Guest Blog Post: Marc Pavone's 'The Killborgs'

Guest Blog Post: Marc Pavone’s ‚The Killborgs‘

The Rules and Introduction

We used the Rogue Space Skirmish rules to play our game. They were written a while ago by CF Brandon as a supplement to his Rogue Space RPG. The rules are light, simple and play very fast. They are efficiently written using a very simple turn sequence with it being easy to address any odd situations that arise with the rules or with an-on-the spot ruling. We were able to run the game smoothly since my boys had read the rules booklet before playing the game. They even managed to correct me on a couple of mistakes I made! Overall, the game was a lot of fun and worked well for our purposes.

Since my boys are underage I’ll be referring to them by their first initials, H & G with no reference to HG Wells intended!

The Situation

The Killborgs have brought a Death Ray online and are preparing to fire on the USNC fleet in orbit. If they are able to charge it up they will fire on the USNC Orbital Assault Frigate, the Roger Corman, and block the Marines from escaping the planet.

A fire team of 4 Marines has been redirected from the main campaign to kill the BigBoss Killborg in command of the battery.

The first two missions are an infiltration job. It is conceivable that the Marines could sneak past any Killborgs in the area and make their assault on the Death Ray. The third mission is the assault itself with the goal being the assassination of the BigBoss Killborg. Killing the BigBoss will be easier than destroying the Death Ray since the majority of the Death Ray is underground in a series of hardened bunkers.

The players will control 2 Marines each. They are assigned a Grunt and a specialist. Grunts are your basic riflemen while specialists are medics or heavy gunners. H chose to bring a Grunt and a gunner while G rounded out the team with a Grunt and a medic.

The main goal of the players is not to wipe out everything on each map but instead to escape off the opposite edge from which they start. I made sure to remind them of this as I wanted them to keep sight of the goal and not get bogged down in racking up kills.

The First Mission

Using my guidelines set up in the game notes (See below), I generated 3 obstacles of 4 hexes, 6 hexes and 2 hexes. After that I rolled for enemy forces and got 2 groups of 3 Grunts and 1 group of 2 Grunts.

Guest Blog Post: Marc Pavone's 'The Killborgs'

The second turn after forces were deployed, the squad flanks to the left.

The Grunts had a very basic AI algorithm I set up for them. Their actions at the start of their movement phase depended on whether or not they had seen a player’s Marine. If they had seen a Marine (by them being able to draw a straight LoS [Line-of-Sight] to a Marine based on their facing, which in turn was based on what direction they faced) or they had been attacked by a Marine they would make a beeline for the Marine and conduct attacks as appropriate. If they hadn’t seen a Marine they would turn a random direction and walk 2 hexes. This put them on “patrol routes” and made them unpredictable. Lucky for H & G there were no Leaders present so the Grunts spent most of their time wandering around, bumping into rocks and each other.

This would change quickly.
The boys chose to work their way around the left edge of the map, using terrain and the relative distance of the Grunts to their advantage. They managed to shoot one, unawares and were spotted by another quickly when a die roll caused a Grunt to face the pointman early on in the game. At that point they rushed the left side of the field and shot everything in their way but a lucky shot from one Grunt brought down G’s rifleman. His Medic tried to tend to his wounds but was unable to get a moment’s peace to apply a plaster and give the downed Marine a pep-talk.

H’s team ran for the edge of the map, abandoning his comrades.

The Medic gave up on his fallen buddy and was caught in a crossfire which took him down.

The Medic makes a break for the edge of the map on the right.

H had managed to escape with his team and each was awarded 1 point to spend on raising his stats per the rules. We took a break at this point to get out of the house and have some family time.

During the break I gave the boys a bit of advice on using bounding-overwatch tactics to provide cover for each fireteam so maybe the whole squad could make it out of the scenario alive. They took the advice to heart and did their best to implement it in the next mission.

The Second Mission

This area of operations found the squad making their way through a cluster of 4 buildings and 17 hexes worth of boulders as laid out in the scenario notes. G received 2 riflemen as reinforcements while H spent his points on his men. His Heavy Weapon Dude gained a 3DX which brought his ranged fire abilities up to 6, making it almost impossible for him to miss! We ruled that a natural roll of 6 was always a miss while a natural 1 is always a hit, just to keep the game interesting.

They agreed and the game continued. The enemy forces consisted of 3 Leaders, 2 in the open and one hiding in a building and only 3 Grunts. The Leaders have the ability to take control of Grunts and direct them in the fight. Having 3 Leaders on the map made the situation very tense. Lucky for H & G no Tanks were deployed to this zone.

The initial setup, the 3rd Leader is hiding in the top center building..

Again, the boys took their team up the left in an attempt to avoid conflict, using the buildings and terrain as cover. It wasn’t long before they were spotted, and the lead (and rockets) began to fly. They took down a Leader right away and they managed to pick off the Grunts quickly, even when they were guided by the Leaders.

