Thursday, 15 August 2019

Something Strange on the Plain

After last week's RCW skirmish, something a bit more modern. When I say "Modern", I mean retro 1970's sci fi, with a dash of Doctor Who from the classic period.

I have had the Harlequin DW figures for a lot of years, and the rule booklet too. The figures are really nice, and the rules are okay in a "roll a six to hit" kinda way. The designer does a good job of differentiating the creatures in the DW universe, but it is still mostly roll a six to hit +/-, with slightly different movement rates.

I haven't run a game with these for probably nearly 20 years, so it was good to find that past me had left some design notes and suggestions in the box for future me.

I don't ever recall using my Ice Warrior unit before, so why not this time?

Player Briefings:

Briefing – Sgt Benton
Last night there was what appeared to be a localised severe localised thunder storm over part of Salisbury Plain. This had not been forecast and came out of otherwise clear skies. Anomalies were seen on early warning radar, and early morning flyovers by RAF Westlands identified sites of  interest with unusual ground discolouration, but they were unable to get close due to interference with instrumentation arising from atmospheric conditions. 

UNIT has despatched several squads to make an initial reconnaissance of the areas of interest. You have been allocated the abandoned village of Embrary, which was used for training purposes during the Second World War. It is mostly ruins.

Your squad of 6 includes a Corporal, a radio operator and a couple of specialist grenadiers.
Your mission is to recce the area, identify any anomalies, and then report back. Should difficulties occur UNIT has a mobile response team under the command of Captain Yates that can be requested by radio.

Sgt Benton and his brave squad of men
 Briefing – Captain Yates
Last night there was what appeared to be a localised severe localised thunder storm over part of Salisbury Plain. This had not been forecast and came out of otherwise clear skies. Anomalies were seen on early warning radar, and early morning flyovers by RAF Westlands identified sites of  interest with unusual ground discolouration, but they were unable to get close due to interference with instrumentation arising from atmospheric conditions.

UNIT has despatched several squads to make an initial reconnaissance of the areas of interest. You are at a central location with a mobile response team to provide back up if needed. Needless to say there is a lot of concern that this is an off-world attack or visitation. If possible evidence of alien presence needs to be retrieved and returned to the UNIT labs for investigation.

You have a team of 6, including you, a Corporal as a driver, and four troopers in a Land Rover.

The Dashing Captain Yates and his reliable Land Rover
 Briefing  - Commander Ilyxyr
Last night the Ice Warriors started their colonisation of Earth! In order to make this too-hot planet generally habitable to the denizens of Mars the planet needs to be seeded from space by plants that will alter the atmosphere to a more Martian mix. This will also cause the temperature to drop, allowing ice to form in even the warmest of climes. Last night’s drop into a remote part of a small island was a test run before final deployment. Your mission is to determine the success of the test.

Initial indications are that only some of the drop canisters opened, so the drop from space wasn’t entirely successful. You need to find and secure the undeployed canisters and either activate them or retrieve then to stop them being investigated by the local ape-descended life forms.

You and your squad were deployed by a trans-mat device still under development. After usage it normally requires at least half a solar day to recharge before you and your team can be extracted or reinforcements sent.

Commander Ilyxyr's advance guard
As it turned out only one of my regular players could make it, so Richard got Sgt Benton, and I ran the Ice Warriors.

The ruined village of Embrary

Richard started the game with Sgt Benton, and his brave men.  All the figures have names painted on the bases. They are taken from the actors who played UNIT soldiers in the original DW series, as mostly UNIT soldiers don't get names


The Sergeant split his squad into two, sending Corporal Pike on a wide flanking manoeuvre, whilst he sneaked up the hedge line. So far, everything quiet...


...including my Camera when the battery went flat, so I switched to the camera phone.


Soon movement was seen in the ruined buildings and sonic blasts rang out. The first of Benton's men is killed by an Ice Warriors sonic blaster, fired from the building to the right. Benton returned fire with his Stirling SMG, but inflicted no obvious damage.


Pike's men likewise took a hit, but the threat was snuffed out by the simple expedient of lobbing a grenade into the building.


Benton switched his attention to the Ice Warrior in the open, and drilled him with a sustained burst from his weapon.


Pike & his squad (well, his one remaining subordinate) made their way stealthily through the ruin, avoiding any contact with the alien looking plant life. Pike machine gunned the one next to him, but inflicted no damage. He then marvelled at how resilient the Post Box was, amidst all the rubble.


Benton rushed the building, as the Ice Warrior guard lumbered out of the back door.


More Ice Warriors emerged from another ruined building


The Ice Lord reveals himself, and exhorts his minions to destroy the puny Earthlings.


Surprised by the Ice Warrior as he tries to open an alien looking crate, Sergeant Benton is laid out. He fails his saving roll, but he's a named character. Is he really dead???


Another grenade is lobbed into an Ice Warrior strong point. It kills one of the guards, but the Ice Lord is unscathed. As is the alien tech in the crates and the mysterious plant life.


At last Captain Yates arrives, in response to frantic radio messages. The Ice Warrior starts to wade through the duck pond to close with his target.


As smoke continues to spew out of the building, the Land Rover screeches to a halt.


Believing the building to be empty, Corporal Pike enters and starts to search. Ice Lord Ilyxyr sneaks up and blasts him.


Yate's Corporal from the Land Rover rushes Ilyxyr, and empties a full magazine into him at close range. He falls, riddled with holes.


The Ice Warriors start to move ponderously down the main street towards the Land Rover.


Captain Yates opens fire on the nearest Ice Warrior, and hits him. Unfortunately it keeps on coming.


Captain Yates is beaten to the ground by the wounded Ice Warrior.


Another grenade, lobbed over the house from behind the hedge. The radio operator has retrieved the grenades from the unfortunate trooper who got killed at the start of the game. One Ice Warrior is obliterated by it.


Undaunted by the explosions going off around him, an Ice Warrior continues to advance on the Land Rover.


I can't remember the exact sequence of events, but there's a big shoot out, and a grenade gets lobbed into the house, which blows up and detonates the Ice Warriors' "Fiendish Device" this time round. That disposes of the last Ice Warrior, and (unbeknownst to the UNIT player) destroys the trans-mat so they can't bring any more reinforcements.


The UNIT player now just needs to retrieve evidence of aliens for the lab with his two remaining troopers. Alas he chooses the mysterious alien plant like thing, which sort of gives off a blast of spores that renders one of his men inert.


So the last UNIT soldier bundles a dead Ice Warrior into the back of the Land Rover, and drives off.

I think he's going to need counselling, but it is the 1970s, so he'll probably just be told to get on with it.

The rules give a fun game, although there are a lot of things that make you wonder if they could be improved. It's pretty brutal too, - the humans normally only take one hit to kill, and the saving rolls for characters are either a 6 or a 5,6, so don't rest your hopes on them. In a campaign I think you might have a dead/wound/recovery roll for each figure between games, especially named characters. What makes the game, of course, are the figures and the scenario and the basic nostalgia of it all. I don't know that I'd be so invested in wargaming the modern period DW, much as I love it. There's something special about UNIT and the 1970s and those shoot outs with various aliens.

Richard enjoyed himself, so I might bring this back. I'm a bit limited on the Ice Warrior front as I deployed my full force, bar the one figure who is in a display cabinet in the dining room. All my Doctor & Companion figures are in there too. Obviously I have loads of Daleks, but they can be a bit cliched, although they do provide a good excuse to get the bazooka team out.

And I probably need more terrain. Some buildings that aren't blown up, for example. And a space ship looking thing. May be I'll have a look at Partizan this weekend. If you're coming along, stop by the History Zone and say hello.

4 comments:

  1. Hi Trebian- I've enjoyed reading your Doctor WHO Game Report and admiring your great photos. Something about the 1970s era for this- great to see the UNIT Troops and Ice Warriors. Cheers. KEV.

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    1. The 1970s has it, classic weaponry and uniform and the Brigadier in his prime.

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  2. I feel like donning a tweed overcoat, ten foot long knitted scarf, and getting a curly perm after reading this! Good fun.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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    1. I had in my mind that this game was set after Dr 3 gets his ability to fly the TARDIS back, but before he morphs into Dr 4.

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