at Home and On Campaign

at Home and On Campaign

28 January 2014

Janus Defense Quarterly: Appendix 522f, Fighting Vehicles of Sector Six

As has been elaborated upon before, the militaries of Sector Six are an overwhelming polyglot of re-used, obsolete, and technically backward equipment, typically wielded in fascinatingly incompetent fashion.  This Analyst would be remiss if he did not mention that he finds his assignment to this benighted backwater to be beneath him and a complete waste of Janus resources.  However, he will soldier on, and continue to catalog these absolutely unremarkable entries if for no other reason than to maintain the Janus high standards of completeness.  After all, what other possible motivation could there be?

Sector Six, Kingdom of Colores Variants of the Imperial Mark 11 Tracked Tank
After a couple of millennia of use, the origins of the Mark 11 are lost.  Long surpassed by newer models (current Imperial Track Tank is Mark 133r at the time of this entry), the Mark 11 is only found in museums or the most remote and primitive corners of known space.  There are no known manufacturers, but uncataloged copies abound and it’s primitive nature means that is easy to maintain. Inevitably, the Mark 11 and many of it descendants can be found in many military forces of the sector.  This entry will present the slightly novel approach of the Kingdom of Colores to the Mark 11.
The Kingdom of Colores is a small political entity with settlements and territory claimed on 3 planets.  It holds only one of these planets outright, shares territory on the other 2 planets with non-hostile neighbors, and is responsible for an unknown number of small asteroid and deep space colonies in inhospitable environments. Most significantly, it has a political rival in the sector, the 4th Reich.  There has been a continual state of hostility punctuated by outright war for over half a century.  It is a curious accepted fact that neither Colores or the Reich are native to the sector, and the slender number of source materials available indicate that they both come from the same homeworld some distance outside known space. They are either refugees or exiles that have only deepened their original enmity, regardless of its original cause. The dispersed nature of the belligerents shape the tactical nature of their conflict and Colores relies heavily on rapidly deployable and mobile formations.
That brings us to the Kingdom of Colores and its modifications to the Mark 11.  Apparently, a large number of Mark 11’s have made their way into Colores possession.  The deployment of the tank in its original form would require a lift capability impractical with the Colores fleet.  It could be done, but in numbers too small to be combat effective. Incapable of manufacturing the alloys that comprise the Mark 11, the Colores military has resorted to cutting up and reversing the hull.  Essentially taking a hunk of alloy and sliding a new vehicle underneath.  This chassis is approximately 1/3 of the original weight and is used as the base platform for a number of weapons systems.
The hull is reversed.  The original powerplant is removed and the space is utilized as the driver’s compartment. The track assemblies are cut away and the side armor plating is inverted to make room for the upper suspension of the 6 wheel configuration. Steering is accomplished from a skid-steer arrangement.
R-4 Mustang

TD-14 Tank Destroyer

24 January 2014

On the Hunt X: Peace Talks, Part 2

Welcome our new follower:
head head

 To Recap:
Opposing diplomatic operatives of the Kingdom of Colores and the 4th Reich are trying to persuade, entice, and/or threaten the other attending delegations of the peace conference to come to their side. 
For more info: The Setup
Diplomats from the Kingdom of Colores (KC) are spread widely whereas the Reich has concentrated the Baroness and Kommissar close to the Steiner reps and left the other two as blockers to slow down the progress of the KC's.
KC Diplomats move to the closest delegations and present their case.  Kol Grak and Kpt Juches move to blocking positions. But Grak encounters one of the distractions (of course it HAD to be the Working Girl) and fails the challenge!  Comically, he is rendered hors de combat and fails to even return to the game! 
Kpt. Juches moves up the vacated corridor and faces off against Adm King. King sends the young pup packing.  The Nazi's are already 2 diplomats down.
Luckily, Baroness Niehoff quickly gathered up the Steiner delegation and began moving toward her big play for Imperial favor. At least someone is staying on task.
Da'Ourii wins a verbal kerfluffle with the Kommisar and moves to the elevator door to forstall the Baronnes, but again, a diplomat falls to distraction when he is waylaid by the Moroh Syndicate's Chief Smuggler.  Da'Ourrii is led aside and the Baroness gets the express elevator.
Arriving first, the Baroness swiftly pleads her case of persecution to Quintilla. The KC's are fatally behind as a result of their wide deployment and time runs out before Quintilla can be influenced, she is completely in thrall to the Nazi.  The Baroness smirks as the gaze of the Imperial Cannoness coolly regards the arriving Governor General and entourage.
Quintilla: "Whatever your original grievance against these poor people, Governor, you have clearly exceeded the bounds of justified force in the pursuit of this conflict. I recommend you agree to halt your aggressive war lest the Emperor's servants decide to take a more active role."
GovGen: "Of course we will endeavor to act in cooperative manner with all the inhabitants of Sector Six. I look forward to seeing all of you at the conference table."
So the Colores side finished the game with 3 plot points, the Timtai, Hatirki, and the Gis, but through the single-minded efforts of Baroness Niehoff, the Reich ended up with the Steiners and the Imperials.  Since the Imperials were the Major Plot Point and worth 3 points, the Reich wins 4 to 3.

