Early playtest report, 2013:
Battle Report – Meeting engagement.
Atlantic Alliance Infantry platoon
1 x HQ squad: Lieutenant – assault rifle w/grenade launcher
Platoon sergeant – assault rifle w/grenade launcher
Radio operator – assault rifle
Medic – assault rifle
Alpha squad (rifle)
Sergeant – assault rifle
3 x Troopers – assault rifle
Bravo squad (LMG)
Sergeant – assault rifle
1 x Trooper – assault rifle
2 x Trooper – LMG
Charlie squad (LMG)
Sergeant – assault rifle
1 x Trooper – assault rife
2 x Trooper – (LMG)
All troops – helmet, body armour, hangun, knife, frag grenade, smoke grenade. All troops are Regulars with “Deploy” skill. May use fireteam formation.
Soviet Empire Infantry platoon
HQ – Lieutenant – handgun
Commissar – handgun
Platoon sergeant – assault rifle
2 x Troopers – assault rifle
3 x Infantry squads, each consisting of
1 x Sergeant – assault rifle
5 x Troopers – assault rifle
1 x Trooper – LMG
All troops – helmet, knife. All troops are Conscripts with no additional skills.
Right, with the fundamental combat mechanics of the game worked out, we’ve been trying to balance out the army lists for the first of the factions. Of course, the mighty Holy Soviet Empire of Tsar Joseph Stalin was the first on the list for development, but we would need an opponent for them to test their mettle against and decided, in a moment of Jubilee-soaked flag waving, that it would have to be the “white knight”force, the Atlantic Alliance.
Although both sides will ultimately feature terrifying superweapons of diabolical ingenuity, the true strength of any army rests in the grunts who do the actual fighting. So, to this end, we set up a “meeting engagement” between a prototype AA platoon and an equivalent force of Soviets. The scenario here is simply two patrols engaging each other and attempting to destroy or drive off its opponent. Although the game proved ultimately to be a little unbalanced, it did provide an interesting insight into the dynamic of the Apocalypse: Earth system.
The Soviets won the initiative and chose the northern edge of the battlefield to approach from, and forced the Atlantic Alliance to deploy first. One can only assume particularly sluggish junior leadership from the AA here, as normally their Initiative rating of 5 would trounce the paltry Soviet 2!
As per the rulebook, both sides alternated deploying their units beginning with the Soviets making the Atlantic Alliance troops deploy first.
Having secured the northern edge of the battlefield with what I felt was a more sheltered approach to close on the AA troops and overwhelm them. Bitter experience has taught me the folly of advancing on deployed AA infantry across open ground, but the flipside is that if you can infiltrate your squads close enough using cover to prevent too many casualties, the hammer blow of Soviet firepower can annihalate their dainty little fireteams, and the smaller Atlantic Alliance forces can ill afford the losses.
Looking at the board I conceived a variation on the basic strategy of “fix and destroy” – No. 3 squad would be deployed in the scrub and woodland on the right flank as a kind of sacrifical lamb – drawing and absorbing Allied fire whilst using the woods for cover, and hopefully inflicting one or two casualties of their own. Meanwhile, the bulk of the force (including HQ, with the Commissar providing useful morale re-rolls) would advance up the centre, using the ruined buildings and the wreck of the downed TR-1 spy plane to shelter them from Allied fire until I was able to assault en masse through the gap and unleash the bludgeoning wait of Soviet firepower on their puny capitalist infantry. Za Rodina!
Losing the initiative to the Soviets?? I can only assume that Command was asleep at the wheel on this one. Hopefully junior platoon leadership would prove superior. With the Soviets in the driving seat I had to adjust my plans as I saw their deployment. I decided that Bravo and Charlie squads would anchor the left and right flanks respectively, and the first order of business would be getting them into good sheltered positions from which they could deploy and let their LMGs rip into the Commies.
Meanwhile, Alpha squad would take what sheltered firing positions on the hilltop they could find, as it would be up to them and HQ to counterattack after the the machineguns had done their work and thin the Soviet numbers down. So, with a plan of action readied, let’s hope someone gets my lieutenant a very strong coffee before the fun starts..
The Atlantic Alliance won the initiative and moved first.
