Operation Pegasus-Origins 2019

Origins 2019 Operation Pegasus

Rules: The Hive and the Flame

The gaming area and terrain set up at Origins 2019

Terrain

Custom Built Bug Hive, placed on tables to represent the top of the hive structures, which soar hundreds of feet above the jungle floor. The floor of the gaming area is in play for flying units only.

Human Troops

4 Royal Navy Shakespeare class rocket armed gunships (Kit Bashed)

Shakespeare Class flyer, under attack by flying lancers

                Carried Troops

                1 Squadron Royal Tank Corps in Mk II Fighting Machines (Gaming Models)

                1 Squadron Royal Tank Corps in Mk II Fighting Machines (Gaming Models)

                1 Battery Royal Artillery in 5 inch Howitzer Carriers  (Gaming Models)

                1 Platoon Royal Engineers in Royal Engineers Fighting Machine (Gaming Models)

                1 Squadron of United States Army Heavy Striders (Gaming Models)

18 Royal Navy Aerial Assault Flyers  (Gaming Models)

British unarmed aerial assault flyers

                Carried Troops

                1 Battalion of British Infantry (only Minifigs WW1 late war troops)

                1 Regiment of Australian Light Horse (Eureka)

                1 Battalion of Gurkhas (Blue Moon)

18 United States Army Quartermaster Corps Assault Flyers  (Gaming Models)

An armed American flyer compared with its British Counterpart

                1 Battalion of Regular Infantry (Old Glory Boxer Rebellion)

                1st United States Volunteer Cavalry (TVAG)

Rough Riders and Buffalo Soldiers

                10th Cavalry (TVAG)

18 Germano-Dutch Assault Flyers (Converted Laserburn Traveller Landers)

Thew Germano-Dutch armed assault flyers

                3 Battalions of Germano-Dutch Infantry (Battlefront WW1 German Storm Troopers)

Bug Forces

                A metric ton of various Bugs from GameTech Miniatures, Ral Partha, Ral Partha Europe, Brigade, Ravenstar, Khurasan and even some ancient TSR antlions!

Strategic Situation, February 1901

The Second Hive War has entered a new phase. After months of the aliens running wild, they have been stopped in Panama by human forces. Now the multi-national forces have assembled enough combat power to attack a large hive directly. The forces have waited for the rainy season to end and are now poised to strike

Tactical Situation

The International Force consists of forces from four nations and represent numerous services and regiments. The primary aerial firepower is provided by the four Shakespeare class ships and their batteries of 9.2 inch rockets. Each of them carries 48 rockets each. The Shakespeares also carry 8 3 inch cannons. Some of the lighter flyers also have weapons. The German-Dutch flyers carry a 37mm Hotchkiss rotating cannon while the American vehicles each have four machine guns. The light British assault landers are unarmed.

Once on the ground the various troop units would be supported by armored vehicles carried by the Shakespeares. The troop carriers also embarked some heavy weapons. All the units had machine guns and the German-Dutch and Americans also had light artillery in direct support.

Initial Set up

Origins gave us an excellent space again this year and as usual we used all of it. The human players chose to set up in four groups. The far left flank consisted of the four Shakespeare class and the 1st United States Volunteers including Teddy Roosevelt. The other three groups concentrated along the right and center of the Bug Hive. Bug flying units were initially concentrated on their right flank (human left). Knowing they had superior speed and the humans would have to move a considerable distance to get into a landing position made this less of a disadvantage than it might seem.

Turns 1-4.

Right Flank Air Attack

The first four turns consisted of aerial movement alone, as the humans made their approach runs to the hive. The aliens, having the advantage of speed were able to close with the humans and initiate close combat on turn 3. On turn four the humans and bugs were within long range of each other and began to use all available missile weapons. The results of these turns were disappointing to both sides. For the use of their entire load out of 9.2 inch rockets they human player was able to destroy several bug units but did not clear the entire left flank of the hive of defenders. The bug flying lancers split up and attacked several units, but in doing so were unable to bring down any of the human flyers, although coming close to doing so with HMF Othello.

Swarms of flying bugs rise up to meet the human machines

Turn 5-6

Left Flank Landing Zone-Troops and heavy vehicle disembarking from assault landers

The swarms of flying bugs were nearly wiped out and human fire, being primarily directed at bug shooting units, proved. Bug fire finally saw a number of smaller landers knocked out, the German-Dutch being hard hit, losing four aircraft. The Americans lost two. Since the British assault flyers had no offensive weapons, they attracted far less fire and all 18 were able to land safely. The lack of casualties during approach meant the human landing force was largely intact. However, the pre landing fire had been unable to totally clear the landing zones and both British and Germano-Dutch troops would find themselves landing atop hostile melee troops. The left flank was a different situation as the heavier flyers were able to clear almost all the bug units from the area and allowed even the badly damaged Othello to get down safely.

