My friend Dave and I started our Five Planets campaign this weekend. Five Planets is my campaign/scenario book for the Quadrant 13 company-sized sci-fi rules from the TwoFatLardies which, in the interests of full disclosure, were also written by me. In the interests of encouraging people to buy Five Planets, I should also point out that the scenarios are as generic as possible, so can be used with any company-sized sci-fi ruleset.
Five Planets covers the invasion of the Pankova system, with the generic Attackers working their way in from Peach, the outermost planet, through an asteroid belt, then via Cheteria, Three and D'Var, to a climactic battle on Adeen, the innermost. Facing off against them are the generic Defenders, who will contest the system scenario by scenario. Each planet has its own distinct character: Cheteria, for example, is the ice planet; and D'Var is a desert planet.
The first scenario in the campaign involves the initial attack on Peach, with the Attackers trying to knock-out a Defender observation base in order to give their main attack a greater chance of success.
The battle will be more lethal than usual, as Peach is a moon-like planet with no atmosphere, so getting hit involves all sorts of extra nasty consequences. In Q13, for example, damage is moved up one level, so a near miss can become a point of Shock, and a point of Shock can become a Kill.
The Opposing Sides
For this campaign, Dave would use my Avian army: birdmen made up from three different ranges. The core infantry contingent comes from Mad Robot’s Harook range: ground-pounder flightless birds with big guns and bigger beaks. Two platoons of them.
Supporting the Harook are a platoon of Hauk mobile infantry: birdmen from Khurasan Miniatures, with wings that look as if they might work. Although technically airmobile, the Hauk platoon have landed off-table, and will thus also deploy as ground troops.
The armoured contingent, made up of grav tanks from Top Gun Marketing, provided the core assault force: two light tanks for recon; four medium tanks; and four heavy tanks.
Backing all these up were an Harook electronic warfare vehicle (EWSO) and an Harook medic in his ambulance. Air assets had been supressed by off-table action, but off-table artillery was available.
I would use my Gitungi force, taking to the tabletop for the first time. Micropanzer’s Gitungi infantry and support drones provided the core force (two platoons of infantry, three missile drones and three assault (gatling cannon armed) drones); which was backed up by a platoon consisting of three of Khurasan’s XM-6 superheavy hovertanks.
Q13 army lists and a gallery for both sides can be found elsewhere on the Vis Lardica website.
The Peach Observation Base was positioned at the bottom left hand corner of the table. It consisted of one main building surrounded by several smaller units. A hill, bottom right, carried one of the base’s scanners; and the top half of the table was really one huge mountain range. The entire area was pockmarked with impact craters, so cover was not a problem.
The Gitungi would start the game with 12” of the base, with the Avians arriving from the top of the table. Victory conditions were simple: the Gitungi had to keep the Avians out of any buildings; the Avians had to capture the whole base.
The game began with the first wave of Harook units moving onto the table under Blinds. Q13 uses the same Blinds system as other TFL games: units are hidden underneath Blinds until spotted, some Blinds can be scouts, or Dummy Blinds, rather than actual full units.
The two Harook infantry units would head straight down the (Gitungi) left side of the table towards the base, the medium tanks would advance up the middle, and the heavy tanks would support the Hauk as they moved down the (Gitungi) right hand side of the table.
The Gitungi, outnumbered, at the bottom of a hole, and keen to keep the Harook infantry as far away from the base as possible, sent a platoon of infantry with an assault drone towards the hill to the right; and two superheavy tanks forward to try and reach, and thus defend, the crest of the mountainous range before the enemy got there. The rest of their troops hunkered down within the base’s footprint.
Unfortunately for the Gitungi infantry platoon, the Harook EWSO used his scanners to spot them as they moved towards the hill. De-cloaking one of his Blinds to reveal the medium tank platoon, the Harook CO ordered them to bombard the enemy infantry. Even though they were firing indirectly, the fact that the Gitungi were caught out in the open, combined with the terrible consequences of getting one’s armour punctured in a no-atmosphere environment, meant that a quarter of the infantry became casualties, with the rest supressed. Ouch!
