Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mars Attacks in Aid of Boxer Rebellion: For Queen and Planet AAR

View from the bridge as the Allies withdraw across it, fighting their delaying action

The battle report re-posted from Sept. 30, 2009

Sunday evening we met to try the new rules for Queen and Planet VSF. These included, the joker card inserted into the action deck to represent all uncontrolled movement in the game (warband charges, damaged machines, positional instability of water and air craft, also movement of CinC between units). Also, the modified morale rules to limit units that will require a morale check from taking offensive action without making the check.

A Chinese and Cephalopod force on the march
There was a black smoke projector on board, which required wind rules, but it never was able to fire on the enemy because the Chinese and Allies troops were so intermixed (I'm not sure the Cephalopods would have been as careful of Chinese casualties as Joel played them, but that was good for us). I liked the joker card very much, it made the warband charge that much more uncertain for both sides. The ability of the warband to charge as many as three times in a turn gives them the leg up they need against the firing superiority of the colonial troops, so that is still working well. The positional uncertainty of the flyers was also interesting as I found them much more reasonable in their (in)ability to just hover around and shoot things. Now they are more 'straffing-like'.

Russian machine gun company and rifles momentarily check the Chinese/Cephalopod advance
The set up for the game was that the Sino-Cephalopod alliance is in pursuit of a column of retreating civilians and the Colonial allies are tasked with securing the route of escape and holding against the onslaught. The idea comes from the scene in the most recent War of the Worlds where the American armored brigade hopelessly engages the Martians in an attempt to allow the civilians to escape. This battle was quite a bit more balanced!

The Chinese forces close in on the west village
An 'impassable' river bisects the board with only a single bridge crossing it. Two villages are along the road that runs from West to East toward the safety of a port and the evacuation ships. Ceplapods, Imperial Chinese, and Boxers are pursuing from the west and the Colonial Allies are deployed hidden to try to defend the line of retreat (represented by a supply wagon marking tail end charlie of the refugees).

The gallant Russian guard battaltion makes a stand in the center of the west village
Each Command (3 Sino-Cephalopod and 3 Allied) had a special ability of some sort (The imperials knew of a ford across the river, the Italians had minefields, etc). Joel had the Cephalopods, Keith the Imperials, I had the Boxer command, Allen had British and half of the Russians and Mike had Italians and half of the Russians. So, of course the Russian command were sacrificed at the point of the spear. However, they aquited themselves very well and absorbed an enormous amount of Chinese punishment before being forced to withdraw across the bridge. Mike's 'death trap' was never completely sprung, but it held up my Boxer command as I probed for a solution. We played six of the expected 12 turns necessary to complete the scenario. It is hard to tell what the result would have been. The Boxers overran the West Village, but it looked near impossible to have secured the bridge by the turn 8 deadline. Each side had one unit destroyed, one unit crippled at game end, and one unit about half dead. It definitely could have gone either way.

The allies are slowly shoved out of the west village by the Boxer assault
 The above report was written by the rules author and GM Tom Graves. Our long-time gaming companion, Joel Sams, always has a humorous look on any battle. Here's his take on the affair:
And Joel's always humorous take on the action:

The European Powers relief force had collected the threatened civilians and were working on a slow, methodical  evacuation. The Allies dug in to provide full cover for their citizens return to safety.  The Boxers were on the massed on the right flank of the Imperial Chinese, the Cephalopods on the left and back slightly.  The battle opened with a Russian machine gun raking an advancing Imperial Chinese unit, then the Boxers took a slower, caution advance on the village.  The Cephalopods seemed fascinated at the hilariously primitive Sikorsky flier.   After two turn their side bets were much more important than the battle in the village & wheat fields.  The Italians had  hoped on a crossfire to stop the Boxers, but the Russians, to their right were pressed and wavered.  Then the sound of gongs, firecrackers and bugles signaled the Imperial Chinese & Boxers to charge on village.  The Cephalopods were still betting that the Sikorsky flier would/wouldn't crash any minute now.   The Italians pulled back in order, then the Russians ran passed and the Cephalopods were disappointed the Sikorsky flier, wobbled & dipped but survived the entire battle.  Once the British finished their tea & biscuits they were ready for any fight.

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