Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Action at Hark Hanoid AAR

A flying column of Marine forces have sortied out and levelled the small town of Hark Hanoid, an important supply base for one of the belligerent factions currently identified in Space Marine intelligence as "Opfor A". The small guard force have been eliminated and survivors mopped up (literally in some cases of suicidally brave attempts at tank-killing).

Suddenly, Communications-Brother Brawd Kastinhaus reports signals of large numbers of Opfor A force closing into encircle the Marines. Captain Zybil gave the order for all men to embark in their transports - a breakout attempt is to be made.

This was played with the oddly named "Bring Me My Spear"(*) scenario. The attacker has to cross the table and scores victory points only for units that escape. The defenders starts with 50% of his force deployed around the centre of the table and reinforcements will randomly arrive on the unused table edges - i.e. on the flanks of the attacker. He scores points for destroying attacking units.

(Yes, it's a breakout scenario. Yes, that's why the title is a pun)

Firstly, some yak about the rules (which are Gruntz! 15mm)

You've possibly played this before.

Each unit has two actions per turn, only one of which can be ranged action. If you move twice, you basically run at double rate and can't fire.

To hurt things roll 2d6, add SHOOT. Equal or exceed the targets GUARD to hit it. Hit it? Good, roll 2d6 and equal or exceed the targets SOAK to dish out damage - one point for equalling it, an extra point for every die score in excess. Rank and file have 1 damage point, heroes and bigger stuff have multiple damage points.

This is of course radically different to something like Hormachine in which:

Each unit has two actions per turn, only one of which can be ranged action. If you move twice, you basically run at double rate and can't fire.

To hurt things roll 2d6, add RAT. Equal or exceed the targets DEF to hit it. Hit it? Good, roll 2d6 and equal or exceed the targets ARM to dish out damage - one point for equalling it, an extra point for every die score in excess. Rank and file have 1 damage point, heroes and bigger stuff have multiple damage points.

To this add a full unit builder so that you can stat up just about anything and loads of typos and contradictory shit and you now know everything you need to know about Gruntz!

(There is a little bit of extra detailing added to reflect the fact that the game is about small squads of 15mm sci-fi soldiers rather than Warcasters and steampunk clockwork automata - "PRONE" gives +2 to RAT SHOOT and +1 TO DEF GUARD but costs an action to do/undo, Morale is interesting in that tests occur after every source of damage - not just at the end of the turn - and the penalties for dead/injured figures stay until that unit is next activated. This means that keeping a unit under fire can cause multiple forced retreats in one turn).

Photo-Intel From the Frontlines

Orbital spy cameras and stills from "beakie" helmet cams have gathered the following visual photo-intel on this action. Astropath Fift Hekay-Mohdem is currently transmitting these back to Chapter Fortress for staff-level analysis. Would you like to know more? Then read more books.

The settlement of Hark Hanoid, still smouldering from the reimposition of law and order on behalf of the benign Master of Mankind. How peaceful it looks.

A Buttfucker class tank of the "Jagerbomb" company, 8th Moninav (Armoured) Regiment leads a PDF APC, now in the service of the Blood Drinkers. (RH1NOs? In 1987? No idea what you are talking about. Piss off back to your 7th edition games.)

(Oh, and Jagerbomb? I had some Jagermeister decals left over from Scalextric cars. Used the Jagermeister logo as the unit insignia).

Another APC alongside Captain Zenn Zybil's personal transport aka "The Ice Cream Van". Glad I never got around to painting that now - oops, spoiler...

Not-Grav-Attacks. These are absolute crap - the way Gruntz stats up Light-class tanks they don't really come out fast enough to benefit from their light armour and minimal damage points. I haven't really found a battlefield role for them yet. As they are Matchbox tanks and not stick deodorants I didn't even get fragrant armpits out of the build process.

Breakout scenario? Armoured thrust? Panic-stricken sprint towards the opposite table edge? The armour moved about 7" all evening. Then the APC exploded and the tank clearly was too close to the enemy to sufficiently depress the barrel to actually hit the fuckers.

Cheating rebel bastard commander rides a bike with stabilisers like a girl.

Cheating rebel bastard laser Segway thing. (Does this remind anyone else of the vehicle from the opening sequence to the Banana Splits? Maybe you have to be at least my age to know what I'm talking about). The presence of Buddha's head shows that the Inquisition haven't been quite as forceful with their iconoclasm here as they should have. Those Taliban chappies have the right idea.

