Tuesday, 16 December 2014

This must be just like livin' in Paradise.


The ongoing unrest in the Western Foothills spilled over into the industrial district of Puerto Brum.  Earlier in the week, the ruined and abandoned Milk Duds factory was the scene of clashes between the Policia Municipale and assorted gang members and foreign mercenaries in a chaotic four-way gun battle.  Unfortunately the brave men of the Policia were driven off and the site left in the hands of the criminals and anarchists.

Yesterday however, the Army sent in a squad of troops to clear and secure the site.  They quickly encountered a sizeable force of the rebel farmers led by the notorious revolutionary El Porco Verde.  In a long gun battle, two soldiers were killed and several wounded, however our brave boys in green finally managed to capture the rebel leader and several of his henchmen.

A spokesman for El Presidente has stated "We believe that the rebels were at the site to pick up a supply shipment of arms, smuggled to them by one of the city's criminal gangs.  In smashing this operation, we've dealt a crippling blow to this illegal revolt against our just rule."

Thus is the tale of two wargames recently fought in my Imagi-Nation of San Paradiso.

The first was a quickly thrown together game of Pulp Alley for the Old Farts gaming evening, who graced me with their presence last week.  Since I don't have any proper pulp-era figures painted, it was a toss-up between digging out the Victoriana/Steampunk figures, or going for a modern "Action Movie" style game.  In the end we had the Police, the biker gang, the "urban" gang and "The Z-Team" all clashing over a table representing a ruined factory complex.

As a fun game, I can't praise Pulp Alley highly enough.  It's designed to reproduce the feel of dashing pulp serials, with lots of back and forth and a fairly low body count.  The rules could work without modification for pretty much any period from early gunpowder to sci-fi.  However you'll always have that highly cinematic feel, which might not suit the tone of game you're aiming for.  Personally I'm happy to add Pulp Alley to my "toolbox" of rulesets, as the go-to rules for "fun" multiplayer skirmish games, alongside Flying Lead and Chain Reaction (in increasing order of seriousness).

Anyway the multiplayer Pulp Alley game proved inconclusive, with the Police the only clear losers (the other three sides each had secured one "Plot point", and while the Bikers looked about to gain the upper hand, we basically ran out of time).  So I left the terrain set up on the table and today decided to send in an Army squad to clear the area, using Two Hour Wargames' Chain Reaction in a solo game.  It was the first time I'd used the current PEF rules (Possible Enemy Forces), and I was looking forward to seeing how they'd work for an impromptu solo game.

It was an exciting battle.  The squad entered at the front gate and after ensuring the gatehouse was empty, split into two fireteams.  Alpha team, accompanied by the squad leader, peeled to the right, towards one PEF, while Bravo team peeled to the right, toward two PEFs.

Bravo encountered the enemy first, revealing a rebel foot patrol.  It was here I ran into the first and only real headscratcher of the game.  In Chain Reaction, PEFs are resolved as either nothing, or a number of troops relative to the player's "Group".  While the rules seem to be written with the assumption of a single player group, it wasn't clear what happens in the case of a squad split into two tactical groups operating independantly, like the two fireteams.  Do you base the number of troop in the PEF on the number of troops in the fireteam encountering them, or on the number in the whole squad?  At first I assumed the latter, but seeing the overwhelming odds that produced, switched to the former (basing the numbers on the encountering groups).  I think this aspect of the game bears tinkering with, maybe using the subgroup size, but increasing the number of PEFs on table based on the number of subgroups in play.

Anyway Bravo team ran headlong into that patrol (which eventually had four members) and paid for it with the loss of the fireteam leader.  The survivors deployed into the ruined buildings for cover, revealing the second PEF which fortunately turned out to be a false alarm.  The SAW gunner managed to take out the rebel patrol's leader and a second rebel, sending the two survivors diving for cover.

Meanwhile Alpha team had similarly spread out and encountered the third PEF, which turned out to be the main rebel force of 8 men, including their leader El Porco Verde (from the jungle ambush game).  An exchange of fire between the REP 5 squad leader and the REP 5 rebel left the soldier sprawling in the dust, having rapidly burned through his "Star Power" points in an attempt to cancel his injuries.  The two sides settled down for what looked like it would be an extended firefight of attrition.

Bravo team lost a second man but managed to take out the rest of the patrol facing them.  They then quickly moved towards the sound of gunfire, hoping to catch the main rebel force in the flank.

It was at this point that I made a mistake, or perhaps got a little greedy with the Rebel actions.  The initiative dice came up Gov 6, Reb 2, which meant that though the Government troops nominally won, they could only activate units with a REP 6 or higher (of which they had none), while the rebels could activate anything with a REP 2 or higher.  I tried to send two men in a mad dash across the open towards a flanking position on Alpha team.  Although they were spotted as soon as they reached the open, I was banking on winning the resulting In Sight Test, using El Porco's REP of 5 vs the leaderless soldiers' 4.

In a statistically unlikely but not impossible result, the Soldiers rolled more successes and were able to shoot first, gaining a few easy kills.  The following turn saw Bravo team arrive at a flanking position and pour fire into the rebels.  El Porco was gunned down, surviving through Star Power, while the rest of his group were whittled away until only he remained, at which point I called an end to the scenario.

It really had felt like the rebels had the upper hand, up until the arrival of Bravo on the flank.  Had the rebels taken an extra turn to properly suppress Alpha team (with Duckbacks) before attempting the dash across open ground, things might have gone differently.. then again Bravo team might have arrived before they'd been able to capitalise on that.  But all in all it was just a really fun little solo game.

From a campaign perspective: linking the rebels to the hardcore criminal gangs served to undermine their popularity amongst the more conservative elements.  Thus the following Sunday, more than one church pulpit saw a sermon condemning the farm rebels as "traitors against society, San Paradiso and the Will of God". (i.e. Attempt to undermine "Support from the Church", requires 3+, rolled 3)

This leaves the campaign status as follows.

Farmers - Control of the Foothills of Monto Blanko, The Bridge at El Humber, The Goodwill Of The People.

Army - Secure base of operations at Verdaville. Secure supply of food and supplies, The Airfield at Los Anillcamino

Uncontrolled - Foreign media interest. The fertile Piso River valley. The Sunrise Corp Processing Plant, Support from the Church.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like the rebels took a big hit with the capture of El Porco.