Saturday, November 5, 2011

Operation Blackjack- 5150 Star Army

So, an update, because its been awhile.

My power's been out for a week or so, and I just got it back... and just before losing power I got in a game of 5150 Star Army... and I remembered to take pictures! Some may remember this as a distant sequel to a small game of 5150 Book 1 I posted to the THW yahoo group almost a year ago... that is, its set in the same universe, at about the same time, during the same war.

In other news, I've been extremely busy in October... so no Winston Brasil adventures, rare playtesting of the Space game (really need a better name for that...), but there's been a little progress, and things are starting to settle down again.

Anyway, here's the batrep...

The Andromeda Galaxy, Paradise Sector, within the Twin Suns Emipre.
TancoKrav, an approximately Earth sized planet with one moon that is 
also inhabited- Shiloh.
This fight takes place on Shiloh, which is pretty much the quintessential American Southwest Desert Planet. water is fairly scarce, plants are mostly small shrubs, and the ground is a dusty red. 

For the past 15 years, TancoKrav has been having a religious movement, 
The True Word of Boris the Prophet, sweep across its lands. 5 years 
prior to the war, the majority of TancoKravians had converted, and 
they established a theocracy, headed by Boris Masia, the Prophet.

TancoKrav had been a protectorate of the Twin Suns Empire for nearly a 
century, and had been a vital resource and trade partner. The TSE 
viewed the declaration of a new government that did not accept 
advisors from the TSE as an act of rebellion, and issued an ultimatum 
to the new government, telling them to stand down, dismantle their 
military, and submit to TSE rule; this time without the benefit of 
autonomous rule.

The TancoKravians responded by blowing up the TSE embassy in their 
capital, and prepared for war.

That was 20 months ago.

Quickly the TSE realized that they could win with the help of the 
Shilohs, who had declared their independence from TancoKrav as soon as 
TK had established its theocracy. The Shiloh had always been fiercely 
independent, and though some Shiloh (relatively few) had converted to 
the new religion, none wanted to be run by TK in the first place, let 
alone by a non-democratic government.

Shiloh itself is a rough frontier world. It has a fairly low 
population, but the rough lifestyle and relatively frequent rebellions 
against whoever their current ruler is has resulted in a good 
population for fighting wars. They don't like the TSE, but they prefer 
the relatively distant and relaxed rule that TSE would grant them than 
to be imperialized by TK's dictatorship, and so have allied themselves 
with the TSE.

1730, local time. The 26 hour day of Tancokrav was the basis of timekeeping on Shiloh, but as a show in independence Shiloh has adopted the "Empire Standard 24 hour day." As a moon, times and dates are often skewed by the orbit of Tancokrav and Shiloh itself. In short, this battle takes place from about sunset to the end of twilight.

The far future. About nine years before Sgt. Llewellyn became a space 
pirate captain.

WEATHER: The sky is a swirling mix of light blue, gold, purple, and red. Shiloh is known for its beauty, especially around sunrise and sunset. There are a few clouds in the sky. Soldiers have clear LOS at this time, as it is still light and there isn't enough moisture for fog or rain at the moment. It is winter currently, and the temperature is 53ºF, slowly dropping as the sun descends.

SCENARIO: After heavy back and forth fighting on Tancokrav, the Twin Suns Empire and Shiloh seemed near victory. Suddenly, however, it seemed that TK got an influx of weapons, soldiers, and much better supplies. The TSE and Shiloh quickly lost ground on TK itself, and by the 18 month mark of the war TK was ready to bring the fight to the enemy.

The key to planetary invasion is to establish aerospace superiority over a large enough area that you can transport troops without fear of being shot down. Even then, cost is extremely high, and the enemy doesn't need to pay for anything other than boots. Fortunately for the attacker, even a single ship can rain extremely heavy fire down upon any large troop movements, which essentially puts both sides in the position of fighting guerilla warfare. Shiloh is also fairly low in population, so many of Tancokrav's enemies are also being shipped in from even greater distance. 

Tanco Krav has set up in a mountainous area of Shiloh, with their base of operations essentially being in a valley surrounding on all sides by 3 mountains. Heavy AA cover coordinated by listening posts deeper in TSE territory mean that Twin Suns soldiers are forced to climb treacherous cliffs while under mortar and sniper fire. 

3 days ago, the Twin Suns Empire was able to bring a passing battleship into the system. The ship was in transit back towards the TSE's interior sectors, and staying any longer than 2 weeks would upset the New Macedonians (who are a rising power in Paradise Sector), but at least the Tancokrav spaceships are grounded during this time to prevent the battleship from picking them off at long range with its lasers. 

This provided an opportunity for the Twin Suns Empire to try to get rid of the Tancokrav beachhead on Shiloh.

Two thousand of Shiloh and Twin Suns Empire troops surround the mountain area, and start special forces squads are sent out on recon, supported by the mechanized Shiloh Rough Riders and Twin Suns Empire Marines close by. Though the Tancokravians are outnumbered, most of the Twin Suns Empire troops are kept back until these first strikes establish a foothold on the mountains.

