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Saturday, 18 February 2017

Preston Market Holdout (Battle Report)

+++Preston Market Holdout. Dateline Feb2017+++

The remnants of Captain Alex's squad made double-time back to the Base and raised the alert: whilst Skynet's incursion at the Preston Medical Centre was repelled, the Resistance was sure that this was just the beginning of a broader Machine offensive.  Command's hunch was unfortunately correct.  Scouts spotted a Machine Hunter Squad approaching from the North and a defence Team was quickly deployed by Command to engage them in the ruins of Preston Market... 

Terrain/Set-up

Preston Market, the site of a thriving bustling multi-cultural marketplace, is somewhat different in post-holocaust Melbourne.  Where once it was crammed with traders, shouting out their latest prices, it is now quieter, less popular and somewhat cleaner (the meat and fish hall should have been irradiated years ago).  Visitors are advised that whilst there is now ample parking, inspectors are still inclined issue infringement on a whim... usually in the form of searing bots of plasma!
The Machines entered from the North-Western corner and Resistance from the South-Eastern.

We used the standard sized 3'x2' map and maybe half the area was classified as ruined buildings - treated as dense, difficult terrain.

Special Rules

We kept the terrain-related cover saves very simple: if you were in a dense, difficult terrain, you were entitled to a Hard Cover save against ranged fire, regardless of the attacker's range.  Further, we also allowed both the Aiming and Ambush Advanced Rules.

The Forces

The Resistance (155 Points)

A 7 unit Resistance Team was deployed:
  • 5 x Resistance Soldiers armed with Plasma Rifles;
  • 1 x Resistance Solider with a Grenade Launcher; and
  • 1 x Resistance NCO with a Plasma Rifle.
The Resistance had one, standard TDD (Time Displacement Device - that allows a reroll at any time).

It's worth noting that Command had actually intended on deploying a Squad of 8, but Littlest Brother requisitioned a Resistance Soldier to fly his Fire Helicopter.

The Machines (185 Points)

The Machines deployed a 4 unit Hunter Squad consisting of:
  • 2 x Endoskeletons armed with Pulse Guns;
  • 1 x Endoskeleton armed with a Flamer; and
  • 1 x Mobile Gun Platform.
The Machines also had access to a single, standard TDD.

Mission and Deployment

We played a straight Annihilate Mission and used a Cornered-style deployment position.  During Turn One all units were to be Activated using the standard Turn Sequence such that by Turn Two, all units had entered the Market ruins, up to a Run distance from their respective corners.

The Melee

Initially, the battle-lines split into discrete Northern and Southern fronts.

Turn's One to Three

The Southern Front saw the first of the action with the NCO and three Soldiers approaching the Endos, making for cover in and around the ruins.  Two Machines responded, cautiously approaching, seeking to take advantage of their superior firepower by securing relatively clear firing lanes.  At the close of Turn Two the Machine's long-range plasma proved too accurate for one Resistance Soldier, however, both the NCO and Private Betty were within striking range.

The NCO now had a choice - bring the fight to the Endos or wait them out.  Given the cover afforded by the nearby building and the limited range of the Endo's Flamer, he decided that this place made for a great Ambush location and dug in.

The Machine's Impulse saw them win two Activations.  What better time to try out my Flamer thought Alex?  Firstly Alex Activated one of his standard Endo who closed in on the NCO and Betty and...  

This was a pivotal point in the game.  Paddy had the opportunity to Activate his NCO and fire upon the Endo, however doing so he'd lose the opportunity to shoot at the Flamer wielding Endo should it follow it's machine brethren's route. A difficult, chancy decision for any veteran, let alone an 8-year old. 

...the NCO bravely held his fire! Pew Pew - Ping!  Some old tomato tins were caught in Endo's fire and the NCO dodged a proverbial plasma bolt.

Paddy saw his chance: activating from Ambush, he fired upon the Endo.  Two hits 😁... Two armour saves 😟 and two Reeling saves 😰.  NNNOOOOO!!!  The Endo fired back and sent the NCO Reeling!

On the Northern front, things were looking similarly dire for the Resistance.  The Resistance initially split their troops, with two Resistance Soldiers heading for the shop ruins in the Northern edge and two more Resistance Soldiers, including one with the Grenade Launcher, making for the centre.

