Saturday, August 13, 2011

BLA: Battle Report: test driving the monkeys

Last night we tested out the modifications we've been working on of the 'Chaos in Cairo/Carpathia' rules for a way to play early years Weird World War II... I've been thinking of it as 'Chaos in Crimea' since we were thinking of an Eastern European theater for the start of the setting.

We weren't worried about having equal or balanced forces as much as seeing how the points values felt for a variety of unit types when all mixed together and seeing how the activation system and force organization would work.

This would be a training wargames between the British MI13 commandos and the newly arrived force from the Belgian Congo.

The British consisted of the superhero Union Jack, Seamus the Irish Druid, a veteran rifle squad, an anti-tank commando unit and a walker boiler suit.  The Druid has a few magical abilities, including being able to spot at long distance rather than only within 8" and ability to summon a variety of creatures to aid him: a strong force to be reckoned with.

The Belgians had a larger force: Professor Poireau, an officer with leadership and mind skills & his assistant Beatrix, the military authority character Octavian the chimpanzee, Agrippa the Gorilla character and 3 lesser Gorilla characters, a unit of riflemen and a unit of recruits: monkey soldiers.  Recruits are less skilled than standard troops, and I modified their profile from human recruits: gave them sharp senses and higher agility, but lowered their strength and damage resistance: hard to hit, but when shot fall pretty easily.  The Gorillas were adapted from Werewolf rules, removing vulnerability to silver as well as the benefits from the moon.
The Belgian walker model is quite a bit bigger, but the stats were identical to the British walker.

The Belgians outnumbered the Brits and out-powered them a bit, so we decided on a scenario where the British were hiding in the woods, a few blind markers indicating possible locations: some would be real, some would be decoys, and the Belgians set up about 20" away from the closest, none in hiding.

For activations we each had 4 cards per turn, plus an extra card since we both had a character with the 'Leader' skill.  So while the Brits could activate each unit individually on its own card, if the Belgians wanted to move everything each turn they had to brigade-up a couple selections that were in range of each other under a character and activate together.

Unsurprisingly, the British remained hidden in the first turn, holding actions, taking advantage of their hidden positions. The Monkeys are the first to move forward, having no problem moving through the woods as all simians have the skill pathfinder: no penalties for moving through woods.

The Gorillas will follow after, though the monkeys failed to spot what might or might not be hidden in front of them.

Meanwhile the Belgian rifles get attacked by a creature made of smoke! i think it looked something like this:

But the Belgians were not afraid and knew how to take cover from dangers in the jungle.

The gorillas outpaced the monkeys and went to flush out the enemy, finding only a decoy: helmets on sticks, and fish & chip wrappers littered about.

The Greystoke walker moved forward and the enemy walker shrugged off some camouflaging branches and opened fire: if it wasn't for a reroll on the damage resistance dice the Greystoke would have gone down to the first volley!

Hearing the shots, Agrippa and his apes leaped to the branches and dropped down on the walker,tearing open hatches and ripping panels from it: their first attack didn't destroy it, but it didn't have much left to sustain itself.  Meanwhile, Union Jack sees this and prepares a counter attack.

The Smoke Monster came back for a second attack on the Belgian lads, and while it didn't do any damage, it was certainly holding up their progress.  Glad it hasn't learned this trick:

The Gorillas make some smoke of their own as they finish off the British walker:

Only the 3 Mountain Gorillas were involved in this, Agrippa stayed out of this, so he could activate on a different card on his own...

Agrippa's attention was elsewhere...

Before Union Jack could act Agrippa launched himself at the man in tights. They proved evenly matched: First Agrippa attacked, having the benefits of charging, but Jack's damage resistance proved up to the challenge.  He then attacked back on his own activation, but couldn't damage the Great Ape either. They were both different in design, but with similar results when pitted against each other: Jack didn't have quite as many dice in an attack, but Agrippa didn't have much defense: no combat evade: it just isn't in Gorilla nature to bob & weave. But the Gorilla had a great deal of resistance. In reverse, it was harder for Agrippa to land a blow with enough to get the extra damage dice because of Jack's greater combat defending skill, which was good for Jack because his resistance was a little less.  They each attacked each other 2 times with no effect.

Meanwhile two others challenged each other: with the troops fighting smoke monsters, and later living trees, Octavian moved forward to flush out the Druid. But Seamus interrupted him and used his most powerful attack yet: lightning!

Yes, there was much references to 'Shock the Monkey'.. including a pause as we heard the origin of this expression. All I can say is, if that is true, then wow Australia.. you are wrong.. just so very wrong. ;)

The lightning hit Octavian hard and did 3 damage to him, which was all the vitality he had. Since he is a character though, and it didn't exceed his vitality, he was permitted a knock out resist roll: which he passed! Phew!  However, that meant the next damage he took would take him out of action, no save possible.

So he charged the Druid:

Octavian's attack succeeded and exceeded the Druid's vitality, so Seamus was removed.  -Some shockingly bad dice rolling on his damage resistance roll. '

By now, the Gorilla pack came to Agrippa's aid.. encircling him.. things look bad for the Hero of Britain!

While big stars make the newsreels, it's the grunt soldiers who are the unsung heroes.

The Monkeys advanced, but the British commandos were ready for them, interrupted, made their spot check and opened fire: Monkeys are small and had cover and used their monkey paws to roll some good dice: no hits. Can easily see the advantage of starting in cover hidden though!

The monkeys returned fire and the unlucky dice returned for the Brits: 9 wounds.  The veteran squad was taken out in total.  The Gorillas finally got a point of damage onto Union Jack, but that looked like it'd be a long fight.  Seeing that the majority of British forces were out of action, Jack called for a retreat and the exercise was drawn to a close.

What we learned: At first it seemed the Gorillas were too powerful in combat with a vehicle, but when considering their points were about 50% more than the vehicle and it took 2 turns to destroy it, it seems about right.  Besides which, the terrain favored them, but that won't always be the case.  Also, in 'superhero vrs superhero' combat, these guys are so sturdy with so much fate they might beat on each other for days with little effect... but then, that is what you'd expect isn't it? The supers duel which then frees up the armies to get on with their job. The trick is positioning to be able to use them to some effect before you must commit them to tying up the enemy super-something.  The Druid was a very powerful utility knife yet vulnerable personally, so he seems balanced.

I special ordered the Dust Tactics gorillas from the store we play at, and picked them up that night.
I was surprised, but pleasantly. The miniatures are a good deal smaller than I expected.  I had only seen pictures of the box art, and had assumed the bases were 40mm and so the Gorillas would be very large. The bases are closer to 30mm, which puts them a bit smaller than AT-43 Karmans, and a nice size compared to an average 28mm human.  I'll probably post up some comparison pictures of them and a review of them since I'm liking them quite a bit.  I'm looking forward to painting them.  Agrippa is a Karman character I repainted for fun & a contest a couple years ago.  I'm very pleased with it, so I don't think I'll be rebasing him.  For his basing, perhaps he's breaking into a Nazi secret lab!

Hope you enjoyed the report.  Cue music and roll credits:


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