The Big Game XV - Clearing the Vipers Nest
A Fireteam Andromeda after action report by Podsy Mc Pod.
Fireteam Andromeda is available at: Two Knights Publishing
I must be doing something right. I was invited to host a second participation wargame this year, at my local gaming club TableTopNorth in Belfast. A simplified version of Fireteam Andromeda revised edition would again be the rule set of choice having worked extremely well on previous occasions. You can see five types of marker on table. The hexagonal ones indicate a unit has activated in the turn, the orange ones that a unit is shaken, the triangular ones that a vehicle is disabled, the irregularly shaped red ones that an assault needs resolved at turn end and the skull tokens indicate damage points.
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). The RPK regular army forces had support from their air cavalry wing the muster troops and Ikwen militia who had been brought to earth by the Naga as agricultural slaves. The Naga had support from Malig space goblins, a conquered race and various droids. 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.
We thought long and hard about the scenario for the game and I give a big thanks to all the wonderful guys in the 15mm sci fi facebook page for their input. We wanted to avoid a clash of two lines of troops like an ancient battle and to incorporate the superb fortress I had purchased from multiverse gaming. Most of the people who participate in the game do not regularly play wargames so the aim was to complete five turns in the day. This ruled out anything which needed a lot of movement like a relief scenario. What we decided was a siege game with prepared siege positions available to the rebels. To spice things up a bit the rebels would have two forces which they could drop anywhere on table by drop pod. The aliens would have two advance defensive positions which they could place anywhere on their side of the table. Victory would be decided by who had control of six victory locations, the three rebel trench lines, the two buildings on the Naga flanks and the ramparts over the gate of the fort. 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.
The fluff was that the Naga fort known to the rebels as "the vipers nest" blocked the rebel advance on the main road to the capital. The rebels would decide on the location of their drop pod landings when terrain was set up but before any troops were placed. The alien advance defensive positions would be placed without them knowing the location of the drop pod landings. This is how things looked before the drop pod landings.
So you can see the Aliens have set up one advance defensive position on the far left. It is occupied by Malig space goblins. They are armed with laser assault carbines so have limited range but have double dice in assault. Just to the right of the fort the second position is occupied by rattler droids (light infantry with heavy laser anti tank weapons) and spider droid heavy infantry. The rebels opted to make both their landing zones on the alien left flank. We only used one drop pod model to represent all the drop pods in each landing zone. By a series of amazing die rolls against the odds nearly all the troops in both drop zones landed on target. Only one unit of Republican guard strayed off target landing in the middle of the fort right beside the Naga commander in chief! As the rebels had initiative they would have a chance to kill the commander before the forts defenders could react.
One of the drop forces consisted of Ikwen militia. They are graded as light infantry lacking armour but have improved rapid fire ballistic riles giving three shots per model if stationary and two if they move. They also have a solar powered RPG support weapon in each unit. The other drop force is the elite of the RPK army the Republican Guard. They have improved armour incorporating anti laser defences giving a reroll on saves versus laser fire of 5+ and a grenade launcher in each team.
After the landings the situation looked like this.
I thought the rebels had made a right choice concentrating their forces and with a spectacularly accurate landing things looked good for them. It is too difficult to give a narrative of the whole battle so I am going to split in into three sections.
Here RPK army regulars supported by Polecat recon vehicles and Guardian Battlesuits faced off against droids and spiderbots along with two recon mechs. The RPK infantry are support infantry with an RPG and LMG in each unit. The Polecats have auto cannons very good against infantry and reasonable against vehicles. The Guardian Battlesuits were fitted with dual improved light machine guns. Each rattler unit between the spider droids had two heavy lasers but we forgot to put out the right figures. The Naga mechs have had high powered lasers which could explode the Polecat recon vehicles if they hit. The standard droids only had average long range laser small arms.
The Polecats and mechs began to duel with the Polecats eventually getting the upper hand taking out both mechs for no loss. Then the commander on this flank was struck with temporary insanity (or as he claims he obeyed orders from higher command) deciding to leave his prepared positions with all his infantry before any serious losses had been inflicted on the opposition infantry. Out in the open they took withering fire and were all lost except for one battered unit which retreated to the trench line. The Polecats realised they could not gain control of the objective facing them but fired for effect anyway. The Guardian Battlesuits had to turn to face a threat in the centre from Vampirra infantry who had advanced across the table from the fort. The remaining infantry was lost and the rebels held their own objective by the skin of their teeth with a single strength point of troops. The Naga objective was firmly in the hands of the droids.
Here RPK infantry were supported by Guardian Battlesuits with rocket pod weapon load outs and three light weapons teams with high powered long range anti vehicle lasers. The Naga had regular heavy infantry with heavy laser support weapons in the fort. In support they had SKA light weapon teams with long range anti infantry lasers and Vampirra assault troops with counter armour against ballistic weapons.
