Hello again! As you may have gathered from the last article, I’m currently somewhat fascinated by Tomorrow’s War simply because it’s very unlike most wargaming I did so far. I enjoy the greater “realism” (note the huge inverted commas there) and the endless possibilities this ruleset gives to the players. So just ten days after the first game and review I sat down for another one, this time a scenario involving only vehicles.
As I gathered from the interwebs the first edition of Tomorrow’s War was severely lacking in that department and the guys at Ambush Alley made up for that in this second edition book big time. Essentially vehicles don’t work unlike regular infantry units but of course with somewhat different stats indicating front, side, rear and deck armour, main weaponry additional MGs, number of crew and so on as well as a host of various extra bits to choose from ranging from reactive armour over back-up AI and improved sensors to detonation fields that make incoming ATGMs (Anti Tank Guided Missiles, I had to look it up myself. The book is full of modern-day military terms like that.) explode prematurely, severely hampering their punch.
Using all these rules you can make up your own tanks from scratch or making rules for vehicles from any sci-fi universe. The types of vehicles are basically all you can imagine. Apart from the regular wheeled, tracked and hovering vehicles there are walkers, anti-grav vehicles (of various levels), dropships, gunships and so on. Even a section on gigantic vehicles which of course immediately conjours ideas for scenarios for anti-tank teams trying to down a gigantic tank in a ruined city or something like that.
Anyways, without much further ado let’s delve into today’s scenario!
Scenario: Lynxes at Dawn
Background: The Liberation of Derpian VIII was a prolonged campaign in which imperial forces aimed to cleanse the world of pesky Eldar of the Biel-Tan craftworld who had chosen this planet as a new Maiden World. Despite Derpian VIII not being of any strategic worth to the Imperium – it was once falsely deemed an asset to the Imperial war efforts for seemingly having rich deposits of rare earths which eventually proved to be nothing but worthless dust – the sector command wouldn’t let the world fall prey to alien invasions!
Swiftly Derpian VIII was declared a Fortress World which is to be held at any cost and a handful of regiments of the Imperial Guard were dispatched to liberate the planet. The campaign didn’t go so well and after only eight months additional reinforcements had to be brought in, supported by a few elements of Ultramarines Space Marines whose heavy battle tanks should prove to be especially useful in breaking the Eldar’s resistance and turn a stalemate into victory.
The scenario follows Commander Heniokhos’ heavy tank platoon’s way to the front lines to support a major offensive against Eldar lines. Due to the Eldar’s unchallenged air superiority the Land Raiders are only able to travel by night (Derpian VIII’s nights conjure up the famour electromagnetic storms which force airplanes to stay on the ground and hamper sensors and communication) but Heniokhos decided to take the chance and travel the last few kilometers to friendly lines past the break of day instead of covering up the tanks. It was just a few more hours to go down a rather well-maintained road and the lead elements reported no enemy contact. Little does Heniokhos know that his platoon is already being stalked by invisible hunters…
As with last time’s battle report the occurances in game will be written in normal font while small explanations about how any why things happened the way they happen plus some rule explanations and “out of character remarks” if you will are written in italics.
The scenario is a converted version of Tigers by the Tail, the scenario at the end of the Mechanized Combat section of the Tomorrow’s War rulebook.
The opposing Forces:
Ultramarines Commander Heniokhos’ tank platoon consists of Heniokhos’ Element B (two Land Raiders which will be called B-LR1 and B-LR3 in the report plus Heniokhos’ Command Land Raider B-LR2) and the Lead Element A (two more Land Raiders: A-LR1 and A-LR2). The Land Raiders are equipped with Lascannon sponsons and a heavy bolter. The troop quality is d8, morale d10 and the confidence is High, as can be imagined when you’re sitting in the imperium’s finest heavy battle tank.
Their mission objective is to either kill both enemy tanks (unlikely), or, and this gets them more victory points, they get victory points for each vehicle that leaves the table via the south end of the road so that’s basically their mission objective.
The Eldar Hank Hunters are two Lynx grav tanks (called E1 and E3 from now on) with Pulsars, co-axial shuriken cannons and shuriken catapults. They are chock full of advanced sensors, improved main gun and additional crew protection but the thing that will play a role more than any other thing is that they have on board stealth field generators. They count as Stealthy Units which means that they have to be detected before enemy units may shoot at them and that they may attempt ambushes. The troop quality is d8, morale d10 and the confidence level is Confident. They got the better hardware and an advantegous situation but are still outnumbered by more than two to one.
They get victory points for each immobilized or destroyed Land Raider and receive a Decisive Victory if they take them all out without any loss on their side.
