On Saturday the 18th of April 2015 it was once again my privilege to present a participation wargame to my local gaming club TableTopNorth in Belfast. Most of the players I knew would be role-players at heart so for rules I used a simplified version of Fireteam Andromeda revised edition. The recently released online army builder using Battlescribe meant I was able to create unit cards in double quick time. I enjoyed the freedom of building units outside normal competitive play and the chance to use some of the many colourful options in the Fireteam Andromeda rules. You can see three types of marker on table. The hexagonal ones indicate a unit has activated in the turn, the orange ones that a unit is shaken and the skull tokens indicate damage points. Player numbers were slightly down on previous years at thirteen plus myself as referee but still enough for a fast moving game even with the large number of units on table.
The scenario was a continuation of an ongoing campaign between the rebelling human forces of the RPK republic (near future Arabs) and their evil galactic overlords the Naga (snake like aliens). Basically the Naga have higher tech weapons with better range and damage (power) the saving grace of the human weaponry is that most weapons have the rapid fire ability meaning rate of fire increases by one die per weapon if the firing model is stationary. The rebel forces were closing in on the capital of the RPK republic when they discovered that the Naga were using a local farm to breed Xenomorphs. This was a threat behind rebel lines that could not be ignored. The rebels used electronic warfare to jam the gates on the holding pens and launched an attack before the Naga could bring electronic counter measures to bear. Victory would be decided by who had control of the four holding pens and the central command tower at game end. The command tower was worth three victory points and the four holding pens two each. Control is determined by deciding which side has the highest value, in strength points, of units within six inches of the objective. Command units are worth three strength points, infantry units two and vehicles one. These values are reduced by one if the unit is shaken and or half strength or less.
|An overview of the battlefield with victory point locations marked.|
|A view of the rebel deployment with some key assets marked.|
|A view of the Naga deployment with some key assets marked.|
Will the superior alien technology win the day? Will the holding pens open and release hordes of xenomorph hatchlings? Will the rebel tanks crush all before them? We were soon to find out.
It is difficult for me to get events in chronological order across the whole table as I was busy refereeing so I will divide the battlefield in to three sectors. In the North Naga battlesuits with infantry and recon support face off against rebel infantry, mounted infantry on grav bikes, battlesuits, and recon vehicles with anti armour missile launchers.
|Naga units in the northern sector.|
Disaster strikes the rebel forces right at the start of the game when Naga electronic counter measures force open the gate of the holding pen closest to the rebel forces releasing their deadly occupants. This really forces the rebel hand making them deal with this threat. The first units activated all fire on the hatchlings in the holding pen to fairly good effect. Long range fire from the Naga shakes one of the rebel infantry units and the hatchlings waste no time assaulting the unit as it cannot fire at them as they charge home. If unshaken the rebel infantry could have fired at the assaulting unit. It the assaulting unit took casualties it would have to check morale and if it failed it would not complete the charge. This is one of core mechanics of Fireteam Andromeda.
|The assault between hatchlings, Muster infantry and Death Rider grav bikes.|
Meanwhile Naga fast attack battlesuits with power claws move up and attempt to assault the rebel Polecat recon vehicles. The recon vehicles are not shaken and so can fire at the charging unit. They destroy one Battlesuit (exploding it with a high damage roll) and the unit fails it's morale test stopping the charge. The fast moving (grav powered) Cobra recon vehicles move up but their weapons are anti infantry and cannot damage the human recon vehicles. Things are looking good for the rebels in this sector until the hatchlings from the second pen charge home on the shaken Polecat recon unit. The remaining hatchlings have two assault dice each for a total of sixteen but need 5+ to hit and a 6 on their damage roll to cause damage. The Polecat recon only need at a 3+ to hit and a auto kill but only have one assault dice per model.
This fight drags on with minimal casualties on either side. By the time it resolves the losses on the human infantry have mounted. The Cobra recon vehicles swoop in to take the holding pen closest to rebel lines. The rebel recon vehicles finally win the fight but it is too late. Both objectives in this sector are firmly in the hands of the Naga.
Here the initial action is dominated by the Naga trying to get their anti armour assault drones into contact with the rebel tank platoon. These pesky drones have high powered ultra short range lasers counting as improved anti armour melee weapons. The drones advance and take cover in the control tower. A little abstraction going on here, they are technically mounted infantry so can occupy buildings. The rebels concentrate fire on them causing heavy casualties.
|A good overview of the Naga advance in the centre.|
Elsewhere in this sector goblin Malig units and the one unit of full size Xenomorphs on table lead the advance. The Xenomorphs jump the corridor and assault a unit of shaken Battlesuits. They need 5+ on their damage roll to cause damage and have twelve dice. They get an amazing seven hits causing damage wiping out the Battlesuit unit. A Malig unit takes the control tower but is soon shot up by advancing RPK infantry who take the tower themselves. At this point I found it very hard to call who would win control of the tower. Advancing Naga laser rifle infantry squads took heavy casualties as they advanced across open ground towards the tower. In the final turn the last remaining holding pen opens and the hatchlings rush to assault the tower. The RPK infantry unit is shaken so cannot fire at the chargers. With forty assault dice against it, it is doomed. The Naga hold this objective.
|The RPK infantry bravely occupy the control tower. Counter intuitively in this scenario they would have been better standing behind it and avoiding being assaulted.|
The opening moves by the rebels are again to concentrate fire on the holding pen and casualties on the hatchlings within are heavier than in the North. The mounted infantry on motorbikes are a unit whose key asset is their speed. Instead they go to ground in cover and are shot up by the opposing forces.
|Rebel forces advance in the south but it is too little too late.|
Autocannons on the human recon vehicles make short work of the Naga battlesuits. Rebel infantry both regular RPK units and superior Muster infantry advance taking up positions around the corridors and in cover within the rock formation. One unit of RPK infantry shoots up and then assaults a Malig unit wiping it out. Titan Recon vehicles use their high grav movement to move into the holding pen on the rebel side but when strength points are totalled it is still deemed to be in rebel hands.
|A final overview of the table as the game ended|
The Naga are deemed to be in control of three of the holding pens and the central control tower so win by a margin of nine victory points to two. The Naga had definitely made more effective use of one of the core mechanics of the game, that is, to shake units and then assault them. They were also aided by the holding pen in the North opening right at the beginning of the game against the odds. The rebels were too static, they needed to be moving from the first turn.
Although that said they were right to concentrate fire on the holding pens before they opened. On reflection there should have been fewer hatchlings in the units and perhaps their armour value dropped by one. One of the rebel key assets a light weapons team of laser cannons did little. It should have moved to a position where it could fire on Naga vehicles in the north, this could well have turned the tide of battle in that sector. They also suffered some bad luck failing key morale checks.
It was interesting to note just how much more survivability vehicles had following the changes to revised edition. There were loads of infantry support weapons on table capable of taking out vehicles but this did not happen, I don't know what the players were doing with them. The rebel tank platoon was steadily taking hits but as they are spread evenly it was never enough to take out a model. Several players remarked on how well balanced the game was. I think that is due mostly to the robust points system used in Fireteam Andromeda. Play went very quickly with us actually finishing the final turn of play about forty minutes ahead of schedule. Before the game I doubted we would finish the final turn. If anybody would like the details of the rules tweaks I have used to adapt Fireteam Andromeda for participation play just drop me a message on Facebook.