With a stray unit of Republican Guard landing in the fort the first shot of the game was an attempt to assassinate the Naga commander in chief! It came tantalisingly close to succeeding causing two of the three wounds required. Good but not good enough. Then the Vampirra body guards quickly assaulted the hapless Republican guard unit eliminating it.
Seeing the early demise of the RPK infantry in the north their comrades in the centre wisely stayed behind their trench line. Fire traded with the fort was largely ineffectual. The Guardian Battlesuits advanced using their rocket pods to good effect against the rattlers in the advance defensive position. One of the units of spiderbots also attempted to advance but was cut down in the open ground. The Guardian Battlesuits attempted to take cover behind the rocks but heavy laser fire from the rattlers still found its mark and they were destroyed by game end. The rebel light weapon teams wisely directed their fire against the swarm of vehicle targets on the Naga left flank. They had some bad luck in their die rolls but still took down several enemy Battlesuits and I think all the Cobra recon vehicles. The Vampirra in the fort climbed down the wall to assault units on the Naga left flank and fought their way across table eventually ending up in assault with the troops defending the trench line. They did not make it close enough to challenge for control of this objective. The RPK had a single depleted but unshaken infantry unit left. So again they clung onto an objective with a single strength point of troops!
The air cavalry of the RPK army, the Muster troops, held this sector for the rebels. They had one unit of superior infantry with two RPG's, a unit of light infantry with assault carbines, kamel motorbikes, a flight of Skylark recon vehicles with rocket pods and a unit of Guardian Battlesuits with dual light machine guns. The Naga had droids, two units of battlesuits, a flight of Cobra recon vehicles and five units of Maligs in the advance defensive position.
This sector descended into absolute chaos right from turn one with assaults breaking out everywhere around the troops that had landed by drop pod. Initial fire although heavy from the Ikwen and Republican Guard was largely ineffectual. Perhaps because of this they decided to assault the Cobra recon vehicles and a unit of Battlesuits. Both these moves were suicidal as they lacked specialised close assault weapons. On the other hand Battlesuits are very good in assault under Fireteam Andromeda rules being hard to damage and automatically killing infantry if they can hit. So the drop pod forces both suffered major casualties early on.
The Muster troops on the other hand advanced steadily. The Skylarks used their rocket pods to take out two of the three Malig light weapon teams. The Kamel motorbikes successfully assaulted a unit of Maligs. The Muster superior infantry steadily picked off targets including enemy Battlesuits. The enemy Cobra recon vehicles advanced only to be shot down by laser fire from the rebel centre. The Muster light infantry took up a strong position in a rock formation. Things were looking good for the rebels as the Muster troops looked capable of rolling up the flank on their own. Then the tide turned.
Skylarks got shot down by enemy Battlesuits. The Muster light infantry failed a morale test and got charged by a unit of Maligs without being able to shoot at them as they came in. The assault carbines giving an extra dice in assault began to tell for the Maligs as they overwhelmed the Kamel bikes. Naga battlesuits assaulted the rebel Guardian Battlesuits and chased them across the table. Before long the rebel flank had collapsed and Naga forces were able to move on towards the centre as described earlier.
Conclusion and thoughts on the day.
With the central victory point locations being worth three victory points and the ones on the flanks two victory points the Naga had won yet again scoring a full seven victory points for not losing any of their own victory point locations and gaining another two for capturing the location on the rebel right flank. So the final score was 9/5 to the Naga.
The rebels began on the back foot having inadvertently chosen the best defended flank to land both their drop pod forces. Being right beside the assault focused Malig and vehicles which they would struggle to damage did them no favours at all. As they landed so tightly right on target I thought they still had a good chance. However the game was really lost by two tactical errors. The advance by rebel infantry in the north was a turn or two premature. They needed to wear down the defending Naga infantry more before attempting this advance. The rebel commander and I had a difference of opinion on how to deal with likely unfavourable assaults. My preference would have been to try and avoid these assaults at all costs. He felt it was better to try and throw in as many troops as possible to even up the odds. This tactic did not pay off. Far too many of the drop pod forces were committed to assaults on vehicles which they had practically no chance of winning. It really should have been a moment to pause, check the rules and determine the chances of success before carrying out these assaults. If only the rebels had known their drop pod forces would land so accurately. If they had landed in the centre or north of the table it could easily have been a win for the rebel side.
Once again Fireteam Andromeda rules proved absolutely sound and allowed play at lightning speed. We actually finished an hour ahead of schedule. I have been able to hone the choice of units used over the years. I deliberately did not use any APC's so inexperienced players did not lose entire infantry units if the transport vehicle was destroyed. Similarly I did not use any heavy vehicles dependant on specific anti vehicle weapons being used to stop them running amok. The only problem encountered was that some players misinterpreted the capabilities of their units reading the unit cards incorrectly. I thought I had made the unit cards self explanatory but obviously they were not clear enough for people who do not regularly play the game. Before we start play next time the team captains and I will take the time to explain the capabilities of each unit to the player commanding it before the game begins, we have the spare time!
I thoroughly enjoyed the day and got the feeling the players did too and after all that is what it is all about.