Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Warfare In The Age of Madness

Been playing a little Warfare in the Age of Madness. To teach a friend who is pretty green in wargaming I came up with two loosely "platoon-scale" (600 points, though these are each actually 680) forces that are designed to showcase different types of infantry and the mechanics of the game without involving many units to keep track of. To help make this work we played on a much smaller table than is normal for the game (roughly 6 bounds to a side) and with only three objective markers-- neither side uses a command post. Pictures will follow.

The forces:
Hell Divers ("Platoon" Level—8 models)
Inspired Motivation
Vast Network
Unified Teamwork
Heroic Moxie
Hawkeye Shooting
Elusive Evasion
Ninja Assault  [As you can see these are meant to be the best of the best-- and this helps keep the unit count very low!]
Assault Rifle Element with Grenade Launcher  and Hardened II  (meant to represent 3 combat-suited Hell Divers with something like Traveller's Advanced Combat Rifles-- with integral smart grenade launchers)
Rifle/MG Element with LAW-T2 and Hardened II (3 Hell Divers, one with a SAW, and two as a rifleman and a rifleman with LAW on his back)
Command Element  w/Medic Trait, Hardened II (the squad leader and a corpsman with assault rifles)
165+275+235= 680 its 
[I will say preliminarily that using this force really felt like the original "Ghost Recon"]

Trojan Belt Pirates (Platoon Level—15 models)
Aggressive Motivation
Broad Network
Tight Teamwork
Brave Moxie
Average Shooting
Elusive Evasion
Ninja Assault [Also an elite force, but more 'focused.' They are good at close combat and not getting hit and have higher than average motivation, as they are meant to represent veteran space pirates who focus on swift strikes, stealth, and agility]
CQB Element w/Stun Grenades, Hardened II and Command (The Captain and his two best fighters, all in colorful combat armor and carrying heavy pistols and stun grenades)
Assault Rifle Element w/Recon, LAW-03 (Three pirates specialized in stealth and equipped with rifles and an RPG)
Rifle/MG element, LAW-03 (Three slightly less elite pirates, equipped as above but with an MG taking the place of one of the assault rifles)
Blade Element w/Molotov cocktails (2 pirates with blades and pistols, and one with a short range incendiary launcher)
CQB Element (3 pirates, 2 with shotguns and 1 with a carbine)
[This force may actually represent a few more men than the models suggest, as tends to be the implication in WitAoM, but ultimately this is an elite force and it 'feels right' that it should be about fifteen men at 'platoon' scale-- if there are more men I'd imagine they'd mostly be in the CQB and Rifle/MG element, as those are the less elite troops and their relative strength suggests more men to me. Playing with these guys and their sweeping assaults definitely calls to mind 'Sid Meier's Pirates' land battles]

Neither of these forces is particularly well designed, in my opinion, for a regular game of WitAoM. They might work as half of an allied force, but at the end of the day they seem weak against armor or masses of cheaper troops, and all of those advantages ultimately don't mean that much for their price. However it turns out they make a pretty excellent skirmish game against each other!
The pirates are raiding a small research station-- of particular value are several expensive robots. The Hell Divers made a quick drop in response to the distress call and are engaging on the ground in an attempt to prevent damage to stolen goods (as would be the case if they intervened in a risky orbital battle). As is normal in WitAoM, both sides also would like to confirm enemy casualties-- either for its own sake or for the salvageable goods or intel that this entails. 

We ended up playing four rounds, switching sides each time. I also played against myself with these forces once to test them (and did multiple 'what if' assessments to see different results). These pictures are from that game:
Hell Divers Assault element attacks into an ambushing Recon team as both converge on a Salvageable robot

The rest of the squad take up a position by another Salvageable Robot

CQB and Blade pirates ready themselves behind a building as they prepare to assault.

The Captain and the Rifle/MG team prepare to enter a building to claim as a command post for the rest of the assault (it has commanding fire lanes and puts the Captain in range to provide a bonus action to both the beleaguered Recon unit and the CQB and Blade teams)

The Pirates execute a failed assault on the Hell Divers and take heavy casualties in the process-- the rest are mopped up on the Hell Divers' turn. [this was an intense moment, although perhaps too swingy. Roughly even odds meant a few 'what if' rolls resulted in all of the Hell Divers being dead within a turn instead... but skirmishes like this, with bold moves like this assault, should be swingy!]

The Hell Diver Assault element hunkers down and recovers after taking some hits from the MG outranging them from the building while the Recon Pirates pull back out of LOS through the forest after sustaining casualties. Before long this Assault element pulls back for the corpsman to treat their wounded.

The surviving Pirates (CQB Commander, Recon Assault Rifle, Rifle/MG) regroup in a building-- the Salvage Cache bot in the background remains unclaimed after both sides retreated, unable to gain the upper hand with their forces in the area and unable to risk sending more into the woods

In an attempt to prevent the Pirates from regrouping, the Hell Diver SAW moves into the opposite building and watches for the enemy to peak outs-- but ultimately the pirates are able to gain the upper hand by charging into close range and finishing off with an assault by the Captain himself. Unfortunately for the pirates the rest of the Hell Diver squad is close behind and is able to outflank the attackers and  finish them off-- a blood bath of close quarters combat to end the battle. [This was a similarly swingy moment, both in terms of similar odds for drastically different results and also in terms of slightly different strategies resulting in very different statuses. This was the most dramatic result-- a lot of waiting around and hoping to slightly out-suppress the enemy was the more common but less interesting result, and ultimately this riskier move played better to the hand of the Pirates for when it worked it worked WELL]
I was actually a bit surprised how much fun this game was in a purely skirmish form-- the forces really felt like squad+ forces in a regular skirmish game. It is a bit swingy with such small forces but that tends to be true of skirmish games anyway (and this seems realistic). This game is quickly becoming my go-to for anything above RPG-ish level and below a battalion, especially for less scenario-focused gaming. It does need a bit more actual SF for my taste, however-- the rules basically represent modern forces but it seems possible to modify this (I've emailed to see if the publishers have any suggestions for fielding Mobile Infantry-like power armor, for instance).

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