I had the chance to play not one, but two games of Tomorrow's War this weekend, against two different opponents. It's amazing how much gaming you can get in when the wife is out of town! Chicago Skirmish Wargames hasn't played Tomorrow's War in quite a while, almost two years actually. I've been painting up some urban skirmish terrain, so this was a perfect chance to get it all on the table (plus a few extra pieces borrowed from Josh).
In both games, my mercenary army (represented by Pig Iron Heavy Infantry figures) squared off against two invading forces: Karl's Ventaurans and Josh's Space Marines.
In this battle report, Karl's Ventaurans (comprised of Denizen Miniatures' excellent 25mm sci-fi infantry) launched a probing assault against my entrenched mercenary army. The setting was Geirrod City, a war-ravaged urban expanse on Fornacis V, itself a hotly contested planet that is part of my homebrew sci-fi setting. What can I say, I like having a little bit of backstory in my games!
Here are the Ventaurans at their jumping-off point: a line of trenches running about a quarter the length of the table. Karl had five fireteams each consisting of 4 figures each (typically a fireteam leader, a support weapon and two regular foot soldiers).
Take a look at the detail in these 25-year-old sculpts. They're really fantastic!
Across the shattered cityscape, Markham's Thunderbolts (my mercenary army) dug in against the coming storm. I had 4 fireteams on the table and two in reserve. (The basic unit in Tomorrow's War is the fireteam.) The reserves would deploy starting on turn 2 from a designated command post in the rear of the battlefield.
Tomorrow's War (which lacks an official point system and encourages players to develop their own army lists and scenarios) plays best when both players start with units "in contact," that is, in line of sight. And since the game assumes that all weapons can see and shoot the entire length of the battlefield (which makes perfect sense given the "hard" sci-fi setting) there's no time wasted trying to get into a firefight.
TW also features an unusual turn system. One player is the "initiative player," which means he spends the entire turn moving and attacking with his fireteams. The opposing player spends his turn trying to react to the initiative player's maneuvers. This is accomplished by the reaction test, a feature of Tomorrow's War that is used to determine who gets to act first in each round of fire. It's not uncommon for the initiative player's carefully laid plans to be ruined by a string of good luck for the savvy reacting player.
Karl began the game by sending his Ventaurans fireteams hustling through the ruins, trying to find a route through the murderous network of alleys and rubble piles. Here they go! That trench line is the main line of fortifications in this sector of Geirrod City, probably laid down months ago when the siege began.
I had four Thunderbolt mercenary fireteams on the battlefield, mostly deployed in safe, defensible areas. But I tried to counter Karl's maneuvers by flanking toward his fortified deployment area.
Our early firefights resulted in some casualties, and I decided to fall back and yield some of the city center to the advancing Ventaurans. This had mixed results -- I was able to gather together some survivors later in the game, but Karl moved into some fortified buildings that he would occupy for the rest of the game.
Here's a look at one of my fireteams that commanded a defended rooftop for most of the game. They endured some pretty incredible firepower throughout the game from Karl's Ventaurans, but he eventually wiped them out. Because they had such an advantageous field of view, they were able to participate in all sorts of reactions and crossfires.
As the game unfolded, my reserves arrived. By this point, Karl's forces occupied a pair of key buildings, so I set up my reserves so they would have a clear line of sight to the dug-in Ventaurans. Here's what they saw when they arrived at their firebase.
Across the city, the Ventaurans gained momentum by virtue of their improved positions.
Alas, my guys were cut to pieces by the Ventaurans' deadly firepower. Karl's troops held two key advantages that helped him throughout the game: they were Tech Level 3 (compared to Tech Level 2 for my guys) and they had advanced healing systems built into their armor, which greatly improved their survival when making first aid checks.
And special mention should be made about Karl's fireteam that never actually moved from their deployment zone -- these guys seized the upper level of a warehouse and sniped across the battlefield for the entire game, supporting their advancing comrades and harassing my guys incessantly.
Tomorrow's War gave us a much better game this time around. I'm not sure if that was because were were only playing a 1-on-1 game (as opposed to our earlier games, which were almost all multiplayer affairs) or because I'd brushed up on my rulebook comprehension in preparation for this weekend of gaming. For whatever reason, Tomorrow's War really "clicked" for us this time, and I think we've laid the foundation for some fun games.
So the Ventaurans overran the mercenaries' command post, sending the survivors fleeing to the outskirts of Geirrod City. But the trouble wasn't over for the mercenaries, because a surgical strike team of space marines was en route to finish what the Ventaurans had started! Stay tuned for the battle report from my Tomorrow's War game versus Josh!
-- Patrick, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member