Wednesday, December 21, 2016

STALKER - A Birthday Drinking Batrep (600pts Team Game!)



With my birthday recently passed, I thought it would be fun to share all of the cheer with the wider community, and what could be a more perfect way of doing that than bringing you a very special battle report? Custom scenario, team game, excessive drinking - what more could you want from a birthday Infinity game with friends?

For this game, I finally had the opportunity to play a game on my brand new gaming mat that I previewed in my last article. This lovely piece of gaming art came from Urbanmatz, and the beautiful "decayed Eastern bloc" themed Concrete Area is just perfect for my overgrown urban Ariadna forces! In case you didn't catch a glimpse of it in last month's article, here's a preview of it out on my gaming table :)



The Rules

Of course any birthday gaming session absolutely warrants a pretty special gaming scenario, which I drew up the night before and had Pride of Rodina recently share with you all on the Facebook page. If you didn't catch the rules then and would like the full rules, Pride of Rodina was kind enough to type up a Google Doc, which you can find here. To save me time writing it all up again here it can be neatly summarized as follows:

  • The scenario is Antenna Field from ITS Season 8.
  • In addition, there are eight Radiation markers scattered over the board, evenly spread in a "grid arrangement" and dispersing 4" from there under the normal dispersion rules.
  • Any model or marker that moves or dodges within 4" of these markers (active or reactive turn) takes a DMG 9 hit vs. the models base BTS.
  • If the model passes the roll, nothing happens. If it fails the roll, it enters the Stunned state until the player's next active turn. Models in a marker state are not revealed regardless of the outcome of the roll.
  • Doctors and Paramedics can remove this state by passing a normal WIP roll, with no penalty for failure and repeating as many times as necessary.
  • Players may take a shot of vodka (!) at any time to give a model +3 BTS against the effects of radiation. The player is not limited to the amount of shots they can take per game for this bonus, but the bonus can be applied to each model only once.

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- Vodka... sanctioned "protection" from radiation sickness since 1986!


The Lists

As I mentioned earlier, this was going to be a big team game between three of my gaming buddies and me. Between the four of us, we had plenty of terrain to use in the new game room of my house, which was a good thing because I hadn't really had a chance to put any of my new stuff together! To keep things simple, we opted for 300 points of Limited Insertion per player, with only one spec ops per side, only a single model counting as the Lt (we were using "legal" lists, so you could take 2 Lt profiles, but only one would count as the Lt) and a single pool of command tokens. Here are the lists:




This was our team. It had a lot of long range firepower (4 HMGs, 2 Snipers, an Autocannon, 2 Ojotniks...) and a decent spread of specialists. And these were our opponents.




A nasty mix of stuff. Lots of dangerous ARO's, durable links and great midfield scoring. Each side had a tag, dogs, just about every weapon type imaginable and over 40 models on the table. It was gonna be a tough fight to be sure!

Our side won the roll-off and chose deployment order, hoping that our opponents would give us the second turn. Despite the huge array of enemy forces, we felt like going second was probably the advantage in this scenario, so long as we could hunker down against a brutal opposing first turn.

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- What's that clicking noise…
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This was the overview of the table, with the little radiation markers I custom-made before the game dotted around the board. The objectives were little trapezoid shaped boxes, and a few of them were pretty close to the objectives, so approaching and holding them wasn't going to be easy and this would guarantee that the markers saw use. All of us deployed, we stripped the Tohaa player of 2 orders, and we were away!


Turn 1 (QK/Tohaa)

Their turn kicked off with the Djan link positioning slightly further forward on top of their building to get a better field of fire. Unfortunately, my opponent noticed that before moving, three of the members were just within the effect of one of the markers.

After taking 3 shots like an absolute champ to help mitigate the effects of the hazardous radiation…




... this was the result (1,2,1!), with all three of the Djan's starting to puke their guts out, even despite the bonus BTS!

Ouch!

The next few orders were spent cleaning the radiation effects off with the nearby Djan doctor (thankfully unaffected by the radiation) and then the link was finally ready to start scouring the table for nearby victims.




With the way now clear though, a Clipsos on that flank materialized and started moving up to gun for a nearby Veteran Kazak, who had deployed just a little too close to one edge. I opted to dodge, and though that saved me from 2 of the shots, the third hit home and dealt the brave Kazak a wound. Probably rather sensibly, he decided to fall back further behind the wall to safety (where he probably should have been the first time).



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Now there was limited overwatch on this flank, so the Tohaa Triad (Makaul, Gao Rael + Kaeltar) ran up and took the right side bunker and the Kotail opted to move up the table and go prone by the right side objective.

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Meanwhile, across the table, a pair of Al'Hawwas moved up and took the left and central objectives cementing their ability to score. With the scenario taken care of, the Iguana started moving up the left hand side of the flank, hoping to deal a bit of damage...