This boded ill, as the Avian tanks could just keep blasting away all day…but, fortunately for me, one of the two superheavy tanks I’d sent forward chose that moment to crest the mountainous ridge and give the enemy vehicles something else to think about. The Harook medium tanks scattered for cover (well, if you will line them up neatly!), giving the Gitungi infantry time to gather their wits and finish their journey up the hill.
The ridgeline of the mountainous range in the centre of the table then became the focus of nearly all activity for the next few turns, as all eight Avian tanks (their heavy tanks abandoned the Hauk platoon they had been supporting and rushed to help the medium tanks) attempted to knock out the two superheavy Gitungi tanks that were hull down on the ridge. All ten tanks were in some kind of cover, so bits of moon rock were flying everywhere as their guns attempted to blast each other to bits.
The two Gitungi superheavy tanks could easily keep the Avian medium tanks at bay, effectively knocking out two of them in exchange for a couple of scratches on their rather snazzy gold paintwork, but the heavy tanks were another matter. Sheer weight of numbers began to tell, and soon both Gitungi tanks had been destroyed. As the Avian tanks began to move forward towards the now-undefended ridge line, I realised that things were not going well!
Meanwhile, on the (Gitungi) right of the battlefield, the Hauk platoon had been cautiously moving forward from cover to cover, trying to get into a position where they could engage the Gitungi platoon on the right hand hill. Unfortunately for them, however, the Gitungi missile drones positioned at the back of the observation base got their range and blasted them, with more casualties then being caused by the assault drone supporting the Gitungi infantry. It was obvious that without their heavy tank support, the Hauk, despite being veteran troops, were not going to be able to do more than keep the Gitungi platoon opposite them occupied.
On the (Gitungi) left hand side of the table, however, the two Harook infantry platoons, supported by the light tanks, had moved forward smartly, with the lead platoon soon in a position to begin bringing down fire onto any enemy troops in the base itself. One Gitungi squad was positioned along the edge of the flat-bottomed crater serving as a landing pad for the base, and this was quickly suppressed by concentrated fire.
This made a hole in the Gitungi perimeter, so the other Harook platoon, still under a Blind, took advantage, and charged towards the nearest building: one of the smaller, outlying units. This was occupied by another Gitungi squad which, as the Harook had to cross so much open ground, managed to hold off effectively three times their numbers. The Harook platoon rushed backwards almost as fast as they had rushed forwards, unfortunately ending up in amongst the firing positions of their other platoon.
What I needed now was for my missile drones to open up on the confused mass of Harook infantry, but the cards were against me, and the Harook EWSO was able to block my communications, meaning that my Big Men couldn’t order the drones to switch targets and fire. Frustrating!
The Harook infantry sorted themselves out, and began advancing again, this time one platoon would cover the advance of the other as it moved squad by squad from cover to cover. My last superheavy tank had been firing ineffectually from its position in the centre of the observation post buildings, but now moved forward, along with another two assault drone to defend the base’s perimeter.
At this point, unfortunately, we ran out of time. The Harook infantry were about to capture one of the base's buildings and, although I still had one superheavy tank left, its time would soon be occupied by the six remaining enemy tanks. One of my infantry platoons, the one on the hill, was too far away to really do more than retreat safely; and the other, already one squad down, faced two reasonably strong Harook platoons. We declared Dave the winner and consulted the scenario pack for the campaign victory points.
Here I had more luck: as Dave hadn't taken the whole base, I scored two points, he scored one. The rest of the Gitungi army had obviously been inspired by my heroic defence!
It was a cracking game, where Avian superior numbers were countered, to a certain extent, by superior Gitungi technology. Q13 operates a Tech Level system, the effect of which here was that the Harook (Tech 2) were at a minus whenever they fired at the Gitungi (Tech 3) and the Gitungi were at a plus whenever they fired at the Harook. Both Dave and I were reminded that infantry are awfully vulnerable in Q13, but also vital for taking ground. We also noted that having a good EWSO was very useful...and Dave used his Medic quite a bit too.
Onto the next game: also set on Peach!