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Most of my recent painting has been sci-fi kit, so it was good to have a chance to get some figures onto the table and actually play a game. It would be the Hura from Clear Horizon Miniatures versus a force of Dwarves in Space built from a variety of different manufacturers.

The action would take place on a dusty red planet with normal gravity and a breathable atmosphere. Some kind of facility was positioned at one end of the table, surrounded by weird alien vegetation (courtesy of Pets R Us’ aquarium range) growing out of the rough ground. Looking at the picture above, the Dwarves would start from the far side of the table, the Hura from the near side.

The Dwarves (In Space)

The DiS force consisted on three platoons of infantry: one of Cactus Miniatures’ Gruntlings, one of Cactus Miniatures Gruntlings in Exo-Skeletons (powered armour), and one of Rebel Miniatures “Sons of Thunder”. These were supported by three HMG armed Spider Drones (GZG), three lighter laser cannon (cobbled together from the bits box with gunners from Cactus), three scout motortrikes from Cactus, and, last but not least, three Goanna tanks from Khurasan’s Thrainite range. The command element had an Electronic Warfare specialist attached (an Armadillo support unit from White Dragon), with air cover from a somewhat petite fighter-bomber (manufacturer forgotten).

Although a mixed bag manufacturers-wise, it was actually a pretty rounded force. The Dwarves’ key advantages were their air power, and the fact that one of their tanks mounted a shield generator in place on its main gun. Oh, and the fact that they were technologically superior to the Hura, so would always benefit by a factor of one on all dice rolls.

The Hura

As is so often the case, Clear Horizon’s Hura range comes with a nice set of infantry figures but nothing else. No vehicles, no heavy support weapons, no aircraft, no specialists: nothing except infantry. My Hura force of three infantry platoons (each of two squads of Hura and one squad of modified-Hura, MMG-type support weapons) was therefore augmented with six Xarledi grav tanks from Brigade Games’ Yanpolo range.

This gave me a distinct advantage in the vehicle department but no air power and, even more importantly, no anti-aircraft assets. This would prove one of the deciding factors in the game to come.

The Battle

Commanding the Hura, my plan was to hold the area opposite the facility with my infantry whilst my grav tanks used their far superior speed to shoot around my opponent’s right flank.

Blinds representing my grav tanks (with a few dummies) swing out to the left

Unfortunately, John had anticipated this move, and one of the Blinds facing my advance was spotted as his AFVs.

Tank on tank!

This led to an immediate exchange of fire between my platoon of four grav tanks and John’s platoon of two tanks and a shield generator tank. I got the drop on the Dwarves and shot first: sending twelve rounds rapid fire across the dusty landscape at a range of only about 100 yards.

Unfortunately, John’s shield generator was up and running, and working at maximum efficiency. Despite hitting with all twelve shots, all I managed to do was knock out tank one’s main gun: excellent in terms of reducing the Dwarves’ firepower, not so good when it came to reducing their overall force morale.

Dwarf tank one then retreated behind the nearby volcano, leaving tank two to blow one of my grav tanks out of the air. Not a bad exchange, I thought: one of two Dwarf tanks effectively crippled for the loss of one of six grav tanks. Bring it on! One more round like that, and I’d be free to ignore the shield generator and head round to the main facility as planned.

Unfortunately, the Dwarf CO then got the opportunity to call in his air support, which appeared promptly: dropping out of the sky just behind my garv tanks and immediately dispatching one with air-to-ground missiles up the exhaust pipe.

Death from Above!

At this point I realised how stuffed I was. With no significant air defence assets, that pooping flyer was going to chase my grav tanks around the board, knocking at least one out of action each turn!

End Game

The Dwarves, meanwhile, had managed to get a unit forward into the facility, with more following on behind.

Aware that I needed to do something on the right if I was ever going to rescue the battle, I rushed my infantry forward, but it was really too late to do any good.

Hura infantry rush forward

But the Dwarves have the position

With my last grav tank chased and then destroyed by that poxy flyer, I had no choice but to retreat.

Aftermath

Well that was a crushing defeat for the Hura…and just goes to show the importance, as I say to anyone who asks, of airpower on the sci-fi battlefield.

All credit to John, however: he successfully read my intentions and countered my plan, with the Dwarves losing only six men (and one tank gun!) all battle.

I’m now off to scour the Internet for AA assets for my Hura!

Robert Avery