The flock on my Dominion Wastelands terrain set had barely finished drying when I played my first game. :)
Looking at the USE ME unit cards I had already made, I decided to throw in a few changes before the playtest. In USE ME, Elan is a combined measure of the characters' morale, training, and experience. I had instinctively given the elite Expeditionary power armored troops the highest Elan stat (6). Thinking about my storyline, this just didn't fit. These troops have been in space, and had been training to fight a different enemy. Combining that background with the idea that Earth's terrain has been substantially changed, even the most elite Expeditionary troops should be at a disadvantaged. So I lowered their Elan to 4 for this first game.
I also gave them an APC - a light vehicle with a 12" move and a vehicle automatic weapon. Assuming the driver wasn't a member of the Elite cadre, I lowered its Elan to 3.
The Dominion troops received a slight bump to match the offset. I gave the standard troopers Elan 5 for this first game, and the larger battlesuit the highest Elan rating at 6. A force of six troopers and one Battlesuit would be the Dominion forces in this battle. I figured this would represent a basic patrol force - locating deposits of the precious blue crystals and identifying any enclaves of human resistance.
Even with the modified stats, this didn't look very balanced. I simply removed five of the Expeditionary troops and set up the game itself. I kept the table mostly the same from my "work in progress" photos, simply removing the Armies Army troops from the settlement. The Dominion forces deployed on either side of the lower-right hill, while the Expeditionary forces would enter on the gravel road (chosen by a coin toss).
With their higher Elan ratings, the Dominion had the first chance to act. I simply advanced them toward the settlement, using the crystals as cover. The Expeditionary APC entered from the left. It moved into the settlement, deploying its passengers into the cover of the storage shack. The APC took a pot shot at the Dominion battlesuit, but only managed to kick up some loose gravel.
The Dominion forces acted quickly. While the troopers advanced from both the lower and right-hand sides of the board, the battlesuit fired upon the APC. Its armor proved too strong for the battlesuit. Even though it was partially covered by a wrecked armored vehicle, concentrated fire from the Expeditionary troopers (including their heavy weapon) managed to bring down the Battlesuit. Meanwhile, the APC raced across the road to divide the Dominion troopers.
The delay was successful - only one of the trooper units managed to get within assault distance of the Expeditionary troopers. Despite their lack of experience, the Expeditionary force outnumbered and outgunnned the Dominion troopers, and had the advantage of both power armor and a defensive position. All three aliens advancing from the lower edge were winged or struck.
During the next round, two of the Expeditionary troops broke cover to engage the second Dominion unit. They coordinated with their APC and set up a deadly crossfire. All three aliens were killed, with only a single human being winged.
By now the Dominion had completely failed in its mission. They attempted to close in and use their superior close combat abilities, but still couldn't do significant damage the Expeditionary power armor. The two flanking Expeditionary troopers returned to the melee, but the fight was already over.
The game was far more lopsided than I predicted - the USE ME rules are very robust and playable. The downside? They realistically favor an entrenched defender over an equivalent attacker! But it gave me a chance to see how I want to run these characters as I develop the Dominion Wastelands campaign.
- Dominion Troopers. They had normal Infantry Small Arms, and I just don't think it works for the Critical Mass Kaamados Vivipara figures. I'm going to change them to the Flamethrower rules found in the USE ME Post Apocalypse book.
- Dominion Battlesuit. Very underwhelming performance from an excellent Kaamados Draco battlesuit. I'm going to try upgrading them from Armored Infantry to an unarmored Light Vehicle, just to see if that makes a significant difference.
- Expeditionary Elites. Going to upgrade them to Elan 5, but use them only sparingly. In future skirmishes, there may only be one or two of these power-armored figures leading a fireteam of normal Expeditionary grunts.
- Expeditionary APC. It delivered what it promised!
I definitely enjoyed having USE ME as the framework. But I may not be using it at its full capability. Omer Golan included some really neat ideas in the Post Apocalypse section - specifically using Toxic Pits. I might find a way to utilize the Blue Crystals in-game; possibly doubling the optimal range or adding +1 penetration to Dominion figures in base contact. That would certainly change the strategy for both forces!