“Buffalo 2-7, this Six, do you copy. Over.”
The ARPANet link pulsed briefly. Lieutenant Grant woke with a start as his commander’s voice broke the silence in the billet.
“Buffalo 2-7, say again, this Six, do you copy. Over.”
Grant fumbled with his headset, thumbing the “transceive” button.
“Buffalo 2-7 receiving, go ahead Six.” Grant glanced at his platoon sergeant, asleep in the Humvee with his helmet tipped over his face. Amazingly enough, the big sergeant had a cigarette clamped beween his teeth, it’s tip glowing brighter as he inhaled. Sergeant Macauliffe was actually smoking while asleep. Grant was entranced.
“…2-7, can you confirm?”
Grant tore himself away from the sight of his supine second in command.
“Six, say again, we had, uhh, bad reception”
“2-7, your orders are to proceed to relay station E6-A and secure. Soviet forces are known to be active in the area and we have picked up the EM signatures of a psychic. Close air support is available.”
“Confirm, Six. We are on our way”
“Co-ordinates to follow. Six out.”
The ARPANet link pulsed a second time with co-ordinates as Grant kicked his sergeant awake.
“Time to saddle up, Mac. We’ve got work to do.”
Holy Soviet Empire forces have been making a push across this sector, threatening a vital ARPANet field relay station. Your battlegroup is tasked with securing it against hostile activity.
The objective is Relay Station Echo Six Actual – whichever side can get undamaged, unsuppressed forces in base-to-base contact with the building for one uninterrupted turn with no undamaged, unsuppressed enemy forces in contact (ie. an Alliance fireteam spends a turn in base-to-base contact with the building and no Holy Soviet Empire forces manage to get in contact with the building) will be considered the victor.
A & B Squads – Rifle
C Squad – Missile
D Squad – Light Machinegun
Ghost Seven – Stealth
Warhawk 4-9 – Rocketeers
Humvee – Stinger/ TOW Launcher, Roswellium armour
Fire Support – MLRS strike
Holy Soviet Army
Nos 1, 2 & 3 Squads – Riflemen
No. 4 Squad – Heavy Weapons
Lightning Storm Squad
Cherno Alfa, Cherno Brava, Cherno Troika – T-48 tanks
Holy Mystic with bodyguard, Mind Control and Telekinesis powers
Holy Soviet Empire
I elected to concentrate my heavy armoured striking force on the right for maximum impact and shock value – this was the three T-48 tanks plus my Lightning Storm Attack Squad. These would be the units that hit the Alliance line first while my infantry platoon would hold in cover in the centre, ready to follow up. This gave me the advantage of letting No. 4 squad set up mortars and heavy machineguns early on in the game. Depending on how things played out they could either follow up the advance in the centre or make a flanking manouevre around the left of the relay station. Either way, I felt the sheer numerical mass of my rifle squads would give me the advantage when it came down to close in fighting around the objective.
Looking at the terrain, I saw there was only one area of “tank country” where the Soviets could use their armour effectively – so I set up an ambush there with my anti-tank firepower from the Humvee and Charlie Squad’s missile launcher. The best plan with the Alliance when facing outnumbering armies is to get into good enfilade/ defilade deployment positions and cut them down to size before counterattacking, but with a five turn limit and needing to spend one turn in uninterrupted contact with the relay building I wasn’t going to have time to mess around. Everyone was going to need to be in a good firing position by the end of Turn 1 at the latest, and as the most protected unit I planned on using the Dreadnought squad to cross the open ground to advance on to the objective. With their fearsome CCR, healthy armour rating and formidable firepower I was confident they could handle any challenges.
The battlefield – Atlantic Alliance troops to the left, Holy Soviet Empire on the right. The relay station can be seen visible between the radar dish and the cooling tower in the centre of the battlefield
The Atlantic Alliance won the initiative and opted to move first.
Tyres squealed as the Humvee darted forward into cover, setting up a beautiful flank shot on Cherno Troika – only to see the Stinger/TOW plow into the ground short of it’s target. The crew froze as the T-48 swung it’s turret to face them and opened up with everything it had. When the onslaught was over the Humvee’s crew couldn’t believe their luck – out of a 100mm cannon, a heavy machine gun and two light machine guns, only one bullet had hit, and that had been stopped by the Roswellium composite armour!
