After Action Report
I was privileged to get to run a game at Colonial Barracks in New Orleans last weekend. It’s an amazing convention, where a number of legends of the miniature gaming hobby showcase the best of the hobby with wonderful terrain and grandly painted armies. I was assisted by The Jackson Gamers, who loaned me a hundreds of true 25mm figures for the human forces.
During the Second Hive War numerous mated pairs of reproductive aliens were scattered across the globe. Most of these were quickly located and destroyed before they could form Hives of their own. Several were able to find remote and distant location is which to get a start before humans discovered them. One such was in South Africa. Once word reached the British in the Cape Colony a Royal Navy aerial cruiser was dispatched. It expended its entire ammunition supply upon the alien structure and reported that the Hive had been destroyed.
A ground force was dispatched to confirm the destruction of all the Hive creatures, especially the Queen and larva. The force was composed of various Imperial units, British, South African and Zulu. The British Army provided a unit of lancers and two of dragoons. These were supported by a Boer commando and a Zulu cavalry unit. The bulk of the infantry were traditionally armed Zulu forces, fifteen of them and one armed with rifles. Three companies of British infantry were also present. They were supported by three batteries of Royal Artillery field guns and one of Royal Navy machine guns. Unfortunately there were no steam tanks or flying machines available in the area and it was deemed important to get a force there quickly.
From the alien point of view they had been having a very bad week. First a giant sky object appears and blasts the Hell out of their home. The attacker had extremely powerful explosives that penetrated deep into the heart of the Hive, killing many larva and eggs and destroying the brood chambers. The collapse of the galleries and chambers put all the larva at risk, so workers labored unceasingly to bring them to the surface until new tunnels could be excavated. Just as that activity had begun to show results the deadly aliens of the world had shown up in large numbers. To meet them the Hive had limited resources. Only four units of shooters were available and not a single flying lancer. Troopers, lancers and fighters would bear the brunt of the combat and even a large number of workers, including butchers would have to be placed on the surface. If the aliens reached the helpless larva the Hive would be wiped out.
The victory conditions were simple. If the human player was able to kill the larva they would win. If the bugs were able to preserve them they would win. For results in which some larva died and others lived would be determined on a ratio to killed versus survived.
The humans were allowed to place any or all of their units on the sixth of the board at their end. Their entry area was constrained by a river, which was fordable at one location but which could be swum by the Zulu infantry units at any point. The humans could bring on any unit not initially placed on the table any time they chose. The human players decided to use three of their heavy weapon batteries to form a base of fire and leave one artillery battery available to move over the ford with the advancing troops. The Zulus were lined up along the river bank ready to swim across and the cavalry and European troops were to cross at the ford.
The bugs were allowed far more limited placement. They had approximately 1/3 of their total force on the board at the start and would only get additional units if they drew a Black Joker during movement. The Bug initial placement included three of their four shooter units (on high ground atop the remaining towers of the Hive) and a number of other warrior units. Their larva groups were each protected by a unit of smaller warriors.
Play of the Game
The human player counted on the fierce melee ability of his vast number of Zulu warriors to force the bug units back. He had not counted on either the melee prowess of the insectoids or their extremely aggressive nature. As the humans began fording the river (and suffering truly remarkable casualties due to its swift current and deep channel) the Bug player moved one of their heaviest warrior units right into the ford. This unit of Media Troopers advanced right into the midst of several human units as they waited to cross and attacked them. They charged right across the water and up the steep bank. Suddenly the human plans were completely overtaken by events. Instead of pushing forward and establishing a bridgehead they were confronted by a mass of very deadly alien warriors holding the only crossing point for miles in either direction. In an effort to dislodge this unit they fired into it and had several infantry units charge. Finally they were able to kill all the controlling drones and most of the warriors. This did the humans little good as no sooner had they pushed the first unit out of the way an second charged into the ford and the process needed to be started all over again.
