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.  

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