Cheating rebel bastard infantry occupying a FarmHabUnit. Cheating rebel bastards proceeded to do serious damage using Overwatch, the cheating bastard art of standing still and waiting for our brave boys to show themselves to the enemy. I can only imagine that "SHORT" is some form of seditious graffiti.

Cheating rebel bastard missile team hiding like the cowards they are in a ruined FarmHabUnit.

 Cheating rebel bastard missile team reinforcements arriving in the combat zone immediately on the flank of a Marine Not-Grav-Attack hovercraft. Fucksticks.

 Cheating rebel bastard Attack Bikes with full auto weapons. I can't recall whether it was laser or projectile, there was just too fucking much of it to pay attention to the specific calibre the incoming was comprised of.

It just crashed itself honest. Squad Octavius is making the decision that it is far, far more important to return to base and punish the heretics and traitors in the motor pool than worry about this rabble of disaffected, inbred Soylent farmers and their emplaced multi-lasers.

Cheating rebel bastard photo-manipulated black propaganda designed to suggest that cheating rebel bastard forces killed lots of Marines and made them run away across a ploughed field where many of them died in a ditch. This never happened. Inquisitor Geenunt is sanctioned to take actions against heretics who either believe this nonsense or disseminate information about these foul and slanderous lies.

Even more cheating rebel bastard black propaganda designed to suggest that the Marine rout (never happened) allowed the cheating rebel bastard infantry to actually leave their hovel in the interests of getting better shots at the fleeing red shapes. Inquisitor Geenunt is compiling a report proving that these photographs were actually faked on a holofilm sound stage many clicks behind the lines. It's all in the shadows apparently and the way the flag ripples.

I can't explain why this helmet-cam still appears to be from the vantage point of lying on the floor behind an APC. Maybe Brother Hudovmann temporarily put his helmet on the floor with the camera still running so that he could vent his rage at the enemy easier. It's difficult to spit bile at the heretic and mutant while wearing a Mk6 helmet - tends to collect in the beak.

More cheating rebel bastard laser Segway.

 Success! Brother Marines bravely died in the face of the enemy thus allowing some of our brethren the opportunity to quaff ale in the honoured presence of their ancestors in whichever post-mortem feast halls they believe in. Also a lot of cheating rebel bastards died at this point when they finally dared to show themselves outside of mere muzzle flashes from inside cover but to be honest this was utterly irrelevant to the outcome of the abortive breakout attempt. I couldn't even take my usual pleasure at seeing their tiny, fragile forms jerking and disintegrating into a pink mist under a hail of bolter shells. I think I'm suffering from ennui.

Cheating rebel bastard Attack Bike parked up behind a barricade observing some giant-sized lifeforms off beyond the misty horizon.

...and that went really, really well. One Grav-Attack got away which is probably for the best as they haven't contributed anything to any of the games they have fought in and we'd probably be better off forgetting we have had them. Captain Zybil took a nasty blow early doors allowing a six-wheel laser Segway thing to later sneak around and blow his Space Ice Cream Van up in one shot, thus killing the only named character in the campaign in campaign game one.

We decided to tone down Overwatch for future games. What happened here that didn't happen last game is that the ranges were all much shorter. Gruntz! has quite short ranges for weaponry (mostly 8"-16") but allows you to fire at up to double range for -3 on your dice. As Overwatch and Full Retard Auto both carry -1 penalties, then long range overwatch with "spray and pray" basically does fuck all - this is the problem I had in the previous game, the three-wayer. However the game appears designed that close range, in the open fire is lethal, longer range, in cover is more of an irritation. So accordingly Overwatch fire at close range is deadly, especially when Full Auto firing allows for d3+1 shots with the ability to change target after each shot.

The problem is that Overwatch never "switches off". It takes two actions to set up and then can fire at every target of opportunity. For ever. This stamps all over the idea that units can only fire once per turn and need a special rule (the "Rapid Fire" perk) to fire twice. Some of Gary's Overwatch targets were firing 3/4 times a turn. Now I don't entirely have a problem with this. It chimes in with a famous post-WW2 study by the New Zealand Army that drew the conclusion that casualties inflicted on the enemy were dependant upon the number of enemy exposed to fire and NOT the number of friendly firers - in other words the length of battles in modern warfare allowed a small number of adequately supplied men to knock out huge numbers of enemy if targets kept appearing. It's just that it did spoil our attempt at an evening's entertainment of moving little soldiers around.

Next game Overwatch will "switch off" after a shot and needs two actions to go back onto it.