Niehoffs colleagues were ridiculously hopeless and ineffective.  First the Kolonel falls to the charms of the lady of the evening on turn 1, and then the other 2 clowns get wiped out in successive turns of banter and quip. Heck, the Smuggler did more for the cause by diverting Da'Ourii, and the Smuggler was just Perilous Terrain!

So the political landscape of Sector Six seems to be that the Kingdom of Colores has the support of most of their fellow local governments, but the lone superpower will frown upon any overt combat action against the Reich.  Quite the conundrum for our heroes.

I hope you found this engaging and stick around. I appreciate your interest, and your time. A sincere thanks!

A good place to finish...

...and to start!

22 January 2014

On the Hunt X: Peace Talks, Part 1

Hi Folks,
Welcome to the final action of the "Haussen Campaign". It was played using "Pulp Alley" rules, but with a twist. This is a Peace Conference, so there will be no fighting. The game will be a social adventure.  The idea originated during a discussion on the Pulp Alley boards with the PA author himself, Dave Phipps (credit him with the idea). The opposing Leagues will be the diplomatic operatives of the Kingdom of Colores and the 4th Reich trying to persuade, entice, intimidate and/or threaten the other attending delegations to come to their side. The scenario is the basic "Smash and Grab" from the original rules using the delegations as Plot Points.  Lastly, to reflect the setting, if the opposing diplomats came into contact and "Brawl" they use the "Cunning" attribute.
K'Tusk Free Trader Station
Kingdom of Colores and 4th Reich Peace Talks

Governor-General Blanche-Andres:
"Ok team, these peace talks, on the larger question of ending hostilities, will be a failure.  The 4th Reich will never agree to lay down their arms.  They believe it is their destiny to rule.
Kingdom of Colores Diplomats, L-R Princess Sophie, the Governor General, Admiral King, and Dr. D'aOurii
The Reich's Operatives, L-R  Col, Grak, Comm. Diekman, Baroness Niehoff, and Kpt. Juches
So get over it, we will move now, before the official negotiations begin. Our goal is to persuade as many delegations as we can to ally with us. This will all be settled before the grand meeting. Side hallways and backrooms are where the dealmaking takes place and that's where we will place our efforts.

Here are the most important delegations:

The Steiner Quarantine
These worlds are settled by ex-citizens of the Reich. The population still maintain their xenophobia, but have lost their fervor for the cause.  They signed a treaty with the Empire to remain within their borders and in exchange, no "unclean" races go in. They are instrumental to these talks, because the Alliance cannot maintain an occupation on Haussen for any real period of time, so the plan is to lift the inhabitants of Haussen off the planet and transport them to resettle inside the Quarantine. Regardless of where the Steiners end up politically, they will take the Haussen refugees, it really just comes down to what price they will extract for doing so.

The Gis...
are an artificial race created over a thousand years ago by the Empire. Discarded as a failed experiment, they have been suppressed refugees and outcasts ever since. They were our closest allies in this conflict and have suffered mightily from Nazi depredations.

If we can hold them with us, they will agree to an autonomous settlement on New Cypress in an area unoccupied by Colores or our co-inhabitants, the Timtai Trading League.

If the Gis drift away from us to a neutral stance, their covert move toward establishing a government and nation will continue. They will not trust us to help however.

If the Reich intimidates the Gis, they will cut official ties with KC and remain opaque to outsiders.

The Hitarki
They are the Sector Six specialists in high efficiency jump drives (considering the tech level of the Sector, isn't saying much), and their continuing goodwill would bring a wealth of capability to our fleet.  Heck, even their apathy means we could probably still trade for the tech, but if they become intimidated by the Reich it could potentially lead to a catastrophic mismatch in range and projection of our ships to the enemy.