Recon the area with Twin Suns Special Forces and then clear it with mechanized infantry.


Seen here are some of the foothills of the three mountains, the outskirts of Tancokrav's control. 
The area shown is about 150 by 225 yards. In the North West corner of the area there is a small visible outpost, but its much larger underground. It dates back to Shiloh's earliest colonial era. 

As can be seen, the ground is uneven, providing lots of cover. (I'm using 'true LOS,' including soldiers blocking LOS, for the first time in a long time... it REALLY enhanced the game! Made squad tactics much more important).

The ruins on the Eastern side of the table are of suspected Precursor origin, as it is unknown how they got there. They have not been studied.

The TSE Special Forces team is walking in on the South East corner of the table. This being one of the largest gaps into the valley that contains most of the TK forces, the area is likely to be crawling with TK patrols.

TSE Marines with their IFV

Shiloh Rough Riders with their Traveller transport.

In the distance-- Twin Suns Empire Special Forces
The Marines and Rough Riders are all Rep: 4. Marines use Star Army stats and HBA while Rough Riders use PDF. Sgt. Llewellyn leads the Rough Rider squad, and is Rep 5. 

The Marines are led by Sgt. Marcus Chen, who is Rep 4.

The TSESF are all Rep 6 (rolled on the ISS table) with Exo Armor and Rapid Fire Laser. They are led by Captain Jailus Ban Rabia. Second in command (and the grenade launcher) is Ed "Sue" Seward. The team is filled out by Tami Nai'Ho and Jake Nordehaus. They all have "Stealth" which makes them invisible at 36" and invisible at 12" if stationary (and prone or in concealment). Enemy also always has -1 Rep on in sights at range beyond 12" regardless of circumstances.

The IFV has a light projectile cannon and HMG, while the Traveller has a rocket launcher and light beam cannon.




Rust colored sand swirls low to the ground in the slight wind, disturbing the small shrubs that barely eke out an existence on Shiloh's rough landscape.

A Viatsi lying in the slight shadow lifts his hooded head and looks around. As he moves his red hood and dark armor become distinguished from the ground, as if the Viatsi had just emerged from the ground.

"Break is over. Fan out and prepare to move North." He whispers with a slight accent into his comms. Three more figures grow from the ground as they sit up into a crouch. "Look alive, this place is crawling Tancokravians."

"Alright, let us move."

"Captain Rabia, ruins to the North." Seward says.
"Nordehaus, follow me to the ruins. Seward, Nai'Ho, cover us."

Captain Rabia looks around, "We are going to move North another hundred yards or-"
"Contact West!" Nordehaus' voice cuts over the comms.

"Looks like a squad o' T-K's... they can't see us." He adds.
"Wait a moment... I am seeing some movement just North of those Tancokravians." Rabia says.

"This is strange...  not a Tancokravian uniform..." He turns a dial on the side of his goggles and the zooms in on the distant figure walking across the desert. "Red and black..."
"We've got a few more to the North... heavy infantry with laser rifles." Sue cuts in.
"Red and black... Perhaps they are mercenaries?" Nai'Ho suggests.
"CONTACT NORTH! IFV! Everyone get down!" shouts Sue as a small IFV roars into view just a few dozen yards to the North of the special forces. 

"Adaina..." grunts Nai'Ho as he throws himself against the wall. 
"Seward we've been spotted, take it out!"Rabia shouts.
The IFV's turret turns towards the squad as Seward leans out from cover and aims the grenade launcher. Bullets impact the wall and ground all around the squad as the IFV's attached infantry open up at their unseen foes, and the IFV starts spraying bullets from its HMG just to try to pin the squad down. 
Seward pulls the trigger. the surface of the IFV explodes, but the vehicle appears to be undamaged.
"Armor's too thick, sir!" 
"This is Bravo-3, we need assistance!" 
"Brech Ate Adaina..."
"Stay down!"
The IFV pulls back a bit behind a small hill crest while its infantry get cover themselves after seeing the grenade blast.
Tancokravian Mechanized Infantry take cover.
Sgt. Llewellyn listens to the transmissions. "Alright, Plan B. Time to get over there." He signals the Traveller pilot to move in for a quick landing south of the TSESF position.

The Tancokravian soldiers scramble for cover as the Traveller rises up over the mesa. One shoots a rocket that just barely misses the Traveller, which responds with a beam that blasts the soldier to pieces. Bullets whiz around the Traveller as it lands. 
"Sergeant, that's a hot L-Z. Good luck with the T-K's!" shouts the pilot over the din of battle.

Sgt. Llewellyn leaps out of the transport and is immediately angered at the choice of LZ. Leave it to a Twin Suns pilot to choose a kill zone, he thinks.

Bullets whiz around the Rough Riders, who take cover along the crest of the mesa and respond with as much fire as they can put out. 
"Where are the Marines? We need help clearing this LZ!"