Here the Iguana moved up and then back again, spying the Myrmidon, the Marut lurking in cover (we played the sloped side as solid FYI) and a single camo marker behind the barrier. Both opted to shoot, with the Scout I revealed taking one of the Iguana's HMG bursts and the Marut taking the other 3. Thankfully, the Marut survived unhurt and the Scout promptly won his single dice roll off to actually deal a wound to the tag (DAM 14 AP vs. a TAG in the open will do that though I suppose?). The Myrmidon passed her smoke, so there was no chance at least of any repeat attack.


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With the last Tohaa order, our opponent opted to re-camo that Clipsos. What he didn't know though was that a Posthuman was standing right next to him with a boarding shotgun, and the Posthuman happily smacked him with an unopposed roll at point blank range, preventing him from re-camoing! Sadly for us, the Clipsos survived the shot, but at least there was nothing to stop us repeating the experience on our turn.

As the last Haqqislam order, our opponent considered leaving the Iguana on suppressing fire, but then considered carefully and decided to move up the Najjarun to take their objective. This gave them a solid 4-0 lead unless we could shake them off next turn, so it was going to be tough for our team to take back some ground.


Turn 1 (Kazaks/Aleph)

Our turn rolls around, and actually we hadn't taken any casualties so both pools were at full strength. The Posthuman spent her first order finally putting down the Clipsos, winning the roll quite handily with the +6 modifier of the boarding shotgun, especially as the Clipsos wasn't in cover either.

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With the Nikoul at the back having a pretty decent lane of fire, I figure it was good for me to get that ARO piece out of the way early, as it made it difficult to reach both the left and central objective. The Spetznaz rolls up, and starts blazing away with the HMG. The first burst strips off the Symbiomate, but from then on it was all downhill.


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Another order, 3 misses (needing 12s...), he passes the armor. Another order, same thing. Another order and I finally strip the symbio armor, but then on order #5 (!) he crits me and the Spetz is turned into mush. Honestly, this was a disappointing state of affairs, as 4 dice needing 12s vs. 1 needing 12 meant I had at least a 62% chance to deal a wound, 27% to straight up kill him. 5 orders later though and nope, dice happen. You gotta laugh :D We all had a shot at that point out of sheer amusement.

Thankfully, our other side of the table fared much better, with a Dasyus killer hacker moving up to the left objective and using REDRUM on the nearby Al'Hawwa to kill him handily. Sadly she had to come a little too close to the repeater on the Iguana in order to avoid the radiation marker, and this meant the other Al'Hawwa successfully oblivion'ed her, isolating her from the pool and breaking her hacking device in the process.


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The Myrmidon had to reposition slightly, so she threw some smoke that made advancing on the left flank easier and quickly scurried behind the Marut, out of view. Next it was the Marut's turn, who started wailing on the Djan link. There wasn't really a great angle to avoid having to fight both the HMG and the Sniper at once, but my teammate trusted in the Marut's high ARM to hopefully survive some of the incoming fire from the HMG as he put all burst into the Sniper. The Sniper went down (but only unconscious) and the enemy HMG shots bounced off harmlessly. Now without the +3BS bonus from the 5 man link, the Marut quickly rounded on the HMG next, turning him into nothing but a fine red mist with the next volley of fire.

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It was time to try and claw back some board control, so the Chandra spec-ops moved up and quickly sat on our own home objective. I then started positioning a couple of other pieces, so the Scout on the left side moved further up and I moved the Antipodes up to behind the central building on our side so they could clear something out next turn. A few shots were taken to survive the radiation exposure rolls, and thankfully, only one of the Antipodes was stunned (which didn't matter, given that they were still markers anyway).

Finally, I tried to bring some of my prone ARO pieces back into the fight. Bad luck from the Spetz aside, this was my main and arguably biggest mistake. Both the Tankhunter and Le Muet adjusted their sights on the enemy Tohaa Le Muet, who was hiding on the other side of the trees from my own. My thinking was this - he would only be able to react to one of them, I was losing no burst (because of the forest) and either unopposed roll had a decent chance of hurting him while simultaneously giving us ARO options next turn. Unfortunately there were 2 issues with this plan. Firstly, my Tankhunter was actually just OUT of the 32" rangeband, making him actually -12 to hit rather than -6... ouch. To add insult to injury, the Nikoul that had sadly survived the Spetznaz onslaught ALSO jussst had an ARO against the tankhunter, which meant now that the sniper could shoot him unopposed. Needless to say, my tankhunter died needlessly. Thankfully though, fortune hadn't left me completely out to dry, and my Le Muet beat his imposter in a fight, knocking off his symbiomate.

We considered then whether it was worth putting Le Muet out of the picture, but the board control was looking problematic, and so instead my teammate opted to bring up the Posthuman on the right flank to advance.

