Commander So’Lek analysed the incoming data as the atmosphere buffeted his armour. Protected by his s-chute’s suspensor field, it was uncomfortable, but not lethal. His armour regulated his body temperature so that the heat of reentry was just another readout on his heads up display. The HUD wasn’t necessary, but it helped to focus his mind. It was rare that such a drastic drop was necessary, but the target complex was abandoned, currently unable to receive transmat signals from orbit. He and his elite Drop Troopers formed the second wave to secure the hub, following immediately on the heels of the first. The nervousness of his men tainted the shard, making him feel anxious despite hundreds of simulated drops just like this. Sixty seconds to landfall.
The first wave was already on the ground, though the transport had been required to land further out from the Hub. His own men had no such limitation, the shard consciousness steering their s-chutes as one. Thirty seconds to landfall.
The wider combat shard fed him information as they approached the target site. The Virai were already swarming across the hub. A live feed from the C3T7 appeared for So’Lek’s eyes only. What in the name of Antares was that?! He suppressed his initial reaction, careful not to let the feeling feed back into the shard. Twenty seconds to landfall.
He began to assign drop targets. “Clean them out of those buildings, get inside and shut the hub down” he broadcast, though it was an unnecessary reminder. Their orders were simple. Secure the hub and deny it to the enemy. A transmat hub would give the Virai instant access to a dozen other facilities across the continent. The Silver Tempest was a CL2 Light Cruiser, and not equipped to deal with a full scale Virai infestation. Casualty reports flashed by on his screen, and he could see flashes of plasma fire as the ground came rushing up to meet him.
Ten seconds to landfall.
Part three of our Concord vs Virai mini campaign sees the Concord racing to secure a strategic transmat hub on Brochunus IV before the Virai can take control. Access to the transmat array would effectively cede control of the planet to the Virai, whose numbers are growing while the Concord’s resources around Brochunus IV dwindle.
We chose scenario 11: Orbital Drop, with the Concord descending from orbit and the Virai tunnelling up from below. The aim of the scenario is to hold the majority of the buildings in the centre of the field, with randomised deployment locations adding an element of unpredictability and luck.
This will be my first game fielding my newly painted Ancient First Instance. It’s a hefty chunk of my points, but I can’t resist bringing it to the party. It has meant a few sacrifices elsewhere, but even if it weren’t for the impressive stat line, it’s imposing enough that I think the Concord will steer clear. Wherever the First Instance lands, I plan to get it into the centre of the table ASAP, providing leadership to the weaker constructors and plenty of firepower.
My only other plan is to sprint into combat with basically every unit I have. The Virai excel at close quarters against the Concord, whose hyperlight armour won’t be so effective at that range. And with the objective sitting in the centre, it won’t take long to get there, especially if I can utilise a few reprogram orders.
My biggest worry is Andy’s Drop squads. He’s been talking about them for a while now, and this scenario will allow him to place them anywhere. That’ll give him a critical tactical advantage, and I might find myself outflanked. My hope is that he lands them on the objective, since I’ll be heading there anyway, and dislodging a few more Concord won’t be a problem…
I’ve gone with the rule of cool for this mission; Drop troops, interceptors and a couple of strike squads in a transport. I’ll have the Klendathu Drop music from Starship troopers firmly in my head all game! My basic plan is to get the strike squads into the buildings asap using their transport and use the drop troops to harass the enemy by dropping behind their lines or to drop near an objective if the opportunity presents itself.
Mainly I think this game will be pretty chaotic so I’m looking forward to trying out new units (new to me anyway) and just having a blast!
The Concord transporter drone advanced onto the battlefield in the middle of one long edge, putting it close to the objective, and travelling slow enough for the two Strike Squads to disembark. Both did so, sprinting for buildings #1 and #2, with one even making it just inside the door just as the Ancient First Instance appeared on the opposite table edge. Its impressive M6 brought it close to buildings #3 and #4 with a Run order.
Jamie drew the next order die, opting to bring a seven strong unit of Hive Defenders onto the field. In a stroke of jammy luck, they burrowed up through the ground right by the C3T7, presenting a buffet of options for their ripclaws and fusion flamers. The scenario specifically forbids an assault when a unit arrives onto the field (probably for this exact situation), so they fired on the Strike troopers. It turns out that fusion flamers are pretty decent at that range, as demonstrated by the three dead Concord Strike troopers, including the leader.