Alex moved a single Endoskeleton to engage with his Mobile Gun Platform following in support, moving between the Northern and Centre Resistance positions.  The Endo lurched between the remains of the Spanish Donuts Cart and Camuglia & Sons leaving a dark smudge where once a proud Resistance Soldier stood.  It was a costly lesson for the Resistance and in response the remaining four Humans moved into deeper cover, seeking to obscure themselves amongst the ruined market stalls.

With a Mobile Gun Unit and Crawl approaching, this
Soldier has reason to be concerned!
The Machines pressed their advantage and moved closer to the Resistance position.  The combined plasma and grenades rained down on the lead Endo - but not enough to destroy it!  Now the Resistance had the Mobile Gun Unit and a Crawler to deal with.

In the South the Flamer Endo engaged Weber mode: march into the breach and get the BBQ started!
With two Endos approaching from the West,
the NCO and Betty had some tough decisions to make.

The NCO, toasted in seconds, didn't stand a chance... or did he?  Paddy activated his TDD and now packed his asbestos undies... but to no, another poor roll and the NCO died a second time in some alternate timeline!  Betty was also ignited, however, her quick wits and an effective drop-and-roll saved her tasty bacon.

She was tough that Betty: not only did she survive, but kept her wits and in a final act of defiance, fired upon an Endo, scoring two hits. Whilst not destroying the machine, her fire was sufficient to send it Reeling back to the shop for some serious panel beating.

While Betty was most certainly brave, that wasn't enough to save her from the Flamer Endo's Claws.  Betty bought her comrades some time however the Southern Front had now collapsed and what was left of the Resistance was in serious danger of being both outgunned and outflanked.

Turn Four and Five

The won the Tactical Advantage and made a good Fate roll, leaving them with a difficult decision: target the closer Soldiers or concentrate on the now indisposed Grenade Launcher?  Trusting in their superior resilience, they decided to tackle the closer human and moved in for the kill.  Quickly another Soldier was cut down by withering Plasma bolts, however in response the remaining standard Endoskeleton was cut in half at Point Blank range!

With the Flamer Endo quickly approaching the Northern front, the Resistance needed some serious luck!

The Flamer Endo ran into the fray and attempted to rake the Resistance Soldier, however it was only able to land a glancing blow and the Soldier maintained his steel.

Private Prigs, crouched behind the Farinacci Deli's industrial pasta maker, let rip with his Grenade Launcher into the midst of the bunched Machines at Point Blank, destroying the Crawler and sending the Flamer and Mobile Gun Unit both Reeling!  This was despite the use of the Machine TDD to try a re-roll for the Flamer's Reeling result - new roll, same result.

A roll for Game End decided that the engagement wasn't finished: Resistance Command ordered the Team to finish off the Machines!

Turn Six

The Mobile Gun Unit and Flamer Endo are both Reeling
from the onslaught and the Resistance Soldiers choose
that moment to move it for the kill!
With the remaining two Machine Models Reeling, the Resistance made their last, desperate charge.  If this failed, they'd be in Close Combat range of two Machines during the next Turn - not good for anyone's life expectancy.

Each of the two remaining Resistance Soldiers jumped at the nonsensical Machines, and using the Phillip's Head Screwdriver hidden in the handles of their Combat Knives, opened up the control panels and successfully removed their AA's - Hasta La Vista, Battery!

Epilogue

The two remaining Soldiers limped back to Base to inform Command that they were successful, despite the shocking loss of lives.  With the time bought by the brave warriors, Command had been able to assemble a strike force to launch a raid against the Machine outpost - stay tuned!!

Post-game Thoughts and Ruminations

This particular battle was a lot more exciting that I had anticipated.  The boys were primarily interested in fielding (1) larger forces and (2) some heavy weapons.  They were also trying the Ambush and Aiming rules again, with a little more appreciation as to how, when and why they might be used.

The first half of the game most definitely saw the Machines take the advantage: mowing down a good portion of the Resistance and closing onto their position on multiple fronts.  The Flamer - wow, a terrifying weapon in the hands of an Endo.  Paddy, the Resistance Player, was justifiably stressed, especially given he hadn't managed to employ his shiny new Grenade Launcher!

The later half of the game saw it swing in the Resistance's favour.  The real turning point was when the Machines made the call to attack the nearer Soldiers, allowing the Grenade Launcher to rain down punishment on three Machines at once.  Alex realised he made a mistake using his TDD after the Grenade Launcher hits were being resolved - he might have been better served chancing a miss on three Units rather than seeking to undo the Reeling effect on one.  It's a harsh world out there in post-apocalyptic Preston and the sooner a 6-year old realises that, the better chance he'll have of surviving the future. 

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