The Timtai Trading League
Our co-inhabitants of New Cypress.  If we can keep them with us, it secures the border right on our capital planet, and because of their trading connections, we may have access to many potential allies of which we are not yet aware.

If they assert neutrality, we probably can still count on peace on the surface of New Cypress, but those possible new connections will be closed.

Worst case, if they end up in the Reich's pocket, New Cypress will be militarized again, and we will have a hostile enemy right on our doorstep.

The Ophelian Empire
The Imperial approach to Sector Six is bi-polar at best and certainly disfunctional.  In the distant past, the whole sector was Imperial controlled space.  As the Empire has decayed, a progressing fraction of the sector has either overtly declared independence or more usually is just operating that way without a formal declaration. On the one hand, Sub-Ambassador Sulla Tigh represents Imperial acceptance of this reality and attempts to keep the peace with the meager tools available. On the other hand, "Her Most Holy Authority of the Ophelian Imperial Pantheon of the Twelve Supreme Gods, The Most Serene Conduit of Divine Intention and Purpose, Cannoness Pomponia Secundia Quintilla" is a complete loon. She openly asserts the delusional view that all Imperial claims are still valid and enforceable. She's a loose nuclear weapon and just as likely to take offense and declare war on the whole sector (including obedient Imperial subjects) as apply her spatulas of makeup and lance her copious number of boils every morning. "Difficult and miserable situations seem to give me energy and joy," is a well known and documented quote from the Cannoness.
If we can focus on the Sub-Ambassador, he may be willing to continue secretly feeding us locations of abandoned weapons and supply depots.  If we cannot peel him away from that demonic harpy Quintilla, the Imperial presence here will remain paralyzed and Quintilla will keep issuing threats and insisting the Imperial Home Fleet is a jump away from our front door.  Of course, if she gets it into her head that these Nazi's are somehow some wayward lost tribe of the Empire, who knows what will happen.

Beware of distractions, remember the goals.
The Distractions, L-R Talkative Mechanic, Overzealous Security Guard, Local "working" Girl, and Petty Crime Boss looking to make deals
Stay Tuned!

P.S. I would like to welcome 5 new followers:
Tartar Sauce

Thank-you and Welcome Aboard!

15 January 2014

On the Hunt IX: For All the Marbles

Forward Alliance HQ, LZ Monterrey
Briefing by General Kerchenko, Commander- Landing Forces
Gentlemen, the Alliance invasion of Haussen is at the tipping point.  We are established on the ground, but the Reich garrison has challenged us since the beginning and overrun LZ Seneca.  Presently, our supply line has been cut by the breakthrough of the Reich cruiser Austria into local orbit (link). The silver lining in all of this is that the Haussen garrison is in the open field outside of the protection of its fortifications. We have superior forces, but as time passes, our supplies will dwindle and overall strength will pass to the enemy. In short, we must win now and win decisively .
This evening we will be on the move to redeploy, and elements of the Darderi, 23rd Cav, and 1st Gis will attack at dawn to cut the Reich troops from their base. 
I will accompany the center Cav troop...
while Major Guiscard, you will be with the ranging troop on the western flank
...and Lt. Philo, after your heroic actions on Landing Day, the Gis would not have it any other way than to have you with them.

Opposing us are elements of the 337th Sturmbot Legion, (Tank and Infantry). Plus the provisional 4th SS Company. We believe that the Reich's Assassin from Landing Day is still with them.

Officers, synch your datapads, return to your units, and good hunting.
I will see you on the other side.

Dawn 11Jan2014
Alliance orbital scans indicate that there is an access point to the bunker complex where the road terminates on the Reich side of the battlefield.  If the Alliance troops can reach it and gain access to the Reich underground cities, this war is over. If the attack fails, the Alliance ground force will be spent, and terms will eventually have to be sought.
First to advance is Gen Kershenko right down the road
The Darderi fly forward and engage the advancing Automs as they sweep over the crest of the hill. 
The Darderi grav tanks are faster, but the Autom's armor is so heavy, they must close to point blank range to score hits 
On the Alliance left, the Reich concentrates against the 23rd's lighter flanking force.  Gen Kershenko is forced to shift untis away from his center to avert catastrophe
But the enemy's priority to the left leaves only a platoon of Infantry Automs under the command of the Assassin to guard the access point.  They are spotted when they break cover. Lt. Philo and the Gis are on the move, there is unfinished business here.
With the tank destroyer in support, there is no escape this time.  Lt. Philo and the Gis gun them down on the run.
The ruins of the access point are breached.
The Reich civilians are exposed, and the radio frequencies are immediately blanketed with calls for a cease fire.

