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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

All Quiet on the Martian Front Double Header

Jon and I (Steven) were lucky enough to play 2 back to back games of All Quiet on the Martian Front last week, taking the opportunity to both try each side. We decided we'd do a simple scenario: three tripods are attacking length-wise down a board edge, and win if any tripod walks off the edge. They have 6(ish) turns to do so. We approached it loosely as we were more concerned with getting the mechanics down and seeing how everything worked on the table.

The Martian force consisted solely of three Assault Tripods armed only with Heavy Heat Rays. The human force consisted of 2 units of MkII Steam tanks, 1 unit of MkIIb Steam tanks, and 1 command MkIII Steam tank. 2 infantry units and an HMG unit provided squishy support for the steamers.

Finally, because we weren't ready to tackle hidden movement (which we think is essential to human survival!), we took away "orders" from the Martians, but gave the humans 3, which they could use even if the command tank was killed. Essentially, these men had all been informed of the mission, and were ready to execute it! We think this did an okay job of balancing it up, considering we were ignoring one of the humans' biggest strengths.

GAME ONE: Steven plays humans, Jon plays Martians.
The humans line up along the center line. The command tank is front and center- a mistake soon to be never made again. Likewise, terrain was not being smartly utilized- a rookie mistake!

The Tripods prepare to launch their offensive.

First shot, first kill- the human command tank.
D'oh! This isn't Flames Of War where your commander can jump. Remember you have 2 movements- no reason to leave your commander so exposed! A lesson I will not forget. -S



The game starts off roughly for the humans! The command tank goes up in flame, and is quickly joined by a MkIIb. The MkIIbs rout, falling back through the HMGs- who thankfully hold strong.

The infantry move out.

Humans move forward to start putting shots down range.

The Tripods bounce shot after shot!
Wow, those things are resilient! The tank guns need a 6 to hit, followed by a 9 or 10 to initially "crack" the tripod's armor. But once they start going down, the rate with which they fall is delightful.


Tanks utilising a hull down position- about to be swept by the heat ray!

Another MkII is lost...

And the unit routs! Ouch!

The first Tripod damage is scored, cracking the center one. On the right, Infantry swarm forth and attempt to take another down with grenades.

They continue their relentless march!

The HMGs pour fire into the approaching Tripod!

The Tripods are now solidly in the human ranks, but the humans are granted some reprieve as the shots mostly all miss.



HMG fire pours into the center tripod, taking down its armor even more!

When suddenly a lucky shot from a MkII completely blows up the Tripod approaching the HMGs! It's then that we discover the 6" explosion rule- ouch!

a MkII and 2 HMGs are taken out in the explosion of the tripod.

The colossus burns spectacularly.

On the other flank, the 3rd Tripod is also "cracked".
We've been using the term "cracked" to mean lost their first point of armor- making them vulnerable even to small arms.


Suddenly, enough damage is put on the center tripod to bring it down as well! Two tripods down!

Boom! Another tripod going down hard.

Right at the end, the retreating MkIIb reaches the board edge, rallies, and valiantly comes to try and stop the last tripod from reaching the board edge.

The Tripod is unscathed and almost home-free!

The three remaining human tanks just can't bring it down.
In the end, 2 tripods are claimed with the third handily escaping.
Honestly, I forgot how mobile this game is. There is NO reason to give away free shots on my tanks like that, and especially not on my command tank! 3 extra shots from the command tank could've been the difference between victory and defeat!

Will save full thoughts for the end. -Steven

GAME TWO: Steven plays Martians, Jon plays Humans.
Jon is much more conservative with his tanks, while his infantry form a screen.

And his commander stays hidden!

The Martians roll out!

Ranged heat ray shots focus on the HMGs, knocking two out!

Jon issues an order to his infantry to move at the double and launch an assault!

Charge!

A tripod gets cracked!
MkIIs then fire on a tripod and score 3 10s! But then all 3 hits fail to punch the armor.

The assault fails, but the infantry pull back to try to box in the Tripods- since you cannot pass through or come within 1" of an enemy unit, infantry make a good screening force.

They do the same on the other flank.

But the tripods ignore the infantry and focus fire on the MkIIbs.

The tripods spend the turn shooting and don't try to get past the infantry screen.

On the far flank, however, a Tripod pushes past the front line and makes its way to the back!

The infantry refine their "box in" positioning.

So both Tripods fire their heat ray in a sweeping pattern, clearing the path.

Focused fire puts 2 points of damage on the middle tripod, and his main armament is also damaged- firing sporadically!

While the Tripod pushing deep into enemy territory gets wrecked! His armor has been reduced from 11 to 3, but he fights on!

Tanks are trying to swamp the Tripod that is nearly at the back edge.

The other tripods continue their merciless advance.

And despite the weapon firing unreliably, several more tanks burn.

The last Tripod is reduced to 2 armor, but fights on- after knocking out several more tanks he successfully makes it off the board edge.

In this games, the Martians fared a bit better despite Jon getting tons of armor penetrations. If you roll poorly on the Tripod damage chart, they just keep on fighting!

FINAL THOUGHTS
Steven: We keep using the term "simple", and we mean it as a compliment! The game does exactly what it says on the tin, and plays quickly to boot. We got these two games in in under 2 hours. It's very fluid, quick playing, and exciting. Rolling on the Tripod damage chart is so tense and exciting- lookin' for that lucky 10! We messed a few rules up, as we are prone to do in our first outing. Namely, we totally forgot about initiative. Secondly, we allowed routed US units to rally at the board edge if successful- in fact they leave the board and enter reinforcements. Next game we need to try the hidden units rules, which really seem to help the humans. For our first outing, I had a great time and absolutely look forward to playing many more games! Back to the painting desk!

Jon:  I really like the Move-Shoot-Move game mechanic!  It makes for quite a fluid and fast-moving game of maneuver.  On the US side, I think that having a more mixed force would be an advantage, with the tanks getting the initial hits on the Martians and the MGs taking them down.  Using the infantry to contain seemed to be a nice tactic, especially with the ability to shoot over them at the Martians.  Overall, a neat game and I look forward to playing again.

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