With the rapid Aphid advance towards Hurgeria, all the Felids holding the reactor complex at Kriar could do was retreat. Their Garn masters would not be pleased, but staying around to be captured and killed seemed pointless. Naturally the reactor itself would have to be destroyed first, and a team of engineering with demolition equipment was quickly deployed.
Hardly, however, had the engineers arrived, when long distance scans showed Aphid activity on the horizon. It seemed that the Frogs were rather keen on capturing the reactor for themselves. The Felid forces in the vicinity, a small company of infantry with a handful of support units, would have to delay the amphibians' advance until the engineers had finished their work...
This was the premise for last week's game of Quadrant 13, the company-sized sci-fi rules from the Two Fat Lardies. Below you can see the table: a 6ft by 5ft horror of hills and jungle that meant all the fighting would be at terribly close range. Carnage was expected as the weapons deployed were far more technologically advanced than 21st Century Earth. Below the main picture is a close up of the reactor complex itself, and of the reactor and the countdown disc, courtesy of Warbases and this year's Salute (which I thought was rather good actually).
This was a screening mission, with the Felids having to hold the reactor complex for seven appearances of the Turn Card. Felid forces were two small platoons of infantry, each two squads of ten infantry; a squad of Felids on jetbikes; a small squad of two Mako-system mortars; a squad of three Mako-system anti-tank guns; and a squad of transport vehicles that Neil, my opponent, attached to one of the infantry platoons to make them Mobile. They also had an Electronic Warfare Specialist with three scanning/EW drones.
The Aphids fielded four platoons of infantry: two standard Militia of three squads each; one heavy infantry of two squads in Powered Armour; and one Recon of three squads of elite scouts. They were backed up by a tank platoon of two squads each of two Flycatcher tanks; and a squad of three Lilypad fighters for air support.
The battle began with the Aphids advancing a host of Blinds onto the table as far and as fast as they could go. This was not going to be an advance of subtle feints and manoeuvre: my aim was to bludgeon my way through to the complex using my superior numbers to do so. Naturally, like all good generals, I was fighting using tactics from the last war I fought which, in this case, was last weekend's game of WW2 using I Ain't Been Shot, Mum! This meant that I had failed to consider that (a) my troops were of an inferior quality (peace-loving frogs versus warlike cats!) and (b) better technology means better killing...especially at close range.
I sent the Aphid tanks and a platoon of infantry up the left flank, the Heavy Infantry in the centre, and the scouts shot rapidly up the right flank closely followed by the other infantry platoon. My air support remained off table: when their card came up, they would be able to swoop down anywhere on the battlefield anyway.
To my surprise, the Felids were defending way forward. I was expecting them to hang back and try and take potshots at me from afar but, perhaps driven by the terrain, Neil had decided to try and stop me as far away from the reactor as possible, then retreat slowly. He knew that his engineers only needed seven appearances of the Turn Card to blow the reactor, so on reflection this seemed like a sensible strategy.
On the left, the Aphid Flycatcher tanks ran smack bang into the Felid jetbikes. In the centre, the Heavy Infantry uncovered a platoon of Felid infantry. On the right, my Scouts spotted the other, Mobile, Felid infantry platoon. The pictures below show the initial encounters:
As I had effectively walked into an ambush, the Felids got to fire first. As predicted, the close range shooting caused carnage amongst my closely packed troops. One entire squad of Heavy Infantry were wiped out, and the Aphid infantry platoon in between the Heavies and the tanks lost a squad and a half. Return fire from the second Heavy squad did plenty of damage in return, however, aided by area fire from one of the Flycatchers. The lead Flycatcher dealt with the Felid jetbikes: Neil later confessing that he had intended to sneak them past my front line as I came forward and use them to take my main line from behind, as it were!
On the right, the Aphid scouts had opened fire on the Felid Mobile infantry, doing a little damage and, seeing that the left flank was secure, I began moving the second squad of Flycatchers across to reinforce the centre and right. The pictures below show the situation after the initial encounter:
The Felid infantry were proving a tough nut to crack. Not only were their squads armed with two light support weapons each, but the cats themselves were wearing Tech 2 armour. Throughout the battle, this meant that his troops were killing mine much more efficiently than mine were killing his and, given I had to maintain an advance if I was to reach the reactor before it was blown, I could see that despite the tanks I would very soon run out of infantry!
On the right, seeing my second infantry platoon coming up to support the Scouts, the Felid platoon mounted their armoured patrol vehicles (all from Antenocitis' excellent GOT range), intending to retreat to their next line of defence.
This seemed like a good opportunity to catch them on the hop, so I summoned my Lilypad fighters and gave chase:
Although one Puma was hit and the infantry it was carrying forced to dismount, I hadn't taken into account the fact that each Puma had a pretty serious machine gun-like weapon on top of it. Two of the Lilypads were driven from the field trailing smoke, whilst the other banked and dodged and tried to get more shots off.
Now that my tanks had revealed themselves, Neil could afford to send forward his anti-tank guns to try and pick them off. His problem was that his guns were mounted on Mako tractors, so although they were mobile, they were by no means armoured tank killers and should be fairly easy for me to destroy. He therefore needed to get into a position where he could snipe at me from a position of relative safety.
In the meantime, his mortars had also opened fire, and wrecked havoc with the Aphid infantry platoon behind the Scouts. Here are a couple of pictures of the mortars and anti-tank guns:
My lead Flycatcher emerged from the trees into a hail of fire from the three Aphid anti-tank guns. Unbelievably, the tank took some fifteen hits, any of which ought to have at least disabled it, without getting more than single point of Shock! Despite being rocked this way and that by the shells bouncing off its armour, the Flycatcher returned fire, and quickly took out two of the Felid anti-tank guns. Here's a picture of the 'indestructible' Flycatcher.
The game was in the balance. I needed to push my troops forward as fast and as hard as possible. Those of you familiar with TFL games will know that one of their key concepts is Big Men: individuals who through their drive and force of personality get the more normal individuals moving forward. I had four of them, and was intending to use them in this way. Unfortunately, every time I tried to use them to motivate my men, his Electronic Weapons specialist blocked their communication! My troops, hearing only static in their earpieces, held their positions: unsure what to do.
At this point, we decided to call the game as a draw. Neil was on a bit of a time limit, and that result seemed a fair one. There were only two appearances of the Turn Card left to go, but I certainly had the strength to smash through his remaining troops, especially as all four of my tanks were still fully functional and he only had one anti-tank gun left.
A great game that lasted only 2½ hours. Here's a picture of the final positions: