Two back-to-back games of Tomorrow’s War
Tim and I got together for a game of Tomorrow's War using a scenario we'd come up with, but the game was over so quickly that we were able to squeeze in another game. So read on for two after-action reports from Tomorrow's War. Both illustrate the unpredictable nature of the game itself — something we quite enjoyed, I must say.
Ambush on Saltpan Road
Colony World: Fornacis V
Area: Saltpan Salient 64-Alpha
Mercenary squads from Markham’s Skybolts completed their mission to find and extract a downed pilot from Neo-Soviet territory, but that victory came at a cost: 4 prisoners of war were captured by Neo-Soviet troops.
Now, in the hours immediately following the raid, the Skybolts have mobilized to recapture their comrades. Three Skybolt mercenary recon teams operating in the area have been re-tasked with intercepting the Neo-Soviet convoy that is escorting the POWs back to a fire base. The recon team has been in the field for six days and is low on supplies, but the mission must be carried out. The Neo-Soviets suspect an attack, but they must move carefully because their POWs are severely wounded.
As the Neo-Soviet escort closes in on its forward firebase, the hard-bitten mercenaries spring their ambush...
(This scenario was a follow-up to a game we played in October that saw Colonel Wade Markham's Skybolts (my mercenary company, made up of Pig Iron's Heavy Infantry figures) win a pyrrhic victory against Tim's Neo-Soviet forces.)
The game began with Tim's light APC (carrying wounded POWs) moving down a lonely, windswept road, escorted by a squad of Neo-Soviet regulars on foot. The commie troops weren't alone, though — they had brought several horrid, vat-grown mutants to the fight, as evidenced in this photo.
We treated the mutants as "dogs" as per the Tomorrow's War rules. As it happened, they turned out to be very effective at detecting the Skybolt mercenary troopers, who were equipped with stealth recon armor and suppressed weapons. You can see the three mercenary fireteams in ambush positions in the photo above.
The game opened with the APC zooming forward, trying to get across the table as fast as possible (as per the scenario victory conditions). In response, the ambushing mercenary teams opened fire with their heavy laser cannon and shoulder-mounted missile launcher. But because the Skybolts had done a forced march to get to their ambush positions after several days of in-country combat ops, they received the "Poor Suppies" penalty and suffered from reduced firepower for the entire game. Again, this was part of the scenario design...the mercenaries were exhausted and operating with depleted ammo as a result of their frantic overland hustle to intercept the convoy.
In any case, Tim's Neo-Soviet troopers and mutants surged up the ridge to root out the first fire team. During the ensuing combat, I rolled a "1" on my Troop Quality dice, which meant I had to draw a Fog of War card! The results was an atmospheric storm that whipped across the battlefield, reducing visibility and combat effectiveness of all units. Cool! Here are my sad little men getting harassed by the Neo-Soviets and their ghastly creations. Later in the game this fireteam suffered another Fog of War card that further diminished their fighting spirit...brutal, just brutal.
By this point, the APC containing the POWs had zipped down the highway, shrugging off the firepower that I was able to muster from my other two fireteams. It reached the Neo-Soviet firebase at the end of the table and zoomed off to victory. Game over! Tim and I agreed that the Skybolts mercenary squads were at a severe disadvantage because of the "Poorly Supplied" rule, although it was narratively appropriate for the scenario.
On to game two! We re-oriented the terrain and set up a scenario where Tim's Neo-Soviets were attacking a "thin green line" of Skybolts mercenaries defending a supply depot. I took just one photo of the game, which shows a mercenary weapon team perched atop a silo. I call it "The Calm Before the Storm." That green wall makes for a pretty cool-looking "sky" for this photo.
We played only two turns of this game before a Fog of War card ended things for us. Tim rolled a "1" for his Troop Quality while skirmishing with my defenders and promptly drew a Fog of War card. It stipulated that his units, fearing a gas attack by the opposing force, were forced to quickly don chem gear, thus reducing their Troop Quality by one dice for the rest of the game.
Now, Tim's Neo-Soviets were only Troop Quality d6, which is the lowest in the game. Any further reductions means the troops are removed from the table as they retire to the rear or lose their nerve to fight. And that's exactly what happened! I was victorious because Tim's entire force melted away at the threat of a gas attack.
Of course, they didn't actually die in combat...they just lost their nerve and fled. This may have repercussions as we continue this mini-campaign.
As far as rules comprehension, game one was pretty damn tough. Tim and I managed to forget pretty much everything we thought we had internalized about the rules. We blundered a bit and probably made some mistakes. By game two things were humming along smoothly...and of course the game ended prematurely!
There's no arguing the fact that both games were quite short: less than an hour for the first scenario and less than 30 minutes for the second scenario. Some players might be put off by the fact that the two games were so brief. The first game ended because the mercenaries were really outclassed, and the second game ended because of a random Fog of War card. Luckily, Tim and I are "story" players so we don't really mind the abrupt endings as long as they fit into the narrative of the game. And they did!
We'll certainly play Tomorrow's War again. I've already got some ideas for a follow-up scenario. Those POWs are still out there, waiting to be rescued.
— PatrickWR, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member