On the left flank fireteam Charlie 1 spied three Soviets in the open (from No. 3 squad) and opened up on them, downing two (including, joy of joys the Soviet LMG gunner) before diving into cover behind one of the vehicle hangars. Unfortunately for me the Soviets passed both their morale checks so my brief hope of routing the Soviet flank on the first turn was dashed.
No. 3 squad responded- I know, it’s folly to simply react to your opponent, but none of my other units were in danger of being hit again- with the survivors opening up on Charlie 1, killing the rifleman before diving into the cover of the woods. Clearly the members of Charlie squad were very close as seeing his comrade fall sent the remaining member into Frenzy! Thankfully (for me) he had no visible targets but hurtled forward into a more advantageous position from which to avenge his squadmate.
With no targets available, Bravo 1 double-timed forward to establish a deployment position in the ruins, screening the right flank.
All lines of sight to the Allies were blocked, so I double-timed No. 2 squad forward closer to the TR-1 wreck, using the hill to shelter the squad’s flank.
Still no targets, so Bravo 2 leapfrogged past their squadmates, double-timing forward into cover on the far right.
The terrain was doing an excellent job of screening my forces from Allied firepower, so I double-timed No.1 squad forward, clustering into cover around the wrecked tank.
The jockeying for position continued as Alpha 1 double-timed, taking cover behind their own wrecked tank.
Damn. Due to No. 3 squad diving for cover, I realised I was going to have to expose my HQ group on the central hilltop to maintain platoon coherency. Rookie miscalculation there! Thankfully the Lieutenant, Commissar and Platoon Sergeant all had the presence of mind to grab what cover was available.
Target acquired! Alpha 2 spotted the Soviet Lieutenant on the hilltop and open up before relocating forward into cover. Despite the Lieutenants covered position, both riflemen scored a hit, resulting in an immediate and untimely demise for the young Soviet officer. However the Commissar’s inspiring presence ensured that the line held.
Charlie 2 now acquired a target on the left flank, as No.2 squad had misjudged some lines of sight, leaving them exposed. Fire & move – one rifle, one LMG, nine dice in all. Four targets visible, one in the open, three in light cover, result….. nine misses. Take some lessons from Alpha 2, boys. Now get in those bushes and zero your sights!
In the centre, HQ identified two targets in heavy cover on the hilltop. Moving as one unit, both fireteams opened up before moving forward into cover. From twelve dice, needing an 8 to hit , result- lots of shredded bushes, but two very intact Soviets.
The Atlantic Alliance won the initiative and forced the Soviets to move first.
Realising my error reading the terrain, I rushed No. 2 squad into the cover of the ruined central building before the Allied machinegunners got their aim together and inflicted serious casualties.
Moving forward, Alpha 1 saw an opportunity to target two members of No.2 Squad, but their heavy cover saved them, the bullets ricocheting harmlessly off the masonry causing no casualties.
Next priority was getting HQ off the exposed hilltop, so they double-timed into the ruins, massing behind No. 2 Squad.
Alpha 2 scrambled up the reverse slope of the hill to get a shot in- they glimpsed the Soviet Platoon Sergeant in light cover but unfortunately their previous marksmanship deserted them and they failed to score a hit.
On my left flank, No.1 Squad peeked out from cover and saw Bravo 2 in the scrub and opened up. Unfortunately, only two members could see the Allied troops and their fire proved ineffective, so I used the remaining action to move the squad into cover behind the downed TR-1.
Charlie 2 deployed in position on the left- with one target to their front they opened up. With the double fire plus the deployment bonues, that gave me a monstrous eighteen dice needing only a six to hit. The Soviet sergeant was well and truly perforated but once again the stoic No.3 Squad held.
Following the “fix and destroy” plan, No. 3 squad advanced deeper into cover, firing on Charlie 2 but the Allies were dug in deep and my troops failed to hit anything.
I was beginning to get a little perturbed by the inexorable advance if the Soviets on my left flank, so Charlie 1’s remaining member opened up with his LMG, double-firing on No. 3 Squad. Another casualty, but the brave (or foolish) Soviets refused to break.
Over on my right flank, Bravo 1 and 2 caught fleeting glimpses of the Soviet No. 2 squad and HQ in heavy cover, but their combined firepower succeeded only in downing a single infantryman, and with the Commissar’s inspiring presence so close by, they held their nerve.