(We also tripped over Gruntz! shitty proof-reading - the first paragraph of the Overwatch section says it is used when enemy activate in sight, the last paragraph amends this to move in sight. Not the same thing at all...)

Upshot for the Narrative Campaign

Miserable failure for the Blood Drinkers. Having failed to get away more than one damaged Grav-Attack, the breakout attempt failed and they remain encircled by rebel PDF of "Opfor A". Furthermore Captain Zenn Zybil was "waxed" (to use the Gruntz! parlance). What happened to him?

Well I rolled 90 on this table from the science fiction supplement for Warhammer Fantasy Battle 2nd edition.

Severe Right Leg. So this probably means that after emergency field amputation, Zybil will be shipped off to the Chapter Fortress (on planet San Guisaga I believe if Lexicanium is to believed but to be perfectly frank that "official", "Chapter Approved" fluff is such utter dogshit I wouldn't even bother reading it let allowing rolling your eyes at it) for surgery and fitting with a bionic leg. Much like this fellow on the left has.

So really the next couple of games should see a different model being used as a field commander for the Marines while Zybil recuperates. Maybe a Brother-Lieutenant takes over or I'll have a look through the unpainted pile and see what I could turn up as a temporary alter-ego. I have a few Ion Age figures that might do as an Inquisitor.

As a result of the loss I imagine that the next game will see the Marines as defenders as the rebels attempt to push their advantage.

Brother Hudovmann clung to the flank of the damaged APC as it rocked and pitched over the shellhole-blistered roadway. One hand was holding onto a hole in the armour of the machine-beast, punched there by a rebel armour multilaser shot, the other periodically slapped his helmet in an attempt to restore the enhanced vision granted by his auto-senses which were malfunctioning no doubt a result of a lasgun blast striking his head.

A loose connection somewhere surmised Hudovmann. Any more visual blackouts like this and I'll have to abandon the helmet.

It had belonged to Veteran-Brother Beayhond as well before being passed down to him upon Beayhond's noble death against the Giant White Apes of Bazoom(**). Such a shame to lose that link with the glorious past.

The retreating convoy limped through rebel settlements levelled by Hudovmann and his brothers less than twenty four hours earlier. Plumes of black smoke reached to the skies and fanned out into greasy grey clouds where the winds caught them. It reminded him of Bulbo trees lining the white gravel roads of his homeworld.

Steaming blackened skeletons lay contorted around the shattered shells of plexi-plastic hab units. The APC juddered slightly as the auto-drive continued straight on through a jumble of bones lying in the middle of the roadway bone splinters raining down on the ground.


As the crackling voice came through to Hudovmann's helmet an Imperial Shuttle flashed in from the horizon, flying dangerously low to avoid rebel radar sweeps. The long tail plume of electric-blue plasma cut off from the rear of the shuttle as the pilot killed his thrusters and skid-landed on his skids leaving a great blackened streak through the bio-cornfield to the convoys left.

Two Marines immediately leaped from the back of the APC one position ahead of Hudovmann in the convoy and reached back to pick something out. Something seven feet tall, armoured in power armour the colour of dried blood and missing a leg. Captain Zenn Zybil's helmet was removed and he was shouting out orders even as the Marines carrying him ran over to the shuttle. Hudovmann expected the wounded Captain to have felt no pain - Marines simply didn't. Amputation would have fired off all manner of pain-killers and stimulants in an attempt to keep the Captain awake, conscious and able to command.

The injured Marine was unceremoniously bundled into the cargo hold of the shuttle. The engines immediately fired causing a fire to break out amongst the bio-corn stalks behind and the craft shot forwards in a textbook emergency takeoff showering the Marine convoy with gravel and burning wheat matter. It was a take off of such violence that a lesser wounded man would surely have suffered even more grievous wounds but Zybil was a Marine, a veteran of two hundred years of continual warfare against the enemies of the Emperor.


TL;DR - It was like this

and this

(*) I know where the phrase comes from but can't see the relevance to the current situation. I was in no way attempting to build Jerusalem in England's Green and Pleasant Land.

(**) You can win OVER 9000 THE INTERNETS if you can identify that one.


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  2. Apparently the Splits' buggy was an Amphicat. I had a vague memory of one in a cheap 70's scifi setting and it turns out that they had one in Space 1999 too.

  3. Silent Running?

    Vague memories of one or more showing up driven by space punks in series four of Blakes 7.

  4. i like the Banana Split Buggy with the heavy caliber gun mounted on it ...