With the first order she re-camo'd to slip past the visible overwatch, before spending another to put a shotgun round into the Gao Rael in the building. However, he won the roll off still and knocked her on NWI. One more order at least knocked off his symbio armor, but there wasn't enough left in the pool to actually take the right side objective, and so with that, our opponents held 3 to our 1, scoring at the end of the round.











Turn 2 (QK/Tohaa)

Our opponent's turn came round with a vengeance, as the doctor in the Djan link healed the sniper back up (and scored their classified, Experimental Drug). He reformed the link back at full strength with the Djan Lt, and then sniper stood up and pretty trivially put my Le Muet down, with MSV2 and full link bonus carrying the day vs. a single BS 13 DA round. The rest of the link had shuffled, with the viral sniper spec ops neatly replacing the HMG's role on overwatch for our next turn.


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To make matters worse, on the right flank the triad emerged from the right side, and with the way clear thanks to the death of Le Muet, they smoked up and approached the Posthuman. The Makaul happily cleaved her apart in melee thanks to his mean Viral CCW, and now it looked like our right flank was in real trouble.

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Next the Iguana powered up, wanting to get stuck in fighting with that juicy tag. Once again though, his attempts were thwarted by the Marut's high ARM and the Myrmidon successfully using smoke. However, he noticed that with the new position of the Myrmidon after the last turn, the Djan link could happily just about see her from the corner of the building, and once more that deadly sniper took its toll, removing our smoke option for the following turn.

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Now with most of our big guns either neutralized or safely tucked away, there wasn't much for our opponents left to do. The triad on the right side considered advancing further, but the radiation sickness amusingly ruined that plan. Even with a shot, the Makaul started throwing up and sensibly called it a day safely behind cover, while the Gao Rael headed back to his original position in the bunker.

Trying another tactic, the Kotail bounded up and handily survived the radiation sickness, spying an easy kill on the Lamedh bot on the right side of the table. With just a couple of orders the bot was down, and the Kotail easily made it back to his original position prone behind the right objective. The last Tohaa order was spent to get the Surdas lurking in the backfield further up, and the Haqqislam models simply shuffled. Realistically this was a smart call, as the link, remaining Al'Hawwa and Najjarun were in a great position, and the Iguana didn't have many options to keep attacking with the smoke shielding most of our models from view.


Turn 2 (Kazaks/Aleph)


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Things were looking bleak on our turn, but we weren't out for the count just yet.  Once again the Marut began a bit of a rampage, knocking the Sniper unconscious (again), killing the Viral Sniper Spec Ops (who couldn't get cover from his location) and finally bringing down Le Muet in a raging volley of HMG shots. In turn, the Marut only took a wound, and repositioned to safety on the left flank for a better overwatch position. Bringing down Le Muet was something we probably could have done earlier with the Marut (who also amusingly, totally ignored the harmful radiation right next to it!) but hey, we blamed the shots for not thinking of it earlier :P

Next the Zayin powered up and moved to secure some overwatch of our own in the center, hoping to buy some time. On the way, it had to get in a fight with that Gao Rael in the bunker, who despite the burst disadvantage, won the fight and knocked the bot unconscious behind the wall. With all the overwatch on the left flank largely dead or at least not visible, it was time for me to bring my some of my models further up the field. I had the Antipode controller pop smoke on the left side just in case, and then I coordinated to move my 112 up further, the second Scout to cover the right lane and both Veterans (shifting the HMG back around the building and the Paramedic up to the center).



Sadly for the Paramedic, radiation sickness struck again and dashed any hopes I had of killing the Igao lurking by the central objective, so he sensibly sought refuge in the nearby building instead. The HMG fared better though, having successfully crept back around the right side building, popped out the other side, and finally getting his sights on the Gao Rael. I was slightly worried after the performance of the Zayin, and it was a bit of a close fight (both favorable range bands, good burst and cover). But the Vet Kazak thankfully saved the day and brought him down, breaking the triad in the process.  Maybe we could turn this around after all?

Still, I was pretty low on orders, and we still had to try and do something about a couple of these objectives. With Le Muet dead and the Nikoul missing the shot, the Isolated Dasyus moved up and took the left objective (surviving her radiation exposure roll with a decent dose of vodka!) and I brought the dogs in play to clear out the center. Once again, many shots were involved to get the dogs up there into melee without being stunned, and one of them still started quivering with nausea despite my best drinking efforts. In any case, all the dogs reached the Al'Hawwa on the central flag. Even though the Iguana, Nikoul, Al'Hawwa and Igao killed them with the ensuing ARO's, at least the Al'Hawwa was torn to pieces, meaning the objective was no longer held.

