drones.

Forward drones contributed fire on the steam tanks.  Behind them are shock drones raining shells upon the nearby tower.

5 of 6 are destroyed, the remaining tank fails morale and is also considered destroyed.
The dense pack begins to spread out as they come into effective range. 
Turn 3:
For a third time in a row, the Martians gain the initiative.  This time they take the opportunity to go first, effectively getting a double move and fire.

The tripods turn the corner of Fischer's Pond.  Destroying one of the towers.

Drones spread out, looking for targets. 
But cover proved decisive and none of the infantry took any hits.
The front line of tripods have yet to pick up any hits.
A rain of fire from Mk III's and howitzers is going to fix that.  Reconnaissance Tripods take hits.  The Rough Riders pull out their entanglement cables and immobilize the Slaver Tripod.
American infantry fall back up the hill.  Out of range of the drones, which, are now limited to their actions because their controller is immobilized.
The Slaver Tripod is immobilized in just the right spot for the tower guns to fire at it at a + 1.
Turn 4:
Americans gain the initiative and elect to go first, getting a double move and fire.
Using American Industrial Might, a Platoon of Mk II's is remanned and takes to the field.
The Americans develop their own "Dense Pack"  House rule is the howitzers can fire over other vehicles.  Towers can fire over anything.
But when they fail to spread out, the heat ray sweeps manage to get 5 under the template.
This Reconnaissance Tripod gets the MVP award for the game.
An Assault Tripod sweeps the MK III's behind the berm, flaming one
The Mk II's fail morale and flee.
Tripods approach the berm.  The Tesla gun is taken out.

The exchange of fire on the hill is inconclusive to both sides.
Turn 5:
American Industrial Might has revived 3 platoons so far.  But only 1 has hit the board.  House rule, if it doesn't get on the board, it doesn't add to the break point.

The Americans keep the initiative.
An Assault Tripod is blow-up.  Damage is spread to both Tripods and Tower.
The Rough Riders make another dive at the Slaver Tripod.  Two more cables are wrapped around it.  So subsequent shots are now at a +3.
Americans take their shots and fall back.

Their shots prove effective.  Another tripod is destroyed.  While this looks bad for the Americans, half the tripods have either weapon or mobility hits on them now.
Another platoon of Mk II's returns to the field.
Having spent a couple of turns, and a command point, the scientist tripod is in the area of the drones, extending their range.  The Shock Drones target the American HQ unit, destroying it!

Assault tripods now go where they will.  The Mk IV's extra armor is not proof against a direct heat ray and is destroyed. 
Short range drone fire destroys the Command Tank.
Long range heat rays take out a Mk III behind the berm, the last Mk III routs.
Turn 6:
The initiative turns again, and the Martians move first.

A sweep sends the Howitzer Steam tanks to oblivion.
The crews of the last Mk III in the berm flee their vehicle.
On the hill, one infantry company is flattened by shock canisters.  The Machine-Gun company takes a hit, and fails morale.
Last shot. 

The last turn was a flurry of excellent die rolls for the Martians.  Even if American Industrial Might had brought in the two units in the queue, it wasn't enough as the American's break-point was exceeded by 2. 

So, what went wrong?  My theory is the geometry of the board is a force multiplier for the Martians.  The theory is they would be condensed and come at the humans only a few at a time.  Possibly that works in their favor.  They do have better weapons and armor, and the Humans have difficulty focusing fire as well on the board of this type.

Also, luck cannot be discounted.  The Martian tactic of double marching the drones paid off in spades with the destruction of 2 steam tank platoons on turn 2.  That was very lucky.  Not just the loss of the units, but that meant the focus of the rest of the Hive could be on the defences in front of them, rather than being distracted.  

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Third Battle of Sheboygan Part 2

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 and Bruce Potter: Marvin's Martians.
                   Phil Gardocki, Jenny Parker, and Steve Turn: American Armored Forces Midwest.

This is part two of this battle report, if you haven't read part 1, click here: 
The Third Battle of Sheboygan, Part 1
The Forces: A battery of Field Guns, Mobile Artillery, an Anti-Tripod Gun, a Tesla 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 units.  Effectively each unit brought back raises the human demoralization level by .5.  They 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/+2,  Vehicles +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/+2,  Vehicles +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 areas:  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 obstacle:  Any Tripod crossing the chain obstacle rolls a d10, on a 1 or 2, the Tripod is
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 a Tripod that is
entangled by the chains obstacle (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.

Scenario Rules: 1 Grenadier and 6 Martian Assault Tripods are on a "Flank March" on the north edge of the board.  They can arrive when the Sheboygan River becomes passable.  This occurs on a roll of 9+ on turn 2, 8+ turn 3, 7+ for turn 4 etc... 

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. 

Our story so far:  The Martian frontal assault on Sheboygan has been met with heavy resistance.  The Americans have kept the initiative for every turn and have used that to their advantage.  The dam of the Sheboygan River is blown, and the reservoir is rapidly draining into Lake Michigan.  

3 Tripods are down, 2 of them spectacularly.   4 American tank platoons are out, and several others reduced to 1 tank.  


Major General Frank McIntyre, DSM, scanned the cityscape with his Bausch & Lomb Binoculars.
His thoughts turned to the axiom, "Once the battle is joined the only decision the commander can make is when to commit his reserves" 

He turned to his telephone-man in the east face of the Henry Wessel Building and ordered,  "Tell them to move out."

The river was dropping rapidly, with more Tripods to come.  But the frontal assault had just about petered out.  Some fresh troops, and they could collapse, then maybe he'll have time to face the river Martians.

