Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mars Needs Women

For the Saturday evening slot of GZG ECC, I was in the Mars Needs Women Victorian Science Fiction game run by Steve Barosi and Martin Connell. The rules were StarGrunt, somewhat modified when handling vehicles--the aerial gunboats had hull sections, with hull boxes and systems like Full Thrust.
The premise is that a Martian ship had crash landed near an English village; Martian and British forces were each trying to capture the ship, as well as any women to be found in the nearby village.
On the Martian left, I had a squad of regular infantry, a flight of three veteran manta-riders with beam weapons, and an aerial skiff with a bow gun and a squad of melee-only veteran infantry. The other two Martian players had about the same, except the right had eight or ten manta riders with rifles instead of beam weapons--quite a handicap, since with rifles you have to get within their rifle range--and in the center we had a General and a Martian spider walker tank. The British had an aerial gunboat, larger than our air skiffs and carrying several squads of infantry; a tank; and armored walker; and several squads of infantry plus a couple of gun crews.
On my side, things went pretty much according to plan. My air skiff was plagued by a faulty engine but I managed to bring it forward enough for my raiding party to fast-rope down into the village. The skiff's bow gun blew up the British tank before it could do anything, and then traded shots with the British gunboat, although it came off the short end of that exchange--my gun was destroyed by return fire. My manta riders added to the fire against the gunboat, then moved forward to attack the British walker. Their beams sliced up the walker but also caught the attention of a nearby Maxim crew; the hail of bullets killed two riders and the third decided that he'd done enough in that battle and it was time to leave. Meanwhile, my raiders started searching houses and capturing women, working their way back to our baseline. My infantry took up a protected position, ready to give fire support; unfortunately another player's raiding party ambled across my front and blocked my field of fire. My raiders discovered three women )of the seven on the field) and made off with them, so my part of tings was pretty much successful. On the other side of the battle, however....
 Stuart had a couple of squads of Hang-glider Highlanders on board the gunboat. When the aerial skiff from the Martian right got close, the Highlanders flung themselves over the rail, spread their wings and glided in to assault the skiff. They handily defeated the Martian "veteran" raiding party, dropped the wounded over the side, and forced the surviving crew to pilot the skiff for them. When ordered to bring the skiff alongside the gunboat, our pilot tried to ram, but the bloodthirsty Highlanders detected his intent and cut him down, whereupon a budding Montgomery Scott figured out how to work the alien controls and brought the skiff safely alongside (This was handled by a series of opposed rolls, with the Martian player failing every one.  The GM told him "I'm trying to hand you the game, but your dice have to cooperate!"). One squad then went down to take control of the crashed Martian ship (and the women thereon), while the other tried to hang glide onto a unit of mantas. The rifle-armed riders manged to beat back the assault, which was the only effective thing they did; they spent most of the game suppressed by British fire.
In the end, my raiders got away with three women and the Brits ran off with four. The Martians had a unit of mantas and an infantry squad on the downed ship; the Brits had two or three squads and had crash landed their captured skiff on the ship to bring reinforcements in an attempt to gain sole control. The two remaining Martian skiffs circled overhead. The game was ruled a tie, although the GMs ruled that the Highlander officer who led the hang-glider attack got a VC. A very fun game with lots of handsome minis, which are tempting me to get back into collecting figures again.

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