Monday, 7 August 2017

An Encounter With The Unknown - an Alien Squad Leader AAR

This AAR represents the first outing for my newly-rebased Corporate Mercenary Army. Their opponents were Richard's enigmatic Alien Greys.

Third Level Clan Commander Utor Varanis had been an employee of the Kagemusha Corporation for a decade or more, following his discharge from the New Venus Defence Force. His military career had been solid if unspectacular, but brought to an ignominious end when his illegal financial trading had been exposed by the planetary government's Inquisitors. Fortunately, most of his ill-gotten gains were invested in an anonymous off-planet account with the Kagemusha Bank. Some of the money was invested in a profitable arms dealing enterprise and the rest was used to buy a stakehold in the Kagemusha Corporation's private army, the Kagemusha Security Force. Since then, his career had been one of endless small small conflicts, security actions and punitive expeditions for the kind of customers who were prepared to buy discreet K-Force muscle from K Corp with no questions asked. This latest contract was no different from many others; a security detail on an arid satellite of a gas giant, defending huge automated mining installations from pirates. Nine weeks in both he and his troops were bored, listlessly counting down the days until they were rotated out to be replaced by a fresh company.

Now, in the hours before sunrise, the alarms were going mental across the control centre and the long range sensors were down. Across base, troopers were scrambling and taking up defensive positions. Whatever it was, it was something that 3L Varanis had never seen before. Hurredly, he deployed his troops in a line either side of a road that led from his base to the nearest mining installation, which, if his displays could be believed, was offline and powered down, as was the entire network of orbital spy satellites. In the dim early morning light, he could see something approaching.

Varanis deployed hover AFVs on both flanks, on the left secure behind a toxic slurry canal. He pushed Techno Ninja stealth troops in a ruined settlement and in some scrubland way out on his right, supported by robotic Cyborg Guardian troops.

Before long, the enemy could be seen advancing. These were robotic troops of an unknown type. Almost immediately, their energy beams destroyed the AFV on the K-Force left, leaving the infantry there out in the open and at risk of destruction.

The unknown robots took cover in a rocky outcrop where they were difficult to locate and attack.

Varanis occupied the settlement, deploying a heavy weapons team to try and take out the robots.

On the right, K-Force units occupied heavy cover in a deserted mine.

 For hours, little happened. The robotic troops bombarded the settlement without much effect and K-Force responded with an equal lack of success. Varanis began to feel that he had a firm control of the situation, despite attacks from floating weapons platforms that appeared, fired and vanished again. Suddenly, alien troops appeared over a low hill. Varanis ordered his elite Ninjas to attack.

Inexplicably, these masters of combat were defeated and eliminated by the aliens. First they lost their initial assault (due to an appalling dice roll) and were then crippled by a Paralysis attack which meant they were wiped out without being able to respond.

As the sun rose over the horizon, Varanis sent in the Cyborg Guardians, but despite causing some damage, these were taken over by a Mind Of The Machine attack and forced out into the open where they were picked off by heavy weapons fire. Elsewhere, the threat from alien Flyers forced Varanis to deploy many of his troops on Overwatch, as casualties began to mount from long-range heavy energy beam fire. The heavy weapons team in the settlement was one such loss, one that would prove crucial.

The alien robots, supported by floating heavy weapons platforms were proving to be almost impossible to dislodge. They were too far away to assault and with few heavy weapons, almost immune to his Ashigaru infantry's small arms.

In desperation, Varanis ordered his remaining AFV to attack the robots.

Finally, the primary weapon on the AFV scored a hit and severely damaged one of the alien robots.

This success was short-lived as withering heavy fire destroyed the remaining K-Force heavy weapons team and damaged the AFV.

However, before long, the damaged robot exploded from prolonged suppressive fire from the beleaguered K-Force troops.

The constant airborne threat kept K-Force from doing anything except cowering in cover and anxiously scouring the skies. Inevitably, a Flyer got through and destroyed the remaining AFV. 