"Hold in there Sgt. Llewellyn, we're on our way."Sgt. Chen says.
The Rough Riders, limited by the tight mesa tip they are stuck on, are only able to get a few of their men to fire at any one point, due to blocking their own sight. Still, the two SAWs are able to make the T-K's think twice about responding. One T-K is shot through the chest, but the bullets hitting him look no different than the poofs of red dirt thrown up by the other impacts.

The zooming sound of a moving vehicle cut through the gunfire.

Pvt. Joens pushed his upper body up to look. "Gareth, look's like the calvary's done arrived!"
The rhythmic booming sound of an autocannon shook the battlefield as the IFV tore the Tancokravians at the base of the mesa to shreds.

"Hell yeah!"
"Say it again!"

The collective elan of the Rough Riders shines despite the dirt covering their coats.
Red and Black armored soldiers, about to ruin someone's day.

Tancokravians in firefight with Rough Riders (seen at the far end on the hill)
One of the Rough Riders gets thrown back by a laser rifle's impact on the ground.
 "Damn!" he cries as he clutches a hurt arm.
Llewellyn poked his head up to look at the fairly distant IFV that seemed to be the main source of fire.
"Chen, take out that IFV, 150 yards North."
"Brace yourself..."

The IFV explodes in a poof of smoke and the soldiers in cover behind it are knocked over by the force, but start getting back up and rolling back into cover immediately.

"That's a kill. We're going to disembark now, Llewellyn, give us cover." Chen says through the comms.

The Red and Black soldiers run to engage the Marines and Rough Riders, and open up on them with Rapid Fire Lasers and Grenades.

"Damn, these guys are a step up!"
Two Rough Riders are knocked out by the heavy fire.
Sgt. Llewellyn pulls one of the injured back from the firing line and crawls forward, aims carefully, and fires a three round burst into one of the soldiers. Though dust and sparks were kicked up by the impact, the man barely seemed to notice the impact. 
"Shit, they've got armor. This is up to you, Chen!"
"Don't worry, we're engaging."
Though the coordinated laser fire of the marine squad was able to make a few of the armored soldiers duck back and take slight wounds, they were unable to take any out. But the fire on the Rough Riders lessened.

Meanwhile, the Special Forces were still taking heavy fire, but the line of Tancokravians at the hill crest were mostly armed with small arms that could not penetrate their armor, so the special forces decided to go on the offensive, and were able to push back the enemy squad except a single SAW gunner and one injured soldier who didn't have a friend to carry him. While the mechanized infantry fell back to some rocks a dozen meters back, the heavy infantry with lasers moved up on the Eastern flank to try to go in for the kill... meanwhile, some Red Hats, elite Tancokravian religious infantry, appeared to the Northwest and made the special forces squad duck back into the ruins.

Braving the laser fire, Nai'Ho and Nordehaus move up with cover fire from Seward and Captain Rabia. They hide behind the hill crest formerly used by the T-K soldiers. The heavy T-K infantry move up on both sides, with cover fire from the Red Hats. 

The heavy infantry and SAW gunner nod to one another and pop up over the crest, but the Special Force's quick reaction times allow them to gun down or suppress all of them.... but Nai'Ho is hit by a bullet from the SAW that penetrates his armor, and he goes down.
"I am hit! G'argh.... I can not move my leg!"

Meanwhile, the Red Hats' fire blows off a chunk of wall that falls on Seward...
"Sue!" shouts Rabia as he runs over to help him up. 
"I'll be alright," says Seward as he stands, "But I'll need help walking."

Meanwhile, in the firefight between the Red and Black soldiers and the TSE forces, the TSE Marines are starting to take some slight injuries. The Red and Black soldiers recognize that their line is collapsing, however, and start to fall back, carrying their injured and collecting as much of their materiel as possible, as if trying to avoid identification.

"About time!" Shouts Chen over the comms, as his unit changes position to get a better view of infantry assaulting the Special Forces' position.

"Alright, everyone back on the transport! We got them with their tails between their legs..." Sgt Llewellyn says as he waves his men back into the Traveller, carrying three wounded on stretchers.

The Traveller takes off, zooming North and shooting at the Red Hats the whole way-- the other Tancokravian forces were all falling back, but Red Hats never retreat.

The Red Hats, hopelessly outgunned, are quickly massacred by the beam cannon's deadly rays. 

The remaining T-K's, huddled together behind cover with many injured, establish a base of fire to let most of them fall back, and before long they have all run back into the valley.

Silence came slowly.
The sky started becoming dark.
There is only the cold sound of dark desert winds and the rare sound of very distant gunfire.
"That's all she wrote." Llewellyn says calmly into the comms.
Rabia responds, "Yes, no more Tancokravians in the area. Lets set up positions and wait for the dawn assault."
"Hell," grunts Llewellyn, "I'm fixin' to catch some shut eye before that."


  1. Wow, what a the pics too. I love the shot of the lone figure walking across the desert sands in the distance. Keep up the great work, it's fun to read.