Hellfire and powered armour

I put together this scenario for 6mm or 15mm figures because I had this nagging suspicion that I might possibly have made good quality troops in powered armour too dangerous. I didn’t think I had, but because I tend to prefer scenarios with plenty of scruffy and disreputable types, they may not have got the playtesting they deserved. So I thought I better check.

It was my turn to take a game to the club, so I had to think up something multiplayer. So we had a crunch point on a frontier somewhere. On one side was the Kunshu Imperium. Their border ran through the table. The border was disputed and three parties had allied to defend it from further Kunshu aggression.

In the very centre of the table was a processing plant held by Acme Plant Hire. Behind them on their left was a force from the Republika Novo which was in support. Finally a force from the Droid Collective was available to support them if needed. The Collective forces would arrive on the right of the Acme Plant Hire position.

It was a very cluttered wargames table, to ensure that people could normally hope for some cover.

A camera photo of the terrain. The processing plant (partly in ruins) has a powered armour company hiding behind the two silos trying not to be seen. On the hill and in front of the plant are the three companies of the airmobile who have hastily dug in to defend the position. The first droid company is advancing slowly down the hill.

Holding the processing plant for ACME Plant Hire were four units.

Digger 1, effectively it was an improvised mecha with crew served energy weapon, improvised armour, and improvised ECM.                                         

Reaction code 3,2,2,1,2,2,2,1  15pts

Digger 2, another improvised mecha with crew served projectile weapon, improvised armour, and improvised ECM.                                          

Reaction code 3,2,2,2,2,2,1,1  15pts

There were two security companies.

First company. Six squads, personal projectile weapon, no armour.

Reaction code 3,2,2,1,2,2,1,1  14pts

Second Company, seven squads, personal projectile weapon, no armour.                                           

Reaction code 2,2,2,2,2,2,1,1  14pts

On table but held back was a battalion from the Republika Novo

1st Infantry Company. Eight squads, personal projectile weapon, no armour.                                      

Reaction code 3,3,2,3,2,2,2,2  18pts

2nd Infantry Company. Eight squads, personal projectile weapon, no armour.                                      

Reaction code 3,3,2,3,2,3,2,1  18pts

3rd Infantry Company. Eight squads, personal projectile weapon, no armour.                                      

Reaction code 3,3,2,3,2,2,2,2  18pts

Support Company 3 Squads, each with crew served projectile weapon. No armour                                    

Reaction code 3,3,3,3,2,3,2,1  20pts

This company could be broken up and the squads attached to an infantry company, or could be kept together. The player split it up.

Artillery Company. One squad, ‘Vehicle mounted tube artillery’, no armour, portable ECM, 3 guided rounds plenty of unguided rounds. Counter Battery Radar.

Reaction code 3,2,3,2,3,2,3,2  20pts

Finally there were the stalwarts of the Droid Collective.

Unit 1, it had four squads with personal energy weapon and improvised armour. Each squad had portable ECM and man portable guided missiles.

For reaction they are droids so all use this one table without throwing dice.                

Surprised.Outflanked.Melee.Casualties.S/O+Cas.M+Cas
aefbeg
droid reaction table

Unit 2, it had four squads with personal energy weapon and improvised armour. Each squad had portable ECM and man portable guided missiles.

For reaction they are droids so all use this one table without throwing dice.                

Unit 3, it had four squads with personal energy weapon and improvised armour. Each squad had portable ECM and man portable guided missiles.

For reaction they are droids so all use this one table without throwing dice.                

Air combat droid, flying vehicle, crew served energy weapon, Armour 14/16 and portable ECM

The first three units moved at the same speed as troops in powered armour, the air combat droid moves pretty much as far as it wants to.

Kunshu Imperium fielded three forces and had a plan.

The first unit onto the table was composed of two powered armour companies. It was to take the processing plant.

1st Powered Armour Company, three squads, crew served energy weapon, powered armour, portable ECM.

Reaction code 4,3,3,3,3,2,3,3  24

2nd Powered Armour Company, three squads, crew served energy weapon, powered armour, portable ECM.

Reaction code 4,3,3,3,3,2,3,3  24

These arrived in drop pods. The player using them rolled two dice onto the table. The score was irrelevant, the drop pods landed on the dice.

The second force was the airmobile.

Alpha Airmobile Company. 6 squads, personal energy weapon, ablat armour.

Reaction code 3,2,3,2,2,2,1,1  16pts

Beta Airmobile Company. 6 squads, personal energy weapon, ablat armour.

Reaction code 3,2,2,3,2,2,2,1  17pts

Gamma Airmobile Company. 6 squads, personal energy weapon, ablat armour.

Reaction code 3,2,3,2,2,2,1,1  16pts

These would land after the processing plant was taken and would both support the powered armour troops and help expand the perimeter.

The third force was a battalion of the Kunshu Imperium Infantry

It had four companies and a support company. This would march on and arrive from the Kunshu table edge and help continue the process of expanding the perimeter.

First Company. 8 squads, personal energy weapon, ablat armour

Reaction code 3,2,2,2,2,2,1,1  15pts

Second Company. 8 squads, personal energy weapon, ablat armour

Reaction code 2,2,2,2,2,2,1,1  14pts

Third Company. 8 squads, personal energy weapon, ablat armour

Reaction code 3,2,1,2,2,2,1,1  14pts

Fourth Company. 8 squads, personal energy weapon, ablat armour

Reaction code 2,2,1,2,2,2,1,1  13pts

Support Company. Two squads, crew served energy weapons, ablat armour.