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-Board overview of the carnage in the midfield


With our final order, our last TO Dasyus appeared on the right side, and moved up in a position to defend the right flank objective. We didn't have enough orders to reach the objective to contest it (and it probably would have gone the way of the Posthuman if we did!) so it sat back to try and stop too much of an incursion on our side. Our hope was that, at between it , the Scouts and the Veteran, we at least stood a decent chance of making a strong last turn push to take objectives. The score was a draw, with both of us holding out own objectives, nobody holding the center,  us holding the left and them holding the right. Despite this, with their classified, they had pulled ahead 4-1.


Turn 3 (QK/Tohaa)

It was their final turn, and even though we were still down on points, we had definitely clawed back some board control and killed some crucial models. Once again, the Haqq player reformed the Djan link (though with only 4 members now both the HMG and spec ops were dead and the Lt joined), and assigned the Sniper to take care of the Vet Kazak on overwatch duty. Both range bands were favorable, and I had decent armor there in cover, but nevertheless the HMG Vet Kazak went down, leaving the left flank a bit safer to move around on.

Now that the AP HMG was dealt with, the Iguana moved around and tried to take care of that Isolated Dasyus, who was still in a position to score that objective. The Dasyus dodged a flamer shot outside and another through the window though, safely finding refuge prone in the building and ducked neatly out of sight.


20161211_183841.jpgOn the other flank, Neema Satar moved up and joined the remnants of the triad, before pushing forward and killing the Scout with a deadly burst of spitfire rounds. From there, it didn't take much effort to push the triad around and kill the FO Dasyus, who was really our only hope to take the right side objective on the final turn. This was pretty much the end of our resistance on that flank, so it would take a serious effort if we had any hope of clawing back the center and left flanks for the win.
20161211_184904.jpgWith the remaining orders, the Tohaa player brought the Surdas carefully around the left hand side, hoping to close with the mighty Marut as our main piece of resistance.

Carefully they skulked around the building with the Iguana before emerging across the other side, dashing out into the open and hoping a PH 18 roll (hyperdynamics) would be enough to survive some incoming fire. The 112 dodged from across the table unopposed, and the Scout pistol, Chandra Sniper and Marut Heavy flamer all opened up on the dogs, hoping to deal enough damage to stop them from killing the giant tag. With some decent rolls, one dog was brought down to Dogged state and another was killed, but it wasn't enough to save the Marut. A flurry of alien claws later and the giant tag was scrap, and even though the dogs were dead in turn, it was just a consolation prize at this point.



Turn 3 (Kazaks/Aleph)


Our turn starts, and now sadly, the writing was on the wall. The lack of big guns to kill the Sniper was a serious problem, as otherwise we could have at least hoped that smoke would be enough to get models over to the objectives. Loss of Lt was also absolutely crippling at this point, as it prevented us from having enough orders to put smoke down and rush the Vet Kazak over to the center. In reality it wouldn't matter, as nothing was even remotely close enough to contest the right flank, the left was contested by the Iguana, and even taking the center wouldn't have been enough to secure a majority of points. So at this point, and with a now empty bottle of vodka, we sensibly conceded.






Conclusion

I have to say that, despite the many setbacks in this game, this was one helluva battle. The custom scenario proved to be incredible fun without being game-breaking, as it had just enough of an effect at certain places to be thematic and effective without being so much of a hindrance that it could dominate the game. Getting to play a 600 point team game with friends was a truly memorable experience, and even though it felt like we were on the back foot for much of the battle, I felt like it was close enough at certain points to mean that things could have happily gone either way.


Anyway, I leave you all with a shot (no pun intended :P) of the winners circle; the mighty Marut, the immortal Djanbazan sniper and the hilariously lethal Nikoul Sniper, with my dead Spetznaz as an honorable mention on the ground, and of course, the empty bottle of vodka from the game. I seriously recommend this scenario for anybody looking for a different game, and I hoped you enjoyed reading about it as much as I enjoyed playing.

Until next time :)

4 comments:

  1. My Marut had quite the kill count by the end of the game. Stupid dog surviving a DA sniper shot. We might have been able to claw back if we hadn't have been put into LOL.
    It was a great game though, made better by the drinking!

    -Foster

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    1. It seems like a bunch of fun! I've been tempted to run it as an event next time I do my monthly WarCor duties, myself :)

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  2. Of all the vodkas in the world, you chose Smirnoff?
    Why not Russkij Standart or even better, Sobieski?
    At least you should have put Cossack vodka sticker on it! :)
    I like rules about radiation though, will try to include them at some point in my games.

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    1. Comrade SamboR! Good to see you here! :)
      Well, I can't speak as to why he bought Smirnoff, but I do know that in the US it is ridiculously hard to find good vodka. Where I live, most of the best vodka is French or Swedish and there are no Eastern European vodkas.
      Agreed! The rules for radiation are pretty neat and I'm really tempted to do something like it myself. In fact, I'm thinking of doing an entire STALKER, narrative campaign for Infinity ;)

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