For once he had tanks to spare, but the crews were lacking.  So for the battle, he had cooks and clerks manning his reserve tanks, with only 2 trained men per just so they would be heading in the right direction.  But, more is more.  No doubt there were survivors in the wrecked vehicles that littered Sheboygan, but there was only so much you can ask of a man.  To leap from a burning tank and into one that was going to be burning.  

Still, there were only 4 of the larger Tripods in the field now, and all of them were acting weirdly.  One had stopped firing, 2 stopped moving, and then there was the red one.  That one always behaved differently.

Turn 4:
The Americans keep the initiative and elect to move first.

On the north front, one tripod has been immobilized by 3 tow cables by the Rough Riders.
A fortuitous set of shots and another tripod collapses to the ground.  That's +2 for the initiative roll for next turn.
The Scout Tripod has a mobility hit, but as it's using its illuminator for the Grenadier Tripod, it doesn't need to move.
Marvin and a Slaver tripod dance around the chain obstacle.
The Towering ruins provide ample cover for the Americans.  As ordered, another platoon of MK III's deploy from around the ruin and into the fray.
The Martians need a 7+ to cross the rapidly draining river. And they get it.

With a mighty ululation, 6 Assault tripods race across the drained reservoir. 
One lone Mk II, in rout since turn 1, and within reach of the board edge, is picked off by the advancing line.
The Martian player has had a tough game so far, and has been taken a lot of lumps with the spirit of good sportsmanship.  It is now time for him to gloat.
Heat rays sweep out, destroying the mobile howitzers (already picked up) and routing the newly arriving Mk III's
Another Tripod turns right, to strike at another platoon of Mk III's, but misses.
Without any serious Martian presence in the south, Patton carefully backs his Mk IV through the ruins of the Henry Wessel Building to get to the other side.

With all the focus on the Assault tripods, a Scientist and his drones make it to the trench lines.
To the north, Marvin, the last truly effective Assault Tripod, and a scientist advance behind another cloud of drones.
Turn 5:
The Americans win the initiative roll and elect to move first.

The Rough Riders first attempt a tow cable attack on the green gas assault tripod, and fail, then back up and spread out for another attempt.
Many shots fired, but despite needing only a 3+ to hit, this tripod only took minor damage.
Scads of fire here, but the flanking tripods take a total of one hit.
The view from the east.
The line to repel the northern flank tripods is forming up.
The Americans needed to drop a few more Tripods this turn, but only scrounged up minor hits.
Drones, armed with wrenches and screwdrivers, dissemble the Harley's of a Rough Rider.
Handing their riders over for study for the scientist.
Marvin and friend destroy a pair of Mk III's in the ruins. 
Green Gas permeates the area, but somehow, the squads survive.  The Infantry in the trench line are not so lucky.  Drones invest the trenches and rip man and machine to shreds.
The flanking Martians are doing their job very well.  Tanks and guns are destroyed with abandon.  The Americans are reaching their break point.
Note, the tanks and howitzers in the upper left, are not on the board yet. 
Turn 6:
Muttering now or never, the Tesla gun fires again, and for the third time, rolls a one.  This is why we value this weapon at 175 vice 350 points.  Armored infantry fire their heavy guns, but fail damage any of the incoming drones.
Newly deployed, and ineffective, two Mk III's are burning.  The third races off, to where?
The American rear area is virtually clear of humans.
The immobilized tripod pops a tower gun.
In a spectacular display of motoring skill, the last Rough Rider avoids attacks from four drones.
An event not shared by the the trench bound infantry.  Another company is ripped to shreds.
Marvin sweeps and decimates the Machine-guns in the tower.
And is seen doing a victory dance.

And that is quickly that.  The Americans started the evening with only 4 units destroyed and a break point of 11.5, with 3 units being brought in to bring that point to 13, while the Martians had 3 tripods down, and losing another almost immediately out of 9 required for their break point.

Suddenly it just fell apart.  Unit after unit took hits and failed morale.  The total was 11 coming into the last turn, and the Martians took that up to 15 without even sweating.

General McIntyre trotted southward with his aids and communication team.  Cringing every time heard the sound of a firing heat ray, and but also wishing it would find and take him away.

It was a rout, no doubt, but one long prepared for.  Demolition charges set off bringing down the towers throwing up piles and debris while hiding troop movement in thick dust.  Numerous traps designed to trip up tripods have been laid as well, which should slow any pursuit.

Turning, he saw the approaching bulk of Captain Patton's Mk IV.  Men clinging desperately to it.
The tank stopped, and Patton threw a sharp salute, which was half heartily returned. "Get on General", he ordered.

General McIntyre couldn't see a square foot of space that he could ride on the tank and just nodded.  "I'll not take a seat from a good fighting man."

With that he turned and continued to walk south.

From behind him, there was a bellow, "THAT'S ENOUGH OF THAT!".

The stones crunched, as Captain Patton hit the ground.  "General, you are the most important man on this team.  Just how many more of these magnificent bastards will die because your lack of leadership."

"I get it General, I really do, we got our asses kicked and damn it to hell, we will again before we are victorious.  NOW GO GET IN MY SEAT, AND I'LL JOG FOR A WHILE!"

"sir", he finished his rant, then ran General McIntyre towards the access hatch of the Mk IV.

"Charlie, he yelled to his driver, try and keep up with me, will you?"

General McIntyre, having regained some of his composure, and looked down at his running Captain.  "Hey, George!  Where are we going?"

Patton looked up at his general, and gave him a half smirk, half smile, "Waukegan!"

Our story continues in the next chapter, "Baited Trap, Waukegan, Illinois."