The Virai continued to saturate the early game, bringing on a unit of Mining Constructors and a weapon team, both in the same area of the table. The Constructors were close enough to claim building 3 with a sprint, while the support team moved into the cover of some trees and waited for targets to appear on which they could turn their mag light support.
With the Hive Defenders far too close for comfort, Andy turned the C3T7’s plasma light support to its left flank and opened fire, destroying one drone and adding a pin. In response, the Ancient First Instance moved into the central area and fired a focused beam from its flamer array. Even at long range, it penetrated the batter field, but failed to do any damage.
The turn closed out with Concord targeter probes spreading out among the buildings, and a Virai reprogram die that had no units in range.
Nervous about the remaining Hive Defenders, Andy had the C3T7 move directly away from them and open fire once again with his plasma light support, killing another and adding a second pin. The next order die went to the Virai, but Andy decided to use his only ‘Block’ to put it back into the bag.
Unfortunately for him, the next die was still Virai, and the Hive Defenders were able to assault the C3T7. A lucky shot in point blank shooting removed the batter drone, and both sides took an additional pin. The compounding hits of the Virai Ripclaws meant Andy had to contend with a single SV12 hit, but miraculously he rolled a 1 on his res test.
Somehow, though, an extra pin had snuck on the table, which neither player noticed at the time (on reviewing our footage later, we discovered that Andy sabotaged his own vehicle). This meant that what should have been a draw at two pins each was treated as a Virai victory. A second round of combat followed, in which the Virai managed to penetrate the transport’s armour and force it down with two more pins. Both sides consolidated away from each other, bloodied but still in the game.
The Worker Constructors appeared next, coming up within sprinting distance of an unclaimed building, though not close enough to actually get inside. Instead they moved behind the building, ensuring that the currently deployed Concord couldn’t draw line of sight. They did, however, pick up a pin in the sprint.
Of the two Strike Squads, the injured one was just short of their objective, and tried to climb in through the window and take cover inside. However, with a single pin, they failed their order test and ended up taking cover outside instead.
The Concord targeter probes spread out onto Virai targets, while the Virai weapon drone failed its command test to join the fray. The Tertiary Instance succeeded, though, appearing close enough to the Hive Defenders that it could run into within five inches and Overclock them with a Reprogram die.
Spooked by the prospect of another Hive Defender assault, the Drop Command Squad landed close enough to support the downed Strike Squad, laying down covering fire that inflicted one more casualty on the Virai. Despite the number of pins, the Savage Strike rule meant that the Hive Defenders were still able to assault the Drop Troopers, killing all but one. But with so many pins they lost the combat and fled the battlefield, their programming deeming that they would be better employed elsewhere.
On the opposite side of the field, the Scavenger Constructor Squad emerged close to the unclaimed building and ran inside, giving Jamie two objectives to Andy’s one. The Ancient First Instance advanced into the centre of the board, firing all weapons at the Strike Squad inside building #1. A single casualty (and more importantly, a single pin) were the result, thanks to the heavy cover provided by the building.
The Architector then split fire on the Strike Squad and the C3T7 with its second order. The C3T7 took a pin, while the Strike Squad took a second casualty, reducing it to three troopers.
In an effort to draw the Virai away from building #4, two Drop Squads landed behind the Virai advance and opened fire. Assisted by targeter probes, their focused plasma fire decimated the worker constructors. Thanks to the command radius of the Ancient First Instance, the remaining two drones maintained position, but suddenly things were looking up for the Concord.
Focusing on the objective, the Mining Constructor Squad ran from building #3 to #2. While this was a net zero, the loss of the Hive Defenders on that side of the table meant that the constructors were needed there. Following suit, the Virai MLS opened fire on the downed Strike Troopers, killing both.
The final Concord unit to join the battle was the Interceptor Squad, whose speed and firepower finished off the Worker Constructors, leaving building #4 tenuously held by the Scavengers within.
In an impressive display of Concord discipline, the C3T7 managed to retrieve its Down order die despite five pins, making it much more likely to recover next turn…
Andy opened his turn by using the C3T7’s first order to Rally, insuring it against death by pins (though it still retained one). Jamie, fearing the firepower of the transport, sprinted with the Tertiary Instance into building #1, assaulting the pinned Strike Squad within. Two rounds of combat saw the Concord survivors flee the battle, swinging an objective into the appendages of the Virai whilst providing much needed cover for the lone Architector.
