Thursday, 23 April 2015

If you go down to a foggy woods today...



Continuing our preparations before embarking on a In Her Majesty's Name campaign, Arabianknight and I played through another test game using the 'Catch the Pigeon' scenario and the 'Pea Soup' scenario 'complication' from the core rulebook. We both deployed 350 points from our respective companies, Lord Curr's Q Division and the Victoria Palace Company, which allowed us to experiment with new characters - especially me, as Prof. D. Belfry Chuffnell III made his debut at the controls of his Johnson Mk. XII 'Cherokee' Light Military Walker, armed with a rather overstated Steam Fist and a water-cooled machine gun!


An experimental magneto-electric automaton 'courier' is having some difficulty navigating its way through a fog shrouded wood. It's carrying a vital message as well as being a valuable technological marvel itself. Both the shotgun-toting Her Royal Highness, Queen Victoria and the maverick, Lord Curr, have got wind of this marvel in the woods and have set off with their companies to intercept the courier...

The 'Catch the Pigeon' scenario was adapted due to all available courier pigeons being overdue and last spotted heading towards France. Damn traitors! So Arabianknight rustled up an 'automaton' from his extensive miniature menagerie. The automaton would start the scenario in the centre of the woods and at the beginning of each turn it would move 1d10-2" in a random direction. Companies can capture it by moving into b2b contact and returning it to their deployment point or by destroying it. VPs are allocated for automaton capture, kill or enemies killed. 

To make things more challenging, the Pea Soup scenario complication had a dense fog descending over the area. At the beginning of each turn the visibility would be determined by the sum of 2d10 in inches, with no figures being able to fire over this distance - as they can't see anything! A roll of double 1 or 10 lifts the fog.

Turns 1-4: Both companies followed the normal deployment rules, starting out from within a 6" area on opposite sides of the woods. For the first turn, visibility was down to 10" and the automaton had moved a small distance (1") in the direction of Lord Curr's company. Both sides took advantage of the thick fog to run their combatants into strategic positions, the woods echoing with distorted, dulled wheezes and snapping branches as the mechanised walker forced its way through the undergrowth.

Queen Victoria had a large number of militia with her, which quickly split into two groups with Her Highness leading a contingent of household staff and Grenadier Guardsman - including the infamous Mrs Bridges the Cook and her weaponized rolling pin. The other group mostly comprised of more Guardsmen with their explosive grenades led by some of the senior members of the household staff.

The fog drifted in and out with visibility ranging from 5 to 10 inches; luckily for Lord Curr and his company, the automaton continued to head towards them and it was one of his Incorrigibles, Captain Percival Smyth, that intercepted it and whilst the machine continued its slow, oblivious march, he trotted alongside and placed a rather odd little brass and oak box to the mechanical man's back plate. Within a few seconds the box emitted a few loud clicks and chimes. The automaton stopped mid-stride, turning its head to peer unnervingly at the Captain. When he stepped back, half raising his rifle, the automaton slowly moved towards him. After a few more back-steps the Captain realised the machine was dumbly following him. Whatever professor Chuffnell's little box was it apparently did the trick. The red-coated military officer was a strange sight with a bronzed metal-man facsimile following his heels back towards their lines.

Turn 5 The fog had now lifted to 11" and many of the combatants were now in sight of each other. After all the muffled shouts and woodland disturbances, it looked like one hell of a shooting match was about to take place. It duly did. By now, Professor Chuffnell and his military walker was in the centre of the woods near an intersection of two roads, in prime position to challenge either of Queen Victoria's contingents.  It decided to quickly advance upon Her Highnesses' group, raising its Steam Fist and engaging the rotating feed drums for its water-cooled machine gun, confident that this advanced military hardware would soon make mincemeat of the Royalists.

Almost unnoticed, Captain Thomas Paton of the Victoria Palace Company casually stepped out of the thick undergrowth and pointed an Arc Pistol directly at the mechanical walker. He pulled the trigger and a white-blinding arc of lightening fire enveloped the machine. It shuddered to a halt, its metal arms slowly lowering as professor Chuffnell desperately attempted to free himself of the restraining harnesses as the control panel burst into flame. Black smoke quickly billowed from the walker, mixing with the sharp smell of ozone from the arc weapon discharge. The professor finally managed to leap free just as an explosion of hot metal parts ripped from the walkers' chassis. Astonishingly to all, the Light
Military Walker was destroyed before it even got a chance to use its weapons!

Incensed, Gunnery sergeant Hamo Curren-Saul was having none of this. He raised his Arc Rifle, sighted on the smirking Queen Victoria, steadied his breath and flicked the trigger switch. Another jet of white-hot energy blasted the royal personage, her voluminous folds of dress-armour useless against the arc fire. Queen Victoria was dead. Long live the Queen! Her stunned retinue managed to recover enough to exchange fire with the nearby Incorrigibles but their shots went wide, with one of the Grenadier Guardsmen being take out by a keen-eyed response from one of Lord Curr's men.

Turns 6-7  A couple of rounds of frantic shooting followed, with casualties on both sides, particularly with a sharp exchange of rifles between Lord Curr and the flanking household militia. Indeed, Lord Curr was keen to let his wolf-dog, Dakota, off the leash but decided the bayoneted enemy were too dangerous for this excitedly growling companion. By now, Captain Percival Smyth and the automaton
were nearing their exit point, with a scorched, sooty and cursing professor Chuffnell not far behind. The odds were now stacked against the Victoria Palace Company, their losses mounting and any chance of victory well gone as night and the thick mist quickly descended to again shroud the woods, ending the engagement.



A thoroughly enjoyable game, with a simple but fun scenario with our respective companies put through their paces. It's the first time I've deployed a Military Walker, and thank goodness I did as part of a test game before any campaign! Note to self - ware bloody arc weapons!

I used the Figure Reference card system, based on the ones available from The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare; these proved to be very useful, with all my character's information and modified stats contained within individual cards. I will definitely be using these for the forthcoming campaign.