Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Test Game - Martian Messiah

After getting all my toys out I decided to run a test game of Soldier's Companion. I chose scenario 1 from the book: Martian Messiah. This is a fairly classic search and destroy mission with a platoon of British sweeping the area of a Martian village looking for a native ne'er do well: Sootaman the Impressive.

Sootaman and a small band of followers have been wreaking havoc on the monorail line. A small force must be sent to flush him out. Sootaman has other ideas - he hopes to eliminate the impudent earthers and score an important moral victory.

British Forces:

Lieutenant Atkinson, Sergeant Meriwether and their platoon of hearty souls. 
The British get one platoon of infantry or ten men total rated regular V1. Now the scenario didn't specify exactly what weapons the platoon was carrying so since they had Lee-Metfords molded on that is what I gave them. This will have implications later on.

Martian Forces:

Sootaman and his bodyguards - the Spine Forest Freedom Fighters
The Martians get a full war band of 19 split as usual between cutters and shooters.  The shooters have rifle muskets.  Sootaman on the right is considered to be musket armed as well and the entire force is rated X3.

Victory Conditions:

The British must capture or kill Sootaman and successfully return him to base. The Martians must wipe out the British, and keep Sootaman free.

The Game:

Since I was playing solo, markers were laid out in the main areas of cover. One of these was marked to show the location of Sootaman. As each marker was flipped, a simple randomizing table was used to determine what forces were there. The Sootaman counter would always have at least one half company with him.  

Initial setup:

In the starter's blocks
The British  began in column ready to head out on the hunt. The Martians begin concealed.

Turns -1 to 0

Martian win the initiative roll twice even with the British getting a +1 due to being regular.  The Martians hold, The British brew up. 

Turn 1

Tally Ho!
Finally the dice roll in favour of the Empire and the platoon heads up the road moving 18" in column.

Turn 2

Form Line!

Prepare for contact!
Again gaining the initiative, the platoon takes a half move into line and heads 6" towards the first marker. Being V1, they can only see 5" into concealing terrain so are a few inches short and can't Flip it.

Turn 3

Beat the bushes lads!
Another initiative to the British. They move to contact....

There he is!
And flush out Sootaman....

Kill the Red Men!
And some of his friends! The Martians deploy en masse around their fearless leader and musket fire rattles through the spine trees. Nine figures in the unit but mass formation means only the front 5 fire and since they are firing muskets, those five are halved to 2.5 and rounded up to 3. They roll no hits and the Red Men easily pass the morale test

Turn 4

The dice gods are with the British, they keep initiative....

So many dice....
And fire into the brush.  Atkison knows his pistol won't reach so instead shouts at his men to Fire! Nine men with magazine rifles firing at short range is 18 dice and they give six hits. The Martians would get +1 for light cover but they also get -1 for being in mass so no saving throws required. (Bad formation choice. The Martian commander needs to go back to junior leader school I think.)

Bloody carnage.....
Six Martians fall including Sootaman and the commanding bannerman. Now here I made an important error or two. When regulars take casualties, half come from NCOs not so for irregulars. For both regulars and irregulars, officer casualties are rolled for (over the number of casualties taken to save, a moot point here) with officer casualties replacing an NCO or regular casualty. Either way, Sootaman or the bannerman should have survived.

True Martian Bravery!
With six hits taken, the Martians must roll 3 or less or they break and run but they pass! They fire back but with only two dice there is no effect. Since their leadership has (wrongfully) been destroyed, they surrender to the British not wanting to run and be shot down like sand weasels.

Turn 4

Into ignominious captivity
The victorious forces of the empire police up their captives and prepare to return home.

Too far to help...
To see if the other half company could have intervened, I rolled to see where they would show up.

Just beyond charge range....
As it turned out, they were just out of reach. With no ranged weapons, a running fight was a pointless waste of life and the remaining bannerman decided to melt back into the temple ruins.

RTB victorious.

End game.
As a game to refamiliarize myself with the rules it was a good one. Obviously the magazine rifles were too much, in the fluff only Guards have them. More thought should have been given to the Martian deployment and formation. A better and more intelligent automated solo play system will have to be worked on.

Game 2 

A different result
Just as I was packing everything away, my friend Marc showed up so we reset the table. and ran the same scenario again. This time, the British were hit with close combat but managed to break off just enough to shoot the cutters off the field. The shooters sadly were just out of range so could not immediately contribute. Stout souls that they were they charged in anyway but were eventually shot apart. In the end Sootaman and the remaining band officer tried to flee only to fall under a hail of lead. But Mars had struck a blow killing nearly half of the invaders. At the end of a very long supply line, Britain cannot afford Pyrrhic victories like this one.


BrianW said...

I still think that Soldier's Companion is a fine rule set, even after all these years. It works just as well for "straight" colonial as it does for VSF. It's a shame Ironclads and EtherFlyers didn't work as well for naval.

Tod C said...

You should try running some of these at Cangames or the club. I am running her In Her Majesty's Name Saturday night this weekend if you wanted to have a butchers.

Pat G said...

Thanks To - I ran one at cangames a few years back but the morale rules need serious tweaking to make it work. I would love to see you game but this weekend I am off at an 1812 drill weekend. As for the club - that is a distinct possibility.