Saturday saw The Hive and the Flame slotted for a demo game at Diecon. I had set up the terrain the evening before to generate some interest and was pleased by the turnout when the game started Saturday morning. In all between 10 and 15 folks tried out the system and they all seemed pleased with it. The vehicles garnered some very welcome praise, as did the Hive terrain itself.
The scenario was a steampunk version of Operations Market Garden. A force of flying machines was to land troops atop the ruins of the Hive and a large mechanized column would punch through and link up with them.
The play started with a large force of flying bugs circling, just as one would expect from hornets who have just had their nest kicked. Once the British aerial units entered the board the flyers headed straight for them. The first turn resulted in first blood as the British fired upon the nearest flying lancers and did some level of destruction to the massive swarm.
The second turn saw an all out aerial melee ensure with the bugs concentrating on the lighter and unarmoured ornithopters. Although the machine guns on there craft were able to kill a number of bugs the bugs got some of their own back and downed three ornithopters. On the ground a unit of Major Lancers erupted near to a battery of steam propelled 5 inch howitzers and were able to get into close combat range. The remaining British armour split up, some going back to help the gunners and the main portion headed towards the Hive.
Turn three continued the aerial attrition, but saw a large part of the flying lancer swarm break off and head towards the British ground forces. The action quickly evolved into two separate battles. One with the bulk of both sides’ flying forces engaged in a running battle headed towards the Hive and a second centered around the British ground forces with both sides attempting to provide some air support.
The British aerial column continued its dogged advance toward its landing zone. Once within visual range they discovered the entire area covered with larva. These were Rebel Miniatures ripper worms and they make perfect young’ns for the Hive. With their mouths open they exhibit the hunger so core to these alien creatures. This unwanted discovery added tot eh British aerial commander’s problems as he had to not only fight off the flying lancers (as well as a trio of Super Heavy shooters that appeared to provide an increasingly accurate and damaging fire) but also had to clear the landing Zone of these six foot long flesh eating maggots. It was time to unleash several salvos of 9.2 inch rockets, which did do a fair job of reducing the maggots to pulp.
Back at the other end of the board things continued to go south for the British player. His air cover was forced from the board and several more units of ground bugs arrived through the vast tunnel network beneath Devon. More and more of his vehicles were immobilized or knocked out. Even though several units of bugs were completely wiped out the ground force was still compelled to retire.
Without the ground force to soak up bug reinforcements more and more bugs headed for the landing zones. They came boiling out of the tunnels and soon, even with the firepower of the massed rocket batteries, the landing zones would be swamped. Viewing discretion as the better part of valour the assault ships came back in and recovered their landing parties
I’ll finish the buildout discussion after Diecon 12 (next weekend) but wanted to give folks an impression of the forces that will be available for the British Empire at that convention.
Five large assault flyers
18 two place ornithopters
We are happy to announce that Stars of Empire is now available as an instantly downloadable .pdf through RPG Now!