Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Battle of Sauk Rapids

Location: Phil's Basement
Game: All Quiet on the Martian Front
Scenario: A variation of Scenario 1 "The Outskirts", The Battle of Sauk Rapids, Established 1851
Players: Steve Turn and Bruce Potter : American 11th Regiment, 5 Division
               Garth Parker and Scott Landis: Mobile forces of Pod 5, Hive 2A (फली 2, हाइव 5A)
The Forces: The American Armored Forces Midwest:  6 platoons of tanks, Mk II's and III's.  6 companies of infantry and machine guns,  About 1,675 points.

Marvin's Martians: A total of 8  tripods,  7 Assault and 1 Scout.  About 1,650 points.  

The House rules are at the end of the battle report.

The American 11th Regiment, 10th Brigade, 5th Division (Major General Charles H. Muir commanding), is assigned to secure the railhead at Sauk Rapids, Minnesota.  Even though the Martians have lifted the actual rails, the bed still remains and can rapidly be turned into an important resupply point to launch operations from.

The Americans have had days to deploy, and have effectively dug in all their troops and vehicles.  They will deploy as 25 hidden movement counters, aka "Blips."
Martians Deploy in the opposite edge of the board.
Victory Conditions:
Martians win if they have a single operational tripod on the human half of the board by games end.  Either turn 6 or 7 depending on a die roll.  

"Bring the defective forward!", amplified by electrical systems, आपका भविष्य's voice was heard in all corners of the huge artificial cavern. 

Domed in shape, and constructed with crete, the hive dome was the center of activity of Hive 2A.  Large enough for facilities to maintain over 30 war machines simultaneously. 

A cage was opened, and a Martian figure slid out.  Escorted side by side with two other Martians.  The machines in the distance continued with their hammering and construction noises.  But living activity went silent for the long minutes it took for the prisoner to make his way to the podium.  At last, he stopped.  His attitude was one of deflation.  His guilt was indisputable.  The penalty is codified in the rules.  He awaited his fate.

"सकता है, I have come to a decision", the amplified voice announced!

"By our rules, your existence is to be removed from our collective.  This will happen."

A prisoner spoke at the pause, and in a small voice stated, "I accept my fate."

"YOUR acceptance is not relevant.  You are defective.  And since you are defective, the proscribed manner of removal will NOT be performed.  No one here would be willing to accept your fluids for risk of contamination."

"And since you left with the other forces to attack the humans anti-spinward, we have found even MORE evidence of your aberrations.  You have budded, not once, not twice, but thrice!  In total contravention of our practices.  We can only regard your offspring as also defective, and they too will be terminated."

"We cannot have your madness spread, but we will use it.  You, and your buds will lead the next assault, and the next, and the next, for as many times as necessary to have your madness removed from the collective." 

"Do you understand?"

There was a pause, and in intake of breath from the prisoner.


"Yes, my lord."

"Your new fighting machine will be painted in the scheme of your madness, as will your buds.  This will be so all other hives will know you on sight, and slay you if you wander outside of protocol or flee the battlefield.  Take the prisoner away."

Once the aberration was removed, a question was raised.  आपका भविष्य, what is the justification for this decision?

"We can produce machines faster than we can make Martians to pilot them.  For the humans this is not so.  They're machines are crude, but they can make many of them.  But worse, there is so many of them, they send them to fight us, not in machines.  I fear there is coming a time when that will not be so.  I am not going to waste 4 healthy Martians leading an attack, when I can lead it with for defective ones."

आपका भविष्य also feared, that perhaps, the aberration was not defective, but adaptive.  And this his own thinking was also defective.  It was a clear breach of protocol.  Over one hundred fighting machines have been sent anti-spinward.  They reaped much destruction upon the humans, but did not achieve their objectives.  In the end, only this one returned.  Time will tell if this is evolutionary or not.


The inspection party moved through the wasteland that was Sauk Rapids in what had become a well practiced process.  The 5th Division (Red Devils) had seen a lot of action in this war, and was well led by veterans and well supplied with trained recruits.  While those recruits had not seen action yet, they had the benefit of months of being led experienced soldiers, and one first lessons learned was that your best friend was not your rifle, but your shovel.

That routine of stopping two hours before sunset, and then digging in, was bad on the movement plans, but really mattered for when you encountered the enemy.

The 5th Division commander, Major General Charles H. Muir, looked upon near total destruction of the town.  "What a waste", he commented.

Colonel Anderson, 11th Regiment, replied, "I don't think it matters to the inhabitants, but  most of this was done by a tornado, not the Martians.  The debris field is way spread out from the town center, we found furniture over a mile away."  All the Martians did was loot some of the more easily processed materials, like the rails."

General Muir was shocked, "A tornado did all this?"

"Yes Sir, we get them big out west."

The inspection continued.  Particular interest was spent on the camouflage netting for the steam tanks.  The nets were strewn with red painted cloth that resembled the red weed that had taken hold in the soil.  From more than 50 yards away the armor looked like a pile of mulch.

