So, a good while ago, i got hold of the Tomorrow’s War scifi wargame rules from Ambush Alley. It feels like a pretty nice set of rules, with an action/reaction system simulating simultaneous action, and plenty of scope for assymetrical warfare. This weekend saw a first attempt at playing with them, using 28mm miniatures from 40k in the roles of the Marines rescue mission and the DPRG ambush party.

In the introductory scenario we played, three fireteams of US Marines (in white) enter from their side of the 4’x4′ board with a mission to rescue a downed pilot hiding in a building just past the centre of the map. The opposition is waiting for them, with 4 DPRG fireteams (in green) hidden all around the pilot’s location. Both forces are regular, which simplifies lots of things (irregular troops have more limitations on action count, depend more on leaders, have to roll tests for about everything, etc). The Marines have a troop quality of D8 though, while DPRGs are in D6. This. Is. Huge. It was difficult to measure prior to the game how much of an impact it’d make, but it proved overwhelming. It means that for most tests, the Marines have to roll scores of 4+ on D8s, while DPRGs have to roll the same 4+ but on D6s. And in opposed rolls (like a fire exchange), you need to roll 4+ *and* higher than the opposition. Making things worse for the DPRGs, Marines also are one tech level above, giving them an extra die in various situations. Like when bullets meet armour.

Anyhow, the game kicked off to the initiative of the Marines, entering the board to take position in cover and assess the situation. Fireteam 1 and 3 got into the central ruins, while fireteam 2 set itself into the woods along the left border.

On the second turn, Marines Fireteam 1 started to move carefully towards a wood close to the river, which is when the two side DPRGs teams started to open fire on them, which prompted the other Marines teams to open fire on the now revealed ambushers, which prompted a more central ambushing squad to open fire onto the Marines team in the central building. Basically, we went wild with reactions, and it took us a while to sort out in which order to do things. When the dust settled though, the Marines team in the centre building had taken a casualty, while DPRGs left and right both took a couple.

Fireteam 2 getting into the woods on the left

Fiteam 2 exchanging fire with DPRG 2

On turn 3, the Marines kept initiative. Before activating the units though, it was time to assess casualties, showing the lone Marines casualty to be a fatality. Worse, the fireteam missed it’s quality check, and was therefore under shock, unable to proceed further onwards this turn. The DPRGs rolled a fatality too, as well as an asortment of light/serious wounds, and a rifleman just grazed. The two activable Marines teams opened fire on the DPRG positions, causing them yet more casualties, while taking no casualty themselves. The central DPRGs kept quiet.

Turn 4 was to the initiative of the DPRGs, after they rolled some more wounds in their squads, with fighting numbers dropping fast. More exchanges of fire happened, with some horrible luck for the DPRGs on the right flank of the Marines: not only did they fail to shoot down Fireteam 1, who won the reaction test and dashed to cover in the woods, they got completely wiped out by the Marines in the centre ruins. With no valid fighter left, they were going to have to wait for the medic to come by and check them out before taking further part.

Turn 5 saw the last of the meaningful action. Fireteam 1 got out of the woods and started fording the river while exchanging fire with the DPRGs ahead of them, wiping them out cleanly for no casualties in return. Fireteam 2 took down the DPRGs on the left flank down to one man. The DPRG medic tried to make a desperate dash to the woods with the downed squad on the Marines right flank, but got shot down immediately. This drew the ire of the last DPRG squad who opened fire to no avail on the Marines in the building, being taken down to a single man themselves in the process.

Fireteam 3 watching from the ruins

No risk of fire from the right

At that point, it was basically over, with the DPRGs in disarray unable to hinder the rescue anymore. Contact was thus made with the pilot on turn 6… Which meant that the remaining two turns were actually not enough to evacuate before the end of turn 8 and achieve the main objective. Doh!

Rescue on the way!

It was then time for the conclusions. The first one was that D8 vs D6 is massive. Much much more than we thought. Fire is deadlier, defense is far better. In fact, the Marines could have taken much more risk to accelerate the rescue. And in fact, that led to the second conclusion: they really *should* have, seeing as despite wiping up the opposition, they only won by 3 points (making contact with the pilot) to 2 (one Marine KIA) for the DPRG. In fact, all it would have taken would have been a single additional wound on a Marine to make it a tie. We noticed too that we missed the medic ‘teleport’ at 12″ which may have helped him make it without being shot down. But then, he was too far away so his squad should have moved closer first and exposed himself even more to the deadly D8s. In the end, it feels very very hard for the DPRGs. Maybe they need to wait until the Marines are much closer and open fire all together on a single Fireteam in the initial ambush? It became rather clear here that prolonged exchanges of fire were not at all in their favour, and that even the 2D cover dice (woods + “in cover”) were not enough to save them…

Overall, it was rather fun and, surprisingly, rather fast to play once the first few action/reaction sequences were negociated through. Some 15mm GZG troops are already on the way for the next engagements!

Table at beginning of turn 6, annotated