A few metres behind the Luckiest Humvee In The World (TM), sniper team Ghost Seven dove into position, chancing an oblique shot at the exposed Soviet HQ. The young Soviet Lieutenant ducked (and was rewarded with a contemptuous look for his Commissar) but that was all.
Hidden behind the ruined department store, the Holy Mystic cast his mind forth over the battlefield and sense the presence of the Alliance’s power armoured elite Dreadnought squad. Twice he tried to enslave them, and twice he was rebuffed. On the other side of the battlefield, the Rocketeers leapt forward opening up a murderous – but ineffective salvo of shots on the Soviet HQ.
On the Alliance left, it looked like the Luckiest Humvee Crew In The World might have sighed in relief too soon as a 100mm cannon round from Cherno Brava destroyed the Stinger/TOW launcher, whilst in the centre Lieutenant Grant saw an opportunity to cripple the Soviet armoured thrust before it got going – Alliance HQ moved swiftly into cover and Grant called in an MLRS strike on Cherno Alfa and the Lightning Storm squadron. The ARPANet link pulsed briefly before a lethal firestorm engulfed the exposed Soviets, destroying Cherno Alfa’s weapons and killing two of the Tesla-armoured infantrymen. First blood to the Alliance! At least the Holy Soviet Army could be proud it’s elite heavy infantrymen kept their nerve.
The driver of Cherno Alfa, realising that a) he had survived the MLRS attack and b) his tank was now weaponless, drove his stricken vehicle forward as planned, nobly reasoning he could provide mobile cover for the less protected Lightning Storm squad. Meanwhile, fireteam Charlie 1 flanked round using the relay station itself as cover to set up a Stinger/TOW shot on Cherno Troika, disabling it’s weapons, and as the Soviet’s Noble Sniper failed to take down any of the Dreadnought squad, their squadmates in team Charlie 2 double-timed up to the relay station itself in support.
In front of them, protected by the cover of the trees, the Soviet No. 4 (Heavy Weapons) Squad sweated and puffed as they hauled their mortars and heavy machineguns into position around the Nissen huts to cover off the Alliance’s approach routes to the objective. Fire from teams Alfa 1 and 2 was ineffective as the Allied troops scrambled into cover, and in the Soviet centre the Lightning Storm squad began to move up behind the cover of the T-48s.
The Soviet infantry assault began in earnest now, Nos. 1, 2 & 3 (Rifle) Squads double timing past their Heavy Weapons comrades into the woods, each losing a man to fire from the opposing Bravo Squad who had managed to successfully deploy into cover. Their morale held, however – no doubt helped by the inspiring presence of Comissar Kuryakin and the Soviet HQ unit, which opened fire on the Rocketeers (albeit to no effect). Lieutenant Polikarpov and his RTO sent a fire support request back to company headquarters.
It was time to unleash the Alliance’s big guns – the Dreadnought squad. The Stinger/ TOW scored a direct hit on Cherno Troika, immobilising the T-48 while the two troopers armed with miniguns opened fire on the Soviet infantry moving up through the woods. The lethal multibarrelled weapons screamed mechanically as they pumped a hail of shells into the woods, shredding trees, bushes, one rifleman from No. 2 Squad and the entirety of No. 1 Squad! Nine infantrymen dead and a T-48 immobilised – the Alliance’s finest had made their presence felt.
In the administration phase of the turn, Soviet STAVKA High Command authorised the Lieutenant Polikarpov’s fire support request and a Tesla Storm munition was duly deployed – unfortunately the Alliance’s intelligence group managed to hack the request and send it off course, dropping the lethal lightning storm onto the densely packed Soviet infantry of No. 3 Squad and Lt. Polikarpov’ HQ unit! The air broiled with electricity and the screams carried across the battlefield as lashes of lightning incinerated the helpless Soviets, leaving only four survivors from the two units! Disaster for the Soviets – the only silver lining was that both units passed their morale check, and the survivors of No. 3 Squad rolled a Frenzy, firing maniacally at the Allied Platoon Command Element and downing Platoon Sgt. McAuliffe.
Tactical Notes – Fortunes Of War Cards
These cards attempt to replicate the chaotic nature of warfare – no plan ever surviving contact with the enemy. In this instance, the Alliance were fortunate enough to misdirect the Soviet fire support request onto the HQ itself, and the Soviet player was unlucky enough that his lethal Tesla Storm arrived with 100% accuracy on his own HQ!
Massed Soviet infantry deploy into cover
The Holy Soviet Empire won the initiative.