The team takes cover and fires on a Leader.

Checking for LoS on a Leader.

This time most of the team made it to the edge of the map but a persistent Leader took a Grunt in tow and they managed to surround and defeat a Rifleman in CQB (close-quarters combat).

Each fireteam lost a man this time around.

The final turns of combat were tense with a melee breaking out in the last couple hexes. H left a man behind to help G’s rifleman but bringing a rocket launcher to a fistfight isn’t always a guarantor of success. The Marines managed to take down the Leader but the Grunt landed a killing blow and both Marines were KIA.

The remaining Marines gained another point to spend on raising stats. H chose to raise his DX again and G converted the point into Luck, thus giving him a reroll if he wanted.

The boys did OK on this mission and got lucky with the small enemy force. The Leaders were especially nasty since they had much better CQB abilities and the chance to guide Grunts in combat.

The Final Mission

This was the final field of battle, it was do or die for the Marines. They boys each received a new rifleman and spent their points on improving the survivor’s DX score to max out their chances of success in ranged combat. The enemy forces consisted of the BigBoss, 2 Leaders and 2 teams of 3 Grunts each and once more no Tanks appeared during the mission. The Death Ray stood ominously on the far end of the battlefield.

The Marines take the field and again make their move to the left.

Any time the Big Boss ended the turn adjacent to the Death Ray I rolled a die before the start of the next turn. The scenario outline states that each die roll that results in a number not previously rolled is held. Once all the numbers, 1-6 were rolled the Death Ray is fired and the game ends in failure for the Marines. If the Big Boss is killed or 12 turns pass without completing the 1-6 sequence then it’s a victory for the Marines. Duplicate rolls were not kept. This made the chances of a Killborg victory diminish as the sequence was filled in and the boys picked up on that right away.

They wasted no time dashing up the left, firing from the hip and eliminating the Leader on the left and one of his Grunts. The Leader on the left had a hard time getting his team in line, spending 3 turns in the effort to rally the Grunts. Once they were rounded up though, the Leader and Grunts bounded to the left in support of their comrades. The BigBoss stayed out of LoS of any Marines, focusing on his task.

The Killborgs pin down the Marines in a vicious close-quarter battle.

At this point things got tough for the Marines, once again bogged down in a melee that left many dead and wounded on the ground. Once they were able to break away, they only had a minimum of two turns to kill the BigBoss. They got lucky, with him rolling a duplicate 2, which bought them a little time. H Managed to get a man around one side of the Death Ray and got a shot on the BigBoss, but he shrugged it off thanks to making his armor saving throw.

They win the fight, just, and make their final push.

G realized, a little too late, that he should have gone around the other side of the Death Ray to try a pincer move on the BigBoss. Within another 2 turns the dice sequence was complete and the laser was fired, taking down the USNC Roger Corman in a ball of fire and fury.

Their efforts are in vain; the BigBoss fires the Death Ray!

The boys took the loss in their stride and watched as the beam streaked skyward …

Final Notes

Despite their loss we all had a cracking good time with the game. The boys were good sports about the loss, and they even hammed it up a bit. They play a lot of online first person shooters in PvP (player vs player) matches so they fully realize you win some and you lose some.

The rules for Rogue Space Skirmish were written as a supplement to the Rogue Space RPG to offer a fast and playable, yet entirely optional, tactical combat system.

My choice of minis were taken from the MegaBlox line of building toys. They’re a lot like Lego but the minis are more detailed and fully articulated. We used figures from the Call Of Duty line and the HALO line, both very popular FPS video games. I have many others in my collection too, mostly fantasy and sci-fi in nature. All my boulders were made by carving them from expanded polystyrene first then making sand molds of them. I used Plaster of Paris as a casting medium. The final result gives a sandy, tan appearance much like sandstone. The buildings were made from PVC plumbing fittings and a few paint trays that I spray painted.

This ends my battle report. The boys are excited for the next game where I plan to send them on a fantastic hunt on a faraway planet to hunt a mutant T-Rexes from Texas. I’d like to thank Bob for hosting my guest posting. (Bob C.: It was my pleasure!)

Game Notes

The Killborgs: A race of beings that has taken body modification to extremes. By bolting, welding and with several rolls of duct tape, the Killborgs graft weapons to themselves in an attempt to take over the galaxy. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE EVIL!

Grunts: Move randomly if no PC is visible to them. Roll 1d6 for each Grunt on the map. They move 2 spaces in that direction. If they run into another figure or obstacle, they stop moving. A Grunt spots a PC if the PC is in a direct line of sight determined by the Grunt’s facing or if the Grunt comes under fire. In that case they move randomly as above but at their full movement. After moving they will turn and fire at the nearest PC in LoS. If a Grunt is under the control of a Leaderborg they will move towards the nearest PC the Grunt or the Leader can see and will attack them.

