Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Crossroads: Firefight Off the Grid

The Crossroads
Prydian Civil War, The Ion Age: The spark of war, ignited on Bosworth IV has spread throughout the system. Even the backwater ag-world of Evesham has become a scene of conflict. Admittedly it is fought at a very low intensity, yet conflict it remains.

 Our story concerns an affair of outposts fought by the blue and yellow liveried forces of  the Earl of Warenne representing the Yordanists on the one side and the kahki, silver, and blue of the Company of St. Andrew, in the pay of Canlaster on the other.

Some background first. This is the first in a series of  games I plan to play using the same scenario in different ears. The scenario is "The Crossroads", number 11 in C. S. Grant's excellent "Programmed Wargames Scenarios". Each scenario in the book is played out on semi-random terrain, with again semi-random force generation. The scenarios are set up so that in most cases the player(s) can take one side and the book will handle the decisions and plans of the enemy, Here I will take up the cause of Canlaster and the book will handle the forces of Warenne.

For this game I am using the "Firefight 2.0" rules that I developed for Alternative Armies. Firefight 2.0 or FF2 for short is a tense game of close-in urban combat in the spire cities of the Ion Age. It is normally played on a square grid, but for this game I am just using my regular wargames table. By simply equating each FF2 square with a single inch, it's dead easy to do so. Indeed players are free to use any increment per square, say 1 cm or 2 inches or whatever suits the space available to play this way. I also capped weapon ranges at 25 inches if this was otherwise unspecified. The only other change implemented was to use circular burst templates rather than the squares used in the gridded game.

For those of you unfamiliar with FF1 and/or the current version, a word on the mechanics. Basically every figure is rated for the number of action dice it may use when activated. This number may be modified by weapons and equipment, as well as just what sort of action is being attempted. When acting the player rolls the appropriate number of action dice. 1's usually mean a defensive success such as dodging a hit, while 6's represent an offensive success such as hitting a target or treating a wound. Any other result is called a General dice. These are used to carry out more mundane tasks such as moving about and operating machinery.

Back to the game. The table depicted a small community at the cross roads of two major routes (major for a back water ag-world anyway). The roads entered/exited from the NW, NE, SE, and SW corners of the table. The crossroads itself was situated nearer the east than the west table edge. There were some clumps of woods scattered about and a number of low rises. On the western edge there was a long ridge dominated by a steep mesa at the southern end.

One last and very important restriction; The Rules of Engagement forbid the use of explosives/heavy weapons on any target where collateral damage could result to any civilian structure. The Prydian Civil War is an affair of Barons fighting amongst themselves and any severe disruption to civil infrastructure is strictly prohibited...for now.

Randomly generating my force, I ended up with the smallest possible command. My force consisted of one  fire team of 4 Muster (think regular infantry), one understrength fire team of 3 Retained (think futurisit armour), a Muster heavy weapons (HW) team of an Anvil Rocket Launcher team, a Muster scout, and a Retained medic. My on table presence was in the form of a Retained Knight (officer).
The Approach.

We were instructed to approach the crossroads from the NE and I set the marching order thus; Scout, command team of myself and medic, Retained fire team, Heavy Weapons team, and lastly the Muster fire team bringing up the rear.

It was a good thing that I had drawn the shorter approach to the crossroads for as it happened Warenne's men had beaten me onto the table by a move. Entering from the NW, Warrenne's force was eventually discovered to number a Muster platoon of three regular fire teams of four rifles, a HW team of  of one Anvil, two Rifle supports for the HW team, a medic and a comms officer all led by a Muster Magoris (Officer).
Warenne's Men

I was outnumbered 19 to 11, but we had Right on our side. Actually my small force of Retained would be a great counter to Warenne's numbers. Or so I hoped.
Scout and Command enter the settlement.

Warenne's men began spreading out, a fire team occupy a wood to the north of the settlement, the HW section to the western ridge, and the remainder to advance on the crossroads itself. Their maneuvers would inevitably lead to part of my force being caught in the open by fire from the wood.

Girding our loins we pressed on. My plan was to get my Retained into the settlement to thwart the enemy HW team, while using my HW team to cover the movement. We'd soon see if Retained armour conferred any real benefit on the open battlefield. My Muster team was to be my reserve, taking position behind the settlement in order to shore up any weak points in my forward section.

We had nearly reached the cover of the buildings when shots rang out and my character was struck and down. The medic rushed over to assess the damage and my chances looked good. My wound level was 6. It merely needed to be raised to 7 for my figure to re-enter the fray. However each turn the status would drop one level without medical attention.
Struck down by sniper fire.
The very next turn the medic was struck down as he tended me. The nearby Retained put paid to the sniper but the damage had been done. The scout quickly dragged me to cover and did what he could. At this point, from a story telling perspective, I could have ended the game. Certainly "I" was no longer capable of remaining in command.
Warenne's Men advance.

However as it was so early in the game I pressed on as my subordinate : )
Grove of Death.

With the HW team pouring fire into the wood, the Retained fired as they made for the cover of the buildings.
Advancing under fire.

Here the superior armour and armament of the Retained came into its own as the three remaining Retained shrugged off a couple of hits while themselves dealing out some damage. A lucky HW shot eliminated all resistance in the wood and there was a momentary lull as both sides prepared for what would follow.
Position silenced.

The Lull.

In a scene repeated on thousands of worlds in millions of wars my men took shelter among the shanties and prepared to fight for their lives far from home at the back end of nowhere..
Eternal Soldier.

Desperate Times.
Warenne's Men got ready to assault the village.
Stay Frosty
The Muster teams paired off, some providing covering fire while the others advanced.
The assault kicks off.
As I had hoped, by keeping my men in the settlement, the enemy's HW team was denied viable targets. They watched from on high, awaiting any opportunity to fire.
Overwatch.
Now it was our turn to play sniper and soon blue clad bodies littered the lane.
The Lane.
As Warenne's assault went in the firing became general and ranges got down to point blank.
Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough!
My forwardmost Retained fell in a hail of fire but took one of his attackers with him...
I guess they were...
His killer had scant time to relish his victory as he fell to a volley from my reserve Muster team.

Meanwhile the scout lost his battle with the inevitable and my character bled out.
Situation Critical.
At this point the Retained section leader fired an extremely effective burst that brought down two more of the enemy. Warenne's Men had had enough and began to retire!
Victory!
Final losses amounted to three for the Company of St. Andrew; Commander, medic, and one Retained. 

Warenne suffered the loss of thee Muster Trooper Emeritus (section leaders), and seven  Muster rank and file. 

A good day's work for the Company.

Notes: It was a fun game. I was a bit concerned by the disparity in numbers but in the end the fighting skill of the Retained more than made up for their lack of numbers.

As far as using Firefight 2 on the table vice the grid, well there were no difficulties encountered at all. 

All figures pictured are from Alternative Armies. Buildings from Rackham and JR Miniatures. Roads from Miniature World Maker. Other terrain primarily from The Terrain Guy with bits from Lemax and Geo-Hex. Acrylic game tokens from Litko.

Hope you enjoyed the report and as always thanks for stopping by!