Reaction code 3,2,3,2,2,3,2,1  18pts

There are various things about this game that people might find interesting.
Firstly it was written for 6mm figures but ended up being played using 15mm figures. Now remember this game (and Hellfire generally) isn’t a skirmish game. A figure, or a base, doesn’t represent one man. A unit is a company so perhaps about a hundred men. For pure skirmish sets my suggestions below probably won’t work as well.

Still, to allow for 15mm I doubled movement distances and ranges. It was a big game fought at the club on a table that was about 8’x6’.

We had plenty of room and it worked. Frankly doubling the distances probably wasn’t necessary. The biggest problem shifting figure scales can be the ‘footprint’ of the unit and the terrain. I talked to Tony at Brigade and his figures are on 20mm round bases. His village takes up about the same space as a sheet of A4. With 28mm a 10 figure unit defends a length of wall a foot long! Ten 6mm figures on Tony’s bases take up less than a quarter of that. There again, for Napoleonics or similar we’ll often, with 28mm, put down an A4 base with a couple of buildings on it and call it a town. Wargamers do strange things with scale. With15mm figures, these take up more room than 6mm, and a 15mm building takes up more room than its 6mm counterpart. But again, given wargamers and their attitude to scale, if we remember our unit represents a company, it’s not too much of a stretch to remember that the houses on the A4 base represent a town.

With regard unit footprint, I had solved that issue by accident. A couple of years ago I was faced with a heap of 15mm SF stuff and wanted to try a ‘big battle’ set, and was taken by the idea of the base in the rule set ‘Impetus.’ There the base is quite big, for 15mm it’s 80mm by 40mm for infantry. Now the idea is that the number of figures on the base isn’t of vital importance, you’re more ‘decorating’ the base. So the base can contain elements of diorama.

Hence I decided I’d go down that sort of road and I’d do my 15mm SF on 80×40 bases.

Since then I’ve used them to play games based on a DBA/Hordes of the Things mechanism, and now I would use them for Hellfire. For Hellfire a base would consist of whatever number of lesser ‘bases’. I’m not advocating this basing style, but again they worked, units didn’t sprawl across the table. When you lost a ‘base’ you just noted it down on the roster sheet along the with reaction number you were knocking off. This meant you were never too sure how strong an enemy unit was, or how close to exhaustion it was. This in my opinion was a good thing.

But from the point of view of unit footprint, the 80mm by 40mm bases doesn’t take up much more footprint that a 6mm unit with ten bases.

So after all the waffle, my conclusions? Well when shifting a scenario from 6mm to 15mm, provided you’re careful with the footprints of units and terrain, you may not have to mess about with scales too much. Moving to 28mm, then you will probably have to increase the scale.

How did the game play?
The powered armour infantry dropped near the processing plant, and two moves later they’d taken it, wading into close combat and driving out the defenders. Next move the artillery of the Republika Novo opened up on them, and they took cover in the plant.

The airmobile arrived at the same time as the Droid Collective did, and there was a tough fight in which the Droid Collective, supported by the artillery of the Republika Novo and its heavy weapons finally drove back the Kunshu forces. The Kunshu leg infantry battalion was slow deploying and other than its heavy weapons, never really got in the fight, mainly acting to cover the withdrawal of its betters.

There were moments of humour, as when the Air combat droid was hit by a heavy weapon, suffered a communications failure and had to continue with its previous orders. As these had consisted of ‘fly along this bearing and attack any enemy you pass over’ it disappeared into the distance, firing occasionally. As somebody commented, ‘Well it’s not a very big planet, it’s bound to be round again sometime.’

Indeed the air support did it’s best to not get involved. The assault craft landing the airmobile did put down some covering fire as they went in. Their orders were not to hang around but get out of harm’s way as quickly as possible. The owning player had been told that he could spend command points to ‘tweak’ these orders. As it was, he rolled only three command points, dismounted the three companies and didn’t have any points left over to talk to anybody, so his assault craft disappeared with unseemly alacrity before he could try and convince them to shoot at anybody as they left.

As for the powered armour infantry, because they had to test reaction for casualties when they suffered them ‘in theory’ (men died or were injured, just not enough to take a base off), by the time they were pulled back, one unit had lost a base, but both units were down to their last reaction before they reverted to the common default of ‘1’.

If it was a campaign, I could see them being very useful for this sort of operation. Send them in, have them break things, and then pull them out. A couple of days later when they’ve recovered from the stress, you’ve got a full strength unit to send back it. The airmobile suffered casualties and the units would take time to rebuild.

As for the most powerful troops, the droids impressed people. They didn’t get exhausted, you had to kill them. But even they have their weakness. Whilst they react well enough to fire fights and even to casualties, if anybody gets too close they fall back. Not only that but when falling back they fire at half effect. One of the airmobile companies was happily driving them off but dare not go too far lest they got caught in the crossfire from other units.

Still if you can catch droids in close combat, ‘f’ counts as ‘any other result’ which puts them on a d4, as opposed to the d12 another unit might hope for.

I gave these droids the same move as infantry in powered armour, which seemed reasonable. It made it difficult for one infantry unit to catch them, but if you had one who got round the flank the droids would struggle to avoid both. Intriguingly, the ideal way to take out these droids would be with cavalry who move twelve.

There again, when you field droids you could change the programming but make sure you balance them by making sure they do have weaknesses.

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