Leaderborgs: The Leaderborgs do their best to direct any Grunts and Tanks within their influence. Leaderborgs will try to move towards and take control of the nearest Grunt or Tank on the map. They use their IQ stat to bring any Units within 5 hexes of them under their control. If the Leaderborg succeeds the team of Grunts or Tank will focus on moving towards and attacking the most powerful character in LOS. If the Leader fails the attempt they will stay near the Units and try again next turn. If no Units are available they will move towards and attack the nearest PC.

Tanks: Heavily armored and armed they will stand guard, turning randomly to face a new direction (1d6) at the start of every turn until a PC moves into their LoS. Tanks always move last during the movement phases. Once they come under fire, see a PC or are taken control of by a Leader they will move to get between the nearest PC and Leaderborg or BigBoss while maintaining a safe distance. They will launch frag missiles at the Nearest PC. If any PCs move next to the tank it will forgo movement and make a single STOMP attack against the PC. Tank missiles hit the target for +3 and adjacent hexes at +1.

BigBoss: Every turn it is on the map it will attempt to move towards the Death Ray. If it is standing adjacent to the Death Ray roll a d6 and make note of the result, ignore duplicate rolls. Once it has rolled 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 it fires the Death Ray and the players lose. If they stop it from firing the Death Ray the PC s win.

Map 1 description: A fairly open area with a small building 7 hexes in size and at least 12 but up to 18 hexes worth of obstacles. Roll 1d6 and the GM places an obstacle composed of that many hexes connected to each other. Each obstacle must be at least one hex from any other obstacles. Once 12 spaces worth of obstacles are reached or exceeded, stop placing obstacles. The PCs pick one of the corners of the map as their entry point then the GM places the enemies. If a Leader is rolled it is inside the building out of sight of the PCs. The building has a door one hex wide that faces away from the PCs point of entry. The PCs must exit the map from the corner opposite the one they started. They score points based on the number of enemies killed.

Map 1: Roll once on the encounter chart per PC minus one, i.e. for 3 PCs roll twice.

  • 1-3: 3 Grunts
  • 4-5: 2 Grunts
  • 6: 1 Leader.

Map 1 Layout:

  • Obstacles: 3,5,2,2
  • 4 PCs, 4 rolls on chart:
    • 3 Grunts
    • 2 Grunts
    • 3 Grunts
    • 2 Grunts

Map 2 description: If there was a Leader on the previous map and the players killed it then subtract 1 per Leader killed from each die roll on the encounter chart. If the players did NOT kill the Leader(s) then ADD one to each die roll. There are d6 buildings on the map like the one on the first map and each must be at least 1 hex from the other buildings. The PCs enter from the middle hexes on a short side of the map and must exit the opposite side.

Map 2: Roll 1d per PC on the encounter chart.

  • 1-2: 3 Grunts, on a 1 they are in the open; on a 2 they are in a building
  • 3-4: 1 Leader, on a 3 it’s in a building; on a 4 it’s in the open
  • 5-6: 1 tank, on a 5 it’s in a building; on 6 it’s in the open

If a die roll results in enemies to be placed in a building they should be placed in unoccupied buildings first.

Map 2 Layout:

  • 5 buildings
  • No Leader on previous map,
  • 1 Leader in a building
  • 1 Leader in the open
  • 1 tank in a building
  • 1 tank in the open

Map 3 description: There is a giant laser that takes up 10 hexes on the map near the center and 24 hexes worth of obstacles scattered around the map. The players pick a side to enter from then the GM places the obstacles. Take the number of PCs and subtract 1, roll that many times on the encounter chart. Subtract 1 for each Leader killed on the previous map if there were any Leaders. If the result is less than one, then there are no enemies for that roll. There is always at least one enemy plus the BigBoss. If the PCs left any enemies alive on the previous map they will enter the map from the same side the PCs entered, 1 group per turn after 2 turns have passed. I chose not to use this as the fights were pretty tough to begin with and saw no reason to make it unwinnable for them. The BigBoss will try to stay out of LoS of the players and adjacent to the Death Ray. The PCs win if they kill the BigBoss.

Map 3 encounter chart roll (Number of PCs -1)

  • 1 Big Boss
  • 1-2: 3 Grunts
  • 3-4: 1 Leader
  • 5-6: 2 tanks

Map 3 Layout:

  • 1 big laser
  • 4 x size 4 circle obstacles
  • 4 x size 4 linear obstacles
  • 1 Leader, demote to 3 Grunts
  • 3 Grunts, demote to 0 Grunts
  • 2 tanks, does not demote

NOTES: The enemy forces are generated assuming all 4 PCs make it to each scenario. If there are casualties, remove 1 roll from the bottom of the list and work upwards for each additional casualty.

Please note that the text, charts, and photographs featured above are © Marc Pavone.

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Autor: Robert (Bob) Cordery / Wargaming Miscellany