Last month I painted Martians to fight Steve's British troops. We actually managed to play the game last week, but my battle report has been delayed by various Real Life(tm) problems. We used the Soldier's Companion rules from GDW that are aimed at supporting Space 1889.
The Martian Messiah, Itaba Sootaman, has been rabble-rousing in the provinces around Shastapsh. His goal is to foment rebellion against the British occupying Syrtis Major and to drive the invaders from Martian soil. When it was reported that Sootaman was largely unaccompanied, the British sent a platoon of infantry to arrest him. His general area was known, but not his exact whereabouts, so the patrol headed out to investigate the villages in that area. As they advanced through the village of Paraam, which still lay partially devastated by a recent British assault, the area was quiet. The locals had obviously heard that the British were coming and had evacuated the area. This worried the British commander.
He ordered his troops to advance on the next village, Irshash. As they approached the village, a ragged volley of fire erupted from the woods line in front of them. It was all sound and fury for the Martian marksmanship was terrible and there were no British casualties. The two sides traded fire for a while, but neither side took any casualties. The Martian marksmanship was terrible, but their use of cover was brilliant.
Suddenly another troop of Martians erupted from the brush behind the British. Ambush! The attack was perfectly executed and, but for the Martian accuracy, might have seen the British ending their days on that spot. Unfortunately for the Martians, their smoothbore muskets were not very accurate. Caught in a pincer movement, the British fixed bayonets and charged the Martians in front of them. They drove the Martians all the way out of the woods and back to the next village along, sniping at the Martians' heels as they went. The other Martian warriors could do little now but pursue the British. Fortunately, they caught them and were able to break their nerve. The British regrouped back at Paraam and returned to the fray, and the fight continued swirling around the woods from which the Martians had first emerged. The British now held their nerve and started causing significant casualties to the Martians. One Martian troop was nearly wiped out, while the other was suffering badly.
Seeing the chance to break the Martians' nerve forever, the British commander ordered a charge. His men bravely tore into the Martian force and a bloody combat ensued with no quarter given. Then it happened. The British officer fell in the melee. The Martian warriors howled as one of their number took his head. This was too much for the British soldiers and they broke and ran. The Martians were too exhausted to pursue, but this was still a great victory for them. Inspired by this act, the whole of Shastapsh would soon be in ferment.
This was a great game that could have gone either way. The Martian ambush was perfectly executed, but my dice were not favouring me in this game. For some reason I have real problems rolling sixes! The rules worked well, although we could envisage situations where the Martian player might be sitting for ages waiting to win an initiative roll. Since your only option when you fail to win the initiative is to shoot or charge and you do not get to manoeuvre, a good British leader could easily win the initiative every turn and march circles around a poor Martian leader, leaving the Martian player with nothing to do. I suspect that we will institute a die roll modifier of +1 for every turn in which you have not won the initiative. This modifier is cumulative until you win the initiative, at which point it resets to 0. That would ensure that both sides at least get to do something and stay involved in the game. I am now looking forward to painting and using the rest of my Martians in a bigger game. I also need to get around to making some better Martian terrain.