"That's a good job on the camo Taylor, if I didn't just walked through the whole town, I wouldn't know there was a regiment here."

"Thank you sir, the trick to it is not the camo itself, but gathering native materials around the tanks and blending them for around 50 feet all round to vehicle itself.  It's a gentle transition from the natural environment to our camouflaged tanks.  They practically are hiding in the open."

From the edge of the party there was a comment, "Just like a duck blind back home".  They looked at the speaker,  Major Neal, the division quartermaster, who was surveying the horizon with his Bausch and Lombs.

"Taylor, how long did it take to go to ground like this?"

 "Most of it took 3 hours.  The deeper trenches and traps took a day."

General Muir winced.  When on defense, these times were acceptable, but when attacking, that takes a lot out of the daily march times.  Still, like the Romans of old, who built a stockade every night, its better to be prepared for an attack then get caught.  It was a lesson this man's army had been taught again and again.  The Martians were just too damn fast.  One day here, and a day later, they were half way across the state.  And they didn't have a supply train to be concerned with.

A sentry shouted, "Movement on the horizon!"

"West by northwest!" confirmed another.  "About 8 miles!"

"We have about 20 minutes before they are in range then."  Colonel Anderson snapped a salute to the General, "General, I have work to do."  He did not wait for the return salute before turning on his heel and running off, his regimental staff following behind."

"There they are sir", stated Major Neal.  He stared for a moment longer before handing General Muir his binoculars.  "General, you are not going to believe this.  There are four Marvins out there."

The General adjusted the focus of the Bausch and Lomb's and peered into the distance.  "Yes, I see 4 as well, and they seem to be leading the force."

Marvin was of some interest.  It certainly was an oddity among the near totally uniform Martian War-Machines.  The body was painted mostly in red, and the face in black, stories were told over and over again about is prowess.  There was a lot of supposition about it.  Was it a leader of some kind?  An observer?  No one was sure.  One thing was sure, the Martian did not do anything without a reason.  So divining his purpose was important.

One of the questions was how many were there.  Till now, no more than one was seen at a time, but it had been reported in Canada, and in the Rockies, and here. 

He handed the binoculars back to the Major.  "Stewart, take a message.  From 5th Division, we have contact with the Martian.  We are reporting 4, repeat 4 Marvins.  Marvins are now exhibiting behavior of leading from the front.  Possibly the red coloring is representing elite status."  

"OK, Stewart, run that off on the wireless as soon as possible."

To the rest of the staff he said, "Come along gentlemen, we need to get to our headquarters,  I am sure the good Colonel has organized a bit of hell for our visitors, and we don't want to get underfoot when it happens."

Turn 1:
The American deployment.  Scenario 1 has the entire human force as hidden markers.  All the terrain features are classified as "Low Ruins"  +3 defense +2 armor for infantry.

A survivor of the great tornado of '98, a mighty larch stands tall in the town square.

Per scenario deployment, all tripods must deploy on the edge of the table, or be listed as reinforcements.  The Martian commander opted to have all of them on board.  The terrain on the Martian side of the board blocks visibility.  Something the Martian commanders would exploit.

On the Martian left flank, are the newly painted Martian Tripods.

Code named "Huey", "Dewey", and "Louie".

A view from the long edge of the board.  Photo backdrop stand, "Post war gamer basement", part number BS.PWGB-001, is available at

The view from the Martian side of the board.
Turn 1:
The Martians win the initiative and opt to move second.  A good choice for a number of reasons.  The first is this scenario only runs 6 or 7 runs.   So this denies the Americans a turn of shooting as the Martians are out of range. 

Using command points, for double movement, the Martians close the distance.

Early shots on hidden movement counters are ineffectual, and reveal nothing.
Turn 2:
Martians win the initiative, and elect to move first. 

On the far side of the board, a scout tripod crosses the center-line.  By scenario rules, the Martians win the game if there is a single tripod anywhere beyond the center-line at the end of the game.

Tripods duck in and out of cover.  Heat rays reveal a human company.

Huey, hurls green gas bombs at one of the ruins.  Humans scatter from their hiding places in an effort to avoid it's acidic effects.

Their initial foray complete, the tripods again retreat to the cover of a nearby woods.

The commander of 2nd company, 5th Armored Battalion, sees an opportunity to defeat the Martian in detail and reveals 9 tanks, and an Anti-Tripod gun. 

An embarrassing number of shots are fired and the thin skinned (for a Martian) tripod, and the results are a single point of damage. 
Human tanks have been found! It's mission accomplished.  The Scout Tripod announces it's find with a great ululation.
Turn 3:
Once again, the Martian wins the initiative, and opts to move first.
In the distance, the Scout Tripod moves to relative safety away from the human tanks.  Supported by the War Leader, they rout a human presence near the red building.
The heat rays from the Tripods code named Marvin and Dewey, dance across the human front lines, routing the defenders of the ruined town. 
Huey crosses the center-line, and reveals a gun company and a clamp tank.  He trades shots with the guns, Green Gas against HE.  Both are equally ineffective.