On the human left flank the Zulu warriors had finally gotten most units across the stream and were moving to help clear the ford. As they did so they found themselves under fire from the shooters and charged by several units of warrior and worker bugs. Several melees broke out and although the masses of Zulus were generally able to defeat individual bug units, usually by the simple expedient of piling four or five Zulu units on each bug unit they found themselves taking savage casualties in return.
The only clear bright spot was they rapid destruction of Bug shooter units. Both the field artillery and the machine guns outranged the alien shooters and the aliens usually were able to fire for only a single turn or perhaps two turns before the human artillery made short work of them. Two of the Hive’s shooter units were wiped out in this manner.
Around the ford the main battle still swirled. Three times the humans tried to cross in force and three times the Bug players sent a single unit forward to stop them. Each of these units was smashed in turn but they prevented the human force from making any real progress towards their objective. After four hours of combat, with the bugs having lost half their shooters and several units of melee arthropods it was clear that the humans would not be able to force the river crossing. For their part the humans took considerable casualties to the traditional Zulu troops but relatively few to their other units. No cavalry was ever able to get into combat with the aliens and only a single company of British line infantry found itself face to face with the aliens. As the battle ended it was certain that the larva, and the Hive as a whole would live another day.
First I totally screwed up the Human artillery. I think I mixed up Patrick’s Boilers and Breechloaders rules with the original Sword and the Flame and gave the human artillery 1/3 the dice they should have had when firing artillery. Secondly I probably should have made the bug start area further back. I also should have briefed the human players better. They should have been made more aware of the bugs’ melee abilities.
For their part the human players counted on melee far more than fire to deal with the bugs. As stated above this may have been partly my fault. However the human player should have ensured that all his rifle units were able to cover the ford with fire as he pushed his cavalry across to guard the bridgehead. The human player was also taken aback (and really dice whipped) by what happened when his Zulus tried to swim the river. It was horrific as the stream became choked with the bodies of brave warriors. He lost probably 10% of his force to drowning (this is an original TSatF rule, so I can’t be blamed for that).
For their part the Bug players made the most of what they had. They kept feeding units into the ford, stopping the human main advance. Each of the units was shattered in turn, but that is of no importance to The Hive. Only the survival of The Hive itself matters and the bug players internalized that very well. They fed melee units into the front just enough to force the humans to deal with them. The humans defeated every bug unit but it took them time to do so. With all that happening the humans were never able to push an artillery unit far enough forward to get the helpless larva in range or have their cavalry break free to charge distance.
Seven players participated and even with my mess ups seemed to have a good time. Getting seven people at my table, when they could have played in a number of spectacular games was very gratifying. I’d like to thank the Broms for putting the convention on, and all my players for spending their very valuable convention time with me!
After the shock of the sad news of Larry Brom’s death Wednesday wore off I think most of the Colonial Barracks family of gamers decided to do what Larry would have wanted us to do, which is play and have fun. We do it with his memory close by, with many stories and recollections being shared.
Colonial Barracks is a small convention, but it has some of the most amazing game tables you are likely to see, as well as gloriously painted figures.
Craig from Gaming Models took a model I built and made a production mold for resin casting. I’ve always loved his work and have kit bashed a number of designed from his 15mm resin tanks and guns and what not. It was a ton of fun to work with him on this project. These are VSF drop ships for the HQC Universe, but will certainly work for a lot of different game universes. I haven’t seen models yet, just these pictures. You will be able to see these assaulting the Hive next year at Diecon, Origins and maybe a few other places! I’ll have to add a prop to them, maybe counter rotating ones.
So I’ve been getting minis ready for Colonial Barracks next month and for the conventions next year. I’ve been putting one color minis on the table far too long. Time to at least wash and dry brush, and pick out some details. Plus flock the bases. The miniatures are from a large number of manufacturers: Rebel, Khurasan, Gametech and Ral Partha Europe, are represented in this batch. There will be more to come. I took the pictures before I sprayed the first coat of glass sealer. Next us flocking! Stay tuned for updates.
Since the end of Black Pigeon Press the RPG core rule book has been in limbo. We want to bring it back into the limelight! We also want to publish the Land Vehicles book. We intend upon doing both with a single Kickstarter Campaign.