I split HQ into two fireteams and fanned them out to ensure platoon coherency- HQ 1 took position behind the wrecked tank, while HQ 2 ensconed themselves on the reverse slope of the hill.
The Atlantic Alliance won the initiative and moved first.
Now in position on the hilltop, Alpha 2 deployed and poured fire into No. 2 Squad, without success- even with the aim bonus for deployment, the Soviets were using cover skilfully.
As I saw it now, the time had come. My troops were massed in the centre and it was time to strike. The Allies might dance around us with their tactical flexibility, but let’s see how they dealt with some good old fashioned Soviet violence!
My initial attack was somewhat underwhelming though, with no Allied troops within close assault range, the best I could do was to get No.2 squad into cover behind another wrecked tank and open up on Alpha 2 , killing one of the riflemen.
This was clearly it for the Soviets, their strike was going to fall hard on my centre, so Alpha 1 charged out of their covered positions to hurl fragmentation grenades into No.2 squad. Unfortunately, clearly these two riflemen had got very sloppy with grenade drill – one misfire and one spectacular miss turned an attack that could have wiped out No. 2 squad into an embarrassment that failed to cause a single Soviet casualty. At least they manage to find a hedge to hide behind.
I switched my attention to the right flank, hoping to tie down AA forces there and distract them from my main attack. The remaining members of the stoic No. 3 Squad hunkered down in the woods and double-fired on Charlie 1, killing the remaining LMG gunner.
That wasn’t going to put me off my stride. The central attack was where most Soviet strength was, and HQ 2 deployed in cover behind the tank wreck, firing on No. 2 squad, with no effect. Clearly, one of these Russkis had brought along his lucky rabbits foot!
With nothing looking like it was in close assault range, I brought No. 1 Squad up in support of their comrades, moving into position between the ruins and the downed TR-1 to open up on HQ 1 and Alpha 2 – HQ got off unscathed, but Alpha 2 lost its remaining member. A second fireteam wiped out!
This was getting slightly worrying, as the tactical flexibility brought about by having lots of little units instead of a few big ones is one of the key strengths of the Atlantic Alliance. The ability to deploy units is another, however, so I deployed HQ 1 on the reverse slope of the hill where they could fire into No. 1 squad. They downed one Sov, but with the Commissar nearby passed their morale check on a reroll and held firm.
I wanted to keep the weight of Soviet troops together, so rather than have HQ charge off and get itself killed, I took a chance and fired on HQ 1. This was a long shot, firing on troops deployed in heavy cover meant 9s to hit, and sure enough we got close but no cigar. HQ then moved forward into cover to occupy the ruins.
With the main Soviet axis of attack now clear, I saw that Bravo squad was going to have to be shifted if it was to play any part in the fighting. Bravo 2 advanced out of cover to get a flank shot on No. 2 Squad, killing the sergeant, whilst their squadmates in Bravo 1 double-moved forward on he far right, sweeping round to take positions enfilading the Soviet advance.
Finally, pver on the left flank, Charlie 2 deployed and pumped fire into No.3 squad, to no result. Both sides were effectively stalemated in a Mexican stand off on this side of the battlefield, while the action shifted to the centre.
The Atlantic Alliance won the initiative and moved first.
Realising that they were ripe to be overrun, Alpha 2 desperately hurled grenades into No. 2 squad, but amazingly from a full four grenades thrown, they only managed to kill one enemy! If they survived this, their NCO was going to be pulled up short on grenade drill. However, that looked like being quite a big “if”, as they now sat dangerously exposed…
To close assault! This ran the risk of exposing No. 2 Squad, but in counterattacking, the Alliance forces would have to expose themselves to my close range fire, whereas otherwise I could see my forces being decimated by dug in enemies.
As luck would have it, the casualty from the grenade barrage had sent No. 2 into Frenzy!, giving me +1 to CCR, plus the +1 charging bonus, and the fact that Frenzied troops don’t need to check morale…. Za Rodina!!!! My troops leapt forward, but clearly the sight was too much for the puny capitalists of Alpha 2, who promptly surrendered.