The Americans are at 3 points towards their break-point of 8.

Turn 4:
The Americans win the initiative and elect to move first.  They spend a command point to revive a unit using "American Industrial Might".  But the reinforcement roll was a 3, and so the unit is still off board.

The Tripod designated as "Louie" is clamped!
The Tripod designated as "Marvin" is wrapped in several tow-cables.
The War-Leader is assaulted by Heavy-Infantry, and takes a hit.  The Scout Tripod takes several hits, one a mobility, another for another point of armor.

The pan out view of the current action.
Heat rays again reach out.  And another human unit is set fleeing.

The Americans are at 4 points towards their break-point of 8.
Once again green gas is hurled.  It's horrific work was immediate as gun and men dissolved to goo. 

Taking a point blank shot from the Anti-Tripod Gun, the Scout Tripod is now a 9 points of damage.

Dewey releases black dust on the defenders.  Another hit, another rout!

The Americans are at 6 points towards their break-point of 8.
Marvin is now mission ineffective, but not combat ineffective.  His heat ray sweeps the Rough Riders, Harley Davidson parts are now added to the debris of the ruins.  The

Another long view of the action.

Leaving their cover behind them, the Martians fully advance.

With a morale roll of one, the surviving gunners flee their positions.

The Americans are at 7 points towards their break-point of 8.
Even the Rough Riders have a break-point, as they roll a 1 as well.
The Americans are at 8 points towards their break-point of 8.  The Martian has a decisive win!

From the tripods issued a number of ululations.  
"They flee!"

"I am immobile!"
"Chase them!"
"I am bolted to the ground!"
"Do not chase them," advised the now tangled aberration.  
"You are not the war-leader here!  Pursue them and destroy them."
The tone of the Martian ululations reached a joyous tempo as the great war machines advanced after the fleeing prey, heat rays dancing too and fro.  The stink of burning flesh began to reek in the air."
One tripod found a lattice of wire, placed in a beguiling pattern.  A reaper coil reached out to bring it closer for an examination.  Then an explosion.  Two tons of TNT, detonated around the tripod.  A motorvational stilt was blown off to the second knuckle.  The war machine's fall was surreal.  It's crash to the ground was in slow motion, with screaming gyros trying to compensate for changing angle of the driving compartment.  The slowness of the fall saved the occupant from the impact with the ground.  

"I am alive!" was a declaration.  

But the gyro unit, abused beyond its design tolerance, released its spindle.  Accelerated to 15,000 rpm, it burst through the gyro housing, occupant, and hood.  42 kilos of spinning metal shot through the air in a hyperbolic arc to a height of over a mile before grounding.  Landing in a nearby wood, it dug a trench 400 yards long before finding a hardened bolder, splitting it in twain.  

The tripod figures paused. The War Leader the extolled them to pursue anew.  
Whether it was another trap that felled the War Leader or not was never determined.  It might have had the misfortune in finding a deep basement that lead to his collapse.  But his luck held and his tripod was eventually able to extend itself with some aid from another machine. 
The humans were still in sight, and could be still caught, but, his number of effective machines had dwindled, and he could no longer issue the orders.  He began to see the logic in the aberration's thought.  The pursuit was more costly than the battle.  Another such loss would be intolerable.  They would return now with a great victory.
"Well, that was horrible," commented General Muir.
He read through the casualty report.   While no loss was good, the losses in men was about 3%.  Not bad for a total rout of a regiment.  Material losses were even less.  A pair of guns wrecked beyond repair, and a few mechanical failures on the tanks.  11th Regiment was lucky the Martians did not continue the pursuit.  Though elements of 6th Regiment were just getting in position for a counter attack if they did.
Remaining silent, Colonel Anderson stood at ramrod attention.

"At ease Colonel, You are not going to be relieved.  We would run through our officers very quickly if we fired them on every setback.  The regiment had some veterans in it, but the action was just too fast for them to offer the bolstering the recruits needed to hold the line.  Besides, the men are bloodied now, and will do better next time.  Especially when they see how few casualties we actually took."

House Rules:

Refined Line of Sight Rules (a work in progress):

We will start to use some refined rules for defining Line of Sight.
Unless in ambush (to be defined by the scenario) all units can see each other if within 6” of each other.

Beyond 6”, Human Infantry, Artillery, Motorcycle, BEF vehicles, and Martian Drones and Lobototons are not visible if deeper than 2” in the woods (dense or light)
Beyond 6”, Human Steam Powered vehicles are not visible if deeper than 4” in the woods (dense or light).

Beyond 6” Martian Tripods are not visible if deeper than 2” in or beyond Towering Ruins and Dense Woods, and any terrain type designated as a “Hill”.

            Note: The above is does not count if the hidden units have fired their weapons this turn or last.

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.

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