At this point, Varanis realised that his gamble had failed and his remaining troops were sitting ducks. He ordered a general withdrawal. As his battered fighters emerged from their improvised defences in the ruins, Third Level Clan Commander Utor Varanis contemplated his future. Demotion to Second Level Clan Commander seemed inevitable and he fully expected that there would be large financial penalties to pay as well. He would be lucky to avoid the disgrace of being sent to command a Kagemusha Corporation Debtor Re-education Facility.

So, an interesting game. The loss of an AFV early on meant that my army lacked long-rage firepower and was unable to get anywhere near the enemy to launch any assaults on the weak Grey infantry. My forces were bottled up in defensive positions that soon became death traps. The Alien Greys are an odd force in many ways but the sheer number of heavy weapons they can deploy means that they can stand off and destroy their opponents one at a time.

Still, plenty of food for thought. I still like the Corporate Mercenary army, but they do seem to need more long-range punch. Also, Flyers.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Rebasing a Sci Fi army

Last year, I posted about my GZG sci fi armies that I was planning to use for Quadrant 13 games. Here is the piece I wrote about my Corporate Ashigaru army.

Anyway, no one at my club plays Q13 so this army, which I like a lot has been languishing away in a drawer, not being used. However, in the new version (so far unreleased) of Alien Squad Leader, written by the club's very own Alex Self, there is a new army list for "Far Eastern Corporate Mercenaries". "Bingo!" I thought. "Perhaps I can reuse my figures."

Of course, this meant a rebasing exercise, which I've been avoiding because it seemed like a lot of hassle. So far, so much Nothing Much Happening. Until now. 

Having been away on holiday, I didn't have any plans for games for the next few weeks but on Sunday, I arranged to play ASQL next Sunday. My original thought was to use my Human Imperial army again, a force I very much like, but the idea light bulb flickered into life and whispered "What about a Corporate Mercenary force?" in my ear. "After all, you've got the figures."

I couldn't see any compelling reason why not to do it, so I've been setting about the troops with a Stanley knife and deploying the Bostik, PVA glue, 5cm MDF bases from Warbases and the right basing material (crushed limestone grit designed for reptile tanks) and flock and getting an army ready to deploy on the table.

And here are the results. First are eight elements of Corporate Ashigaru (including two command stands). These are basic infantry compulsory choices.

Next are two Ashigaru Support elements with heavy weapons and two stands of Cyborg Guardians, who are classed as Robotic Infantry. I still have a couple of heavy weapons to be rebased at some point.

Next up are two Ground Attack Craft. I've decided that these GZG drones fit the bill perfectly.

Now four stands of Ninjas, elite infiltration infantry.

Next, some overkill. A total of seven stands of Samurai Stormtroopers wearing power armour. In the first picture they are acting as bodyguards for the Clan Commander character stand, and in the second one, they are led by a Sword Master power armoured character.

And finally, some vehicles; three Teishin APCs and two Teishin APCs. Note that these models are hover vehicles, designated as Air-lifted Vehicles in the rules. This means that they have a reduced saving throw but they have other advantages, including the ability to cross certain types of terrain and rivers without penalty and they can also make pop-up attacks.

Of course, I have far too many elements for a 150pt game, even for a 200pt one, especially when in comes to power-armoured Samurai Stormtroopers, but has that ever stopped a wargamer before? I had a lot of power-armoured troops and I was reluctant to leave then in the drawer. What really makes me happy is that I can finally get to use these troops, the techno Ninjas in particular (they count as "stealthy" in the new ASQL rules) because they are terrific little figures. Well done Ground Zero Games for producing such excellent miniatures!

All I have to do now is stick some magnetic sheeting to the bases and I'll be ready to take on any opposition on the tabletop. There are a couple of other troop types in the army list, so I will definitely be doing some shopping at some future date to give me more options.