Arun and I, and many other fine, talented folks, have been hard at work on a new game engine, additional source material and over 100 vehicle designs for the HQC Universe.
So why a Second Edition?
Arun and I have been hard at work on the Land Battleship. OK gave him a sketch, he worked it into a great set of detail drawings and this wonderful rendering!
This will be one of the dead end technologies of the HQC Universe.
We are fleshing out the vast and intricate details of HQC’s International City on Venus. It is being built between 1895 and 1910, but the design will be generally fleshed out before the first foundations are laid.
I ran a large Hive and the Flame scenario at DragonCon this year. Last year I could only bring as much stuff as would get on an airplane. This year we drove down and had all the game that would fit into a Ford Ranger with a small camper shell!
DragonCon is not known to be a Gamer’s convention but I think it is far more gamer friendly than its reputation would indicate. They had a large amount of space in the Hilton. Although the space is in the basement it is well lit and the A/C down there works great! There is also a small food cart in the gaming area which makes getting a bite very convenient. The space is also on the same floor as the loading dock, which made getting all my figs and terrain in a fairly easy chore.
I had intended upon doing the large floor layout I had done at origins and DieCon but with all the traffic at Dragoncon decided it would be safer for the figures not to be on the floor overnight, so I did a large table game instead. I put out a lot of the terrain I had used before, Blue Moon’s Alamo as a ruined Colombian Mission and Monday Knight’s French farmhouse as a Hacienda, as well as a small village. Roads were from Hallowed Ground and rivers from Armorcast. Trees were Adventure Terrain’s.
A lot of the alien figs are from Rosa, which is 3D printing bugs from Rachael Mayo’s original artwork. Others were Scott Flower’s molds which I hand cast from during the winter months. Also there are bug figures from Ral Partha, Khurasan and several other makers. Human troops include TVAG, kit bashes, Arun’s Objects May Appear Shapeways store and Old Glory 15mm minis.
We started gaming after the parade finished on Saturday and ended about 6 PM Sunday so we played a total of around 12 hours in two days. The smaller table and its denser terrain layout favored the defense so I beefed up the Bug forces somewhat. I also tried to ensure that as random reinforcements came on they were balanced out by some extra help to the other side (I only did this once, when the humans got a number of air units on a single turn)
The Bugs rolled forward and were able to get into the refugee stream fairly quickly and the road became an unpaved linear slaughterhouse. Every turn the bug player kept advancing forward and overran more of the poor helpless civilians. The human player was never able to get a unit powerful enough to stop them. They had enough trouble just slowing down the main advance. As has they have proven in the past the Amazonian native workers provided far more staunch opposition then their stats would indicate. The Colombian Presidential Lancers were wiped out early on by a unit of flying lancers. As is also the case the bug flying lancer units troublesome to the human players, moving fast and attacking in unexpected directions. Those and the Supra Major shooters are consistently some of the most dangerous of all Hivemembers.
For their part the humans made great use of their ornithopters and then their more powerful armored aerial gunboats. The first of the bigger ships that came onto the table was used to prevent a unit of flying lancers from swarming the battery of Colombian Krupp guns. It was boarded by the aliens and although it wiped out that unit and preserved the artillery it was almost knocked out (It lost 19 of its twenty hits, and it came down to the last die roll with a single flying lancer and the ship having a single hit left).
The hacienda (Casa del Linegen-Defended by 15mm Elanor Parker and Charelton Heston from Blue Moon) stood up to the alien attack until the final turn on Sunday, when Heston was mortally wounded after defeating numerous giant bugs as they overran his position. His dying action was to ignite the remaining powder charges for his cannon blowing many of the “Damned Dirty Bugs” into oblivion!
When it came time to call the game the Bugs were advancing and eating refugees but the human line had not been broken, even though they had lost more than half their ornithopters, one of their big flyers was crippled and several ground units had been wiped out. It was too close to call, so by referee fiat and with player concurrence it was deemed a draw.
In all I had a couple of dozen players over the two days and everyone seemed to have a very good time!