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The Martians had been successful in clearing the pass in two previous battles, but for reasons known only to them, have withdrawn both times.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.

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