Onboard the KC Ste. Marie, Landing Bay
Reich's Official -"I can only speak for the Haussen Enclave, and we surrender, but I have been informed by my superiors that representatives of the Reich as a whole are willing to meet at a neutral site for talks."

Admiral King -"Peace talks will be at K'tusk Free Station. Two weeks time. Until then, Haussen will remain under occupation of the Alliance and no ships of the Reich will enter the system. Failure to meet these cease-fire conditions will result in continued hostilities."

Reich's Official - "Ja, agreed.  Two weeks time."
This marks the end of the fighting in the Haussen Campaign.  Boom, Blast, Pow!!! What a great time!
I am also very excited to run the last scenario "Peace Talks".  I find it difficult to juggle the moves and motivations of even the small number of factions presented in Sector Six so far, and the last scenario, if it works, should deal with and define the chaos very well.  It will be set up as a "Pulp Alley" game and what they call a "Social Adventure". No guns, no explosions, the game will be about the diplomats maneuvering for support among the various delegations.  As the various delegations respond to the entreaties and/or threats it will shape the Sector and their attitudes towards our protagonists quite nicely.

Thanks for reading!

01 January 2014

On the Hunt VIII: Second Battle of Savo Terminus

The fighting on the surface of Haussen is ferocious. The Reich troops are contesting the main LZ of the Alliance and that battle could determine the outcome of the campaign.  To change the balance, on the evening of 27Dec2013 a powerful force of the LuftKrieg attempts to force passage of the Slot and retake control of the sky..

Both combatants are down to their last reserves.  The fighter forces are so depleted neither force includes embarked fighter wings in strike quantity.

Reich OOB
CA Goering (Flagship)
CA Wulf
CA Austria
DD Jurgen
DD Schnell

Alliance OOB
CA St. Marie (Flagship)
CA Dominican
CL Houston
CL Clieve -Hatirki HS
DD Cheliate -Timtai TL
DD Gara -Timtai TL
DD Columbus
DD Corpus Christi
DD Kingston

The LuftKrieg jumps in close but slightly off target.  Instead of heading right into the slot, the formation is slightly "high".  The Alliance blocking division is crossing the terminus in a single line for optimal sensor coverage.
The Alliance splits into 3 divisions.  The DD's on the high side max burn to extend and turn away from the terminus.  The Cruisers continue on course to physically block the terminus, and the trailing DD's bank hard to the low side.  In response, the Reich Cruisers turn low to align with the slot and the DD's maneuver aggressively against the high Alliance DD's.
The result is devastating for the Alliance DD's.  On the low side, they fly into gun range of the Reich battle line.  On the high side, the Reich DD's get better missile shots.  Of the 5 Alliance DD's, all are removed from the battle. Both Timtai ships are destroyed and all 3 Colores DD's are forced to attempt a jump to get clear. In exchange, 1 LuftKrieg DD is destroyed.

In the next sequence, the Reich CA's veer below the terminus to stay out of range of the Alliance CL missiles.  However, the Alliance guns lash the Reich ships.
The Reich loses a Cruiser, but the Alliance Hatirki CL is destroyed and the Colores CL jumps away.

Falling below 50% strength, the Alliance captains might withdraw, but the Commodore aboard the St. Marie orders them to hold. The last Reich DD tries to pass behind the 2 Alliance cruisers but ends up right into their firing arcs.  The Reich CA's fire onto the St. Marie at long range.

Both sides are now below 50%, and both hold. No one is quitting this fight.  The Reich cruisers work to the Terminus and the Alliance ships maneuver to optimum range. The Reich loses a ship while the St. Marie is  left drifting without power and burning in several compartments.
The Austria, the single surviving Reich ship, escapes into the slot. The Dominican comes alongside the Flag to render aid.
The Austria will continue on her mission, and the Alliance support fleet will withdraw into the belt, but the single ship can only achieve a stalemate. The immediate situation on the surface of Haussen will be decided by the forces already on the surface.

Of more importance to the campaign overall, the 3 ships destroyed in the engagement are from allies and not from the Colores fleet. This casualty imbalance also happened in the first battle of Savo. Is there something about the Colores conduct of  sky operations that spares Colores ships but causes excessive casualties to the allies? Dissatisfaction has reached the point that a strategy review council will be convened.