Surrender! The shame of it! Not to mention my third complete fireteam lost. Vengeance will be mine… Bravo 1 deployed into cover and opened up on the now exposed No. 2 squad gunning them down.
Hmm. This was starting to look bad. The Allies had good positions in heavy cover and were going to be difficult to hit. Although No. 3 Squad were doing a good job on the right tying down Charlie 2, the main attack didn’t have the mass to overhwelm the AA in the centre and I was going to end up feeding my units into the meat grinder. Time for a left turn – quite literally, in fact.
No. 3 squad was still in reasonable shape and not facing too much opposition, so I double moved No.1 Squad to join them. Hopefully that would leave the Allies scrambling to redeploy and react to me, and give my battered troops the chance to inflict enough casualties to chase the enemy from the field!
Damn, wasn’t expecting that! Having painstakingly positioned my fireteams to shred the expected Soviet assault in the centre, pretty much my entire platoon (or what remained of it) was in completely the wrong position to deal with a sudden shift to my left. All I had on that flank was Charlie 2, who opened fire from deployed covered positions on No. 1 Squad. Thankfully their aim was true and despite the heavy cover of the Soviet positions, Charlie 2 killed two of their number. However, I couldn’t quite breathe easy yet, as the casualties coupled with the proximity of the Commissar enabling rerolled morale checks ensured that the stricken squad went into a….
Frenzy! Haha! Right, Comrades, we’re still in the fight – No. 1 Squad uses its Frenzy action to get into cover and return fire (albeit ineffectually). HQ also double-moved into the ruins, everyone who’s left now massed in heavy cover.
Slippery sod – No. 1 Squad’s Frenzy bonus turn doesn’t affect the sequence of play, so the only other target open to me (Soviet HQ) was now squirreled away in heavy cover. Nothing left to do but redeploy – all units double-moved to the left flank, looking for firing positions.
The Atlantic Alliance won the initiative and opted to move first.
Finding themselves out of coherency with HQ, Charlie 2 checked morale and an outrageously lucky roll gave me a Frenzy! result! Fearing the rest of the platoon were dead or ahd abandoned them, Charlie 2 zeroed their weapons and unleashed a hail of fire onto the Soviets crouching in the ruins. Double firing from deployed positions with an assault rifle and light machine gun gave me 18 dice. Then as Frenzy! turns don’t affect the sequence of play I immediately activated them again, giving me a grand total of 36 dice blazing away at the Soviet HQ and No.1 Squad. The Commissar and his lackeys managed to take cover but No. 1 Squad never stood a chance, despite their heavy cover and were wiped out to a man.
It was at this point the Commissar realised that the assault had failed. With No. 1 Squad dead in the ruins around him, that left only HQ and the remains of No. 3 Squad facing an Atlantic Alliance force that now outnumbered and outgunned them, with no chance of massing enough combat power to successfully break the enemy. With heavy heart he signalled a retreat – no more sons of the Rodina would die today.
Debrief: Atlantic Alliance
Whew. Right, a very luck break at the end there, but I think by that point I would probably have won anyway, albeit with a few more losses, as the AA fireteam formation means that four squads gives me eight independent units (as opposed to the four Soviet ones) – plenty to respond to the sudden shift of attack focus. My luck with the grenades was beyond belief, and had the Soviets had them as standard equipment No.2 Squad in the cetre could have caused me some serious trouble. Overall, my plan suited the strength of the Atlantic Alliance – tactical flexibility and high initiative meant I always felt in control of proceedings.
Damn those capitalist running dogs! In all seriousness, I think my plan was solid but there were some sloppy errors – misjudging terrain and fields of fire left No. 2 Squad open to flank shots, weakening them before I was able to mass them for I disagreeault. I also agree with Dave that grenades would have made a difference in the centre as No. 2 Squad could have given Alpha Squad a pasting without having to expose themselves to pretty much certain destruction.
Again it showed with the Soviets, concentration of force and mass is everything, don’t get suckered in to tit-for-tat firefights, keep rolling forward until you’re close enough to get in amongst the Allies and get around their cover.
For the next game, we will be tweaking the list slightly- Soviets will get frag grenades as a 5pt upgrade and there will be an extra trooper in each squad. Lets see how the imperialists like that!