Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Game to Get Excited About

Yes it's been a while since my last post.  No I'm not dead, nor is this blog.  It's been a while since our last game, and a couple of those were one sided horror shows.  On Saturday the 21st however, we had a gathering at Bruce Meyer's house in which the Martians got to hand out a little payback for some of the indignities they've suffered at the hands of the colonials.

After being shoved through the passes guarding the approaches to Shastapsh, Martian forces made dawn raid on elements of the British forces preparing to besiege the rebel city.  Taking advantage of the misty conditions, Martian troops slipped through two of the passes facing British Imperial troops massing for their siege and assault on the island city.  Though pickets were out and active, their efforts to alert troops in their encampments did not lead to a quick response to the Martian advance.

To the south, hill Martians quickly overran the fixed fortifications and engulfed the British encampment.  Despite a short, sharp defense, three British companies were quickly overwhelmed by the hillmen and city troops led by Willie Fraser. 

The center British defenses were wholly unprepared by the appearance of a subterranean device.  Two armored vehicles befuddled defenders when they emerged from the ground, disgorging two companies of infantry.  These troops immediately captured British defenses and engaged infantry as they tried to come on line.  Martian combat engineers, the brave "red poles" attacked and severely damaged a British walker and steam tank before their crews could even emerge from their tents. The "mole" infantry appeared to be regular Earth infantry, perhaps Germans, and disrupted British efforts to halt and isolate the Martian attack.  Despite one of the vehicles being disabled by British artillery, it is clear these new weapons can have a decisive effect on the outcome of a battle.

Across the valley, to the east, Martian artillery and legionary troops held off furious British efforts to drive them back through the center pass. The action opened with gas fired from the discharger across the canal.  These impaired the defense of a company stationed in an advanced position and eventually led to their demise.  An attack on legionary troops was stymied when explosive round from lob mortars, also located across the canal demolished a steam tank supporting legions in British service.

All in all it was a difficult day for the defenders.  The Martians inflicted serious losses on the Brits and their allies, while losing few troops on their own. In addition to spoiling the upcoming offensive, Martians also damaged, destroyed and captured a considerable quantity of British armaments, including some previously seized by the Brits.

It was a fun game, for me at least.  A special thanks to Bruce for providing us with a space to play as well as ably running the moles and their denizens.  But a special, special thanks to Mark and Joe Waddington for planning and Game Mastering the scenario.

Disaster in the Skies

Maybe this could more accurately be titled Disaster in the Campaign. Nobody had a greater hand in its making than me, the scenario designer.

This sixth campaign game, and the last of the Sky Galleons battles, was drawn from the original three SGoM games I designed years ago. I did some ship design, and tinkered with some modified weapons systems. I used my big scratchbuilt Skyfire named Shastapsh armed with ACW guns--which really did make it more potent as I intended. But I also added some lightweight Smutts launchers, which were far more effective than I envisioned.

The Martians didn't help themselves by setting up close to the British entry point. Deploying on the opposite edge of the table would have forced the Brits to traverse the Shastapsh defenses, which were formidable. Even so, in my heart, I believe I just gave the Brits too much firepower.

The game effectively lasted two turns. The Martians kites, modified with two Nordenfeldt guns and carrying a passle of marines to attempt rams against the British. One kite missed the ram of the small gunboat Hercules, while the other struck Reliant. Reliant would have been a nasty ship to dispose of, but it was the only vessel with a hull size larger than the two Whisperdeaths. Instead, the two vessels were locked in combat, while the Brits raked the Martians with massive Nordenfeldt fire. The Martians suffered massive casualties, and even the huge load of marines was not enough to make the difference in the boarding action

The remainders of the Martian flotilla was torn apart by British weapons. Though there were seven lob cannon on the board, only one hit, and the resulting damage did not cause the kind of plunging trim loss needed to tip the battle. One of the little British torpedo boats was hit and destroyed, but not until it fatally loosed its load into Shastasph.

After turn two, the Martian survivors were forced to beat a hasty retreat up the canal, leaving the British air flotilla to ravage the city's air base. Needless to say, the Martian air minister was publicly impaled. (Would you expect any less?)