Sunday, April 27, 2008

Blast from the Past: Europeans Seize Bloody Escarpment, Q&P AAR

With my old Earthlink-hosted gaming web page to disappear one day, I am saving some fun AARs and reposting them here on my blog. This report is from April 2008 and covers a game we played using For Queen and Planet Colonial / Victorian Sci-Fi rules. It is written by my friend, Tom Graves.
GM Tom sets up the battle
We had five on Sunday and I game mastered. Allen and Keith took the roles of Russians and Italians, respectively, based on their shirts. Joel and Zeke took the roles of Imperial Chinese and Boxers, respectively, based on their shoes, if I recall.

The Euros were racing toward Peking, and disregarding all military common sense when they came across an escarpment, continued to do so. This is despite the fact that the escarpment seriously restricted their advancement options -- especially with Chinese Imperial forces and screaming Boxer hordes already defending two of the three areas that could be used to ascend the escarpment. Without any recon, the Euros advanced with the Russians on the left and the Italians on the right. Oddly enough, a British Colonel was in command. The Russians immediately veered hard to their left and headed for the one pass in the escarpment that did not appear to be filled with Chinese. The Italians moved forward and kept their eyes heavenwards for a sign...or perhaps they were just watching the nunnery on the top of the escarpment that seemed to be filled with Boxers.

One Boxer warband charged out of the pass and toward the Italians. In an incredible display of marksmanship and steady soldiering, the Italians shot the Boxers to bloody pieces and drove them back into the pass. One Italian trooper received a slight cut (Keith rolled, Keith's dice in Keith's basement for the Italians -- Zeke's first engagement was a little disheartening).

The Russians continued to veer to the left and toward the undefended and apparently abandoned British iron mine. This unfortunately left a gap between the European forces that was suddenly and violently filled with Imperial Chinese. These forces clashed with one Russian sub battalion, driving it back with a few casualties, then pursuing after it. This caused the Russians to panic and flee [an 11 for rally roll].

This left the Italian flank completely open, though the Italians had the good luck and discipline and were able to form square. The Imperials were not to be stopped, though, and they charged the Italian square in repeated waves, doing horrific casualties, but not breaking the stalwart Italians. The Italians turned another sub battalion to engage the Imperials and was able to finally fight them to a halt and drive them back.

Having turned to face the Imperials, the Italians had left their flank open to the Boxers who tried to charge into their flank, but came up a little short. The East African Askaris, far from home, came forward to support the Italians, and the Boxers charged them instead, driving them back and doing serious casualties to them. However, the superior Askaris reformed on a nearby hill and waited. The Boxers then continued their charge into the Italians, but their force was spent and the Italians halted their charge.
Chinese troops prepared to defend a Pagoda during the battle
Seeing the Boxers were spent, the Askari charged back into the conflict with bayonets fixed and routed the Boxers, who took the Imperial Chinese Commander-in-Chief with them. The Imperials, already shaken, took this as a sign that the battle was lost and also broke. Down by half their units and with the C-in-C lost, the Chinese could not survive two rolls needing 5 or less and 3 or less, and the Chinese broke and ran. I had assigned victory points for holding certain objectives in the game and the Chinese held 8 points worth and the Euros 4 at game end.

I am thinking that morale may need to occur during the action phase, rather then afterwards, because sometimes a unit will just get destroyed, but can still charge or fire. Then, later in the turn, they take their morale test and rout -- so it is kind of weird. On the plus side, both the Boxers and Imperials seem to be costed and "powered" pretty well. I don't see any problems with them. The moving of uncontrolled movement (as a joker) into the action phase seems to work pretty well also. The added uncertainty of moving it into the action phase, where it can happen early, late or somewhere in the middle, is interesting.

Next battle: Assault on We Loc Fu. The Euros have captured a Chinese rail junction and village and the Chinese are moving to retake it. Will Euro reinforcements come in time? Will Martian reinforcements make the Euro reinforcements moot?
A Chinese Boxer unit advances towards the enemy
 And now for the Chinese point of view -- written by Joel Sams...

Boxer Rebellion 1900-
Commanders: Keith (Italians) & Allen (Russians) 
vs. Dave Z (Boxers) & Joel (Imperial Chinese) 
Wang Dng doodled the attack plan in the dirt of the trench, the sub-commanders Lo & Dim continued to stare blankly back at him.  Wang Dng pointed to the Russian infantry advancing past the bamboo grove and explained the attack plan again, still the same blank stares.  Then a second Russian unit  marched past the bamboo grove to work their way behind the Chinese trenches,  Commander Wang Dng became desperate to move his unit out of the trench. 

It was then and there that he resorted to the swift five fingers of motivation.  He used it on the sub-commanders, and on any troops within reach and it worked.  The troops moved out of the trench, then a quick formation change and the troops seemed ready for the "Long Charge". It was a charge that will be talked about all the way to Pei-king and echo around the palace. 

Commander Wang charged a Russian unit and drove it back.  An Italian unit on the Russians right flank, saw the dust cloud and formed square just before the Chinese horde attacked them next. The Italians were driven back and the Chinese were not stopping yet.  A second Italian unit was charged and gave ground and gave some more ground.  The Boxers high on the hilltop cheered and a unit of Boxers moved forward to support their victorious country men. The Italian resistance stiffed and swept away the Boxers and shot the Victorious Ones to save the center.  The victory went to the Europeans troops, but their offensive had stalled at the pass as Chinese troops still had the hilltop fortress and roads leading to Pei-king.