Cherno Troika and fireteam Charlie 1 had both been placed in overwatch to cover off the other, but it was the Soviet tank crew who were quickest off the draw, grimly wiping out the Alliance fireteam in a hailstorm of cannon and machinegun fire.
Inspired by his comrades, Cherno Alfa’s driver gunned the engine on his weaponless tank and rammed the Alliance Humvee, crushing both front wheels and killing the crew, while the Rocketeers finished up the work of the Tesla storm – mercilessly gunning down the remnants of No. 3 Squad and the HQ at point blank range.
Once again, the Holy Mystic tried to summon the psychic energies to enslave the minds of the Dreadnought squad, but to no avail. His attempt at telekinesis ended in abject failure, and even his bodyguards missed the Alliance riflemen moving towards the relay station. Clearly the massacre of his comrades had gravely shaken his ability to focus!
Over on the other side of the battlefield, fireteam Delta 2 realised the Alliance’s right flank was pretty secure so wheeled left into cover to fire – ineffectively – on the Soviet Heavy Weapons Squad, while in the centre Cherno Brava’s driver crashed his crippled tank into the relay building itself to provide a covered approach for his supporting infantry, sheltering them from Bravo 2’s fire.
It was obvious to the survivors of the Soviet assault force that the plan had failed. All that remained was to die heroically. No. 2 squad downed their hundred gram vodka and roared a tremendous battlecry, charging fireteam Charlie 2 sheltering by the relay station. Two men fell to oblique overwatch fire from Bravo 2, but the combination of vodka and rage over the slaughter of their comrades kept the Soviets going. They fell on Charlie 2 and bludgeoned the two Alliance troopers to death with rifle butts, bayonets and sharpened entrenching tools, but the victory was shortlived as deployed fire from Bravo 1 ripped through their exposed ranks, leaving only the sergeant standing with his back to the relay station wall howling his defiance. Unbelievably, the Soviets – despite their appalling casualties – were now in command of the objective and were winning!
Inspired by this incredible example, the Soviet Heavy Weapons Squad dropped Alfa 1’s sergeant with a mortar round before abandoning their mortars and heavy machine guns to hustle up toward the objective to support the sole survivor of the Soviet infantry assault. Fire from Alfa 2 dropped a man, but the conscripts would not abandon the heroic sergeant.
The Tesla troopers now entered the fray, their Lightning Launchers taking down a Dreadnought and one of Bravo 2 – and suppressing both! The Alliance’s most powerful unit was effectively neutralised!
The remaining Allied infantry began to rush toward the relay station, and in the administration phase both units were able to shake their suppression.
Tactical Notes – Close Assaults between Vehicles.
These are resolved the same way as between infantry units, with the difference that the side in contact with the victorious vehicle rolling for damage. In this instance, Cherno Alfa rammed the front of the Humvee and won the close combat, so the Humvee rolled for damage on the Front table – resulting in the immobilisation and crushing of the crew. Not so lucky after all…
The Atlantic Alliance won the initiative and opted to move first.
The Rocketeers led off this turn, snaking over the treetops and ruins to get the drop on the Soviet Heavy Weapons Squad, scything down all but two of them with lethally accurate submachinegun fire. The Soviet’s Noble Sniper drew a bead on Alfa 1, only to miss – things were beginning to look bleak for the Soviets, their infantry platoon had been all but wiped out and as Alfa 2 hustled up to the relay station all looked to be lost..
The Holy Mystic surveyed the battlefield and saw his comrades dead and dying, the hated Westerners triumphant. With a last desperate burst of concentration, he tried again to enslave the minds of the Dreadnought Squad – and this time, the gods of battle granted him success. Inside his power armour suit, the troopers face went blank as the voice of the Mystic took command of his mind. His minigun whirled into action again, but this time it was Lieutenant Grant and the Platoon Command Element and fireteam Alfa 2 who were shredded by it’s hail of bullets! The Dreadnoughts marched down the hill into the field of fire of Cherno Troika..
Riding the crest of these dark energies, the Mystic cast forth again with his power of Telekinesis – on the hill where Bravo Squad were entrenched, the air shimmered as the form of Cherno Alfa appeared twenty feet above the riflemen. Thirty tons of T-48 crashed down on the hill, crushing another rifleman and suppressing Bravo 2, while the remaining rifleman rushed down the hill toward the relay station. The last T-48, Cherno Troika, opened up on the now exposed Dreadnought squad – lest they should lose their new-found loyalty to the Soviet cause – dropping the Sergeant and Minigunner.