Knowing that the C3T7 couldn’t hold an objective, Jamie had the First Instance turn its attention on the Drop Squads, but only managed to put a pin on them with an advance order. A second advance followed, and two troopers fell to the Architector’s flamer array. It also put the Architector close enough to the building to reprogram the unit within. The targeter probes repositioned to offer their shooting bonuses against the two remaining Constructor Squads, since they were the ones most likely to hold onto objectives.
Given the lack of cover against the hulking First Instance, the Interceptors used their speed to manoeuvre around building #4, killing one Constructor with their twin plasma carbines and keeping them out of the firing line. Determined to dislodge the Virai, Andy opened up with his second Drop Squad, inflicting one more casualty on the Scavengers, but crucially not enough to trigger a break test.
Sensing that the Scavengers were on the verge of losing building #4, the indecisive Mining Constructors sprinted from building #2 to building #4. This dropped the Virai building count from three to two, but with Concord advancing in numbers on that side of the field, it wasn’t very far-fetched to think they might take two objectives and grasp a draw. The Constructor Squad’s new position also put them close enough to the Ancient First Instance to benefit from an Overclock, which they used to charge the Interceptors, wiping them out with compounded hits from their mining arms.
In the opposite corner of the Transmat Hub, the Virai Weapon Drone finally joined the battle and, like using a sledgehammer to crack open a nut, turned the lone Drop Commander into pink mist with its flamer array, effectively tying up that side of the field.
With no more targets in sight, the Virai Support Team sprinted from cover towards building #3, securing a third objective and hopefully drawing line of sight to the remaining Concord infantry next turn.
With casualties mounting, affirmative action was needed for the Concord to seize building #4. With that in mind, the uninjured Drop Squad made a desperate charge towards the Mining Constructors. The Drop Troops had proven effective against the Hive Defenders in turn two, so it didn’t seem so crazy, since it would also move them away from the advancing First Instance.
Jamie attempted to counter charge, hoping to keep the Drop Squad away from the building, but the Mining Constructor Squad failed its initiative roll. Unfortunately for Andy, the combat went narrowly in favour of the Virai, who suffered three casualties while inflicting four in return. Both units fled the field, however, due to the casualties suffered.
The Ancient First Instance followed up with a charge into the remaining Drop Squad, and there was little the troopers could do to fight the colossal machine. They did manage to kill both of its Hive Defender bodyguards, but that left the C3T7 alone on the field, absorbing one focused shot from the First Instance before the IMTel decided on a tactical withdrawal.
Post Game Analysis
Another victory for the Virai! After three games, I think it’s safe to say that as a faction the Concord struggle to defend against the Virai. Their hyperlight armour makes them less effective up close, which is where the Virai excel.
That’s not to say it was without its challenges – the Drop Troops were particularly vexing in this game, and a couple of turns in I was sure that Andy was going to win the day. There was a lot of luck on my side today – drawing order dice at the right time to keep the Tertiary Instance out of trouble, landing the Hive Defenders and Weapon Drone in the right part of the field to have maximum effect, and of course the numerous assaults that went my way.
If I hadn’t been able to flip building #1, I may have been stretched too thin to adequately combat the Drop Squads flanking my Constructors. As it was, it came down to two Drop Squads and three Interceptors vs three Constructor Squads, but the latter had the defensive position and the edge in hand to hand combat. They also had the support of their terrifying progenitor – though the First Instance only inflicted two casualties, its command presence and Reprogram die were invaluable.
That was a great game and so much fun. At the end of turn two I thought I was making some headway and I thought my tactic of picking off units rather than trying to hold the objectives from too early on was going to pay off. In the end those damn Reprogram dice and all those units in the centre using the Ancient Architector’s stats to keep passing tests was my undoing.
Also I keep getting in too close and reducing the effectiveness of my hyperlight armour so I need to learn to keep further away! It was a shame Jamie didn’t pass his initiative to counter charge as that would’ve been really fun and cinematic, but both units ended up wiping each other out with their point-blank-shooting anyway!
It was a really fun game and great trying out those drop troops. They’re great fun so I think I’ll be using them lots now that I have them painted. All in all a fitting end to our mini campaign…or is it? I have a few more ideas for games on this theme so we’ll have to see!
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