German and Dutch Troops find themselves in a fight even as their landing craft ramps open
So are the British!
The two groups of Commonwealth troops on the far right flank were luckier and did not face attack the minute they landed

Turn 7-8

The Human left flank continues to consolidate and roll up towards the main hive. On the right bug units initially take huge casualties from close range fire of the infantry pouring out of the landers. However not all the bug units in contact are wiped out and the close combat phase shows just why getting into melee with a creature that is basically a bull sized lobster is a terrible idea for a puny human. Cold steel is of little use. Three companies of Germano-Dutch troops are massacred, as is a company of British Infantry. A number of hidden trapper units of bugs are found the hard way by human troops and a company of MK II fighting Machines is reduced to only one stand, although the trapper unit is wiped out. This is a trade the bugs will take all day long. A new unit of bug flyers arrive and is thrown at the already shaky Germano-Dutch and wipe out the few survivors. They also catch and kill a unit of heavy machine gunners as dessert. Still the other two battalions of Commonwealth troops are nearly untouched and quickly consolidate their hold on the far-right back corner of the hive.

Casualties were heavy on both sides

Turn 9

The landers, having dropped off their troops lift back into the sky. The unarmed British assault landers make a bee line for safety, some still being pursued by a few flying lancers. The rest remain to provide close support. The ensuing duel between the shooter bugs and the human flyers sees an entire group of American flyers destroyed, but the bug shooters are being heavily attrited. Half a dozen bug unit reinforcements are drawn and the bug player elect to take them all as heavy melee units, which are thrown at the human landing zones.

Badly damaged and on fire the HMF Othello stayed in the fight

Turn 10

The armed landers continue to provide fire support for the troops on the ground. The human left flank remorselessly rolls up all hive opposition. The aliens attempt to put enough units at a choke point beneath the massive hive walls to stop the humans from breaking into the center and perhaps linking up the two landing zones. Under hammering from the guns of the Shakespeares and American flyers the line begins to crumble. A direct assault by 7 heavy combat striders from the American Army shatters it completely leaving the bug center hanging in midair. On the right the Germano-Dutch continue to take severe casualties from melee bugs and the few remaining shooters kill another flyer. The Gurkhas and Australian light horse were almost untouched. They were laying down heavy fire on every bug unit within range and doing tremendous damage.

An armored and aerially supported thrust rolls up the left side of the bug center

At this point we declared the humans the victors. We had played 5 sessions for almost 20 hours over the course of the convention. Almost 50 gamers had come and thrown dice with use and far more than that watched or looked over the terrain and miniatures.

Lessons learned

What worked

The use of boxes holding multiple dice was again effective. It not only allowed multiple dice to be rolled simultaneously but prevented them from escaping and getting lost.

I added Corsec Engineering magnet holders to the flight stands. They worked very well except for the heavy American flyers (see below).

The new background sky scrim worked well. It went up quickly on the stands and stayed up with no problems. I’m not sure I like the cloud pattern fabric but for now it will do.

I am very happy with the rock pattern fabric I bought to represent the lower part of the hive structure that goes from the table to the floor. It gave good visual continuity and worked better than the various brown and tan bolts I had used before. It was also lighter so was easier to put up.

The new trapper units proved to be a nasty surprise for the humans and caused considerable damage and casualties.

I replaced the ¾ inch plywood sheet bases with 5mm ones. These were much lighter and easier to transport

Areas for improvement

Although each unit or group of units were provided with unit sheets it was still difficult for novice players to know exactly what their units, especially the bugs, to know how far they could move and other particulars. It would be excellent if we could find a way to graphically represent the movement of a unit on its stand, but one that would not be too visually intrusive.

The use of multiple deck stacks for determining movement and fire order, rather than a single deck reduces the number of shuffles needed but does lead to the situation where a large number of cards of a single color can be drawn in sequence, meaning that one side can wait a long time before they can take action. It was suggested that each side be given a very limited number of “trump cards” that they could use to break such a sequence and get to move or shoot at a time when the players feel it is critical.

The American flyers need steel tabs to make the magnetic connection stronger.

The flight stands probably need a weight on their bases. I knocked over a pair of stands and watched 12 American flyers shatter when hitting the floor.

Thanks to everyone that played. Special thanks to Jeff who came up from St Louis and helped run the games!