Over on the Alliance left, Ghost Seven came back into play, dropping one of the Tesla assault troopers with a superbly placed shot, while in the centre the fighting around the relay station got bloodier still as the two survivors of the Heavy Weapon Squads charged the Bravo squad rifleman to secure their end of the relay station. Bayonets and sharpened spades flashed – the Alliance rifleman fell, but he took yet another Soviet with him. Now there were only two Soviets in contact with the objective – only two survivors from HQ, Heavy Weapons Squad and the three Rifle Squads! Aware of this, Alfa 1’s surviving rifleman rushed to secure the objective while the Soviet Noble Sniper took on his adversary, aiming a shot at Ghost Seven – and missed.
On the Soviet side of the relay station, the Lightning Storm squad marched forward, submachine gun and Lightning Launcher fire downing a Rocketeer. To their shame, fireteam Delta 2 failed to shake their suppression and remained cowering in cover – although given the brutal bloodshed, who could blame them? – but Delta 1 rushed forward to join the gutter fighting around the now blood-drenched objective.
In the administration phase, Delta 2 finally shook their suppression and the sole remaining Dreadnought trooper regained control of himself, surveying the carnage around him in horror..
Tactical Notes – “Can I Drop A Tank On Them?”
Were the immortal words uttered by playtester Dan, and we looked at each other, shrugged and thought “why not?” – after all, telekinesis works in three dimensions… so on the fly we put together a rule that yes, you could drop a tank – we used normal deviation rules and deemed that if the infantry underneath could roll under their initiative rating (in the Alliance’s case, a 4) they would be able to get out of the way. The tank would be deemed immobilised (which, given Cherno Alfa had lost it’s weapons, effectively meant it was destroyed). All in all, a great demonstration of the ethos behind the Apocalypse: Earth game mechanic – if you can think of it, we can make it happen!
The Atlantic Alliance won the initiative and opted to move first.
The Rocketeers led the way again, leaping around behind the Lightning Storm squad and gunning down the exposed bodyguards.
Around the relay station, the fighting was becoming even more bitter – with his back to the objective wall, the Heavy Weapons Sergeant threw grenades into the Alliance riflemen, to no effect – or perhaps not, as an Alfa Squad rifleman failed his morale check to charge into close combat.
The Battle of the Snipers continued, as the Noble Sniper fired on Ghost Seven but the optical camouflage made it impossible to track in on the Alliance Stealth team, while a Stinger/TOW missile from the remaining Dreadnought trooper plowed into the soil just short of Cherno Troika before he ran down to join in securing the objective.
Exhausted by his activities the previous turn, the Holy Mystic failed to summon any psychic energies, meaning Delta were able to close up on the objective as the remains of the Lightning Storm Squad failed to close up sufficiently to be in contact.
With the relay station now firmly in Allied hands and almost all the Soviet troops dead, the Mystic and the remaining Lightning troopers realised it was futile to continue the assault and fell back, melting into the shadows as the exhausted Allied troops reloaded and prepared to consolidate the position.
Holy Soviet Empire Debrief:
Well, that didn’t go to plan… Rampaging Rocketeers, a misdirected Tesla Storm and Dreadnoughts conspired to massacre most of my command, as well as unusually effective Alliance anti-tank fire taking out my T-48s.. still, my plan was largely solid, and with better use of cover (and communications security, STAVKA!) I might have had a shot. Highlight of the game was the sudden reversal of fortune when the Mystic proved himself man-of-the-match.. he may have only proved his worth once, but when his powers worked they were spectacular! If only I’d had a little more luck with the dice…
Still, you won’t always have it your way, Alliance decadents.. the Rodina will have her revenge!
Atlantic Alliance Debrief:
Wow. That was close… too close. And who came up with the idea of the Holy Mystic psychically lobbing tanks all over the place??? That guy – when he works, he works. From now on, he’s a priority for termination with extreme prejudice! Beyond that, things worked largely as expected – apart from the decimation of my forces by a possessed Dreadnought trooper – I handled the infantry assault through the woods pretty much as planned, aided by a stroke of luck with Misdirected Fire.
In the end it seemed to come down to exhaustion – the gutter fighting around the relay station took a hideous toll, and frankly had I not been able to take out the bulk of the Soviet infantry before they got close I probably would have been overwhelmed.
Still, all in all a hell of a game, and we’ve learned a few things for next time!