Essentially the Land Raiders are meant to be heavy tanks of low tech level with so-so anti-tank capabilities while the Eldar tanks are very advanced heavy tanks with incredibly dangerous anti-tanks weaponry and a host of additional bonuses. Due to the size of the models I’ve used I liked the idea of them being Lynxes very much because they are a bit longer than Land Raiders and have one very deadly gun. On the Space Marines side of things, Predator tanks possibly would have reflected the difference between the tanks on both sides better but I don’t have any Predator models at hand.
Again, I played on a 2′ by 2′ table, 6mm miniatures and halved all ranges. The terrain consists of dense jungle (block Line of Sight and impassable to vehicles), large rocks (impassable to vehicles, block LOS), some administratum buildings that were built but never used and the road. Terrain special note: While the road leads through the jungle the vegetation makes the section too narrow for tanks to turn around. Also, vehicles may only move at tactical speed (remember, units move at either Tactical Speed, which is basically normal speed or Rapid Speed which is basically double speed but gives them a little negative modifiers for shooting and reaction checks after having moved at Rapid Speed). when travelling on the jungle road.
The game will last for six turns.
This is the setup at the beginning of turn 1. The Eldar Lynxes E1 and E2 deployed as deep into the table as they were allowed to, E2 planning to get into the backs of the rear element while E1 would take care of anyone leaving the junge, hopefully turning the leading tank into wreckage to obstruct the road for any of the following vehicles, hindering their advancement towards the table edge.
Another thing that has to be done before starting is to declare which tanks are “buttoned up” and which are “unbuttoned”. “Unbuttoned” means that the tank commander of the vehicle is peeking out of the top hatch, scanning the surroundings instead of simply relying on looking out via periscope or relying on the tank’s sensors. This gets them reaction bonusses but also makes him an attractive, soft target. Of the Ultramarines Land Raiders, the command tank B-LR2 and A-LR2 are unbuttoned. Eldar tanks are not designed for their commanders to stick their heads out like the less advanced races of the galaxy have to and will stay buttoned up for the game, using their super-advanced sensors, thankyouvermuch.
As per scenario special rules, the Eldar get the Initiative for the first two turns. E1 advances to the southern fields of rock at rapid speed while E2 advances at tactical speed. Both take positions to take out any tank that comes in sight. The Ultramarines, unknowing of the enemy presence, advance down the road.
Eldar still got the initiative. E1 comfortably sits hull down at the side of the southern field of rocks and goes into Overwatch to shoot up any tank that would leave the jungle.
E2 attempts to ambush B-LR1 to keep the element from entering the jungle where they would be harder to approach and to cut off the command element from the lead element. E2 messes up the ambush check and attacks regularly instead, giving B-LR1 a chance to react. B-LR2 and B-LR3 don’t have Line of Sight to E2 thus can not react. B-LR1 declare to react by moving into the jungle which would bring them out of LoS of E1 but fail their reaction check and E1 opens fire. The Pulsar doesn’t hit directly though, only stunning the vehicle. A mere inconvenience to the Space Marine tankers.
As all Initiative units either have acted or are in Overwatch the Non-Initiative units may be activated now. First, Heniokhos’ command element move into the cover of the dense jungle as quickly as possible. The crew of B-LR3 are commanded to turn on the spot and follow the rest of the element in reverse to cover their rear.
There are no rules for moving in reverse as such because the game doesn’t really need to. You just move your units as you wish, turns being part of the movement of the unit. This very special situation required some rulingthough so I ruled that vehicles may move no faster than tactical speed when driving in reverse (which they wouldn’t be allowed to anyway when moving through the jungle road).
As soon as A-LR1 activates and moves out of the jungle E1 starts overwatch fire but in succession fails on his overwatch check AND opposed reaction check versus A-LR1, missing out on the chance of geting a shot off while the imperial tank zips by and out of LOS again due to the rocks. Must have been some kind of technical hickup on the target lock.
E1 loses Overwatch status due to the failed check and may not react in any way any more unless he’s being shot at (which isn’t possible because he hasn’t been spotted by anyone).
First turn both sides roll for initiative and the Ultramarines win! Heniokhos’ Element (B-LR1, B-LR2, B-LR3) advance through the jungle as quickly as the surroundings allow. Of the lead element A-LR1 leaves the table unharmed, earning the Ultramarines their first victory points. A-LR2 is relieved about the seeming lack of any enemy measures beyond the jungle and advances out into the open as well.
E1 declares reaction fire and this time wins the opposed check. The sleek alien tank uncloaks, main gun lighting up, and a blinding energy ray pierces the side of A-LR2, turning the tank into a fireball. Out of the three crewmen, the commander and the driver manage to escape and flee off the table while the gunner got vaporized by the initial hit.
In this scenario I didn’t take much time working out the exact fate of the vehicle crews. In fact I should have placed crew miniatures next to the vehicle wreck, roll First Aid checks for the gunner beginning of the next turn and so on. If I had some more single 6mm models I probably would have done that but they don’t really play a role in the mission.
The second non-initiative unit, E2, is activated, invisibly moves up to B-LR3, just outside their spotting range, and ambushes the tank. They succeed on their Troop Quality check, fire without any enemy reaction pierce straight through the front armour of the Land Raider and destroy the vehicle which goes up in flames and thick smoke.
There are no rules for vehicle wrecks but for this game I decided to keep them on the table and block LOS, at least when they Brew Up and burn out for at least two turns.
Things are starting to look problematic for the Ultramarines. The current score is:
Eldar: 4 (for two downed tanks)
Ultramarines: 2 (for one escaped tank)
Stress tests resulted in everybody keeping their confidence levels. Ultramarines keep the initiative and seek to find salvation in storming forward, hoping for the tank hunter ahead of them to miss or getting a lucky shot at them. B-LR1 activates and declares moving ahead, behind the wreck of A-LR2 and out of LoS of E1. E1 reacts by shooting, succeeds on the reaction check and takes out B-LR1 as soon as he leaves the jungle. Heniokhos, cursing at the foul witchery that is alien anti-tank cannons, orders his driver to advance out of sight of E1 who managed to block most of his arc of fire with enemy tank wrecks! This way the command tank can advance in relative safety.
Meanwhile E2, being a bit left without any target in the back, decides to move up to the front as quickly as possible and starts moving around the field of rocks with rapid speed.
Again, everybody keeps their confidence in the face of combat. The Eldar get the Initiaive back and without anybody having a LoS to any of the Eldar tanks, they are back in stealth mode.
E1, pumped up by two self-confirmed vehicle kills, decides to maneuver between the wreck of B-LR1 and the dense jungle vegetation to get in behind B-LR2 and ambush them, delivering the coup de grace. E1 fires up the engines but, due to moving at rapid speed and the reckless maneuver, clanks against the wreck of B-LR1, spoiling the ambush. B-LR2 react by firing but fail to beat E1 on the reaction check. E1 fires his Pulsar one more time, punching a hole right through the length of the Land Raider, rendering it useless. Heniokhos and his gunnerboth disembark (the unlucky driver used to sit exactly where a smoldering hole is now), kicking against the remains of their tank, shaking their fists at the vanishing sillouettes of the Eldar tank hunters.
End of Battle
Final victory points:
Final Thoughts: Right, this scenario teaches us that, while Troop Quality is an incredibly big factor, the hardware also plays into the game. At least very much so with vehicles. The main gun on the Eldar tanks is incredibly powerful, completely negating the armour of the Land Raiders in most cases, even when firing in the front. It has to be said that apart from the first hit on turn1, the Eldar have been very lucky with rolls on the damage table, killing a vehicle basically with each hit. Combine this with the Stealthy special rule and you got some very powerful tank hunters
I’m a bit disappointed that no Fog of War cards were drawn this game but if they come up too often they’d get stale as well. This game was much easier to play through than the previous one. Vehicles work a lot like regular units so the game didn’t add too much new stuff to me but mainly helped me getting into the core gameplay a bit more, especially when it comes to hiding, ambushing and all of that.
The game was also a lot shorter than the first one and I’m sure that I can get games done more quickly after a few more games. Despite this, preparations took me a whole lot longer this time because of two things: First, I really wanted this to be an Eldar versus Ultramarines game because I really like the look of these old Eldar grav tanks and they look perfectly suited for very advanced tank hunters. Unfortunately I had to notice that I’d need five Ultramarines tanks and only had three painted so I had to paint up two more Land Raiders (which took me inexplicably long. Don’t even ask.). Second, I needed some narrow streets, suited for 6mm scale. At first I made some from paper which were alright-ish but didn’t really look the part so I decided after that to just make another set of road sections from plasticard. That again took a while but I’m rather happy with the outcome on those.
All in all I learned a lot in this game again and I’m very much looking forward to the next one. Maybe I’ll make it a skirmish between regular and irregular forces because that’s an aspect to the game which I’m interested in a LOT. Let me know in the comments section what you think or what you would like to see!
Thanks for reading and see you soon,